Stage-Managing the Theater of Sales

Typical doesn't apply to any part of a career in advertising, says this New York City-based account exec who minored in musicals

If I had to explain my role of account manager with Saatchi & Saatchi X, a shopper-marketing company headquartered in Springdale, Ark., with one word, it would be "communicator." Saatchi & Saatchi X is the in-store counterpart of Saatchi & Saatchi, a more traditional advertising firm based in New York.

Shopper marketing is the effort to make the store a theater and build brands from within its confines, as opposed to more traditional advertising venues, such as TV. My job in shopper marketing means that I work with about six or seven different departments at one time, and production timelines are much more aggressive than in traditional advertising.

I started my career with Saatchi & Saatchi X as an account executive before transferring to the New York City office, where I work as an account manager. I build a bridge between the client and the agency so that we can become strategic partners and market products as successfully as possible. I present our agency's work to my clients and then share their feedback with my team. If I cannot communicate effectively to both sides, the work -- and the relationship -- will suffer.


  My job is multifaceted. I manage client relationships and lead an internal, cross-functional team that includes creative, production-art, print-management, customization, fulfillment, event-management, account-planning, and sometimes new media departments. I also write the creative briefs that provide strategy and direction for the creative team as they work to transform concepts into a concrete design. A creative brief provides details about the assignment, outlines what we can deliver, includes any insights that we have about our target shopper, and always restates the brand positioning and the "reason to believe."

Something unique about my agency situation is that I work with two teams -- one in my New York office and the other out of our Arkansas headquarters.

"Typical" doesn't apply to any part of a career in advertising. In fact, that's one of the aspects that really drew me to this industry -- a fast-paced environment that keeps you on your toes because you never know what the day might bring.

Here's a snapshot of an "anything but typical" workday:

9:00 a.m. -- Weekly status update with my client team (one of the largest travel and credit-card operations in the world). This is my only client at the moment, and I've been working on this account for seven months. The team I work with on a daily basis comprises four marketing managers and one director. Our relationship exists to effectively market its gift cards in supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, office-supply stores, banks, and malls.

9:45a.m. -- Recap conversation from status update and then plan agenda for noon meeting with Arkansas production and creative team members. I like to have my weekly internal team meeting on the same day as my weekly update with my client so that my team has all of the latest info as soon as possible. I'm responsible for preparing the agendas and leading both status meetings -- client and internal.

10:15 a.m. -- Answer phone calls and e-mails that arrive from any of my five client contacts or team members from Arkansas. On most days, creative comes through for me to review and provide feedback. Most designs will have two rounds of client-requested revisions, besides our internal processes. One of the greatest advertising tips I ever read was, "Fight about the work internally, and fight for the work in front of the client."

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