The importance of the account person

 

An interesting motion, at the IPA debate last night: “The account person is the most important person in the agency for the making of great advertising.” Ed Morris (ex-Executive Creative Director of Lowe) argued that advertising is, first and foremost, a business which simply wouldn’t function without the account man, and Robert Senior (CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon Group) argued that without creatives, no great advertising would ever get made. The difference of argument focussed on business survival and effectiveness versus the creation of outstanding and lasting icons. The debate concluded looking at the role of both sides within the team environment.

The debate was interesting and I don’t pretend to do justice to either argument here, instead I’ll merely register my reaction. At the risk of offending all attendees, the debate was a self-indulgent one (indeed deliberately phrased as such). Both speakers rightfully picked at the terms of the question, and Robert made a good point that the most important person doesn’t have to be within the agency: the client is a vital decision-maker in the creative process. The client has a different set of priorities, and I was surprised not to hear more about ‘great’ advertising being ‘effective’, rather than creatively impressive. The two, of course, go hand in hand, but I’d expected to hear more on that, especially given current economic priorities.

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