Tuesday 8am: staring at my computer, my eyes not adjusting to the screen. I wish I’d remembered the first piece of advice I was given when I started this job: "Don’t drink that." The previous night, among bottles of sake and the mandatory agency-versus-client dance-off, I’d managed to both make a fool of myself (bad) and cement the two-kiss greet with my clients (good: no more awkward handshakes). What my account director doesn’t know is that I have my iPhone ready to add to my already expansive ammunition for when appraisal time rears its head.
Back to reality, and time to write. With a late-night Domino’s in hand and a stolen beer from the management fridge, I decide the hours spent on content are immaterial to the more important decision of whether Arial or Calibri will best persuade the client to buy our latest thinking. My attention, naturally, is diverted by a YouTube clip ("baby monkey rides on pig backwards") sent round by one of our more culturally diverse creatives. I’m now wondering if the red font is too drastic. Time to go home.
I’ve always thought that having an excellent creative team with a below-par account manager is like owning a Ferrari with no engine: you may look sexy, but you’re going nowhere fast. I’ve got to make sure we’re fostering an environment that our clients trust. I want us to make the best work possible and it’s my job to make that happen, even if that involves begging the creative to get off the bloody skateboard and get back to his bloody desk because we have a PPM in five minutes.
Wednesday: off to McLaren, creatives in tow. Six standard-class tickets to Woking it is. Never give a creative a return ticket. You’ll end up begging the steward to open the gate or looking at ways to hide the ticket fine from your boss. Laptop out, I look at the previous night’s deck and it hits me: it should have been in bold.
McLaren is my kind of place. Clean, white walls and all its old Formula One cars in reception. But we only have 45 minutes of our square-jawed athlete’s time. I quickly understand my role: I’m the 11th person in a game of Chinese whispers. Jenson prefers non-pulp orange juice. By the time the message gets to me, I’m told he’s ready to storm off the set. I whip out the "baby-monkey-pig" video and all is well.
There has been plenty of discussion in this magazine about the importance of account management and whether the best graduates continue to join our industry. For all the crazy requests, long hours and difficult business challenges, I know I’m in an agency, and an industry, where one week isn’t going to be the same as the next and, as long as I remember to always go bold, I may well be writing above one day.
Alex Dousie is an account manager at Grey London