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Account planning in Scottish advertising agencies: a discipline in transition

Crosier, Keith and Gilmore, Charlotte and Grant, Ian C. (2003) Account planning in Scottish advertising agencies: a discipline in transition. Journal of Marketing Communications, 9 (1). pp. 1-15. ISSN 1352-7266

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Over 35 years the modus operandi of 'account planning' has changed significantly while the rationale has remained the same: to temper intuition with analysis. The aim of this study was to define those changes, investigate possible causes and predict future developments. Scotland was chosen as the fieldwork location. The findings are based on face-to-face interviews in mid-2001 in 24 large and small advertising agencies. This sample included all but four of the Scottish total. The respondents were individuals who either had a specific account planning remit or were senior managers who considered it to be one of their responsibilities. Analysis of transcripts of the interviews suggested four key factors determining how the principle is converted into practice and four distinct models of the account planner's role in the process. It also found that the expected 'conflict' between creative teams and those responsible for strategic planning was in fact seen as productive 'tension' and that pragmatic collaboration was feasible. However, there was conflict with the parallel discipline of media planning. Two future scenarios are discussed and the conclusion drawn that the discipline needs to pay as much attention to planning survival strategies for itself as it does to planning campaign strategies for its clients. The findings and conclusions of a small-scale study are not necessarily generalizable, even based on a virtual census, but do offer a new perspective on a literature that generally deals with practice among large agencies in a handful of world 'capitals' of the discipline.