At GGT, we used to run advertising classes each Wednesday evening after work.

They were very basic, mainly for people who couldn’t get into advertising: motorbike messengers, secretaries, unemployed, etc.

Every week we’d give them the name of a product, then they’d do their own research, write their own brief, do their own ads, and present their work next week.

Eventually, they’d build up a portfolio.

It was very successful, lots of people got jobs as a result, but our head-of-planning, Neil Cassie, came to see me.

He said “It’s all very well doing this training for other people but you’re giving it all away.  Why can’t you do a weekly class for our planning department?”

I thought that was a brilliant idea.

He realised something that very few people in our business ever cotton-on to.

It was the first time anyone had noticed that marketing wasn’t advertising.

That they’re different disciplines.

When I was at school, we had classes in metalwork and woodwork

One week we’d do Theory, the next week we’d do Practical.

In Theory we’d study the materials, the tools, we’d make technical drawings.

In Practical we’d get on a workbench and actually make things by hand.

That’s the difference between marketing and advertising and that’s what Neil Cassie understood.

You might be great at theory, but that didn’t mean you could actually make anything.

Rolling up your sleeves, getting your hands dirty, actually making things was what the creative dept was about.

Just like a driving test: you have to know the theory, but you don’t get a driving licence until you prove you can actually drive a car.

Like most planning depts, everyone in Neil’s dept was excellent at theory, but no one could do the practical.

He wanted me to teach his dept the rudiments of practical, this would have two benefits.

For the creatives, it meant that if planners understood what it was like to actually do ads they’d have a much better understanding of what creatives were looking for, what made a good ad, not just a good brief.

For the planners, it meant that they wouldn’t be confused by creatives telling them what could and couldn’t be done if they knew how to actually do a decent ad themselves.

Of course, we weren’t looking to turn planners into award-winning creatives.

We were just looking to give planners a view of the other side of the equation.

What a brief is supposed to lead to, what’s useful and what isn’t.

To learn it first hand, to get their hands dirty so to speak.

Like teaching food critics to learn the basics of cooking.

They wouldn’t learn how to become Michelin chefs, but they’d learn how to turn the oven on, preparation, what order to cook the ingredients in, etc.

It also made them much more part of the team that created the advertising.

Rather than just dumping the brief and walking away, it created a bridge across the chasm between strategy and creative.

It meant the person writing the brief actually knew how to make it useful, instead of just a jargon-laden shopping list, ticking the usual boxes.

And for me, it meant an appreciation of creativity spread through the entire agency like lettering in a stick of rock.

It got everyone out of their silos.

Of course that was back in the days when we used to do advertising.