a planners' meet in Delhi called Provoke 2.0. The meet is intended to honour and once again celebrate Stephen King's visionary book, A Master Class in Brand Planning. The book was launched in 1988 and published by JWT on King's retirement. It comprises a selection of King's most important articles, each one introduced by a known and respected practitioner who, in turn, describes the relevance of the particular original idea to the communications environment of today. The book holds as much value in today's times as it held during the time and context in which it was published. Even today, the book serves as a valuable reference for professionals in the sector.
The meet saw the participation of JWT's senior vice-presidents and executive planning directors such as Atika Malik and Mythili Chandrasekar. Also present were Guy Murphy, JWT's worldwide planning director; Rohit Ohri, managing partner, JWT Delhi; and various JWT planners from across the country.
Murphy said, "Stephen's thinking forms a core part of JWT's brand of planning that I wish to pursue. What Stephen wrote in the 1970s holds true even today. For instance, according to him, brands are becoming diced into separate parts as different agencies are getting their hands on different aspects of the brand's marketing. This is true even today."
The planners said that King's thinking gave JWT the underpinnings of its reputation in being strong in strategy, doing the right things for brands and building long-term brand value. According to Malik, "JWT India's planning has always been the backbone of the big brands that JWT has helped to build."
Chandrasekar agreed with her and said, "JWT India's planning has been the backbone of the various big brands that JWT has helped build. JWT planners are deeply involved in new product ideation, steering brand launches and relaunches, working through annual brand launches, being the consumer advocate, watching trends, observing the cultural landscape, crafting brand visions, writing briefs and, more importantly, partnering the creative process and keeping a close eye on measuring and evaluating results."
King was the originator of the discipline called account planning. He is known to have given the advertising industry the thinking and the theory it needed and the organisational structure that exists even today. King joined the marketing department at JWT in 1957. The responsibilities of this department included analysing marketing and sales data, interpreting market research, drafting a company's whole marketing strategy and creating an ad brief. After working for seven years at JWT, King became discouraged with the way the creative department was being briefed and, in turn, evaluated. He believed that since all advertising set out to elicit a defined response in the mind of its audience, the only meaningful and useful measurement of success or failure was whether or not such responses had been achieved.
In 1964, King created the T-plan (or target plan). This plan aimed to combine research and insights to create better advertising. Although there was some scepticism within the agency, JWT finally embraced the idea and soon realised that the plan was an invaluable, data-based evocation of a desired destination that left room for and stimulated originality in the invention of ways to get there. After four more years, in 1968, JWT set up an account planning department, with King at the helm.