If you know me or read this blog you know I have a big soft spot for Howies. Their founder, Dave Hieatt, has written a brilliant post here on the liberating power of a tight budget - it means ideas are what matter as you can't use a big fat budget marketing budget to disguise your lack of them.
Last week at the IPA there was a debate over who makes better planners, planners or creatives. Sounds like there was some good debate provoked by Dave Trott and David Golding, and Rory Sutherland (as usual) has written a very thoughtful, funny and provocative piece about it on his blog that's well worth a read.
To be honest, I'm a little bit tired about this debate. It's one that's been raging for years, at least as long as I've worked in the industry. The problem, I think, is one that Rory identifies - the debate is almost always framed as planning vs. creative, or implies some sense of a superior discipline or sequence to the roles. The truth (in my experience at least) is that the best work comes when planners and creatives work together to produce stuff that is surprising, interesting, and is rooted in solving the real problem. As a result, it is not only more likely to be fresh and noticed, but also work. This means the 'hardliners' of both disciplines need to relax their positions a little: planners need to realize that what matters first and foremost is interestingness not relevance and creatives need to remember that the work we produce is a means to an end, not an end in itself. And this can be served by both focusing on what the real problem is that needs to be solved, not the symptom definition that makes up the majority of briefs today.
Had the rather lovely experience of being able to fly Virgin America for the first time last week. All I can say is that it is a quite brilliantly designed product - it's not about trying to improve on the rather awful offering of the competition but rather design the best experience for someone needing to fly domestically. What struck me most was not just that they got the big things right (better seats, in flight entertainment, food options and friendlier staff) but the real attention paid to detail - the lighting onboard or the way the boarding pass is smaller and more 'square' to fit into your back pocket. If they can get more routes, I think they may shake up the domestic airline industry for good.