Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Adventures In Advertising: The Worst Account Group, Ever

I once worked as head of account management for a terrible mid-size advertising agency which, I discovered, was totally dysfunctional.  In the account group, there were 12 other account people.  

Among them:

There was an management rep who had not gone to visit her client in New Jersey in over a year. Neither had the two account people who reported to her.

There was a management rep whose client was the worst payer in the agency. And then I discovered that the agency system was that the account people had to approve and then send out the billing.  The accounting department assumed that it would be approved and sent immediately, so it was marked as “due” as soon as it was released to the account manager.  This account person had gotten away with allowing client invoices to sit on his desk for weeks, even months.

There was another account director who expected the creatives to accept assignments through conference reports.  When the work was late, be blamed the creative department for not reading the conference reports.  He never went to brief them in person.

There was an account supervisor who was working with a client on a marketing analysis but refused to accept changes the client made despite their mutual agreement.  And, instead of discussing her disagreements with the client, she just did nothing until the client complained to me.

There was another account supervisor who the client complained about because she was always late.  She only worked on this one account.  When confronted, she told me she was too busy to get the work out in a timely fashion.

All these characters were account people at the same agency at the same time.

When I went to the president to tell him that I needed to fire the account guy who did not get the billing out (he was worse than just the billing issue), the president said the me, and I swear this is true, “Not him.  Anyone else.  He is the only one who will come to my apartment on a weekend to help me move furniture.”

I started looking for a job.


  1. It is tough to find good furniture movers...

  2. That's not an agency...that's a dark sitcom...

    1. I couldn't believe that the three partners were completely oblivious.

  3. When I started in the agency business at Ted Bates, we had a thing called ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT. DDB called it "Client Service" (a very passive term, I thought and still think.) Bob Jacoby, our Chairman, CEO, and leader came out of the account ranks and expected EVERYONE, at every level, to be on top of their total business. And if they weren't, they were fired. Which we politely called OBE (Overtaken-by-Events.) LOL ...

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  5. I too worked at an ad agency that boasted $300MM in Billings and 2 flagship accounts. The 2 Principals whose names were eponymous with the agency's name hated each other. And so respective account and creative teams were housed on separate floors and worked on separate accounts.

    I was promoted to Account Supe there because tlike your unamed agency, account people were supposed to review all invoices before they were sent to clients and match invoices against estimates.

    The fellow who preceded me didn't really possess an aptitude for this process and was duly fired. I got his great office and when I sat down at my desk, I opened the drawer wherein I discovered $100k in unapproved invoices.

    I found a big box and marched down to the CFO to show him my $100K box, and he said, "well, looks like you have a big job ahead of you" and I said, if I get these invoices approved and sent to client, you need to let me use one of the 2 company cars at will for personal needs.

    He cut that deal. The client was billed.

    And I had use of a car for a year until I went to Amirrati & Puris,,,an agency with a stellar reputation.

  6. The fact that the agency was even in business is just amazing.

  7. This can't be true. It's difficult to believe.

  8. Agreed Paul. I just re-posted this, along with a bit of commentary, on my blog. If you're nterested, go to www.advenutresinclientservice.com

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  10. There will be serious cashflow problems in this agency.

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