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What is Planning? | A view from Vaughan Edmonds

As someone who is new to the world of marketing agencies, I initially struggled to get my head around the concept of planning. I had a rough idea of the roles and responsibilities of a planner. The planners were the team that had the earliest access to a client brief; they were the writers of creative briefs; and they used a variety of online tools to assist their work. However, it’s only since I started working with our planning team that I realised the importance of planners in focusing the creative output of an agency through an insight.

To illustrate this point I’ll reference a hugely successful campaign, Old Spice’s “the man your man could smell like.” In the late 2000s, Old Spice were finding business increasingly difficult in the competitive male body wash market. The memorable campaign that was born out of this difficult time was preceded by the insight that the majority of body wash purchases were made by women. This insight led to an activation that spoke directly to women whilst still appealing to men. There is no doubting that the execution of Old Spice’s campaign was excellent, however the initial strategy behind the campaign was key in focusing the creative work.

With this in mind, my personal definition of the role of a planner is to direct an agency’s output, via an insight, towards the area with the highest potential for the client. There is no doubting that the quality of creative work and execution are important for a successful campaign, but they are both preceded by the initial need for a quality insight.

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