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he big question is how
do we reach some way
of working together?
That throws up big ques-
tions for me about plan-
ning and what we do. At
the same time, there is
all the pressure on mar-
gins. Can we even continue planning like we have
done in the past from a resource point of view?
Compounding all that, there’s all this stuff coming
through on neuroscience. So I feel in a moment
of existential – I wouldn’t say crisis – but it really
is a very, very interesting moment to work out
what planning is and what we’re doing.”
Sarah Watson’s opening words neatly indi-
cate three big reasons why ‘The Future of Plan-
ning’ may look problematic – or exciting. First, the
growing complexity of commun ication channels
and the range of agencies serving them. Second,
the fundamental shifts in agency business models
away from commission, toward fees where every
job needs to be transparent about its scope and
its value. Third, the sense that there is a growing
Adam Morgan
body of relevant new learning that planners could
be making use of, but generally aren’t, because of enormous instability in relationships between planner that takes responsibility for understand-
pressures on time. agencies and clients.” ing the commercial requirements, and articulat-
How can these issues be resolved to benefit Rachel Hatton: “I think agencies are ing those to the agency, setting KPIs and moni-
both the advertising industry and its clients? Will wrestling with a loss of influence from the toring progress. Creative is another, but do you
‘planning’ survive, and if so, where will it be found position they had 20 or 30 years ago. There constrain your creative horizons to comms, or
in future? What core skills remain timelessly was a lot of thinking about how communica- go beyond that and have ideas that can change
relevant, and in what ways will it need to change tion worked in the 1960s and 1970s. It feels businesses? The third is implementation. It’s not
and reinvent itself? like, now, it’s all practice and no theory. If we enough to go: ‘Great, we’ve given birth to a great
These were some of the questions we had want to professionalise as an industry, we need idea, we’ll be back when it’s time to measure
gathered to discuss, myself and five planners (or to pay more attention to how communication it.’ It’s about managing a website or an online
ex-planners) sitting around on large, squashy actually works in this new world.” programme within social media, having ongoing
sofas at Dare Digital’s London offices. Will Collin: “Planning at its best has always conversations – that is still a strategic role.”
John Owen: “Planning in digital is fairly been a quest to find answers to the problems cli- Rachel: “I think what planners bring is a
young, so it’s a different beast to planning in an ents are wrestling with: achieving brand growth, sense of ‘otherness’ to organisations. They’re
above-the-line agency. There’s a lot more of what sales targets, winning new users or whatever it not involved in the day-to-day, but they have the
Russell Davies calls ‘gardening’ going on. You don’t might be. Planners are naturally sceptical, ques- ability to ask very powerful, yet naive questions
launch and leave, you tend. There’s a lot more tioning, analytical, but also very practical in trying about business. And I still think consumer under-
interaction; there is a day-to-day responsibility. to unpick the pocket-watch to find out how it standing, in a world where it’s all about how you
Rather than setting a direction and then going off works, so you can then make it better. My sense affect behavioural change.”
and coming back, you’re there the whole time. I is that the skills of planning and the aptitudes of Sarah Watson: “There’s one word for
got a sense from the APG awards that planning in planners remain as valuable as they ever were. me, for planners, and that’s ‘instinct’. I was at the
general is moving in that direction.” But the home within which those skills can graduate pitches last week and the client said:
Adam Morgan: “It’s impossible to best be applied isn’t necessarily in a classical ad ‘I love it, I completely love it. They’ve found the
discuss the future of planning without agency any more, because a classical ad agency gold. The work is not right, the plan is not quite
discussing the futur e of agencies. In a sense, is in business, first and foremost, to produce right, but it doesn’t matter – they found the gold.’
there never has been one planning. There campaign outputs. But my sense is that planning I thought: ‘That’s what planning is.’”
have been planners as ‘brand people’; as is arguably more important than it ever has been Adam: “I agree that insight should be the
‘consumer people’; agencies where it was because of the breadth of things that brands province. But it is almost always referred to as
essentially a new business tool; and then there need to do to thrive.” ‘consumer insight’. Actually, there are all sorts of
has been the ‘creative midwife’. I don’t see a So, if planning is potentially more important different kinds of insight. It can be about extract-
lot of clarity within agencies about what the than ever, what are the core skills that need to ing value from the brand and its history, as much
source of authority for planners is among be nurtured? as consumer groups. A much broader sense of
those four things any more. And that loss of John: “Three key areas: one is business/ insight would, for me, be the prime skill that I
clarity of authority is happening at a time of commercial. Maybe there is a specific breed of don’t yet see as developed as it might be.”
ADMAP FebruAry 2010
ADM Feb 20-25 PlannersRoundtable.indd 3 1/22/2010 15:18:30
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