Thursday, September 07, 2006

Coffee with Lowe's new strategist, Angela Ferreira

D: So you've recently moved to Dubai from TBWA South Africa, first
impressions of the industry?

A: Not an easy question. To be honest, I haven’t been here long enough to formulate an informed opinion. However, if we are talking off-the-cuff first impressions, then the words that come to mind are “immature”, “underutilized” and possible a little “dated”. By that I mean the work out there is a tad on the formulaic side. I find this interesting as since being here I met a host of bright, enthusiastic suits and seriously charged creatives who are just dying to get good work out there. This is even more surprising in the context of Dubai, which in all other respects is progressive, innovative and forward thinking.

D: As planners we are constantly vexing over the right sentence, or words to bring something to life. What sentence or combination of words bring Angela to life as a planner?

A: LOL! Are we talking about Angela before or after the morning Jungle Juice delivery?

My 3rd grade teacher once wrote in my report: “Angela is a happy and confident child. She has an enquiring mind and is persistent in obtaining answers to all her questions. She is a polite and sociable individual but sometimes talks too much, which can be disruptive in the classroom.”

Lets just say that nothing has changed much.

D: How much pressure are brand consultancies gonna put on agency's in the future and what do you think agency's need to do to better prepare themselves for this eventual battle?

A: Personally I don’t view brand consultancies & communication agencies as competitors. In fact, I think their work compliments ours. And vice versa.

Reality is, all the theorizing in the world is meaningless if you can’t action a desired outcome in the consumer environment in an engaging and relevant way. That’s like me writing the best strategy in the world and then sticking it in my bottom draw and never telling anyone about it. Enter communication agency stage right.

On the other hand, no amount of advertising in the world can sustain a brand that is indistinct, inconsistent or stagnant. Pretty pictures don’t build brands, it’s the people who buy into the brands that breathe life into them. Consumers don’t buy into brands that are too abstract, schizophrenic or that lack substance. Enter brand consultancy stage left.

Of course if we are talking share of wallet, that’s another story. My experience is that by working together everyone, including the client, ends up with more in the bank so I think it’s really unfortunate that the two are pitted against one another.

D: So what do you look for when interviewing a potential planner? What's your interview opener?

A: The first characteristic I look for is CURIOSITY.

Strategy is not about being smart or knowing the right answer; it’s about asking the right questions. We can never hope to know more about our clients business than they do and empathizing with consumers will never actually enable us to walk a day in their shoes. Generally, asking the right questions unearths all the necessary information and if you are really lucky, a couple of really insightful gems make an appearance. Then it’s simply a case of joining the dots and TA-DA - the strategy becomes as clear as day.

First question? Tell me about the first hurdle you hit in your first job ever? Age? What? Where? What happened?

Personally I find this line of questioning, a good indication of attitude. The debate rages on – Are planners born or made? Personally I think it’s a little of both. In my humble view, nothing beats a “can do” attitude. Passion is paramount and talent necessary, but both are useless without the drive to succeed. Good planners are more doers than talkers. Although being blessed with the gift of the gab never hurts :)

D: Welcome to Dubai Angela we wish you all the best!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Angela, this question has been posed before to other planners, do you feel like kicking off some form of an APG in the region would help elevate the level of planning?

11:16 AM  
Blogger X said...

Anonymous could you elaborate further on the APG idea, which don't get me wrong I think is great. But how would you personally see it benefiting the region?

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

y apg, I mean a source of funding from the middle east IAA, the monetary power to train planners locally, to hold intelligent debate, to spread a planning attitude throughout our respective agency's, invest in our talent, hold planning awards to encourage the nurturing of creative planning etc etc etc.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Crusty said...

I think an APG, or some form of a planning body would be a good idea in the region more so I think planners in the region would welcome it as well.

2:54 PM  
Blogger X said...

Well who knows, Ill be sure to blog about this topic in the recent future. Maybe we could get some of our senior planners like Brenda, Ramzy and our current guest Angela to buy in on it...

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry people off the topic, but Angela as companys are now investing in having their own research arms or carrying it out with 3rd parties. How are planners moving on from being rooted in research to research being uprooted from them.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howdy, first time on the blog. Love it Mr Diablog and it is about time we get something like this in the region. I have a relativly simple quesiton for Angela (im assuming that this is a forum for Q&A). What category would you say is the hardest to plan on? FMCG, Technology, services etc?

11:59 AM  
Blogger X said...

Just a quick note on behalf of Diablog. Guests on the blog will not always be able to reply on time or at all. So please feel free to post questions but don't throw yourselves off any buildings if they remain unanswered.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all

First, thanks to Diablog for providing such a helpful discussion platform and for inviting me to be a part of it. To everyone else, thanks for the responses. It’s awesome to know that there is such an engaging planning support system out there. All of a sudden I don’t feel so alone in the world (grin).

Response to anonymous re: research
Am not 100% sure I understand the question, so forgive me if I’m a bit off here. Planning should always be rooted in research because that’s where insights come from. There are a million different types of research both formal and informal. Building good relationships with clients based on trust, should get you access to any formal information commissioned by the client from research houses and consultancies. That’s the easy part. The hard part is making the time to engage in the informal kind. This could be anything from desk research to in-store visits, people watching, paging through various magazines, watching current affairs, fashion, art and other programmes etc, etc. For me personally, some of the most valuable insights have come from striking up arbitrary conversations with total strangers in waiting rooms, airports and other situations where there is time to kill. People are our business so the more we learn about them the better. My old boss once put it very aptly when she instructed the team to “be a sponge at all times. Absorb all you can so you can squeeze out the best bits later”

Response to anonymous re: hardest category to plan on
I really don’t think that there is any definitive answer to this question. In my view it all comes down to the personality and interest of the individual planner. I personally find that the more obscure the category, the more I enjoy planning on it. The more one enjoys working in a category, the less difficult it seems. In my last job my main and favorite category was petrochemicals. I also really enjoyed working on the medical administration category, analogue signal distribution, tyres and certain government projects. In contrast, my partner in crime at that time, was crazy about FMCG and cellular. In situations where I found myself completely stumped by peanut butter or processed meats, she would come up with corker ideas within a matter of minutes. I guess different planners find different categories harder than others. The beauty of working in a team is that there is always someone, Creatives and Suits included, to help you out when the going gets tough.

While on the subject of teamwork, I personally think an APG is an excellent idea. For me, bouncing ideas off & sharing with like minded individuals is the best way to learn. I also think that the idea of annual strategic awards is sheer brilliance. More than just showcasing what planning is all about, awards enable individual planners to build effectiveness case studies which are useful selling tools. Both ideas definitely have my vote.


3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi x

Appreciate your resilience with regards to APGing the region... I am all for it

and Angela, welcome to the region... always great to know that more and more planners are mushrooming in this part of the world...


8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tips for building or remodeling your dream home.

10:21 AM  

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