There appears to be a distinct conflict between what planners want to do and what planners really do.
The tension between the kind of rigour and post-rationalisation that clients may want from planning and the kind of impacting outcomes that planners want to have is creating a rising discontent within the Agency Planning community. I personally came to the dramatic realisation, that the kind of planning us practitioners want to practice, might best be practiced outside the communications business!
So what’s driving this conflict?
There have been seismic shifts in the marketing and communications models. Mediocre marketing fundamentals can no longer be overcome by aggressive communications programmes. The magic delivered by cunning planners and masterful creatives is simply less effective in the nearly impotent interruption based communication world. Also, the digital world has opened our eyes to the opportunities presented by a world in flux, where ideas need not be bullet proof prior to execution, and where significant value can be created by experimenting and prototyping smaller ideas. What innovation experts would call thinking with your hands or “Serious Play”.
So how relevant is the Classic Agency Planner? The grand master of words and storytelling is driven my a unified objective, to significantly impact the brief, inspire brilliant creative output and ultimately for that output to have an impact. While this old style planner is till masterful and respected, deep down they themselves know they are only playing with part of the “impact” toolbox and that their real impact power lies both upstream and downstream from their current discipline.
Upstream impact lies in areas such as brand and product innovation, where planners are well placed to embrace Design Thinking principles to imagine all manner of non-communication impacting ideas. Within communication circles Planners are finding value by shifting from Brand Architects to Artisans or downstream planners who create stuff. Again the digital world has opened up the possibilities for not only imagining ideas but executing them quickly and cost effectively. Just think of 2 of the best outputs from the Advertising community in the past 2 years. “Earth Hour” from Leo Burnett Sydney and ‘Best Job in the World” from CumminsNitro. The power in these ideas lie in their ability to solve a problem by getting people involved. They don’t evoke powerful responses to imagery, these are not copywriter and art director showcases, these are “planner ideas”. And while some “Architect” skills are always required in problem solving, it’s the “Artisan” planner which creates that yields the power.
The new marketing landscape means there should be plenty of opportunity for planners to flit between being Architects of brands and ideas to Artisans. We just need our colleagues and clients to get the message so we can stop post-rationalising mediocre communications and start making an impact.
Take a look at RedScouts piece on this topic: