Friday, 10 April 2009

The Great Escape

"Timmy knew that if he went back to the office he'd have to do another tossing contact report"

This is by no means disrespectful to any posts on account management or account handlers. Simply observational that’s all.

I was at the APG Junior Planner thing last night and enjoyed meeting some very sound people. What has recently struck me is the amount of account handlers wishing to make the move into planning. Not just from some I met last night but overall. All the friends I have who started in advertising when I did have made the move into planning. I’ve been asked to mentor two young account handlers into making the move where I work. Would it be correct to assume that the wish to get into planning and out of account handling is more acute now than ever before? Well, actually I’m a co founder of this blog so I’ll just assume it is. It is. So now that we’ve established that it is, why is account management driving bright young things in droves into planning? Should planning be easy to jump into or should it be a long and arduous? I’m thinking the latter but then if you’re right for planning it wont feel arduous.
I dunno, I was an utter shit account handler and can clearly be outranked by people who are good at both but still the need, want and wish for people to leave account management doesn’t so much perplex me but worries. It worries me that account management isn’t fulfilling the vast majority of young entrants into the industry based on the fact that it's a pretty crucial function to an agency.
I’m not talking about account handlers who have 3 to 4+ years in as they’ll be senior enough to enjoy the better side of account management. I’m talking about those who are just going in or are around the 2 year mark. From what I’m seeing they’re seriously unsatisfied (I’m generalising here so forgive the broad strokes) and reminds me of a lecture I saw at the second Battle of The Big Thinking where someone was talking about the new and latest generation, are we on Z? Anyway, they were saying that this is the most creative generation, the most demanding, they want the travelling, the sabbatical, the responsibility, the hedonistic weekends etc. Essentially the latest gen of workers are more creative, more dynamic and more demanding.

Now, put that up against the role of a young grad account handler at the usual large, massive global networked, clumsy shit agency and you have a fit much like a hay bail being inserted into a rabbit’s arse….when constipated. Thus we either lose to the finance or management consultancy world or we get people who are happy with contact reports, timing plans, cost estimates and whatever ever else their tormentors puke onto their to-do list……or you get a lot of people looking for in roads into what they took a job in advertising originally for….advertising.

Therefore, it seems like it’s time for account management at certain agencies (my massive caveat) to either buck up its ideas or at least be honest with itself….that or stop breaking the career hearts of hundreds of bright young people every year. This has become more of a rant than a post hasn’t it. Maybe it should take the track of being more about advice on how to get out of dodge and into planning. I guess then my advice would be to raise your hand ASAP to make the move. If you don’t, then sure as your jobs worth account manager will tell you about a spelling mistake in your last email, someone else will and then time will be devoted to sustaining their move and not yours. It’s also quite a risk for a head of planning to sign that kind of thing off. So the more you can get in front of them and ensure that it would be a great move the better. I therefore think that getting that dialogue going and your heart felt passion for planning across is crucial. If you’re asked to ‘task’ prove your abilities i.e. brief writing etc then fair enough but turning the head of the person making your move possible should be your priority. That also means that for the majority making the move has to happen internally as opposed to making it by switching agencies, Especially now when hiring is more cautious than ever.

I think this has probably gone on long enough so will end by being seriously wimpy and stating that account management when great is awesome….however when it’s not great, like some of my experiences, then it’s as painful as your eye ball becoming best mates with a bee sting


shib said...

Great post! Im graduating this summer and to be honest I was once a keen account management prospect but recently I have been looking into account planning a lot just looks so much more attractive, more to do with what i've learnt in the last three yer and simply more advertising based just as you mentioned in the post.

Will said...

I think both the desire to get into planning from account management and the mis-selling of junior account handling both have something to answer for - namely, that planning isn't some easy job that allows you to hide, nor is junior account management an unmitigated joy where all you have to do is marshal people and help make cool ads.

Both are, I would say, overshadowed by something you touched upon in the post - that certain folk need to buck their ideas up. I'm tired of certain people (from both disciplines) whining about the job.

Advertising is a meritocracy. You don't like your job? Then help change it for the entrepreneurial with it.

Want to be a planner? Destroy all those reasons why you wouldn't be hired - showcase your thinking, prove ways in which you've thought laterally.

Don't like your job in account management? Why don't you try to mobilise your agency to pitch for smaller accounts, and offer to run it? It'd make a nice change from the unrewarding globo-corp account you're working on now.

Jam said...

Too right, it's all about initiative. I guess the great challenge is to know exactly what a function is offering, before you actually enter it. There's a lot you can do to work that out - namely, finding those that do it and asking them for the dirty truth - but it seems as though agencies still have a big education job to do.

p.s nice to see you at the planning thing, anton :)

Edd Lee said...

Perhaps this is a 5 or 6 series trend, where 'gen z' do their utmost to emulate their Scorsese hero, Don Draper, without actually having to learn graphic design?
Every industry has a flagship fictional character that people want to be. Banking has Gordon Gekko, PR has Jerry Maguire and advertising now has Don Draper. Honestly, who wants to be Pete Campbell?!

I work for a media agency and it's increadibly difficult to make the move over to planning over at a creative house!

free wallpapers said...

post free ads classifieds - earn money online free - free classifieds ads