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

Why The Great Suit Debate Matters

I'm happy to announce, dear readers, that we are officially 'in exciting times'. For whatever reason, the Suit is slowly making its way back towards the front pages, along with masses of healthy debate about the exact nature of the role, its future and its importance.

First of all, back in January, Haymarket ran a debate asking "Is Traditional Account Management Dead?", with DLKW's Jamie Elliott fighting what the biased might term 'the good fight'. (To demonstrate my absolute impartiality, I'll only mention in parenthesis that the motion was dismissed.)

Then, a few weeks back, Andrew McGuinness wrote a sterling piece for the IPA (which I blogged about at the time) in which he quietly and eloquently dismantles the 'Suits Are Dead' theory, before laying out a pretty good template for the Modern Suit.

Next up, this morning's Campaign carried two viewpoints on one question: "Is The Account Man Really King?" Ed Morris, former ECD of Lowe, and Robert Senior, Fallon/M&C Kingpin and UK Chief Executive of the SSF Group, shared their views, and whilst they differed in their conclusion (Ed said yes, Robert offered a self-effacing no) both arguments were thought-provoking and, in the case of Mr Morris, downright inspiring to read.

(I should apologise at this point for being unable to link to the articles in question - I realise how unhelpful that is for anyone reading this overseas or who simply hasn't seen Campaign, but I just can't find them on-line. If anybody comes across them, let me know and I'll update the post.)

Finally, and perhaps most enjoyably, in that same issue of Campaign, the great Jeremy Bullmore was asked about WCRS and Mother's use of "non-productive middle-men". I won't reproduce his response in full here - suffice to say, he's wontedly eloquent in his defence of the Account Handler.

I would love to claim that I'm in some way responsible for all of these discussions - it's much more likely that I'm reflecting a growing restlessness. Because the important thing here is not that people are saying good things about Suits, but that people are saying things full-stop. For too long now, Planners, Creatives and anyone with the word 'digital' in their job title has been hogging the limelight, while we Suits, perhaps overly polite, perhaps overly complacent in our necessity and importance, stepped back. And that can't go on.

There's no place for the smug Suit in modern AdLand (if there ever was). We need to be continually analysing ourselves and our role, continually questioning, continually thinking, continually challenging ourselves, continually striving to improve what we do and continually searching for new opportunities to demonstrate our skills. And that's only going to happen through discussion, through debate and through deconstructing ourselves every day - that's how we'll make ourselves better.

And the industry will benefit as a result. Great Suits will lead to great work, to great Client relationships, to great bottom lines and to a whole load of other great things - forget campaigns, they can make an Agency.

And that's why this blog exists. So if you're a Suit, use the comments to tell me and everyone else what you think we do well, and how you think we could be improving. If you're a Creative, a TV Producer, a Designer or anything else, use them to tell me and everyone else what we do that really hacks you off, and what we do that makes your lives and your work better. And if you're on the outside of the industry trying to get in, use them to ask me what the point in Suits really is, why the Industry needs them and why it's a job you should want to do.

Bring on the questions and bring on the arguments - bring on the debate. We have nothing to lose but our mystique, and everything else to gain.


faris said...

nice mate

but what if blogging kills account management like it did planning?


First Mate said...

Cheers for the comment. I'll be following your blog... in terms of what suits do that hack me off? Here goes (and not suggesting that you do any of the following).

1. Pre-empting the client. 'No, they won't go for that'. Believe me, I've had the words 'Over my dead body am I selling that' thrown at me. And guess which route the client bought? Yup. Cue one red-faced suit.

2. Lying. About timescales. About costs. About.. well anything really.

3. Not saying no to clients. Ever.

Perhaps you could do a vica versa when it comes to creatives? ;-) Or is that just opening a can of worms?

AdLand Suit said...

@faris - planning's not dead, mate. It's just really drunk.

AdLand Suit said...

And @First Mate - that's a post to follow. I'm all about the opening of wormy cans...