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

APSOTW Assignment: From Planning To Managing.
April 10, 2015, 7:00 am
Filed under: Advertising [Planning] School On The Web

So it’s been a long time since we did an Advertising Planning School on the Web [APSOTW] assignment but that is about to change.

Before I get to it, I just want to say sorry for the long gap between challenges … with Gareth and Andrew starting new jobs and me being both lazy and preoccupied with personal matters, it’s been hard to find the time to get things done.

But excuses aside, we are all big fans of the program and so will endeavour to ensure this will have been the longest gap between assignments. [Just don’t hold us to it]

Over the years we have covered all manner of subjects … from communication challenges to creating creative arguments to even making a pitch for business … but in all cases, they’ve been fairly directly limited to the craft of planning.

But the thing is, planning is way beyond just ‘the ads’ – or it should be – so this assignment is going to be different.

It’s less about coming up with a creative idea for a brand and more about how to keep your client.

Of course you could argue this is not your responsibility – at least not beyond doing your job well – however if you want to have more influence in how your agency runs and develops, you should make it your responsibility.

Because of this, I have chosen a situation that is all-too-common … a new Marketing Director comes in and wants to change everything, often for no other reason than they want to make their own mark rather than be seen as simply executing someone else’s plan. That, or they want to make the agency-of-record drop their fee massively so they can look good to their board of directors from day one.

The reason I want to do this challenge is because I genuinely believe the best thing anyone can do for their career is start their own business … and as much as we might all think that when you’re the boss, everyone has to follow your orders, the reality is that success often ends up being less about what you actually do and more about how well you can relate to your clients business, ego and fears and influence your clients business, ego and fears.

With that in mind, this is the assignment.

[For legal reasons, I better say this situation is all fictional and I’m only using it to set a foundation for the assignment]

Imagine you are Martin Sorrell … uber-god of the World’s biggest ad agency network.

Now imagine one of your biggest clients is Fedex … uber-god of logistics.

Anyway, for years you’ve had an amazing and mutually fruitful and successful business relationship … to the point that both companies ensured all brands within their portfolio use each other for their marketing/logistic needs.

Business is up. Profits are good. Work standards are solid.

In fact, they are now one of your biggest clients globally.

Good times.

Suddenly the client at Fedex leaves to join their main competitor DHL, and in their place comes a young, arrogant accountant with 10 years of logistics management experience.

Rumours are flying that he wants to make major changes. You know he has a massive ego [amplified by the fact he’s only 5 feet in height] … so it’s important for him to be seen as a respected and successful business leader.

A week later, you get a phone call asking you to come meet the new CMO at his office.

You know he is going to announce that he’s putting up the business for pitch. You also know all the competition brands are very happy with their agencies so the chance of picking one of them up if you lose FEDEX is small.

CHALLENGE: What speech/presentation will you give to your new client to ensure they see your partnership as so valuable, they consider cancelling the pitch process and continue working exclusively with you, with no change to remuneration?


Yes, I know it’s open ended and ambiguous … but that’s part of the challenge.

It is also – if you look at it another way – part of the opportunity.

Now the mandatories.

You have 2 ways to respond to this challenge.

1. A letter – as if writing directly to the new Marketing Director.
2. A video – as if speaking directly to the new Marketing Director.

[If you choose the option of the letter, it cannot be more than 1500 words long. If you choose the option of the video, it cannot be more than 7 minutes in duration]

Submissions must be sent to me by May 15th and there will be a ‘prize’ deemed the best argument by the judges.

Don’t get too excited, the prize won’t be too good, but the judges are excellent.

They include:

Gareth and Andrew.

John Dodds: Who talks more sense about marketing than 99% of marketeers directors.

Heather LeFevre: Planner, author, creator, doer.

George Whitesides: A very important man at Virgin Galactic

Chris Wong: Advisor for Venture Capitalists

David Tiltman: Head of Content at WARC


For the record, it doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced planner, a wannabe-planner or doing something totally different … this is something that is open to all and regardless of your experience and having a go is the first step to making change happen. In addition, while all the judges will be holding everyone to the highest of standards, their feedback will all be constructive, rather than destructive, so whatever the outcome, you will hopefully learn and gain from the experience. That is certainly the intention and goal of everyone behind this.

And with that, I will leave you to get cracking.

Have Fun. Be Sharp. Enjoy.

26 Comments so far
Leave a comment

How did you find the time to organizse this with all you have on your plate? I know you will be in a dark place right now but your posts have been very powerful Rob. Thinking of you and hope to catch up soon.

Comment by Pete

It helped take my mind off things Pete. But not for too long, which is why the actual ‘challenge’ ended up being different to the other stuff we’ve done in the past. But it’s still [hopefully] an interesting challenge and I’m interested to see how people will approach it.

Comment by Rob

I never thought I’d be happy to see a planning post on here but after everything you’ve done through, it’s good news.

Comment by DH

Welcome back Robert. Good assignment. I look forward to reading what people come up with.

Comment by George

Hope you are doing well. Look forward to the next post from you.

Comment by Bazza

Excellent task. Looking forward to the submissions.
More importantly, good to have you back,

Comment by northern

i never thought id say im happy to read your planner shite campbell but after all youve gone through, its nice to see the old shitty version of you coming back to the front.

Comment by andy@cynic

They look like the finalists in America’s got talent: biggest clown edition. Why were you looking at this John and do you need someone to get you a new prescription of your meds?

Comment by DH

Fate threw it into my twitterstream.

Comment by John

Fate is a bitch.

Comment by DH

How does one even submit the assignment to you? I see no submission link or email given.

Comment by JY

There’s a link where it says the date the assignments have to be in.

Rule #1. Always read the brief carefully.

Comment by Pete

Hey Pete,

It sure did not stand out as a link at all! Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve read the brief a couple of times, even looking for a contact page and going to Twitter to look for an email address before posting my query. So pointing fingers and saying that I did not read carefully is just not cool. This has nothing to do with reading anything. It’s a link that doesn’t look like a link. Cheers.

Comment by JY

I never want to defend Pete but I saw the I link and no one else asked about it so maybe it’s you JY.

Comment by DH


Maybe it’s just me who happens to be color-blind among all of you visually normal folks. I apologize for being dumb and stupid for not being able to see the link. Cheers for pointing that out. That said, the “I never want to defend anyone” line is really unnecessary. There wasn’t any need to defend Pete in the first place — I’m thankful he pointed me to the right direction.

What I’m not thankful about is reading whatever you posted as it really serves no purpose except insinuate how superior you are for being perfectly able to see a link.

Alright, end of rant. I won’t be posting anymore on this wonderful blog in order to not pollute the environment. Just remember not everyone sees the same world as you do. Go ahead and have the last word.

Comment by JY

Guess what JY, I’m colorblind too. We have so much in common. Except I don’t like Pete. Thought you didn’t too but now you say you like him. I’m so confused.

Comment by DH

Everyone play nice.

JY … I’m sorry you couldn’t see the link, I should have made it a bit clearer, but you shouldn’t take people’s comments here to sensitively – if you’ve read this blog previously, you should know it’s not exactly a place of politeness. Anyway, hope you take part, it would be good to get your submission.

Comment by Rob

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Where’s the link?

Comment by Marcus

To what?

Comment by Rob

I’m teasing, silly.

Comment by Marcus

Been a long day, ha.

Comment by Rob

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