Planning @50: What is its future?

This article is part of a series of articles marking the 50th birthday of planning. Read more.

In 1968, the advertising industry responded to a new cultural landscape with the introduction of account planning. Fifty years on, I believe that, once again, we are facing a new social and cultural landscape and once again we need a major strategic innovation to ensure that planning as a discipline modernises effectively and operates once again as the strategic lifeblood that our industry so desperately needs.

As a planner, I look at the state of my discipline and I am confused. I talk to clients and I hear repeatedly how much they value strong strategic counsel from planners and that they are willing to pay for that counsel and are often attracted by the idea, if not the reality, of management consultants. In this new fast-paced, noisy and confusing world filled with alternate facts and fake news, truth matters for brands and businesses more than ever. The best brands are built on truths. The best advertising planners have always been, and will continue to be, great sense-makers and meaning-makers. The myth that clients will not pay for strategy is simply that a myth. What clients are quite rightly reluctant to pay for are planners that operate as creative fluffers simply preparing the way for the great creative reveal. Clients are also, quite rightly, loathe to pay for planning when agencies have been so quick to give it away.