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planning, creativity & planning for creative campaigns

talk I gave for Sweden's APG

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Hej Stockholm!
Ramblings from
      the Black Wolf
Creativity + Planning + Planning for Creative Campaigns

                Heidi Hackemer / @uberblond
a little about my path grew up in the woods of
Wisconsin amongst a von Trapp-esque family of
musicians, Bach and pigeons, wanted to be an
astronaut, ran a lot, studied Advertising and English
Literature, came to NYC, waitressed for two years,
started at FCB as a copywriter, two years later I
flipped to planning, went to Fallon London, decided I
liked the sun, came back to NYC to BBH, loved it, quit
my job, bought a big black truck (the Black Wolf),
drove around the country for four or five months,
slept in the back of the truck most nights, met a
spiritual guru in the swamps of Louisiana, came back
to NYC and now I’m a freelancer. got it?
after the journey of the past year, the
      good news for me is that...

   I love planning
the obvious
I love culture
I love people
I love cracking a problem
I love working with creative, smart people
but the real reason
planning is a wide playground where, once we get our core
craft down, we get to define what we’re all about
professionally... and many definitions are valid

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planning, creativity & planning for creative campaigns

  • 2. Ramblings from the Black Wolf Creativity + Planning + Planning for Creative Campaigns Heidi Hackemer / @uberblond
  • 3. a little about my path grew up in the woods of Wisconsin amongst a von Trapp-esque family of musicians, Bach and pigeons, wanted to be an astronaut, ran a lot, studied Advertising and English Literature, came to NYC, waitressed for two years, started at FCB as a copywriter, two years later I flipped to planning, went to Fallon London, decided I liked the sun, came back to NYC to BBH, loved it, quit my job, bought a big black truck (the Black Wolf), drove around the country for four or five months, slept in the back of the truck most nights, met a spiritual guru in the swamps of Louisiana, came back to NYC and now I’m a freelancer. got it?
  • 4. after the journey of the past year, the good news for me is that... I love planning
  • 5. the obvious I love culture I love people I love cracking a problem I love working with creative, smart people
  • 6. but the real reason planning is a wide playground where, once we get our core craft down, we get to define what we’re all about professionally... and many definitions are valid
  • 7. we’re a motley bunch beyond the craft, great planners seem to have something in common: they are brave enough embrace who he or she really is. that leads to a pretty diverse and insane community I love that
  • 8. planner me gut instinct planner very inspired by primal human truth and culture love the big story of a brand + culture; love making it work love the possibility of digital (it’s so human) love the creative process love winning *this will be important-ish in about 15 slides
  • 9. it’s a great time to be a planner
  • 10. why? we’re needed the problems are much more complex the solutions can be ridiculously relevant
  • 11. so let’s get into it creativity, planning and all that jazz
  • 12. three muses tonight 1) Steve Jobs 2) Dumbledore 3) Judy Garland
  • 14. In the past I’ve talked about the Mother Effin’ Wolf Pack*... teams of smart, amazing people bouncing in and out of a collaborative environment, all working together to slay the problem at hand * yes I have a thing for wolves.
  • 15. wolf packs work when each individual brings something unique to the process and has an output that they’re solely responsible for creative wolf account person wolf production wolf planning wolf and media wolf and digital experience wolf and legal wolf ... you get it.
  • 16. let’s be incredibly simplistic account peeps uniquely bring an understanding of process as well as the client’s/biz POV... creatives uniquely bring the capacity to turn a strategic solution into magic... and what do planners uniquely bring to the table?
  • 17. we bring the divergent thinking in from the outside
  • 18. divergent thinking helps us create provocative lenses for problems
  • 19. divergent thinking is the oxygen that fuels exceptional creativity
  • 21. why? creation has been democratized anyone can put an idea out there there are more ideas fighting for attention than ever before as ubiquitous computing rises, this is only going to be more acute of an issue now, more than ever, we as an industry have to be really, really good at what we do: making ideas that people pay attention to and are motivated by
  • 22. creativity isn’t cute creativity is how we win and our clients win (read Sir John Hegarty’s book)
  • 23. I don’t believe we can be truly creative and win when we’re all working off of similar, processed inputs
  • 24. we have an industry problem institutionalization
  • 25. Black Wolf Epiphany #1 I was very close to becoming, if not already, a fraud (wyoming)
  • 26. remember this? planner me gut instinct planner very inspired by primal human truth and culture love the big story of a brand + culture; love making it work love the possibility of digital (it’s so human) love the creative process love winning
  • 27. feeds, back rooms and Mintel reports had become 90% of my cultural understanding (pretty arrogant)
  • 28. personally, I was losing my perspective, my gut. for my teams, I wasn’t authentically bringing the oxygen
  • 29. Terminal 5 & MoMA were the primary brain stretch venues (they’re about five avenues away from one another btw)
  • 31. this happened largely because I was succeeding in the institution of advertising
  • 32. advertising values a linear path. I did it I stayed in the advertising walls and steadily moved up jr planner > planner > senior planner > planning director
  • 33. advertising values the 60 or 70 or 80 hour work-week yeah, I’ve done that too. a lot.
  • 34. advertising values being busy, hectic & doing advertising there’s something really noble about busyness culturally and especially in our industry
  • 36. not only was I not bringing the divergent perspective, I had a hunch that I wasn’t living a life where creativity could really happen so how does that make me good at what I love, ie planning?
  • 37. Black Wolf Epiphany #2 it’s in the dots stupid (south dakota)
  • 38. the south dakota crisis “It’s been two months on the road. what do I have to show for it? I don’t know what I’m doing with my life... should I be blogging more? writing more? tweeting more? instagram’ing more? networking more? will I ever work again? will I have to leave NYC? will I be homeless soon? will I really have to live in the truck? maybe I could be work in a meat processing plant. I can’t work in a meat processing plant!! Maybe I should get just my shit together and get back on that advertising path. or I will end up toothless and living in my parent’s back yard in Florida... in a truck.”
  • 40. when I was in South Dakota having this moment, Steve Jobs died. and I, like everyone else, spent some time going through his life
  • 41. “The minute I dropped out (of college) I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting... Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on...”
  • 42. “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs
  • 43. this was a huge moment for me
  • 44. I had been living the linear, advertising life and was anxious because I wasn’t still on it but reading about dots made me question the linear
  • 45. a dot life is different it’s varied. it’s defined by the individual, not the institution. the life & mind seem to meander more, have more space
  • 46. I became obsessed with this idea of “living the dots” + and its relationship to creativity. what I learned... creativity values space, exploration
  • 47. space
  • 48. “Daydreaming and boredom seem to be a source for incubation and creative discovery in the brain and are part of the creative incubation process.” Jonathan Schooler professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • 49. if I owned the world version Bill Gates schedules regular Think Weeks - times where he goes off in seclusion, shuts down and allows his mind to take in varied creative inputs and wander
  • 50. “Without great solitude, no serious work is possible” Picasso
  • 51. reality version Josh Linker / Blogger for Fast Company 5% Creativity Challenge schedule 5% of your time for thinking (2 hrs/week) companies that have done this reported zero drop in productivity, a “flood of new ideas into the organization” and happier employees
  • 53. “Being able to step back and view things as an outsider, or from a slightly different angle, seems to promote creativity. This is why travel frequently seems to free the imagination, and why the young (who haven’t learned all sorts of rules) are often more innovative than their elders.” Jonah Lehrer, author: How Creativity Works
  • 54. Johannes Gutenberg transformed his knowledge of wine presses into an idea for a printing machine capable of mass- producing words. The Wright brothers used their knowledge of bicycle manufacturing to invent the airplane. (Their first flying craft was, in many respects, just a bicycle with wings.) George de Mestral came up with Velcro after noticing burrs clinging to the fur of his dog. Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed the search algorithm behind Google by applying the ranking method used for academic articles to the sprawl of the World Wide Web; a hyperlink was like a citation. from “How Creativity Works”
  • 55. Dalai Lama talks about our thinking as paths. Go down the same paths too much, and they turn into ruts. Ruts aren’t good. Awareness helps people divert out of ruts and mentally explore new spaces.
  • 56. reality version find your dots, the things you’re just curious about explore and invest in them, even if it doesn’t make sense take some time to think about your own ruts - do they need to be broken?
  • 57. net net I don’t believe you can plan for breakthrough creative work if you don’t ruthlessly value creativity in yourself
  • 58. my net net right now, I’m more valuable to agencies if I keep myself out of the agencies it gives me space it gives me divergent inputs I’m more creative, more focused I’m more energized when I’m in I’m better at my job (that makes me happy)
  • 59. after Droga, back on the road for a few months this summer better, richer, fuller exploring the American Dream in 2012
  • 60. this is scary it’s scary to walk out of an ad agency at 6:00 (I do believe we call this the “half-day”) it’s scary to stare at the ceiling or go for a walk it’s scary to not take the next big, logical job it’s scary to trust the work will come as a freelancer it’s scary to take off for a few months it’s scary to not be one of us
  • 61. I’m not advocating for everyone to quit their jobs, become a freelancer, buy a truck and travel around I am advocating for more personal thoughtfulness: what do you believe in? why do you do this job? are you creating the best conditions to make that happen? your answer may involve being in an agency; that’s okay
  • 62. if I were one of the bigger badasses in the industry, I would more eloquently put it like this: we need to blow it up and start again 1) identify what you love doing. be ruthless 2) identify the conditions under which you love doing it Then design an agency, Cindy Gallop IfWeRanTheWorld a job, a life around it make love not porn
  • 65. “my brief is so fucking smart.”
  • 66. “um, that was in the brief, you idiot.”
  • 67. “that isn’t on brief.”
  • 68. “I haven’t seen the work.” (day before meeting)
  • 69. these grumbles more often than not come from a culture of hand-offs... PRODUCTION( ACCOUNT( STRATEGY( CREATIVE( MEDIA(
  • 70. ...rather than a team culture of synchronized flow MEDIA( STRATEGY( CREATIVE( ACCOUNT( PRODUCTION( CLIENTS(
  • 71. shocking observation from my experience if we let creatives into our process, creatives are more likely to let us into theirs (done thoughtfully, this usually helps the work)
  • 72. in the long list of deliverables that the process of making work requires, planning has the first big one - the brief
  • 73. we set the tone
  • 74. what kind of tone are you setting for your projects and teams?
  • 75. when setting the tone, remember space & create a rhythm space for individual creation, a culture of building, respect for ultimate responsibility
  • 77. if Dumbledore would have told Harry everything that Harry ultimately needed to know on Day One, Harry’s head would have exploded the constant conversation, however, made for a deep relationship
  • 78. the iterative brief rooted in the immense complexity of the communication landscape today - but it also, nicely, creates a lovely rhythm on a team
  • 79. define the problem you’re make a wall of your trying to solve. define thinking/hypotheses/ do the planner thing: dig brand and marketing goals. interesting stuff. set out a deep, read a lot, research gather a slew of emotional nice cake. invite team and behavioral insights. members to come round make some hypotheses and chat write a brief. lay out the if it’s modern, the solution emotional story. have some will probably be complex. (this brief shouldn’t engagement planning nod to the complexity. surprise anyone because of thoughts. get some media promise more cake and step three) suggestions in there. make discussion once they’ve a tumblr cracked an idea wait. feed bits of thinking, wait. inspiration, deliverables - help. shoot for something helpful build the strategic fortress. wait. to give them every day. sell it wait. build, shape, make better. idea cracked. yay. every day
  • 80. net net open your own process up be respectful of the space that everyone needs feed, think, talk, be present
  • 81. word of caution: don’t collaborate to death “The most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic.” The Rise of the New Groupthink, NY Times
  • 83. being a creative is really hard
  • 87. I believe we really need to be sensitive to this as planners
  • 88. as @mrbsmith so beautifully articulated and @EMMACNYC got super excited about so she and I talked about it a lot and thus I was influenced positivity is one of the strongest planning tools that you can build... especially when it comes to working with creatives
  • 89. be positive, be into it (if you don’t feel it, fake it until you do)
  • 90. think about creative reviews as building sessions not winning sessions
  • 91. when you’re giving feedback, lead with the bits that you thought were good/smart
  • 92. keep venting sessions short and move them away from devolving into bitching sessions
  • 93. speaking of venting... if you’re a director, find someone off the team to vent to; coach your planning team to vent to you and not at the team
  • 94. keep it about making great work
  • 95. sound simplistic? naive? a bit touchy-feely?
  • 96. the Positivity/Negativity (P/N) ratio in a 2004 study, high performance teams had a P/N ratio of 5.6, medium performance teams a P/N of 1.9 and low performance teams a P/N of 0.36 (there was more negativity than positivity)
  • 97. net net grow up make it about the work, not about you be someone that other people want in the room
  • 99. divergency & space fuel creativity
  • 100. what kind of planner do you want to be? what do you value? make it happen
  • 101. you set the tone. own that, respect that
  • 102. be positive. it works