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Future of Planning

The future of planning is creative collaboration

Total Media's strategy director advocates integrated advertising, highlighting collaborative storytelling and cross-agency creativity for future success

By Ella Britton

When Rory Sutherland said that splitting media from creative was one of the ‘biggest mistakes’ the industry has ever made, adland was split. Should we all sit under one roof or is it healthy to have a little bit of breathing room? To truly future proof an agency, should we all be returning to a ‘full service’ model, or, like flared jeans, should this trend be left firmly in the 1990’s.

It seems clear that creative collaboration has never been more important to clients and agencies alike so weirdly, it would seem, to understand the future of planning we might have to look to the past.

Planning is many many things, but fundamentally I think it’s the ability to formulate and communicate a compelling story. It’s bringing lots of pieces of information together to make it easy to understand and a little bit more interesting. When creative and media agencies consciously uncoupled, the role of ‘storyteller’ became singular. Storytelling was the job of the creative agency, and it was up to media agencies to publish the book (really going for this metaphor). But, as has become abundantly clear, roles aren’t so rigidly defined, and the best planning work comes from creative collaboration with multiple authors.

There are plenty of examples of agencies that have fully bought into this approach, bringing media or creative in house and returning to an integrated model. But is this the future for all agencies? I don’t think so. The way I see it, is that we can exist quite happily separately but really enjoy the time we spend together. Like fun cousins at a really boring family party.

Storytelling is never done in isolation. You need inspiration and information to bring a great story to life and, in our case, this means getting in a room together and thrashing out ideas. Not to brag but our work with Uncommon on Hiscox is a really great example of cross agency creative collaboration.

Together with Posterscope, we pulled off the biggest special build activation ever done in the UK, with a series of ‘disastrous’ executions, ranging from mud-soaked to duplicated, to mis-sized and incorrectly installed. We paired this ambitious feat with a blank newspaper wrap for the Metro (“you missed the deadline to supply a front page for your client’s cover wrap and now they’re threatening to get legal.”) and a WeTransfer takeover, creating a truly unique integrated campaign for our client.

The secret to our success was simple. We got together from the off and adopted an approach to planning that feels more in line with the pre divorce agency model… we’ve just kept our own houses.

In my mind the future of planning is rooted in togetherness. Getting together in the same room, to talk things out and make creatively brilliant campaigns for our clients. The ambition will always be to do things differently, but ironically it seems that the key to success is looking back and doing things a bit like before.

Ella Britton is Strategy Director at Total Media


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