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

Planners Are About As Rock N Roll As Air Supply …
June 9, 2009, 6:38 am
Filed under: Comment

So yesterday I put up a link to an article Leon very kindly sent me about the future of adland being linked to the role of the ‘creative planner’.

In the post, I stated that I found this kind of view damaging to planning and asked for people to guess why.

Of course, because my wife decided that was the day to unveil my new blog header, no one really bothered to respond to the question – favouring to write disparaging comments about my eligibility for cherubship – but putting that aside, I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain why I get very frustrated when articles like that come out.

Adland is an industry of egos.

Hell, mine could put Gene Simmons to shame, but regardless how good I am – or think I am – the reality is that I know any success I’ve had/have has more to do with other people than just me.

I’m not being shy and/or humble [this is me we’re talking about!!!] it’s the fact that great work needs great people to make it happen and the article seems to imply ‘planning’ is the only discipline that can really make a difference, with everyone else relegated to nothing more than supporting/bit-part players.


Do I think planning is important?


Do I think planning can/should be the ignition to an idea?


Do I think a planner is the only person who can think?


Do I think a planner can do it all?

Not a fucking chance.

I’ve said it many times, but planning/planners should be judged on their ‘output’, not their intellectual – and often, unintelligible – input, and whilst I know some planners think they’re creative Gods, the reality is I’ve never met one who can do what a great creative can do, at least in terms of being able to develop the idea AND craft the finished work.

Hell, I’ve met more creatives that could give planners a run for their money than vice-versa … so this whole ‘planners are the new Rock Stars’ attitude is not only wrong, but driving an even bigger wedge between agency departments at a time when it needs it more than ever.

And whilst Richard Huntingdon recently wrote a critical article relating to the thought ‘a good idea can come from anyone’ … I believe it can, and have often been in the presence of it doing exactly that.

That doesn’t mean the account service, media planner, production assistant or receptionist will always come up with a groundbreakingly good idea … anymore than a planner/creative or client can [and let’s face it, with the standard of a lot of ads out there, the last thing I’d want to do is claim ‘ownership’ for the thinking] … but to suggest that they are in some way inferior to the ‘thinkers’ in an agency is about as misguided as his view all brainstorms are pointless.

Getting back to the article of yesterday …

Look I know a socialistic approach to business is suicide … and I know everyone has different talents and skills, which means their view may not be as valuable/relevant as those of others … but as much as I believe pragmatic planning/thinking should be the cornerstone for everything that goes on to be developed, I also know a good leader – where possible – will listen/explore/discover and learn from multiple viewpoints before deciding on the best course of action and that’s what drives me nuts about the article because it implies that approach is not necessary because a planner can do it all which is not only bollocks, but probably explains why [1] the only collaboration much of adland seems to engage in is blamethrowing and [2] why so much of adland is deep in the shit.

29 Comments so far
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i fucking love how you slag off the article for presenting planner types as amateur yodas then say youre still the fucking driving force behind everything.

fuck me that was genius manipulation and your seat in government can only be days away when youve finally mastered the art of putting in expense claims for fucking paperclips.

fortunately for mrs c grandmother dreams i know what youre trying to say so your balls live another day plus you take on huntingdon which gets you a little pat on the back because hes a smart fucker prone to put him and his kind on a pedestal a bit too fucking often. i cant wait for his post “like fuck it takes 2 to tango”.

i know why you didnt like the article beause you dont like the idea of totally fucking alienating the people who make you look good which shows underneath it all youre not as stupid as you look. lol.

Comment by andy@cynic

Ap is running it’s final laps. It is a minset (much like pimping) not boxes to tick. And most agencies would miss most planners like most people miss the ex partner.
Pay planners on commision like sales for a while, perhaps that would focus their eyes on output. All great strategic planners I know are big money whores anyways, in a good way.

Comment by Niko

Do you think commission is the right thing to do Niko?

I know why you are suggesting that but I think a commission type structure is flawed because as much as it can lead to a focus on ‘output’ it can also lead to a focua on ANY output … which is why we have our ‘royalty scheme’ which not only is linked to the creation of applied thinking, but also the longterm effectiveness of the ideas/work we produce – so it’s on a similar line to what you suggest but designed to ensure the agencies reputation is enhanced, not prone to exploitation.

God, is that the most professional response I’ve ever given? I think it is …

Comment by Rob

Can I have my money now please? Seeing as I focused on getting a wortwhile outcome/output out of you, that does wonders for ur long term rep?

Comment by Niko

How about I pay you in advice?


There you go, that’s worth $1000 of anyones money!


Comment by Rob

you need a shave.

Comment by Marcus

I didn’t realise you could see up my robes.

Boom [ugly thought] Tish.

How are you lovely – and you know I won’t accept any bog standard “fine, fine” answer.

Comment by Rob

I am not sure the writer was arguing that planners do it all themselves. I think he was merely pointing at the fact there might be a new breed of planner emerging that is a cross between a creative pro and an old school account planner. And they can come from either of those spheres.

Maybe calling them X-men is a little presumptious, but still.

Comment by Leon

fine fine.

Comment by Marcus

He might not have openly said those words, but [to me] it was implied … or at least gave the impression they were the saviours of adland.

The other thing that annoys me is this ‘new breed’ is not new.

Putting aside that great creatives have been great planners for bloody decades, the reality is I started at HHCL 20 years ago [holy god, TWENTY YEARS!] and they were advocating/doing this sort of thing back then … and arguably, to a better degree than anyone since … so whilst certain countries are only now latching on to planning [let alone ‘creative planning] it’s not really that new and it’s certainly not making the level of difference you would think it is having read that article.

Naturally I love planning and I think it’s vitally important, but I think it’s only as good as what it helps create [despite the planning trend to only focus on input, even when the ads are the usual category cliches] and I just hate anything that promotes ‘silo’ type thinking/processes/importance because in my experience, the greatest ideas come from the interaction of a few, hardly ever just one.

I love a creative is defending and a planner attacking … what a fucked up World we’re in, ha!

Comment by Rob

Marcus: Go and sit on the naughty step.

Comment by Rob

just to keep things fair, balanced and civil: has the writer of the piece been invited to reply?

I am sure he would not mind, seeing as he has genetics on his side.

Comment by niko

This blog is equal opportunity … anyone can comment and be slagged off. 🙂

Comment by Rob

It’s realising that it’s a great idea that’s the difficult part.

p.s. I met Gene Simmons once and can report that compared to him your ego is in proportion to the rest of you.

Comment by John

But that’s not something unique to adland … nor something a planner [creative or otherwise] is better suited to evaluating than others within adland, though I appreciate they may be better suited at actually ‘selling/defining’ the idea to the people that matter.

Besides, quite often it’s not coming up with ‘ideas’ that’s the hard bit, quite often the sticking point is how to make the bloody thing happen – but by the same token, too many people [agency and client] stop at the first hurdle which basically stops greatness before it has a chance to even really excite.

Anyway enough of all that – what I’m really interested in is whether Mr Dodds is giving us an exclusive that he was a notch on Mr Simmons bedpost!!!

Jesus – that’s almost as horrid a thought as a 60[?] year old man still dressing in face make up, high-heels and bondage glam gear whilst playing a blood-spouting bass to ‘Crazy, Crazy Nights’.

Comment by Rob

good point Campbell. great ideas are not always needed to achieve clients goals. great execution on the other hand is.

Simmons bedpost?

he made some revealing statements about you to Rob 🙂

Comment by niko

I was young and needed the money!

Comment by Rob

PS: Great ideas help though!

Comment by Rob

Is anything unique to adland?

Comment by John

and on that note..of to try and get some sleep, hoping that the ghost of Christmas future don’t show up 🙂

Comment by niko

from planners to dodds being felched by a member of kiss. this is the sort of debate thats almost worth coming back to this fucking blog for.

Comment by andy@cynic

Good planners are good.
Bad planners are shite.

Comment by Seb

By the way: I love your new header. I absolutely adore Jill for that. It takes a smart woman to make you love the way this header undermines your credibility.

Comment by Seb

What credibility?

Comment by John

that comment would be funny if it hadnt come from a man who just admitted engaging in sex games with the lizzard tongued member of kiss.

fucking pervert.

thats you dodds. and simmons but hed take that as a fucking compliment.

Comment by andy@cynic

rob, can you please steal me the backdrop to that conference stage set? just the bit with the headphones.. it illustrates a point in my research PERFECTLY.

Comment by lauren

You do realise how big that bloody headphone bit is don’t you Lauren????

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