Tuesday, 26 June 2012

j walter thompson

over the past couple of weeks i have been up to the illustrious rooftop garden of jwt not once but twice. the first time was to bend the patient ear of global planning director shekhar deshpande. we agreed about how the primary objective of advertising is saliency and disagreed about meerkats. shekhar spoke to me about jeremy bullmore, which led me to find this assortment of essays and mp3s which have become a commute staple.

i asked shekhar what makes a great planner. he explained that an interest in brands is crucial, not necessarily marketing but being able to form an opinion on questions such as why people pay so much for a pair of nike trainers over an un-branded pair. he went on to say that people and their behaviour should be at the heart of a planner's interests - peoples' responses to different contributing factors. personally, this is the part of the advertising process that appeals to me the most and is why i have recently been enjoying books such as 'watching the english' and 'nudge'.

the interest in brands and people is complimented by an interest in ideas. shekhar explained how advertising is a subjective industry and i was impressed by how matter-of-fact he was with his statement that we strive for the holy grail of money-making in a creative and interesting way (which i believe is where our meerkat debate kicked off).

the second time i visited was for a workshop set up by creative team mark and adam. they gave us a compelling talk at the end of the day, reiterating shekhar's comments on awareness of how people are affected by things and how advertising is about making an impact and changing behaviours. from the creative perspective they emphasised the importance of responding to basic human facts rather than changing technology. in the famous words of deb schultz and the famous lines of hugo macleod:

the most sound advice that the ant & dec of advertising (their pun, regrettably not mine) gave was that "you are your own agency". breaking into ad land requires a mutual understanding between you and the agency in which you work. having a strong sense of what you stand for will make it easier when people within industry contradict one another. my ambition is driving me to forge my own unique position within advertising and i am trying not to be held back by the fear of being wrong and rejected.

mark and adam's talent is self-evident and their strong personalities and faith in their own abilities have undoubtedly propelled them to their position at one of the world's leading agencies. i am just pleased that people like skekhar, mark and adam stand by their word of being interested in people by being as generous and tolerant of those of us making our first steps into this dynamic industry.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


the shard to the left of me, tate modern to the right, here i am, at founded with the richards.

i have been lucky enough to have spent the last month at start-up agency founded at the tippedy top of the iris building in southwark. set up by richard perry and richard mabbott at the beginning of this year there is a positive, productive atmosphere from a young, fun, motivated team.

as my first advertising placement i couldn't have hoped for a better opportunity. being a part of a small group, i have been given a chance to produce work that is actually getting used in presentations. i may sound shocked but i set my level of expectation at tea-making and photocopying, not wanting to be disappointed. on top of this, i've had the chance to help nearly everyone in the office at some point with research and i'm much more ready to pick up the phone and call companies to get the answers i'm looking for than i was before.

asad shaykh's been an amazing person to learn from. he's been encouraging my skills at picking out key facts and compiling them in a way that tells a story. his patience when running me through branding basics has been saintly. i now have a much stronger idea of the structure that goes into a brand strategy and can hold my own in a conversation about umbrella brands and brand architecture.

commonly used marketing/business lingo that i have learnt from founded:
top line - the fundamental facts, the biggest statistic that can then be broken down, the bigger picture/the picture from a distance.
best practice - something that a lot of people are doing but the person who does it and explains something the best.
capacity - as in "do you have capacity to work on x for a couple of hours this afternoon?"
crm, ecrm & scrm - customer relationship management, which is concerned with improving customer satisfaction and their ownership experience as well as resolving concerns.
p2p, b2b, b2c - peer-to-peer, business-to-business, business-to-consumer
atl & btl - above and below the line communications
mgm - member get member

my month at founded has given me a much clearer sense of what planning is about. essentially i see it as problem solving and data processing. the sense of satisfaction i get when i find a graph that backs up the point i'm trying to prove tells me that planning is the way forward for me. i know it tells us other things too about evaluating my priorities in life but at least i'm not alone, mintel 5s!

asad's top tip when stat hunting:
stick the word 'infographic' on the end of your search.

it has been an interesting challenge to dip into an area that has been of no particular interest to me before and to then really immerse myself in as many facts and points of view on the business as possible. sustainable urban drainage systems being a good example. i am beginning to know where to look for the information i need but need to build an ability to form my own conclusions and insights based on these facts.

i particularly enjoy researching competitor reviews and i'm getting quicker at skim reading and picking out what's relevant. i'm also really pleased that i have had the opportunity to work with a couple of the creative teams that have been in in the past month, being able to encourage them and to (hopefully) stimulate some ideas is a really rewarding part of planning.

i have dispelled my fear of the word 'integrated' in the same way that i did with 'digital' (see previous post). basically integrated just mean 'everything', which i suppose makes me an integrated intern.

the office 9-6 and commute is taking some time to get used to but i'm getting there, luckily i've been offered the next month to keep improving and learning. if founded can form a fully functioning agency from scratch in six months, i think i can adapt to a new routine.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

june redemption

hello reader peeps. not many posts in may but with very good reason, i was offered a full time placement at an agency called founded, which you'll be hearing all about in my next lengthy post on wednesday. full time MA + full time placement = cut down in posting. to soften the blow of these lengthy adland posts and to sweeten the deal because it's been a while, i provide you with a bit of em punning at its finest (ahem).
attention sikh