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Marketing Monger Podcast

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Eric at Marketing Monger last night. He asked me about planning, trends and blogging. If you want to listen to the file it's here. You should definitely check out more of Eric's excellent podcasts.

Below are my 'prepared' answers, hopefully I got the jist of them across:

Tell me a little about yourself?
By day I'm a comms planner in an advertising agency in London. In my spare time I'm a trends and advertising blogger for PSFK, IF and my own trends blog.

Define "account planning" and tell me about the role it plays in successful marketing?
Account planning was born from the research departments that agencies used to have. It was developed during the sixties by Stephen King at JWT and Stanley Pollitt at BMP (now DDB London). They believed that there was a big gap between the research and consumer insights and what was being produced by the creative departments.

It's kind of evolved since then but my favourite definition of it is 'the thinking before the doing'
There are loads of others such as being the consumer within the agency and all sorts of strategic thinking type definitions

You can have advertising and good advertising without a planner but it helps a great deal and ensures that the advertising is right for the consumer if you have a planner involved.

Tell me a little about Rapier UK and the agency's approach?
Rapier are a medium sized independent advertising agency in London. We are media neutral. What this means is that when we are asked to do something by a client we don't think in particular silos. So we don’t say that means we'll do a press ad or a TV ad. Instead we take each problem on its own merits and then recommend the best medium to solve this. This means that you get the right work for each job.

This is the reason we're not called Account Planners - as this is a traditional advertising term - we're called Comms Planners.

What's the difference between an account planner and a media planner?
An account planner helps to plan the message to the consumer where as a media planner is far more concerned with the carrier for the message. There's definitely some overlap, and my off the cuff explanation would be that media planners are like sociologists where as account planners are more like psychologists.

What are the best resources for learning to do media planning well?
I think the APG website is a great resource. Also Russell Davies, who's head of planning at Nike Europe, and used to be at Wieden + Kennedy London writes a great blog.
Obviously I think that IF and PSFK are fantastic resources for planners. It's an odd profession where you need to be aware of what the masses are watching and doing but also have lots of odd and interesting references up your sleeve.

You spend a lot of time blogging about trends on your personal blog and for PSFK, how has that affected your professional life?
I think it's made a massive difference. I think blogging makes you a far more interesting person and also encourages you to be inquisitive. You challenge things and you also try to concentrate a bit harder on what you write because you know that you'll be challenged too. It really helps you with pattern recognition - you start connecting things together and see overall movements and trends occurring.

At the moment there's been a real move towards mash-up and that's evident in all walks of life - people wear mix and match clothes, you can paint your adidas trainers, people have a Toyota Prius and a Range Rover. There's also been a mash-up in music and on the web with lots of bootlegs and Google maps mashes.

When I moved jobs recently it made a huge difference because people see it on your CV and are genuinely interested in meeting you and when they do they want to know all about blogging because in London it's certainly not the norm in advertising. Although more and more planners are setting up their own blogs.

Trends is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to my blog. It's pretty hard to just blog about trends and to do a proper job of it you have to be switched on to a lot of industries - not just the cool stuff. As a result I've sort of drifted into slightly more planning stuff and opinion.

PSFK gives a really good view of what's going on in the world at the moment and you need to take a step back to see the patterns emerging.

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It's like a marketers wet dream! The two most innovative companies of the last ten years coming together to release a product with universal appeal.

If you missed it the Nike+ shoes allow you to monitor your sports performance on your iPod. Thanks to a small device built into the shoes a signal is sent to your iPod which is 90% accurate out of the box, according to Apple CEO Steve jobs.

The really interesting part of this concept is the communal nature of the programme. Once you have uploaded the data from your run onto your Mac or PC you can upload it to the Nike Plus website where other users can view your performance.

This is a great opportunity for Nike to create a strong running community and build on the Run London event and the running clubs that it has in its Niketown stores. Bring able to see others performance will encourage you to compete and best other runners times. Hopefully you'll be able to share running tips, routes and gossip with other users.


The Temple of the 21st Century Retail Experience

Kumaw has taken some brilliant pictures of the new Apple store in New York. There's been a lot of talk recently about how the Apple store concept has redefined retail and I can't think of a better illustration of this than these photos

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What is planning?

The Account Planning in Romania website has a great section in English where they have interviewed some of London's leading lights in planning. One of the questions they always ask is 'what is planning?'. I thought it would be a good idea to aggregate them here.

Richard Huntingdon: 'To make the ads work – nothing more, nothing less'

Russell Davies: 'the thinking before the doing'

John Robson: 'To provide a strong, straightforward & pure strategic brand perspective'

Janet Grimes: 'Critically they understand the difference between stimulus and response, and understand what stimulus to give to provoke a desired response'

John Griffiths: 'Account planning is a function designed to add value to the team’s work. In an ad agency this is about making the creative work more effective – and this is best done by making sure that it connects to the audience – as well as the client and a creative jury!'

My favourite is the Russell Davies quote. The others all apply to bits of planning but Russell manages to encompass everything in his pithy phrase. It also works for those of us who often work outside of pure advertising.



Google have, for the first time in a while, created a really great product. Google Trends is a fantastic tool for anyone associated with a brand or merely interested in what people are searching for and where they are from. You can also do comparisons as illustrated in the chart.

I decided to compare searches for "smart car" and "mini" to see what people were most interested in. This particular search was a little unfair as it doesn't compare like with like. "smart car" is very specific where as "mini" could refer to anything from mini skirt to mac mini to BMW mini (the term I actually meant to search for).

As you can see, the UK had the most searches for both terms. The feature also allows you to drill down and view which cities are searching for each term.

This tool could prove invaluable and is another great weapon in the armoury of the online trend spotter.

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Today I was looking for info on response rates and effectiveness for podcasting. I googled it and found quite a few useful, but not definitive, results. So I thought I'd try a bit closer to home. And as the UK is fairly forward looking when it comes to the online world I immediately thought of looking at the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau).

Having landed on their recently re-designed website my first thought was to look at the knowledge bank. As you'd probably expect there wasn’t any info on podcasting. Fair enough. However, when I decided to search for the terms 'podcast' and 'podcasting' it yielded no results whatsoever.

This is appalling.

How can the IAB not have a single article, definition, fact, news item, aside, or even mention of podcasting. Granted the concept is relatively new but it's surely mainstream enough for ad agencies to be thinking about. And as the centre for UK online marketing the IAB should at least have a mention of podcasting somewhere on its site.

By the way, if anyone does have some podcasting marketing stats please let me know.