Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Understand Planners - No1

We planners are an unusual bunch, so with tongue slightly in cheek I thought it was time to start explaining some more about us to the creative and account types out there. A Haynes manual may or may not follow...

How to Understand Planners - No.1 (in a series of some)

"Planners are Basically Kids"

You know that phase kids go through when they never stop asking questions?

"Why is that thing Red? ... Why? ... But why? ... Whay's that? Where from? Why? Why?..."

Yeah, that's us; and we won't change. We always want to know something about everything and everything about something. The best planners never lose that hunger to find out more and more things about a client's product, brand, market, competitors, customers, etc. Some of us actually enjoy reading up on entirely random topics and random viewpoints to give ourselves a wider view of the world. A good planner can find something interesting in even the most boring of topics.
We often tend to have the kid like habit of remembering completely random and trivial bits of information that nobody else could find any use for, and then finding a way to make them relevant to something we are working on.

We also like to draw things despite not having developed (in most cases) the ability to draw. Hence we usually end up drawing charts, graphs or tables that we can then fill with the random information we piled up from asking endless questions.

That said, like kids we love creativity; the fun of making something and exploring things other people create is there within us. Most planners I know love things like music, design, art, architecture, fashion and so on. We can be bluntly objective sometimes, but I assure you that just because we don't copywrite or art direct does not mean we don't get it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

England in the World Cup 2010 - A Planning Review

Anyone who watched the England v Germany game today will have seen a terrible result. One that should rightly shake the nation into sorting out it's football team. We have been in trouble for a long time, and it's clear that our good qualifying performance was just papering over the cracks.

Why Fabio Capello Got It All Wrong - A Planning Guide

1. Failure of Research

Fabio clearly missed some major issues during his research. He saw the players in their league games, he had friendlies to test them out; and yet he seemed to blatantly miss the key points of the debrief. In fact, it has to be questioned whether his methodology was right, because even though he got some good debrief pointers (Gerrard is wasted on the wing. Heskey doesn't score. Crouch is a legend. Joe Cole might actually make us do something) Etc... he seemed to believe they weren't the key issues.

Even when the debrief was presented to him, he clearly wanted to take the bad client road and ignore it through stubborness. Which brings us on to point two.

2. There Is NO One Rule Fits All

His policy of only telling the team who is playing as they get on the coach is clearly not working, you could see that there was no togetherness in the play, no real confidence in themselves. Fabio made the mistake of thinking that what works over a season in club football could work in the World Cup. From a planning point of view, he failed to heed the warnings, and ignored the valuable insights at his disposal to the difference between club and national games.

Perhaps worst of all, he seemed to show a lack of market understanding in placing players in positions where they weren't strong, seeing the warning signs and still letting the competition take the dominant ground. He took initial campaign success and saw that as a sign that the team could take on the market leaders without any new strategies.

3. Understanding the Customer

In doing the above, Fabio managed to completely alienate the team's best customers. He got some good initial results, but when the team started to flag he failed to turn it around. Though the customer doesn't always know what they want, there were more than enough opportunities for Fabio to test and try out the tactics that loyal customers were calling for.

The team exhibited all the features that put customers off, that damage both the England and the Fabio brand significantly; and he could not fix them or rebrand successfully.

If England were a brand, they would be holding a pitch.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

APSOTW Extra Credit - World Cup Assignment

Hi folks, I've been a bit slack with my posting this week; and thought it was time for some updates. I'd like to start with a special APSOTW competition in honour of the world cup.

Now normally Northern Planner or Rob Campbell take care of these, but as this is a topic I felt strongly about I have taken the reigns temporarily...


The FIFA World Cup is the biggest single sporting event in the world. Watched by billions of people around the world, it brings nations together in a unique way.

The beautiful game becomes the obsession of entire nations, everyone wants their country to win the ultimate prize in football.

But you already knew that...

The brief is this:

The rights to produce and sell the Official FIFA World Cup 2010 ball are expensive (around $350m I believe), with the event providing a huge opportunity for publicity and communication from sports brands.

However, Adidas have had to spend two weeks defending their World Cup ball (The Jabulani) against loud and widespread criticism from players, manager and the media.

The ball is being blamed for everything from the initial lack of goals, poor performances, lack of goals from free kicks, lack of player control, lack of pass accuracy and loss of shot accuracy.

Given the significance of the event and Jabulani product for Adidas; how should they react to the professional and public criticism?


As this is an extra credit assignment I won't make it too strenuous...

  1. You have 2 sides of A4 for your answer. You can use these in whatever way you wish. You can scan them / email them / post them, whichever is easiest for you!
  2. You should consider both the professional and public criticism.
  3. Closing date is July 11th (7.30pm GMT) - Kick off for the World Cup Final
  4. Judges: Graeme Douglas - (Planning Director on Nike!), Rob Campbell, Moi, others may follow...
  5. Have fun!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Why the iPad Might Just Work

My view on the iPad so far is about the same as my view on 50" LED 3D HDTV's, a lovely idea but not something that hits the sweet spot on my Need vs Cost internal diagram (I am a planner).
The new TV ad though is smart, and shows intelligent thinking from the agency and Apple. The iPad is the kind of device that will find it's own position in our needs. Rather like no one knew they wanted motion sensing remote controls until they played Wii Sports; Apple are telling us it does everything but deliberately stating it is up to us to determine what makes it special.

They could have sold it as the ultimate web browser, the new kindle, the ultimate travelling video player, handheld gaming heaven, etc etc. But with their core userbase of (let's face it) die hard obsessives that would buy a paper cup if Steve Jobs had sipped from it; they knew they could afford to give it some time to settle and find it's own niche before they start trying to guide people one way or another.

This thinking didn't work for PS3, which got lost in the void between games machine and video machine and browser and so on. Somehow though it seems perfect for this device that people want without knowing why, ellicting a kind of "We will make it work because it's so pretty we have to" response from developers and (so far) customers.

Instead of hiding from it, Apple are revelling in the fact that iPad is so new you don't know what to do with it yet... but you already know how to use it when that day comes.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Two Nice Pieces

Sony's new 3D ad, why bother trying to convey the benefits when you can make people want to see it for themselves...

And a much better than expected piece for Coke / World Cup with Corden and Rooney. I love how Coke are trying to take hold of the celebrations angle of the football, it fits perfectly with the brand and makes their sponsorship stand out from the 50 others. Besides, it references Roger Milla; meaning instant awesomeness.

SupNorth I is Tonight

The first Northern Planning/ad/creative folk Type Summit under the new name of SupNorth is happening tonight in Manchester.

It's at the Northern Pub on Tib St in the Northern Quarter. Location Info Here.

It's open to anyone with a creative interest or job, e.g.: Advertising, PR, Marketing, Digital/Web, Art, Design, etc. We sit/stand and have an informal chat about whatever we feel like over a few beers.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Things What I Have Learned on Holiday

1. The Bodrum peninsula of Turkey is lovely, really really lovely
2. But has biiiig hornets
3. Turkish people are friendly and helpful, and mostly speak very good English
4. Some English tourists are very ignorant
5. Wearing Factor 50 suncream provides roughly the same protection as wearing a leather jacket
6. Turkish people love their dogs and cats
7. The weather in May is perfect. Warm but not stiflingly so, and very little humidity most days
8. The Eurovision Song Contest is still fun with Polish commentary
9. The Polish commentator appears to have modelled his voice on Terry Wogan
10. Turkish food is awesome. Not just kebabs, but lots of lamb and aubergines :)