Become an advertising Account Planner, interview with VCCP

I’m sad to say this is the final interview in my series of ‘how to get into advertising‘. I started them back in April, keeping them as a weekly feature and it’s been something I’ve really loved doing. So to end this series on a high, I spoke to Matt Wyatt, Head of Planning at VCCP about how to become an advertising Account Planner and what it truly takes.

 1. What is your day to day role?

I’m Head of Planning – a department of about 20 strategists.  So my role involves a mixture of department administrative tasks (resource, financial, pastoral), overseeing strategic direction on projects, and developing strategy on my own accounts.  The last of these is what most planners spend their time doing, and it’s very varied.  Understanding audiences, conducting research, analysing trends, briefing creative teams, market analysis, trends seminars, understanding latest in tech, innovation sessions with clients, moderating workshops, and so on.  It’s very varied.

2. How did you become an advertising Account Planner?

I studied Classics at Oxford University, and then secured a Graduate Trainee position at Ogilvy & Mather.  But you don’t need an Oxford degree to work in advertising, by any means.  It’s pretty diverse in terms of backgrounds and experience – that’s what makes it an interesting working environment.

“Sometimes, being the loudest can get you places, whereas the more quiet, thoughtful people (often Planners!) aren’t so easily noticed.”

3. What was the biggest challenge you faced to get where you are now?

There are few formal qualifications in advertising, and few set paths up the ladder.  Sometimes, being the loudest can get you places, whereas the more quiet, thoughtful people (often Planners!) aren’t so easily noticed.  Planning is partly about having an interesting and compelling point of view… but also about being able to get that point of view across in an environment where everybody has one.

how to become an advertising Account Planner

4. What do VCCP look for from future Planners?

An innate curiosity and intuition about brands and communication.  Anyone can read the marketing books and talk around a brand onion, but you can’t teach instinct into human nature and what drives people to think a certain way.

5. What advice would you give to future budding Planners?

Look at the communication around you and think carefully about what it’s trying to do, and how you would do it better.  Who is it appealing to and why does it take the approach it does?  What kind of response is it trying to elicit, and how effectively does it do it?

6. Are there any steps you would recommend to becoming a Planner?

Apply for account management positions, because that’s an easier way in.  Few agencies employ Junior Planners because clients want experience in a Planner.

7. What has been your career highlight so far?

Winning IPA Effectiveness Gold for the launch of essential Waitrose.  The range has been pivotal to their recent success, and I feel proud to have been instrumental in helping develop and launch it.