Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Planning is useless and a waste of time and money

Is planning and strategy useless?

I´ve worked at agencies where planning is seen as "overhead", something extra, like a little decoration to add on to the most important creative work. Where deep knowledge is seen as unnecessary - "it only complicates things".

They might be right, those people. I am not sure. Agencies who are planning hostile win awards and those who have loads of strategists fail. After all, advertising is a creative art, and it´s mysterious and magical in its way to think completely different and evoke emotions by avoiding the straight line from message to receiver.

Maybe my role is pointless. Maybe I just disturb by adding too much insight on the market, the product, the brand, the consumer? I read a lot, spend hours trawling through articles, blogs, websites and videos to find out more - to find those nuggets of insights that will lead to revelations about the relationship between brand and consumer. To find out what really triggers them. To understand them beyond "women 22-24 y old who buy shampoo".

When it comes to shampoo I don´t need to know everything about the active ingredients or what the factory it´s made in looks like. There are such things as "too much information" - but it can be interesting to look at women´s beauty regime, psychological phenomenon when it comes to shampoo ads, trends in beauty or retail, lifestyle trends, how people speak about hair and shampoo on blogs or to interview people on brand perceptions, their view on priorities and usage. From hours spent on digging there may be insights that makes the strategy clearer, edgier.

Or not.

You could just make an ad that looks like most. Just use a sexier lady and more foam. Just say "shampoo" with a hotter voice or add a little "made from extracts from exotic flowers in remote places".  And it can work! Creative people can even be truly creative and make untraditional ads that makes you love the brand.

Sometimes I doubt the value of myself. Especially when I meet amazing talented creative people, or when I read bunches of articles without finding much new, or when others doubt the value of me.

I love my job and of course I find myself very important - LOL - but it´s a fact that strategy sometimes is simpler than you think. And it´s also true that if you never even consider finding insights, building brands, choosing among paths, using the left brain, you will most likely fail.

Guess we need a combo. Common sense. The ability to see our own value or uselessness and be creative on the subject of planning or not planning.

What do you think?

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