Account Executive Wanted: A beginner’s guide to the advertising world.

27 Jan


My daughter-in-law is currently doing her MBA and is very keen to pursue a career in marketing – would you be willing to meet briefly with her to talk about your work?

I have had my job at an advertising agency for just shy of eight months, and I receive requests like these on a regular basis. There is some sexy mystique to the advertising industry that both intrigues and mystifies people, driving them to make bold statements like ‘When I grown up, I want to work in advertising!’

But what exactly does it mean to work in advertising? I’m not privy to explain exactly what it is they do in the wild and crazy Creative Department, but I can offer some beginner’s insight on what we do on the other side of the coin – Account Services.

When people ask me what I do, the most uncomplicated response I have arrived at is ‘I liaise between the Creative Department and the Client; basically, I ensure that a fight doesn’t break out!’ I do more than that of course, but in simple terms I wear the hat of Liaison and Consumer Representative. If a campaign is not on strategy, I’m the one that protects the consumers from complicated/inappropriate/off-strategy work (Why didn’t anyone protect us from the recent Subway commercials?!)

I stumbled upon a job description for Account Executive (humm… is it bad that I just discovered this?!), which states that AE’s ‘manage accounts through the gathering and assembling of background information, following industry trends and developing client strategies, preparing reports/proposals, performing client presentations and supporting Creative work’. Sounds simple enough.

What is the best thing about my job? Definitely the diversity. I work with a range of clients (some fun, some not as much), from hotels, funeral homes, recycling depots, casinos, and fuel saving technologies to car dealerships. And with each client comes a new challenge, as well as the gratification of becoming a strategic partner in their success. Another great thing about my job is the people I get to work with. My office-mates are fun, driven, and entrepreneurial individuals that can laugh at our own mistakes and our client’s innuendos (very important – I find giggling uncontrollably to be very soothing therapy after a frustrating client encounter).

What is the hardest thing about my job? Stripping aside the glamour, it’s still an office job (as opposed to say, professional surfer or suntan lotion tester). I sit at a desk with piles of paper, old Post-It notes and dried-up bouquets of flowers. Clients come and go, and it’s hard not to take their departure personally. Sometimes the Art Director shoots daggers in my back after I’ve requested the 10th set of unreasonable, unnecessary revisions from the client. But at the end of the day we all love each other. Right, guys?

So is advertising for you? Musts: multi-tasking (I have 6 emails, 5 web pages, 4 word documents and 4 Adobe documents open right now), good communication skills, and thorough enjoyment of researching. The pay-off may be worth the battle.


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