Ask most seasoned account folks about their creative teams’ business acumen and they’re likely to tell you they don’t have any idea. On the other side of things if you’re one to ask your creatives about their account team they’re more often than not going to tell you how clueless they are.
I know how both sides think first hand, having sat on both sides of the aisle.
That type of hybrid is a rarity. People are usually red states or blue states. Whole Foods or KFC. US Open or NASCAR.
Credit a classic post-grad career muddle or some psychological blending of my inner musician and my penchant for pricier-than-I-can-afford real estate and I ended up a rather odd specimen: a guy with a Texas is the Reason t-shirt underneath a Hugo Boss suit. I’ve realized that this roundabout route is not a bad thing at all. The experience has given me a unique understanding and appreciation for the problems - and possibilities - on both sides.
Let me tell you a little bit about how I got here.
When I graduated from college and moved from Boston to NYC, I did what I thought was the logical step and set up interviews all over town to join the hordes on Wall St. As I started preparing for these interviews, however, I had a terrible realization: if I actually got one of these jobs, I was going to be really, really miserable.
Not only did I have no particular interest in finance, but the whole industry sat in direct opposition to the types of things that got me going. I wanted a job that was creative, where I could be surrounded by people who got excited about words, and music, pop culture, and ideas.
Eventually, I discovered advertising, which was as close as I could get to the kind of environment I was seeking and still pay the rent.
So, I spent several years learning the ropes at agencies like BBDO and TBWA\Chiat\Day in NYC before relocating to Miami for a job at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, guiding the Burger King and stoking sales of the almighty Whopper.
After spending time working on the account management side of creative agencies, I realized that just being around creative thinking wasn’t enough. I wanted to be in on the creation of the product, not just responsible for selling those ideas to a client.
It shouldn’t have taken me so long to figure that out. After all, I had spent countless hours growing up creating art and writing music that had taken me on cross-country tours and had me in the recording studio for many sleepless nights.
Realizing that I’m happier when my right brain has a slight edge over my left, prompted me to move to the production and creative side of the industry at SapientNitro where I helped to establish the Entertainment Department, and helped craft award-winning work for clients ranging from Celebrity Cruiselines to Powerade to Chrysler.
This is the kind of work I want to do. But I can’t deny the advantages of a background that understands a company is most powerful when it can harness both the creative and business sides of the house in service to an idea.
Being well versed in both creative production and account management is, I think, a relatively rare and useful combination. My goal is to find opportunities to put that skill and experience to work on projects that can benefit from both.