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Human resource development in the advertising




Information & Technology

By Fawad M. Janjua
Jul 31 - Aug 06, 2000

It is time now that the advertising industry starts functioning as an industry

Nothing Remains Constant But Change Itself. True to the saying, we are in the process of transition in all aspects of our lives, be it technology, education, life style, social values, culture etc.

Change leads to progress. Similarly the advertising scenario too has seen a lot of changes in the last decade. With the entrance of multinational advertising agencies and multinational clients, the overall industry has seen a lot of growth.

We are still in the process of adopting the techniques being used worldwide. From simple creative visuals and concepts, the agencies are now more oriented towards marketing and strategic planning. However the change is not yet complete. The local agencies are still using Creativity as the tool, and relying solely on one aspect. They fail to grasp the fact that Account Planning is the in thing, and Client Servicing is out.

Gone are the days when the Client Service Executives were only functioning as the liaison between the Client and the Agency, and required to be well versed with the advertising knowledge only. The present times call for a proper approach, whereby the clients' product, its positioning, competitive environment, media planning, and effective utilization of resources are what an Account Executive needs to understand.

He is now not responsible for growth in terms of billings alone. His product has to grow. The equity share if remains unchanged or declines, it is the agency and by extension the executive handling the account, who are equally responsible as will be the client.

Today's executive has to be a core marketer, where his decisions are based on consumer insights and research, and not just intuitions and his personal preferences. This scenario called for a lot of MBAs to join the industry and make their mark equipped with the marketing tools.

There are clients in Pakistan, who require a thorough market oriented person who understands their needs. In simple words, someone who talks their language. Many a campaigns have gone to waste just because of a communication gap between the Agency and the Client. It is this gap that needs to be removed.

Once the gap is removed, and a trust between the two is established, the relationship grows into one based on mutual understanding. How can one plan a campaign with the client not disclosing the actual response of the last campaign, the sales that are realizing? This lack of trust is based on two things. The client is unsure of the information that they hesitate to pass on, as they fear misuse, if they change their agency. On the other hand, the shifting of persons from agency to agency also jeopardizes the client's vital plans getting exposure.

One of the key reforms that need to take place is on the agency level, where the employers have to change their attitudes. Instead of constantly having a new face every few years on an account, the retained executive can add a lot of value in terms of his knowledge and experience. Changing accounts within the agency is something else, where an executive takes his experience on one account to another, adding value while learning and growing.

The growth factor, that drives a professional and is a key determinant, is missing from the scene. While the industry has a big difference in pay scales and facilities from one organization to another, professionals find it difficult to grow within one agency as they find it more suitable to switch to another at a higher package. The stabilization of the pay scales, and rewards in terms of growth are what these agencies need to offer.

It is common practice that executives grow as they jump from Agency to Agency, and grow in terms of both, official rank and salary. It is yet rare for an advertising person, whether he is from media, account management, copy or creative department, to grow while remaining in a single organization. Jumps from agency to agency, normally prove more rewarding, whereas it is certainly not a healthy practice for the advertising industry.

Instead of taking new faces at senior level i.e. Account Manager/Director, the ideal should be to take trainees at entry level, and letting them adopt a set culture of the organization, and grow upwards than leap from job to job, agency to agency.

While talking to a marketing professional, I received a reply from him that "We have worked with different agencies over a period of time, and while one's strength lay in creative, the others lay in planning and management. However, if today I have to look for a key core difference, it will be difficult for me to point one out".

This in my opinion is very true however one may dispute it. When a person changes agencies, let us say after a period of 6 years and 03 agencies, he is carrying a mixture of all these three agencies, their approaches and rationales. On his way, he has also come up with his own approaches, which again are influenced by the three cultures. After a period of let us say 5-7 years, the saturation point comes where all the key persons, whether they are from creative or account management side, have due to the rotation factor, all presenting quite similar approaches and working techniques.

The Management Trainee Program offers a solution on the other hand. The trainees will be adopting the cultures of their respective environments, growing within the same organization, and will be motivated by prospects. And the agencies will have a high level of experienced executives on board, and the employee turnover will decline, with stability slowly taking effect. Only then the agencies will be able to base their strengths, and have individual identities.

It is time now that the advertising industry starts functioning as an industry, where the fresh graduates see a career in terms of growth and satisfaction. The switch then may be for a different reason, yet it will be productive then for both the agency the person.