There's been a lot of ink on the role of the advertising and marketing account planner, and with so much focus on digital and social today, this role is increasingly becoming crucial to the change that is happening in the landscape today : the huge paradigm shift from one way advertising to true engagement, from monolog to dialog.
Is the planner an unique beast? Which side of the fence does he play on? At the agency, she is a strategic consultant who helps route the client's (brands') communications strategies. So he is a client-consumer-agency connector. Ideally, she is an expert at understanding how communication content and media interact and intersect to deliver, to engage with the consumer. Some call this connection planning, some channel planning. It is strategic planning, whichever name you give to the rose.
His main tool is research. Her main output is insight. The currency the planner has in his/her wallet is ideas. It's about using data (in digital, its all data), turning that into meaningful insight and helping then convert that into effective communications. It's ideas. Ideas that are different but that resonate. Ideas that are focused but unbound from tradition and same-old, same-old. Ideas that are culturally sensitive and market realistic. It is focus and broad vision at the same time.
If you're going for heart and mind, for top-of-mind or any other part of the human action-reaction body collective, the planner's role is about being able to define the road signs so that creatives can deliver on simplicity and common sense – in the truths that lie hidden in everyday – so that the message is truthful but interesting (yes, that's a conundrum). It is persuasion.
The planner is a coach, a policeman, a conjurer. A manager of process, a timekeeper, a counselor. A lot of ad professionals believe that every account or client manager is a planner de facto. But they forget the creative side inspirational challenges that the real planner faces. The balancing act between data, insight, demographics and photoshop. The tradeoffs between Likes and brand guidelines. It is magic.
I haven't been around in this market long enough to have a little black book of names and numbers of planners who are all of the above. A handful, I know. One is an old hand at this. The other one is fresh, brimming with ideas and rearing to be the beast. Nancy Khurana, take a bow. You are trending. And the one guy who's the rock? The Original? Tahaab Rais. #Respect. Tahaab is legend. Then there are two more. George Giessen. Don't stand up, you can do rabbits and hats, sitting down and blindfolded. Nadine Matar? I'm told it is the genes. I think it's the pure passion.
Here's to the best in breed...