“Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”- William Burnbach
During my time here at Spectrum + Mindclay, I have been lucky enough to observe many different aspects of the advertising business. Although my current intern position is in account management, I have also been able to work with people in different departments. Through my interactions and observations, I became curious about the other positions available in advertising and the role they play in the business. In order to learn a little more about each role, I decided to sit down with and interview four fellow staff members here, each representing a different job in the industry.
During my time speaking with them, I learned a lot about each position, including, what the responsibilities are, the qualities needed, and suggested tips. If you’ve ever asked yourself the question “should I consider a career in advertising?” then this is the right blog for you.
Position: Account Manager
What does she do?
Her job can be broken into three main responsibilities: 1) Serving as a liaison between clients and the creative team. At the project start, the Account Manager is the one making the introductions, figuring out what the client challenge is, facilitating that, and then working with the team specifically on strategy and understanding the data, the information, and the challenge at hand. 2) Management of the client through the entirety of the project. This can include checking in on the client after the first round of revisions and making sure the project is on strategy, keeping them updated, and measuring the success of a project once it is completed. 3) New business development. This is done primarily by researching businesses and brands in the market within strategic verticals, and determining opportunities that would align with the agency’s capabilities. Once a potential new business partner is found, she will work with the Creative Director in putting together the information, samples, and in essence a “pitch.”
What are some qualities needed to work in this profession?
“You have to be calm. It can be a crazy business – it’s fast paced and intense so you need to be the person who keeps everyone calm. If a client calls with a problem you need to be able to remain composed and solve it – you’re a problem solver at heart. You also need to be strategic; you’re the one connecting the client and the creative team, so it’s important to keep your eye on the objective to ensure solutions meet the needs of the business. You need to be very detail-oriented; making sure the client is happy and everything is being executed properly. And generally, you just have to be curious and energetic. Because you work with such a variety of clients and business’s that are all so different in some cases, it’s important that you bring the same level of energy to that business and client no matter who you’re talking to!”
Advice you have for young professionals pursuing a career in Account Management?
“Internships are very important. While I majored in marketing, my exposure to advertising was rather limited in the classroom – it was something I really learned on the job. Working at an actual business or agency can be so dynamic and is just something that can’t be taught in a book. Another thing that really helped me was getting subscriptions to Adweek, Ad Age, Mashable, StreamDaily, etc., because that’s all about what’s happening in the industry every single day. It’s really important to stay plugged in so that when you do have an opportunity you’re already ahead of the game. Lastly, I think finding and working with a mentor is a good idea. It was very helpful for me building a relationship with a seasoned Account Director in my early twenties that I could observe and learn from – the lessons I learned were invaluable.”
Position: Art Director
What does he do?
As Art Director, he leads the team in the design and aesthetics of projects and of the entire studio. Whatever projects the editors, motion designers, or other members of the team are working on at the time, the vision for the style of art and design are driven by him and through him. He might not be tasked with creating all the content that is executed, but he works with the team to determine the overall style and tone for each project. It is his responsibility to ensure that everything created and sent out is consistent with the client’s brand messaging and is on par with what the company is capable of. At the end of the day, he is in charge of getting the best artistic quality out of everybody and out of everything the company does.
What are some qualities that are needed to work as an Art Director?
“Solid design fundamentals are important – layout, typography, Photoshop and Illustrator skills are needed to work as an Art Director. As an Art Director you need to determine how to best represent a concept visually and work with artists/designers to execute the final product. Usually the way it works is you work you way up as a designer. You’ll go from Junior Designer to Designer to Senior Designer to Junior Art Director to Art Director. Perseverance is important – with solid fundamentals, strong communication skills (both visual and verbal) and hard work you can transition into leadership roles.”
Advice you have for young professionals pursuing a career in Art Direction?
“A former Creative Director of mine use to tell me this: “don’t put birds in your portfolio if you don’t want to draw birds.” Basically, that means to put the work out that you’re passionate about and that you to want to do. If you aren’t interested in doing 3D animation, than don’t put a bunch of 3D animation in your portfolio, because that could lead to you getting a job that you’re uninterested in. It’s better to focus your portfolio and show off the type of work you’re interested in doing. Another thing I would suggest is to try to do as much of your own personal projects as you can. When you’re in a design program, students are basically given the same project, and when it comes time for you to look for a job a lot of your work is going to be pretty similar to theirs. By creating your own personal work it gives you an edge over the 5 other people vying for the same position.”
What does he do?
In the broadest sense, once a story has been written and filmed, it is Chris’s responsibility to craft what was recorded into the true story. Sometimes a story can morph during filming, and although that isn’t always the case, if it happens, it is his job to find the story and to make sure that the vision of the writer comes to life in the final result.
What are some qualities needed to work as an Editor?
“Trust your instincts and be decisive. When you’re working under a deadline, you can’t spend hours on one part of a video, you need to be able to listen to your gut and make decisions quickly and effectively. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes either because you’re going to make them. Sometimes clients won’t like what you’ve created, especially on the first cut, and in those situations you have to have a thick skin. Be prepared for those negative comments and learn to accept them and move forward with the same positivity and excitement you had in the beginning. Another quality is patience. You will exercise patience to its limits when dealing with computer issues, clients, producers, deadlines, and especially your own expectations. Just remember, if you’re not having fun you’re doing it all wrong.”
Advice you have for young professionals pursuing a career in Editing?
“Go to school. And by school, I mean a school where you will learn how to craft a great story, because bottom-line, as an Editor you are telling a story. Learn the theory behind storytelling; find out what devices are best when telling what story and above all, take the time to challenge yourself to become a better storyteller. DON’T go to school expecting to be taught software programs, teach yourself those on your own time. Being an Editor is not knowing how to use software, being an Editor is knowing how to craft the best story, I just happen to use Premiere to craft mine.”
Position: Creative Director
What does he do?
In short, he works and collaborates with editors, writers, producers, designers, or anyone involved in the creative process from ideation all the way to an execution standpoint. He works directly with brands on finding creative solutions, as well as looking to the future and coming up with new content ideas for their businesses. As Creative Director, it is his job to oversee and ensure that the agency is distributing the highest quality and most effective creative content that is on par with the brand and what they’re trying to accomplish.
What are some qualities needed to work in the profession?
“You need to be a little bit of a psychologist. Creative folks all think differently – there’s no one creative person alike. The absolute worst thing you can do as a Creative Director is to try to get everyone to think the same way. To be successful, you have to be able to understand people, work with every different type of personality and get the most out of each personality as you can. Above everything else, the job of a Creative Director is not to have the best idea in the room; my job is to make sure the best ideas get on the table. In order to make that happen, you need to create and manage an environment of trust, understanding, collaboration and respect. In addition to all of that, you need to be able to present and articulate ideas to partners in a way in which those ideas can be done, because at the end of the day, no matter how great your ideas are, you need to be able to sell them to the partner.”
Advice you have for young professionals pursuing a career as a Creative Director?
“Get involved in whatever interests you. Whether its being on the set or motion design, or writing – whatever that spark of creative is, get out into the real world and try to volunteer, intern or work. The best thing I did when I was in school was going out and offering my help to anyone who would let me. I didn’t wait for the school to help me with internships, I went and knocked on the doors of companies I respected and asked for the opportunity. I told them ‘I’ll do anything – I’ll get lunches, I’ll do coffee runs, I’ll take out the trash, I’m gonna show up again tomorrow!’ It’s amazing how hard it is for people to say no to someone who’s willing to do anything. Once you’re in, absorb and learn as much as you can and make as many relationships you can.”
Marc’s last comments:
“At the end of the day to get through this industry, laugh and breathe because no one is dying on the operating table. Creative’s tends to take it personally when someone doesn’t like our idea. You have to have the ability to believe in yourself and move on. You can’t wallow and start to beat yourself up because the next day there will always be another great idea. Advertising should be a fun business so if you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong.”
Still think advertising is the right business for you? Well, with drive, dedication, internships, on the job experience, and LOTS of hard work you will be well-equipped to take on the business, and maybe you’ll be able to make that dream a reality.