Troy Palmer – Strategy in its simplest form is just a plan

S novým měsícem přichází nový rozhovor. Tentokrát s člověkem, který se ke strategii dostal přes kreativu podobně jako já. Troy Palmer kdysi začínal jako art director a nyní pracuje jako Creative Strategist Consultant na volné noze (předtím působil jako Strategy Director agentuře DDB Prague).

Every successful campaign starts with a good brief. Can you try to present yourself in the form of a brief with the most important information we should know about you. Describe yourself in the form of a short headline.
An admirer of great advertising.

Which animal best describes your character, and why?
An African Bird called a Drongo. They can imitate distress calls of other animals to scare off prey. I like a smart, simple and effective solution to a problem.

If you were an influencer, what kind of content would you share with your fans?
A very unpopular opinion I know, but I very much look forward to a time after influencers. The work or output of anyone is visible in the things they create. If I’m an architect I am inspired or influenced by Frank Gehry because I can see a building he created. If someone sees something I’ve played a part in making and it interests or inspires them in some small way, I’m glad, but I would never post it as content. I’d rather viewers appreciate the work. People have been “influenced” from the beginning of time without “influencers”.

How would you describe a person who is your complete opposite of you?
Someone who follows today’s “newest trend” simply because it’s new.

What was your path to strategy and planning? How did you become a strategist?
Time. The longer I’ve spent in a variety of advertising positions the more I’ve come to realise what persuades someone to change their behaviour. Patterns only form with time. Strategy is the best place to use that.

Why did you choose this as your livelihood?
When deciding what to study it was the only commercial form of creativity I knew of and was able to do. I’ve stayed in it because it’s always interesting. No two jobs are ever the same.

What unusual habit or absurd thing do you like most?
I watch movie trailers. Even if it’s a film I know I might not be interested in at all. Trailers are stories or emotional journeys packed into very neat packages. The only one I’d avoid is “Transformers”, the story’s in the title.

Who currently influences you most?
As crazy as it sounds. Dead people mostly. The life stories of anyone who impacted their field by doing remarkable things. In their stories I’m inspired most by how they behaved in their lowest moments, not the highlights that are easily known.

What new behaviour has improved your life the most in the last few years?
Seeking out the opinions of people I admire and spending less time on those I don’t.

Strategists are good observers of the world to find insights. Can you describe some of your recent observations (for example in public transport) that got stuck in your head?
Lockdown hasn’t given me much time on public transport. My most recent observation of the world is how important music and creativity in the arts is to us and how undervalued it is.

Do you have a hobby or do you do sports?
I like indoor climbing. All the fun of climbing without having to be in nature.

Do you have any favorite advertising manifesto?
I don’t know about a manifesto but I’ve always liked BBDO’s line. “The Work. The Work. The Work”

Can you share one slide from any presentation you’ve participated in, and are you most proud?
Banks are involved in our lives in more ways than any other company or brand we interact with. Our success or failure, hopes and ambitions are all directly linked to our finances and how they’re managed. After evaluating local market banking advertising and asking the question, “What’s the most important thing to me when I think of my relationship with my bank?” This was the perfect combination, a highly respected client and a need state coming together.

What advice would you give to young strategists? What should they ignore?
Strategy in its simplest form is just a plan, I feel like so much time is spent on the structure of presentations and matching templates that are “fashionable” or “trendy” that less time is spent on the actual plan itself. A smart solution from an angle no one else has exploited, can be expressed in a sentence on its own slide. A fancy infographic might impress in a meeting but a smart thought will last for multiple campaigns. And take as much inspiration as possible from outside of Advertising and put it in the work. There’s way too much “ad speak” and marketing pollution.

What was the best advice given to you?
Even the smartest people don’t get it right all the time. Assess the task and be confident in your plan, even if it scares you, because doubting and changing it to copy someone else’s is a sure way to never do anything original. “Better to die on your feet, than live on your knees”

Monitoring trends is also an important role. Which recent trend do you consider to be the most interesting and why?
Big clients are getting back to core values and doing more brand building, emotional campaigns. It’s interesting because it shows the click bait approach everyone has been sold is having damaging long term effects on brands.

What popular trend abroad would you like to be popular in the Czech Republic?
Less reliance on celebrity as spokespeople.

Which work/campaign are you most proud of?
A small campaign for Forbes magazine. It encouraged readers to convert to the online format of their magazine. The insight was simple and offered an unusual reason to convert.

What does the word “philosophy” mean to you?
A perspective on a subject or a point of view

How do your professional and personal beliefs overlap?

How do you live in the present when your job is to uncover the future?
The tech might change but emotional needs never will. Future motivations are based on security, happiness, love, desire. If an app, or whatever replaces apps, delivers on those things they’ll succeed in the future.

What beliefs or habits have changed your life in the last five years?

What do you do if you feel overwhelmed or temporarily out of focus?
I try to think, why would I buy this soap, or use this taxi service. If I can convince myself of a motivation for it, it’s so much easier. But usually the feeling of being overwhelmed or lack of focus comes from a product with no clear differentiators, or cases where the services offered don’t mean much to the end user.

Should strategists live more philosophical lives?
If trying to imagine what other peoples lives are like based on the challenges they face is philosophical then yes.

Do you have any useful mental or heuristic models?
I always think of something I was told by creative boss I respected. He often said “Clients don’t want to spend money, they do it because they have to. What are we solving or doing for them they can’t do themselves”. It’s always been a way for me to get back to the real root of the problem.

Strategists also read a lot. Have you recently read a book that  expanded your horizons in strategy?
The Attention Economy – Our information on media is usually given to us by the channels profiting off it. So in no way honest or objective. The book is an outside analysis not influenced by money but by fact or truth.

Which internet resource do you like to read?
Canvas8 and Planning Dirty.

Thank you for the interview!

Honza Marcinek
Honza Marcinek

Zkoumám průsečík mezi lidským chováním a kulturou, abych odhalil pravdu o značkách a jejich postavení na trhu. Účelem webu je inspirovat kreativní myšlení, které firmám pomůže vytyčit jedinečnou roli, aby se mohly spojit s lidmi a vytvářet smysluplný dopad na svět okolo nás.

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