I feel very lucky to be a planner/strategist or whatever you fancy calling it these days. I find it continually interesting and challenging and have come across some lovely, talented people.
But there are some things about the job that drive me up the wall. Tiny next to upsides of the job - anyone doing this job is incredibly fortunate to be doing this rather than real work.
Bu just like the only who can moan about my mother in law is my wife, I reserve the right to good naturedly point out the increbibly daft.
1. The tried and tested methodology of using human relationships as a metaphor for how people buy brands. You know, stuff like 'creating brand love'. 'Like marriage the secret is to show you care'. When the most appropriate human relationship for how most people buy brands is the annoying stalker who won't leave you alone no matter how much you try and ignore him.
In fact it's not even that. It's that person in meeting you know you've met, you recognise the face but can't remember much about.
2. The habit of talking about brands like they're people. It's OK up to point of course, but like any 'model' it's only there as a representation, not fact. Loads of scientists have models of how stuff works, but when new evidence or insight comes to light, they develop the model.
A rigid brand onion no one can mess with, based on a tenuous comparison between an intangible impression in folks' heads and real, capricious human behaviour seems plain daft.
3. The worship of the brand per se. Too many planning folks seem to hide under the comforting blanket of brand scores, rather than actual business performance.
It's lovely not actually having to prove you sold anything, but eventually just shifting salience etc will get you fired, even the biggest, dumbest client companies.
4. Intelligent fools. You know, the poor sods who have been taught that complex language and even more complex powerpoints gives them gravitas and makes them look clever. It really doesn't .
5. The over-use of culture. It's quite right when planning folk bring cultural insight to the table. You know, what matters in real lives rather than fake focus groups. But while the context of real lives to frame a task is a must, there's lots of over-use of how 'were going to change/influence/make culture'.
You're really not.
With very, very few exceptions, you're going to create stuff that might actually get noticed because it has some relevance and adds some value - a few people might interact with it to amplify your reach, but it's rare you have an Old Spice Guy on your hands.
Even for the people who made the Old Spice Guy.
6. Mistaking what interesting to planners for what is interesting to real people. Thinkbox did some usueful research on the difference between media folk and the public at large, in terms of media habits and consumption.
It's pretty big.
So it the gulf between what media folks think people do and what they actually do. No wonder we see lots of obscure ads with clever references, genius apps no one uses and lots of augmented reality and such left untouched.
Not enough planning folk get the bus, read the Sun or watch Corrie or Keeping with the Kardashians. Our job is not suprise and delight other agency folks, it's to get noticed by people who think Mrs Browns Boys is funny and have never watched Game of Thrones.
7. Seeing the brief and the strategy as the idea. I remember being taught at an APG thingy that a brief is 'your ad to the creative department'.
I dislike this sentiment as it suggests a brief is a piece of craft that should be worshiped all of itself. Most creatives barely read it to be honest. They remember the briefing. It should feel a great start and juicy challenge - the more it feels like a problem to be solved rather than an unchangeable solution, the more folks will want to work on it.
In later years, I've found that a broad direction to talk to media owners is far better than 'give us a price for this'. I'm not as clever as YouTube or the Guardian. Like with creatives, you would be stupid not to take advantage of the brains of some really clever people who REALLY DO influence culture.
I'm talking about good creatives of course. I can't help you with the useless ones who ignore briefs AND can't get any good ideas - yet they are celebrated as untouchable Gods.
Just as there are media owners who come in an bombard you with chart after chart of the bleeding obvious.
8. Competitive planners. Many of us have been brought up to own the thinking. That doesn't work in real practise. Generosity does. That means sharing your thoughts, but also spotting someone else's greatness, using it and fully giving them credit.
That goes for agencies working together. It's tough of course, you want the client to value your input, and it's really annoying when you've had an idea and credit gets lost on the chaos of getting an intregrated campaign out the door. But it's not as frustrating as getting fired when you're seen as not being able to get on with your clients' other partners.
I'm sure folks I've worked with would accuse me of much of the above too, we're all guilty I suppose. I wonder what I've missed (the habit making lists, planners who blog?).