Wednesday, May 27, 2009


So I'm continuing to document, at possibly tedious length, the actual process of making a TV commercial.

Today the subject is "comments."

When you are working on an edit, here are some of the people who will make comments on it: the Client, your Creative Director, the Account Team, Planner, TV Producer, Production Assistant, the Editor, other Creatives, and sometimes even consumers - yes, some ads are researched as rough cuts nowadays.

It can happen that there are so many rounds of comments, from so many different people, that you lose sight of your original vision, and possibly even your will to live.

This is a very important part of the process though. And the ability to satisfy people's comments without ruining either the ad or your relationship with them is quite a skill.

Some comments will make an ad better and you're happy to get them. Others make it worse, and you begin to wonder whether you can ignore them.

There is actually a complicated invisible hierarchy of how much each person's comments matter; it determines which individuals, or combinations of individuals, get their way:

Here it is:

Client48 points
CD15 points
Director10 points
You6 points
Your partner6 points
Editor4 points
Account team3 points
TV Producer3 points
TV PA1 point
Planner1 point

So, for example, if absolutely everyone (49 points) disagrees with the Client (48 points) on something, the Client doesn't get his way. But all it takes is one Planner or TV Producer to side with the Client, and they win.

If you and your partner (12 points) disagree with the Director and Editor (14 points) then they will win, unless you have the TV Producer (3 points) as well.

Similarly, the CD (15 points) can overrule you and your partner (12 points) unless you have the Account Team (3 points) and a Planner (1 point) or TV Producer (3 points) too.

Let me know if you think the system needs tweaking. I think it's pretty good.


Ben Kay said...

Whether you and/or your partner can trump your director depends on who you and he/she is/are.

Eg: If you are a junior team at Euros, you won't get your way with Danny Kleinman (not that he'd be shooting one of your scripts anyway), but if you are a senior team at a good agency, it should only take one of you to overrule 90% of directors.

By the way, this counts double for animation, because all animation directors are so nice.

Sell! Sell! said...

I can appreciate why you've come up with that Scampy, but it makes me feel a bit sad for you :-(

Anonymous said...

you missed out the production company producer, they have as many if not more points than the director sometimes, especially when you're going over budget because of all the comments.

otherwise perfect.

Anonymous said...

god that's depressing. tell them all to F**k off. what's wrong with that? i'm not being facetious. client(s) get to comment. and your boss if you have one. everyone else shuuuuut up. we'll ask if we want your opinion.

Lubomir said...

This system is nice but its cultural. Its borders are the borders of your great green isles. But the idea is good it can save you so much irritation, and anger... probably :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first comment. I've always been able to tell my director and editor what to do. Maybe that's because I haven't worked with a superstar director. But I've worked with some pretty solid directors and editors and I've always been able to veto their decisions.

Anonymous said...

planners shouldn't get a point, seeing as their briefs never get to the point. useless twats.

Anonymous said...

1 point for planners??????????

bit generous.

Steve said...

Really, once the brief is attempted, planners should fuck off and start writing the next one, not getting involved in things about which they know nothing.

God, planners make me fucking sick with their pointless over-intellectualising of the simplest things just to look like they've done something to earn their wages.

Twats, twats, fucking twats. Get out of the way of a good ad, that's what planners ought to fucking do.


Leon the Planner said...

I don't see why planners should be part of the production process anyway. And they are indeed "useless twats" if they can't come up with concise briefs.

But hey, that goes both ways:

A creative is also a useless twat if he or she doesn't come up with good ideas.

By the law of averages there are a lot of useless twats in the ad industry whatever your title. So stop bashing planners, and start winning some awards instead.

The Douche de Richlieu said...

Please get out of the house this weekend, go for a walk, don't watch any ads or go online, and have a think about the countryside and stuff. You're obviously a man hovering on the precipice.

M32 said...

what about mums? 30 points at least.

milchsaeure said...

You got only 1 client? Lucky you!

Claire C said...

Why is everyone hating the planners? Go work in a small agency without any and see how many more ridiculous and off the mark briefs you have to work on that have been written by the client instead. I know whose briefs I'd rather be working on.

Although, saying that, I don't think the planner should be given one point either.

Anonymous said...

NB. This opinion comes from a 'creative'

What do the planners at BBH think of the fact that your opinion of them is so low?

You are painting a terrible picture of life at BBH.

Arrogant, precious creatives.

Planners that sound like they add nothing and are annoying and uncollaborative enough to be seen as meddlers.

Account men don't do badly, I suppose.

Are you not aware that some great planners could very well be creatives, and vice versa, that job titles in advertising nowadays simply determine area of focus, not necessarily your boundary of involvement?

I don't think it's crazy to say that the best work gets made when a small group of people (whose job titles are unimportant) get together and drop their egos long enough to trust, understand and work with one another.

Why don't you grow up, realise that advertising is not a science, job titles and roles are organic things that are cosntantly changing and that you might be better served putting the energy you spend writing cynically online could be put into opening yourself up into what other people (who aren't creatives) may be able to offer you?

Anonymous said...

Surely the planners are all in the edit suite and therefore not available to vote?

Scamp said...

11.03 - my opinion of planners and planning is actually not low at all, as regular readers will know.

Yes, commenters on Scamp often seem to slag off planners, but don't confuse commenters' opinion with my opinion please.

Also, please note that my table is not titled "how things work at BBH" but "how things work in the industry in general"

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to my 2 cents to the planner bashing thread.

Planners = cunts.


Not Scamp's Mum said...

I think 11.03 only works in an ad agency in his head where people float around on pink clouds and there's no such thing as a firm opinion.

Friction is necessary. It's the grit in the oyster that makes the pearl.

Of course there are shit planners, just as there are shit creatives. It's how you deal with that that will make the work better, not some tree-hugging love-in where we all drop our egos at the door and tell each other how fucking great we all are.

Whatever Scamp's doing, it can't be far off what's right: he's making fucking good ads at a fucking good agency. If he doesn't do it by blowing the planners all day then who cares?

Anonymous said...

I think that points system is genius.

From my experience clever editors are able to get their own way on lots of stuff without the creatives even noticing OR by making them feel like they came up with it themselves.

I also think creative directors listen to TV producers as much as they listen to creatives. They've generally had a lot more experience of TV than the creatives.

Always keep the TV producer on your side.

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

Leon, I agree with everything you say.

Steve 11:05

I am guessing that you are generally bereft of the ability to come up with great ideas.

Have you been laid off recently and looking to blame someone? A Workman, Bad, Blames, Tools, His (not necessarily in that order).

May I suggest you take a deep breath and count to ten... It is never too late to change career.

steve said...

Hah, you'd love that wouldn't you.

My inability to come up with ideas has got me D&AD nominated this year, to go with all the awards I've won over the last eight.

I just think planners are fucking twats.

What did you say you do for a living again?

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

That actually made me laugh out loud...


steve won't pick up next week but i will said...

im sorry to say im with steve on this one too.

the majority of planners are shoddy. and their inflated egos are incredible.

almost every brief we get we have to write our own proposition.

but ive met a few who are very good, smart and humble. they'll even admit if theyre wrong on something.

(theyve all left the agency now though)


john p woods said...

Have we got to the stage where the tail is wagging the dog yet?

Anonymous said...

How many points for ECDS?

Scamp said...

Tricky one. Some ECD's have 100 points (whole team bows before them, even client is in their pocket). Others are mere figureheads, and score just 1.5 points (they are shown the edit purely as an FYI, and are allowed to propose nothing more significant than a change to the colour of the end super).

john p woods said...

Thought you would have made everything bitter blue?

Anonymous said...

And surely procurement get some points?

Anonymous said...

Hey Scamp. Having just spent the day in sound design what are your thoughts on that. Personally I love editing, post, TK and stuff but sound leaves me all at sea - especially since Nige is on a beach in Oz nowadays (he knew I was useless but somehow it always came out ok).

Also. Loving the Strongbow ad. Don't know who did it but worth a shout I thought.

Anonymous said...

How many points do the client's wife get? The client's wife that had a bad experience once involving bumblebees and therefore all the bumlebees in the ad can no longer be bumblebees, but has to be butterflies instead. An perferably pink. With little hearts.

Or something like that.

tonimoroni said...

Back to basics:

A creative team is judged on the finished product in a way no one else is in an agency. So when things go wrong the team are always the most likely to be shown the door.

Not the planner who may have lead them in a particular direction.

Not the account exec who sees himself as ‘the client’s representative in the agency’.

Not the GAD who insists he really ‘knows the client inside out so they’ll never buy that.’

Just the team.

That’s why they’re right to fight for everything they believe in. And everyone.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Wow, what fun the creatives are having with their anonymous/semi-anonymous planner baiting.

Clearly the importance of the planner will depend upon how good that planner is. Whereas creatives automatically get a set of points, planners have to earn them by proving their worth with good briefs and creative judgement.

I can think of nothing worse than a bad planner on set; but I can think of no reason why a good planner shouldn't be a useful part of the team. Even if only to help the creative have enough backing to overrule the client.

Anonymous said...

Is Jeremy Craigen one of the said 100-pointers? I've been impressed by quite a few advertising people, but he definitely tops the list.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...


Of course the creatives should fight for their work. But if planners aren't seriously judged on the creative output then its not surprising they often give bad briefs.

Everyone is responsible for the output of the agency.

Anonymous said...

100 Pointers:
Jeremy Craigen
Damon Collins
Robert Saville / Mark Waites
Paul Brazier
Nick Gill
Leon Jaume
Trevor Beattie
Kim Papworth / Tony Davidson
Richard Flintham

Agree / disagree?
Missing persons?

Anonymous said...

Paul Brazier gets 55.
Ian Pearman 65.
Farah 75.
The rest of the employees at AMV add up to about 7.

Anonymous said...

100 Pointers? In your dreams. Maybe David Abbott, Webbo and Trotty in their heyday. No, the modern breed of CD just doesn't have that level of power with clients.

john p woods said...

You like T's, Scamp, have you got a Three Wolf Moon T-shirt?

Bosilawhat said...

Nice system, which probably just needs tweaking depending on country, level of director, type of client (cash cow vs pro bono), and type of spot (animation vs live-action).

The client could also be broken down into sub-categories, junior brand manager --> CEO.

Anonymous said...

Rob Mortimer, you're missing the point.

Everyone might be responsible for the output of the agency, but as the last stop in the process it's the Creatives who will get blamed if it's
shit. It's their neck on the block & their job at risk... not the Planners, not Accounts...

Anonymous said...

Planners should get 68 points
Clients 2

They're the only ones not talking bollocks and wanking off over the thought of the awards show.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Anon 9.33:

No I appreciate that creatives are the ones who are judged most; but the implication from others here is that planners aren't judged at all... and we should be.

If we write shit briefs its no wonder creatives end up making shit ads.

Anonymous said...

I suppose that the easiest way to ensure that planners are judged by the work their briefs result in is to acknowledge the planner when submitting work for awards.

That way creatives and planners get to share the glory - or humiliation.

Though I think most creatives would rather bleat on about how shit planners than share the limelight.