In last week’s Campaign, I read the quote, “Jedi strategists are the rock stars of pitches”.
That’s the sort of language we’re using today apparently.
Let’s back up a bit to when advertising was a serious business.
‘Strategists’ are what was originally called ‘account planners’.
Advertising didn’t originally need ‘account planners’.
I was a junior creative at BMP when Stanley Pollitt invented account planning.
Until then, the actual advertising had been done by art directors and copywriters, briefs had been written by account men.
Stanley decided we should have people who took a helicopter view of the accounts.
Creatives worried about the ads, account men worried about the client, he wanted someone who worried about the actual brand and the broader market.
Not just where we were, but where we could be.
At the same time as Stanley at BMP, Steven King at JWT invented his version of account planning.
It was very similar inasmuch as it was strategic, not tactical.
To put it in Steven King’s own words “I caution account-planners against becoming mere ad-fiddlers”.
Planners should be free of the day-to-day reactions to client demands, planners should be more thoughtful, more considered, more visionary.
I’ve known planners like that, I’ve worked with some great planners, genuinely creative thinkers in the De Bono sense.
But I don’t think they fantasized about being Jedi warriors in science-fiction films.
I don’t think they made pretend laser guns out of their thumb and forefinger and went around making “Pew..pew…pew…” noises.
I don’t think they dreamed of escaping the humdrum boring world of advertising for a weekend of cosplay and Comic Cons.
I also don’t think the really great planners saw themselves as rock-stars either.
Presenting Power-Point slides while imagining they’re on stage in skin-tight gold-lame leotards in front of thousands of screaming fans.
But maybe I’m wrong, maybe they did.
Maybe that’s why they are described in Campaign as, “Jedi strategists are the rock-stars of pitches”.
Maybe they see advertising as so boring they need to live in a fantasy world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying metaphors aren’t useful.
Personally, I’ve always seen what we do as plumbers or mechanics.
Skilled tradespeople, we offer a real solution to real problems, and the best of us are innovative and can spot better opportunities.
Stanley Pollitt saw us more as doctors, using years of training to make a skilled diagnosis and only ever offering one single, definite solution, never a choice.
Chris Powell saw us as barristers, arguing the case from the point-of-view of whoever our client is.
We’ve been compared to chefs, painters, gardeners, and of course used-car salesman.
But always a useful, grownup comparison.
Not super-heroes like X Men or the Avengers, not strutting rock stars like Elton John, or Prince, or Freddie Mercury.
This is a business, what the Jedi – rockstar fantasy tells us is those people find advertising boring and wish they were doing something more exciting.
Well here’s a thought.
Instead of wishing their job was more exciting, why not make their job more exciting?
Why not help make exciting advertising instead?
Then they wouldn’t need Jedi rock-star fantasies.