over the past couple of weeks i have been up to the illustrious rooftop garden of jwt not once but twice. the first time was to bend the patient ear of global planning director shekhar deshpande. we agreed about how the primary objective of advertising is saliency and disagreed about meerkats. shekhar spoke to me about jeremy bullmore, which led me to find this assortment of essays and mp3s which have become a commute staple.
i asked shekhar what makes a great planner. he explained that an interest in brands is crucial, not necessarily marketing but being able to form an opinion on questions such as why people pay so much for a pair of nike trainers over an un-branded pair. he went on to say that people and their behaviour should be at the heart of a planner's interests - peoples' responses to different contributing factors. personally, this is the part of the advertising process that appeals to me the most and is why i have recently been enjoying books such as 'watching the english' and 'nudge'.
the interest in brands and people is complimented by an interest in ideas. shekhar explained how advertising is a subjective industry and i was impressed by how matter-of-fact he was with his statement that we strive for the holy grail of money-making in a creative and interesting way (which i believe is where our meerkat debate kicked off).
the second time i visited was for a workshop set up by creative team mark and adam. they gave us a compelling talk at the end of the day, reiterating shekhar's comments on awareness of how people are affected by things and how advertising is about making an impact and changing behaviours. from the creative perspective they emphasised the importance of responding to basic human facts rather than changing technology. in the famous words of deb schultz and the famous lines of hugo macleod:
the most sound advice that the ant & dec of advertising (their pun, regrettably not mine) gave was that "you are your own agency". breaking into ad land requires a mutual understanding between you and the agency in which you work. having a strong sense of what you stand for will make it easier when people within industry contradict one another. my ambition is driving me to forge my own unique position within advertising and i am trying not to be held back by the fear of being wrong and rejected.
mark and adam's talent is self-evident and their strong personalities and faith in their own abilities have undoubtedly propelled them to their position at one of the world's leading agencies. i am just pleased that people like skekhar, mark and adam stand by their word of being interested in people by being as generous and tolerant of those of us making our first steps into this dynamic industry.