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[bal harbour, fla.] Account planning has to break with business as usual and encourage "mutant" brands and marketing in order to evolve, said speakers at the American Association of Advertising Agencies account planning conference here.

Planners must spur change, particularly in the use of media, executives told the conference, sponsored by the Four A's and the independent Account Planning Group.

Planners must not just manage brands but also media clutter, a skeptical consumer and a changing world, said Jane Newman, director of strategic planning at Merkley Newman Harty, New York.


Conference Chairman Douglas Atkin-who's director of planning at Wells BDDP, New York-even suggested changing the title of brand manager to brand catalyst, because it implies that person will help change rather than protect against it.

More and shorter messages are fighting for the attention of a consumer who is increasingly distrustful of traditional advertising, said Mr. Atkin and Ms. Newman, who made a tandem presentation to the more than 500 conference participants.

Planners have to champion advertising that breaks the conventions of the category and breaks through the media clutter, Ms. Newman said, because conventional advertising ends up promoting the category's brand leader.

As an example, she noted Merkley's research found traditional ads emphasizing phone services helped AT&T Corp.'s recognition more than that of Merkley client BellSouth Telecommunications.

John Kearon, director of Brand Genetics, a London-based consultancy, stressed the importance of creating "mutants," brands and marketing that break with the established order. The successful mutants are eventually co-opted by the mass market and become the next stage of evolution, he said.


Account planning has matured in the U.S., speakers said, but the discipline still faces barriers, including the lack of coordination between account

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