What is the point of account management?

By Ramsey Naja, chief creative officer, JWT MENA

Normally, my reply to the above question would be that the only point account management deserves in its present form, is a full stop.

RamsyThis is not a creative’s cheap shot against what is arguably the most unfortunate bearer of bad news, even though such a messenger should indeed be given as much grief and verbal abuse as possible for perfectly sensible reasons I shall outline below. In fact, let me stop for a second and explain why creatives’ hatred of the traditional suit runs so deep.

I once enlisted the help of a renowned artist as part of a collaborative effort on a campaign. When his work was returned with “comments” he looked like a child who’s been told his favourite toy has been broken. He stormed out of the room – and the project. Thing is, artists don’t get comments, or rejections for that matter. They get exhibited, meet either plaudits or disdain and go away in a swarm of society ladies with solid hair. Creatives, however, are artists who do comments. And rejection. It’s a tough one, believe me, when your work bears the hallmarks of your personality and some coutured dude with starched teeth tells you the client thinks it stinks. It means you do.

You see, there are two types of suits: the postman and the business developer. I shall completely disregard what is called ‘client servicing’ because this is the territory of maids or hotel concierges and those with that title should be forced to wear frilly aprons or a gimp suit. The postman type is the messenger mentioned above and is so useless he can be replaced by pigeons. The business developer, however, is my type of suit. This species, at its best – made as it is of client relationship people and business wizards – brings a new form of glamour to an agency, with Fast Company-style knowledge, the wackiness of reading NASDAQ fluctuations through craigslist.com and the inevitable ability to make a client feel in good company and the agency on to a good thing.

To be continued…

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One Response to What is the point of account management?

  1. Adland Suit says:

    Morning Ramsey,

    The cheap response to your opening shot would be to offer my sympathies regarding the kind of Suits you have to deal with at JWT in the Middle East – truly the network at work. But that would be cheap, and unjust, and unwarranted. So I’ll refrain.

    Suffice to say that you’re talking about one of my biggest frustrations – the Bad Suit. And it’s interesting to hear that they’re as prevalent in the Middle East as they are in the UK. Unfortunately, for the majority of people, those Bad Suits have come to represent Suits as a whole. As the Customer Service truism goes, if you have a good experience, you’ll tell two people, while if you have a bad one, you’ll tell twenty – sadly, the same is true of Suits. This isn’t helped by the proliferation of Bad Suits – it’s a lot easier to carry a bag, hold up a board and report bad news than it is to care about what you’re carrying, be part of its creation and convince a nervous client to put his or her brand (and budget) wholly in your hands. But those downtrodden bag carriers can’t last – they get found out. That’s one of the many joys of this industry. Dave Trott wrote an interesting post about the Bad Suit phenomenon (http://bit.ly/18XU6Y) – the most pertinent bit being the idea that the Bad Suit ‘won’t be around for long’. And that’s more true now than ever.

    In these times of recession (etc, etc.) the Suit is more important than ever – not just for selling the good work, not just for raising the morale of the Agency, but for seeking out business opportunities, new briefs and new brands vigorously and tirelessly. There’s no room for postmen no more. Bring on the revolution…

    Cheers,

    ALS

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