Agency, Client Defectors Speak Out

I can only agree with Neilan Tyree’s “Man About Town” [July 22] on flaws in the advertising business. I used to be an adman in a big London agency before moving over to the “dark side.” Now I work at a bank, analyzing advertising holding companies. Ever since joining this side of the corporate fence, I have questioned people in ad land about talent recruitment.

The money paid by banks, consultants and law firms is not an option for agencies. However, it is not all about the cash: As Jack McBride said, it’s not being taken seriously that is the problem.

On one hand, it’s a problem of self-esteem on a day-to-day basis. You want your clients to see you as a crucial partner, but more crucially it’s a “career-building” issue: You want to feel you are gaining experience in an environment which will open doors to future opportunities.

Unfortunately, in most cases (and I speak not only of personal experience but what my industry friends say), this is not true. The agency person has come to feel like a service supplier, and many feel insecure about the status their job affords them in the marketplace.

One aspect that has to change, and which the mega-groups need to concentrate on, is training. This training should focus on explaining what clients’ businesses actually are and do, not just what product they are trying to sell. Groups have to concentrate on training people to become multidisciplined professionals. The main argument for the mega-groups’ existence is integrated communication. Exposing people to possibilities of integration will ultimately improve the product offered to the client and make individuals feel they are better equipped in the hypercompetitive world of career-building.

Georges Gurkovsky


Credit Suisse First Boston


Having come from the “client” side after 20-plus years of sales and marketing executive stints, I finally decided to do something fun—I started doing business development for a small agency in Portland, Ore.

Needless to say, it’s been pretty easy winning business by approaching the client from the client perspective. Neilan Tyree’s “Man About Town” hits the nail on the head.

Peggy Long

Director of business development

JohnsonSheen Advertising

Portland, Ore.