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Understanding campaign planning

Saatchi & Saatchi’s Vicky Kidby, CHI & Partners’ Emily Brownlow and McCann London’s Ben Hacker describe their experiences of last year's IPA Campaign Planning course, including inspiring talks, research groups, sleepless nights, pitching and karaoke.

Vicky Kidby, Saatchi & Saatchi

Embarking upon the IPA Campaign Planning course journey, I didn’t really know what to expect. People had told me it would be interesting, inspiring, hard work but incredibly good fun, and it was definitely all of those things.

It’s always daunting to work with a group of new people, especially when all are relatively new to the industry; and equally talented and ambitious in their own rights. I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic group, with a similar work ethic and appreciation of the challenge as myself. Fruitful, constructive discussion, effective time management and co-creation enabled us to quickly arrive at a rich strategic territory that we were all very comfortable with, and could enjoy building on together.

We also made sure to take advantage of the unique opportunity we had to both utilise strengths, but also encourage development of new muscles. For example I took on a key role in working with the creatives, something I don’t have the chance to do much of in my agency as my account is managed remotely. This helped me adapt to different ways of working, and helped build my confidence.

Receiving talks from some of the industry’s best was an absolute highlight. Kate Waters on Using Quant to get Great Strategy particularly motivated me, and is something I am keen to learn more about and apply to my day-to-day work. Magnus Djaba’s talk also left me feeling inspired as he gave much food for thought for future development.

Finally, Fallon’s Gareth Goodall and M&C Saatchi’s Alex Dunsdon, our mentors, and the IPA team were absolutely fantastic, the celebration on the last night was great fun, and the location at Fanhams Hall in Ware was ideal. The rural setting really helped us to remove ourselves from our daily lives and focus.

The Campaign Planning course has been invaluable. I learnt a huge amount and made some great friends. I would strongly recommend it to anyone in the future.

Emily Brownlow, CHI & Partners

When told I was one of the lucky few to be attending the esteemed IPA Campaign Planning course I had mixed feelings. I’d heard great things about it - incredible talks from prolific figures in the industry, the chance to make great friends and this all culminating in a party to remember. I’d also heard stories of stress, a week of no sleep and frayed emotions.

After a restless and anxious night the Sunday before, any fears were quickly allayed. We were thrown straight into a day of excellent talks, each leaving us inspired and keen to put the learning into practice. 

Aside from the talks, our days were spent in our syndicate rooms with our groups. It was an intense week, testing at times, with pressure building as each day that passed meant one day closer to the pitch. We went from research groups on day one, to a solid strategy cracked on day two, to briefing our creative team on day three and pitching on day four. When we got to pitch day the enormity of what we’d achieved in such a short period started to sink in. Emotions were high, a mix of tiredness, anxiety and hysteria were evident across the whole group. Adrenalin was going to get us through, it didn’t matter anymore who won or lost, we’d all taken part and would take forward our experience to Monday back in the office.

Elation and relief rippled through the audience as each group sat back after their pitch. We’d come a long way since Monday, we were seriously sleep deprived but absolutely ready for the karaoke and wine ahead of us. Needless to say, M&C Saatchi’s Alex Dunsdon does a great ‘Remix to Ignition’.

We left on the coach feeling inspired but ropey. Hands down it was the best course I’ve been on. If you get the chance, take it and enjoy every moment. You’ll leave emotionally and physically shattered, but with a renewed energy and enthusiasm for what you do. Most importantly, you’ll have learnt a hell of a lot about yourself.

Ben Hacker, Account Manager, McCann London

IPA Campaign Planning was without a shadow of a doubt the best course I have ever been on. The experience I gained from the course inspired me to think and approach certain aspects of my role differently and with regard to progressing in my career I believe this is invaluable.

It was clear from talking to fellow candidates that everyone felt they had really benefited from the course. What was felt by many including myself was that we were reminded how inspirational the industry is; this can often be forgotten on a day-to-day basis.

We were faced with the realisation that our day jobs, including such tasks as writing contact reports would still be inherently part of our roles, and that not every day will be about solving problems. The different presentations and group work made it clear to us that there are opportunities available to broaden our experience and it is ultimately down to us to strive further. More importantly, the course gave me the confidence to know I was capable of thinking strategically which is fundamental to my career development.

I was encouraged by my tutor to present part of our pitch in a challenging way. Being a person who likes a challenge, this course gave me the confidence to now accept whatever challenges I might face in the future and thereby make a greater contribution to the agency.

Before going on the course I was sceptical about what I would genuinely get out of it apart from new friends, but the truth is, I now think and approach everything differently and have a greater determination to succeed in the industry.

The next IPA Campaign Planning Course will be held  from 18th March 2013 - 22nd March 2013, for more information please contact Jessica Stratton. Book now.
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