The Planning Department is an ever-growing, diverse team of strategists with different special skills, and levels of experience. Give us your brief and we will field the right planner or team for what you need.  

Every client is looked after by their 'Planning Lead'- either Steve, Helen, Rebecca or Mel.

CB Logo.png
Steve McCarron

Steve started his career as graduate trainee at DDB London in 1998, where he cut his strategy teeth on brands such as Budweiser, British Meat and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.


He moved to Manchester and joined TBWA in 2003, where he later became Strategy Director, applying their Disruption approach across brands such as Morrisons and Chicago Town Pizzas.


He moved to Cheetham Bell JWT in 2008, becoming Head of Planning and later Managing Director of the agency. He oversaw strategy across all business including, retail, government as well as FMCG.


In 2018 he became Managing Director of Dentsu Aegis’ specialist B2B agency, gyro, before co-Founding The Planning Department in 2020.

Helen Davies

Starting out as a qual researcher in London, Helen worked with ad agencies and clients such as Diageo, Coca-Cola, The Telegraph Weetabix and BT specialising in brand strategy and creative development research. 

She left as Associate Director to become an Account Planner at TBWA\Manchester. 

There, she became a Strategy Director and led the planning on a wide range of FMCG, retail and government clients such as Merlin Entertainments (Alton Towers, Thorpe Park Chessington, The London Dungeon), Seven Seas, the HSE and TransPennine Express.

IMG_7256 Rebecca Ashley.jpeg
Rebecca Ashley

Rebecca has 25 years planning experience, starting off her career with over a decade at TBWA\Manchester, where she worked on brands such as Odeon, Wickes, Carex, Chicago Town, ghd and the Information Commissioner’s Office. 


She joined Planning Express in 2008 where she led strategy and research projects across FMCG, retail, B2B, and the public sector. Rebecca enjoys uncovering what makes people tick and using this insight to help brands evolve and adapt. 


She left Planning Express in 2020 in order to co-found The Planning Department with Steve and Helen.   

Mel Lang

Mel started out her career at M&C Saatchi in Sydney before moving to the UK in 2012. Over the last decade, she worked for TBWA, Cheetham Bell JWT and driven, before joining APS as their Head of Strategy in 2021.

She brings a collaborative, proven approach to developing brand, comms and digital strategy and is well-versed in research and workshops, bringing new insight and a wealth of experience to every project.

Over the last decade, she’s helped build brands and deliver campaigns for a diverse group of organisations, including John West, Vimto, Severn Trent, Merlin Entertainments, Just Retirement, Department for International Trade and NHSScotland.

CB Logo.png
Louisa Carey-Brown

Louisa is a commercially minded senior Quantitative specialist with over 15 years’ experience. She has researched almost every category and has used a broad range of research methodologies. 

She started out her career in research and insight at Hall & Partners, gaining a wealth of experience during her 7 years conducting brand and communications studies, before going on to set up and lead the quantitative offering for Relish Research. 

She has worked across a wide range of sectors, leading quantitative research projects for well-known brands, such as Channel 4, Boots, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Opera House, L’Oreal, EDF Energy and Oxfam.