AQR’s Young Disruptor events are designed to get young researchers (with fewer than seven years’ experience — so youngish) socialising through events and workshops which are specifically organised for them. On Thursday 28 March, AQR brought us ‘Inside the ad agency: a planner's perspective on advertising and research’. It was led by Alex and Hannah from VCCP, who demystified the world of advertising for those of us whose only frame of reference was Mad Men.

As researchers, we explore, probe and investigate to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something. As Alex said: we are detectives. But how useful is this in the world of advertising and how does our research lead to great creative?

Well, that’s where the planners come in, working with us to identify that one killer insight — or ‘aha’ moment — that they will take forward to build the winning campaign. They ensure the insight is never lost as it makes its way through creative and production and onto our screens, social media or bus stop billboards.

So now we know… the planner is our ally!

One of the biggest learnings I came away with was how to break down the multitude of evidence we gather in research to help the planner develop a creative brief. To do this we need to identify three important insights:

1: Cultural insight: knowing what resonates
2: Human insight: identifying the human need
3: Market and brand insight: understanding category trends and competitor knowledge

If our research can bring together all three elements, it will inform creative that resonates with the local culture, connects with its audience by speaking to a human need, and differentiates against competitors — three conditions of great advertising.

Thank you to AQR for organising this event, and to the generous sponsors McGowan Transcriptions for the free drink and pizza — a winning combination for a great evening in the company of other like-minded peers. I look forward to the next event!