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MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? WHAT AGENCY HEADS WANT FROM PLANNERS

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Creatives want planners to give them inspiring insights, single-minded propositions, and clear problem statements. Clients want frameworks, effectiveness, a bit of retro-engineering every now and then, and lately also crisis management advice. Planning heads want gut, empathy, curiosity, and interesting methods to unearth human truths. Suits usually want pretty PowerPoint decks. But what about agency heads? Do they even care?

This talk aims at giving a (slightly biased) perspective on agency leaders’ expectations for strategists. It will answer questions such as ‘what’s the value of strategy from an agency leadership perspective’ or ‘how do planners fit into the company’s overall growth agenda’. The topics covered also provide a blueprint for convincing agency leaders of strategy’s worth in case they’re too short-sighted to see it.

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MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? WHAT AGENCY HEADS WANT FROM PLANNERS

  1. 1. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE? WHAT AGENCY HEADS WANT FROM PLANNERS (OR, HOW TO CONVERT THE NON-BELIEVERS) 2020 Contagious APAC Bootcamp Andreas Krasser CEO, DDB Group Hong Kong
  2. 2. Today’s Rundown 01 02 03 Mission Briefing Intelligence The Plan
  3. 3. MISSION BRIEFING
  4. 4. - Chris Kocek WE PLANNERS ARE ASKED TO DO SO MANY THINGS THAT IT’S FAIR TO SAY WE DO IT ALL.” “
  5. 5. HOW ABOUT AGENCY HEADS? What do they want from planners? Do they care? Does it matter if they do?
  6. 6. (I’m guilty myself) In Asia, Planning is often under-appreciated by agency leadership. Leveraged yes. But also given away for free.
  7. 7. “Despite evidence that clients need strategic help more than ever, many strategy departments have seen cuts. There are fears of a growing disconnect between the jobs strategists do in agencies, and the brand strategy clients are looking for. This is accelerating the feeling that strategists are undervalued and mis-sold in agency structures.” Source: 2020 WARC Future of Strategy Report THE STRATEGY PARADOX
  8. 8. YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT: How To Sell the Value of Planning to Agency Leaders?
  9. 9. First, let’s see what some agency heads from around the world have to say…
  10. 10. INTELLIGENCE
  11. 11. The Sample: 61 Respondents Africa 2% Middle East 2% Europe 13% North America 3% APAC 72% Global 8% Other 7% PR 5% Media 3% Data 2% Suit 48% Planning 25% Creative 11% Geography Professional Background Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  12. 12. Importance of Planning Within Agency Setup 0 10 20 30 40 Extremely important Very important Somewhat important Not so important Not at all important For Growth Agenda 0 10 20 30 40 Extremely important Very important Somewhat important Not so important Not at all important Number of responses (not percentages) Number of responses (not percentages) Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  13. 13. Planning is the difference between good and great. Get it right and wonderful, more unexpected and valuable things happen.” Nicole Taylor CEO, C14torce “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  14. 14. Nothing worthy happens within our agencies, our work, our clients without strategic insight and direction. COVID-19 has made this point even more crucial.” Wendy Clark Global CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  15. 15. Without strategy we have no substance, no grounding, no map toward our north star. It is a fundamental part of our DNA, and our future.” Matt Parry MD, Wunderman Thompson Hong Kong “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  16. 16. Overall Expectations: Top 05 Q: What are you specifically expecting from your planners (choose up to three)? 45 42 22 14 10 Brand/Campaign/ Comms Strategies Consumer Insights 22 Thought Leadership/ Agency Positioning Business Consulting Research & Data Inspiration Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020 Number of responses (not percentages)
  17. 17. We need planners to research like journalists. Collaborate like music producers. And defend the creative to clients like public defenders. I may not be the first to say this. Just the most recent.” Rob Schwartz CEO, TBWAChiatDay NY “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  18. 18. What I really require from planners is "Brutal Honesty" - I don't want them to exist in the grey areas. They keep us all honest - how we then decide to dress this up - well that's down to me.” Tony Harris CEO, BBDO Hong Kong “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  19. 19. The role of the planner has become incredibly demanding in today's agency. We need them to be multi- faceted in so many ways - generalist and specialist, old world and new world, hunter and farmer, creative and commercially savvy.” Brandon Cheung CEO, McCann Worldgroup Hong Kong “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  20. 20. In this time of massive uncertainty, I think agency planners have a critical role to play in getting to the crux of their client marketers' problems, uncovering the consumer insights that can be acted upon. And then packaging these in an inspirational way that captures the clients' confidence and empowers freedom of creative thinking.” Richard Bleasdale, Outgoing Managing Director, The Secret Little Agency “
  21. 21. Growth Contribution: Top 05 How do you believe can planners help the agency drive growth (choose up to three)? 31 29 25 23 22 New Business Pitching Upstream Consulting: Business 25 Upstream Consulting: Innovation/Data Organic Growth Opportunities Upstream Consulting: Brand Thought Leadership Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020 Number of responses (not percentages)
  22. 22. Future growth sits at the intersection of brand, business, culture, and experience strategy. Planning departments play a key role in the integration of these disciplines.” Tuomas Peltoniemi EVP, Managing Director, APAC at R/GA “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  23. 23. Agencies have a great asset within their strategy department. Unfortunately most planners are already too busy with daily campaign business and pitches that business opportunities in upstream consulting services are not properly leveraged. This is where consulting companies will take their slice of the pie. A piece of pie that is growing while agencies stand by watching.” Nina Rieke MD, whatsnextnow “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020
  24. 24. SOME OTHER THEMES…
  25. 25. “Stop sharing all your smarts, just the most compelling bits. Think icebergs, not text books. Anonymous Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020 Qmboofst◢!! Mpoh.xjoefeoftt
  26. 26. “Just having a clear strategy and vision just isn’t enough. The long term key to success, is the creative execution every day of the week. Aimee Dean CEO, The Generals Daughters Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020 Mbdl!pg!! fyfdvujpobm! lopxmfehf!
  27. 27. In the bad old days, agency planners were mostly the quiet ones sitting in the office corner and being the ghostwriters of the suits. In the digital age, there are more planners successfully transforming themselves to be the mastermind of an agency. Both sides of their brain could work fluidly with any department of a company, including finance. Rudi Leung Director & Founder, Hungry Digital “ Bcjmjuz!up!! gmvjemz!! dpmmbcpsbuf
  28. 28. One of the difficulties I find with planners is their lack of knowledge of their own role and scope of work within the agency, and their tendency to try and do everything - including creative work.” Tarik Guisser MD, DDB Morocco “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020 Mbdl!pg!! tfmg.bxbsfoftt
  29. 29. In my vision, traditional account servicing will go extinct. Senior Strategists shall front clients and talk business, supported by project managers who manage the day in & day out. Jan Cho MD, TBWA Hong Kong “ Source: What Agency Heads Want From Planners Survey, September 2020 B!ofx!gpsn!! pg!bddpvou!! tfswjdjoh
  30. 30. THE PLAN
  31. 31. Based on the inputs from our 61 leaders and some of my own thoughts, I have developed 6 ways to sell the value of planning to non- believing agency heads.
  32. 32. THINK ABOUT THE THINGS NO ONE ELSE THINKS ABOUT 01 Take the long-term view on things. Show where you believe the market will be going, what it means to brands as well as the agency, and how businesses can already now future-proof themselves.
  33. 33. BRING THE CONSUMER TO THE TABLE 02 Make sure your insights go beyond artificial category desires, and draw a vivid picture of who the audience really is…I’m talking human beings, not bar charts, social media handles or hashtags.
  34. 34. BE A COLLABORATOR 03 Nobody likes a smart ass. So, don’t be the smartest person in the room but the most collaborative one. That’s how you most likely will have an impact on the work. And at the end of the day, the work is what matters most.
  35. 35. MAKE THE BUSINESS CASE FOR CREATIVITY 04 Help your clients embrace fame- generating and emotionally-led creativity as last unfair advantage they’re legally allowed to take in business.
  36. 36. THINK COMMERCIALLY 05 Besides making the business case for creativity with clients, you should also be able to make the business case for strategy with agency leads, I believe.
  37. 37. BURST THE BUBBLE 06 Clients drink the Kool-Aid and agency heads do too. Be the one to bring them back to reality. Tell them when they’re a little too far removed from real life.
  38. 38. SHOW YOU CAN… THINK ABOUT THE THINGS NO ONE ELSE THINKS ABOUT BRING THE CONSUMER TO THE TABLE BE A COLLABORATOR MAKE THE BUSINESS CASE FOR CREATIVITY THINK COMMERCIALLY BURST THE BUBBLE
  39. 39. THIS PRESENTATION WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 5 SECONDS…

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