Bernstein-Rein Boosts Research With Planning Arm

Bernstein-Rein is es tablishing an account planning department to supplement its traditional research operation.

The Kansas City, Mo., shop hired Tony Edwards to head up the division as vice president and director of account planning.

“We’ve been doing planning, but it’s never been under a dedicated person,” said Steve Bernstein, the agency’s chief operating officer. Bernstein said he’s been laying the groundwork for a planning department for two years: “We would not have jumped in if we had not had the right person.”

The British-born Edwards previously held top planning positions at Pittsburgh agencies Blattner Brunner and MARC USA, spending less than a year at each shop. He said the slumping economy cut short both stints.

Bernstein-Rein’s clients, which include Wal-Mart and Bayer Animal Health, will not see a change in their account management or research unless they request an increased emphasis on planning, according to Bernstein. But Edwards will be active in new-business pitches.

“In a lot of new-business pitches, they’re looking for a dedicated person,” Bernstein said. “When accounts come in, planning will be a part of them.”

Though the trend toward creating European-style planning de partments has waned in recent years, Bernstein feels there is still value in the practice. “We think it … will help us be more disciplined in what we do,” he said.

Edwards is convinced Bernstein-Rein, a $400 million shop, is committed to establishing a planning discipline. “I have found them very receptive to what I bring to the table,” he said.

According to Ed wards, he brings a “non-traditional” ap proach to planning, preferring to meet with small groups of people in familiar settings. “We try to keep it as unobtrusive as possible,” he said. “[That way], focus group members volunteer what’s on their mind.”

Ultimately, Edwards expects the division to be a small—with only six planners—but vital part of the agency’s business over the next two to three years. “Account planning done properly is not a fad,” he said. “It’s something that becomes a part of the agency, like creative.”