Advertising Account Executives
These people are the glue holding the advertising agency together. Their job is sometimes to manage existing accounts, sometimes to get new ones, sometimes a little of both. They have to locate and call potential clients and make sure clients have the money or credit to buy the advertising agency's services, and they have to do serious research on those potential clients. Account executives have to build rapport with clients and sell the agencies' services. They also follow up on clients after ad campaigns and maintain contact with them in hopes that they will remain with that agency for future accounts.
These people are in charge of determining and selling the type of media that any given account should be advertising in. Through their research and analytical techniques, media specialists know whether a given ad campaign should run on the Internet, television, magazines, direct mail, or radio. They make sure that the ads and the media in which they are placed fit with the clients' strategies. They help with budget management, since they know the cost of the various media. Media specialists have to be well versed in media metrics, have exceptional attention to detail, get along with a wide variety of people, and be willing to travel to clients' locations.
These are the writers and artists who create the actual ads. The creative team, made up of a copywriter and an art director, are assigned to specific accounts. Each must treat the other with respect and honesty, because they're going to be working together a lot. An ad agency's creative talent must be not only exceptionally creative and productive; they also have to be thick-skinned. There will be clients who hate the finished product of a very carefully crafted ad campaign. There will be account executives that stop the creative talent from going in a certain direction on a certain account. The creative team has to bounce back and come back with something stronger. They must produce creative content that they would be happy to have their names associated with. As mentioned above, a creative team is generally made up of an art director and a copywriter.
Art directors must be able to come up with great ideas on very short notice. This person is usually the most top level hands-on, creative person in an ad campaign. Advertising agencies need art directors who have a thorough understanding of branding and who can communicate well with designers and copywriters. Art directors have to be prepared to meet deadlines, meaning there is basically no such thing as a typical workday. Sometimes long hours are required to get projects ready on time, and art directors can't shirk this responsibility.
An ad agency's copywriters write ad copy. That is an oversimplification, of course, but they have to be ready, able, and willing to write ad copy on any subject with any level of humor or seriousness, and they have to be able to stand up to it when a client hates their proposals. A copywriter may spend one week writing about laxatives and the next week writing about web servers. He or she is like the piano accompanist at an audition: they have to be able to pound out serviceable work, in any and every key, and make their clients look good in the process.
Advertising researchers are there to make the advertisements as efficient as possible in turning potential customers into actual customers. Advertising research is a complex amalgam of psychological, economic, sociological, and demographic research. The advertising researchers can tell the creative team that their ad featuring the puppies is good, but people respond better to multicolored puppies than solid color ones. Advertising agencies use researchers to conduct research before placing an ad in a certain medium, and they do research after the advertising campaign to learn if it was effective, and if so why. In between, they help the creative team optimize ads for particular media, whether print, billboards, radio, Internet, or television. Larger advertising agencies will do most or all of this work in-house. Smaller ad agencies will necessarily have a blurring of the boundaries between the various jobs, because people will be required to take on multiple roles. Sometimes companies outsource copywriting or graphic design for large projects that they need extra help with, or for occasional, one-off projects that the full-time staff is too busy to take.
Advertising is definitely an exciting field, but it is not for the faint of heart.