02 Jan 2017

18 Things You Might Not Know About Account Planning

Account Planning is one of the key disciplines in modern advertising that is often misunderstood. Here’s what you need to know.

Christopher Owens
 • Brand Planning Group Head @ The Richards Group

  1. Depending on the agency or practitioner, the position of Account Planner may also be referred to as Strategist, Strategic Planner, Brand Planner, Ad Planner, Cognitive Strategist, Creative Strategist, Brand Strategist, Cognitive Analyst, etc... just to name a few.

  2. Account Planners are hired by all sorts of companies. They help invent new products, develop Hollywood scripts, identify courtroom jury selections, position celebrities, package pop artists, pick political policies, pimp politicians, and discover the next trends in food, fashion, toys, technology and beyond.

  3. The discipline of account planning emerged out of London during the swinging 60s as Stephen King and Stanley Pollit were tasked with developing increasingly more consumer-focused campaign strategies to cope with already cluttered categories.

  4. Legend has it that the first Account Planner to hold the title in a US-based agency was British-born Jane Newman. She was imported from London in the 1980s by Chiat/Day. There she played a role in Apple's legendary 1984 Super Bowl commercial.

  5. Jane Newman was one of the first instructors to teach planning at the Miami Ad School's Boot Camp for Account Planning when it became the first institution in the world to teach the discipline in 1998.

  6. Account planners divide their time between working with art directors, copywriters, clients, consumers, media planners, digital strategists, UX designers, data analysts and anyone in need of some direction, inspiration or just collaboration.

  7. The actual creative brief is typically considered the sole deliverable of a planner. 

  8. The most effective creative strategies are most often the product of a team the includes account planners and creatives.

  9. The most useful creative briefs are often described as both: creative and brief.

  10. Seven is the average amount of questions to be answered on a typical agency creative brief.

  11. Account Planners aren't researchers in that they don't just pop in and out of the creative process with fact-like information. They are full-fledged team members present from idea conception to campaign measurement in the marketplace.

  12. Contrary to popular belief, digital strategists are not an existential threat to the Account Planning profession. Ideally, they act in collaboration with teams to best assign the proper technologies, channels and content that comprise all sorts of interactive campaigns.

  13. The most unlucky planner is the one who has to take the creative brief for last year's holiday campaign and find a "fresh new angle."

  14. Account Planners aren't always the smartest people in the room. Nor should they pretend to be. Sometimes the best answer is, "I don't know. But that's an excellent question."

  15. There is no such thing as one "right answer." There are always a lot of ways in. Thus, focus on what seems to be most useful. Useful is always better than one planner's illusion of perfection.

  16. Don't believe everything you read, because too often we only read what we already believe. Inspiration is typically found when you aren't actively looking for it.

  17. If you want others to be interested—be interesting.

  18. Eighteen is the number of years Miami Ad School's Boot Camp for Account Planning has existed. If you are up to the challenge, join us for number 19 in New York.

Christopher is a graduate of the second Boot Camp for Account Planning. He now teaches on a regular basis and has hired seven of his former students.

Miami Ad School’s Boot Camp for Account Planning starts July 3rd in San Francisco. The Application Deadline is May 26th.



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