Russell Davies planner video

What’s great about the video, below, is Mr Davies’ clear-sighted vision of what’s happening to advertising and marketing. On the web, especially, traditional shout-y marketing is over. So over. He’s also good on the way the cumbersome agency-client relationship is just a bit broken/silly. 

This video strikes a chord with me because, before going freelance, I was a “planner” in an agency for two years, after working as a digital producer and journalist at the BBC for many years. “Planning” was an itch I had to scratch – I was curious about whether the digital communication plans I’d been constructing at the BBC would work in cut-throat advertising-agency-land. I also wanted to learn as many commercial techniques as I could, that would make my work more effective in a world where content and journalism, marketing and PR is getting mixed up by the web.

Anyway… I recognise the challenges he describes. Watch the video here:

Russell Davies quotes, from the video.

On research:

“any decent planner could get any decent focus group to say what they want”.

“and your job became getting the work through the focus group, rather than finding out what people actually thought”.

“it’s used for the wrong things – used to decide whether something is good or not… oh they think that? Therefore it’s wrong”

“on web like stuff you can observe actual behaviour. That’s way different to how research tends to be used in an advertising context”

On the future of the advertising industry:

“I don’t think there is a future for the advertising industry”

“the natural size of advertising is about the natural size of graphic design… mostly one person in every town”

“the advertising agency is currently massively over-inflated, partly because there’s weird demand from large organisations but I think that will go away”

How can planners effect real change for client’s businesses?

“go and work for them”

“I think the next phase of change for large client organisations is about digital transformation – and that’s going to have to be change from within – that’s not change you can buy from someone else outside”

“planners can be useful to organisations from the outside by being good at framing problems differently, by looking at someone as an outsider”

“bring ideas from other places… “these people did that and it was fine””

“making decisions. No one needs more ideas, they just need to pick one, most of the time.”

On planning skills:

“there tends to be an assumption that people are either at the abstract end, or they’re a “getting things done” kind of person. The most successful people in business are both.”

What’s the campaign you take the most pride in?

“Run London – for Nike… it wasn’t just about trying to persuade people, but was actually about trying to support people doing something”

Where is planning heading from here?

“up and out. There’s a skill that’s been born in advertising agencies that’s going to live beyond them – strategist but less cerebral more to do with aesthetic as well as intellect and more to do with getting people to do stuff”


“the advertising profession is great to go into, because it’s a great profession to leave… you get to do loads of different things… and you are at the intersection of creativity and culture, commerce and people”

“advertising is not going to be there in 30 years, but it will be there in 5 or 10 years”

See also:

The video and questions on Russell Davies’ blog

Published On: July 15, 2014By

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