A very warm welcome to across the line ltd. (axtl)!

Challenges of modern communication continue to increase in complexity, size and variety rendering it practically impossible to cope with them in rigid structures.

While a long lasting client/agency relationship delivers synergies and the often mentioned "feel good factor", it also brings the danger of complacency and loss of crucial dynamics in a creative environment.

This is rarely in the customers or the partnerships interest.

The alternative - abandoning the agency and sending out invitations for a pitch - is difficult and in most cases a costly.

The continuous specialisation of agencies increases their number on any given project as partners to the client while the competitive pressure among agencies grows exponentially.

How can new structures support continued dynamic developments to benefit all parties involved?

From time to time it is necessary to leave the trodden path.

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Strong structures &
planned disruption

The promising concept we believe in is account planning!

(ACCOUNT Director + Media PLANNER)

In Switzerland account planning is known as "strategic planning".

When axtl is called in by an agency or a client we see our task in strengthening the relationship - possibly by reinforcing structural issues - while disrupting overly entrenched ways of thinking.

Such a disruption is never successful for the sake of it but must facilitate and intensify the development and finding of the creative idea. This idea in turn is to represent - from the consumers angle - better advertising or communication.

The sum total of all components is responsible for a successful picture. Account planning is capable to free existing creativity making it more single minded and focussed. It aims to maximise the clients existing bravado to benefit the consumer. The introduction of account planning will make neither agency nor client automatically more creative or better.

Stageing a positive disruption allows axtl to act as condensation nucleus. New viewpoints and content is produced that allows the creative team sharper focus. The cutting edge presentation can be judged by the client with increased confidence.

account planning –
the fourth perspective

Strong perspecives evolve from classical structures established in co-operation models in communication:

The client says: "My product",
the account director says: "My client",
the creative director says: "My campaign",
and the account planner says: "My customer".

(account planning - from genesis to revelation, Merry Baskin & David Pickton)

This neatly illustrates that agencies with a focus on account planning - like across the line ltd. - do neither belittle the competence of a client nor compete with the creative forces within an agency.

across the line ltd.
“think inside the box”

While the creative forces rightly point out that they need the biggest possible freedom to solve a communication challenge, only very few clients are in a position to qualify and quantify this kind of urge to explore unchartered territory. This in turn leads to a reigning in of the presented idea and a down toneing of the entire campaign to a - form the viewpoint of the client - acceptable level.

It is this procedure that turns one of the most fascinating team efforts into a tug of war between agency and client, ignoring the requirements of the conusmer in the process.

We strongly believe that "thinking outside the box" can lead to award winning creative concepts but often overwhelms the client.

Therefore, across the line ltd. proposes to first "think inside the box". In most cases the basic building blocs for the creative idea are already there although hidden and disguised. Before "leaving the box" it is necessary to establish a solid plattform to launch from.


Questions along the planning cycle!

An intense and critical look at the consumer is the basis of all account planning. There are numerous means to that end but no universally applicable recipes.

Probably every account planner dreams of a client, who - as part of the development process - accompanies a carefully engineered qualitative market research program.

Prominent questions in the planning cycle are:

Where are we ?
Why are we there?
Where could we be?
How could we get there?

Are we getting there?

see Stephen King (account planning cycle)

The roots in media planning bind all acount planners to market research. In most Swiss companies qualitative research barely figures on their marketing plans; while market research companies in the UK have more creative names than your average Nike sneaker.

Talking about viewpoint
and insight!

A lot of account planning literature won't stop advertising the search for the "insight". This Means the ultimate piece of knowledge that unlocks the way the consumer functions and explains once and for all the motivation behind every purchase.

This search for a "holy grail" might prevent very good communication based on relevant data often found much closer to home. It must be possible to organise the process in stages in order to build on ideas and concepts along the way.

This would be a truly remarkable improvement to the classic system without account planning.

New horizons for
account planning

Due to its experiences with special formats of communication (exhibitions, trade shows, brand environments) across the line ltd. is pushing the concept of account planning into these new areas.

A branded environment confronts account planning with particular challenges. The consumer is part of a brand land or an exhibition stand over time; walking through and experiencing it with all his senses. To learn to anticipate the coonsumers requirements and wishes makes account planning in a multidimensional space especially challenging.

Clients splitting their communication according to discipline, channel or medium create the biggest obstacle "in house" preventing integrated communication and cross media campaigns.

The building structure of a brand is not obvious and barely two brands have an identical blueprint.


The collaboration model is key to deciding which agency/medium should take the lead (in many cases it will be classical advertising but digital is gaining ground).

"Cursed by intellect"

John Robson - then at Wolff Olins UK - about Andreas Humbel founder of axtl.

Full Service – if required!
But not “in-house”

While across the line ltd. is capable of developing entire campaigns, we prefer to reach out to trusted and proven partners in their respective fields.

Focussing is a competitive advantage. These are specialists we enjoy working with and seamlessly integrate into a high powered collaboration model according to the specific needs of the client.

It is one of the most thrilling challenges to interlink these specialists. This turntabel function epitomises the thinking behind collaboration and the basic aim of account planning.

Not the simple - the
thrilling solution!

We do not live in a world where simple solutions survive. Good account planning makes processes more transparent and conquers doubts in a team effort. What we love most about our work is the result that is worth every bit of pain and hard work.

Our passion about the complexity of the world does not at all indicate that - after critical analysis and intensive evaluation - we would not cherish a stunningly simple solution.

As a sparring partner and dynamo we strive to be worth your investment for your product, your agencies and most of all your customers.

The danger lies in not asking the awkward question and in being satisfied with the easy answer.

You do not have to like the one the asks the questions, but the answers that are enabled by them.

Allocate a separate budget for account planning

To cost of account planning should be allocated to a separate budget like consulting or brand management instead of being deducted from an existing budget (i.e. advertising).

This enables the account planner to interact on an equal level, improving the networks chances to develop a successful campaign.

We look forward to
hearing from you soon!

CH-8124 MAUR
PHONE: +41 (0)44 88 777 08

Please do not hesitate to contact us!
We will do your best to make it your success.