Understanding a consumer's lifestyle, not just media usage or preference, is fast becoming a major positioning for media agencies. Omnicom Group's PHD USA is the latest to upgrade in that area, bringing in Peter Mears as svp, head of account planning for the U.S.
Mears, 33, has been with PHD for 11 years, including an eight-year stint with PHD UK, where he was media director. In 2001, he transferred to PHD Canada as head of communications channel planning and focused on accounts such as Unilever.
In his new role, Mears will be what PHD USA president Matt Seiler called a "free agent," working with clients to spot trends, glean buzz and generally try to figure out, to a finer degree, what makes consumers tick. (PHD USA's roster includes DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi, Reebok, Quizno's and the Gap.) Mears will report to Seiler and supervise two other account planners.
"I hope to get to a deeper consumer understanding, firstly," said the U.K. native, "and through that be able to offer up integrated multichannel solutions."
In the past three years, media shops have positioned themselves as sources of strategic insights into cultural and consumer trends. The evolution has resulted in account/media planning hybrids such as the context planners at Starcom MediaVest Group and the addition of account planners and creatives at Universal McCann, among others.