Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Value of Planning: have a look.

US brand consultancy REDSCOUT have been so smart to come up with the video series SPUR that I like tremendously. They launched it later last year - finally I get around to share it here on my blog. I am currently missing more European/ German voices in this - still think a lot of the statements from great thinkers across agencies are what is also shared within our local planning environment.

Planners and thinkers from network agencies as well as more creatively known shops such as Anomaly or BBH share their view on different issues.

The 5-part-series includes the following issues:
1. Is Planning Impotent? Overcoming Account Planning’s Identity Crisis
2. What Makes a Good Planner? Talent Specs and Extra Credit
3. Are We Just Glorified Researchers? The Myth of the “Voice of the Consumer”
4. What is the Real Value of Planning? Agency Politics and Client Perceptions
5. What is the Future of Planning? Thinking as Doing

PSFK has the whole series up on their blog - but I still would like to share some of my favourite statements and episodes. Have a peak here at the first and last episodes: "Is Planning impotent?" and "The Future of Planning? Thinking as Doing". I think they give a pretty good impression on what planning is suffering from today.

Interview partners include the likes of
* Douglas Atkin, Writer; Partner & Chief Community Officer of
* Devika Bulchandani, Chief Strategy Officer; McCann Erickson
* Dan Cherry, Managing Partner, Director of Brand Strategy; Anomaly
* Piers Fawkes, Founder; PSFK
* John Gerzema, Chief Insights Officer; Young & Rubicam
* Heidi Hackemer, Senior Planner; BBH
* Robin Hafitz, Chief Strategic Officer; Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners
* Sally Jones, Founder; Tangerine
* Gareth Kay, Director of Digital Strategy; Goodby & Silverstein
* Hank Leber, Founder; Agency Nil and Associate Planner, McKinney
* Domenico Vitale, Founder; People, Ideas & Culture
* Freya Williams, Global Planning Director; Ogilvy Earth
* Paul Woolmington, Founding Partner; Naked Communications NY,
Global Partner of Naked Communications

A bit different are the videos that you can see on "Planning begins at 40" - JWTs celebration of Plannings 40th birthday with some of (Europes) leading planners that have made history within our industry, as Jeremy Bullmore, Jon Steel or John Grant.

What I am also missing is a bit broader view on planning - what do creatives and clients think abou those topics? Where do they see the value in planning? What are their expectations toward planning for the future? Very interested in your thoughts on planning! Is this truly about the doing? Let us know if you share the point of views. Do you know of any other recent (video) interviews with planners - or strategic and creative minds on the topic of planning? Also if you would be interested in taking part in such a video series for the German/ European market.


  1. Nice Post. My question: What is "doing" in the context of planning?

    The critique seems to be that planners (who do a lot of research) say what has to be achieved (strategy) without touching the "how-to-do-it"-question.

    Perhaps this perception is based on the original role-model for planners: Get the relevant insights and messages to the creative staff to help them perform better.
    This is an important part of the job and research is certainly a kind of "doing".

    Nevertheless, I think, that in a world of complex communication planners should take a more active role in the creative-process. A creative brief can not be the end of the road. Especially because many ideas emerge during research.

    I may repeat myself, but I think planning will become more like movie-writing. A writer (planner) does the research AND uses his creativity and ideas to write a script (a plan, a roadmap).
    The peculiar thing about movie writing is, that a great script is very detailed and also offers enough space for the director (CD) and the actors (art+text+online+consumers) to fully express their creativity in the production process.
    In DOING so the writer(planner) takes a lot of responsibility for the success of a project. He is perceived as an active part in the creative process and not as a tweaker form an ivory tower.

  2. Interesting post!

    I agree with Christian Riedel that it is imperative for planners to face the "how-to" question. In this context Dan Cherry nails it down in both videos, he has a stunningly clear view of the problem. Why the hell would a planner quit the project at a point where he himself got the true insights and knowledge about how the strategy has got to be. Why would he hand it over and not stick with it.

    Doing so, planners would in my eyes somehow have to change their attitude. No offense but some of them seem to pride themselves way too much and maybe need to cut back a little. If every planner was an ultimatively smart guy, why would there be a crisis?

    Still I think the approaches given in the interviews are a good way to move in the right direction. Our research done at the HdM Stuttgart will hopefully be out soon, too. We are facing some minor problems right now, but after all you will get to see some German voices as well!

  3. Hello,
    Thanks for adding to the discussion, we certainly would like a broader perspective (global or from people in roles beyond strategy and planning).

    In fact, we are preparing a final post containing video responses and viewer comments, please email me at spur(at) with a video file of your thoughts and feedback!

  4. Planning could find answers to solve the actual marketing crisis. We should be able to develop good answers of the most important questions. What is advertising good for? Or what would the world miss, if advertising will disappear? Are we “just” the smart minds who deliver strategies for companies to sell their products to people who do not need them? If we take the new post-modern, ecological, sense-seeking feeling serious we have to look more forward. From my point of view we could help companies to find their true determination, their sense-giving idea and bring it to life. I like to develop brand-games who create meaning in a social context. My skill is to moderate an interesting game instruction and after this process I need creative minds who start to play. In one sentence, Planners could be more courageously in phrasing the big questions.