My ‘how to get into advertising‘ interview this week is with Nick Gold, Account Manager for Saatchi & Saatchi, who since this interview, has now moved to Wieden + Kennedy. With these two huge names under his belt, who else would be better to give advice on how to become an advertising Account Manager than Nick? Have a read to see how he got into the industry and what advice he’d pass on.
Nick spent almost three years at Saatchi & Saatchi, working on their Visa and Toyota accounts. Three months into his career and Wieden + Kennedy, he manages the agency’s account with Tesco. If this sounds like the kind of clients you want to work with in advertising, take a look for Nicks tips on how to become an advertising Account Manager.
1. What is your day to day role?
At Saatchi’s I most recently worked on the Visa European account. I also worked on Toyota and TUI sustainability account. As well as working on the account, I worked on some pitches (Ballentine’s and Weetabix) and some agency initiative.
The job role as an account man is almost impossible to define exactly. For me, in a nut shell, it is about creating the right environment for the best creative work possible. There are many different ways in achieving this and that is what makes the day to day so different. Somedays it might be leading a creative brainstorm, while other days it is about making your client feel comfortable in buying some work.
One great thing about the job that it’s so varied and you work with so many different types of people. That is why I like being an account man, you get to be part of the idea from the moment it’s born (a client briefing) to playing it out online / television.
2. How did you get to where you are now?
A little bit of luck and fate I guess. First of all, you don’t need to study marketing or advertising to work in an agency. In fact, sometimes it is better when you haven’t because your opinions are purely based on your own thoughts. I studied Human Geography at Nottingham Uni, which has little to do with advertising.
I saw the Saatchi scholarship applications on Facebook 3 years ago and decided to apply on a whim. I thought I was going to end up in film, but gradually as the process developed I was more and more intrigued and started to take a real interest in advertising. Previously I had worked on a film set (Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang!), but the more I learnt about advertising, the more I knew it felt right and wanted to become an advertising Account Manager.
For the actual application process I had to do a number of things: create a Facebook group and get as many people as possible to join; an online quiz, recreate an advert (which you can watch here), complete a Skype interview where we were asked questions to make us think on our feet and then an interview and assessment day. I loved the whole process!
3. What was your biggest challenge?
I wouldn’t say I have had any huge challenges. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by such great people. When I came to the interview day, I was worried that everyone else would know more than me, especially those who studied marketing / advertising. So I guess the challenge there was to feel confident in my own abilities.
“You need to remember there are lots of people who want to work in advertising, so in this cluttered environment you need to stand out.”
4. What do Saatchi & Saatchi look for from future Account Managers?
Talent is the most important thing agencies have. You need to be smart and nice. Advertising is a very social industry, so it is important that you can have fun and work with other people. I think one of the most important qualities to possess at an entry level is passion. Sound passionate about adverts you love, your hobbies. You need to make sure you can talk about creative work and why you think it’s good or bad. You need to remember there are lots of people who want to work in advertising, so in this cluttered environment you need to stand out. And to do this, you need to think about your own brand, ‘brand me’ and how important it is for people to understand who you are. To do this, you need to know your strengths and your beliefs.
5. What advice would you give to become an advertising Account Manager?
Having been on both sides of the interview process, I find it clear on what works.
Make sure you know what is happening in the industry – the most recent work, recent pitch wins, client / staff moves etc… To become an advertising Account Manager you need to be clued up.
Read advertising blogs and know some examples of ads that work (read IPA effectiveness papers, APG awards)
When you get your foot in the door, make sure you stand out and leave an impression on the people you meet. This doesn’t mean strolling in and acting out what you think agencies want (no one likes a show-off). It’s important to make people feel something for you. There is a great quote by Maya Angelou in which she says: ”I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” and I think that is so true.
6. What would you recommend for getting into an agency?
It’s a combination of the previous two answers. Make sure you have a good understanding on what is happening in the marketplace and try to stand out. Then look at all the agencies websites, learn their beliefs and have an opinion on their latest work. Remember you don’t always have to agree with whether it’s good or not. Sometimes it’s better to argue why it isn’t good and how you could improve it.
When you look at the application processes, think about how you can be different. How can your application stand out from the other few hundred they’ll see?
7. What has been your career highlight so far?
I have two. Delivering work for Visa for the Olympic Games across Europe was huge! I worked on a post 100m final TV ad, as soon as Bolt won we were in the editing studio making a 10 second ad congratulating Bolt on winning. Within 24 hours it was on air in Turkey and the UK and online in 14 European countries.
Another was a Facebook campaign for Toyota called the Shoutout. I was allowed to run the project from start to finish and it was incredibly fun throughout. There was a great sense of achievement when it was over – after 72 hours in a recording studio!
But now I am about to start at Wieden & Kennedy and I cannot wait to start.