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  • Writer's pictureLance Boldt

The Planning Document - Why You Need It and How To Get It

Ok, I’ve got to be pretty vague on this one to protect the innocent. Let’s just say that we have a major international client that was taking one of their US programs to Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East. They had a very high-powered communications firm on the job crafting their messaging. We were slotted to make some animated videos for the new markets and, as a starting point, were given a “Manifesto” (as the communications company called it) and their first draft of the script. If you had an 18th-century British uncle who extolled the empire’s virtues, you would recognize the tone of the Manifesto. After reading the script, I envisioned John Wayne sauntering into town explaining to these poor foreigners that their days of crappy auto care were over: the Americans have landed and will set things right - don’t worry your pretty little head, Pilgrim. To us, the cultural insensitivity was very obvious. The script also cast the client as the Hero in the story. In our practice, we like to go for making the intended viewer the hero on their journey and the client as the guide that will help them navigate the obstacles and achieve ultimate success. The Big Question: How do we convey this to our client that had spent big bucks and had some ego at stake? We chose to do some research and present an analysis with an alternative script. We did a brief overview of the state of aftermarket service and repair in several of the target countries. Of course, repair facilities in centuries-old villages did not have a sleek modern appearance to our eye, but the equipment and expertise of the technicians were first rate. In our planning document, we cautioned against denigrating the local automotive industry and practitioners in the videos. We made the case for not being perceived as an invading army or do anything to reinforce the “Ugly American” stereotype. Humble competence was the desired vibe. To make the videos relevant across the range of ethnicities of the “host” countries, we gave the animated technicians and customers blue skin, no facial features, and earth tone hair colors. The preliminary script focused on building confidence by demonstrating concern and competence. The brand was given a supporting role in the client’s automotive service saga. Our contact said, “I wonder how much we spent on that other stuff. We should have just come to you in the first place.” So, yeah, we’re awesome, but the real point of the story is the power of documented planning - which was the topic of our recent webinar. If you didn’t get to see it live, watch here the recording of “The Planning Document”. We’d love to talk with you about your next project. Give Shawn Bird a call at 801-683-6805 or email him at

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