truth, lies and advertising: the art of account planning by j steel

In the past, I’ve been an AE, AD assistant, CW, and have even been on the demanding client side of advertising but I never thought I’d seize an opportunity as an account planner… Mainly because for me account planning has been the epitome of extensive research after research after research after… research – you get the picture (and because AP departments are non-existent in many agencies).  But my current job as an AP has proved to me that planning goes beyond “research”.  We cover everything from strategic planning to creative briefs.  Research is definitely a major task in our department, but our research consists of researching for the un-research-able things.  Confusing, I know.  But Jon Steel’s Truth, Lies and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning does a remarkable job of defining exactly what APs look for and how we come about our un-research-able things.

Advertising is a mean to a desired end, Steel says.  And good advertising isn’t leaving something to the audience’s imagination.  To achieve good advertising many ideas and efforts are contributed from various dimensions.  And the objective of account planning is to produce the best possible advertising to fulfill clients business objectives.  Each chapter consists of explanations of the responsibilities of AP integrated with stories and examples from ad agencies;  whether you’re in the ad industry or not, the book will definitely be intriguing.  A few chapters are dedicated to case studies, including campaigns for Polaroid, Cuervo, and how San Francisco-based GS&P created the famous “got milk?” campaign in 1993 for California Milk Processor Board.

After reading Steel’s book in just one setting, my mind must’ve been so inspired about “embracing the consumer” and “thinking subjectively” that it helped me create a product slogan for our current client.  The book has given me another reason to why I do what I do. Perhaps this bias has made the book more favorable but I definitely recommend it to anybody who finds advertising fun and interesting.

“We don’t ask consumers what they want.  They do not know.  Instead, we apply our brain power to what they need and will want, and make sure we’re there, ready.” – Sony

dee’s recommendation: 4/5