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.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Suits Laid Bare - Jamie Elliott

And so - to the first of my posts giving you all a glimpse into the inner-workings of the minds of AdLand's finest Suits. First up, we have Jamie Elliott, erstwhile Head of Client Service and now Deputy Managing Director of Delaney Lund Knox Warren, the London-based shop renowned for the quality of its Suits. Over to him.

1. So - who are you?

I’m Jamie Elliott, presently Deputy MD at DLKW.  I was a grad trainee at Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper in 1998, when Euro was hot (hard to believe now).  I made the board 5 years in, met my wife there, moved to DLKW in 2005 (where I was Head of Client Service for a couple of years) and completed a part-time MBA last year. 

When I started, Peugeot, my main client, didn’t have email, so we did everything by fax and courier.  As an exec this meant that you had thousands of u-matic tapes and wads of fax confirmation papers stacked up on your desk and spent most of your time checking endless tapes.  Everyone smoked like chimneys, by about 10am there was a heavy smog across our floor. And at 6 o'clock, religiously, the booze fridge was opened up.

It sounds fun but it was all a bit 80s, the dying embers of another generation’s fire.  Technological advance makes now much, much more exciting.

2. Single best experience as a Suit? And your worst horror story?

Waking up on 1st December 2000 to find an image from our Commission for Racial Equality ad hogging the front page of The Mirror, was the beginning of my single best day in advertising.

The launch party for the campaign was hosted by Gordon Brown at No.11 that evening. I was 2 years in working directly with Mark Wnek and Brett Gosper on the project.  Being at the heart of what was going on in the national news was an incredible buzz.

My first awkward moment: In a room with two Haagen-Dazs clients and a slightly sweaty account director (Christian Hinchcliffe, now at CHI) pressing play on VHS of a first cut, to find that the tape, that I was supposed to have checked, was completely blank.  There have been other genuine horrors involving nice clients, antsy creatives, ill-chosen words and too much premium continental lager, but let’s not go there.

3. What work have you been involved in that you are most proud of?

Our recent campaign outlining the signs of a Stroke because of this message, “Thanks to this advert being on TV, it has saved my husbands life. We were able to spot the signs of a stroke and dialled 999. Thank you.”

And this Double Decker campaign, which we made without the Client knowing and persuaded them to run.

4. The Inevitable Lunch Questions: (a) Tell me about the best Lunch you've ever had? (b) Who would be present at your dream Lunch, and where would it be?
The best have been on shoots in either Cape Town or Sydney, overlooking the sea.  Great food and everyone feeling relaxed.

It would involve the bone marrow at St John.  With some industry greats:  Nigel Bogle, Lord Bell, Bill Bernbach and Sir Frank Lowe.  Am sure I would learn something.

5. With the rise of Digital and all that it allows, and the arrival of the Global Recession, what does the future hold for Suits (are we as dead as some would have us believe?), and why is it a job that people should want to do?

The latest IPA survey shows that numbers in account management haven’t  really changed for the past 5 years.  So we’re not dying.

But, with fewer (and these are trends) account people as CEOs, in Campaign’s ‘Faces to watch’ and as key industry commentators our influence is definitely waning.  We need to make ourselves over or risk irrelevance.  Look at how the planning star has ascended through appropriation of the blogosphere.

So Mr Adland Suit, I applaud what you are doing.  Because we do need to scrutinise what we do, be more scientific to create some theories regarding what makes us good and raise the general level of debate.  It’s that or the slide towards being no more than a well-spoken, pimped Addison Lee service, ferrying information around, but adding no value to it.

The major areas where we can add value where no other individual/ department can are:

1.  As truffle pigs: in an increasingly project-based world people who can snuffle out income opportunities will be invaluable, we are best-placed to do this

2.  As conductors:  as the orchestra expands to include data analysts, IA, tech, etc etc there is an even greater need for someone to ensure the everyone is playing the same piece and playing in time.  We, present from start to finish of every project, are best-placed to do this

3.  As lovers:  Each individual part of (and person within) the process needs to be loved as well as its glorious sum. We are uniquely place to give this love and it is this galvanising love that puts us at the heart of the client/ agency relationship and which makes the collective heart beat stronger

4.  As climate controllers: someone needs to be ensuring the environment (Client/ Agency relationship) is conducive to the best possible ideas blooming.  We are, still, best placed to do this

6. If you could travel back in time and give one piece of advice to yourself as a Junior Suit, what would it be?

Smile more, son.  Being a ray of sunshine is a massively important part of what you do.


AdLand Suit said...

If you have any comments on any of Jamie's points, or any further questions, let me know here, via email or via twitter, and I'll see what I can do. Enjoy.

Andrea Nastase said...

I think it would be interesting to ask how the person got into the business, what the person enjoys about what they do, and what they don’t enjoy and why! Just curiosity.

Anonymous said...

Well spoken, Mr. Elliott!

Like the interviews. Great idea.