A History of Planning in 50 Objects

We’re going to source 50 plus objects that represent planning over the years, ideally one for each year if that is possible.

They have to be actual objects, not concepts; but anything you can photograph should count.  U-matic machines, copies of Sharp Stick and trophies all count.  The more culturally and strategically relevant they are the better; humour is not discouraged.  

 
(All contributions will be attributed to the nominee).

1959

The original How Brands Grow

Original paper published by Andrew Ehrenberg, establishing the central principles popularised over fifty years later by Byron Sharp. Remarkable not only for the fact that it was there all along (but densely mathematical), but also that it was published in a statistical not market research journal.

Adrian Langford

Planning Director at J Walter Thompson

1960

Soap Wars, fought on emotion

It was my first Laundry focus group. A room divided by brands: Ariel, claimed by those who wanted performance, certainty; Persil, by the middle-class-dreamers, thinking of muddy children returning from a suburban garden. 40+ years of constructed meaning. Built by insight & advertising. A planner's text book brought to life.

Matt Gladstone

Planning Partner at Grey London

1963

Way out projective tasks Peter Cooper and CRAM

The adoption of discussion groups by planners to develop advertising spawned a research industry. But there were always high end practitioners who pushed the envelope big time. Chief among them was Peter Cooper founder of CRAM. Respondents in his groups modelled clay (John Major election 1992, made psycho drawings Guinness 1985 and described dairy brands in terms of what it would be like if it were a breast 1983. Penises and vaginas loomed large in his debriefs. Planners had to turn these kind of debrief into ad briefs! Peter WAS brilliant and inspired ground breaking work

John Griffiths

CEO Founder at Planning Above & Beyond

1967

A Pint

How many briefs, ideas or debates about the effectiveness of pre-testing have started and been fuelled by a pint (or three)? It's had its place at the heart of the advertising community since the beginning, bringing people together to spark creativity - and, occasionally, pulling people apart.

Charlie Brenninkmeijer

Senior Planner at Grey London

1969

The TGI Survey from Kantar

I have a deep-seated love TGI. Whether offline or online – it’s a magnificent beast that has been instrumental in helping me get to grips with understanding consumers (and for pulling the odd useful stat on how many pints a week people drink).

Anna Thairs

Planner at Grey London

1970

The Philips audio cassette - used once then stored for 5 years

The Philips audio cassette was the default way qualitative data was captured, and the final arbiter of what it meant; complete with hesitations and shifts in the emotional climate of the participants. On an early digital audio editing course researchers were shown how to edit mp3 files to cut out those pesky silences and make a great audio quote for PowerPoint. An eminent researcher protested. Don’t cut the silences. That’s the most important bit!

John Griffiths

CEO Founder at Planning Above & Beyond

1970

Umatic Video Recorder

Creative research jump started the qualitative research industry. Animatics or keyframes with a soundtrack was the closest way to convey the idea behind a TV script. The planners carried these monsters into living rooms to test advertising ideas. At BMP the argument ran that women couldn’t be planners because they couldn’t heft the Umatic off trains and taxis. Till Jane Newman proved them wrong.

John Griffiths

CEO Founder at Planning Above & Beyond

1971

What is a brand?

The paper, written by Stephen King in 1971, is the most definitive explanation of what our industry is here to do: build the long-term value of brands. In it, he highlights the importance of knowledge and commercial understanding, as well as long-term thinking, to create truly effective work for our Clients.

J. Walter Thompson

1973

First application of planning outside advertising

Applying planning thinking outside of advertising came only 5 years after its founding. Using hand compiled statistics typed by his wife, Peter Jones developed a parallel business while at BMP to use planning thinking to determine which horses from which stables on which race courses could beat the odds. BMP was always a betting agency. One graduate trainee (also a chess prodigy) was expected to pick the best runners of the day before starting his day job! Peter Jones claims that the Trainer’s Record issued annually for many years was the first ever book about account planning.

John Griffiths

CEO Founder at Planning Above & Beyond

1974

Planning Guide

Created especially for Planners at JWT, Stephen King produced a guide to encourage an innovative approach to Advertising Planning. It was more than just a set of procedures to follow, it stimulated imagination and creativity too.

J. Walter Thompson

1974

Testing To Destruction

There’s some debate around including books, but this slim tract is the mother lode on creative development research. The account of a woman’s random walk towards buying floor cleaner will leave your neat customer journey in shreds. Over forty years on it’s more relevant than ever.

Adrian Langford

Planning Director at J Walter Thompson

1975

Electronic Calculator (Casio 121-F)

In the pre-spreadsheet 1970s, every planner’s constant companion: for looking at patterns in data from Nielsen and TCA, Usage and Attitude Studies, calculating averages, percentages, sales per point of distribution, graphing it all (with graph paper, pencil and ruler), and of course adding up your expenses...

Paul Feldwick

Consultant and Author

1977

The humble sticky note

One of the most helpful pieces of advice I’ve been given is to write out your killer strategic points on sticky notes, and then rearrange them to help find the most effective narrative. I don’t think I’ve seen a planning department not covered in flouro pink and orange.

Anna Thairs

Planner at Grey London

1980

Advertising Works – the first volume

Edited by Simon Broadbent, with an introduction by Stephen King, these were the first truly rigorous published case studies demonstrating the real business results of advertising. A game changer at the time, but no-one anticipated how far the next four decades of Effectiveness Awards would transform our understanding of how advertising works.

Paul Feldwick