Fucking suits. What do they do?
They’re just a bunch of schmoozers. All they are is the mouthpiece of the client. All they care about is getting the work out. Or pleasing the client. At least they pay for lunches, dinners and taxis. Sure there are a few okay ones. But the rest are just a shower. Rubbish. The lot of them. All they do is get in the way of good work. Bunch of empty suits.
It’s a familiar line of complaint and prejudice.
To which I say – politely – what utter bollocks.
Show me a high-performance agency with its creative agenda intact and as its priority, and you’ll find account people who make it their business to know the client, his or her ambitions, sensibilities, taste, expectations, and foibles better than anyone. The chances are they actually know how the client’s business make money. How much they made this year. And how much they made last year. And how much they want to make next year. Do you?
They’ll be behaving as entrepreneurs, scouring a client’s business for mutual opportunity and gain. They’re balancing thinking strategically about a clients’ business with thinking strategically about our own. Are you?
They’re able to have the hard, frank conversations – whether that’s about time, money, or the work – because they've built relationships of trust based not upon lunches and golf, but relentlessly thinking about how creativity can be applied to clients’ business issues. Have you?
They’re constantly building and nurturing productive networks of collaboration with outside experts, specialists, and the serried ranks of partner agencies that clients invariably retain – always ensuring that the work and the agency’s own interests are not sacrificed on the altar of having to play nice. Are you?
They’re working tirelessly to ensure that clients face up to the real value of what we produce. Do you?
They know the work, love the work, they’re knee-deep in the work. They’re having more conversations about the work than anyone else. Their fingerprints are all over every piece of work – every choice, iteration, and frame. Are yours?
And yes, they’re the always-on, always-available-to-take-your-call ringmasters, diplomats, peacemakers, shrinks, confessors, enforcers, cheerleaders, captains, and producers… wrangling and managing all the egos, foibles, excesses, ambitions, agendas, tantrums and talent. Do you want that job?
If you’re working with people who deserve to be regarded as Business Directors, not merely ‘account people’, then the chances are you’re lucky enough to be working at somewhere that knows what it’s doing. That understands the relationship between the commercial and the creative. And that values the work more than fiefdoms.
If you’re working with ‘Suits’ the chances are that you’re working in an agency that has built silos of mistrust, enjoys partisanship more than collaboration, and has had its creative agenda hijacked.