Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Agency characters, no 5 - The Planner

Right. This is the big one.

I've struggled with concept of planning and planners for some time now. (To boil my issue down to a single line: I don't have a fucking clue what they're for.)

Well, I've looked into it. I sat today with Saul, Esme and Giles, my agency's planners. (The planning director, some Yank called Cyrus Anacronista, was away at a 4-day 'Inspiromation Lab'.)

So, I came right out and said, 'Look, people. Right now, you are like my nipples. They look like they should be there, and I don't really mind them, but I have literally no clue what the fuck they do.' They laughed a little.

I continued. 'Of course, the difference between you and my nipples is that my nipolas don't cost me a bollock-wrangling amount of money.'

Slightly less laughter.

'So maybe you could explain why I, Dave Knockles, should pay big wodges of spendola for your services when, as far as I can see, you are less use than a McSalad.'

Zero laughter.

Esme spoke first. 'Well, Dave, planning is all about building a platform for the creatives to work from. We deal in information - any information - that surrounds the client's market, consumers and the world in general. Anything that can be used to form an insightful advertising strategy, that's what we deal with.'

Giles tried next. 'We make sure that the consumer is at the forefront of the creative's mind when he or she is creating the ads - and we help them get a clear picture of the consumer through understanding information, research, data.'

Saul went last. 'We write the briefs.'

'Ah! Got you!' I said. And I countered with a supposition I've long held.

'Briefs,' I posited, 'Are a complete cunting waste of time. I don't even bother with them - and you've seen the Cleanavia campaign I've come up with, right?'

They nodded slowly. (Still in awe, then! Bless those kids.) I went on.

'Well, that's genius, right? And at no point was a brief involved - nor any information, research, thought or insight. That entire idea came to me literally in nano-seconds. I barely fucking noticed it happen. It just appeared in my head when I was in Delilaz getting a Double Ingratiation. What have you got to say about that?'

And there they sat, silently, in their variously ill-conceived trousers (one pair of which, Saul's I think, looked for all the world like the kind a fucking homeless potwasher would wear on his day off while just bumming around his cardboard box taking crystal meth and shooting own-label vodka into his eyeballs).

What could they say to the truth? Nothing. They looked sheepishly at the floor, beaten.

They shouldn't feel so bad. Many an agency boy has tested Dave Knockles and been defeated. And many more will go the same way. This is the gift, and the burden, of genius.

So. Planners. If I'm brutally honest, I still have no idea what they do. But I do know that they write briefs.

Here, then, is my sketch of planners: people writing briefs in strange trousers.

Naturally, I've asked their MD to wipe their hours the fuck off my account, right fucking yesterday.

Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!


  1. You see David (May I call you David? I'm calling you David), there is the difference between you and me right there.


    Even though some of them are clearly lacking in fashion sense as you so rightly pointed out, they are the experts we marketing directors hire to be able to understand who buys our consumer durables. Insight into the every day common person who uses the Internet every day to keep in touch with their elderly parents, for example.

    When was the last time you visited a supermarket to have a look how the local supermarket displayed the Cleanavia?

    I visited one last week with Alasdair, who heads the planning team at my agency and I know for sure why the CleanseMAX Pro5 is the market leader.

    Because we take care to communicate our message in a language people can relate to. And that's thanks to the support of some of the more insightful, if grubby planners.

    If you don't relate to your audience, then your audience won't relate to you.

    Think about that.

  2. Planning, or the lack of agency planning has been the bane of my existence.

    Recently during a consulting stint this particular agency had a rep for bad planning/time management. They had no Planning Manager. The Principal didn't use a planning tool of any kind - no diary, nor a pda, not even a wall calendar. Nothing. And they wondered why their preferred clients turned to me for intervention and help, before leaving them.

    Interestingly, the same Principal could plan in advance enough time for time wasting fluffy feel me good meetings and long lunches/dinners.

    Over time and budget .. over the excuses. Planning - isn't it a process of the organised?

  3. Fucking hilarious. I love it, the whole post. Carry on THE CLIENT!

    Mel Collins
    @Winsome Law

  4. Are Rupert and Laynie for real?? :P

  5. Real or Imaginary, you must agree.... David (may I call you David?) is irreverent, funny, and the kind of cynical stuff I love. BTW...there are no planners in our tiny little agency, after all, here in Hooterville, we're lucky to get a client to think past next month.