Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who's Doing The Heavy Lifting Here?

In a possibly pointless exercise, I've tried to work out who contributed more to this year's best ads - Planners, or Creatives.

Since I don't have infinite time to waste on this kind of thing, I've only looked at TV ads. The list I'm using is Campaign's Top 10.

My method was to give each ad 10 points, then allocate those points between Planning and Creative.

By way of example, an ad like the AA's 'Fourth Emergency Service' would be scored as 9 for Planning (genius strategy) and 1 for Creative (forgettable execution), while Sony 'Balls' would score 2.5 for Planning ('great colour' is hardly groundbreaking for a colour TV, but at least it's simple) and 7.5 for Creative.

Hovis 'Go On, Lad'

Planning: 2.5 ('heritage' is nothing new for Hovis, but at least it's single-minded)
Creative: 7.5 (superb execution, technically brilliant and charming too)

Nike 'Take It To The Next Level'

Planning: 1 (I'm not even sure what the strategy is here, the best you can say is it doesn't get in the way)
Creative: 9 (Awesome. The kids love this kind of shit)

VW Golf 'Enjoy The Everyday'

Planning: 6 (I really like this strategy. For me it gets to the heart of what Golf is all about. It's your regular, everyday, workhorse car... but it does that regular stuff just a little bit better than you might expect)
Creative: 4 (They've taken a slightly YouTubey technique, but legitimately made it their own, with an excellent job on the music)

Barnardo's 'Break The Cycle'

Not judging this one, since Scowling A.D. and I were two of the creatives on it

Toshiba 'Time Sculpture'

Planning: 3 (there IS a strategy here - 'TVs that are as amazing as what you watch on them' but it took me a long time to figure it out. Still, at least it gave the Creatives licence to do 'anything amazing')
Creative: 7 (arguably the technical achievement of the year)

BBC 'Journey To The East'

Planning: 1 (I can't see any strategy at all. One point for not getting in the way)
Creative: 9 (top music, top animation)

Drench 'Brains'

Planning: 5 (a good strategy - I've never heard a water talking about keeping your brain hydrated before)
Creative: 5 (good creative too; puppets are funny. Fact. Making this a well-balanced ad in terms of strategy and creativity.)

TFL 'Moonwalking Bear'

Planning: 7 ('It's easy to miss things you're not looking out for' is a brilliant strategic leap - arguably the strategy of the year)
Creative: 3 (it's brilliant creative too, they've certainly done justice to the brief of the year)

Natural Confectionery Company 'Trumpets'

Planning: 1 (is 'let's just focus on the sweets' even a strategy?)
Creative: 9 (the entire success of the ad is down to the surreal humour of the writing)

VW Polo 'Singing Dog'

Planning: 5 (Polo have been using the 'confidence' proposition for a while now, and there's no doubt it's a clever way to sell a small car)
Creative: 5 (highly entertaining iteration of the campaign)

Overall score
Using the chunky calculator we are issued with here, I make the average score for the year's best ads - Planning: 3.4, Creative: 6.6.

Am I just biased?


Anonymous said...

Genuine question (from a creative): how do you know where the planning came in?

For example, the AA fourth emergency thing, that could have just been a line that a creative came up. The 'planning' might just have been a fella saying 'our client is really important in everyday life'.

Anyhow the Natural Confectionery Company 'Trumpets' ad is the best out of them for me. Brilliant.

And with that I'd say no you aren't being biased. Maybe even a tad kind to the suited ones.

Anonymous said...

'THE FOURTH EMERGENCY SERVICE' strategy was conceived by a creative, Axel Chaldecott. So er, actually '0' for planning.

Anonymous said...

The scores work perfectly well assuming that the client bought the ads on first presentation. Surely there are points for steering the initial ideas through layers of research and internal approval? (Awaits inevitable flurry of angry anonymous responses.)

Ben Kay said...

I think Scamp is praising the strategy (whoever did it) versus the creative (whoever did it).

Interesting that you're more likely to get all creative and no planning in a list of good ads but not the other way round.

Maybe if planners were allowed into the edit suite they'd be able to contribute a little more.

Although that might not be such a good idea.

Anonymous said...

PlannING can be done by many people, creatives too. Planners just tend to get paid to do that and nothing else.

Anonymous said...

You're not biased in your judgement, but it would perhaps be relevant to go through the IPA Effectiveness Awards and do the same thing? Does the creatives beat the planners there?

But then, BBH got all those awards so you would definitely be biased.

Anonymous said...

In the moonwalking bear ad, the brief could have been nothing more than "keep your eyes on the road" and then the creatives could have taken the strategy from the same video they took the creative execution from. Who knows? Only the people who made it. So why even try to split the creative and the strategy? It's just a guessing game.

And just for anyone who hasn't seen it, here's the original video again: http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/grafs/demos/15.html

Anonymous said...

I have never met a planner that hasn't done anything other than state the flippin obvious.

Bentos said...

I don't know who first took the imaginative leap to use Gorillaz' 'Journey To The West' for the BBC Olympic coverage rather than a standard montage of Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson and Dennise Lewis, but surely they deserve a little recognition.

See the comments here for just how potentially controversial a decision it could have been http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/olympics/2008/05/monkeys_journey_begins.html

Certainly I can see plenty of BBC Gravytrainers erring on the side of the montage, sombody had the courage to go for something completely different.

And would having the characters enacting Olympic events (hurdling, gymnastics, javelin etc) be a 'planning' idea too? If so surely that adds an extra dimension to the superb excecution.

Anonymous said...

Nice analysis. Perhaps the top 10 was selected by people with a bias towards the creative over the strategic??? (I'm guessing meeting objectives or genius placement generally aren't criteria for making the top 10 :-) )

Anonymous said...

Moonwalking bear? Planning of NINE?!

"Go on to YouTube and find a video to rip off. Rip off without even changing it, then keep quiet when the furore hits about it being a rip off."

'Whodunnit' folloup:
"Do exactly the same."

And from the point of view of it ACTUALLY WORKING as an ad? i.e. When you last got to a junction did you think "OK right... let's look for the cyclists, because I saw that ad about a bear."

Creative strategy linking in with the brief: FAIL.
Creative originality: FAIL.

Anonymous said...

Putting the moonwalk rip-off in there is an absolute travesty of justice, even by advertising standards, which sees a high amount of travesties (travesti?).

Anonymous said...


As predicted I got my angry anonymous response.

Anonymous said...

Could be coincidental but, have you ever noticed how scamp always rates his old DDB mates more favourably? Brilliant strategy, brilliant execution. Right.Polo confidence, really?Golf, enjoy the everyday, REALLY? Good strategies?Great creative I'd say on a single minded thought that's a 2 for strategy tops.

Scamp said...

I don't think I used the word 'brilliant' about any of my old colleagues' work, did I? No, I didn't. And just for clarity, I'm not judging the work here. I'm judging the relative contributions of strategy and creative.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the VW Golf 'Enjoy The Everyday' - I don't think planning should get more points than creative on this one.

Anonymous said...

Not Mr. Gill.
It's not just Scamp who rates the output of DDB. They are one of the agencies that through thick and thin have produced very high quality work in both TV and Print. There hasn't been a stinker of a VW ad for years, and that's not because they have it easy over there, but because they are fucking good creatives lead by a fucking good creative. Enjoy the Everyday is in my top 5 ads of the year, the Singing Dog is in my top 10. I have never worked at DDB, but I still recognise that they are 'brilliant' at what they do.

The Lunar blog posted about this sometime ago (when it actually WAS Lunar BBDO's blog). The story was something along the lines of CDP had their time of glory, HHCL hit a rich vein of form in the early 90's, then Mother and W+K hit their purple patch, and at the time of writing, it was Fallon who were kicking ass. The point was that throughout everyone else's peaks and troughs, DDB remained one of the top agencies due to it's consistent, award winning and extremely effective output.

Anonymous said...

Re Tomy Morton

Im 1.42

I didn't even read your comment actually.

And I honestly haven't met a planner that hasn't just stated the obvious.

Sorry, Ive heard good ones exist.

Anonymous said...

I second that.

I haven't either.

Anonymous said...

i'm with 1.42.

i've never really worked with any planners that make me go, "wow, HE/SHE has clarity of thought and a profound insight that is really going to help me in leaps and bounds".

they are out there, i suppose.

but it is my belief that creatives - GOOD creatives - are the best planners.

Anonymous said...

No offence all, but…Hovis –the client want to celebrate the fact they’re 122 years old, why not by pass the planners and creatives (let’s be honest it’s the first script idea any of us would have come up with) go straight to a director who can make an ordinary non strategy look good. Oh and if it had been 30” it would have been utter shit. Nike – Ok I quite like this, although I’m not sure why. Toshiba – have it on good authority the director pitched the technique to the agency and fought to have it done this way. Again zero input from agency. TFL – don’t get me started. Bring on the trumpets – this one is purely subjective. I fucking hate it. Compare this to any Big Train sketch. Oh and it’s exactly like the MacDonald’s work in the US. It might be that I’m filled with end of season hate. I don’t actually dislike any of the above ads (apart from the Trumpets arse gravy). I just don’t think any show advertising off in the best light. Saying that I really like the Barclays ad, the Diesel viral, the Marmite print. Note to self - don't drink at lunch time and read ad blogs.

Anonymous said...

agree with bloggy blog blog et al. what we do simply isn't that intellectually difficult.

the best ads are simply NOT embarrassing boring messes.

and anything that turns out remotely good subsequently gets retrofitted with planning BS.

PH said...

Regardless of the debatable originality or innovative quality of the core concept, the Hovis ad achieves what very few ads do: it elicits an emotional response and associates that response with a product. I love it. And I imagine it may have brought a tear to the eye of the older viewing generation. Fair play to the creatives/director et al.

Anonymous said...

I find planners are generally supercilious and patronising. Obviously some of them aren't, but their position always seems to be that you didn't understand their incredible insight, rather than they didn't manage to explain it properly. I've also been in a meeting recently where the planner presented seven possible strategies, none of which was the obvious good one, which was then mentioned by one of the creatives and immediately bought by the client. I've also had many instances where a planner has earnestly explained his astounding thinking etc. to which I've responded with something else that they've immediately agreed with, rendering all their research and navel gazing somewhat pointless and useless.

I've had some really good ones, like Bridget at AMV, but mainly they overthink things, explain them badly and get all snotty and defensive when you do their job better than they do.

Anonymous said...

Mass sackings at TBWA. How's that for a disruption?

Anonymous said...

Just an observation: Hovis is like the out-takes of John Boorman's 'Days of Hope': only it's more tediously stlylised and utterly predictable. Typical adland bollocks, in other words.

Anonymous said...

As a plannery type, and maybe it's just my philosophy, but shouldn't the creative value always outweigh the strategic value?

Good strategy is just the stepping stone for creative, not the end all be all. And sometimes convincing a client just to do something amazing, free from the conventions of strategy and planning, is a very sound business strategy itself.

So overall I think your assessment is fair. Though I'd give the Nike spot a few more strategic points for taking viewers into the game, rather than talking about the game. But maybe that's too obvious to be strategic...

Anonymous said...

"Feel what a real player feel" I think this could be the strat translated to "Take it to the next level"

Anonymous said...

You forget, half the value of a good planner is their ability to back-rationalize a good creative idea to sell it to the client. Even the least planned ideas still need a good planner.

Anonymous said...

6.30pm "Good" planners must be a subjective thing then...

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

I don't think you've been particularly biased; but its extremely hard to judge this kind of things totally objectively.
Without knowing the extent of where the ideas came from and how they developed its hard to be anywhere near accurate (you don't know for instance to what extent the planning ideas directly inspired the creative; and likewise whether the creative idea moulded the planning ideas)

Anonymous said...

I think the thing with planners (and suits) is that they spend eons researching, over-thinking and gathering amazing information about people from weird little demogrpahic splurging machines - and then they reach the same conclusion that a creative reaches whilst scratching ones arse and drinking tea.

Or as someone said, state the obvious.

Anonymous said...

The natural Confectionary Company Client is the hero. I can't imagine many clients buying that script yet it's brilliant.
Most other clients would have whined "why does he say bring on the trumpets?" or "trumpets aren't aspirational" or it would have been killed by 13 joyless cunts from Stevenage in a focus group.

Anonymous said...

I'd happily have been one of those joyless cunts, but I live in Primrose Hill.

Anonymous said...

Yes, have heard about the sad news of the cull at TBWA London, it's testing times for the industry. Maybe Muller is about to walk?.

Anonymous said...


No matter how good the ad, I can't imagine many of the older viewing generation having a tear in their eye whilst watching a commercial for bread.

Unless they were thinking about the fact that they can no longer afford to buy any.

On planners, I always thought they were only around to make clients feel better about deciding to run with something a bit different and creative. They feel more comfy if they think there's some 'planning' behind it.

Bless their cotton socks.

Anonymous said...

1.42, Bloggy Blog etc. Two words. Charlie. Robertson.

john p woods said...

"Bring on the trumpets!" - Genius

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Intergral: That's the point the creatives who complain about planners all the time should remember.

Even the ones who are a pain in the arse are usually working to sell your ad and stop you being dragged into direct response!

Anonymous said...

Campaign's top 10 list I'm guessing is based upon the ads they liked best. Evidently this means the list is full of high budget, big client TV and cinema execution. Put simply- some brilliant creative. So trying to even justify the planners contribution is surely near impossible?! Next week, Campaign's top 10 most effective ads of 2008.

Anonymous said...

I like the essence of planning, but I hate cockroaches.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, have heard about the sad news of the cull at TBWA London, it's testing times for the industry. Maybe Muller is about to walk?."

Any links to news?

Anonymous said...

"Even the ones who are a pain in the arse are usually working to sell your ad and stop you being dragged into direct response!"

If only.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:58. Yes you shouldn't go to lunch and get drunk. Seems all you can digest is slight jealousy . Here is a thought. They all got in the top 10 for a reason. To put it in perspective, you may live in your little ad bubble where all you care about is being loved by ad people. But TNCC is great-the public love it, as do a lot of other people. Hovis is great. The public love it as do a lot of other people. Etc. Seems to me like you have forgotten who you write ads for. Oh and just a hint, it's not the people on this blog.

Anonymous said...

This system of judging is flawed. As the first comment points out.


George Parker said...

I just did a post about this on AdScam. Lots of good stuff. The BBC one left me cold... Two fucking minutes of naff animation to get to a five second slide saying "Olympics." Could have got "our enery" for ten bob. love the "moonwalking bear"... Wet myself replaying it. Don't care what the wankers say about it being a rip off... Everything is a rip off... What about the Guinness fifty billion quid travesty in the fucking Andes. At least this was cheap... And funny. Loved the Hovis spot, which most Americans won't understand. Obviously cost more to shoot than the GNP of a small African nation... But fuck it... It'll look great on your reel and it's the clients money, right?