(sorry about the visual pun)
So I went to the IPA Modern Briefing event yesterday and it was really good. It's true that planning often spends too much time talking to itself, but this felt different.Thankfully because the speakers didn't fall into that dreadful trap of fetishising the brief- you know, sad planning directors tinkering with the boxes on the hallowed briefing document because they don't do any real work anymore.
They didn't really talk about briefs.
They really talked about developing strategy for a world that has moved on. Some useful, instantly actionable pointers on getting good work out of an increasingly messy and process that includes more and more actors. You can read the presentations here.
Quotes of the day:
"Media is too important to be left to media agencies" -Jason Gonslaves
"Buying AKQA is an admission of defeat" Richard Huntington on WPP's latest purchase.
Some things that made me go , erm, really?...........
The bloke from Contagious going on about Kraft brand managers and agency types spending three months 'collaborating in a room'. Three months? What's the point of sharing this when the reality for most of us is getting quality stuff out faster and cheaper than ever before. Even the other speakers looked bemused.
Which brings me to Contagious itself. Don't read it, seriously.
Not only will they make you believe it's a perfect world where everyone is wildly innovative and everyone thinks in 'brand' rather than 'sales', everyone else is reading it. Fish where the others don't fish. Read weird stuff. Work hard, don't copy others.
That's what I liked about the tone of most of the day, it was a big admission that this job is hard, and harder than ever.
That said, it's really boring to talk about 'the age of this' and the 'age of that'. It's just as boring for this generation of strategy people talking about dealing with the 'how the world has changed', as if we're the first to deal with seismic shifts in our industry, as it is to listen to any young generation to think they've discovered 'rebellion'.
The end of the commission stucture
The rise of TV
Clients starting to use research
There was no point where this industry dealt with any sort of status quo for long, the big networks just pretended we did.
And still do.
I remember being taught on an APG creative brief course how 'propositions' has developed from 'single minded propositions' to 'emotional propositions' to 'task based propositions'. That was ten years ago. The only thing you can sure of in this business is change.
Finally, many speakers talked of a 'traditional process' where you get the client brief, do some planning, get creatives involved, get the work approved then make it. I've never experienced this really and, to quote John Hegarty from over ten years ago, "Many conversations, not just one brief".
The process, for great work anyway, has always been messy, collaborative and not completely linear. It's just that agencies like to pretend to clients that we're really professional and predictable.
We, of course, are not.
I think the main difference the day highlighted was that we're all finally admitting this and, more importantly, more clients are demanding that different practitioners actually work together towards one goal, and create stuff people actually notice and interact with, because they've run out excuses too.