Planning @50: What is its future?

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

Stephen King's 'big idea'

One day early in April l968, I found myself at 40 Berkeley Square for an appointment with someone called Stephen King. I had heard that J. Walter Thompson was looking for a researcher to set up a creative research unit and since I had recently come from Leo Burnett in Chicago (leaders in advertising research of all kinds), I thought this might just be the job for me. It was.

During the course of the interview, Stephen whipped out a document describing his Big Idea (Stephen never did anything without a carefully constructed plan) and took me through it, showing me where creative research fitted in. His Big Idea would eventually be known as account planning.

Several different factors contributed to the development of account planning. An important one was the unique structure and culture of JWT at that period. The agency was, by far, the biggest in London at least 1,000 souls. Significantly, it had a marketing department of some 40 people who were employed to do the marketing for clients who either had only limited marketing skills (Rowntree Mackintosh) or none at all, such as various commodity organisations like the Butter Council.