12 December 2007

All about the King of Planning

"Advertising has many gurus, many professors, many geniuses, and many mavericks. But only one King.” So said the Delhi ad club invitation to hear Stephen King speak in 1992!

Who was he?

Stephen King was a genuinely original thinker. He began his career in JWT (J. Walter Thompson) in London in 1959, retired from the agency in 1988 and spent the next 4 yeas at WPP. In addition, he spent 7 years as a director of the Henley Centre and was a Visiting Professor of Marketing at the Cranfield School of Management. During his career, he pioneered an entirely new organizational structure to support his ideas and philosophy – the importance of a function called account planning and the role of the account planner in creating advertising. It was a structure that was copied by agencies around the world. Stephen died in February 2006, leaving a legacy of articles and books about marketing, advertising, research and brand communications written over a thirty year period, which have influenced advertising people around the world. He is remembered as a leading intellectual figure in the world of communications strategy.

What he did

Stephen King was the originator of the discipline of Account Planning – gave the advertising industry the thinking and the theory it needed, and the organizational structure that exists even today.
He saw account planners on a scale of grand strategists – intellectual, aim to see the big picture, are a little above the fray, and almost economists, to advert tweakers - who peer myopically at advertisements, justify creative work to skeptical clients and are almost qualitative researchers.
He created the Account Planners toolkit: “this manual contains J Walter Thompson’s views on how to plan the most effective advertising. This is what account planning is for; to get the most effective advertising.”
He gave JWT the underpinning of its reputation in being strong in strategy, doing the right thing for brands and building long term brand value.

Some of the tenets which defined JWT Planning and became part of its DNA

"Great planning is grounded creativity".
“Creative imagination subjected to critical control.”
“Planning is about learning and improvement, not proof and magic solutions.”
“Proof/data in not just about the fact that the advertising worked, but how and why it worked.”
“Work out the right problem to solve.”
“Be precise in the role of advertising.”

The principles that Stephen King set out are all the operating principles even today.

*Advertisements vs advertising
*Stimulus vs response: it’s not what advertising does to people but how people respond to advertising
*The role of advertising, and the scale of immediacy that he devised and the theory that advertisements can work at several points in the scale:
- direct (response)
- seek information(tell me more)
- relate to own needs, wants, desires ( what a good idea)
- recall satisfaction, reinforce, reorder (that reminds me)
- modify attitudes (really?)
- reinforce attitudes(i always knew I was right)
*What sort of research to do depends on which is the most important role for advertising
*Toolkit that spanned the planning cycle, consumer buying system, brand objective, unique brand personality, target group, target responses, role of advertising, choice of medi, creative brief as stimulus and the advertising idea
*Advertising must not only get the right response but also stimulate the maximum intensity of response.
*Long term effects can be harder to evaluate but maybe more valuable to the advertiser than short term effects and so must not be overlooked when setting the advertising budget. It can help to have a unique hold over the hearts and mind of consumers.
*Measuring added value and long term effect.
*Advertising budget setting and market modeling.
*Constant search for what is measurable and what is not, and the need to balance good data with judgement.

What Stephen King means to JWT Planning: Guy Murphy, Worldwide Planning Director, JWT

“Stephen King’s thinking forms a big part of the JWT brand of Planning that I want to pursue. Please read his work and enjoy his prescience and clarity.”
“I first read his work when I was a Trainee Account Planner at BMP, I quoted his thinking on brands to clients throughout my time at BBH, and now I find myself at JWT, where of course, the culture is steeped in his planning heritage, and my files are full of his writing.”

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