AE of the future? Spot the elephant in the room

Both Bob Jeffrey (“Revival of the AE,” Oct. 3) and Robert Gibralter (“Let’s dig in and compete for top account talent,” Oct. 10) missed the obvious. How can we put prestige back into account management? It’s not simply about “managing complexity” and “keeping clients happy.” Nor is it just about “hiring the best.” It’s about defining and owning a real value-added role, both internally and externally.

Quick, spot the role. It’s related to a word that has been overused, misinterpreted and bastardized since its inception around 1989. Yes, integration, or as I prefer to call it, “brand idea navigation.” The AE of today (not tomorrow) should be the expert on all disciplines and touch points. This is the person who should be able to advise clients that:

• This isn’t an advertising job … we have awareness. This is about assisting the sales team by building understanding/preference via experiential/event marketing.

• This requires a very aggressive demand generation component.

• This is about awareness. But to build credibility, we need third-party endorsement, so a PR component is a must.

No, this role does not take away media’s role—it complements it. No, this does not infringe on planning—it builds an intuitive bridge between the planning group’s “why” and the end “how.”

AEs of today: Demand that your agency allow you to get real experience in direct, interactive, PR, advertising, experiential, etc. And if your agency can’t offer you that, leave and join a different discipline on your own … then go back.

How do we put the prestige back in account management? By leading teams (our own, planning, creative and media) into areas they never thought of and empowering everyone to come up with boundless ideas that are unexpected, exciting and that work. Just what the doctor ordered.

Russ Parkel

Marketing executive

New York