A Day in the Life of a Planner
26th March 2015
What's your official job title?
I’m Head of Strategy (Amsterdam)
How would you describe to your parents/grand parents what you do?
I’m the CSI of Advertising –turning information into insight and defining the real problem to be solved by our advertising output.
How would you actually describe what you do?
I try to extract the uncommon from the common (insights), I look at what the brand wants to be saying, what they think the product delivers, what the consumer thinks the product actually delivers and somewhere amid this, I sprinkle in things like Behavioural Economics to add a layer of human reality to the mix.
Please could you write a sentence or two on what you were doing at the following times today/yesterday?
(Usually 6.30am) I’m an early bird (the advantage of being a dog owner) so my email checking sometimes starts as I’m walking the dog. I take advantage of being up early and get into the office around 8:15am so the dog can settle and I can hit the to-do list with an undisturbed 45 minutes of time before the others start coming in. There is normally a lot of overnight stuff to read through as we have offices (and therefore projects) in Dubai and Singapore, both ahead of us in time zone.
I try to book all of my meetings and reviews in the morning slots; catching up with the team, making sure they’re all good with their projects, account status meetings and as I’m on the Agency Management Team there is always the administrative meetings looking after the day-to-day operations of the agency. So my mornings are pretty busy jumping from one meeting room to another. The payoff is that it then leaves me the afternoon for those activities that require a bit more focus.
Combination of walking the dog, looking at the tourists queuing outside the Ann Frank Museum and eating something - sometimes one after the other, many times at the same time.
Afternoons are more about me-getting-on-with-my-to-do-list. This is normally the time I’m sitting at my desk, large monitor with a Keynote/Powerpoint deck, smaller laptop screen has the email chugging away. I try to keep my eyes on the big screen, but I head a department up, so always need to be checking the management/email pulse.
It’s always good to stretch legs, mind and eyes, so I’ll try to walk the corridors later in the day, check in with the Planning team, but also seeing how the creative and tech teams are bringing campaign ideas to life. We’re very collaborative at Nomads; our creative department comprises of Planning, Tech and the traditional ‘words and pictures’ creative folks. This is also the time of the day when a really good cup of tea is needed (or a trip to the treat bowl on the lower floor).
7pm (or whatever time your work day generally ends)
Time to head home, although to be honest, work never totally switches off, you’re always keeping a side glance to the iPhone. Sometimes, if we’re pitching, the evenings are busy pushing ideas and decks around ready for the tight turnaround that’s normally associated with those projects!
If you left your job right now, what wouldn't happen as a result?
No one is indispensible, but there would instantly be no bow ties on a Monday that’s for sure (it’s a tradition I’ve held for a long while). Resourcing of the Planning team would probably go into a chaotic frenzy and the all-company meeting I run on a Monday would need someone to very quickly take over and entertain the troops.
What's the most interesting thing you've done in the last month?
It’s a project I can’t talk about at the moment (well I can’t reveal the brand at least). Needless to say, we won with some big, bold radical ideas on how to run the whole creative process. I can honestly say, what we’re preparing to do I don’t think has never been done before and that’s pretty awesome. It’s also totally challenging because we need to re-architect the whole framework of ideation.
What's the worst thing you've done in the past month?
I had to come in for a day on a week off (I was moving home). Two of my biggest stresses; moving house and pitching.
What are you wearing today?
Jeans, Fred Perry shirt, jumper (it’s cold now in the Netherlands), Adidas trainers. This is pretty standard for me. Posh shoes appear when we’re pitching, maybe a non-Monday bow tie experience if its big.
What's the one piece of advice you'd give someone trying to get your job?
As we keep on being told, the world has indeed changed. Sadly, neither clients, brands or even agencies are really moving with this shift. The core human desire is not to buy things, it’s to lead better lives; Brands need to show how they can help consumers lead better lives, not sell them things. It’s a tough thing to get brands to do.
What's the one thing you wish you'd known before you started?
In my first “ad agency” interview, I was told there were always busy times of the year but these were always counterbalanced with quieter times in the agency…almost 20 years on, I’m still waiting for the latter, if indeed these mystical quieter moments actually exist.