Monday, February 29, 2016

Best Planners in the World

Happy Leap Year Day.

It's an unusual day that I'm always hyper-aware of, simply because it comes a day after my birthday. Thank you to all the well wishers who tried to ease the pain of spending February 28th at the office. On a Sunday. Locked in heated thought battles with other advertising veterans in order to prime America's voracious engine of capitalism.

Happy 44th to me.

Being it's an unusual date on the calendar that only comes to us once every four years, the same timespan it takes for one politician in all of Washington DC to say or propose ONE good idea, I thought I'd do something equally rare. And spread a heaping helping of praise on my favorite people-- the Planners.

But don't get too far ahead of yourselves. Because the three best Planners I've ever worked with aren't really Planners.

First up, there's Tamer Kattan.

I'm using his name because I got permission to use his name. We met during my early days of freelancing at Chiat/Day. What struck me was Tamer's distinctive ability to articulate his thoughts. Not with marketingese or any of the semantic gymnastics employed by so many others in the profession. But English. Clear, concise, declarative English. Moreover he brought actual insight.

It made his briefs easy to understand.

Interestingly enough, it also made it difficult to fault his logic. Amazing how that works, huh?

Tamer has such a command of the language (and solid thinking) that he is no longer a Planner and works his linguistic magic as a stand up comedian. He's incredibly talented and I have no doubt he will soon be appearing on stage with Fallon or Kimmel before the next Leap Year.

My second favorite Planner is....oh shit I forgot to get his permission.

Let's just call him Josh. He is an Art Director by trade. But is also vocationally ambidextrous. Josh spent the last few years employed as a Producer/Consultant on MadMen, maybe you heard of it. We've done a few projects together and I've never ceased to be amazed by his ability to analyze a business challenge, break down all its components and construct an original plan of attack.

Josh is fond of saying, "we need to find a unique position that defines the client's brand and leaves the competitor's debilitated by jealousy."

That kind of singular brilliance is rarely found in a PowerPoint deck or a three page brief of convoluted run-on sentences.

And finally, the third best Planner I've ever worked with is Lee Clow. In this context, I should also include Steve Hayden. I've had the pleasure of working for both of them. Neither are Planners. But both have the reductionist instinct to cut through all the bullshit, to dispense with all the Venn diagrams, and to spit out a piercing strategy based on an assessment of the cultural landscape and the vision of where great creative advertising can go.

I could go a few more pages contrasting the credentials of these non-Planners with those who have made it their official profession. And probably lay a few stinging body punches and uppercuts regarding trapezoids, big data and the unsettling, ubiquitous business of Planners acting as proxy Creative Directors.

"I'd kill that spot because my 2 years of business experience tells me it doesn't fit the strategy."

But I'm not going to do that.

Today I'm taking the High Road -- a road I travel once every four years or so.

1 comment:

Salty said...

The idea that anyone can be creative has been exploited by every other discipline to mean everyone can be a creative director. What they fail to understand is that good creative direction is about addition by subtraction.

Not subtraction by subtraction – killing a good idea because they lack vision. Or balls.
Not subtraction by addition – adding an idea that may fulfill on strategy but falls creatively flat, or adding an idea they "know the client will like" even though the client isn't the target and never was.

You'd think planners, account people, the janitor and every other employee-cum-creative director would be better at math.