Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Some last thoughts from SXSW

Now that I have been chewing on the vast amount of information that was fed into my brain during my stay in Austin, there is one thing that has been a constant whisper in the back of my mind. It comes from a conversation that I had with a woman from another agency.

As I think we all realize, advertising is changing. Well actually, the world is changing and advertising is caught in the ripple effect. Technology has opened another world where there are unlimited possibilities for the marketing of products. We, as people who work in advertising, have to open our minds, think differently, and try to explore all the amazing ways to utilize this new space. It is intimidating, daunting, and for some of us, incredibly exciting.

So, back to my conversation with this woman. She was hired to help structure a new in-house agency for a large corporate entity. The part of our conversation that has been gnawing at me is that she has eliminated all account people and made both the Media Strategists and Project Managers client facing. She was able to remove a whole layer from the org chart. The first obvious benefit is speeding up the flow of information to the client. These Strategists are knowledgeable in traditional advertising, and also able to keep abreast of all the new trends in online and event types of marketing. Since they are able to keep current on all the trends, they are natural in selling the creative. In fact, she has them ingrained in the creative process working closely with the Art Director and Copywriter on brainstorming ideas. From brief to completion, they are involved.

Of course Strategists can’t do everything that a traditional Account Person does. The PM has the responsibility to manage the budget, come up with schedules, put meetings on the appropriate calendars, as well as trafficking the information internally within the agency. As a team they are able to do everything an Account Person did, only streamlined.

I understand this blog entry won’t help me get closer with our account people. I certainly don’t mean any disrespect, and I am not sure what the solution is for Fallon. What I am trying to say is that our canvas is changing. If we as an agency try to retain the processes and structure that we have always had, we will fail. If we are able to explore, learn and change according to our new environment, then perhaps we can excel in this ever-changing world. It’s not a revolution, but an evolution. Let’s evolve!


veda said...


at the same time, as a planner, i would not enjoy the burden of building and maintaining a client relationship beyond my strategic duties.

i agree with you that the work could be done, probably more efficiently, without account people. only to me it feels like it would be lacking in the most simple way. could a relationship between client and agency continue without, well, a relationship?

Leland said...

I think you and the woman grossly underestimate the importance of account people. It's about more than budgets and calenders. It's about managing personalities and personal agendas so that differences turn into unity. That is a skill set that is rare for a strategist to have.

Account managers navigate the stormy seas of people and personalities; strategists imagine possibilty and chart a path to its reality.

I would be worried about talking with a creative firm that didn't have an account team.

Scott Crawford said...

Open social will demand open social; transparency will not abide "managing relationships" for long.