A noted Account Planner Russell Davies interviews a prominent Account Planner named Jon Steel, author of Truth, Lies in Advertising and Perfect Pitch.
Some takeaways include:
How do you make effective presentations? Draw from personal anecdotes and experiences to make complicated issues easier to digest. How the client relates to you as an individual is very important. By opening up, and allowing yourself to share, it reduces the distance between you and audience, and it likely to creates and increases trust.
How do you start to prepare a presentation? Being well-prepared is key. Prepare the presentation in a small group, anticipate the audience needs. Read in my previous post about the importance of being proactive to anticipate and identify the needs of the audience in this earlier post.
Core skills for planners include: curious minds; not satisfied with the first solution; effective writers; personable and are comfortable to talk to anyone from executives to laborers.
One of Steel’s criticisms include Agencies are not training enough planners. They want to hire experienced planners from elsewhere, thus, shrinking the pool of fresh talent. Even some client-side marketers understand the importance of planning, and employ planners.
What was Jon Steel’s proudest project? The “Got Milk?” and “Chevys Mexican Restaurant campaigns. Chevys is a Northern California Mexican restaurant chain that ran the “Freshest food with the freshest advertising” ad campaign. The restaurant’s mission was that all ingredients needed to be fresh, and had the strict guidelines to back this mission. As a result, the ad campaign focused on the idea that the restaurant’s ads had to be fresh and be made each day.
Steel criticizes that agencies that spin-off their media divisions. Media planners need to exist. Many creative projects would not have been possible without them including the award-winning Chevys Mexican Restaurant ad campaign.
When is account planning at its purest? During the advertising pitch, because clients are nitpicking creative briefs. Pitches energizes the ad agency by involving everyone, while depending a strong small group focused on the pitch idea. How does this work? An example was during the pitch for Nikon, there was a forest fire in Northern California. Drawing from the inspiration that if there was one thing to be saved from the forest fire, what would it be? The ad campaign centered on if there was one photo that had to be saved, what would it be and why? This involved the entire agency where everyone submitted their photo entries, and this became the ad campaign.
How did Jon Steel decide which clients to pitch? It was based on whether ad agency likes the client and their business. Did the client’s brand have a place in the world? Did the client place great importance in advertising? In Perfect Pitch, he mentioned his experience in pitching for the Hewlett Packard business. Initially, Steel’s agency, Goodby & Silverstein rejected working on HP’s business. In fact, HP had to present to Goodby & Silverstein why HP is the right client. Today, HP is the largest account for G&S.
Jon Steel is now working on a third book, which is a novel. Does writing this novel make him better at his job? He says that his writing skills improved, while broadening his experiences and perspectives.
Do Junior Planners and young people have broad interests ? Steel says no. Some of the job applications to the WPP Fellowship Program forms were disappointing, punctuation and creativity was lacking. The finalists for the WPP Fellowship Program have traveled, spoke multiple languages, and had a wide breadth of interests. Many planners need to have their minds stretched creativity.
In the beginning of Jon Steel’s career, he was rejected by several agencies, including WPP, where he is now working as the director of the WPP fellowship program and other special projects. He persevered and became very successful in as a planner.