Aug 10, 2009

I Only Like You When You Buy Me a Drink

I have a little something to ad about our colleague the Account Executive (AE). I'm saying this now because, well, I'm not with an agency as of right now, and once I'm with one I won't want to be running my mouth (though it is still probably ill-advised to do so now), but I'm sure my fellow writers and art director cohorts will be with me all the way.

For the most part, AEs are only worth their salt when they're buying me a drink. And guess how many times that has happened. There are the occasional few that do their job, and they're the ones I'm sure I'll be hearing it from after they read this post, but I'm also damn sure they know who I'm talking about.

The problem is they think their job is to tell us how to do our job. It's not. We have creative directors for that. And god forbid if you try to get them to do the job they were actually hired for. Good luck getting a decent creative brief out of them, or a straight answer, or even getting them to call the damn client when you need them to. It would be a whole lot easier writing in your own blood then getting them on your side when the client has an issue.

"Stop selling the client to me and start selling me to the client," a wise line from the beloved Mad Men. It seems that many AEs forget who they're working with and for. And too often they forget what side of the office they work on. Instead of convincing the client why our strategy works best for them they stand over our shoulder telling us what to write (or what color they like) and telling us to do it quicker. "LISTEN! There's a reason you're not on the creative team. Deal with it."

Now, I'm not one to turn my head and not listen to opinions, but when you start telling me what to do instead of talking it through with me, that's when we have a problem.

The argument I always hear from these types of AEs is, "It's our job to think like the client." Let me tell you, thinking like the client doesn't mean railroading your creative team. The only thing worse than a pain-in-the-ass client is the AE who enables them. Again, like the random AE, not all clients bend you over the drawing table. But when you're fighting with your AE and four client reps about why you did what you did after you've laid out the concept and creative based on their strategy, who's the one that didn't do their job?

Still, even if they never do buy me a drink, they at least give me a good reason to buy myself one every day. "To the AE!"

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