Rising Young Media Star: MindShare’s Blenkhorn

This is the seventh installment in MiC's series profiling next-gen media minds. Curious as to who these new thinkers are, and what they're thinking, strategy and MiC canvassed the industry, asking media shops to single out their top innovative and strategic recruits.

Who: Jennifer Blenkhorn, media planner, MindShare, Toronto

Claim to fame: Blenkhorn works with MindShare clients such as Fererro, Mattel and Kimberly-Clark. At the agency’s 2006 internal away event, she was acknowledged by clients, media vendors and the company alike for her consistently high-quality work. She took home awards for integration and for creative use of media. A number of the campaigns she worked on are being considered by the clients for rollout across the US.

With the Huggies diapers campaign for Kimberly-Clark, Blenkhorn made her recommendations to the client based on insights about the target group – moms – and how that target consumes media. The campaign involves broadcast, sponsorship, magazine, online and interactive components. With the existing sponsorship of Movies for Mommies, where mothers can go during the day to see a movie and bring their baby with them, Blenkhorn made it more of a brand experience by bringing in Gymboree.

Having Gymboree come in once a month 30 minutes before the film to conduct a free class was designed to build on the essence of the Huggies brand – the bonding between mom and child. Explains Blenkhorn: ‘It focused on the mom and her child learning and bonding. It’s really on strategy for the brand, but makes sense for the target as well.’

Background: Blenkhorn’s interest in advertising and art led her to Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., where she first took a one-year art fundamentalist program before enrolling in the advertising program. She wanted to focus on media and, right out of school, joined FCB as a media assistant, staying there for nearly five years. Blenkhorn joined MindShare about 18 months ago.

Which brand is getting it right? ‘Huggies, because they have such a clear knowledge of who their target is. They have so much information on today’s mom that they relay back to us. We then provide further insights on how they behave in the marketplace and how they consume media, so we get a really good understanding of who we’re targeting. Huggies also really knows what their brand stands for and how they want to the target to interact with their brand. It makes my job more interesting and easier to focus on the specific opportunities and environments that really make sense.’

Which brand, other than your own clients’, would you most want to work on and why? ‘Not a specific brand, but a demographic. The majority of my clients have been targeting mothers or women 25-to-54 or kids. I’ve never worked on teens or young adults, and I’d love to work with a client that targeted that audience. I think they’d be an interesting group, and just to do a media plan around that target would be so much different than what I’ve done in the past. Hopefully, it would also be for a client willing to step outside the box.’

Are clients missing opportunities due to caution? ‘Some clients may not be willing or ready to take the steps to move away from more traditional plans and ad units. A lot of times, they’re just focused on TV or print and not ready to spend some of their dollars elsewhere to take advantage of opportunities that are available. I don’t think we should move away from traditional plans entirely, but I think the way people are using media today is so different that you need multiple touchpoints in your plans.’

What common industry belief or practice should be trashed? ‘There seems to be some hesitation on the part of suppliers to take risks with something that’s outside the norm when it comes to traditional ad units versus non-traditional ad units. You might have a great idea that’s a great fit for your client, but you might not get far with it because the vendor may not be willing to do it. And a lot of times, the vendors charge a premium to do things a little bit differently, so then it becomes cost-prohibitive.’