Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Twelve Kinds Of People I Don't Like In Advertising

1.  Account People Who Don’t Learn Their Client’s Business 
Sadly, too many account people – at all levels – simply execute but don’t learn and think. They don’t think because they haven’t learned enough about their client’s business to be able to offer smart input and direction. I have occasionally met people who work on a brand and actually don’t buy or use it.

2.  Creative People Who Belittle Account People
It amuses me that when those same creative people decide to open a business, their first hire is always an account person.  Granted, there are bad account people, but good account managers are indispensable.

3.  Account People Who Don’t Listen To Their Creatives
Good creative people are inherently good strategists.  They should always be listened to. It isn’t a contest of wills. It is about selling products or services.

4.  Creative People Who Think They Have All The Answers
Good solutions can come from anywhere.  Sometimes, even clients have the answers.

5.  Client’s Who Don’t Listen To Their Agencies
Clients make products or services.  Agencies make ads and communications. To paraphrase David Ogilvy:  Listen to your agency; if what they recommend doesn’t work, get another agency.

6.  Agencies Who Don’t Listen To Their Clients
Clients don’t always know what they need, but they say what they want.  Strong account people should always listen to their clients and then reinterpret what they have been told so that their clients get both what they want and what they need.

7.  Planners Who Think That An Insight Is A Strategy
Insights sometimes make great executions or campaigns, but they are rarely a long-term strategy.  There is a difference and good planners should know it.

 8.  Account People Who Think They Are Strategic But Aren’t
Too many account people think “Tastes good” is a strategy.  Strategy is the underpinnings of a brand. Account people must learn strategy.

9.  Creative People Who Won’t Listen To Their Account People
There are many creatives who won’t listen to their account people simply because they are account people.  These kinds of creatives should not be in the business.

10. Agency People Who Do Bad Work
Last year I wrote about my creative partner, Ned Viseltear.  He had a wonderful expression: “If you don’t do bad work, bad work can’t get done.” If clients asked for stupid work, he would not do it.  Rather, he would do good work and explain why it was better.  He always got his way.

11. Agency Management Who Don’t Get To Know All Their Senior Clients
All too often I hear from senior people at agencies about their client getting a new CMO.  They tell me that unfortunately, the agency relationship stopped at the CMO level and now they are vulnerable  because they have no senior champion. Agency management should make itself invaluable with every level of client senior management and every client of the agency – large and small.

12. Management Who Don’t Know Enough To Back Off From Certain Clients
When I was in the agency business, I used to tell my creative partners that some clients would like them better than me. When it comes to keeping clients, there should be no egos.Clients should deal with people with whom they are comfortable. After all, it is a service business.  No agency manager should force him or herself on a client.  I can think of one huge account that was lost in the last few years, partially because the agency chairman forced himself on the client.


  1. I think that covers just about everyone in advertising, Paul.

  2. Very disappointed, I thought you were going to name names!

    You could actually turn this into an interactive Name Your Worst contest. If you start, I will follow through on my end.

    Like the stupidest EVP Category Manager at Unilever who used to repeatedly use the phrase..."it's like I was almost thinking...". We on the agency side would, of course, pass the one note amongst ourselves which read "That's right X, it's like you were almost thinking!"

    Or, the superstar creative human who was found hand-cuffed to his bed after a long weekend and couldn't make the photo shoot on MON?

    Shall I continue....?

  3. Or the Category Manager at AHP who used to bring storyboards home to his wife and if she didn't like it, he killed it. Even when she was nothing at all like the target audience.

    1. @Anon: You made me smile. I remember those people well, especially from AHP (and most readers will not know who that is).


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