A Day in the Life of a Planner

Nick Hirst

16th January 2015
What's your official job title?

Planning Partner at Adam&EveDDB

How would you describe to your parents/grand parents what you do?

You know the guys that write ads? I tell them vaguely what to write about.

How would you actually describe what you do?

I guide creative people in solving problems for brands. (Creative people with all sorts of job titles.) Sometimes I help define those problems. Sometimes I need to work out what specific effects our creative thinking needs to have. Sometimes I just work out what we need to say or do. Generally my problem-solving starts with people, and what makes them tick (as opposed to supply chain, or IT systems). Then I measure whether or not it worked.

Please could you write a sentence or two on what you were doing at the following times today/yesterday?
9am

I started the day with a bowl of cereal at my desk, writing one of about four/five presentations I’m doing this week. 9am was a quick creative review, followed by a meeting in which we were updating a load of different agencies and clients on our latest creative thinking for a live project.

11am

Still in that same meeting … but by now I’d finished talking, and (led by the media agency) we were attempting to figure out what process people go through to buy our clients’ products, and where (from our point of view) the problems are with that process.

1pm

I bumped into Toby, another Planning Partner, on the way out to grab lunch; he came with me and we chatted about presentations we were both giving at the next days’ planning awayday. Most interesting topic: that disruption, beloved of ad people, isn’t always a good thing (for example when you’re trying to buy something on a website).

3pm

Just finishing off a phone call with Millward Brown, ensuring I’m up-to-date with their often-developing pretesting methodology. Raced off to a creative review; saw an idea; thought it pretty much nailed the brief (that rarely happens).

5pm

While everyone else in the agency watches star planner Will Grundy narrowly lose the table tennis final to MD Mat Goff, I’m at my desk thinking about how Lipton Ice Tea should approach their communications in 2016.

7pm (or whatever time your work day generally ends)

Still thinking about Ice tea, but starting to think about the Dishoom I’ll very shortly be eating with some buddies from my previous agency when I meet them shortly. Also trying to figure out how to get to Shoreditch from Paddington…

If you left your job right now, what wouldn't happen as a result?

I’d like to think everything would grind to a halt. I think the best I can hope for is that creatives would find it a little harder to come up with ideas, and everyone would find it a lot harder to figure out whether those ideas are right or not.

What's the most interesting thing you've done in the last month?

Flown to Moscow to spend hours talking to people about why they like drinking green tea.

What's the worst thing you've done in the past month?

Drag myself into work after three successive Christmas parties.

What are you wearing today?

Jeans, trainers that really need replacing, some t-shirt from a band I once played with, a hoodie and a tweed jacket. I’m dealing with the intense cold by dressing like an 80s indie kid.

What's the one piece of advice you'd give someone trying to get your job?

Don’t swallow any buzzwords. Come willing to think critically and with curiosity, and assume you don’t know anything about the industry. We don’t need you to be a marketing expert; we need you to be an interesting brain.

What's the one thing you wish you'd known before you started?

That senior people don’t have all the answers either. It would have made me ask dumber questions.

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