AdLand Suit is Dan Shute, a Board Account Director at Delaney Lund Knox Warren, a top ten London Advertising Agency. This is where I write about the life of a Suit - which can include pretty much anything. Delaney's didn't know I was doing this, but they do now. They still don't agree with everything I say though. They'd also probably rather I swore less.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Of Course You Want To Be A Suit

There were a number of titles that I could have chosen for this post: "Why I Love Being A Suit", for example; "Maybe It's Because I'm A Suit..." crossed my mind; or, of course "Why Being A Suit Kicks Ass" (apparently a fair few people have started reading this in the States, which I for some reason find extremely exciting). But, as the intention is that this will be reposted over with those delightful young whippersnappers at
AdGrads, I thought it better to make at least the headline fit with their target. Because, unlike the (seemingly) popular and (certainly) controversial 'Everything Is Your Fault' strand, which is, ostensibly at least, advice for Junior Suits (although contributions from everyone continue to be welcomed and encouraged), this is very much a post for all of us - for all Suits.

Because dammit, I love my job. I've mentioned this before, both in this blog and on others, but let me state it officially, and for the record now: Advertising is one hell of an industry to work in, and I firmly believe that a Suit's life is the life you want to be living within it. And that's not meant to be disrespectful in any way, oh no - every role is important in the smooth running of an Agency or Industry, and only an embittered creative* would ever suggest otherwise. But I wouldn't want to sit anywhere else on the Great Organogram Of Life. And here's just a couple of reasons why.

1. First off, and apologies if this seems a touch familiar, but everything is our fault - and that's a bloody marvellous thing. A good Suit thrives on that responsibility and the control that comes with it. It brings variety, it brings pressure and it brings excitement.

2. We get to do everything. Creatives might get to write the scripts, but they'll never get to write a brief. Planners might get to moderate groups, but they'll never get to go on a shoot (and good lord, does that bug them...). TV Producers might get to spend hours watching Directors' reels and calling it work, but they'll never (and this might hurt) run an Agency. You, dear Suit, can do all of these things - all of these things and more.

3. Lunch. Again, I may have mentioned this elsewhere, but nobody Lunches like a Suit, much as TV producers will claim otherwise.

4. When a piece of work is made, you will be able to see your fingerprints all over it: you'll remember the awkward conversations you had with the client about the product; the invigorating, enlightening and infuriating conversations with your planner about the brief; the buzz when the team was briefed; the shiver when your phone rang and it was a copy-writer who wanted to bounce a thought off you; the rock in the pit of your stomach when you first presnted the idea to that selfsame awkward client and the stand-up row you had 20 minutes later; the sunburn you got on your feet while shooting in Barcelona and the light you broke playing football in an underground carpark the same day; drawing that final line through the final frame on the shooting board; viewing an edit for the first time; you'll be the one that stands there at the front of the room and presses play when the Client seesthe fruits of their investment for the first time; and you'll be in the room when somebody walks in with a powerpoint presentation that will tell you whether you've failed or succeeded.  Every element of it will be in some way yours, and that's a wonderful thing. Not to mention how proud your mum will be.

5. Everything counts as work when you're a Suit. Creatives can lap up the culture, Planners can lap up the data, Art-Buyers can lap up the galleries and TV Producers can devour the reels, but a Suit can and should be doing all of the above and more. Read anything you can get your hands on, you're working. Spend a whole day in the cinema, you're working. Read 'Eating The Big Fish', 'Ogilvy On Advertising', 'Herd' or anything else you might find in the 'Marketing' section of Waterstone's, you're working. Spend 6 months wandering round South America, you're working. Get off your face at the Camden Roundhouse, you're working. Spend 6 hours at lunch at Corrigan's, well, you probably are actually working. Knowing about everything that's going on is part of what we do, and the best way to know about what's going on is to have done it. (And then to try and expense it.)

6. Expenses. TV Producers think they know how to play a job number - to a good Suit, watching a TV Producer with a job number is like watching a chimpanzee trying to play a bassoon. There's artistry to an expenses claim, and we've got all the paints.

7. Finally, to finish with (it's getting late), a serious point. A Suit in advertising gets as good a business education as you could buy, and he or she gets paid to do it. You get involved in the intricacies of production, you get involved in contract and fee negotiations, you get to do resource planning, you'll be one of a maximum of five people in your Agency who actually knows what 'P&L', 'bottom line' and 'margins' actually are. Later on in your career, that will either come in extraordinarily useful when you're the CEO or MD of your own Agency, or when you've taken everything you've learnt and are applying it elsewhere. Nothing says 'transferable skills' like Advertising Suit.

So that's that from me - 7 random, top of my head reasons (and there are hundreds more) why this is the best job in the world, and why it's the job that if you aren't already doing, you should be dreaming of. Or if not dreaming of, then at least quite looking forward to. Hell, it's still a job.

So - what do you lot think? Why is being a Suit the best job in the world for you? Of course, it's just possible that you don't agree with me - why the hell not? Come along - that's what the comments are there for.

*The link is, of course, an affectionate joke - without that creative, I wouldn't be here.


andrea nastase said...

Now I understand why there aren't as many women suits - imagine a woman trying to pull all these off.

Yet it seems challenging :D

I should stop reading this blog before I reconsider my career choices

AdLand Suit said...

Andrea, some of the best Suits I've worked with and continue to work with are women (and I'd venture that pretty much all the best Junior Suits are women - but that's for another post). My intention for this blog is not to make anyone question their career choices - but perhaps to help people be better informed in their making.

Edward said...

Was just interested to hear your opinion on how easy it was to change departments. I believe the job that I would be best suited to would be...well, a suit. However in these difficult times I am really struggling to find a way in and I'm applying to many jobs including planning jobs at media agencies. I figured as long as I could squeeze my foot in the door I would be able to take things from there. Am I misguided, should I hold out for the real deal?


PS love the blogg...makes me want it even more!

Stan Lee said...

"Creatives might get to write the scripts, but they'll never get to write a brief. "

Perhaps they should. That way the briefs might be a little more insightful and to the point. ;-)

Cleaver said...

I probably agree with your claim that a good suit gets a boatload of transferrable skills, but i wonder if that's reflected in the general perception in the job market.

My impression is that adfolk are seen as lightweights - "not bright enough to get a real job", as someone (Alan Wolk? The Adcontrarian?) put it recently.

Interested to know your experience.

PS - Andrea, at all the agencies i've worked at, females have outnumbered males in account service by about 3:1.

AdLand Suit said...

So - where to begin?

Edward, you were first. It's difficult to answer the department switching question, as it will vary from Agency to Agency - as a general rule, it's not frowned upon, though the switch from media planner to Suit is not something you see that often. A broad range of skills can only be a good thing though, so I wouldn't be against the idea. Just be careful you don't (a) come across as flighty, or (b)end up getting stuck in a media agency, which would, I can assure you, be a disaster...

Stan, if briefs were entrusted to creatives, you'd probably get a lot less jargon and numbers, but most of them would probably be over-length and require a foreign shoot...

And the perception point. It's certainly true (and something that's long fascinated me) that being a Suit isn't a true profession, in terms of qualifications, etc. We can't quit and turn our hands to law, accountancy, medicine, etc, and my suspicion is that Adcontrarian (for I think it was he) was referring to by 'proper jobs'. Where we do sit extremely well though is in the vast and murky working area known as 'business' - running shops, running consultancies, running any kind of business. A Suit's job will (a) give you much more interesting experiences than the vast majority of office-based jobs, and (b) give you an extremely solid grounding in the rules and ways of business and making money, something that's always of value.

And finally, on the female point - women make great Suits. (They also occasionally make awful Suits, but the same's obviously true for men.) And to Cleaver's point, a lot of Account Handling departments are predominantly women - but they do tend do be a touch bottom heavy on the female front (if you'll pardon the phrase). As you might expect, I have a theory on this, which I will be posting about in the next couple of days.

Hope that's of use - thanks once again to all you lovely people for coming, and for caring enough to comment. I'm glad to be of service.

Brett T. T. Macfarlane said...


Not all suits are great, but the great ones recognize every point.