Report From Account Planning Conference

GOODBY: ADVERTISING ACCOUNT PLANNERS ARE LOST

Internal Agency Survey Finds Wide Doubt About Their Effectiveness

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (AdAge.com) -- The profession of advertising account planning is in the midst of a deep crisis and could soon become irrelevant, said Jeff
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Goodby, co-chairman and creative director of Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Survey
In remarks delivered today at the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Account Planning Conference, in Boca Raton, Fla., Mr. Goodby said his agency had conducted an internal survey that found most staff members, including some account executives, had doubts about the usefulness of account planners.

Mr. Goodby, who helped create and build one of the best account planning departments in the agency field, said planners seem to be losing their way, spending too much time with the client and not enough time guiding creatives.

The creative process
Mr. Goodby complained that account planners were not sufficiently involved in the creative process. "I heard planners talk about being disenfranchised from ideas and people complaining that planners took the instinct out of advertising," Mr. Goodby said. "All this was really bad. It seems unlikely that this is just happening at my agency. We are one of the dyed-in-the-wool planning agencies."

While Mr. Goodby admitted that working with creatives was no easy task, he suggested account planners should try and change their demeanor. "Be less confrontational. Planners shouldn't decide whether the work is right or wrong; creatives hate absolutism and truth. There is a perception that we have to separate dead campaigns from live ones. Guide, don't judge. Planning is not an end, it's a means to an end."

The 'Viagra' of advertising
Offering account planners some hope of a future, he lifted the tone slightly, saying that planning can be the "sexy Viagra of advertising: You get there first."

He did issue two more recommendations to encourage improvements. He pleaded with planners to kick the habit of focus groups and come up with something more insightful, and suggested that planners seek a change of moniker.

Said Mr. Goodby: "We have to get this thing going again before it hits the ground."

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