How Google is killing the planner role

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 7 June 2017
Kate Smither

Curiosity killed the cat and now Google has killed curiosity, according to Saatchi & Saatchi chief strategy officer Kate Smither.

Speaking at a Vivid event in Sydney yesterday, Smither said the next generation of agency execs rely on Google for all the answers and that is causing the planner role to die off.

“We are pretty much at the end of the curious age and the next generation have everything being planned through Google. That scares the hell out of me,” she said.

The Battle of Big Thinking event, held by The Comms Council, features execs from AnalogFolk, JWT, BWM, One Green Been and more going head-to-head to make the most compelling five minute speech. Smither won the night for her impassioned creative position.

Smithers said Google is stopping the evolution of agencies, as well as society.

“Evolution has stopped and Google has stopped us. We used to plan and discuss ideas but Google has put a hard stop on that. Now we sit, we don’t think and we receive answers but we don’t question them. That’s a different behaviour,” she said.

“We live in a world where nothing is linear… But for some reason search tells us there’s a linear action. We ask a question and get an answer, which is the exact opposite of everything we are trying to do in life.”

She said for the planner role in agencies it’s a really scary idea and the exact opposite of what the role has been traditionally about.

“[As a planner] we try to make connections in ways that aren’t linear at all,” she said, adding that the barrier between humans thst screens create trains people to not feel or be reactive.

Smither also said that Australia is focusing too much on what is happening overseas, rather than diving into our own culture.

“We are not localising or culturally nuancing content. Instead, we are waiting for something big to happen, like Trump’s America, and positioning ourselves around that.

“Agencies don’t need to spend money on trends or resources because Google will find an article for free. The last thing [agencies] are spending money on is the first thing they should be, which is giving planners time and resources to act.

“It’s a dangerous cycle because the cycle we are perpetuating is free, quick answers and that’s not necessarily what planning is about.”

Smither encouraged execs to “unplan” and go back to ground zero, follow curiosity and find connections that are unexpected.

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