Good morning, everybody, and welcome to the 2007 Account Planning Conference.
It's great to be out here in San Diego—where this conference was last held in 1999. And I'm pleased to see so many new, as well as familiar, faces in attendance here today.
Let me begin by thanking our conference sponsors:
- Advertising Age
- Greenfield Online
- Millward Brown
- Savitz Field & Focus
- VCU Adcenter
- And a special thanks to Yahoo!, which has been a superb sponsorship partner over the years. Yahoo! is Webcasting selected portions of this conference, which will be available via the AAAA Web site.
Our program over the next two-and-a-half days is chockfull of some of the best and brightest thought leaders from account planning and beyond. So that we can get on with our program, I'll keep my remarks brief.
As some of you may know, I will be retiring from the AAAA at the end of this year. I've had a great 18-year run with the AAAA—and one of the highlights has been my association with this conference. I attended the APG-US Conference in 1992, when it was held in San Francisco under the auspices of Chiat\Day—in the early days, a different agency would organize the conference each year. I think about 75 planners were in attendance. While I have some personal familiarity and experience with account planning from my time in London as a client in the late 70's, and with FCB in the late 80's—account planning was pretty much unknown in the U.S. in the early 1990's. I left that conference impressed with the speakers and attendees and vowed to get the AAAA more involved with what was then called the Account Planning Group-USA or APG-US.
Fast forward 15 years and here we are today at what is now the second largest AAAA conference with nearly 800 in attendance. Over those 15 years, I have seen tremendous and rapid change in the industry, and aside from media, those changes are perhaps most evident in the account planning function at agencies.
Whether the function is called account planning, brand planning or strategic planning, there's no question the roles that account planners play in their respective agencies today are having a profound impact on the way that all forms of marketing communications messages are developed, created and executed. One of the defining characteristics of the account planning community is its remarkable spirit of collaboration and sharing, and that's reflected in the breakout sessions of this conference, which was programmed through the help of all of you, who contributed session ideas and suggestions to the conference committee, so that you could learn and share ideas with your peers.
With that said, let's get on with our program. This conference has been ably managed and programmed by the AAAA Account Planning Committee, which is co-chaired by Catrina McAuliffe, director of brand planning and senior partner, at Carmichael Lynch, and Suzanne Powers, executive director of strategy, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York. Catrina and Suzanne will serve as presiders over the next few days. Take it away, Catrina and Suzanne.