Human resource development in the advertising
By Fawad M. Janjua
Jul 31 - Aug 06, 2000
It is time now that the advertising industry starts functioning as
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
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
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
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.