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

The Relentless Pursuit Of Nothing …
November 13, 2009, 6:42 am
Filed under: Comment

The older I get, the more I feel disconnected to the advertising industry.

Actually let’s be more specific …

The older I get, the more I feel disconnected to the planning industry.

Before I begin, I need you to watch this …

That clip is the first part in a series the great guys at PSFK have pulled together and whilst there are a whole heap of very clever guys on it – all making interesting comment – I can’t help but feel Piers words right at the very beginning, are the most accurate and appropriate.

“I don’t know what planning is or really does”

He’s so bloody right.

A while back I made a comment on some blog about why I thought Daddy NP was a brilliant planner and in short, it was because he was working outside of London in an agency that didn’t have the most glam of clients.

My main point was that all the odds were against him, but with tenacity, passion, intelligence and sheer bloody action, he made them not only value it, but care.

Now here’s the thing … whilst I am in awe at many of the planners out there, I can’t help but feel there’s too many who are basically just lazy.

They don’t leave their desk … they don’t ever try stuff … they don’t explore or interact with the real side of life … they just sit there, talking about the latest theory they read in someone’s book/ blog/magazine then either complain that they are not getting the acclaim they feel they deserve and/or bitch about how the creatives are not doing what they were told.

A while back, as part of a project I/we were doing, I asked people to answer some questions about their personal employment situation.

We did this mini-survey across a multitude of industries and yet the answers were the same.

Regardless of whether people liked or disliked their bosses, in the main, they didn’t want their bosses job as it currently stood –because they felt it involved things they didn’t want to do.


What a bunch of entitled little Prince and Princesses we have in the World.

Of course everyone wants glory but there’s way too many out there who want to achieve it with minimum effort.

The irony of this attitude is that I truly believe you cannot truly feel achievement if you haven’t gone through some pain to get it … so in my theory, it means we have a generation of planners who will either never achieve the acclaim they seek and/or believe they are justified to have … or they will get, it but never truly appreciate it because they’ve just had it easy.

Fuck me, I’m ranting like a 90 year old aren’t I!

One of the best things about living/working in Asia is that there is no real ‘planning culture’.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s some truly great planners out here, but because the Asian business dynamic is ‘do’ rather than ‘say’ – we have to, like NP – prove our worth on a daily basis as opposed to just getting together and ‘naval gazing’ and/or ‘back slapping’ like so many in Western markets do.

Of course not every planner in the West is like this … just like not every planner or client in Asia is how I’ve described either … however as much as I pray at the feet of the wonderful and clever Gareth, I have to say I don’t quite agree with his comment that clients don’t know how to use planners correctly because ultimately we – as a discipline and an industry – have allowed this to happen and unless we take action so they – and people like Piers – see/hear/feel what we do [and as a byproduct LEARN how to get the best out of us], then it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets worse.

Too many planners have the ego and pretention of Bono, but at least the Irish fuck does stuff rather than just talks about it – I hope more in adland takes note.

31 Comments so far
Leave a comment

“Too many planners have the ego and pretention of Bono, but at least the Irish fuck does stuff rather than just talks about them”

Brilliant stuff.

You should be chairman of the APG because what you are talking about are issues that are affecting the long term value and role of planning from client, creative, agency and industry perspectives.

What I like most is that you’ve somehow made it that any planner outside of a central advertising city or district can feel elite to their big city brothers and sisters. You’re the Michael Moore of planning. 🙂

You might be bordering on generalizing in some parts but overall what you say is fair yet pragmatic at the same time. How does that work?

Comment by Pete

fuck me, that holiday really did bring the old campbell up front and centre again.

the fact that video clip doesnt include a single fucking interview with a single agency creative or client shows whats wrong with planning. funny that a discipline thats supposed to understand, engage and inspire a shift in reality has become such a bunch of elitist, back slapping, input focused, uncollaborative, egotists. might have a lot to do with your killer post of yesterday.

the people at the top of the discipline dont fucking help much either. as far as i know they only pay lip service to collaboration, focusing on brainwashing their little groupies on how fucking brilliant their discipline is and how they are the mini rulers of the fucking world.

to quote your favourite “get out of jail card” phrase, not all planners are like this but im with pete you should be chairman of the apg or whatever the fuck its called because you do walk the fucking talk, you do value output and you do fucking have an open mind to what can be done or created but then i remember you once bitched about the planning club and said a creative should really be at the top table so people remember that writing documents, books and blogs isnt the sign of brilliance, producing shit is.

Comment by andy@cynic

When any discipline becomes exclusive in order to raise their profile and commercial value they run the risk of concentrating their efforts on what they want to say rather than what their audience wants or needs to hear.

Andy’s comment about who isn’t featured in the video is especially pertinent but not as pertinent as the words spoken by Piers who, with the greatest respect to the other celebrity talking heads, has encapsulated the commercial and creative problem with planning (and to a lesser extent, the communication industries as a whole) with more clarity than everyone else.

There are parts in this post where I may have some alternative views but they are minor and don’t deviate from the fundamental issue you are raising regarding the planning discipline, from training to output, as a whole.

Good work Robert.

Comment by George

what george said.

Comment by andy@cynic

You don’t agree with everything I am saying in this post George? Bang goes your Christmas card.

I’m not going to say anything until a few more people have commented but I hope – like yesterdays post – it stays on topic and attracts some new people making some new viewpoints.

One thing I will say is that I have nothing against the people featured on the video – my post has little to do with them – it’s more about the seemingly elitist attitude and approach a lot of planning and planners now have that is bothering me though Andy’s comment about who was featured [or ‘wasn’t’ as is the case] in the clip is a great one.

Comment by Rob

The post and comments are great. Looking back one of the best things you guys did was expose me to other industries use of planners, even when they went under different names.

I learnt more about broad perspectives, collaboration and creative possibilities than any of my friends in more traditional agencies and now I work at Apple on npd. Enough said.

Comment by Bazza

“best things you guys did was expose me to other industries use of planners, even when they went under different names”

so why the fuck did you act like a 5 year old girl being denied a pony ride when we kept telling you where we were going to send you?

so this is your admission we were right is it? couldnt of done you too much good, your iphone is still riddled with fucking flaws. 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

Lucky I’m not sending you one then.

Comment by Bazza


Comment by andy@cynic

Brilliant post Rob. I agree with what Pete, George and Andy have said, however surprised I am about the alignment and consensus 😉

Whilst I totally understand the inherent need within the industry to assess planning in isolation given the way the discipline has hyped itself (hunger for fame, acclaim and monetary gain), in the greater scheme of things what matters is the idea and the work. Can you evaluate planning in any other way? I’d find it infinitely more interesting if Piers’ question was put to a number of creatives.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

ugh – i was content to be behind the scenes watching things unfold and observe but then you said “new viewpoints” which sends me into a “must respond” mode…

the video – i dont understand any of what is being said apart from the first chap and john gerzema – and i also dont understand what a planner is (well yes i do know what it is – but i dont understand how a planner becomes a professionally recognized and reputable planner if we are currently ALL standing in a “financial crisis” – unless that was the planners plan – if so – WHO DOES THAT???) on the same hand i dont understand how one could be under a contract as a creative either – and the whole planners complaining that creatives arent doing whats expected out of them in the time given – well if youre the planner – isnt that your problem? (im speaking in general here – hope none of you take offense…)

what i personally feel and am unfortunate to have to experience on a day to day basis – being a creative individual has attracted me a lot of recognition but rewarded me with a lot of unappreciation (sorry i guess im going to be creating a lot of words as i go along here…) – i find that there are far too many people swimming around in search for originality and an idea thats better than slice bread but are unwilling to help one when its staring at them right in the face. why? because they didnt come up with it themselves.

but surely they already accepted that they were not in a position to come up with an idea which is what spurred them in search for one from another…

i dont know what i call myself amongst rob and the other folk on this blog – what i do know is that since meeting rob – i havent felt the need to silence my urges to do things in fear that i would alienate myself even further from my surroundings – i just do them as and when i am compelled to – it may not be accepted or attract the results one would hope it does but at the very least it comes directly from me.

the originality that people seek – well its actually really simple – 9/10 in the past few months ive been observing (in pain mind you) the answers are right in front of their faces. but people (like the ones in the video minus first chap and gerzema) have overcomplicated the solutions by thinking (or planning?) that the answers must be of quantum physics level and must be from a person that studied in oh could it not be possible that one could be of intellectual and academic equivalent despite not having a piece of over priced paper to prove it?

“how do you know then?” – well if that person is placed in the same surroundings – isnt that proof enough? (and by my saying that – is proof that answers are right in front of them) – i may have gone overboard with my viewpoint – sorry

but! my final rant is this: i think there needs to be a real understanding and appreciation for those who dare to speak up and out on ideas and thoughts that come from the real within – especially now – those that think the one that dares to speak up and out are seeking to gain – well of course they are – thats why they dared to do it – if they didnt why would they bother right? and if they gained – well isnt that fair play to them since they dared to in the first place?

you know rob i could go on and on and on – back up my arguments with a bajillion philosophical theories and principles – case studies and examples – but uhh – i have a few days left to finish my THIRD masterpiece haha!

much appreciated for the opportunity to speak!

Comment by skytao

Nice point Fredrik. If more planners stopped acting like they were the only guys capable or allowed to think or evaluate work, it might get better.

Comment by DH

fuck em. Planners. It is great to u care for the wider planning world Rob, but in all the time I have been exposed to your views, you have been going on about this. and nothing has changed. So take their clients, money and women and make you and yours wealthy. and if you do become chairman Mao, why not of a new thing instead of the APG? that way one can redefine the rules and definitions of what a planner is, and you could then see how few would adhere to your way of seeing, put a bullet in the issue and feel no remorse what so ever when you (again) take all their money and clients. You have been to kind to long ( as we both know).

Comment by Niko

I’ve read this blog for a long time but this is my first comment.
I agree with Niko except for one thing, planners attitudes have changed but its mainly lip service because its the cool thing to talk about even when they can’t think outside their process and traditional channels of marketing and communication.
You and the other planners and agencies should stop caring and start taking their business and if you need someone to help manage it, I’m available. Love the blog, don’t stop.

Comment by Laurie McCabe

(to kind for to long towards bullshitters I meant to say. Including me of course (in the bullshitter group, not your group of people who care 🙂 )

Comment by Niko

Completely agree with all of this. The planner in an ivory tower view is such fucking nonsense.

Yet industry bodies try their hardest to promote the idea that the planner HAS to be the smartest one in the room.

Balls. I’m with you Rob; you can’t learn planning behind a desk, or without having to struggle a bit to get where you want to go.

(That said, I don’t want my boss’s job, but that’s another debate. 🙂 ).

Comment by Will

Sometimes it staggers me that there are planners out there who don’t want to get involved or try things or even keep learning.

We don’t have to be the smartest people in the room, we have to be the most curious, the most inquisitive and empathetic.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

problem mortimer is too many planners think theyre so fucking smart they dont want to get involved they want to dictate and the only thing most of the fuckers have ever achieved is knowing how to write a long winded fucking powerpoint doc.
i can say campbell become a much better planner for ads and clients the moment he started his own business and clients respected him a hundred fucking times more because he knew what they were going through and could explain why the fuck they should be braver. and this is a guy who wears fucking sandals.

want to be a planner? do something great outside of fucking advertising and try shit rather than talk about it in your little stepford wives groups.

send cheques to the usual address tightfucks.

Comment by andy@cynic

how do you know when youre a planner? and where does one go?

Comment by sky tao

when you think youre fucking gods gift to everything.

Comment by andy@cynic

thats every man in the world. what if youre a woman?

Comment by sky tao


Comment by Marcus

You cant shift units if youre stuck in a silo.

Comment by John

“when you think youre fucking gods gift to everything.”

So when did you start planning Andy?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Comment by fuck

i dont think that mortimer, others do you cheeky fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

who is that scarecrow with the yellow hair and the pout?

Comment by lauren

Lindsay Lohan … but to be fair, that photo was taken after she had just seen the disaster porn and intellectually reprehensible movie, “2012”.

Comment by Rob

Thank god I found myself an investor instead of a Planning Director. I do all my planning gigs from my new restaurant in Mumbai now. Ha. :D.

People who reads this blog when visiting Mumbai are most welcome to my restaurant.

Comment by pooR_Planner

Have you really started a restuarant? That is so bloody cool … send me details, I’m heading to Mumbai soon and apart from saying hello, would like to scoff down some food that will no doubt make my mouth pray for rain!

Comment by Rob

Will mail you the details. 😀

Comment by pooR_Planner

Leave a Reply