Outsourcing – could it happen to Planners?

I wouldn’t like to be starting a career in artwork right now as it seems to me that its one of the most likely skill sets in our industry to end up being outsourced.  I’m already coming across new local specialist artwork studios set up to mop up the overflow from larger agencies and remove the whole department from smaller agencies. Outsourcing artwork overseas would just mean that more work could be turned around overnight.

I do appreciate that there’s artwork and then there’s artwork, with many mac operators being the vital final link in a chain producing complex, intricate work – but I think we outsourcing.jpgcould start to see some retail press work disappear to the other side of the world in the next few years.  Catching Storyville on the BBC late last year about India’s Office Tiger was a sobering experience – legal and financial services roles being outsourced to a place that would fulfil them cheaper, faster and do so 24 hours a day.  The Office Tiger staff were veeeeery ambitious.  Never mind work/life balance, for them the problem was managing a work/sleep balance in order to continue functioning and working even harder.

So my thought is that if you could say that at least part of a Planner’s role is to understand and interpret cultural and market neauances …if W+K can plan a mobile phone campaign for Romania from London, why can’t someone else plan UK campaigns from the other (cheaper) side of the world?

3 thoughts on “Outsourcing – could it happen to Planners?

  1. Outsourcing’s been happening in adland for years. Look at an agency like Naked. They’re an outsourced planning unit, surely?

  2. Good point. I agree that Planning is already outsourced *within* the UK. Its just I’m not sure if/how it would work if it moved overseas and how soon that might happen.

  3. This one’s a tricky question. I think you’d find agencies that truly believe in planning and the value it adds hard-pressed to let in-depth knowledge about their clients’ businesses reside outside their own doors.

    For agencies where they don’t value planning but the clients want it, or for those that can’t afford to have planners on staff, then you’re going to see them outsourcing it. For those that can’t afford it though, they’re probably going to use some freelance talent they trust and that can come in and collaborate with their teams easily.

    As for Naked, from my knowledge, agencies aren’t hiring them. Clients are. That’s not outsourced planning. That’s the client saying, “our traditional agencies don’t get it, please help.” Even then, often they’re handing over more of a communications strategy to agencies who then have to use planning as part of the creative process to bring and idea to life to execute against that strategy.

    The Naked model represents what happens when the traditional agencies lose touch and the client feels like they have to look elsewhere. Not entirely the same, but Russell Davies has some good thoughts on this (what he calls planning Ronin) here: http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2006/10/big_thinking.html

    With the W+K campaign, that is not the same as outsourcing planning. That’s doing your homework to understand the audience so you can reach them effectively. That audience just happens to be in another country so I’m sure it made the homework a bit more interesting.

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