Rising young media star: Mediaedge:cia’s Michael So

This is the second 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: Michael So, media planner, Mediaedge:cia, Toronto, for the past nine months.

Claim to fame: At Mediaedge:cia, he works with big names in the marketing world: Wyeth Consumer Healthcare Canada, Colgate-Palmolive, Sony Ericsson and Xerox. One of his recent campaigns for Wyeth’s Robax Platinum back pain caplets links the brand with gardening, one of the most popular pastimes for Canadians, on Canoe’s Home & Garden website.

So worked with Canoe to create advertorial for a section on the site that focuses on how to garden without straining your back. The idea was to build on the Robax Platinum theme of helping people walk away from back pain. Traditional ad units and transitional units for Robax Platinum have been placed throughout Canoe Home and Garden with the advertorial content on a dedicated Robax page at http://homeandgarden.canoe.ca/Advetorial/BackRelief/.

The advertorial on that page offers tips about gardening without pain with sections on fitness, equipment and techniques. An interactive ad featuring the iconic Robax wooden puppet demonstrates back and neck exercises, while clicking on another ad takes viewers to backrelief.ca for more tips for preventing back pain, plus information about alternative medical and surgical treatment options.

Background: So has a degree in Economics and Math from the University of Toronto, which he says has helped in the areas of quantitative and qualitative analysis, as well as his ability to give clients a wider perspective on their business. His first job after university was in the financial industry, but he was attracted to media and the chance to do something more creative than punching in numbers. So was at M2 Universal as a media buying assistant for 18 months before moving to media planning at Bensimon Byrne for just under a year.

What brand is getting it right? ‘Apple has done a great job with both iPod and Mac. They’ve been able to create an emotional connection with their consumer and they’ve done it without compromising their brand or integrity. They’ve done a great job with creative and the media they’ve used, and how they’ve used it with OOH, TV and online.’

‘Any innovative new product that was launching would be fantastic to work on because you have an opportunity to use media in different ways, other than just a straight GRP buy or straight insertions.

‘The client would want to create buzz, so they’d want unique executions rather than something standard. I think the iPhone launch would be fantastic. It’s the challenge of the media planner or buyer to go out there and look for unique opportunities and use traditional media in a way that hasn’t been done before to create excitement and impact, to create that buzz.’

What would you love to build into a plan, but haven’t been able to yet – and why will no one go for it? ‘I would love to do a 52-week online buy, whether that’s broadband upfront for broadband opportunities, or 52 weeks of dedicated search. It hasn’t happened because online is something where there’s still concern about ROI, so clients aren’t willing to commit to a full year.’

Are clients missing opportunities due to caution? ‘Definitely. Again, it goes back to looking at online. With TV and print, they feel safe because those are the traditional mass media and they know they’ll gain excellent GRPs. But how effective are those GRPs, and how much are they really working for you?

‘I don’t think everything should be weighed by how many GRPs or insertions I am losing by doing a one-off promotional opportunity. People have to keep an open mind and look at the overall strategy to see how they can effectively reach the consumer and actively, versus passively, engage – so people have the opportunity to interact with a brand, versus just seeing it.’