Core Strategic Planning


Get equipped for the rest of your career with a core set of strategic principles and tools that can be applied in any situation, plus latest global thinking. A must do for planners and any strategists at the beginning of their career. Endorsed by the Account Planning Group (APG).


As the world of strategy changes, the fundamentals of what defines strategic planning as a discipline remain the same. This includes how to identify and solve problems, how to uncover insights that unlock behaviour and how to simplify the complicated for solutions that are both powerful and impactful. 

Every strategist is different and will work through problem solving in a different way, but knowing where strategy came from, how it has evolved and what it involves is the core of understanding how you can think like a strategist or even be one.

Meet your Lecturers

Weekly facilitators (live session)

Alison Tilling
Chief Strategy Officer, VMLY&R AU-NZ (Sydney)
Frances Clayton
Chief Strategy Officer, DDB Sydney
Eloise Liley
Group Planning Director,TBWA Melbourne
Emily Colman
Strategy Director, The Brand Agency Perth

Video lecturers (pre-recorded)

Alison Tilling
Chief Strategy Officer, VMLY&R AU-NZ (Sydney)
Jennifer Rhodes
Head of Effectiveness & Data Strategy, BMF Australia
Christina Aventi
Chief Strategy Officer, BMF Australia
Frances Clayton
Chief Strategy Officer, DDB Sydney
Alex Speakman
Executive Strategy Director and Managing Partner, Saatchi & Saatchi Melbourne
Melanie Wiese
Chief Strategy Officer, Wunderman Thompson Perth
Michael Derepas
Head of Strategy, The Monkeys Melbourne
Ant Keogh
Chief Creative Officer, The Monkeys Melbourne
Jacqueline Witts
Head Of Planning, Clemenger BBDO Melbourne


What to expect

A learning program that provokes and challenges your thinking.
A collaborative environment for problem solving.
A sense of community and camaraderie with fellow participants.
A chance to question, experiment and push yourself.
The opportunity to learn from the best.

This course has two main elements – a pre-recorded video lecture for participants to watch in their own time, and a live working tutorial session led by the course facilitator where participants can put theory into action. Additionally, this industry certified course includes homework/assessments.

Taught by the leading thinkers in the industry, the course is reviewed annually by the Account Planning Group committee.

Who’s it for?

Suitable for Junior Planners, Account Executives, Account Managers, Junior Marketing Managers/Professionals and Researchers, with up to 2 years work experience, who want to sharpen their strategic prowess.

Course Content

Week 1: What is strategy and where did it come from?
Lecturer: Alex Speakman, Executive Strategy Director and Managing Partner, Saatchi & Saatchi Melbourne

  • The history and evolution of planning
  • Fundamentals of planning
  • What all strategies have in common

Week 2: What is brand strategy?
Lecturer: Alison Tilling, Chief Strategy Officer, VMLY&R AU-NZ

  • The changing role of brands
  • Understanding how they work and how to plan for them

Week 3: What is an insight and how do you uncover them?
Lecturer: Melanie Wiese, Chief Strategy Officer, Wunderman Thompson Perth

  • Insight vs information
  • Good, bad and ugly insights & knowing the difference
  • Sources of an insight

Week 4: How to be helpful to creatives and write great briefs
Lecturers: Michael Derepas, Head of Strategy and Ant Keogh, Chief Creative Officer at The Monkeys Melbourne

  • What is a creative brief and how to write one
  • Brief vs briefing
  • Selling the strategy and selling the brief

Week 5: How to use research and how to know what type?
Lecturer: Frances Clayton, Chief Strategy Officer DDB Sydney, DDB Group Australia

  • Qual vs quant vs ethnography
  • Running research (informal vs formal)
  • Pre-testing vs testing

Week 6: What is campaign planning and how to use it
Lecturer: Jacqueline Witts, Head Of Planning, Clemenger BBDO Melbourne

  • Where in the process is it used best
  • How to think about the campaign coming to life in the world

Week 7: What to measure, how to measure and why?
Lecturers:  Christina Aventi, Chief Strategy Officer and Jennifer Rhodes, Head of Effectiveness & Data Strategy at BMF Australia

  • Effectiveness and setting objectives
  • Knowing what is possible
  • Behind the Effies

Week 8: The pitch

  • Presentations and final assessment

This industry certified course includes homework/assessments.
Endorsed and revised annually by the Industry Committee, Account Planning Group (APG)


Related articles

Learn to love/hate research by Fran Clayton
Why planners are going ‘back to basics’ in the digital era by Kate Smither
The ‘unhealthy obsession’ distracting strategic planners by Anuj Mehra
How the evolution of planning is affecting strategy by Lily Tidy
Do today’s strategic planners need to shift focus? QLD planners weigh in by Amanda Windus, Justin Cloete & Mike Redfern

Read former AdSchool participant Jake Batty’s key takeaways from the course.
Additionally, Callam Hanks a former AdSchool participant shares “My road to social and content manager“.


What is the difference between “Core Strategic Planning” and the “Advanced Strategic Planning” courses?

Strategic Planning Core Skills” is narrower in focus. It concentrates on explaining the tools and techniques available to a strategic planner working on a communications strategy or campaign from beginning to end – strategic skills as applied to creative (typically advertising ) campaigns. The focus is on the campaign. It is aimed at people with up to 2 years experience. 

The “Strategic Planning Advanced Skills” course is aimed at more experienced people (4+ years), and will give them a broader perspective of the total business context – business strategy, opportunities through segmentation, the changing face of brands and branding, communications and connections planning etc.  This course is more focused on the brand rather than the campaign and considers the future of strategic planning. 

Participant Feedback
The best way to learn is by doing and this course gives you a safe and supportive environment to do just that.

2021 Participant

 Do it! Regardless of your agency department you will find this course useful in rounding out your skills and allow you to have a more informed opinion on projects that you’re working on. Invaluable!

2021 Participant

 I thought the course format was good. A 1-hour lecture video as prep each week before the workshop was in no way onerous. I liked that the working sessions were in person…

2021 Participant