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Planning/Consumer Insights

Verizon Wireless Capitalizes on Consumers’ Rights to FREE Stuff

mobile phone privacy verizonWhile Americans are known to value their privacy (it’s an essential freedom guaranteed in the Bill of Rights!), there’s something we value more: free sh*t.

It’s in this spirit that Verizon Wireless launched a nationwide loyalty program that will offer its 100 million wireless subscribers rewards in exchange for information about their location and Web browsing (among other things).

It’s a “new way to make marketing work for YOU,” explains a friendly male voice on a video Verizon put out on its website about the Verizon Selects program.

And, hey—they make a good pitch…which is not embeddable, so you have to click the link above to watch it. Read more

Mediabistro Course

Copywriting: Creative Ad Writing

Copywriting: Creative Ad WritingWork with a freelance copywriter to build your advertising portfolio and land more copywriting jobs! Starting January 12, Kim Taylor will teach you how to make a complete ad using graphics and photos, write strong headlines and body copy for various advertising media, work from a creative brief, and jumpstart your ad portfolio. Register now!

Op-Ed: Let’s Talk Inappropriate Brainstorming

We welcome back monthly contributor Simon Mathews, currently chief strategy officer at West Coast shop, Extractable, who’s also worked on the strategy side at the likes of Isobar and Molecular during his career. So what does the title of his latest opus mean? Well, let Matthews explain and discuss where the bounds of brand permission lie.

I’ve been on the road this week visiting a couple of clients and working with them on their digital planning for the next year, and in some cases beyond.

Over a meal in New York the conversation topic turned to what the assembled diners thought of the NSA story hitting the headlines that day – how allegedly our government has been capturing everyone’s emails, phone records for years. To add to the discussion, I introduced a business idea: If the NSA has all our emails and data, maybe they could launch a backup/recovery service (e.g. Your computer crashes, the NSA provides a backup of all your lost data)?  I’d call this, “SpyVault”.

My fellow diners seemed remarkably unmoved.

In the cold light of day, clearly this is a ridiculous idea. But it is an example of a deliberate thought process we can use to help push digital innovation – “Inappropriate brainstorming”.

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A Day in the Life of a Summer Intern: How a Subway Ride Will Never Be the Same

Our summer intern series continues rolling along (and perhaps into fall considering the amount of feedback we’ve been getting). Here’s the latest entry, which comes to us from Avery Hairston, who’s currently interning in the planning department at JWT New York. Read on to find out how Hairston’s summer gig has informed his daily commute.

I’m on a downtown 4 train. It’s surprisingly not crowded for a Monday morning. I’m headed to the office to start another week of work at JWT. Before my summer-internship started, my train etiquette was pretty standard. Like the typical New Yorker, I kept to myself. I’d usually have my eyes closed, headphones in, and I’d probably be listening to the latest song by Michael Bublé Nas. Thanks to JWT, however, things have changed. I’m still listening to my music, but now I keep my eyes open.

Allow me to explain. In the two short months that I’ve been at JWT, I’ve already been exposed to countless aspects of the industry, from video production to brief writing, but my most important takeaway is something more intangible—call it a newfound hyper-awareness. And my time here has surprisingly transformed the way that I approach my life outside the office.
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The Planner, The Brief, The Creative, The Thief

Oh well that’s a curious headline, isn’t it. Who’s the thief? Not important, because it rhymes and you’re reading this so now onto the point. We want to know what you think about planners.

Their weeks-long brief writing process has been proven enough that the practice is now an industry standard. And from a business perspective, there’s a lot that can be billed against with planning — research, time, bodies, and of course the decks, which can go a long way to selling through campaigns. So you might not like it, but those planners are probably helping pay your check.

And at the end of the day, this is business, and each day, it’s losing ground to industries that do a better job of quantifying results. There’s an argument to be made that planners help advertising get a step closer to legitimacy. That is, assuming your planner is actually doing his or her job.

There are quite a few agencies out there bucking the planner trend while others still rely quite heavily. But what do you think?

Redscout Names President, CCO

twitter_logo_3_normal.jpgMDC’s Redscout tells us they’ve hired a president, Venables alum Nick Johnson, and their first-ever CCO, Peter Nicholson. Nicholson lost previous his gig when Deutsch and Lowe merged.

Johnson is a behind-the-scenes player known for his business savvy and Nicholson is, well, Nicholson. Those who know the creative call him a humble hard worker. Similar tales are told about Johnson. It’s a good combination for MDC’s planning shop, which will now be able to execute the plans they’ve built a business creating.

“It’s easier for Redscout to move downstream than it is for agencies to move up,” said a person familiar with the hires. The source is referring of course to Redscout’s planning background. Putting planning in the driver’s seat upset many readers of this blog who prefer a creative’s mind to a planner’s.

But MDC has ramped up its planning/strategy offering &#151 both by beefing up Redscout and bringing on former McCann-and-everywhere-else-guy Faris Yakob. Last month the agency brought Mark Lewis on as strategy director for the San Francisco office.

Before now, 99% of Redscout’s business was strategy, we’re told, so why not capitalize a bit more by executing in house. This doesn’t mean the agency is pitching itself as full service: there won’t be any production or media coming out of the office.

To be clear, Johnson is technically not the first president. He’s preceded by Patty Favreau who hasn’t been with the shop for a few years. He’s the second president but the first in awhile.

More:SPUR, a PSFK/Redscout Initiative for Planners

Cutwater’s SF Office Get New Chief Strategy Officer

DSCN0707.jpgAlasdair Lloyd-Jones can now call Cutwater’s San Francisco office home, we’ve confirmed. The former senior partner, director of account planning at Ogilvy and , brand strategy consultant at Marmalade New York current SVP, Strategy Director at Publicis’ is headed to Cutwater and a chief strategy officer seat.

UpdateAlasdair has worked on brands such as Citibank, Vicks, Cisco, Mitsubishi. Becks and Mattel

More:BBDO Takes Back Jeep From Cutwater

PSFK’s Planning Series, SPUR, Drew Ire From AgencySpy Commenters


When we fist introduced you to SPUR, PSFK and Redscout‘s video interview series on the business of planning, things got crazy in the comments. Haters came out of the woodwork to remind planners that their jobs are (in the hating opinion) bullshit. The anonymous commenters participated in this digital hair-pulling as if their words were revenge for years of unheard creative ideas &#151 and though polarizing it was &#151 the planning talks continued unabated.

The first part of this series is over, and pasted below is a quick redux/round-up of some planners’ commentary. One thing we haven’t seen: video of anyone in opposition to planning. Any creatives out there willing to put the witchcraft (we use this word with love) in its place &#151 you know where to send your thoughts.

(note: as lacking as we are in advertising experience, it would be unfair to say planning is good or bad or indifferent &#151 so take this post for what it is, a call to action in defense of creativity from creatives &#151 which we haven’t seen lately)

More:SPUR, a PSFK/Redscout Initiative for Planners

What’s a Planner?


Yesterday we were asked to define what a planner is. The question followed news that W+K Shanghai hired planner Nick Barham for an ECD role. Turns out “someone who plans” is a bit vague, so we called a few notable industry pros to get their opinions. But first, a bit of history from a local ad guy.

Jane Newman, who worked at Chiat/Day in NYC in the 80s is generally credited with bringing UK-style planning to the US.

Originally “planners” &#151 the UK innovation from the 70s, were supposed to be the voice of the consumer. That was before social media gave the consumer a voice. But a good planner would be able to tell the client that “the consumer doesn’t care how many colors it comes in, she only cares that it smells good” and the client would nod in agreement, even if their marketing department was convinced that multiple colors was their key selling point.”

Or at least that’s how it was supposed to work.

Planning got coopted by BDAs in America, who basically renamed their old school Research depts and hired a British accented planner or two to oversee the whole operation.

At this point, it became a hybrid monster that fought with Acct Svcs to see who was in control of determining strategy (and therefore the client’s ear) while continuing to do the sort of research (eg testing animated versions of commercials) that clients paid big bucks for. They also weighed in on execution and developed a reputation for playing creative teams against each other.

Account people at BDAs did not like planners because they felt that planners served to make them irrelevant. Or at least take away the one part of their job that required intelligent thinking.

At many BDAs their job was nothing more than to justify the favored creative execution, developing a strategy that supported the ECDs new TV spot. Whereas at some shops, the planners ruled the roost and had a heavy hand in determining execution.

So the job function is truly all over the place.

Digital agencies employ “strategists” who do more of what your original answer implied &#151 determine the strategy which includes messaging, media options and promotional ideas, along with research into what consumers want.

Firms like Naked and Undercurrent only do strategy work, but don’t do any execution.

Bottom line is, the definition of ‘planner’ really depends on who you are talking to, since so many people have markedly different interpretations.

Now that you know the brief history, here’s how other industry professionals defined the practice. And by all means, correct the definitions.

&#151 People Ideas & Culture’s Domenico Vitale (a Jay Chiat Planning award winner): I think a great planner is someone who can solve a strategic problem from a completely, different informed point of view. In other words, innovation in problem solving…

&#151 From a digital shop: “A planner is someone who correlates a communication strategy with media buys. Determines which ad buys are most effective and deliver greatest bang for the buck.”

&#151 A west coast planner: A creative’s responsibility is to make the work good/creative. Account people are responsible for making the work happen. Planners are responsible for making the work work ie be effective. We do this by developing a strategy that is grounded in business objectives and works out what behavior we need to change in which group of people and how we are most likely to achieve this.

“In short, we try to provide creative people with the best ammunition to make interesting work that achieves objectives. This is a good intro paper done by the UK APG.”

&#151 George Parker: “Obviously the first requirement to be a planner…Is to be fucking BRITISH. Then, to repackage shit people have always known in such a way that it sounds new and insightful.”

That last one sounds more like a definition for advertising in general, but what do I know. Hope this helps at least one of you. Next up, please help us define

Leo Burnett Frankfurt Head of Strategy Responds to ‘Is Strategy the New Creative’ Idea


According to Alexander Wipf, Head of Strategy at Leo Burnett Frankfurt, when you write ‘is strategy the new creative?’ in a headline it attracts attention and sparks conversation. So we gave it a try. How’s it working so far?

The strategist is responding to PSFK/Redscout’s SPUR, a 5-part video series we introduced yesterday via an interview with Redscout managing director Alain Slyvain, who is spearheading the series with PSFK.

“But what does this really mean,” asks Wipf. “I believe a headline like this is a great eyecatcher. But really, it is written that way to make you look. Strategy is not the new creative. It’s simply that the definition of strategy and creative and how both have to work together has changed.”

Well, that’s still unclear. It seems like no one, not even a strategy leader at one of the world’s most widely recognized agencies, Leo Burnett. But, if one thing is certain for Wipf, it’s that strategy is key to maximizing the creative effect.

“In a communications landscape where marketers have begun understanding that people aren’t interested in your messages obviously the old form of creative product, i.e. the delivery of ads, is losing importance,” he writes. “Or, at a minimum, ads need to be complemented with different creative products that provide context-relevant experiences, content and participatory elements alongside before they can be effective again.”

We can’t adequately piece together Wipf’s article, so we recommend you take a look at it in full, here.


More:Account Planning Breakdown with Redscout’s Alain Sylvain

SPUR, a PSFK/Redscout Initiative for Planners

There’s an inherent problem with interviewing industry professionals, whether for a video series, a news story or any other public media: timeliness. Too often we ask professionals to predict the future and tell us how they do what they do; the former is impossible and the latter is unfair, usually resulting in the pro giving up old info that won’t hurt whatever he’s working on. PSFK and Redscout will have to overcome all this in order for their new project, SPUR, to be a success.

Nonetheless, people will watch it. And so will we, because when people like Gareth Kay, John Gerzema, Domenico Vitale and Paul Woolmington talk, people listen.

SPUR, a project from Piers Fawkes of PSFK and Alain Sylvain of Redscout, seeks to “explore the intersection of brands, strategy, innovation and the world of account planning”.

Finally, something for the forgotten ones, the planners, whose roles are too often relegated to research. This video series will consist of five episodes that will “provoke and inspire” the account planning business. Contributors include:

&#151 Douglas Atkin, Writer; Partner & Chief Community Officer of
&#151 Devika Bulchandani, Chief Strategy Officer; McCann Erickson
&#151 Dan Cherry, Managing Partner, Director of Brand Strategy; Anomaly
&#151 Piers Fawkes, Founder; PSFK
&#151 John Gerzema, Chief Insights Officer; Young & Rubicam
&#151 Heidi Hackemer, Senior Planner; BBH
&#151 Robin Hafitz, Chief Strategic Officer; Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners
&#151 Sally Jones, Founder; Tangerine
&#151 Gareth Kay, Director of Digital Strategy; Goodby & Silverstein
&#151 Hank Leber, Founder; Agency Nil and Associate Planner, McKinney
&#151 Domenico Vitale, Founder; People, Ideas & Culture
&#151 Freya Williams, Global Planning Director; Ogilvy Earth
&#151 Paul Woolmington, Founding Partner; Naked Communications NY, Global Partner of Naked Communications

For more info, click here.

More:Why Was the 4As San Fran Planning Conference Canceled?