Posts Tagged ‘Advertising Planner’

The day I had on Tuesday beggars belief.

There is a brand (that I don’t work on) that needed a little extra help, and so I had been conscripted (entirely against my very busy will) to get involved in trying to sort that out by the redoubtable Fearless Leader. So I ended up agreeing to lead an all-day workshop (one of my most dreaded words, with a reality even more terrifying than the word can suggest) in Paris, with our French agency – who proved themselves to be an absolutely staggering display of indifference as an art form.

I won’t itemise the specifics of what made that workshop such a fucking awful day: certainly it wasn’t helped by the glassy-eyed spectatorship of the people who should have been participating, rather than observing – but suffice to say that I have made a vow before God and Fearless Leader, that I shall never lead a workshop on a brand that I don’t work on, ever again.

The only two good things about are that it is over, and that it confirmed the absolute correctness of my hatred of the French.

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David Tennant’s “Hamlet” opened last night to what appears to be pretty universally good notices. They’re not in the league that was accorded (to my mind, rightly) Simon Russell Beale (which won the plaudit from Benedict Nightingale in “The Times” of being “The best Hamlet in living memory”), nor to Ben Whishaw (who was good – but really, as Me As A Protestant can attest, the idea of casting Hamlet as young and meaning every word he says isn’t THAT startling, is it?), but very good – and making the fair point that before he won such fame as he now enjoys as The Man in the Tardis, who was previously at the RSC in the lead role in That Fairly Pedestrian “Romeo and Juliet” – so it’s more a return to the medium from whence he came than “Telly Star Tries The Bard”.

But I was reminded of Hamlet’s tart reply to Polonius’ enquiry over what he’s reading, not just by this timely accident of fate, but by a conversation I had recently with Northern Planner With Hosiery Compulsion.

She’s just done a great bit of work for a client, and we (as we Planners do) were talking about it: testing it out, seeing if it was robust, the whole Plannerly wank. And it tested, and it was, and we did. She’d hit on a very evocative, very apt property for the brand to own, and she’d even had the (hitherto unimaginable) comprehension AND THEN APPROVAL of Famously Overpaid Creative Director.

It was when Parody of 80s Account Handling Account Handler started to weigh in that she started to get the fear – not the feeling that she’d been found out, but the feeling that she was about to be bound up in a semantic exercise which gives the impression of engaging with the issue, but is in fact (in my experience) the stupid person’s preferred means of appearing clever while failing to engage in the issue.

It is one of my most abiding frustrations that this cult of “What do we mean by yellow?” is given any credence at all in advertising and marketing circles at all. Rather than saying: “Yellow, you fat twat – you know, the colour that isn’t blue, red or green”, there are too many people who’ll nod along and agree that perhaps, yes, we ought to spend a bit more time (and certainly “do some charts on”) explaining what yellow is.

Surely, the power of what we do (work to exploit the power of brands – and that’s it) is based on being expansive, suggestive, evocative and analogous? 

What would have happened if the “I think we need some charts on…” crew had got hold of “Think Different”, “Just Do It”, “Every Little Helps”, “Where Do You Want To Go Today?”, “Dirt is Good”, “The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Orange” or any other great idea?

I’ll tell you what: “Think Different to IBM Do About What PCs Are For”, “Just Start Doing Some Exercise”, “Every Little Thing, Such As Certain Facilities, Store Layout, Customer Satisfaction, Pricing Policy and Range Helps You Enjoy Buying Your Groceries More At Tesco”, “What URL Address Do You Want To Be Connected To Today – We Can Do That”, “It’s Vital That Children Can Play Creatively – Which May Mean They Get Dirty – As That’s How They Develop, So Dirt’s A Sign of Childhood Development, and Anyway – We Can Clean Dirt” – and finally “The Future Is Bright, The Future Is Bright Like The Orange That We Use In Our Logo, and Have As Our Name – Sort of Cheerful, Without The Buddhist Robes Angle…”

Of course, I am exaggerating to make a point – and clumsily at that. But why are we so afraid of suggestiveness, when it is the very essence of what we do? We hope to unlock with allusion, metaphor and suggestion a world where a brand can be far more than the products that it makes: and it’s the bedrock of a Planner’s skills to find something that is right, evocative and ownable. It is NOT our job to substitute for either a dictionary or a thesaurus.

So here’s a plea to any fellow Planners out there: next time you’re asked “What KIND of excitement do you mean?” by someone who sits back with the smug expression of one who is thinking “My work here is done” – PLEASE fix them with a Basilisk stare and reply “Exciting Excitement” and leave it there.

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Saturday, 15th September 2007

If you want a bunch of people to hate you within seconds, then your options are relatively wide-ranging.

You can pronounce an interest in child pornography, an appreciation of Hale & Pace, wear Crocs, or use smiley emoticons when you communicate. Or: you can present to a group of fellow Strategic Planners on “The Power of Strategic Planning” (which you may as well have done with as a title and change it to: “Why I am Cleverer, Better-Paid and Heavier Cocked Than All Of You.”).

It was this last route that I (prevailed upon by Fearless Leader) followed on Day One of our little Thailand sojourn, and for forty-five minutes I was bathed in the burning piss of pure resentment and hatred from every other fucker in the room. As bracing as any water cure and guaranteed to have you wake up sweating in the night…

Oh well, it wasn’t the first time I’ve had to run this particular professional gauntlet, and it won’t be the last. I should try to develop a taste for masochism – maybe then I would enjoy it. particularly if I could find a way to electrocute my scrotum on every click of the PowerPoint slide projector…

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Thursday, 18th October 2007

Oh, the volcanic, vituperative rage I was in at the beginning of the week! I think it is because I have now spent a year at my current agency, and in that time I have done some of my best work – but NOW it is at the stage where I just want to see the back of it and get onto something new.

While my clients are (in the main) extremely smart, they are also prone to WAY too much titting around with the minutiae, rather than working in broad, bold strokes.

I appreciate that when you’re investing at the level that they are, everything needs to be right, but that’s why we do so much with the people who actually BUY the stuff, rather than the marketers who spend (literally) thousands times as much time thinking about those brands as consumers do.

I am spending so much of my time saying “It doesn’t MATTER. That DOESN’T mater!” that they must think that I don’t care about the brands. In fact, I care about them deeper, but I have seen so much Analysis Paralysis that I KNOW the most important thing is just to get on and take a risk. 

Ludicrously Suave Creative Director gave a presentation at Cannes that was sensational (the organisers had, apparently, more requests for copies of that speech than anything else) – and he makes a lengthy analogy, at one point, between the creative process and Golf. His point? “Just hit the ball. Hit it somewhere. Anywhere. But hit it – and then go from there.”


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Saturday, 1st December 2007

I know that it has been a while (and a welcome relief for you all) since I wrote about work on this little bloglet. However, I feel that I cannot keep from you the latest low that has shot itself into my in-box like a tablespoon of coagulating baby batter down the leg of an Essex hooker.

It is the natural successor to “We Open On Gandalf”, but this one involves a winking turd.

I have thus fired off one of “my e-mails”, which contained the words: “staggered”, “puerile”, “baffled” and “pastiche”, as well as the phrases: “just not good enough”, “I certainly won’t be in the meeting” and “very early Monday morning”.

All this does is convince me in my belief (the subject of my forthcoming book, remaindered bookstore habituees!) that collaboration is a cornerstone of art and communication: from theatre, to novels, to cinema, to advertising. And when the collaboration is rushed or bypassed, you get the sort of showy, infantile drivel that makes me feel like self-harming.

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Saturday, 16th February 2008

I have a new member of my team at work. And, to cut to the chase, I rather wonder if the old stick isn’t entirely mad.

I have had experience of this, in this very agency. When I was first recruited, I was given a team including someone whose madness declared itself in every aspect of her appearance. She dressed like a packet of Opal Fruits and accessorised with exciting perspex jewellery. She was also encumbered with the MOST bizarre Dutch accent, which somehow put one in mind of an effeminate Sean Connery with a lisp and a mouthful of gravel. Finally, she was epoch-makingly shit at her job.

Anyway, Version Two is a distinct improvement. The wardrobe is also “out there” (and includes the hideous, nylon, purple, batwing-sleeved dress that Fay Ripley wore as Lady Luck in a truly ghastly set of advertisements for the National Lottery…), but sometimes suggests a true creativity, rather than a child high on Tartrazine let loose in a branch of Hennes – so that’s good. And then there’s her ability – which is very evidently very high. She’s a joy to work with.

BUT – and here’s the killer blow from the prosecution – she has signed up for a course of circus skills training, specifically trapeze and high wire – which can’t be anything but a cry for help (she has recently had a bad break-up, so maybe she is hoping to turn heads in a sparkly leotard). Oh, and there’s a tattoo on her wrist…

So, the jury is still out. But if she turns up to work in a feathered head-dress and fishnets, I think I can reasonably assume that it’s the beginning of the end.

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