Spotlight on Total Media

We shone this month's spotlight on the behavioural planning media agency

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Describe Total Media in three words

Curious, Smart, Human

What makes you unique? 

I think our uniqueness can be summed up in 3 ways;

  • We are the UK’s leading behavioural planning media agency and because of this, our agency features neuroscientists, psychologists, behavioural scientists and data scientists!
  • As an agency built on understanding people, we believe our employees play huge role in making Total Media unique. From various backgrounds, our employees showcase a diverse range of capabilities and personalities, making Total Media an exciting place to work.
  • We are part of the one truly international independent network; Mediaplus Group, with offices in 35 countries and billings of $5bn across the group.

Tell us something we don’t know about Total Media? 

We’ve been responsible for more relationships than eHarmony (who incidentally, we launched into the UK). In our London office alone there are over 14 ‘Total Media babies’ born to couples who met and worked at Total Media.

What work are you most proud of?

Since launching almost 40 years ago, we have been lucky enough to work with a vast amount of clients on a whole range of campaigns. Our real stand out work is when we have been able to fully apply our behavioural understanding from our insights all the way through to execution.

By identifying key areas of interest and influence, we were able to change perceptions of TikTok to help their ambitions in becoming the fastest growing social media app in the world.

For BritBox our insights enabled us to identify a different target audience which went against pre-formed assumptions about who would want to sign up to a new streaming service, which proved far more successful in achieving their trialists target.

Understanding the implicit brand perceptions among non-users of Zoflora enabled us to drive relevance and increase penetration among new users to grow their passionate fan base!

Working with Young’s, our research allowed us to identify and prioritise which audience segments had the greatest potential for growth. Following an innovative data-led campaign to behaviourally target these new audiences they enjoyed a 6-year high in sales.

We are also very excited to apply our behavioural expertise for one of our newest clients Climeworks, who innovatively work to capture CO2 and move from the air. So watch this space!

What’s been your biggest challenge?

In 2019 we were on a high after moving to Soho, rolling out our flexible working initiative and achieving our best year ever for new business. Then came our biggest challenge…2020. We haven’t been immune to the negative effects of this pandemic and it pushed all of us out of our comfort zones. However, our teams showed remarkable levels of kindness, empathy and resilience. Through this we have been able to offer our clients the support they deserve whilst moving into the new norm of 100% remote working.

What are you doing to transform the way you work with clients? 

We are continually evolving the way we work with clients, putting the behaviour of their customers at the forefront of our thinking and applying the insights that we generate through best in class media, data and content solutions. We don’t start with a solution in mind, we start with behaviour, and from this we can stem the insights and strategy to help grow their business.

If you could give clients one piece of advice what would it be?

Avoid surprise, be curious.

2020 was full of constant surprises. There was surprise at the EU's lack of engagement with last-ditch intensive Brexit talks, Donald Trump's electoral gains, and the rapid rate of coronavirus cases leading to a second lockdown. There was surprise at continued racism in football and the racist reaction to a supermarket advert. The list of surprises this year was seemingly endless.

However, being surprised in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact, evolutionarily speaking it’s great. Surprise creates focus and attention and can even elicit a neurochemical boost as a reward from our body for showing that we are paying attention!

Surprise only becomes a problem when it demonstrates an individual or collective failure to listen and learn. For example, being surprised by the racist reaction to an advert from Sainsbury’s shows a failure to listen to the host of voices, all saying how far we have yet to go to establish a truly diverse and inclusive society.

This failure can then manifest itself in damaging ways, such as a lack of action in the way we manage our businesses, a lack of thought in the way we target our advertising, and a lack of urgency to make meaningful changes.

To avoid being surprised in an age where it is all too easy to see the world as you want it to be is hard, but there is one trait that can help: curiosity.

Our advice for client’s supporting successful strategies in 2021 is simply to be more curious. To look for more alternative views, to start with a question, to observe what is really happening and not what’s reported. Being curious is the foundation of insight and with great insight comes great strategy.

How are you future-proofing? 

We are continually investing in our people & technology to ensure we have the best in class at all levels of the organisation.

We launched our behavioural consultancy; behave, nearly 2 years ago. Through our continued investment into our behavioural research and tools, our consultancy has gone from strength to strength, seeing 50% growth in the last year. Alongside our strong behavioural research and tools, we continue to invest into our world class media activation, delivering against our behavioural insights.

However, to fully future-proof our agency, we recognised the need to grow our offering as much as we could whilst staying independent and true to our values. Through our joint venture with Europe’s largest media independent network; Mediaplus, we have helped to future-proof our business against any impacts of Brexit.

Marketing predictions for the next year?

It will be interesting to see what consumer habits will remain sustainable as we transition out of lockdown. However, marketers will continue to successfully adapt to the new world we find ourselves in and those who truly understand the mind-set and behaviour of their audience will continue to flourish.

Best kept secret for Friday drinks (or this can answer how you’re virtually winding down the week or what you can’t wait for when we’re all back in the office)?

Initially, the commute wasn’t missed at all and the move to a Zoom culture answered a lot of communication issues!

A few months of this, and the novelty of our brave new world has worn off, as commuting time has turned into more screen time and the foibles of online meeting technology has become irritating! So, walking from Piccadilly Circus through Soho to our offices, probably picking up a coffee on the way, and then catching up with the team in person, will be greatly welcomed!

So it’s freedom and people we’re looking forward to most.

See more from Total Media here on our website.


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