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.

Friday, 29 May 2009

I'm Not On Holiday With Scamp

But I am on holiday. I was going to post this afternoon, but it was sunny. So sue me. I'll be back with you all a week Monday. Much love.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

How To Lose A Pitch

I'll do a post one day with advice on how to pitch successfully (advice on how to work within a team, how to structure a meeting, the importance of reception, the importance of the junior clients, etc...). It will be a long post, and it will probably ramble a touch - largely because there's clearly no established set of rules for winning a pitch. And if there were, I wouldn't post them here. I like you people, but not that much.

So this is a post about losing pitches - or, more specifically, how to deal with losing pitches. The fact of the matter is that everybody in this industry will lose pitches. I've been fortunate enough to be on the winning side on more occasions than not (I'm still young enough for that to change...) but show me someone who's never lost a pitch and I'll show you someone who either doesn't work in advertising, or is just lying on Twitter. As you might expect though, there's more than one way to lose a pitch - the small pieces of advice I offer here are designed to help you do it better, and to get you through to the other side.

First up, and this is an obvious one, be gracious. If the pitch is through any kind of intermediary (and most are), you need to stay in their good books - you gain nothing by being sullen or petulant. When you discover who's won, offer your congratulations to the successful Agency. In pitches, as in life, being a gentleman can only bring good things, while moaning or complaining just makes you look like a child.

Feedback is vital, and inevitably hard to take. Whether you're pitching for a multi-million pound piece of business, or a small local client, an enormous amount of emotional investment goes into a pitch - as a result, it hurts when you lose. And the one thing that hurts even more is finding out exactly why you lost: what you did that they didn't like; what you said that they didn't agree with; what you misinterpreted on the pitch brief; whose personality clashed with whose. But you have to swallow your pride, and dive right in. Speak to the intermediary, speak to the client (if you can) and be self-critical - what could you have done better, when could you have worked harder, how could your thinking have been more rigorous? Everything you learn will make you better prepared for the next pitch.

And once you've done that, move on. Wallowing helps no-one. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself on and start looking for the next opportunity. There will always be another pitch.

And finally, go for a drink. Go for several drinks. The inevitable reality is that when a team wins a pitch, everyone in the Agency wins a pitch. When a team loses a pitch, the team tend to be left alone with their loss. The responsibility of the Suit is to lead that team out to the pub as much as it was to lead that team into the pitch itself. So drink, rant, laugh, realise that you didn't want to win anyway, fall over and move on. You will all be better Adlanders for it.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Unavoidable Truths #1

There will never be enough time, and there will never be enough people. Unless you work in the public sector, in which case there will be too many of both.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Every Bathroom Needs A Door

So - picture the scene. It's 6am, and I'm rudely woken by persistent ringing of my doorbell. Somewhat bleary-eyed, I don my dressing gown and make my way to the door, to be confronted by the 6"7 bearded man who has been leading the merry troupe of cowboys that have spent the previous three weeks fitting a new bathroom. Somewhat bizarrely, given that he'd just woken me up, he doesn't look happy.

"Why have you made me come round again?" he asks, somewhat abruptly.

"Erm... Well, I was hoping you'd be able to finish off the bathroom..." I mumbled, in what I hoped was a conciliatory tone.

(From this point on I'll leave out the 'erms', 'ahems' and 'ahs', else we'll be here all day.)

It turned out I'd missed the target with the reconciliation. He wasn't pleased.

"What are you talking about? The bathroom's finished. It's beautiful!"

By now we were striding through my flat, heading for the bathroom in question. Well, he was striding - I was shuffling along in his wake.

"Look! Look! It's beautiful! Look at the shower, and the bath! Look at the tiles! It's beautiful!"

"Yes, but..."

"Look at the heated towel rail - it's a beautiful thing!"

By this point I was starting to grudgingly admire his ability for seeing beauty in the most tediously functional of things - but I wasn't to be swayed.

"Yep, and I love it, but that's not really the point - where's the sodding door?"

And he looked at me, slightly suspicious, slightly crestfallen (presumably because I'd failed to appreciate the beauty of a gaping door-frame) and suddenly sullen.

"We never talked about a door. We never said it would have a door."

And I'll leave the story there, and jump to the point - of course we'd talked about a door. Every bathroom needs a door. My bathroom, prior it its renovation, had a door: the door that was now supposed to be hanging in the (beautiful) doorframe; the door that, it transpired, had been mistakenly lobbed in a skip a week earlier. And because I'm a fastidious Suit, I'd kept record of all the conversations we'd had and emails we'd exchanged, and was able to call his (much less physically imposing) boss later that day, and make him come round the following day, with a new door, which he duly fitted. So don't worry about me or my bathroom - we're just fine.

The point, though, is this: keep notes, follow up calls with emails and however you refer to or structure them, produce contact reports. Because there will come a day (and eventually, believe me, there will come several) when you'll be glad that you did.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Getting The Best Out Of The BACC

Logic demands that I should follow up yesterday's empassioned rallying call in Campaign with a big, bombastic, insightful post on the nature of Suiting. So I'm not going to - instead, I'm going to impart what I have in the way of BACC wisdom.

(Incidentally, I'm stubbornly going to refer to them as the BACC in this post. Whilst I'd heartily recommend using 'Clearcast' when you speak to them (they can get a bit precious), I'll be using BACC in this post because it describes what they do and what they are, while ClearCast, conversely, means absolutely nothing.)

So - onwards. You won't find the BACC on many advertising blogs - and if you do, they will normally feature as a probable justification for an ad not being very good. (They have a lot in common with 'clients' in this respect.) That, I'd venture, is mostly because the only people that really come into contact with them are Suits, and as discussed ad infinitum elsewhere, Suits Don't Blog. So - this is their moment in the sun. I'm not going to tell you how to get illegal ideas past them, and I'm not going to try and tell you what to say to them - each representative will have a different way of working. I'm just going to offer a couple of tips for Suits who have to deal with them, and hopefully a bit of revelation into what they actually do, for a broader audience.

First off, the revelation: the BACC do not hate advertising, and their job is not to ensure that all ads on TV are shit. (I'd reference that quote, but I've heard it far too many times from far too many different people.) The reality is quite the opposite. The BACC need advertising - without it, there's literally no point in them. The reason the BACC exist (and you can write this one down) is to ensure that once an ad is on air, it stays there.

It is the job of the BACC to ensure that when 'Disgruntled of Rotherham' writes to the ASA to complain about the flagrant disregard for public decency in the new tampax ad, or the clearly manipulated emission figures in the new BMW ad, there is a solid, rigorous and inarguable body of evidence to demonstrate that 'Disgruntled' is mistaken, and should get back to complaining about Chris Moyles. It's a thankless job, it's often a fairly miserable job and it's always an extremely admin-heavy job, but essentially they are here to help us, and understanding that makes managing the whole process a hell of a lot easier. Don't think, 'How can we get this through?' - think, 'How can we help them get this through?'

And the rest of it is really pretty straightforward: be nice to them; give them time where you can; anticipate their issues/concerns, and answer them before they're raised; remember they've rebranded, and call them Clearcast; don't just take them out for lunch at the end of a tricky project, take them out for lunch at the start of a tricky project, and stick a celebration lunch in the diary (it's obvious, it's superficial, and it works); and, finally, treat them like human beings. Their job is to worry about the disgruntleds of Milton Keynes, Rotherham and Cardiff so that we don't have to - our job is to help them. And then to take them to lunch.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

A Change To Scheduled Programming

Good morning, one and all - and a special hello to those that are here as a result of this morning's Campaign. If you're wondering what the point of this is (and hell, we all have at some point), then you can either read this or this, depending on your mood. If you'd like to be put off being a Junior Suit then why not check this out (or even this) - and, once you've done that, you can get excited again here. Or just browse. Your call.

Hopefully you'll find something of value to enjoy - to be honest though, as I said in my letter, even if you don't, I'm just glad you're here. I believe in the role of the Suit, and I believe that too often it's not done well enough. Debating (and, let's be honest, arguing about) exactly what 'well enough' means is what this blog is for.