Crowdsourcing the Future of Account Planning

Posted by on Jun 30, 2008 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments


pic c/o

Lots of good stuff being written and said about the discipline that emerged simultaneously from 2 London Ad Agencies 40 years ago this summer. It’s been – for me and a number of my chums – a really good way to earn a living so hurrah for us!

Also, at last, Merry and Judie have republished Stephen King’s papers (no not that one) – one of the 2 fathers of the discipline. A tome I wish I’d had when I started…

But much of the discipline’s thinking about the future is based on the world of marketing and communication remaining much the same as it has been (think how easily we take ideas like Word Of Mouth and turn them into the Persuasive media we always wanted to have). And the thinking’s being done in the way that planning has always been done – by individuals with big brains…

We don’t know what it is or what we’re going to say yet because – like the future itself – it isn’t yet (co-) created.

Which is where you come in.  

All you need is 1 bit of advice for future generations of “plotters” and a youtube clip that illustrates it. 


  1. Geoff Brown
    July 1, 2008

    Looking forward to the co-creating at the blog.

  2. The Scar
    July 1, 2008

    Coming from someone who spent 9 years as a planner in NYC and is now running a business in a completely different sector. I.e. I’m now a ‘client’ who uses web firms, IT shops, etc.
    The future of account planning is increasing marginalisation.
    Too few planners are truly creative thinkers, and customers need more than some smartarse who can run a ‘funky focus group’, or ‘supergroup’ or ‘focus group shoot out’ or ‘super ethnography’.
    Frankly, most agencies have run planning as a profit center – a way to charge clients a markup for loads of research they didn’t need to do. And this is all most planners know. They can’t do much else. They are no help to real creatives, designers, product developers, etc. They’re certainly of little help to clients. Indeed, to have a 27 year old lecture you about your ‘brand’ or ‘brand touchpoints’ makes you want to punch him in the face (or happy slap her if she’s a woman).
    So the future requires planners to lift their game significantly. And they need to redefine their role. If they’re not a ‘fancy market researcher’, then what are they? If they’re not an ideas-engine (as 90% aren’t), then why should any client pay for them?
    Blah, blah… I’m waffling. Future snapshot: Less planners, but those that exist will be truly adding value through creativity. (I predict further turf battles between planners and creatives.)

  3. Paul Marsden
    July 18, 2008

    Hi Mark,
    The role of the account planner will be accountability.
    Interesting last comment – much I would agree with but as a researcher who has worked on ad research – not sure I’m as pessimistic as this.
    My view is that core account planner role of representing the voice the market is still critically important – as a safeguard against client and creative going off on some vanity-fest in the pursuit of awards and ego boosts.
    A fortiori in these days of ROI.
    With the general agreement that good ads are ads that shift stock – my view is that the role of the account planner will become “accountability” – ensuring that ads that get created do shift stock.
    Make account planners accountable for the accounts they plan.