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Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning

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Account planning exists for the sole purpose of creating advertising that truly connects with consumers. While many in the industry are still dissecting consumer behavior, extrapolating demographic trends, developing complex behavioral models, and measuring Pavlovian salivary responses, Steel advocates an approach to consumer research that is based on simplicity, common se Account planning exists for the sole purpose of creating advertising that truly connects with consumers. While many in the industry are still dissecting consumer behavior, extrapolating demographic trends, developing complex behavioral models, and measuring Pavlovian salivary responses, Steel advocates an approach to consumer research that is based on simplicity, common sense, and creativity--an approach that gains access to consumers' hearts and minds, develops ongoing relationships with them, and, most important, embraces them as partners in the process of developing and advertising. A witty, erudite raconteur and teacher, Steel describes how successful account planners work in partnership with clients, consumer, and agency creatives. He criticizes research practices that, far from creating relationships, drive a wedge between agencies and the people they aim to persuade; he suggests new ways of approaching research to cut through the BS and get people to show their true selves; and he shows how the right research, when translated into a motivating and inspiring brief, can be the catalyst for great creative ideas. He draws upon his own experiences and those of colleagues in the United States and abroad to illustrate those points, and includes examples of some of the most successful campaigns in recent years, including Polaroid, Norwegian Cruise Line, Porsche, Isuzu, "got milk?" and others. The message of this book is that well-thought-out account planning results in better, more effective marketing and advertising for both agencies and clients. And also makes an evening in front of the television easier to bear for the population at large.


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Account planning exists for the sole purpose of creating advertising that truly connects with consumers. While many in the industry are still dissecting consumer behavior, extrapolating demographic trends, developing complex behavioral models, and measuring Pavlovian salivary responses, Steel advocates an approach to consumer research that is based on simplicity, common se Account planning exists for the sole purpose of creating advertising that truly connects with consumers. While many in the industry are still dissecting consumer behavior, extrapolating demographic trends, developing complex behavioral models, and measuring Pavlovian salivary responses, Steel advocates an approach to consumer research that is based on simplicity, common sense, and creativity--an approach that gains access to consumers' hearts and minds, develops ongoing relationships with them, and, most important, embraces them as partners in the process of developing and advertising. A witty, erudite raconteur and teacher, Steel describes how successful account planners work in partnership with clients, consumer, and agency creatives. He criticizes research practices that, far from creating relationships, drive a wedge between agencies and the people they aim to persuade; he suggests new ways of approaching research to cut through the BS and get people to show their true selves; and he shows how the right research, when translated into a motivating and inspiring brief, can be the catalyst for great creative ideas. He draws upon his own experiences and those of colleagues in the United States and abroad to illustrate those points, and includes examples of some of the most successful campaigns in recent years, including Polaroid, Norwegian Cruise Line, Porsche, Isuzu, "got milk?" and others. The message of this book is that well-thought-out account planning results in better, more effective marketing and advertising for both agencies and clients. And also makes an evening in front of the television easier to bear for the population at large.

30 review for Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    There are about a billions books like this, but each one that makes it on a respectable list usually has a nugget or two. There were a couple gems in here that had me pausing and starting out the window, thinking about my job. That's enough.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Jao

    Necessary reading for planners

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrei

    Memorable case studies. Re-reading this will be great.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Raghuram C

    Why read this? The answer is simple. If you plan to get into, or plan to do some meaningful work in advertising, this book actually can help.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette

    Literally put me to sleep several times. Some good points/takeaways but did not need to be a full book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sunitha Pai

    This was a page turner! Rarely, if ever, you can call a book on advertising research that..This was a British book and I found it easy to read, the language was impeccable. The book takes a commonsensical approach rather than spout rules of advertising and account planning like most books of the time are wont to do.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    as always, wonderful in this contemporary with no fantastic or elements but a surprise in the ending!

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Gambill

    Account Planners have a unique viewpoint of the customer's relationship to advertising. Steel's book highlights how some of the best campaigns in modern advertising history, such as Got Milk, needed creative insights to come to fruition. He also explains the intricate job of moderating focus groups to get the necessary information to elevate the campaign.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Grubb

    No one cares about your brand. I think that's the key message from this book, a message that anyone who sells (directly or otherwise) things for a living needs to bear in mind. Most of your customers don't care about your ads or your product's glorious features. Most of them merely have needs or desires they wish to satisfy, but this doesn't stop companies from feeling that their product or service is somehow "special." The key message is that your customers aren't loyal to you by default; in ad No one cares about your brand. I think that's the key message from this book, a message that anyone who sells (directly or otherwise) things for a living needs to bear in mind. Most of your customers don't care about your ads or your product's glorious features. Most of them merely have needs or desires they wish to satisfy, but this doesn't stop companies from feeling that their product or service is somehow "special." The key message is that your customers aren't loyal to you by default; in advertising, it's your job to make sure that whatever you produce is relevant and persuasive to your customer. That's it. And that's the job of an account planner (e.g. "strategist"). Jon Steel does a great job describing the role and value of account planners within an advertising agency. They provide the critical voice of the consumer in the advertising process. Without a planner, campaigns run the risk of being neutered by clients or sent off scope by over-zealous creatives. If I have one criticism of this book, it's that it can be a little long in places where it doesn't need to be, but his case studies and examples are excellent illustrations of his main concepts, particularly the final chapter about the famous "Got Milk?" campaign? Recommended for anyone in advertising or marketing because at the end of the day, an advertisers job isn't to enhance the image of the brand, it's to get people to buy it (changing behaviors).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bucket

    Steel takes a very tongue-in-cheek approach to describing account planning and its role in advertising. He makes the case for account planning - basically it's important role in executing and distilling the right type of research into key goals, audience details, and messages that can inform and spark creative work. As I read Steel's book, I looked at it more through a branding lens than an advertising lens since that has more relevance for me. I found his ideas very familiar from the other resea Steel takes a very tongue-in-cheek approach to describing account planning and its role in advertising. He makes the case for account planning - basically it's important role in executing and distilling the right type of research into key goals, audience details, and messages that can inform and spark creative work. As I read Steel's book, I looked at it more through a branding lens than an advertising lens since that has more relevance for me. I found his ideas very familiar from the other research I've been doing (but perhaps he's more of a pioneer than it seems - after all, this book was first published in 1998). Some of his ideas and advice seem a little old-fashioned or strange in light of all that has changed since the late 90s, but for the most part this book is still both relevant and fun to read. In particular, Steel's thoughts on how research can go wrong and produce completely false results, and also his description of how to create and what to include in a creative brief are spot-on and very helpful. I also like one method he mentioned for simplifying language: pretend your explaining to a young child what a company or brand is all about. Themes: advertising, research, communication, marketing, branding, creative work, case studies

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gayatri Sriram

    There's a lot to be learnt in the 250 or so pages of this book, but there is much more to be "un-learnt" as well. I don't know about the rest of the world, but Indians definitely take advertising way too seriously. "Learnings" of one campaign are unabashedly applied to every other clients brief, and case studies become biblical sources of guaranteed success. Much of it, as a result, is predictable. We may be avoiding a lot of heartache later on because of all these self imposed "rules", but we'r There's a lot to be learnt in the 250 or so pages of this book, but there is much more to be "un-learnt" as well. I don't know about the rest of the world, but Indians definitely take advertising way too seriously. "Learnings" of one campaign are unabashedly applied to every other clients brief, and case studies become biblical sources of guaranteed success. Much of it, as a result, is predictable. We may be avoiding a lot of heartache later on because of all these self imposed "rules", but we're probably also missing out. I'm guilty of this as much as the next ad professional, and this book was a rude awakening of sorts. The book is generously strewn with campaigns from Steele's career. Some are very interesting despite being from decades ago. The famed "got milk" campaign is featured at length in one entire chapter, and that could have been the highlight of the book, if it weren't for some other equally engrossing campaigns. All in all, it's a book planners are always told to read, but I'd recommend client servicing, specially account directors to definitely pick up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This is a great foundational book for Account Planning. Jon Steel incorporates a lot of meaningful insights and examples from his past experience. I think this book goes beyond being useful to planners; it also illustrates what an ad agency should be like in order to build successful campaigns and ultimately, client relationships. Even though much has changed in advertising since the book's 1998 publication date, its content is still relevant and applicable to today's advertising strategies. Def This is a great foundational book for Account Planning. Jon Steel incorporates a lot of meaningful insights and examples from his past experience. I think this book goes beyond being useful to planners; it also illustrates what an ad agency should be like in order to build successful campaigns and ultimately, client relationships. Even though much has changed in advertising since the book's 1998 publication date, its content is still relevant and applicable to today's advertising strategies. Definitely an awesome book to use for reference!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kunal

    Largely, this book gave a glimpse into the work which goes into understanding the persona and psyche of the target group. Once this foundation is built , it takes seconds to come up with creative ideas. This book is about the part of iceberg we dont get to see. Key takeaways: 1] Identify the emotions/reactions which are naturally associated with a product. Then use that. No need to re-invent the wheel. [Cuervo Case Study] 2]Giving a glimpse into what will happen if the product ceased to exist alt Largely, this book gave a glimpse into the work which goes into understanding the persona and psyche of the target group. Once this foundation is built , it takes seconds to come up with creative ideas. This book is about the part of iceberg we dont get to see. Key takeaways: 1] Identify the emotions/reactions which are naturally associated with a product. Then use that. No need to re-invent the wheel. [Cuervo Case Study] 2]Giving a glimpse into what will happen if the product ceased to exist altogether, proved to be an effective ad strategy. [Got Milk Campaign]

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gopal

    For all the account planning thing this book is extolled, it's the ad campaigns which drew me in. Campaign case histories namely Polaroid, Foster Farms & Got Milk will make you run to the author & give him a hug. Barring the high degree of dismissiveness with which he regards the discipline of market research, the book is a must read for all advertising & marketing enthusiasts. For all the account planning thing this book is extolled, it's the ad campaigns which drew me in. Campaign case histories namely Polaroid, Foster Farms & Got Milk will make you run to the author & give him a hug. Barring the high degree of dismissiveness with which he regards the discipline of market research, the book is a must read for all advertising & marketing enthusiasts.

  15. 4 out of 5

    ryan

    people always ask me what I do. they should read this book. its interesting and goes beyond just the advertising world. 4 or 5 case studies including the planning behind the got milk campaign. Jon Steel's a bad ass.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    "...being out of it has two main advantages. It allows me to see things that may be so familiar to a native that they have become invisible. It also allows others to see me as someone who needs to be educated."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    Great introduction to account planning, giving you the history behind why the profession was established. Conversational, tactile knowledge. Pay attention to how the creative brief was born and how it has evolved today in agencies striving to disrupt the silos.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Luis Garrido

    Ideas for advertising and account planning that were at least 10 if not 20 years ahead of their time. Literally. Brilliantly and entertainingly written, this book provides smart ideas for how to understand and connect with consumers in a meaningful, emotional, and empathetic way.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Great book that gives you an overhead look at Account Planning, the process of creating a creative brief, and the process that went into creating a few really great ad campaigns. Definitely recommended - this is a classic anyone in advertising or marketing should read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Reema RP

    It's a classic if you're looking into planning, like I am. However, there are many dated examples and I would recommend only reading up to Chapter 5 as the rest of the book is case examples. It's best to take away big picture points.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    This book is a door that has opened to give you a glimpse into the creative minds that are the world's best planners. Planning isn't just research, it's the creative use, interpretation, and gathering of that research. Now I only wish there was a detailed outline of how he goes from point A to B!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jazreen

    Definitely a recommended book for anybody who wants to know about how ads are made from ideas or insights. A good book to start with if you are an advertising student, or planning to work in the industry.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Isaiah Fapuro

    I really enjoyed this book (and I still want to be a planner, which I suppose is good for me!) My main take away is asking the right questions, and not being afraid to challenge existing ideas, which is my main issue at the moment.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex Devero

    An account planner helps develop great advertising by working to understand the consumer’s needs and communicating those to the agency’s creative team as well as the client. This important role is all about creating a meaningful message and a human connection.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joey Rath

    As others said, great introductory book to the world of account planning. I enjoyed reading this when I transitioned to a new job in account planning. It gave me new perspectives and considerations which helped me establish and understand in my role within the agency.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Missy

    I liked it, very informative. I do not work in advertising. I have to return this book to my friend who does work in advertising but I sort of want to keep it....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nick Tillman

    Great way to get some background in the way account planning works. Very useful for anyone who needs to do any sort of consumer research.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chip Miller

    Possibly still the best Account Planning handbook in the ad business. This book will benefit anyone working with creative/artistic/content-providers.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    This was a very informative book on what account planning means and enlightens you on whether or not this is a career path for you. Easy to read and has some amazing examples.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    2nd best theory and practice adbook ever written - 2nd only to Ogilvy. Taught me what account planning was really about - and its importance.

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