As a wannabe-planner in advertising, I bow down to the words of Sarah Newman who is a global planning partner at Ogilvy & Mather, the chair of the APG Creative Strategy Awards, and subsequently a major voice in understanding where the profession is heading. In an article for Campaign entitled “Time for some noisy thinking” she gave her view on what planning might do to ensure its future (perhaps rather alarmingly given that I am looking to be part of this future) and underlined the skills that she viewed are critical to planning success. Thus, to get my head round the story and enlighten you, dear reader, to what she said- I have summarised her thoughts below.
1) The face and nature of planning is changing or as she beautifully put it- these “immensely complicated vats full of skills, aptitudes and opinions, as well as approaches, data and knowledge. The contents of the vats are ever-changing, as are the shapes of the vats themselves.” Just thinking of yourself as a ‘vat’ somehow sounds more mysterious and intriguing.
2) New and slightly terrifying challenges are ahead- so problem-solving to get those “enlightening insights” is going to get a lot more complicated and diverse. This involves using new tools and channels and a “terrier’s tenacity”- pushing, sniffing and pawing at a problem until eventually the solution arises, even if the rules have to be rewritten.
3) Going brand-centric– “to take a metaphor and understand its power to unlock the sales of a brand”. My understanding of this (and it may well be wrong) is that the consumer-brand relationship needs to be properly understood and at the heart of the planning process. Newman emphasises the importance of using human insight to apply to all areas of the business and make it work for the brand, not just to shed light on customer problems.
4) Simplify and condense- making the audience understand is crucial, that “ability to take a huge download of “stuff” and find the transformational gem that make you a planner, not an “expert”.”
And if you are in any confusion, Newman concludes:
The most impressive presentations I saw had two main ingredients: a game-changing idea presented with passion and conviction; and built on the best of behavioural economics and could demonstrate genuine behavioural effects.
She makes it sound so easy.