Advertising account executives I fall in love with: 5 rare qualities I just can’t resist

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What happened to my good taste, you ask. Read on.

It’s hard to fall in love with an account executive. But as the slogan says, “Impossible is nothing”.

During my adventures and stints at various agencies, I have come across a few traits that can endear me to an account executive, even though many times creatives are usually at loggerheads with the suits.

If you are an account executive and can see the wisdom of having a good friend in the creative department, these are a few things you could ponder over.

Qualities my favourite account executives have:

1. An unfaltering faith in the agency’s creative ability:
When I was working at a creative boutique, one of our account executives claimed to a top client that no matter what their top agency was doing, we could do better work for any given job. The client was game.

It started with a little leaflet as a test of our ability. “I have said big things about you guys – now don’t you let me down” he said back at the agency. Now that was motivating – and our work that started with a little leaflet snatched us the account, right from the jaws of the big shark.

2. Guts to question the client’s motivations:
“But why would you like a red carpet in your ad, Sir?” “What do you mean your ketchup is more ketchupy than others, Sir?” “Why would you want three options when you can have one powerful and hard-hitting one?” “Why don’t you want us to use any word starting with a, z, or k, Sir – did your astrologer tell you that?”

So many times, as a copywriter who could not digest illogical client requests, I have spoken directly to the client and found out that he is not the dumb bloke he is made out to be. It’s just that the account executive does not have the guts or motivation to ask the client any questions.

The good ones know the client, his consumers, his market, because they don’t just take orders but also argue and debate with the client if need be for what they believe is in the brand’s best interests.

3. Loyalty to the agency
Account executives who defend their creative work rather than help the client pick faults in it get my respect. These are the suits who would sell a campaign with selling points even the creative team didn’t think of. To them, the goal is to get the best work of the agency approved by the client.

Some account executives become the client’s voice in the agency, sometimes even insisting on the dullest ideas to be executed just because the client likes it. I am not surprised when such people ultimately jump ship and hop over to the client’s side to bark orders at their agency counterparts. You can smell their shifty loyalties early in their career. Not my type.

4. Bonding with the creative team:
My best days in advertising have not been days, but nights – late nights. While clients and agency bosses slept in their cosy beds, we the copywriters, art directors, finalisers were huddled over our PCs and Macs working on that big, crucial campaign.

During times like these, the account executives I love are by our side, helping, cheering us up, even arranging for pizza and coffee for the team that hasn’t had time to even grab a sandwich for lunch. Not that they must, but they still choose to be with us. “How can I leave my team working on my account in the middle of the night and go home?” they feel. Don’t you just love this team spirit.

Agencies that have such account executives are the agencies that win the pitches. Because people are working as teams and thinking as teams, and selling the work as teams – not individuals.

5. Complete, absolute, obsessive knowledge about the brand they handle
Nothing turns me on to a brand more than an executive who knows all about it. When I ask him or her what does the brand do, what its versions are, who buys it, what its competing brands are – instantly come forth the figures and the facts. Nothing turns me off than the phrase “But why do you want to know that?”. This is usually heard when the servicing executive just copied and pasted the client’s email into the brief format and mailed it to the creative department. The next phrase by the shameless (and clueless) executive is “Why don’t you look it up on their website… which is at… err…”

I remember working on a European brand of wooden floor panels. The account executive gave me a live sales presentation using the sales kit used by their showroom staff, in addition to the brief. I was able to touch, feel and browse the entire collection of panels with her help. That really got the creative juices flowing.

And this is the most important point – if an account executive loves the brand and knows all about it, they would be more likely to inspire the creative members of their team to catch on to the brand affinity.

Next post, maybe I could write about account executives I want to send to Guantanamo. Would you like to read that?

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13 Comments

  1. Welcome to the ad world, Jessica.

    All creatives need a little TLC and if you take good care of your creative people, there’s no saying how far the team can go with the synergy!

    Reply
  2. Jessica

     /  April 16, 2008

    Thanks for these insights. I have just recently gotten into account management and it helps to hear the creative’s perspective. Great insights!

    Reply
  3. Hey there Chaydann,

    Glad it helped. Go on and conquer!

    Wishing you success for a bright love-filled career ahead 😉

    farrukh

    Reply
  4. chaydann

     /  December 29, 2007

    this is great and really helpful! i jus joined an advertising company a few months ago. what you wrote gave me an idea on what i should do or learn to be a better AE to my team

    thanks!

    Reply
  5. Another blog offering a perspective on account executives: http://thunderawesomeboom.blogspot.com

    A different viewpoint, but valid nonetheless

    Reply
  6. Strategyhack: Small agencies rock, man – we get to put our fingers in all the pies. Large ones give us readymade pies – like hot accounts to work on. Works both ways 🙂
    Muthu: Servicing people almost always ‘look’ good. Behaving is another matter – LOL. Life is fun!
    Tha Blaq Sinattra: I’m flattered to have written something of interest to a Hip-Hop musician. Peace to you too, man!
    Umesh: Thanks, you being a copywriter know how it is, man.
    Ashok: I am an account executive in a copywriter’s skin. Beware!

    Reply
  7. actually i was looking for a account executives page..to share few thoughts…but urs …its a good page…

    Reply
  8. Wonderful observations and insights!

    Reply
  9. Great information you have. I’m called “Tha Blaq Sinattra” a Hip-Hop musician from California. Informative articles like this are always so helpful. Peace to you.

    Reply
  10. Life is learning, lets go with it… Hope things will look out better as time goes…

    Reply
  11. These are great insights into what is/should be going on on the account side of an agency. Personally, not until I joined a small agency where everybody could see what challenges that everyone faced in their jobs, did I really bond with the creatives. Well, sort of. It’s still a tug of war at times, as you can see on my blog 😉

    Reply
  1. Advertising account manager from the UK on why he loves us creative people so much « Marketing, advertising and creativity in the UAE

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