It’s planner survey time

I just pulled the trigger. I’m using a new mail service that sends pretty HTML messages and manages the list, which has grown rather massive. So get after it people. Let me know what you think of the new questions. And please forward this post or the email you receive to all your plannerly friends. Lots of people have changed jobs in the past year so they may not have received the email. Thanks so much for your help on this. Here’s the email:

Hello Planners,

It’s that time of year again. Time to take the planning survey. Last year we had 1,217 participants from around the world. I’d like to see us break 2,000 this year. What do you say? Think you can send an email reminding all the planners you know?

There are three fresh faces to the survey this year who will be helping with the analysis. Your secrets are safe with us and you can get to know the team here.

There are several new questions this year. One of the biggest changes is an attempt to better poll the self-employed and freelance among us. So if you’ve abandoned the survey before, please give it another go.

I always love hearing your feedback, so please leave a comment on my blog.

As always, thank you for playing!


Here is the link to the survey:

And the link to receive the results:

Please follow me on Twitter.

Consider adding my blog to your reader.

And make sure we’re LinkedIn.

Onward to a better brief

I really enjoyed watching Gareth Kay’s recent presentation on the creative brief in this digital age we find ourselves. Lots has changed in the world. But the “who are we talking to?” and “why should they believe us?” are still on many a brief.

And even if our jobs, at least mine I’m happy to report, are becoming more like the rugby match Gareth showed and less like passing the baton in a relay, the brief follows us as a representation of what we do. It lives on the server long after we’re gone. It’s used to teach new people about where a brand has been and how the thinking has changed over time. I love old folders I have from working on projects with five or so versions of a brief, usually one marked _FinalFINAL.doc.

So I do think it’s important that we work on the blank document, despite the fact that the journey matters far more than what’s left behind. And even if there’s no such thing as a great brief, I find the iterative process of writing them and working through them with the rest of the team where the magic lies.

I have a few suggestions for this late coming brief of the future. But I’ll focus on one idea in this post which is to do with the way briefs are set up in the first place. There are generally several questions posed to the brief writer, and the brief writer ponders the answer. MRIs have been taken of how the brain responds to a fact versus how it responds to a question. Wouldn’t you know it – the fact lights up the reptilian part whereas the question gets the neurons firing up in front.

When we’re told something, we only activate the posterior lobe of our brain, but when asked questions, the frontal lobe – involved in problem solving, memory, initiation, and judgment – is activated.
“Anything that’s engaging them where they have to think about their opinion will increase the depth of brain processing. A fact is very quickly compared and filed ‘where does that fit with my model’ whereas a question forces them to process, and wonder.” – Stephan Sands, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, Sands Research

Is it arrogance, ignorance or selfishness that we planners hog all those brain stimulating questions for ourselves? Why don’t we pose new, interesting questions for others? We are trying to get new answers after all. And it’s been my experience that creative people like to solve problems. Crispin stumbled upon the power of questions when Alex Bogusky and Russ Klein from Burger King redesigned the Crispin brief first only for BK, but then it was rolled out to all CP+B clients. A well crafted question is at the heart of their very simple brief, asking some thing like “How do we get this kind of person to …?” I spent many hours debating the question to be asked in each brief with creatives, account directors, planners and clients. It is an excellent plannerly challenge to phrase the problem in a way that bakes in an insightful hook. Something that lets you feel the potential energy within the project. You’re inspired to get going when you read that kind of question.

It wasn’t until I stumbled onto the neuroscience stuff above that I started to understand why posing a question was such a good idea. It may not be proof positive, but it sure hasn’t hurt CP+B’s performance to flip the brief from statements to (at least one) questions.

The new survey team

I’d like to introduce you all to the three people who raised their hands and volunteered to help make this year’s survey even better. They went to the trouble of putting videos on youtube explaining why they wanted to be a part and I feel very fortunate to have stumbled upon these incredibly talented women who will be taking adland by storm in their own time.

Bori Toth
Bori is from Hungary and was working at DDB in Budapest when we first connected. She is now working for TBWA in Berlin. What’s next for this jet setter? You can check out her LinkedIn profile here and she’s @boribora on twitter.

Megan Averell
Megan is from the US and has already garnered quite a bit of experience around the country – you can see her LinkedIn profile here. She recently started a new position with Hill Holliday in Boston working on Chili’s.

Julia Lee
Julia (pronounced “Who-lia”) was born and raised in Spain by Taiwanese parents. So she is bicultural and trilingual. She went to the Academy of Art in San Francisco and just started her first job at Señora Rushmore in Madrid. Her LinkedIn profile is here and her blog is here.

The four of us will be the only ones with access to the data and hopefully with the added bandwidth we’ll get a little deeper on the analysis and turn it around faster.

More Amsterdam Restaurants

Last October, I wrote this round-up of my favorite foodie finds in Amsterdam. Per Matthew’s suggestion (@elrolio), two girlfriends and I tried Cafe Open. It was a cold ride after our viewing of the tween vampire flick New Moon, but we had a very nice dinner. The soup, the fish, the wine – all excellent. It’s a pretty fancy, quiet, romantic place. I think it would be even nicer when you can see the view now that the daylight lasts much longer as it’s a raised box made entirely of glass.

The Dark Angel and I also tried Nam Kee per @pammy528’s suggestion. This one just didn’t do it for us. I think I just am not an oyster fan, so the famous black bean oysters will not bring me back. And the rest of the food was unmemorable chinese fare. Plus the service was so incredibly rude – the epitome of what Holland is known for – that I don’t have any interest in returning.

Nomads Amsterdam

As far as success stories, Nomads, pictured above was the perfect spot for a small birthday gathering for our friend Sietske. There was a nice selection of music and it was so relaxing to eat and drink sans shoes as we lounged. We went for the fixed three course menu and enjoyed almost all of it, but I think next time we’ll opt for picking and choosing ourselves. There was some anchovy paste as one of the selections in the appetizer course and some stuffed sardines in the main course that we all could have done without. The tabouleh, humus, chick pea salad, and lentil salad were fantastic served with a selection of breads (and remember, the Dark Angel is half Syrian, so we are quite critical of arab foods). Worth returning just for these stand-outs, the atmosphere and the belly dancing.

We were probably the last to discover De Bakkerswinkel, but they have given our previous favorite Saturday lunch spot, De Soepwinkel, some serious competition. In De Bakkerswinkel’s favor: the soup is even better here, though there’s only one choice. The quiches are also delicious, plus their salads whether your whole meal or as a side are always fresh and they add pistachio nuts – a nice touch. We don’t care for their cakes – De Soepwinkel we’ve decided makes the best ones in the city – but the cranberry scones with cream and jam are a perfectly acceptable dessert alternative. The atmosphere is also much more lively and the restaurant is huge, so even though we generally stand in line for 10-20 minutes, it’s not unbearable. Even with a group of six last weekend, we were sat in about 10 minutes. We heard they’ll take reservations for larger groups and they do high teas and breakfast that we have not tried.

Speaking of high tea, Gartine deserves an award for this. I’ve only been twice with my lady friends and didn’t see a man in there other than one of the owners. It’s the ideal spot for a female catch-up, mother’s day, baby shower or any other girly event. Both times, we’ve gone for the three course high tea and have never been disappointed with the amazing freshness and creativity of the soup, the sandwich/quiche course, or the painfully decadent dessert course. Each course is paired with your choice of tea. You must book ahead and give yourself at least 2 hours to enjoy.

My good friend Mariota and I serendipitously stopped into Restaurant Peper & Zout when we were looking for a dinner spot one week night. They happened to have one table so you should book if you plan to come here. We went for the starter, main and dessert for 29.50 plus a few glasses of wine. My roasted red pepper soup with a prawn in the middle was perhaps the best soup I’ve EVER had. I went for a delicious vegetarian main and a cinnamon ice cream(!). Rota had a prawn starter a tuna steak main and a creme brulee. We were both in love with our food. The atmosphere is quiet and the place is small. The service was efficient and polite. Remembering this meal makes me want to get back here soon…

Finally, the highlight of this round up goes to Lovefood. Jason Hartley, a fellow marketing strategist and foodie, has poured his heart and soul into this pop-up restaurant concept that allows him to chef every so often. And we are the beneficiaries. Each Sunday when Jason is in the kitchen he provides the most amazing brunch in Amsterdam – the Sunday Munch. His English breakfasts are bang on as they say (he is English) and his American choices are a sure thing. He just started adding a biscuit with gravy to his “Full Mikey” – the American breakfast with sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, a pancake and a biscuit with gravy. I had it yesterday and being a Southern girl I was so happy to have gravy. He also does an English roast from time to time, and in the summer he does a Loveboat concept where he does a barbeque aboard a boat that goes through the canals. I didn’t get a chance to go on one of these last summer, but I hope to this year. I would highly recommend joining the group AND becoming a fan on facebook to keep up with the times and new offerings as he’s always improving.

That’s all for this edition. Curious to know other places to try. On my list: Bo Cinq, Tempura, Tekada, Goud Fazant, Klein Janzen, De Italian, Renato’s, Cafe Struik, and Tomatillo.