Art & Commerce: Here’s the Deal: Account Planning Is Alive and Well

Idon’t usually write letters to the editor, but I thought it might be a good idea if a planner stood up to recent claims [Letters, Feb. 28] of our demise.
I work at an agency that can claim some authority on planning–JWT arguably invented the discipline back in the late ’60s in London–and I’ve been a planner for 12 years. I think I’m entitled to a point of view and I can tell you: Planning is alive and well.
I’ve been in the U.S. for only nine months, and I get calls for new jobs every week–so do the other planners here, so do all the other planners I know. Every agency with a planning department seems to be hiring and every agency that doesn’t is trying to build one. Ask the recruiters how great the demand is–ask them if planning’s dead.
Good planners don’t regurgitate old strategies and propositions; they look at every problem with a fresh set of eyes. Sure, we draw upon our experience to solve problems. But in the same way that markets change and brands evolve, there is a need to invent new strategies and solutions. Every brand has a different DNA, requires a different fingerprint and a different creative response to articulate its point of view and connect with its constituents.
It might sound like heresy, but I yearn for the day when account planners become redundant. It will mean that everybody else involved in our business has done a better job of understanding how their consumers think and feel, a better job of understanding how their brands work. Then, planning can add value to a client’s business and an agency’s product by helping to extract and create new value from brands and connect for richer relationships with new sets of constituents.
But as long as problems in our business are complex, as long as brand values provide the only real basis for differentiation and as long as our clients look to us to help build their businesses through their brands, there will always be people who provide the planning discipline and people who take responsibility for its delivery and quality.
Andy Bateman
Brand planning director
J. Walter Thompson, New York

For the Record: The artwork for the story on Dweck!’s new campaign [Adweek, March 13] was incorrect The music credit for Oldsmobile’s “Cars” ad [Best Spots, Feb. 21] should have listed Scandal Music.