Sunday, 5 February 2012

week 3 agency visits

a picture that serves no purpose
a blog post without an image is like roast chicken without gravy;
a bit dry.

this week we got our grubby student feet into some agencies in order to find out more about how they work, the role of planners and the future of advertising. a few of my classmates and i were lucky enough to secure meetings with mr. adland suit himself; dan shute at creature of london, as well as doug baker from agency republic who wip'd us into shape over a coffee in battersea and last but not least dan hill from akqa who told us about being a detective and a midwife. each one was incredibly generous with their time and here's what i learnt:

dan s says:

  • agencies do their best work when they're pitching for projects - that's when you get to properly unleash your creativity.
  • rather than dividing into strict roles, creature is generally split by the people who make up the ideas and the people who make them happen.
  • advertising is about packaging ideas and making them buyable.
  • creature consider themselves a creative company rather than an ad agency.

creature place great importance on collaboration. i believe that their warhol's factory approach to creative projects is the future of great ideas, honing a select group of different people's skills for projects from exhibitions to theatre productions via insightful advertising.

doug says:

  • planners are curious and interested in people and culture with a constant desire to keep learning.
  • the reason agency republic got started was in order to put digital back into the industry.
  • with large agencies such as dare and beattie mcguinness bungay collaborating, remaining agencies will become more specialist.

doug was once asked for "proven innovation" by a client (clients, tsk)! even as a digital agency, interest in things and people is key. this was a comfort to me as before speaking to doug, the word 'digital' had a daunting undertone as i believed i was too analog to come up with digital strategies.

dan h says:

  • brilliant agencies existed before planners; you need planning, not planners.
  • avoid vanilla and simply reflecting the research, you need an imagination.
  • get comfortable with the fact that you're not an expert, something is bound to happen to you that you haven't seen before.
  • you need to know where you are, where you want to get to, how you're going to get there and whether you're there yet.

when asked to roughly divide up his day dan explained that the majority of it was spent talking to the creatives with the rest of it in meetings, taking briefs and questioning the clients. the contact you get with the client as a planner as opposed to a creative is something that appeals to me; one of the perks being that you get to see lots of different industries.

general truths:

  • there was a lot of mention of 't-shaped people', which essentially means you have the core pillar of what you need in order to be a good planner/account manager/creative but you then have branches of other skills and interests outside of your specialism too.
  • the importance of lateral thinking in order to be a planner as well as people skills.
  • always challenge the brief - find what's at the very heart of it. even if it seems off brief but helps solve the problem, do it.
  • insights - the understanding that informs your strategy, not just common sense but a useful handle on the message you want the consumer to see.

the excuse of being a student again has given me the confidence to go and knock on these doors. getting to speak to people who are so passionate about what they do has been a fantastic boost (as if one were needed) and makes me all the more sure that i'm heading along the right path to a future career in advertising.

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