One of the main contributors to the excellent book "How To Plan Advertising" published by the UK APG made an interesting comment in Chaper 1. The Planning Context. She felt concerned that a number of [younger] planners did not know about the origin of planning in the UK, the circumstances and the pioneers. She sensed a loss for the [young] planners and to the profession to the detriment of the future and that planning's history should never be taken for granted.
[Edited by Alan Cooper. Published by Continuum in association with the UK Account Planning Group]

It is hoped that the reader will find some inspiration and value from this story about the origin of account planning in Australia at the same time as it was invented and pioneered in the UK. Having worked as a research specialist with the marketing teams of both the Unilever group and the Reckitt & Colman group and both groups' many successful brands, and having worked in ad agencies in account service-writer and media management roles, the author's version of the account planning role was extremely comprehensive. It was not only vital in uncovering opportunities and problems to help guide campaign and program development, it was also concerned with all aspects of brand health, including, for example, formulation, packaging, corporate identity and other marketing aspects - drawing on skills and experience that not all planners possess.

Two of the early highly successful planning case studies are included in the excellent marketing publication 'Advertising and Promotion - Communicating Brands' [pages 17 and 103] by Chris Hackley, Phd, Professor of Marketing, School of Management, Royal Holloway University of London and an international commentator on the ad agency account planning role.

Here is a gripping saga of the origin of the ad agency account planning role in the Southern Hemisphere and the Asia-Pacific region by David Brent. A gutsy, no-holds-barred account of the invention and launch of the ad agency planning role in Australia and its subsequent enormous success. Valuable case studies for ad agencies and advertisers, including insights into award-winning campaigns.

Famous advertising authors Al Ries and Jack Trout popularised the connection between 'marketing' and 'warfare' and emphasized the similarities between positioning and military strategy. Their book - "Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind" - lent further emphasis to this concept.

There is no doubt that marketing is commercial warfare and involves all the essentials required in winning battles. The marketing person needs sound intelligence to help formulate successful plans which win the day.

And advertising and related activities [marketing communications] play a vital role in the marketing mix - the battle plan. The ad agency must develop a flow of on-going intelligence from the market place [the consumers] which helps to enhance fresh, relevant creative thinking and ideas, all contributing to strengthen the performance of the client's products or services in the market place.

The account planning role was invented and successfully launched by David Brent in a Sydney advertising agency in Australia in 1966. It was also independently invented and launched by Stanley Pollitt and Stephen King in the UK in 1967 and 1968.

The motivations for inventing the role in the UK and Australia were identical and quite different at the same time with a quite different set of experiences in each case. This story explains why.

The author's highly professional approach to the innovative new planning role often made the vital difference between failure and success. This was a time when the dramatic arrival of the ad agency planning role and its huge success changed the rules of the game forever.

A fascinating account of account planning with enduring principles for today's ad agencies and advertisers, including:

The Inspiration: How, following prior counter-insurgency combat intelligence in Asia, the years with Unilever's big, powerful and innovative market research division and marketing teams working on Unilever's many successful brands while pioneering new techniques [which others, including Milward Brown, later followed] provided the inspiration for the revolutionary new role.

Defeating an Iconic UK 'Global' Food Brand: Dynamic planning and counsel to the client led to a winning branding and campaign strategy that left Cadbury and its big multi-national ad agency floundering and forced Cadbury to pull the brand out of the market.

Refusal to Run a Client's Campaign - the Tough Track: Yes, refusal and demonstrating to the client why - with research - and then finding the winning solution, saving the business and laying building blocks for a profitable future relationship.

Beating the Big Multi-nationals for a Blue-Chip Petroleum Account: With a presentation outlining the strengths and benefits of the planning role. Then laying the foundations for the disciplines of account planning to provide top rate professional service and inspirational award winning campaigns.

Pin-pointing the Reasons for a Beer Brand's Decline: Then providing the creative team with investigative support and back-up for its spectacular, intuitive campaign and new packaging development. A Clio-winning campaign which won world acclaim.

Later Failures for the Beer Brand Provided a Lesson: When the brewer's business later moved to another agency - why the lack of a skilled planning expert led to failures.

Planning Disciplines Helped Develop a New Corporate Identity: The planner uncovered an unrealized opportunity and a new corporate identity was established with new packaging to reflect the unique values of the spectacular Clio-winning, world best campaign.

Re-Positioning a Brand - for Market Leadership: A long-entrenched brand with a mediocre track record was transformed into a market leader with huge sales success when research pin-pointed the problems and a new corporate identity, new packaging and a new campaign transformed the brand.

A New Brand Turned a Negative into a Positive to Achieve Leadership: When research revealed an attitude problem the planner recommended a strategy which eschewed a product benefit strategy and advocated an alliance strategy. Massive sales response rocketed the brand to instant market leadership.

Refusal to Accept a Client's Market Viewpoint Resulted in a New Market Segment: When the client's sales department saw no future in a small market window of opportunity the planner showed a different view to the CEO and the company wasted no time entering a profitable new market segment.

A First-Ever Major Market Research Study Revealed an Unknown Opportunity: After much discussion the client finally agreed to its first major U & A study of its market. One of the client's neglected brands revealed an unknown potential. When sound marketing planning was brought to bear for the brand it produced surprising profits.

A Spectacular Cola Campaign which Dented Coca-Cola's Share: The brand was ready to attack the market leader and take serious market share. Then corporate events changed the path of history and a unique opportunity was lost.

Counseling a Client Not to Enter a Market: A client appreciated an honest appraisal and advice not to risk big money in a highly competitive market.

Counseling a Client to Cut His Losses and Withdraw his Brand: After research revealed deep-seated problems for the brand, the planner recommended to a surprised client that he cease advertising, withdraw the brand from the market and cut his losses. The agency was rewarded with the appointment to all the client's other main brands.

These are some of the highlights of the revolutionary planning role and why it was such a success and helped to build the fortunes of the ad agency and its clients.

NOTE: See special candid addition at end of AUTHOR

Who should view this valuable storehouse of experience and case histories:

ad agency chiefs

ad agency planners

other key ad agency personnel

company chief executives

marketing managers

market researchers

public relations companies

promotions companies

organization communication executives

marketing & advertising journalists

students of marketing &advertising

libraries and institutions


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