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    From the Gaping Void

    Food for thought

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    August 17, 2007


    Todd W.

    "the sole responsibility of the planner is to ensure that the work works."

    Isn't that the whole team's responsibility? What about the creative director? The account director? Etc. Seems there's some part of this that is the perpetuation of a role that has outlived its effectiveness. The rise of interactive (or "digital", if you prefer) means a lot of what a planner is/was good for might be better handled by the interaction designer or experience architect or whatever the shop cares to title it. Seems all would be simpler if the planner's role was distributed into the rest of the team - lowering communication problems, client costs and delivery time. None of that is necessarily in the agency's interests, of course.


    Todd, I hear you but I think there is still a very important role for planning. Yes, making sure the work works is a team responsibility but so is making sure the work is good which is the responsibility of the creative. The truth is planners have a role if they can continue to provide the informed inspiration that makes the work more likely to work.

    richard huntington


    You know where I stand on this and I will post the Campaign piece I wrote as soon as the quarantine period is over.

    I think what you lay down is a powerful wake up call for the planning community. Planning has never been a more popular discipline within communications agencies and client side and yet if you look at the end result we are failing spectacularly.

    I am dismayed at the lack engagement with the primary task of the planner - to make the work work. I'm also bemused at the way this is partly because it is seen as the boring bit when it is the only reason that we have an insight, or create a strategic idea, or fight passionately for the work we believe in.



    I do indeed know where you stand and your original posts were the wake up call for me to start thinking about this. Totally agree about the spectacular lack of engagement we have with this. I remember being at the AAAA conference a couple of years ago and being shocked that Mike Hall was speaking about new tracking and research methodologies to cope with the fragmented world we live in and the room (in general session) was at best one third full. I'm going, I think, to do a series of posts on this and would love your input and provocation.

    Todd W.

    I wasn't saying there isn't a need for the activity of planning, only that it may be better accomplished with other resources than centralizing it in a "planner". It seems that segregating it out into a separate function has allowed other members of the team to abdicate their attention to
    making the work work", as you say.

    fredrik sarnblad

    Looking forward to reading your follow-up posts on this Gareth. To my mind, there's no question planning's key responsibility is to make sure the work works. It has to be. And to this end, I do think being the "voice of the consumer" not merely in a research input function, but as a midwife for ideas through the inspiration you mention should be its role.

    But in order to ensure the output is fresh, interesting and even inspiring to the consumer, simply feeding creatives dry, raw data on him/her [the traditional role of being the consumer's voice] can at best serve as a squeaky, annoying and completely uninspiring voice that most probably won’t help in the process of conceiving and delivering big fresh ideas.

    What I take away from debate is that planning should be an inspirational resource for creativity while taking full responsibility for the agency’s output.

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