Thursday, September 06, 2007

Quoted for Truth: The AE as a Masochist

I received this as a fowarded message from a co-worker, a fellow masochist. XD Translated some lines to the best of my ability, for the sake of my friends and contacts who aren't able to read Filipino.

Yay to all Account Executives (or Account Managers, as in our case here in the office) everywhere!!! XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

PS I have no cleavage to speak of, so leg exposure na lang, lol. X3


I truly believe that people who enter the esoteric (read: misunderstood, misconstrued, or in layman's terms, because most people don't really know what it is exactly) world of advertising are the truly insane. Those who leave the industry have VERY good common sense and a sound sense of self- worth; those who leave and come back are certified nuts; and those who stay forever (and do not even entertain the thought of shifting into another field) -- or for a long, long time, at least -- are the ones who love to suffer.

But the inherent, unarguably 100% purebred masochists are the ones advertising people call the AEs. They are the Account Executives, the so-called unsung heroes of product launches and successful market performances since time immemorial, or, to quote a recent essay on a similar subject, the quintessential advertising person.

The AE has a thousand definitions to her name, but allow me to narrow them down into five:

1. Your parents do not understand your job description.

Excerpt from a real-life dialogue between an AE and her mother:

AE: Hey, that's my TVC!

Mom: Really? You mean ikaw ang nag-isip ng idea for that commercial?

AE: Uh, not exactly.

Mom: But you did write the script, didn't you, anak? Idea mo lahat 'yon diba?

AE: Erm...well, it was more like I orchestrated the entire production, Ma.

Mom: Honey, I don't understand. Ano ba talaga ang ginagawa mo? (What do you really do?)

In a nutshell, parents don't understand that advertising is more than just being a creative.

2. You are the sounding board of everyone. (Euphemism: Everyone yells at you.)

Your client yells at you. Your creative yells at you. Your boss yells at you. Hell, kulang na lang that even the company driver yells at you for making him drive all the way to Bicutan and then to Marikina, AND THEN back to Makati.

In actuality, they all yell at you because you are their connecting vein. You are the DNA of the system. You are the air trafficker who decides which plane goes in which direction to avoid an airborne accident. Take heart: Without you, all of them can't function properly. Shempre kailangan ng (of course, they all need your) JO/JOB ORDER!

3. You are supposed to exercise your (I quote) considerable powers of PR (Read: kaplastikan).

No matter how much you hate your support groups, you'll always have to be nice to them even if your insides are producing enough acid to burn your digestive system. This is because you need them and they, in turn, need you -- though they refuse to acknowledge such. After all, without you, where else would they get their salaries -- through sidelines?

4. You are a VERY high-paid maid of Clients.

The common perception of other advertising people is that the AE is a Client's yes-man. "The customer is always right," goes the saying after all. This is because creatives see AEs as the Clients' sidekicks when in the agency. I've actually heard one co-AE say despairingly, "Prostitutes are better off. They can say no if they're tired and want to call it a night." Not the AE. Even though you're having a bad hair day, experiencing extremely painful menstrual cramps, not to mention having to deal with spoiled creatives, you have to make sure your Client gets his deliverables, which were needed "yesterday." (Sound familiar?)

But, in defense of the AE, they do not say yes to Client all the time: it just seems that way. The AE, in relation to her kaplastikan prowess as discussed in point #3, has to do a lot of verbal ballroom dancing in order to make the Client see his or her view. In fact, the general rule among AEs is (paraphrased though): You cannot just say no just because. In line with the advertising motto that all campaigns must have a strategy, so do the AEs when it comes to dealing with Clients. As most Clients are sensitive about being brutally rebuffed, AEs have to massage their egos if they disagree with them.

And on that note, notice how, in advertising, the word "client" is spelled as "Client?" With a capital C? Isn't that equating "Client" with "God?"

God forbid.

5. You are ... McGyver.

Resourcefulness is your middle name. Advertising urban legends claim that AEs have gone through hell to make sure both Clients and creatives (and to a lesser degree, your other support groups) are appeased: sitting in the broom closet until the creatives finish the compre for a print ad, hiring a kalesa's horse to ride through traffic in order to present a storyboard to Client, even bribing a DTI representative to give you a DTI number for a promo poster.

These are not myths. They have actually happened.

In the same vein, AEs learn how to be jacks-of-all-trades and masters of disguise and deception, because they know that at the end of the day, managing to deliver (and deliver right) is what matters.

The AE is a celebrated case study for borderline personality or schizophrenia because all sorts of persuasion and coercion methods have been exercised by him or her: the use of charm, tears, and cleavage exposure are patented trademarks of an AE who knows how to get what she wants.

It may sound as if the AE is a person to be pitied, but no. Because while AEs love to whine about their dismal existence, they know, in the deepest recesses of their beings, that they feel like comic superheroes at the immense agony they have gone through and will be going through. If you listen carefully enough, you'll hear the pride between the angst, the complaints, the sighs. They know they are strong people and while not a lot may be able to understand and appreciate that, they have each other to turn to for a metaphysical sense of empathy.

And, even if, an advertisement will merit awards for the creatives and the brand manager gets a raise for a product's market performance, the AE knows that she (or he) was the one who did it all.

And that unspoken truth is the reason why the AE is deemed a masochist.

1 comment:

Mike Abundo said...

Fortunately, ad marketplaces are rapidly being automated. Many AEs will soon find themselves put out of their misery. :)