Blurred lines? What lines?

Part of the debate about the emerging Marketing 2.0 focuses on how we need to change how people in agencies work to enable us to get beyond image marketing and into cultural ideas. And the most quoted of those new practices seems to be ‘blurring the lines between planners and creatives’. But that’s what I’ve always done, or at least tried to.

Now, I’m not for a second claiming to be ahead of the curve here. I just think that I had a couple of advantages early on:

  1. I didn’t grow up in the advertising world, and so never had the ‘seperatist’ approach imposed on me.
  2. I trained as an Industrial Designer.


When I did my degree the course was proudly generalist, lurching from Fluid Dynamics to Art History via TIG Welding. And being good at Industrial Design means combining an understanding of what people want, how stuff works, and how to make it attractive. I wasn’t very good at Industrial Design, but hopefully I’ve at least managed to transfer some of that hybrid thinking to brand communications. I’ve certainly always annoyed creatives by making them get involved in my strategy stuff and sticking my nose into their pictures and words.

Also the formative years of my career were spent at Interbrand. Chatting to Patrick last night over a beer, he commented that the designers there were much more open to collaboration than agency creatives he’s worked with. Interesting,

I wonder why that should be?


4 Responses to “Blurred lines? What lines?”

  1. Patrick Syms Says:

    Admittedly, that observation was based on a pretty low sample (you can tell I’m a planner, can’t you?). But that was certainly my experience.

    Meanwhile, over on Richard Huntington’s there’s the beginnings of a debate about the collaboration (or otherwise) between creative agency planners and media/comms planners.

    And Russell D has started a bit of a scrap with his comments about boring creative directors.

    There seems to be something in the air about collaboration and blurring of boundaries.

    I guess it’s one of those things where the theorising will only get us so far and the only way to make it happen is to try stuff out.

    How do you guys do it?

  2. Glyn Britton Says:

    It’s still quite a live issue at Albion.

    We’ve got a hefty brief in at the moment, and we’re going to try the W+K London-working-on-Honda approved method of creatives and planners locking themselves away for a while, and collaborating on a ‘brand book’.

    Something I’ve done successfully in the past with Smithy ( working on Orange.

  3. Will Says:

    I hate the term ‘Creative Generalist’ (almost as much as ‘Comms Planner’):

    Now, I do believe Creatives and Planners should work very closely, but at the expense of completely blurring the lines? No chance..

  4. Glyn Britton Says:

    I think we can push it further than just working closely. As long as everybody knows their position, it’s fun to play out of it occasionally. If you can write, why not write a script? If you can think, why not craft a strategy?

    Now, while we’re on word-hating, how about ‘Planner’? How much of what we do is making a plan?

    ‘A specific project or definite purpose’; ‘A formal program for specified benefits.’

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