A long time ago I applied to become a graduate trainee at a London based global advertising agency. Inspired by the big budget campaigns of the early 90’s (Cantona for Nike, Bennetton baby & British Airway’s Swimmers) I was drawn to a world that seemed somehow possible to effect & touch people. Make them laugh or make them cry, make them think differently about something or maybe even make the little hairs on the back of the neck stand up on end. I’m not sure why I was hooked on this – but I do remember the kids at school giving each other a Tango slap in the face & it seemed like advertising was capable of having a powerful & really interesting effect on behaviour. It also seemed like a pretty cool thing to do for a living.
Through the fairly mindless ‘career sessions’ these pictures/words intrigued me – a lot. And through school I decided to keep my options open. Besides, they didn’t really have any courses that were available at GCSE level that helped you to make those cool images you’d see on TV. Like Robots joking around with mashed potato or cigarette cases made to look like pyramids.
I guess my generation – although it didn’t know it yet – was being exposed to a highly charged, concentrated laser beam of creativity deployed through a very narrow set of channels. We saw Ridley Scott make TV ads. And then we saw Michael Jordan sell trainers. And before we knew it Replicants, Snails & Surfers were selling us beer. I loved soaking all this up with a cultural mind sponge.
I guess it must have been pretty amazing to witness the heroics that some of the great agencies of the decade were pulling off. And I wanted to get inside that world. With a natural curiosity (largely gathered from some self tuition at school) I wanted to figure out how & why these images were so powerful. It was like a obsession & it had a catalytic effect on my education choices.
It seemed like the only way to get into this world was to get to University & get onto a grad trainee course. From a small comprehensive, in a small south coast town, that seemed like a long, long way away. But that’s another story that we’ll come back to.
Once granted entry into ‘adland‘ it became very clear that the self tuition that had been so important at school, combined with the bombardment of campaign influences was going to come in very handy with the day to day.
Wanting to be one of the young bucks, a suit, an adman, wanting to make it happen, making it happen & then reflecting on what you made happen is the driving theme for starting this blog. This catalytic process behind what we do is addictive. It’s what great account people get a buzz from (we’ll never have the shiny Lion shaped award on our desks) & it’s what great account people love about working with their clients. Thankfully I’ve been lucky to work with some the greats. But we’ll get to that too.
As we’re at an exciting, almost cambrian explosion of new behaviors in our business this blog looks to start the conversation about the role of the modern suit. What does he or she need to be successful? Make it happen? Sure. But maybe the nature of ‘it’ has changed.
The modern account handler needs to be remastered. But thankfully, this is our time.
Great account handling has been & will always be about leadership. And it’s never been a more entrepreneurial time to be in the ideas business. A creative director will not lead a client through the choices they face to be successful in 2012 & with the greatest of respect – nor will a planner. This falls to the account handler to navigate whilst building trust in an environment that is filled with increasingly complex choices. Marshaling new resources, inside & outside the agency to deliver content that will still makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end. Tick full of tock.
These posts will aim to reflect over a decade of real learning & experience combined with practical help. Most importantly I want to get the conversation started with other account handlers. And this is the first step in making that happen….