What would Stephen say? Stephen King frpm JWT is considered the founder of account planning. Along with Stanley Pollit we might add, who was at a different agency.
Describe your experiences and reflections of a planner and the work a planner do?
Planning? Potentially the best job in the world, often the most frustrating. The only job I know that relies equally upon top class creativity and seering analytical ability… telescoping from one mindset to the other in a single afternoon can be exhilerating and exhausting, but ultimately fulfilling. The problem with planning is an inevitable one… our job is to see the light, the potential, the strategic roads not taken, and to represent this blue-sky-thinking to clients who invariably and understandably cannot follow all roads and take all risks. The only option is to love the dreaming for the dreaming’s sake, and to just count your lucky stars if even one of your brilliant ideas comes to fruition.
The danger for planning is that it becomes too focussed on the back end of the process… the measurement of effectiveness, accountability and such (whether effectiveness should come at the front or the back end of a process is another debate). But, the best planning and the best planners are inherently creative, intuitive and with eyes only for creating something magnificent, doing so with gusto and energy and without allowing the constraints of accountability or caution to restrain them too early in the process. Good planners are creatives with added responsibilities, more like entrepreneurs than accountants… show me a planner who can’t generate wonderful concepts and write excellent copy… and, I’ll show you someone who can’t really be happy as a planner.
Describe how the future will be out of your perspective in your work and in your life?
It’s very hard to see. I can only see my life in brand communications a year ahead at the most. I feel a great inclination to be entrepreneurial, to experiment, to put my neck on the line time and time again… in fact, I think greater risk-taking it’s essential if our industry is to survive. And so there’s no telling where it will lead us in five years… but perhaps consumers will be the clients, or clients the agencies, or agencies a curious footnote in history.
Mention the 3 most important and historically based inventions/events/episodes/experiences/etc to us, the human race/mankind?
1) The day an ape stood up and walked for the first time on two legs (the implications for hip-size and maturity of infants at birth had far reaching implications for humans, the way we bond and the way we emote).
2) Mass media / urbanisation– when humans left their communities of less than 200 people and suddenly found themselves toe-to-toe with thousands of strangers, it meant our brain was suddenly in an environment for which it was not designed and humans would have a tough time being happy for ever more. Where once you might have been the best musician in your village, you were now an also-ran. The development of mass media further increased the severity of the “contrast effect”, our inherent tendency to compare ourselves with other people and change our life strategies as a result.
3) Death. We know we will one day die. This explains a lot.
Mention the 3 forthcoming most important and historically based inventions/events/episodes/experiences/etc to the human race/mankind – i.e. they will come in the future?
1) Scientists turn off the need for sleep (invariably one economy will develop this technology before others and it will have drastic economic and political consequences… The Sleep Wars, perhaps?).
2) Male infertility reaches chronic levels.
3) People refusing to use the internet become as common as vegetarians and Christians.
Describe who you are, your background and what you do/work with?
I was born in Ireland in 1978. After a short period as a rock star I studied psychology and worked in academia for a bit researching amongst other things the effect of male pheromones on female attention. In 2003, I flipped a coin at Kings Cross Station and decided to enter the world of advertising. I ended up working five years as a planner in London, at McCann Erickson and DDB… two superb agencies. Since summer 2008, I have been living and freelancing in Berlin, most recently as Planning Director at a punchy, ambitious little agency called Plantage.
I am a naturally creative planning director / senior planner who occasionally finds himself as a copywriter and likes to provoke wherever possible with scary ideas and fresh thought-pieces. My remaining ambitions are to live and work in Stockholm and to open a creative strategy agency that doubles as a piano bar at night.