The new media plan

How to use media for cultural influence

Ana Andjelic
3 min readMay 2, 2024

Influencing culture requires a smart media strategy. The media spend is a creative exercise, revolving around identifying all the different cultural contexts for a brand to participate it, in a manner and format that is going to be the most effective and emotionally resonant. Telfar, a fashion brand, turns its fashion shows into performances, collaborates with established brands, features its community on its instagram feed, and has a regular entertainment programming in the form of Telfar TV. All these examples show how well Telfar knows its audience and the cultural contexts for the brand.

More importantly, Telfar focuses its media on amplifying its own content. Today, this is a way to win: for brands use their media budget to create, amplify and monetize cultural moments they participate in.

This new media planning approach allows a brand to be present across different cultural contexts, and to be nimble and react quickly if some of these contexts gain momentum (a recent Calvin Klein x Jeremy Allen White campaign is an example), amplifying it. This approach prevents a customer deadlock (where brands repeatedly target the same customer, and is a bottoms-up rather than the top-down approach: media’s job is to recognize cultural conversations, trends, and aesthetics and filter them through the brand lens in its own media formats (a frequent cultural commentary that brands do on social media are an example of this shift).

A way for a brand to insert itself in a number of cultural contexts is to use frequent creative collaborators (and amplify their creative output through its media buys), as these creators bring their fandom with them. Other ways are seeding of merch, amplified through media, as well as events, sponsored content and affiliates.

The new media plan addresses the culturally multi-contextual nature of brand strategy, and strategically allocates investments that go from mass to niche to content production to instant conversion. Its tiers are:

Top of the pyramid

What: Seasonal mass media brand campaigns (print, OOH, non-linear TV buys, influencers and events, sponsorships). Merch and hero products are also in this tier.

When: 4x / year

Why: Brand awareness, interest and consideration

Middle of the pyramid

What: Digital brand and marketing campaigns, brand content (editorial, marketing and product), brand channels (top- and mid-funnel), including affiliate marketing, website, email, social media, digital video, high-impact digital units, sponsored content, product placement and all other digital media buys. Email and CRM programs.

When: Ongoing

Why: Brand awareness, interest and consideration, loyalty

Bottom of the pyramid

What: Social content and social commerce, including live-streaming, shopping videos and reels, and Instagram and TikTok commerce; bottom-funnel media buys (programmatic, SEO and SEM, product-driven paid social, membership and invite-only events, loyalty programs).

When: Ongoing

Why: Conversion

All tiers of the pyramid work in sync, building a brand’s continuous presence in culture, and providing a portfolio approach that ranges from mass to targeted. Always-on entertainment is mixed with seasonal campaigns and media pushes. Awareness and consideration are a backdrop for more targeted marketing actions, like conversion, retention, advocacy and loyalty: they provide a constant stream of new customers. Through portfolio approach, a brand renews its customer base, without falling into the customer fatigue trap.

The idea behind the new media plan is to create and maintain the creative universe for the brand. Media are non-linear and focused on building a brand world, through a continuous streams of media activity (rather than seasonal bursts, and bottom-funnel media tactics). Additionally, the new media plan approaches a brand as a revenue-driver (vs a cost-center), and buys media in the way that capitalizes on a brand’s own IP (content, products, retail experiences, events, merch, archive reissues, collaborations ).

The new media approach is easier to understand if it is taken from the context of media and put in the domain of cultural influence. Even the big buys on the top of the pyramid are teased out thought paid teasers and trailers, announced through merch and selected hero products, and finally released together with in-store experiences and events, like movies. The rest of the pyramid is nurturing fandoms, celebrates a brand products, provides always-on entertainment, and maintains a brand’s cultural awareness and emotional resonance.

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Ana Andjelic

Brand Executive. Author of “The Business of Aspiration.” Doctor of Sociology. Writer of “Sociology of Business.” Forbes most influential CMO.