If creative folks are modern day Mad Men and Mad Women, what are modern day strategic planners? As the UK-born function turns 50 globally, we train the microscope on this mysterious, often misunderstood, breed of advertising professionals, to find out what it means to be an account planner in the digital era – one starkly different from the simpler times that prevailed when the discipline was born and developed.
I spoke to many experienced planners to better understand what the world looks like from their vantage point. The material I gathered is enough to run a 10-day mini series on our website afaqs.com, but alas, I could only manage to retain a fraction of each one’s opinion. To balance things out, I also spoke to several senior brand marketing executives to find out what it is they expect from their agency planners – (I clarified that I wasn’t referring to media planners and buyers) – and what the pain points in the client-planner relationship are.
There’s a chatter about the reinvention of planners. What might that vague statement mean? That’s what our cover story this issue tries to spell out. For one, it means strategists who tagged themselves as ‘TVC planners’ will need to hit refresh and embrace digital as the new space where their objects of interest – consumers of brands – dwell.
There’s also talk about the ocean of consumer insights, particularly about the Indian middle class, that movie makers, comedians, authors, bloggers and independent creative professionals are now interested in unearthing. Now, they’re all observing human behaviour and packaging it for the sake of entertainment. But isn’t it a matter of time before marketers tap into the works of these parallel insight miners and use their findings – research sounds a bit stilted, I admit! – to sell their wares? Some of the planners I spoke to scoffed at the idea, others said they’re happy to collaborate.