Q&A with Eamon Clarkin, Ireland's 'original' planner

Eamon is considered by some people to be the 'original' strategic planner in Dublin.

In his 32 years’ experience in Advertising, 20 of which were as planning director in Irish International, now BBDO Dublin, he has guided many of Ireland’s iconic brands including Barry’s Tea, Bank of Ireland and Guinness.

In his time as a lecturer at DIT, he educated many of the current generation of planners and account directors working in Dublin and abroad.

So we were thrilled to have him along for an ol’ Q&A.

Here’s a few words of wisdom from Dublin’s original strategic planner Eamon Clarkin.

  1. Plan your strategy career like a footballer
    There often comes a point when a planner’s added value and cost start to go in different directions. There’s a sweet spot when value and cost interact, so planners need to be clear on, and try to mitigate and anticipate when your cost will be higher than your perceived value in the agency setting, which often happens in mid-40s. Getting experience, up-skilling among other things can help, and planning how you manage this transition is key to career longevity.

  2. Whoever you work with or work for is commercial relationship, not a love affair
    Every daily interaction from our employers to our clients are in fact business transactions, so don’t be tempted to think there’s love at the heart of these relationships, it’s nearly always about money. Sure, striking genuine relationships is really important, but remember this when you get upset or frustrated about things.

  3. Be aware of the futility of conflict
    Most things just aren’t worth it, so pick your battles and figure out what you can sacrifice. Afterall, this is the essence of strategy.

  4. Be both deep and shallow
    A sufficient depth of strategy is necessary for success but if you can’t translate your depth into simplicity, you won’t be able to progress. The skill and craft is learning how to focus on the magic words to most powerfully transmit your key message to internal and external stakeholders, “a phrase that pays”, so to speak, which can do a surprising amount of the heavy lifting.

  5. Be set to “auto-disagree”
    If you’re not, no one else will. Think about how many meetings where something important just wasn’t challenged. It’s your job to ask all the awkward and stupid questions. Embrace this as a rule - planners can get away with this.

  6. Empathise first, think second
    Consider this a rule of thumb when dealing with clients, co-workers, team members etc. It’s easy to get caught up in our singular view of the world when, in fact, we always need the fuller context to understand. Most of us navigate the world based on how we fee, and most other people have little sight of this.

  7. Remember, other people don’t make you unhappy, you make you unhappy
    Plan and live your life/career as if you had to be responsible for a friend; you’ll make better choices in the end if you act like you’re running someone else's gig.

  8. Find a mentor, including outside marketing
    Look to connect with people outside of advertising for a one, as someone external can give you a more nuanced view (hey, this is what our Open Your Mind events are about).