Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Golden Age

It must be quite satisfying to be deemed to have been part of the "Golden Age" of something. I'd like to  think that I belong to the "Golden Age of Saatchi & Saatchi" but I'm afraid that I was born too late to have been in the UK's first generation of planners.

The current Chief Strategy Officer at JWT, Tracey Follows, has recently interviewed twenty of the pioneers of planning from the late 60s and 70s. She describes a world where planners had invariably collected some experience in another field before going into planning - from media, "HR" (umm, don't think it was called that back in them days...), market research or even creative. I've always considered this eminently sensible - and even if you can study planning at college these days, I would far rather recruit an archaeologist or maybe an ex-detective any day.

Tracey points out that the JWT T-Plan in its day was revolutionary in that it considers "response". And it's important to remember that "response" was never meant in the narrow experimental psychology context of rats in cages. This meant a human being responding to something that they had experienced and probably processed, with thought, word or deed. Or emotion or sensation. The most telling comment that struck a chord with me was this one: "Across the communications industry, something in the response approach has been lost in the mists of time. Some of the greatest advertising from that golden era embedded sensorial and sensual elements, rather than relying on the twinned towns of rational and emotional."

Or as John Keats put it: "O for a life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts."

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