Monday, May 16, 2016

Planners may want to plan to look the other way

If you find yourself getting excited and want to board the bus for the 2016 Planning-Ness Conference --Oh yeah that's a real thing -- well, don't.

The magic markers have been put away. The whiteboards have been scrubbed clean. And the assemblage of our industry's best and brightest thinkers/makers/linguistic gymnasts have already disassembled, returning to their respective agencies, ready to semantically torture any junior copywriter or art director within earshot.

The 2016 Planning-Ness Conference, God, I love saying that, was last week.

I could not attend as I was actively engaged in real advertising -- writing BOGO ads for a leading maker of eyewear, building traffic for a software distributor and crafting a Summer Sales Event for one of America's leading automakers.

"Hurry in now cause Summer's going fast and so are these deals."

You know, the stuff that keeps the lights on and pays the salary of account coordinators and holding company officers alike.

Selling shit.
Moving merchandise.
Making Skip ads.

I didn't have time or the inclination to make it to some of the rigorous, informative sessions:

How to Have a Good Day.

How to Design for Happiness.

How to Find your Yoga 

(no touching your toes or yoga pants required)

By the way, if you were to check the link, you'd see those were actual forum titles. I'd like to say that I made them up, but I didn't.

I take a lot of guff for the way I manhandle planners and poke fun at whatever it is they do or purport to do, but the truth is I could never out-mock the self-mockery found within the hallowed halls of the 2016 Planning-Ness Conference -- did I mention how much I love saying that?

Lest you think I am alone in my open contempt, you should know, I am not.

I receive emails and texts, almost on a daily basis, from fellow writers and art directors who thank me for my tireless battle with those who would enslave us with their 9 page briefs, indecipherable trapezoids and parallelograms and jargon-fested word salads.

In fact, a hat tip goes out to one of these unnamed copywriters for alerting me to the 2016 Planning-Ness Conference. As well as an equally-amusing Tumblr called Planners Talking Planning.

From there, I give you this amazing navel-gazing video which manages to illustrate everything I've been saying for the last 8 years of blogging in just the first minute and 37 seconds.

To be honest I couldn't, like, you know, like, get past that, you know, like, point:

Perhaps as a counterweight to all this I should reserve a bus and a hold my own seminar next year:

Bullshitting-Ness 2017


  1. Rich,
    Please sign me up for the Bull Shit thing. I wouldn't mind being a panelist, I like to think I can BS with the best of them.

    Seriously, the idea of planning as it was in the UK made a lot of sense, a focus on the consumer or the communications target, not the client or the agency. Wasn't quite the same when Jay Chiat imported planning but still pretty good at first. What happened? Did good planners bring up issues that the client and the agency didn't want to hear or deal with?

  2. If my parents were alive, you would have just made them smack me round the head and tell me I have brought shame on them.

    Yes I'm a planner. Yes, I know many of the people in this [who are good guys, despite this not being their finest hour]. Yes, I am hoping to god I have never spouted this sort of thing about a subject no one cares about.

    What's the difference between a planner and a strategist? About $10,000 more a year salary. The end.

  3. Hmmmm...what a shame you could not get off your ass and find out what the event actually was instead of just looking at the titles.

    The whole goal of Planning-ness was to a) get away from nazel gazing planners at traditional AAAA events and b) provide new ways of approaching problems by learning from other disciplines.

    Hence the reason for having sessions like:

    How to have a good day: a talk by a behavioral economist on how to better understand people's behavior in a workplace context (good for client negotiation).

    All of this

    How to deal with constraints: Mark Barden of Eat Big Fish talk about how to solve problems where there are many business constraints

    How to build community: some lessons from Air BnB's head of community.

    There are plenty of other sessions of this type that you can find on our Slideshare page (yes, I am one of the founders, so slightly biased).

    All of it is very relevant for building strategies that create brands. Now, I'm sorry you are stuck doing shitty retail ads - frankly unless you are asking a planner to build a promotion strategy they are not going to help you with an insight for a BOGO ad. But by learning behavioral economics, for instance, they could help direct the client to what price to put the BOGO at or what cognitive biases would get in the way of them taking advantage of the promotion.

    As for you Rob Campbell, it's kind of shameful you didn;t take a closer look and dismissed it out of hand.