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Planning with a digital center- lessons from r/ga

November 24, 2007

It’s clear that the next big change for ad agencies will be the shift to place digital at the center of the shop.

Euro RSCG has already made the leap and others will doubtless follow.

This move has implications for planners, as demands on them will change considerably.

R/GA has been leading the field in digital development, so it makes sense to take a look at the role of planners at the shop.

Thankfully, Admap covered the topic in May of this year when Anne Benvenuto, Vice President of Strategic Services at R/GA explained the agency’s planning system and approach.

The shift is driven by the variety of client needs that R/GA deals with, these range from campaigns to programs and experiences. Each of these had different demands from the perspective of channels and insights.

Beyond the client needs, R/GA is set up differently from a conventional ad agency, with an extended creative team (a “Creative Hydra), which includes both an interaction designer and a tech head, in addition to the “traditional” copywriter and art director team.

The planner’s role is to deliver insights to help the team in the creation of brand interfaces and experiences.

Creative Hydra

The UI and tech heads have critical roles to play, in respectively crafting the experience and defining and developing the technology to make that happen.

This enlarged team places greater demands on the planner, who needs to ensure they equip each member of the team with specific and relevant insights, as well as an overarching cohesive thought.

R/GA looks for its planners deliver insights on four dimensions (perceptions, culture, behavior, technology) and a singular idea that links all of them all together. It’s clear, that unlike most ad agencies, at R/GA, media and channel behaviors are also included in the line-up.


This leads to briefs that are both simple and complex; allowing the team to see both the single-minded 30,000 ft idea and drill down into the detaled and specific insights that drives the idea.

R/GA’s model marks a significant departure from “planning as usual” approach and reflects the dramatic change that adding a tech head and a UI person to the conventional creative team makes.

However, much more than these personnel changes, it’s all about agencies thinking about client’s long-time needs, rather than just short-term campaign requirements.

Quite simply, it’s all about ad agencies helping brands to continuously connect with their customer base, by adding programs and experiences to the mix and this big shift presents a brave new world for ad agencies and their planners.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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