Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Stop Me Cocking-Up The Next One

So it seems not many people liked my last presentation.

Well, I'm about to do another. This time it's to the nation's rising stars of Planning, at IPA 4.

One of the themes I've been asked to touch on is "what do Creatives want from Planners?"

My initial thought was something I got from Richard Huntington, that every Creative should be wanting the Planner to "start me somewhere interesting."

What else?


Anonymous said...

just to summarise your last debate:

"this type of crap"
"patronising shite"
"a communal wankfest"
"mum of the year's twat"
"you make us all sound like pricks"
"massive p[iss take"
"stupid excuses to be a creative wanker"
"you cack monkey"
"a load of badly thought out kack"

Scamp, where did you get the idea that 'creatives' are spoiled, sulky children?

Anonymous said...

as soon as possible, not after six months (leaving me 4 days to come up with something).

Anonymous said...

KEEP IT SIMPLE... kids get confused easily.

Anonymous said...

One, clear single proposition for people to latch on to. Not a generic thought that will happily let every shitty little product feature sit on a page and therefore let the whole thing go unnoticed. Word to your mother Anonymous 3.03.

Jam said...

In the light of the second comment - I'd advise you not to turn your talk into a bitchfest, considering your audience...

Anonymous said...

Just give me the client's problem, expressing it as clearly as you can, and then leave me well alone.

Anonymous said...

Planners should be moved to the very end of the process rather than the beginning, their skills lie in post-rationalising.

But not in the edit suite though.

Anonymous said...

This'll probably be a really unpopular idea, but what i want from a planner first off is a chat; not a brief. I want to know what the client thinks his/her problem is. Then we can talk about what we can do to distill that down to a single-minded proposition, one which we as creatives can actually work with.

Yeah we need more time to do the work, but 3 weeks to work on a brief still doesn't help if it's garbage to start with. So don't treat us like children. Treat us like adults.

If we're the ones creating the final product you might like to check that your brilliant insightful strategy is actually something we can use before you start having a trillion meetings to sell it in to the client.

Anonymous said...

Don't give a load of generic empty statements;

-it tastes/looks/feels good.

That any brand in the world could own.

Don't give me pointless information on the T.A that tells me, nearly every time, that ...'Mike is 35, has a good job, disposable cash, likes the finer things in life, has a wife, two kids'....yawn.

Inklid said...

Buy me a hamburger.

Anonymous said...

I hate what planning represents. Ulitimately it's all bullshit designed to cover agency and client arses (can bullshit cover arses?)(yes, it probably can). Planning hasn't just ruined advertising it's destroyed politics and TV with its focus groups and number crunching - it's the absolute death of creativity and originality.


I find the best planners are the ones that can help me articulate the idea i've come up with.

I'm not saying i can't do this, but sometimes i get a little too focussed on the fun creative interpretation, and a good planner can give it some client focus.

Anonymous said...

please don't write propositions that sound like endlines.

Anonymous said...

Doing anything other than stating the obvious.

Auge said...

I think a good planner should be the match that lights the fire. A good planner should reinterpret whatever non-nonsensical marketing drivel the client spewed, into a fun project where creativity can shine. A planner is there to guide and backup a brilliant campaign with the bullshit necessary to sell it.

Then again, I've never actually met a planner, but i gather that's what they should be doing.

damtim said...

insights. support.

Anonymous said...

I have worked in advertising for over 12 years in 6, different agencies and I have never met a planer who has helped me come up with an idea.

I have met dozens who have seriously hampered me.

Anonymous said...

This blog was much more exciting when you had no comment moderation.

Come on Scamp, it must have been more exciting, a bit like 'returning to a lit firework that hadn't gone off'.

Anonymous said...

"a problem well stated is a problem half solved."

Anonymous said...

"Don't give me pointless information on the T.A that tells me, nearly every time, that ...'Mike is 35, has a good job, disposable cash, likes the finer things in life, has a wife, two kids'....yawn."

This does sound all too familiar.

I want it the brief to to be concise. So many just waffle on. It truly is a waste of words. Empty comments that mean nothing.

I want the freedom to explore and have fun. Don't put the shackles on just yet. If it's too restrictive, we might just ignore it.

I want a planner who will keep an open mind. One that will come into the office for a laugh and a joke every now and again.

The best planners have that creative spark, and the best creatives have the capacity to be practical and reasonable.

We're working towards the same goal, after all! Why not bounce some ideas off each other.

I don't want to be condescended to. And i don't want an essay for a brief, bamboozling me with useless information.

I want a fertile territory for ideas. That's the most importing thing.

Penny said...

I'd ask that planners remember that there is a difference between a proposition and an insight.

Tell us something we don't know about the people we're talking to, and what our client means to them.

Save everything else for your IPA/APG seminars.

Anonymous said...

don't give us your starters for ten shit, we don't starters for ten your strategy

Anonymous said...

A brief we don't need to re-write.

Anonymous said...

'I've worked in advertising for over 12 years, in 6 different agencies'. Keep getting found out?

Planning should give creatives a glimmer of possibility - John Webster loved finding out what planners learned about consumers - because it allowed him to make sure his ads hit the mark.

But then, he just stayed in the same agency all the time, so what did he know?

Anonymous said...

"what do Creatives want from Planners?"

For them to just fucking fuck off. And learn to spell.

Anonymous said...

And to be hot, slutty women with a thing for their intellectual superiors.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry, 4:46. Either you've only ever worked in awful agencies or you're a soulless hack; why else would you continue to work in a 'ruined' industry when so much good stuff is getting made in good agencies?

Thanks to the many commenters who have asked for interesting chats, or warned us planners against inundating you with too much information. They're points worth keeping in mind.

Most good advertising has good planning - not always done by planners - behind it. Some of the best 'planners' I've worked with are creative directors. It's true that there was good advertising made before planners existed, and that some very good advertising gets made today without planners.

So planners have to be both rigorous and inspiring to be worth what agencies pay them. What else do we do all day?

As head of a planning department, I want to describe some of the elements of the planning job to dispel some of the ignorance shown in previous comments.

Planners spend weeks working with clients, speaking with buyers of the product, and wading through reams of market data; they then whittle down the issues into a solvable problem. And most of them enjoy it.

If they're any good, they then try to find a way of presenting the problem in a way that uniquely gives the brand an advantage while inspiring creative people.

I think you'll agree it's worth finding and paying for people who will focus on these tasks.

Without planning, it's creatives versus the client's researchers. Without planning, it's creatives wading through a yearly marketing plan, trying to work out what actually needs to get done.

that french saying said...

I want planners to stop trying to do my job for me.

Stop relying on research groups and machines that tell you what my dad has for breakfast.

Just include a few useful facts that I might not know, articulate the problem and get me interested.

That's it.

Bentos said...


The Douche de Richlieu said...

I'm with Anon 4.46.
Perfectly encapsulated comrade.

Anonymous said...

Don't just cut and paste things like target markets from previous briefs.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous 4:46 PM. Advertising can do without this planners shit.

Sell! Sell! said...

Cubemate, I’m afaid I’m with 4:46 - and I haven’t worked in awful agencies and I’m not a ‘soulless hack’.

I do agree with a lot of what you say though – it’s just that interrogating the client’s business and problem could and should be done by smart account people, and the creatives should be brought in earlier in that process.

Creatives and creative directors are responsible for a lot of the great ‘planning’ that goes on in advertising, that has always been the case.

Allowing the creatives to get in on the problem early and work with the account team to find some interesting angles is a simple and bullshit-free way of working.

What you can ‘planning’ I just call smart advertising thinking, that should be done by smart account directors with insight from creatives.

I think it’s the separating out of this task into the separate role of ‘planning’ that has had a detrimental effect on advertising overall.

Planning as a separate role in the advertising process only has a place in a model of the ad business where account people are just seen a bag carriers, and creatives as caged monkeys (or children LOL) let loose to do a bit of finger painting at the end.

‘Account planning’ as a separate role tends to over intellectualise and over complicate this part of the job, and go too far towards the solution, and attempt to exert ownership over the problem and the direction for the solution. This leaves little room for the unexpected or the category-busting idea.

Yes, good advertising does get done in spite of the presence of planning in the modern ad business.

But without planning - account directors given back responsibility for business side of the problem, and creatives encouraged to get involved at that stage – advertising can get its real sparkle and crackle back.

It’s not a coincidence that the vast majority of historical work that we hold up as great has been arrived through this simple way of working.

Anonymous said...

er 9.35... so John Webster loved hearing what planners found out about consumers? I remember him telling me in the corridor that he'd just heard the "fucking no-brain punters had killed off one of his ideas". Hmm. Not so sure he loved hearing what the planners had found out about the consumers.

Anonymous said...

dear cubmate 2.40. GGT, RKCR and DDB to name a few agencies I've worked at. In a way everyone in the creative part of this business is a hack, surely. No one writes ads because The Virgin Mother came to them in a light-soaked vision and said whoring out your creativity is the path to your spiritual fulfillment my child. Having said that I get a fantastic buzz out of coming up with ideas. Just sick of seeing so many of them killed off or castrated by planning bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Clarity and brevity, please.

Anonymous said...

what do planners want from creatives?

brake dollinge said...

I like planning.

I like planners.

I do, however, think they're breeding down a hole somewhere. there used to be, like, five. now they are more like - um - a million.

I appreciate a good strategic insight as much as the next man, and I'm not so churlish as to get all territorial when I'm spoonfed a good idea.

I don't need to know much, though, to do a 20-second radio ad for a hundred quid off a week in gran canaria or a 6-sheet telling people not to get herpes.

everything in moderation, innit.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of spilt coffee and toys out of the pram in response to this perfectly innocent post.

How representative of reality are some of these responses? Are planners deliberately using focus groups to neuter people's ideas? Are planners really using robots to tell creatives what people eat for breakfast? Is this typical of most creatives last dealings with a planner in their agency?

And do creatives really see planners as an impediment? Would they rather plough through a year of client research and data themselves? (Thanks @cubemate) Do creatives actually think that planners set out to 'castrate' work? Do creatives think that planners don't stand up for original, engaging work?

What's the reality here?

that french saying said...


"How representative of reality are some of these responses? Are planners deliberately using focus groups to neuter people's ideas? Are planners really using robots to tell creatives what people eat for breakfast? "

I shit thee not. I've seen 3 months of work approved by CDs and clients thrown away because of a focus group. (A focus group for a web based product, that included people who didn't know what the internet was and asked why there was no phone number on the endframe)

And yes they use robots. What's that robot thing called. The TGI Friday Machine or something. You input demographics and it tells you which hand they scratch their arse with. Honest. It's crazy.

Anonymous said...

they should get on the long tail of their social networking black swans and flap off into the sunset. somehow, somewhere, we all began to believe their bullshit. likely because they blog all day and quote Malcolm McDowell books whilst still managing to wear trendy trainers.

reading here, it's comical when planners claim that the best thing they can do is to 'state the problem clearly' or 'have a conversation' with creatives.

that sounds to me like an excuse for not doing their job. we don't want a conversation. we want a proposition or insight that we couldn't have come up with on our own.

otherwise, what is a planners role? merely to 'filter through research' and keep the client research teams at bay? if so, then how about if the lot were replaced by research assistants, so creative directors could form their own strategies? that is what the good ones do already.

the planners only other role is to articulate, post-rationalize and otherwise sell the creative idea, period. anything else is backwards.

Anonymous said...

Most planners hate bad planners, just like most creatives hate hacks. Apparently, bad planners try to kill work with creative testing in focus groups and use TGI as a way to justify the obvious.

Planners should be good people to chat with, having spoken to the target audience and knowing what's really going on out there.

They should be writing briefs that aren't just a set of instructions, but a beginning of a conversation. When they are asked by clients to put near-finished work in front of people in research, it should be constructive creative development and not to kill it.

If you want to lock yourself in a closet and don't want to come out and play, then I guess a planner won't be as much use to you.

@Sell! Sell!, @that french saying and @11:01: Award winning agencies (ones I have worked at) use planners. We have our use and we're not going away. 'I shit thee not.'

Most of us aren't out there trying to make your jobs harder. We work in agencies because we want to help. If you don't like the planners in your agency, find your Head of Planning and tell them why. Otherwise you are cowards hiding online, unable to confront the real problems you have at work.

Sell! Sell! said...


Thing is, I've worked with some very smart planners that I would happily work with again as people.

It's just the role of planning as it is in contemporary advertising I see as unhelpful. That job should be done by combination of smart account director and smart creative getting in on the problem early. It simplifies the problem solving process and puts creative back at the centre of it.

A couple of the smart planners Ive worked with would make great account directors and a couple decent creatives.

Rather than "hiding online", or "finding your Head of Planning and tell them why" as you suggested, I instead set up a small agency with some good friends, where we've worked exactly in this way successfully for the last 3 years.
It's nice.

mm said...


Oh God it's a planner... said...

As a planner I have sifted through all the [toxic] waffle in these postings and have distilled it down to the following -

1. You want to be involved early (more than happy to do this and I try do so as much as possible)

2. You want us to keep it simple (I'm personally too thick to make it complicated anyway)

3. You don't want us to state the bloody obvious (I am too busy to waste my time doing that)

4. You want us to have an open mind (if you produce something really cool then I am more than happy to)

5. You want us to post-rationalise (Again, if you make something awesome I would be delighted to)

However, it also seems that many of you want us dead.

Happy Easter

Anonymous said...

Dear "Oh God it's a Planner"...

The clarifications and the guilt trip are both really unneeded. I think we all garnered that insight without the extra help. As usual.

And no, we don't want you gone. We love you. We just want the weight back on what really matters: the creative idea. Just back it up to help sell it.

Kevin Amter said...

Best planner I worked with is MT Carney. She's now one of the founding partners of Naked Communications in NYC. There's a lot of things I could say as to why I found her the "best," but one consistent with MT was she spoke her mind, straight up, honest in support of the work. To the head of AmEx, the heads of Ogilvy ( where I was freelancing ) or to the creatives. By doing so, she improved campaigns, sold work, and had peoples trust. It was not only refreshing, it was insightful.

Anonymous said...

Here in the US, there's a great line for AMP energy drinks. I'm not sure the creative is as great, but it's good.

"Before every moment, there is a moment."

Whoever came up with that, understands positioning and strategy.

I think that's insightful, and ownable. And it's one of the very rare times you see something fresh, simple and executable like that, planner's help or not.