The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Forget Planners, Hire Designers …
July 10, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Design, Planning, Unplanned

Look, I love planning – not so keen on a bunch planners – but what we do and how we do it has a lot of [underrated] value.

BUUUUUUUUUUUUT, sometimes what we do is – let’s be honest – a bunch of bollocks.

We either do stuff to feed our own ego or do stuff that doesn’t take the brand conversation anywhere new … which not only buggers up our client and bores our audience, but feeds the level of hate many disciplines have for us.

And to be honest, I don’t blame them.

As much as it might be sensitive to say, sometimes the biggest insight is “there’s nothing new here”.

However that takes a lot of balls and courage to admit because essentially, you’re saying you can’t take something to a new place, and that is very hard for the ego to take.

But here’s the thing … it’s not that you COULDN’T come up with something, of course you could, the issue is – whether because of the client request, the category situation or the products overall parity – you couldn’t come up with something that would make a significant difference in the situation you find yourself in and when that happens, the best advice I can give is to give the task to a great creative or design team and sit back, knowing that the biggest contribution you’ve made, was getting the hell out of the way.

I say this because I saw this:

In a whole magazine of ads, these were the only ones that stood out.


Sure, they are just well designed images … sure they don’t say anything deep and meaningful about the brand … sure, they’re not exactly redefining the category … but you know what, maybe they don’t need to.

Maybe they just want to look fresh and fun and attractive so that the next time you’re in a bar or a club, you will ask for Stoli instead of the countless other vodka brands that try and claim to be anything other than a bloody alcoholic drink.

Of course, someone will now tell me a planner was involved in this account … and if they were, good on them, except I would love to know what they actually did given the only difference between this brand and countless others is the name, the design and the flavours.

Planning has a lot to offer and a lot to give … but if the work you do can’t – or won’t – elevate the brand and audience to creatively infectious and intriguing new places [even when they’re old situations], then all you’re really doing is ‘packaging the strategy’ rather than ‘creating the future; and the only people who benefit from that is the agency who will charge you out for essentially writing a bunch of powerpoint decks that no one will ever read.

Fuck, I hope no one in the creative team reads this.

Or my planning team.



38 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This is why you are different to so many in your discipline Robert. I mean this, should you be unsure, as a compliment.

Comment by Lee Hill

I still miss working with him.

Comment by George

I don’t.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Me neither.

Comment by DH

only in the way someone misses having a massive shit after a hot ruby.

Comment by andy@cynic

You miss shit?

Comment by DH

Thanks Lee. Thanks George.

Andy, I think you need to see this:

Comment by Rob

i know exactly what i fucking said davey boy.

Comment by andy@cynic

They could have saved even more money by letting the copywriter go.

Comment by DH

and they dont want any colourblind fuckers reading their ads.

Comment by andy@cynic

The 80 years of secrets could be interesting. But then they follow it up with puns on picking fruit and how to pronounce their name so you realize they have nothing to say. Which is what you said, which means I’ve agreed with you. Now I need a drink.

Comment by DH

Well if it’s any consolation, I agree with you on the ’80 years’ thing. But then it just turned into a headline when there’s an idea in there somewhere. Maybe.

Comment by Rob

Isn’t it the same heritage idea everybody’s having? Namely, being around for a long time is significant. Hell, even banks are starting to do it.

Comment by John

Sort-of. But that tends to be more about ‘how they were created’ whereas the word ‘secret’ leads to images of mischief and stories that should not be told. More fantasy than a bank saying they were founded by a man who believed in being sensible and those values still exist today even though they screw all their customers over on fees and lose their investments by putting money into China.

Comment by Rob

Fair point, but my reaction to secrets is that they can be made up.

Comment by John

like brand fucking onions.

Comment by andy@cynic

Good post with good points. Packaging versus planning is still a great way to evaluate what you have been asked to do and what you have done.

Comment by George


Comment by John

finally you admit the fucking truth. im fucking framing this.

Comment by andy@cynic

If more creatives understood Ehrenberg’s ‘Creative Publicity’ there would be lot less of the stupid art v science debate bollocks.

Comment by Eaon Pritchard (@eaonp)

its pretentious fucking statements like that that makes creatives fucking hate planners. and I’m talking the good ones not the art school graduates who think their shit is fucking genius. what creatives need to know is how to move people not how to fucking shout at them. it would be fucking helpful if the client knew what the fuck they wanted as well.

Comment by andy@cynic

outside. now.

Comment by Eaon Pritchard (@eaonp)

no. youll only want to read fucking nietzsche to me.

Comment by andy@cynic

Comment of 2015. Gold.

Comment by DH

For what it is worth Eaon, I agree with the point you make in your comment, but Andrew’s response is very funny.

Comment by George

Double jeopardy for me. I’m a planner and also an art school graduate who thinks my shit is genius.

Comment by Eaon Pritchard (@eaonp)

Oh dear Eaon. I get what you mean, but quoting Ehrenberg is probably not the best way to get creatives to suddenly see the light. But then if you hadn’t written that, we wouldn’t have had Andy’s reply so for that alone, I’m grateful you popped by. Ha.

Comment by Rob

No one reads long copy anymore, do they John.

Comment by Rob

Are you here all week?

Comment by John

I work on a certain Scottish soft drink, one of the few people actually care about, they actually celebrate when the ads come out, but when you ask them in research (asking people in research, I know i know) they destroy the beatiful planning bollocks and claim what they know about it is ‘it’s funny’ ‘it’s orange’

Comment by northern

It’s the George Hamilton of drinks?

Comment by John

More like Katie Price

Comment by northern

Well Said Rob and brutally honest. Lately, I’ve been weighing on the this thinking that the PP deck is so limiting for what we do, dangerously used as a crutch, or a place where a planner can hide. Where can we give as planners is the best starting point. Thank you.

Comment by Mab Bishop (@BonjourMAB)

The art direction ripped off droga5’s Tiger Uncage campaign.

Comment by DoubleTake

That’s not a new art direction, it’s been around since the 60’s. I don’t know Droga campaign, but if it’s like the one above then they both ripped off Cinzano.

Comment by DH

Specifically removing the bottle and only leaving the label and cap. This is the Tiger Uncage visual –

Comment by Rachel Chew (@rchewgum)

That technique has been around for ages. I haven’t seen the Cinzano thing, but I’ve seen countless others. If we are going to shout ‘plagiarist’ to anything like that, we should start questioning Samsung, LG and countless others for their near parity duplication of the iPhone.

Comment by Rob

[…] endless odes to the creativity and ingenuity of designers … even proclaiming them to be far better at problem solving than most ad […]

Pingback by When Design Goes Wrong … | The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: