Friday, 3 April 2009

Of Course You Want To Be A Suit...

Someday you'll be fitted for one of via djpepperminta. Usual rules apply.

This is a cheeky guest post from the gentleman account handler, Mr Adland Suit. I have been remiss at posting this, but thought that a Friday evening was the right time to ruminate on the mysteries of suitdom, and why it is an excellent job.

Of course, I was a rubbish, rubbish suit, but i've met a few good 'uns in my time - so it's best you hear it from the source. Without further ado, here we are...

There were a number of titles that I could have chosen for this post: "Why I Love Being A Suit", for example; "Maybe It's Because I'm A Suit..." crossed my mind; or, of course "Why Being A Suit Kicks Ass" (apparently a fair few people have started reading this in the States, which I for some reason find extremely exciting). But, as the intention is that this will be reposted over with those delightful young whippersnappers at AdGrads, I thought it better to make at least the headline fit with their target. Because, unlike the (seemingly) popular and (certainly) controversial 'Everything Is Your Fault' strand, which is, ostensibly at least, advice for Junior Suits (although contributions from everyone continue to be welcomed and encouraged), this is very much a post for all of us - for all Suits.

Because dammit, I love my job. I've mentioned this before, both in this blog and on others, but let me state it officially, and for the record now: Advertising us one hell of an industry to work in, and I firmly believe that a Suit's life is the life you want to be living within it. And that's not meant to be disrespectful in any way, oh no - every role is important in the smooth running of an Agency or Industry, and only an embittered creative* would ever suggest otherwise. But I wouldn't want to sit anywhere else on the Great Organogram Of Life. And here's just a couple of reasons why.

1. First off, and apologies if this seems a touch familiar, but everything is our fault - and that's a bloody marvellous thing. A good Suit thrives on that responsibility and the control that comes with it. It brings variety, it brings pressure and it brings excitement.

2. We get to do everything. Creatives might get to write the scripts, but they'll never get to write a brief. Planners might get to moderate groups, but they'll never get to go on a shoot (and good lord, does that bug them...). TV Producers might get to spend hours watching Directors' reels and calling it work, but they'll never (and this might hurt) run an Agency. You, dear Suit, can do all of these things - all of these things and more.

3. Lunch. Again, I may have mentioned this elsewhere, but nobody Lunches like a Suit, much as TV producers will claim otherwise.

4. When a piece of work is made, you will be able to see your fingerprints all over it: you'll remember the awkward conversations you had with the client about the product; the invigorating, enlightening and infuriating conversations with your planner about the brief; the buzz when the team was briefed; the shiver when your phone rang and it was a copy-writer who wanted to bounce a thought off you; the rock in the pit of your stomach when you first presnted the idea to that selfsame awkward client and the stand-up row you had 20 minutes later; the sunburn you got on your feet while shooting in Barcelona and the light you broke playing football in an underground carpark the same day; drawing that final line through the final frame on the shooting board; viewing an edit for the first time; you'll be the one that stands there at the front of the room and presses play when the Client seesthe fruits of their investment for the first time; and you'll be in the room when somebody walks in with a powerpoint presentation that will tell you whether you've failed or succeeded. Every element of it will be in some way yours, and that's a wonderful thing. Not to mention how proud your mum will be.

5. Everything counts as work when you're a Suit. Creatives can lap up the culture, Planners can lap up the data, Art-Buyers can lap up the galleries and TV Producers can devour the reels, but a Suit can and should be doing all of the above and more. Read anything you can get your hands on, you're working. Spend a whole day in the cinema, you're working. Read 'Eating The Big Fish', 'Ogilvy On Advertising', 'Herd' or anything else you might find in the 'Marketing' section of Waterstone's, you're working. Spend 6 months wandering round South America, you're working. Get off your face at the Camden Roundhouse, you're working. Spend 6 hours at lunch at Corrigan's, well, you probably are actually working. Knowing about everything that's going on is part of what we do, and the best way to know about what's going on is to have done it. (And then to try and expense it.)

6. Expenses. TV Producers think they know how to play a job number - to a good Suit, watching a TV Producer with a job number is like watching a chimpanzee trying to play a bassoon. There's artistry to an expenses claim, and we've got all the paints.

7. Finally, to finish with (it's getting late), a serious point. A Suit in advertising gets as good a business education as you could buy, and he or she gets paid to do it. You get involved in the intricacies of production, you get involved in contract and fee negotiations, you get to do resource planning, you'll be one of a maximum of five people in your Agency who actually knows what 'P&L', 'bottom line' and 'margins' actually are. Later on in your career, that will either come in extraordinarily useful when you're the CEO or MD of your own Agency, or when you've taken everything you've learnt and are applying it elsewhere. Nothing says 'transferable skills' like Advertising Suit.

So that's that from me - 7 random, top of my head reasons (and there are hundreds more) why this is the best job in the world, and why it's the job that if you aren't already doing, you should be dreaming of. Or if not dreaming of, then at least quite looking forward to. Hell, it's still a job.

So - what do you lot think? Why is being a Suit the best job in the world for you? Of course, it's just possible that you don't agree with me - why the hell not? Come along - that's what the comments are there for.

*The link is, of course, an affectionate joke - without that creative, I wouldn't be here.


Daisy said...

I've gotta admit, you make being a suit sound like the best job, but my experience as an account exec almost left me scarred ("it's always your fault" just doesn't do it for me).

One question, do you think the experience of being a suit depends largely on the agency culture or are all suits required to be *overconfident, butt kissers and perfectionists?*

*told you it almost left me scarred :P

[ n ] My assorted views on tech, business, & life. said...

great article! now i just need to try and get hired as a suit. in absence of experience, hopefully persistence will help a bit..

Will said...

Daisy, I might venture a (plannerly) opinion about account handlers and agencies.

In each agency, there seems to be a different balance of power. Some places are more account management driven, some planning and some creative.

The arse kissing suit agencies are usually ones which rely overmuch on their suits rolling over and going along with what the client says. Not often the most creative places though.

I have worked at places where the account handlers aren't overconfident or arse kissers. Perfectionism does come with the job - but i'd argue that's true of planning as well; anyone who enters planning without a perfectionist streak probably shouldn't be doing it - you need to know data, after all.

Over to Mr Suit...

AdLand Suit said...

Oh, Daisy - questions like that make me sad. The sort of people you're talking about are the reason that Suits have such a bad name within the industry. Unfortunately, there's little you can do about 'Bad Suits', other than trust in the fact that they will be found out eventually, as that kind of attitude gets the work it deserves - and it ain't good. It sounds like you worked with some bad people, and I'm sorry that's tainted your view of the job - here's hoping you find happiness as a planner!

On the Agency Culture point - for me, that's a pretty lazy excuse for being a bad Suit. Suits should be playing their part in defining an Agency's culture, not hiding behind it when they can't be bothered to fight for better work. A post about the phenomenon of 'bad Suits' will be forthcoming shortly over on

And to [n] - persistence is worth an enormous amount, not least in the experience that you'll gather as a result. Let me know how you get on.

Daisy said...

@ Will, thanks for sharing your “plannerly” take on things. To be honest I wasn’t the best account handler (though I tried my very best to be) and along the way I realized if I wanted to give advertising a shot, it would have to be in a discipline I was better at. I’ve always been interested in ideas and “integrated” campaigns and seeing how far brands can go with them. Perfectionism is right down my alley so that’s hardly a problem for me but the main issue was more of being perfect for my manager (who was very good at her job but couldn’t see pass my flaws, despite my effort to improve…which I did).

@Adlandsuit, thanks for the reply! I didn’t think anyone would pay attention to my venting :) To be fair I worked alongside some of the funnest people but I guess my question was geared toward internal managing of junior execs and what is expected of them. Kind words go a long way and it’s always nice to get a nice genuine pat on the back when you actually do something right (and regular feedback otherwise). Thanks! I hope to be a better planner. Or become a scuba diving instructor if all else fails…

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AdLand Suit said...
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Will said...

Most planners i've met are frightened of agency finances and have the same attitude I have to how a car works - ie, it works on hot air and fairy dust.

There are strengths and weaknesses to each job. I'm pioneering a new discipline - that of the plannerger - a planner who can *shock* talk to clients, deal with data and write briefs. All without status reports or competitive reviews..

It's like some beautiful dream.

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