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Planning will continue to move out of ad agencies

According to his blog, Jeffre Jackson began working in systems development at an investment bank. Then he studied psychology. Then he was bitten by a small child while working on Sega for Goodby Silverstein. Then he worked for Wieden and Kennedy in Portland and became head of planning Wieden’s Amsterdam office. Now he is part of a “global small business” called Open Intelligence Agency. I’ve had the honour of meeting Jeffre last year during his visit in Romania for The Napoleons conference. After attending the conference and having the chance to chat for a couple of hours, I found him to be one of the most interesting planners I ever interacted with. In this context, the word “interesting” is not a random choice. For those who are regular visitors of PinkAir (Jeffre’s blog) or of russelldavies.com, Jeffre’s name is tightly linked with a philosophy on “interestingness”. Here’s another bit of what I would call a short, yet quite interesting interview.

Define account planning.

Turning market data into something inspirational.

I have assumed after reading your blog (or Russell’s) that you have a philosophy of “interestingness”. Why do you find “interestingness” so interesting? Define “interestingness” while referring to a certain audience at your choice.

The most effective communications have always been those that engage minds because what matters is not what you say, but what they take away. This will become increasingly significant for marketers as people gain more control over how, when and whether they will be exposed to commercial messages at all. So it’s important that what you say be worth taking away, that is, that it be worth thinking about even after you’ve stopped talking. I generally define things worth thinking about as “interesting”.

What makes interestingness a particularly useful is that it’s a mid-level concept. It doesn’t specify a particular theory about what particular characteristics an ad must have. Things can be interesting for lots of different reasons to different people. A boring car ad may be interesting to me because I’m actively car shopping at the moment. A different ad might be interesting because of the emotionally ambiguous story it tells. Each is worth thinking about for a particular audience. Interestingness doesn’t discriminate among the many different ways an ad can work. It just says that if it’s not worth thinking about to the intended audience, it won’t work.

You’ve worked with Jon Steel. What was interesting about him?

He actually listens to what people say.

How is being an account planner different from being an account planning director?

Fewer meetings. More fun.

What is the major change you foresee regarding the future of account planning in the next few years?

It will continue to move out of ad agencies and seep into all businesses until it finally becomes invisible.

What is the best book about advertising that you have read? Why do you think it’s the best?

Robert McKee’s Story is about screenwriting, but it’s a helpful analysis of some of the dramatic structures that people have found interesting for thousands of years.

What did you find most interesting in Romania?

I can only talk about the parts of Bucharest that I saw, but the thing that has stayed in my mind is how much some of it reminded me of Paris, but a Paris with a different history.

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