Damien Le Castrec from Droga5

The Future of Planning

Running Towards The Unknown

To turn the industry into a true creative hub we need to be excited by what we don't know, says the Droga5 London CSO

By Damien Le Castrec

I am scared.

And that’s not because I am scared of the future of planning.

But I am scared to admit that I do not know what the future of planning entails.

It is scary because for some reason, planners are expected to know.

And this expectation makes our discipline worse, not better.

Because it makes some planners feel intimidated to ask obvious questions that might not be that obvious, and in fact could open even less obvious avenues.

While others will feel the pressure to have an answer for everything, turning planners into Twitter Blue Subscribers (the recent kind), who are experts on COVID one day and experts on Ukraine the next.

We shouldn’t be fearful of what we don’t know, but be excited by it.

We should obsess about being the most interested person in the room over being the most interesting one. Because it is what we don’t know that keeps us growing.

While what we know stops us from exploring further, what we don’t know takes us to undiscovered places.

And that is exactly what most brand communications seem to be lacking today.

Great communications don’t tell people what they want to hear.

They tell them things they wish they’d heard before.

It is because someone asked “what does it mean to be the second best car rental company?” that they found that Avis had to try harder than the best. They dug deeper.

The most memorable stories come from those who aren’t afraid to admit that they don’t have all the answers. Those are the stories that get noticed, remembered and talked about.

And if running towards the unknown is a way to make greater communications, it is also a way to use creativity that extends beyond the realm of communications.

Because keeping asking questions to get to the real route of the problem, might unlock a solution that isn’t routed in comms at all.

It is because someone kept asking “why do we lose so much money on damaged deliveries?” that VanMoof came up with the genius idea to turn their packaging into fake TV packaging. They knew that couriers would be more delicate with fragile flat tv screens than bikes.

To turn our ad industry into a true creative industry, we need to be comfortable with not knowing what the solution is before we get under the skin of the problem.

Someone who knows the answer before fully understanding the question isn’t solving the problem, they are just trying to sell you their solution.

Perhaps, not knowing is the most exciting thing about our job.

And it can very well be what our industry needs most today.

Every brief should be seen as an invitation to delve into the unknown, to say things we’ve never said and do things we’ve never done.

Good planners aren't defined by how much they know but how eager they are to find out more about what they don’t.

The most exciting thing about the future and planning is the unknown. So if your next brief ends in the way you thought it would when you started, maybe you should start again.

Damien Le Castrec is chief strategy officer at Droga5


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