The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


This Is Fighting Talk …
September 8, 2008, 6:52 am
Filed under: Comment

Robot Attack! Photo: Dan Coulter

OK, so I know this is going to be a hugely unpopular post … plus I know not everyone I am about to describe is like this … however I am getting abit scared of planners who have only worked in the medium of digital.

There, said it.

It’s not that they are evil or anything – it’s just that the media they work in is so formulated for immediate gratification, that they seem to have forgotten all about the importance of emotion, subtelty and/or intimacy.

Now it’s important you realise I’m not saying these guys are stupid – they’re devilishly clever – it’s just that there’s been more than a few occasions where I’ve read a comment/blog by a Digital Planner and been shocked how cold and clinical they are – which may explain why so many online campaigns/thinking feels executionally led rather than emotionally and value driven.

Am I talking bollocks?

Quite possibly … and as I said, I know I’m making a huge generalisation with this comment, not least because a couple of my mates are digital planners and they most definitely are intune with humanity … however one of my colleagues made the point that when television came about, media people [ie: radio buyers] weren’t suddenly joined by a whole new team of people who only specialised in the television medium, they went out and learnt about the new technology and adapted their skills to work with that medium too.

The_Boxing_Match_by_FrumpGurl

Of course you could argue this approach ends up limiting the potential of the channel because it creates jack-of-all-trades rather than ‘masters of one’, but I think ‘medium segregation’ is ultimately stopping people from being able to appreciate and develop across multiple platforms – and in a time where clients are demanding more and more idea/media neutrality, it’s going to be very hard if the people they rely on have a myopic approach to communication development.

It is for this reason that when we started cynic, we insisted on having 2 planners work on each account … people who share the same philosophies about brand building/creation, but have very different ways of getting there … because we felt by them debating, arguing and fighting for the best insight/idea, our clients got a much better result than if all objective viewpoints were eliminated throughout the process.

With this in mind, I feel the best solution for digital agencies would be if they hired traditional creative planners to work alongside their digital counterparts – not because one is better than the other, but because I believe the results would be far more interesting and powerful than yet another ‘technology over human’ strategy.

Hey, they may even learn a thing or 2 from eachother.
Β 
Monitor

Oh, and before someone starts shouting that my ramblings are that of a communication dinosaur – I would like to point out this has nothing to do with age, it’s all about attitude.

If people still believe the net is the sole medium of the young then they need their head kicking – and even then, to suggest the younger generation are immune from the power and manipulation of emotion is ridiculous. Lets not forget the gaming industry have been using values and emotion to create more powerful user experiences for years so why so many digital planners [not all, just quite alot] seem to ignore this and just focus on the ‘instant gratification’ is beyond me.

Digital is an amazing medium … it has almost single-handedly brought back creativity into the consideration set of clients … however if adland continues to treat online users like they are emotionless freaks [accountants and lawyers excluded], then the true potential of the net may never be truly seen.

OK, now slag me off …


64 Comments

So you finally get me to comment on your blog, are you happy now?
I can’t let your generalization pass without standing up for my fellow digital planners. Of all people you know there’s plenty of “traditional” planners in employment who don’t know a thing about human psychology so to imply it’s just guys employed in digital is bull. We are well trained and well versed in people’s attitudes and habits and jump to creative output as little or as much as you and your “old school” planners do. There isn’t as much difference as you seem to think except we’re the new generation and you’re the old.
Did that bother you Rob? Not nice is it? It has nothing to do with what medium you specialize in (and you can save your “we should not be tied to a medium” speech, heard it all before) it’s about your training, attitude and ability which is why underneath all your frothy mouth ranting I sympathize with some of your comments (especially the untapped potential) and encourage you to slag them off like you slag any planner who is talking rubbish.
You have to remember you are a bit different from most planners and I’ll leave you to work out if that’s me being complimentary or taking the piss. Besides this is all George’s theory isn’t it?

Comment by David Jackson

back in your fucking cage dave you know youre shit with real life πŸ™‚

i know what youre blathering on about campbell and luckily for you you did the old presell generalisation bollocks to cover your arse but you have a bit of a point and so does dave so instead of being petty little fucks lets agree i am brilliant and get on with things that actually fucking matter

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m guessing you’re back Andy!

Hello David – I can now die in the knowledge my ultimate goal has been achieved, ha!

You are quite right, there are a huge amount of ‘old school’ planners [thanks for that, ha] who are equally as ignorant about the needs/wants/fears/emotions in people’s lives – however I was just muttering out loud that a planner who has only worked in one medium [which could just as much be DM for example as it is Digital] could be more myopic in their views of how to engage an audience [than say a media/idea neutral planner] because they focus on how people use their specific medium rather than appreciate how other issues affect people’s attitude, choice and habits – which could ultimately lead to more effective and powerful communication ideas.

Maybe.

Oh this is coming out all wrong which means I could be talking shite … so yeah, this is all George’s thoughts so lets blame him!

PS: I know EXACTLY what you mean when you say “I’m a bit different from most planners” and so you can expect a clip round the head when I see you πŸ™‚

Comment by Rob

OK, there are lots of digital planners out there, digital agencies, digital creative teams sitting rather aloofly away from the main mac boys (and don’t even get me started on the fact that most ‘young’ creatives can’t even draw – so are totally reliant on good old Mr Jobs to be able to get an idea out of their head and onto a medium that can be shared) – but the fact is whenever I’m on the net (surfing I believe the youngsters call it) all I see are banner ads and dreadful pop up things that get in the way of whatever it is I’m trying to actually do (porn mainly).
when TV first came along the ads were just the same as when they were on the radio – except that you could see the announcer – rather than just hear his voice. totally failing to utilize the opportunities that the new medium offered – vignettes, humanity, product demonstration, comedy, animation, personalities – this took a few years to develop. It seems to me that this is what most advertising on the net is – OOH ads, little TV ads or someone getting into your face and interrupting what you are doing by telling you that you need to buy something, or pretending to offer you a prize or ask your opinion and then trying to tell you something. we have just changed medium – not technique. if this is what the digital planners are helping change – then good on them, more power to there mouses, but please – get on with it. Sorry Rob, I know this is your blog and you have the moan-opoly, but couldn’t help myself

Comment by Mr McG

i’m not a planner, but surely a huge part of being a planner is being interested in all the ways that people communicate. which means that the digi-bombs need to get off their arse and talk to someone face-to-face and the old schoolers need to put the de bono book down and start exploring the interweb a little more.

Comment by lauren

Mr McG, I think we all know that this blog isn’t owned by me, it just has my name on it so you lot can bitch and moan without the effort of having to write any rubbishy post.

I don’t think digital agencies are just producers of banner ads – and I know you know that really – however you are right when you say that sometimes what is hyped as ‘new age’ is nothing more than a television commercial on the web.

There are some amazing bits of online communication – but more often than not, they are created by individuals than agencies – which goes to show the online commercial creative industry isn’t that dissimmilar to the real World commercial creative industry πŸ™‚

And Lauren – you are a planner, just not one in an agency – you know more about life than many and should not hide from that fact. However your point is valid, which is why I’ve always said planning in an outdoor pursuit, not an indoor one.

Comment by Rob

I think Lauren summed up my thoughts perfectly…

I think in time both “sides” will naturally come closer together and merge into one anyways. If not entirely then they’ll def “understand” each other better.

That being said though, I’m constantly arguing that planners need to know about digital just as much as the other stuff, because digital isn’t a new “idea” it’s merely another channel to host executions. Different rules, different ways of going about things, but it should still all ladder back up to this central core IDEA that the brand planner (traditional or digital it won’t matter) should be acting as the custodian of.

Comment by Age

nonsense.

Comment by Marcus

I’m not saying Planners shouldn’t understand digital – they should, they should understand all things people surround and involve themselves in – I’m just saying that if you only have knowledge in how people interact with one particular medium, then your ability to truly appreciate what is going on in people’s lives is going to be limited which can undermine your ability to make your messages more effective.

Hell, if people were static beings, we wouldn’t need planners or creatives at all.

However Marcus disagrees with me so I wait for his response which like David’s, will probably put me in my place πŸ™‚

Comment by Robert

Digital hasn’t β€žmadeβ€œ bad planners – digital has just given us an insight to how many bad planners there are. They were always there – it’s just now we see more of them. If the internet didn’t exist, and there were no such things as digital agencies then the same people would be making the same mistakes in other media.

Comment by Marcus

I’m with Marcus and Lauren here.
As a good planner you need to be smart, interested and interesting yourself (otherwise creatives give a shit about what you tell them – I bet Andy will turn this into something against Rob, will you Andy?).
So the planners you think are shite in digital would be shite in traditional media as well. Because ideas give a shit about channels. They are good or bad. In TV, the worldwide web thingy or a tetrapak.
But I get what you mean, Rob. Though I think it’s more about relevance than emotion and to make strategic ideas emotional is Andy’s and my job. Unfortunately I haven’t seen a web thingy that was really emotional. They are clever, witty, interesting, funny or damn cool but I hardly can remember something emotional. But that’s the creatives fault. We haven’t found a way to do something emotional with the web apart from embedding movies. So stay with the stuff we did for years instead of finding our ways online.

Comment by Seb

I absolutely see your point Marcus and I agree digital hasn’t made all planners bad, however when a strategists perspective of how society acts/thinks is limited to the exposure of one medium [be it digital, dm or whatever] I think that’s quite a scary situation … and as bad as the many planners in adland are, they at least tend to have a broader perspective of what’s going on even if they’re too thick to use it in the communication they help to create.

Comment by Rob

Are you saying planners can’t develop ideas based emotions Seb?

Please tell me you don’t really think that … it would break my heart because you’ve worked at an agency where the greatest emotional strategy of all time was developed – NIKE.

Christ, if planners only develop ideas based on rational considerations then they should all be shot because they’re a waste of fucking space. Sure sometimes a rational idea can work [Ronseal for example] however as much as many creatives may like to think all the brilliance comes from them, quite often the spark is driven from an emotional idea created by a planner.

I’m totally upset and shocked at that comment Seb and I can guarantee you as much as you may think Andy hates all planners, he doesn’t, he hates the ones that you obviously have only been exposed to.

Comment by Rob

I’m throwing a tanty … Jesus, I’m throwing a tanty just like a creative who has been told his idea is off brief πŸ™‚

Comment by Rob

completely off topic, but i just wanted to boast that i’ve just been shortlisted for a major public art commission in melbourne. i rock. so there.

Comment by lauren

you rock, darling.
and rob, you rock as well.
ha.

Comment by Seb

Well done lovely – that is absolutely toptastic news – so when do you find out and how can we ‘influence’ the final decision?

And you rock because you’re talented … you are inspired by emotions and are open to all things in life not just the habits on those who use/focus on the digital media.

[I know that last paragraph is completely rubbish, I’m still in shock over Seb’s comment πŸ™‚ ]

Comment by Rob

thank you sweetheart. [both of you]

actually rob, you can influence the decision by helping me get in contact with the google maps kids here (long story, i’ll email you). and when you find out what the project is, you may eat those words, so don’t go shooting your anti-digital mouth off just yet.

you have no idea how shocked i am – the first draft of my submission was a complete shambles and i only decided to actually officially lodge it 2 days before it was due. that’s why i rock – i have fluking powers.

Comment by lauren

Oh, I forgot to read you comment on my comment. And obviously you got me wrong. Planners can develop emotional strategies but without those people who bring these thoughts to life they are just thoughts. Every core strategy of ads we call emotional is emotional because of the work that has been done following this strategy. I started in advertising because of Levi’s “Odyssey”. The thought behind it was “Freedom to move”. But without two peeps running through wall to HΓ€ndel it would have just been another sentence.

In short: I believe that only the good work of a few people can sum up to great work. Good planning and bad creative work is shit. Bad planning and good creative work is shit either.

Oh god, this has become another debate on principles, has it?

Comment by Seb

I AM NOT ANTI DIGITAL … can we all remember what I’ve been doing and for whom over the last few months and potentially for the next few years?

Send me the info Lauren and I’ll see what I can do and Seb, I am breathing much more easily – my wife thanks you but Andy probably is upset πŸ™‚

Comment by Rob

Didn’t want to cause heavy breathing. That’s a job I gladly leave to Jill and Jill alone.

Comment by Seb

You mean when she makes me run down 5 flights of stairs to catch the cat?

Comment by Rob

Running down the stairs to catch the pussy?
It’s a little odd to describe it that way but definitely interesting. Did you learn that at the gentlemen school of charme?

Comment by Seb

Careful Seb – my Mum comes on this blog. Sadly πŸ™‚

Comment by Robert

I just repeated what you said, you dirty old man.

Comment by Seb

Rob – Seb’s met me. I’m sure that comment’s unfounded. πŸ˜‰

I do find it hilarious that we’re supposed to connect to the average person/specific audiences, and yet our offices are in South Kensington. There’ll be a lot of russian billionaire themed work..I can sense it.

Comment by Will

There is a lot of stuff that disconnects a lot of ad people from their audience…

Comment by Seb

Thanks Seb, you’ve let me feel how Dodds must feel each and every day πŸ™‚

And Will that’s a great point – well it is if you work for some poncy network!

Comment by Rob

… booze, for example.

Comment by Marcus

Lauren – very well done. Nice one.

Comment by Will

This is almost like old times isn’t it?

And Marcus, because I’m a bit thick today [as witnessed by this post] can you tell me what you mean when you say ‘booze’ – I’ve completely lost the thread. As I said, just like old times πŸ™‚

Comment by Rob

what Seb said

Comment by Marcus

Britney Spears looked fit again at the VMA’s. when in doubt throw some boobs in the strategy. digital or otherwise.

Comment by Nick Rothstein

Now that’s strategy πŸ™‚

Comment by Rob

I think overly relying on data is madness, and it’s the root of my frustration with media agencies.

Being too group/qual lead isn’t always the best either, but it doesn’t lead to statements like this one (witnessed on Friday):

‘Ah, the dwell time was 5 minutes – the campaign MUST have been successful!’. AAAAAAAARRRGH!! πŸ™

Comment by Will

it’s all about idea neutral thinking, looking beyond gender stereotypes and digging deep to come up with an universal truth.

One Word: boobs

Comment by Nick Rothstein

While I still have moments wondering if the digital reality isn’t that pretty much everyone has got annoyed with some clcik-through in the past and now avoids all of them like the plague – with the exception of teenagers/students and any one else who is either time rich and cash poor – I know that will ultimately change and it will become effective. Cue loads of bile and “data” from the digital industry.

But what I think the communications dinosaur is trying to say is that the problem is with clients as much as with agencies. Why would you hire a solely digital agency and not insist that its planners work with the other planners to ensure that all the output across all media is reflecting the same insight?

Or is that too simplistic? Do we really change into different people when we go online (with the exception of this blog of course)?

Comment by John Dodds

I hate how some planners don’t realise how data just tells you what happened, not why!

Without doubt data is vital, but to use it in isolation is madness and tends to represent someone who wants to keep his/her boss happy rather than actually make things change.

Mind you – as Nick points out – you don’t need thinking or data if you choose to go with the strategic atom bomb: BOOBIES.

Seriously, if clients find that secret out, we’re all out of jobs!

Comment by Rob

Funny how many clients treat digital as this totally different media channel … where the people on it can work independently from everything else going on around them. Mind you, these are people that still call the net NEW MEDIA so we shouldn’t be too surprised.

Comment by Rob

Too many planners don’t understand digital, and too many digital planners don’t understand non-digital planning.

I think thats a fair comment really. There are plenty of both who do, but there are still too many who dont.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Argh. New media… horrible horrible phrase.

Like viral, or second life.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Or agencies who put an ‘i’ infront of their name to prove they have a digital division … ignoring the fact this demonstrates they aren’t intergrated at all.

Comment by Rob

Apparently though many clients wont work with digital agencies who arent seperate; hence the wave of semi-integration.

i… or e… = Microsoft certified
A negative badge of honour!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

rob, as andy would say ‘gotcha!’ – i know you’re not anti-digital sweets..just yankin’ your chain πŸ™‚

Comment by lauren

I would say they’re stupid to adopt that stance and then I remember how many agencies ‘digital capabilities’ are basically just a computer – done to create the illusion [and thus maximise income] rather than really take this channel seriously.

Comment by Rob

Yup!
Perception: iAgency Digital – dedicated digital hub
Reality – Bill who did a bit of flash in 2001, and Jim, a shy html coder with no concept of business

Comment by Rob Mortimer

“digital” isn’t a channel, it’s a context.

Comment by Marcus

Why is everyone going on about how new this digital stuff is? I had a watch made of it back in 1979 and it was shit.

Comment by Billy Whizz

life was so much easier when digital was a shit watch.

Comment by Marcus

Don’t mess with digital watches. There’s nothing better than a fine Casio LED-backlight water resistant digital alarm chronograph. Wow, what a product name.

Comment by Seb

jesus billy, you ARE old!

Comment by lauren

I was 3 in 1979. The watch was one of the perks in having divorced parents vying for their childs affection. I milked it like a bastard. πŸ™‚

Comment by Billy Whizz

shit, i should have paid more attention. i think all i got was sweets. and chores in 2 houses.

Comment by lauren

Early LED watches are worth a fair bit now.
Nostalgic memory alteration… its a weird thing.

Games were easier when all that you could get was spacewar. Would I want that now? Fuck no.
Give me complexity and a 360 thank you…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

But at least the old days produced games with real names like Merlin and Simon. Who the fuck would come up with a game and call it Simon? Oh yeah, some prick called Simon.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Billy: Simon Says

Hehe

Comment by Rob Mortimer

That explains everything Billy … πŸ™‚

Hey Marcus, what do you mean about digital being ‘contextual’ – I think I get what you mean, but would like to know more. Oh and it is nice seeing you create food for thought with your comments rather than your usual mayhem – must be because Andy is still away. [Yes I know I thought he was back but apprentely he was in ‘transit’ – so his wife must of shown him how to use the airport computer, ha!]

Comment by Rob

digital is context because we ARE IN IT.

I may build on this if you wish.

Comment by Marcus

actually, no, you will have to employ me if you want a build on that idea.

Comment by Marcus

They can afford it Marcus, they’re charging me top dollar on everything. πŸ™‚

Comment by Bazza

they’re worth every bloody cent Bazza, so stop fucking moaning.

Comment by Marcus

You’re right Marcus but today Pete is worth more.

PS- That’s just a friendly bit of intercompany banter.

Comment by Bazza

worth his weight in gold.

ps. that just a little bit of inter-shed banter πŸ˜‰

Comment by Marcus

[…] made a comment on this post that digital isn’t a channel, but a context. What follows is just some rough thinking, so […]

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