Koan No. 20
Koan No 20 We can’t give it away
“One time we were working up a media budget for a beer promotion. As we built the schedule and inched towards the budget I was struck by a sudden thought. How much would it cost to buy the beer we had tasked our selves to promote? And before I could stop myself I realised that the budget cost more than the wholesale price of the beer. It would have been cheaper to have given them a free beer than to tell them how good the beer was. By some act of willpower I managed to keep the terrible knowledge to myself and we finished the budget without further incident.
Jim Taylor Author of the Space Race
A great story which illustrates the limitations of account planning. The job of a planner as I always tell trainees is to protect and promote the agency’s interests alongside those of the client. Usually the two are aligned. And most of the time the strategizing happens in such a vacuum that this kind of blooper never gets noticed. But if you start to think how your work is or isn’t going to drive the business then these kinds of dilemmas will crop up. At which point you have to decide if you’re going to speak up and point out the absurdity of spending money promoting something that costs less than the campaign. At which point you discover that your perception and candour are less than welcome to the agency. Somehow we need an incentive system that includes free beer. One day one day!