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GET PLANNING SMART - strategic tools to make sense of the world now

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The BBDO Knows team recently attended the APG event “How best to make sense of the world now? 20 Strategic Tools”. Experts from different disciplines were invited to share their most useful tools, frameworks and tricks to help planners uncover original insight.

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GET PLANNING SMART - strategic tools to make sense of the world now

  1. 1. GET PLANNING SMART WITH APG Strategic tools to make sense of the world now
  2. 2. GET PLANNING SMART Strategic Tools to make sense of the world now The BBDO Knows team recently attended the APG event “How best to make sense of the world now? 20 Strategic Tools”. Experts from different disciplines were invited to share their most useful tools, frameworks and tricks to help planners uncover original insight, with George Webster (Senior Research Executive, Futures & Innovation at Flamingo), Lucas Galan (Head of digital Forensics at Flamingo), Chris Arning (Founder and Director of Creative Semiotics), Dr. Adam Gill (Founder of Beyond Insights UK) and Alex Steer (Chief Product Officer at Wavemaker UK) taking the stage. Here are some of our favourite takeaways. TOOLS FOR UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE Dr. Adam Gill of Beyond Insights UK drew on his experience as an ethnographer and based his suggestions on the premise that sometimes the simplest behaviour can help deepen human understanding and inspire a big idea. Dr. Gill explained that we can benefit by simply paying attention: ‘‘Humans are complex and simple." Take a notebook everywhere – Dr. Gill started with the simple but highly effective tip, encouraging the room to take notes of how different stimuli made them feel; “if you felt it, it’s likely someone else will feel it too”. Get culture shocked more often – The more you experience different cultures, the more you can understand about humans. As Dr. Gill explained, “nothing good comes from staying in a comfort zone.” Observe more – Listen to other people’s conversations as you go about your life, it’s a great opportunity to passively experience people being people. Take more photos – Dr. Gill stated that he tried to take as many photos as he could because sometimes the best ideas come to you from random information. Speak to more people – The only way you’re going to find out more about why people do what they do, and behave the way they behave, is by talking to them.
  3. 3. GET PLANNING SMART Strategic Tools to make sense of the world now TOOLS FOR UNDERSTANDING ADVERTISING Wavemaker’s Alex Steer surprised the audience by presenting mathematical distribution curves as his useful tool. He used these to broadly explain the underlying maths of advertising. Normal Distribution Curve – “Most are average” Steer used this curve to explain the distribution of quality of adverts produced, with most being in the middle “…which is to say unremarkable”. He argued that a better understanding of this curve would help planners fight for better work and different ideas to be produced because if you do the same thing as everyone else, the work will inevitably be average. Beta Distribution Curve – “Lots are light” This curve can be used to illustrate people’s media usage vs their age (young people at the lower end of the X axis and older people at the higher end, i.e. media usage intensity peaking at a fairly young age and dropping as age increases). Negative Binomial Distribution Curve – “Gains are unequal” Steer at this point issued a “Byron Sharp alert”, where he quoted Sharp’s well publicised use of this curve to illustrate how consumers buy brands, i.e. a majority of purchasers of a brand are ‘light’ buyers (with the X axis representing the number of times a consumer bought a particular brand’s product), while repeat/ “heavy” buyers represent a much smaller proportion of the cohort. Cumulative Binomial Distribution Curve – “Headroom is limited” Steer used this curve to explain the sales response you can expect vs ad spend, i.e. the limitations of sales growth potential beyond a certain level of advertising investment.
  4. 4. GET PLANNING SMART Strategic Tools to make sense of the world now The S curve – “Change takes time” This curve was used by the speaker as an analogy of how trends form over time in a group, the initial flat section representing people’s resistance to change followed by a speedy adoption and final “normalisation” of the trend. TOOLS FOR UNDERSTANDING TRENDS George Webster of Flamingo’s Futures division presented on how to use data analysis as a tool for identifying cultural trends. This consisted of ‘zooming in’ on the data to identify indicators of change and ‘zooming out’ to see if there are thematic patterns that connect the dots between the indicators to form a trend. Webster stated this method was a way of “looking beyond brand, looking beyond category and looking at culture.” Webster used the emerging LA health trend of altering the gut biome to increase performance – or ‘poop doping’ - to illustrate this in practice. He ‘zoomed in’ on runners’ data and identified ‘poop doping’ as an indicator of change. He then ‘zoomed out’ and looked at it alongside other indicators like plasma transfusing (transfusing a young person’s blood to an older person to rejuvenate them to supreme health) and advances in grey matter technology (aimed at increasing cognitive ability). Although these indicators fit into the well-researched trend of biohacking, Webster also linked them to the trend of ‘sustained optimisation’ – trying to improve oneself rather than simply managing one’s decline into ill health over time. TOOLS FOR UNDERSTANDING THE UNDERLYING OPPOSITIONS Chris Arning, founder of Creative Semiotics presented semiotics as his useful tool. Arning defined semiotics as “making explicit what we all do naturally and making the invisible visible”. One particularly interesting practice that a semiotician might engage in is using Binary Opposites – which help us to analyse the implicit cultural system by understanding which two inherent opposites are set off against one another: ‘‘We only know clean because we understand dirty… we understand processed food because we understand the framework of fresh… semiotic thought suggests the real understanding of anything comes from knowing what it’s not rather than what it is.’’
  5. 5. GET PLANNING SMART Strategic Tools to make sense of the world now Arning suggested that binary oppositions were present even within brands. He exemplified this by looking at Guinness - “with the metaphor of black and white for the dark and light of the products, we have the surge and the settle to dramatise the way that the product is, but we also have the single maverick Guinness drinker versus the superficial, colourful world of lager.” FINAL THOUGHTS It is a Planner’s responsibility to equip themselves with a wide range of tools to draw on and to constantly be broadening their arsenal. The diverse range of approaches presented at the APG event offered something accessible for every planner, from useful reminders of simple habits planners can keep to interdisciplinary lenses through which to view data and the world. If you are interested in learning more about the above watch the full event over on APG YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheAPGLondon
  6. 6. GET PLANNING SMART Strategic Tools to make sense of the world now If you are interested in learning more about the subject of this article, please contact: Giovanni Palazzo-Corner, Researcher, palazzo-cornerg@bbdoknows.com. ABOUT BBDO KNOWS BBDO KNOWS is a planning resource for the BBDO network. BBDO KNOWS offers thinking, strategy, insights and inspiration on key categories, key themes and consumer segments. If you are interested in learning more about the way BBDO thinks please contact Melanie Norris, Global Planning Director, norrism@bbdoknows.com. DISCLAIMER The information and materials in this article are for general information purposes only. Whilst we try to ensure that all information and data in this article is accurate, complete and up to date, it is not intended to be relied upon to influence business decisions, and you should seek independent professional advice before taking any steps in reliance upon any of the insights or data contained in this article. This article must not be shared, downloaded, copied or distributed for commercial purposes without the prior approval of BBDO. © BBDO 2018 All rights reserved

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