Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just in case you haven't read this already

This is a classic and a must read for all Account Planners. So, if you're just starting out and haven't read this yet, click on the link and buy a copy now. Truth, Lies and Advertising : The Art of Account Planning by Jon Steel


  1. Excellent Introduction But Too Consumer Focused

    Without a doubt, this is the definitive book on the art of account planning. Having been an account planner myself, I can assure you that no other book comes close in terms of providing 1) an overview of the discipline 2) a realistic account of how planning functions in everday situations within the agency 3) is done in an extremely readable and clear format unlike many other advertising strategy/research books which are more strategic textbook. Steel's book reads like a biography which is a testament to his skill as a writer and as a planner.

    However, I do have a few issues with this book in that it places too much emphasis on the power of the consumer in the planning process. I have known many non-planners who have read this book and come away with the idea that everything the consumer says and does is the word of God and planning is nothing more than a glorified consumer tape recorder. This in turn makes the planner's job more difficult in some respects as they in turn must justify all of their work with,"the consumer said this." Often, agency personal new to planning desperately want to strictly classify this multi-faceted discipline and often put it in in a smaller box (consumer) than it is suited for (incidentally, this often says something about the quality or lack thereof of those who you are working with).

    The reality (for me anyway) is that account planning encompases many different skills and functions of which listening and interpreting what the consumer says is just one. Consumers are only a rear view mirror in that they can tell you what happened in the past but cannot predict the future. They are also extremely literal and what they say is not always what they mean or feel which is why instinct (a dirty word in many advertising circles) is so essential. Many great brands and briefs utliize a strong point of view rather than direct and literal consumer insight which is counter to the case studies that Steel uses to explain the 'planning process.'

    Overall, this is an excellent 'introduction' into account planning. In a sense, the dilema that this book creates though, is also why planning is such a wonderful discipline. A planner's job cannot be easily classified in a sentence because there are so many diverse skills required of a first-rate planner.

  2. Thomas - how are you? get in touch, your long lost intern; Duncan. duncancjamesatgmaildotcom