Mehak Jaini On Why The Role Of A Strategist Doesn’t End At The Brief

Head of strategy, 22feet Tribal Worldwide India and VP – Strategy, DDB Mudra Group on why new strategists and planners need to ‘just keep swimming’.

With over eleven years of diverse strategy experience, Mehak Jaini has played an integral role in the evolution of strategy at 22feet Tribal Worldwide India. Her current mandate includes the group’s new business agenda and anchoring strategy for some of its largest businesses.

Frequently awarded, she was Impact Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Future Leaders Advertising 2014 and part of the Omnicom’s Emerging Stars Program 2013. This year, she was shortlisted for the Economic Times Emerging Women Leader Award.

An adventure junkie and animal lover, when she’s not at her workstation, you might find her exploring new depths underwater.

LBB> What do you think is the difference between a strategist and a planner? Is there one?
Mehak> Most people use the two terms interchangeably. But I believe there is a huge difference. While the account planning discipline was a crucial addition and an evolution of how an agency works (in the late ’60s and early ’70s), today most agencies have worked hard to get a seat at the CEOs table and strategy has been at the heart of that shift. Strategy sees the bigger picture, the interconnectedness of things and builds a brand’s larger business, brand and marketing strategy. It is the basis for the brief, defining where we want to go and how we will get there. While planning is often restricted to building on the brief post facto, further defining the direction. At DDB, we stopped using the term planner over 10 years back, and constantly reiterate what a strategist brings to the table, versus mere planning. This in no means is to belittle the planning function, and if we don’t get lost in words, we will notice great planners are the ones who strategise and move beyond the expected, while planners can fall in the trap of being hired campaign contractors. There is a thin line, but it is getting clearer and clearer.

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