NEW YORK: Yum! Brands, the owner of restaurant chains including Taco Bell and KFC, is driving progress by calling on the brainpower of a business unit which essentially functions as an in-house planning department.

Ken Muench, Chief Marketing Strategy Officer for Yum!, discussed this subject at the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Strategy Festival.

As the leader of a "hit squad" of seven strategists, Muench is charged with digging into the opportunities and obstacles facing the company's quick-service brands – from mobile commerce to developing new products.

"Essentially, Yum! has a planning department that's free to use," he reported. (For more details, read Warc's open-access report: How planners drive multi-brand business results at Yum! Brands.)

This arrangement follows on from the decision by Yum! to purchase Collider, a strategic consultancy co-founded by Muench, in 2015.

And having previously worked on the agency-side, Muench suggested that planners were put to better use solving tangible business problems, or "doing", rather than making a frequently modest impact on ad campaigns, or "saying".

"That's sort of a realisation that we've been having over time," he said. "There's a limited [impact on the] effectiveness of the advertising that planners can have."

Outlining the logic behind this assertion, Muench argued the best advertising tends to be distinctive – an objective typically achieved by creatives delivering cut-through communications.

Where planners can make the most significant impact, by contrast, is in ensuring a brand is genuinely relevant for its target audience – a role they are generally given on the client-side.

"I don't think that advertising is the best way to prove relevance … Because that advertising is mostly 'saying'. Advertising is, 'We have easy ordering and fast delivery,'" Muench said. "'Doing', on the other hand, is when you change the product.

"I've worked with clients all around the world, and clients love planners. It's like an extra brain: somebody that's totally dialled into all these consumer trends, that gets where the consumer's mind is at, that understands all these things."

Data sourced from Warc