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

Same. But Different.
August 18, 2011, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

Following on from yesterday’s rant, I thought I’d post something I wrote for the lovely folk at WARC a couple of weeks ago.

They’d asked for my view on planning in Asia because they’d just run a competition to identify – and celebrate – some of Asia’s best ideas and wanted a counter-perspective to the views written by one of the competitions main judges … the wonderful Gareth Kay.

The reality is that I wasn’t going to end up writing something that made Gareth’s opinion look daft because:

1. I’m not clever enough to do that.

2. He is stupidly smart and Worldly and summed up his views with clarity, not prejudice.

3. I’m not some blind advocate of Asian planning – infact I’m pretty bloody critical about the state of the discipline here.

4. I don’t believe Asia is better than the West, I just don’t think it’s – as many seem to think, especially in adland – worse.

So with all that in mind, I wrote a little piece that – I hope – conveys what any planner thinking of coming to this part of the World should expect to find and what any planner currently working in this part of the World, should hope to deliver.


In theory, planning in Asia should be no different to planning in the rest of the World. But it is. For both good and bad reasons.

The reality is planning is still a relatively new concept here – embraced as much for ‘agency fee justification’ as it is to help liberate new ideas, thinking and creativity.

There is a long way to go – of which nurturing and training local talent needs to be a priority – however in some areas, we’re miles ahead of our Western counterparts.

Whereas many planners in the West can find themselves spending months upon months fine tuning a few words to create the perfect brand pyramid, out here the pace of change – driven, admittedly by market opportunities that have been in the West for decades – means the gap between thinking and doing can be in the blink of an eye.

What this means is we not only have to be more entrepreneurial, collaborative and open minded in our approach, we also have to trust our gut more.

That might sound dangerous because what you feel in your gut might be the result of a dodgy meal rather than a great idea – but at a time where nothing seemingly happens unless it has been tested to within an inch of it’s life, it means we get to produce ideas that tend to be bursting with energy rather than sanitized by process.

Of course this situation isn’t exclusive to Asian planning and without doubt, there are many occasions where planners have contributed to the creation of blandness rather than colour – however, because of our need to truly demonstrate our value to clients [and colleagues] as well as keep pace with the speed of change across the region – we probably get to make more things happen more often.

What makes this exciting is that because Asian business [including Western brands in Asia] is only interested in action – rather than conversation – as long as you can make it make business sense, anything is possible which is why the planning community here tend to talk more about creation than the West’s love of discussing theory.

It’s different here. But not in a bad way.

30 Comments so far
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the olsen twins might be twins but one looks like shes a fucking evil freak. the sort whod bone billy then poison him.

Comment by andy@cynic

not sure what would be the more fucking freaky, fucking billy or poisoning him.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’d do both. Have to be at the same time.

Comment by Billy Whizz

if you think thats because your cock might snap one of them in half youre fucking wrong.

Comment by andy@cynic

This might be the greatest ‘insult’ comment I’ve ever read.

Comment by Rob

where the fuck is my prize?

Comment by andy@cynic

any other fucker think its funny how they are as thin as matches and have the same level of acting talent. no? miserable fuckers.

Comment by andy@cynic

is this week your annual “be serious” blog post week? its not fucking working.

Comment by andy@cynic

quite nice overview campbell. though its only because you make reference to dodgy meals. all the planning shit bored me to fucking tears.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’re on a real pro-asia, pro-planning focus this week aren’t you Rob. It’s working, it made me wonder if I left there too early. Except I know I didn’t. I was terrible there which is why I look at what you’ve done and are doing and nod my head in respect.

Comment by Pete

nod your head? to campbell? dont be such a fucking wimp.

Comment by andy@cynic

Good man.

Comment by George

the words good and man should never ever be fucking used in relation to rob fucking pansy campbell. sort yourfuckingself out.

Comment by andy@cynic

This all sounds like you’re comparing the size of your pricks and then decided they’re the same.

Comment by DH

i think planners are massive pricks.
with fucking minute cocks.

Comment by andy@cynic

where the fuck is lauren?

Comment by andy@cynic

dodds hasnt commented yet. probably too fucking captivated by the olsen children and cant type with one hand.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’re in fine form today aren’t you.

Comment by Rob

I’d argue there’s many clients – at least in India – who want the thinking and the long-term as much as the execution bit.

I think I’ve worked with four firms in the past two years, where we pitched strategy only, worked with them for six months and got that aligned, before also taking their creative duties.

On a side note, I’d also push back on the notion that Western planning is better or more developed — I’ll agree with the word ‘systematized’.

I find as many ridiculously blind/disconnected brand positions, pyramids etc alongside good ones when pulling stuff from networks (and I’ve worked with three of the best) as I do from the region.

Not saying Asian planning or Western planning is better — not even making that comparison. Just saying that there’s good and bad everywhere. Though it’s certainly (probably) more systematic, and needs less defending and pushing in the west.

And I’m rambling again. BRB!

Comment by Aditya

All very good points Aditya, though my representation of Asian planning was not including India because – as you said – it is a nation that loves talking/debating over stuff rather than, at least in my experience there, than doing it. Of course I’m generalising, but compared to China’s attitude of ‘cumulative development’, the approach of Indian brands in comms creation is very different.

Would be interested if you agree or think I am a racist bastard. Hopefully not the latter.

Comment by Rob

A bit of generalizing, perhaps. 🙂

In my limited experience, India’s not more or less “talking/debating over stuff rather than doing it” than anywhere else in the World.

Thoreau wrote “and thus will men lie on their backs, talking about the fall of man, never trying to get up” two hundred years ago — that’s most people in most places in the World, even today.

Not sure what ‘cumulative development’ means — if it’s ‘thinking and doing’, I’d argue it’s as strong/weak in India as anywhere in the World.

The larger “execution”-orientation of China is really a post-Mao, post-Confucian phenomenon following the purge that was the Cultural Revolution, and that’s more about emptiness of thought than it is a virtue. Is the gap between expedience and strategic thought what you’re referring to when you say that there’s potential for Planning to do stuff in the Sino-centered version of Asia?

Comment by Aditya

Just thought I’d pop in and say hello. Hello.

Comment by Marcus

Hello lovely … how are you? Toptastic of you to pop by, hope you are well and happy.

Comment by Rob

all is smashing.

Comment by Marcus

I note that nobody has “liked” this post.

Comment by John

you finally posted doddsy. got a sore wrist from all the a level lady spotting? at least youd have a better excuse than campbell who went all fucking limp wristed for no fucking reason. unless you were forcing him to do shit to you doddsy which even a sick fuck like you would hopefully regard as a depth too fucking deep.

Comment by andy@cynic

One thing I can’t abide is Western global brand managers who think their Asian markets are thick/backward/inferior
I sort of know what you mean on this, something or other I’m working on always has E&E theorising and doing no much, while A&P just gets on with it.

Comment by northern

And don’t forget, it’s english a levels results day. Cue lots of giggly girls jumping up and down all over the media for a day or so. No blokes funnily enough.

(don’t you love this site is called ‘sexy a levels’. How naughty

Comment by northern

finally a fucking decent comment on this shithole. and from a planner. will wonders never cease.

Comment by andy@cynic

Just because Asia operates differently doesn’t mean it has any less capability. It is full of countries with smart, educated and ambitious people; In all walks of business you underestimate them at your peril.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

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