Stuck in Europe, as I am, I get to read Campaign at least a week after everyone in the UK. I was a little amused and a little annoyed about the "Best of the Blogs" article this week (sorry, about two weeks ago), from Dave Trott. This was from a post entitled "The answer is 'brand', now what's the question?"
In the post was the complaint that most Planners are obsessed with brands, to the point of having tunnel-vision: every problem has to be a branding problem. The example of a Sainsbury's repitch is cited, where (one assumes) all the highly-paid brand boffins sat down to discuss onions and pyramids until a young Planner (in the style of 'The Emperor's New Clothes') suggested that they have a look at the numbers - store visits, average check, that sort of mucky stuff.
I was amused because the out-of-touch-with-reality Planners worshipping their cubes, dodecagons, archeological artifacts and garden vegetables are always a bit of a joke, but annoyed because I hoped I wasn't being tarred with the same brush. After a bit of soul-searching, I convinced myself that I wasn't (or at least, only in rare lapses).
My advice to young Planners is this: stay close to reality. Reality of people and reality of business. For the first, this means not sitting cooped up in the agency every night and available weekend. For the second, it means having a stint on the client side - even a month or so as an "exchange" should knock out brand-tunnel-vision before it takes root. Even better if you make that in Sales rather than Marketing.