Most agency staff, including some account executives, harbor doubts about the usefulness of account planners, believes Jeff Goodby, co-chairman and creative director of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Addressing this week’s American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Account Planning Conference in Florida, Goodby referred to a GSP internal survey that polled staff about the efficacy of the account planning function. It was not stated whether the study was weighted to take account of internal factions.

According to Goodby, planners appear to be losing their way, spending too much time with the client and not enough time guiding creatives. Nor, he complained, are they sufficiently involved in the creative process.

“I heard planners talk about being disenfranchised from ideas and people complaining that planners took the instinct out of advertising,” Goodby told his audience. “All this was really bad. It seems unlikely that this is just happening at my agency. We are one of the dyed-in-the-wool planning agencies.”

But account planners need not seek a convenient window-ledge just yet. Account planning can be the “sexy Viagra of advertising: You get there first,” Goodby soothed. With this in mind, he offered some advice to the unhappy breed.

"Be less confrontational. Planners shouldn’t decide whether the work is right or wrong; creatives hate absolutism and truth. There is a perception that we have to separate dead campaigns from live ones. Guide, don't judge. Planning is not an end, it's a means to an end.”

And the ultimate Goodby guidelines? Kick the habit of focus groups and dream up something more insightful. And rebrand the arcane art in favour of something sexier.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff