Here's last week's Campaign piece. I had more fun writing this than anything I've done before because it's not the usual planning/brands nonsense, it's about the people in agencies who actually get things done. (Who, I should have remembered like to call themselves 'Creative Services' these days.) And, of course, I got more feedback on this than anything I've written. ie I got some feedback rather than none. Because traffic people are lovely and gracious. Thanks everyone.
One day soon, when planners as rare as chimney sweeps, creatives are just avatars and advertising is a cottage industry again, we will still have bequeathed a lasting gift to the world. Our two greatest disciplines, the engines of our economy, will outlive our puny business and flourish in the outside world because they're the people who actually know how to get stuff done. I'm talking of course, of traffic and production.
If you haven't done it recently, spend some time with traffic. They experience the world in a deeper way than you and me. They exist in time and space, but also perceive dimensions of cost and practicality, of real time, pitch time and lunch-time. They negotiate tides of creative entropy, waves of management paranoia and the tsunamis of new business. An expert traffic person can weedle, cajole, threaten and condemn with the flick of an eyebrow. They know where all the bodies are buried and when to dig them up again. They know how long things should take, how long they will actually take and how long they should tell you they'll take. Watching a seasoned traffic person dragging work out of a gnarled old creative team is like watching that infamous imaginary fight between the bear and the shark. Except you know the bear will win, because deadlines must be met. Traffic makes ideas happen.
As a planner I've always regretted that I spent most of my career at the other end of the line to production. TV producers are unutterably glamorous creatures; the foreign correspondents of advertising, reeking of airport lounges, hotel bars and Soho. But if you're stuck in a desert needing a crate of Tizer, four jugglers and a helicopter they'll get on the phone and those things will arrive. And I love print producers because they represent our last connection to craft-skills and the actual physical world. If they say something can't be done it's not a conceptual thing (ie someone won't let you do it) it's a literal thing - you can't actually print that on that, you can't get those to stick on there. It's impossible. And then, of course, they find a way to do it.
It's this commitment to getting things done that means these trades will probably outlive the rest of us. Every company you come across seems to call itself an idea business right now, we think it makes us special. But ideas are the easiest, fastest and cheapest things to have in the world. It's getting them made that's hard, and for that you need traffic and production. Ladies and Gentleman, we salute you.