Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Your obligatory End-of-the-Month post on Planners

How many planners does it take to change a light bulb?

I had a funny punchline to this joke but it was rejected by the Junior Associate Planning Coordinator who "drilled down" on the project and found my answer did not "check off all the boxes" nor did it please focus group attendee Gary W., a plumber from Pacoima who once took a course in advertising at Fontana Community College.

I bring this up because despite the almost daily news stories about agencies downsizing, another large holding company shop had the wherewithal to hire a Group Planning Director.

I may be wrong on the numbers but I think that's their 38th Group Planning Director hire this year. Hell, you could hand all these planners some bricks and mortar and they can have the Mexican Wall built by Mother's Day.

My consternation regarding this issue knows no bounds.

To begin with, I'm 44 years old and have worked in advertising for more than 53 years and to this day I still have no idea why we need a planner. Since all work must pass through the C-suite sphincter, why not just corner the CEO in a room and ask for the 10 second elevator pitch about their business.

Steve Jobs -- "We make computers for the rest of us."

Phil Knight -- "We're all about the celebration of sport."

Ersk Von Defluggenshiester (CEO of Volvo) -- "We make cars that are safe."

You, Mr. or Ms. Planner, can take the rest of the day off.

Am I guilty of oversimplification? Hardly.

Because a CEO has a lot on his or her mind. Marketing and advertising take up the smallest sliver of real estate. And so the time-pressed CEO, who will have to say yeah or nay on anything that goes out the door, will view the ideas through that simple filter. The same oversimplified filter by the way, that is employed by the consumer.

Anything else is worthless math.

Speaking of worthless math, why, if one planner is too many, are 18 planners not enough?

Not long ago, an art director and I sat in on a briefing. We were walked through a three page document that was presented to us by three separate planners. Oh I'm sorry, a brand planner, a communications strategist and an experiential anthropologist. I shit you not.

The briefing concluded at 11:45 AM. Afterwards, I heard one woman say to her colleagues, let's go get lunch. I can only imagine the chartmaking, the ruminating and the robust discussion that preceded the decision on where they would eat.


Barleywhiner said...

Experiential Anthropologist! LMFAO

Max said...

You got Nike and Apple wrong, and Volvo only partly right. Hire a planner.

Rich Siegel said...


There is no right and wrong. It's advertising. And considering how many times I've been approached on a late Friday afternoon with marching orders to have new campaigns ready for a Monday morning meeting -- without the benefit of a new brief-- I don't see how hiring a planner suits anyone's needs.

But thanks for playing.