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Advertising Job that Matters

Few years ago Philip Morris Kazakhstan and Leo Burnett Kazakhstan had client-agency training on how to brief and communicate effectively. Before training, selected for the course people were one by one interviewed by the coach. When my turn came I faced the coach and he asked questions about advertising, product that ad agency sells and the work of an Account Management team. To my surprise, I understood that had never before thought so deeply about my work.

Now when I changed positions, companies, countries, I know a bit more than that day with a coach and would like to share my thoughts with you. I will start with the basics, i.e. who account people in advertising are (I’ve done an attempt to speak up on the topic earlier in Russian, now would like to proceed in English).

First, let’s try to understand what account managers do. Putting it simply, account people bring together client and creative department and build client-agency relationship. Other core components of account manager’s job are leadership and strategy.

Ideally no one in an agency knows client and client’s brand better than an account manager. No one can organize job of all departments better than an account manager, and no one better than an account manager knows how to make work done to exceed client’s expectations. In addition, nowadays account managers have to understand not only how creative, print, outdoor work, but they need experience in digital, social, media, PR, shopper marketing, events, mobile, etc.

"It's a different kind of account management now. In the old days, it was more about relationships and making sure the creative work was good, and all you had to worry about was TV, print, radio and outdoor." Guy Hayward, global CEO at MDC Partners' KBS.

Combining all together, an account manager is a project manager, a kind-of-brand-manager on the other side of the business, a diplomat, a magician…Chris Mumford adds that we are:

• Dynamic thinkers who understand the broader view of our client's business.

• Orchestrators who know how business works and how to marshal resources and talent.

• Inspiring leaders who are willing to take intelligent risks, explore new financial models and build new management systems.

• Relationship builders who work day in, day out with our clients, proving that we can be reliable, objective partners to CMOs and creative directors alike.

• True believers who know there is genius both in conceiving great ideas and in bringing them to life.

• Creative brand managers and generalists who don't start with assumptions about hard sell or soft sell, TV or digital, mobile or social.

"Being an account person is the hardest thing in advertising." Rob Reilly, global creative chairman at McCann.

Account manager understands that great work is what really matters in advertising or on other side of the business and understands that she is to maintain and develop business. May be for this reason KBS calls it client service department, “business leadership” dep.

You may argue that great work wins business and that great creative is everything for an advertising agency. But it’s wrong assumption. Great creative is definitely extremely important, but it cannot prevent from budget or even client loss, whereas great relationship can. Great creative idea cannot be sold without great relationship that is based on trust. When client trust she can risk (what client usually tries to avoid) and proceed even with the boldest creative work. And great creative alone cannot bring new client. Relationship matters and that is why account manager work matters.

You may agree or disagree, but this is how I see my profession, profession of an account person.