A Difference of Opinion
According to Gloria deGeare [Letters, Feb. 1], the purpose of advertising is simply to “create a desire for product,” “get a trial” and to “make the cash register ring.” I find this attitude about the role of creative in building brands disturbing. I would argue great creative work is the only service that makes an ad agency indispensable to a client.
More than making the cash register ring, brand building is about tapping into a consumer’s deepest passions, beliefs and desires, striking a chord and creating a bond that can, and should, last a lifetime. Great creative makes that possible. Often, it’s creative work that initially makes clients uncomfortable–because it requires them to take risks, sometimes a leap of faith, to do what is right. As Ms. deGeare points out, at some point a client may even say, “This isn’t working.” Her prescription seems to be for the account executive to scurry back to the creative department with a list of the client’s “needs” and to get the creative team to “make it work.” Ms. deGeare states, “There are no givens, no absolutes, no right or wrong answers” in this business.
Why can’t a client be wrong? If you’ve sold a client a truly great advertising idea and they simply respond by saying, “This isn’t working,” then the client is wrong. And it takes a strong account person to be more than just the client’s bagman. He or she must have enough respect for the client, the consumer and himself or herself to speak the hard truth. That’s why I despise the term “client service.” It sets the false expectation that AEs exist merely to carry water for clients, instead of acting as advocates for the agency’s position and, ultimately, what’s right for the brand.
The advertising business is all about givens, absolutes, right and even wrong answers. Championing great creative advertising regardless of the political cost with a client is the principled path of account service. It’s hard–very hard. But at the end of the day, the reward of producing great creative advertising–and the integrity that comes with knowing you’ve done the right thing–makes the struggle worthwhile.
Jeff Graham
Account executive
Core, St. Louis
For the Record
In the New England Agency of the Year report [Jan. 25], Mullen’s 1998 revenues grew 26 percent, or $7.8 million, to $38 million The name of the Southfield, Mich., agency contending for the PNC Bank account is Doner [Adweek, Feb. 1] In Best Spots of 1998 [Feb. 1], the title of the ESPN SportsCenter ad was “Perfect Show.” Warner Bros. Classic Animation handled the animation on American Express’ “Superman” spot. Brendan O’Carroll edited the Jack in the Box ad. Elizabeth Giersbrook and Tracy Jones co-produced LA Cellular’s “Shopper.” Earwax created the music for Adidas’ “Firemen” spot Steve Rabosky’s title is deputy worldwide creative chairman at Ammirati Puris Lintas [Creative, Feb. 8].

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