If planners are stretched between too many accounts, the depth of their involvement will suffer, and with it their ability to contribute in a substantive way. If they are not attending client meetings, then they do not have the necessary understanding of business issues against which to balance consumer opinions. If they are not spending enough time with consumers, their opinions on the marketplace will be outdated, ill-informed, and inevitably come to reflect the agency or client point of view. And if they are not working with agency creatives, providing useful information and insight, then they might as well not be working in an advertising agency at all. Creatives will soon enough start to regard them as “internal clients,” a hole that is very deep and difficult to climb out of.
The relationship between planner and account director is worthy of further comment. Pollitt regarded the two as equal partners, with equal status within the agency, and in some respects it is important that this equality be maintained. I have always thought of the ideal relationship between the two in the same way as the working relationship between a copywriter and art director. Both have a common aim, but bring different sets of skills to the table. The account director brings more of a business perspective, while the planner has more of a consumer orientation, yet between the two there is a considerable area of overlap. As previously noted, they work together on strategic positioning and share responsability for working with creative teams to help the work along (some creatives may disagree with the word “help”, but that’s what should de doing, at least.