Advertising agencies offer a wide range of career opportunities for people with different skills, qualifications and experience. Agencies employ a mix of people with business management, creative, administrative, planning, project management and research skills in a high-profile, fast-moving business. There were 13,706 advertising agencies in 2009, with an agency workforce of 177,500 in 2011, according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
The account services team includes account executives and account directors responsible for day-to-day relations with clients. They meet clients to discuss advertising objectives and to present the agency’s recommendations. They plan campaign schedules and budgets, and coordinate the work of creative, media and research teams to develop the ads. Account executives need a bachelor’s degree in advertising or marketing, or a master’s degree in business administration for senior account management positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Account planners work closely with account executives and the creative team to plan the strategy for advertising campaigns. They analyze market research statistics and run focus groups to gain insight into customers’ buying motives and preferences as a basis for advertising strategy. Account planners require a bachelor’s degree in advertising, marketing or statistics, together with experience in marketing and consumer research.
Media planners select the media that provide the best coverage of the campaign target market for the lowest cost. They base their decisions on readership or audience data for magazines, newspapers, radio, television and online media. They create media schedules that set out the dates when ads will appear. Media planners must have excellent analytical and statistical skills. They need a bachelor’s degree in advertising, marketing, math or statistics.
Agency creative teams include copywriters, creative directors and art directors. Creative directors are the senior figures on the team. They set the overall creative direction for campaigns and supervise the work of copywriters and art directors. The writer and art director prepare creative proposals in the form of storyboards or sketches for review by the account management team and the client. To create the final ads, they supervise the work of photographers, illustrators and video production companies. Although formal qualifications are not essential for these roles, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or advertising can improve career prospects for would-be art and creative directors. A bachelor’s degree in advertising, journalism or mass communications are suitable for copywriters.
An agency’s senior management team typically includes a chief executive, finance director and directors responsible for creative, account services and production departments. The team is responsible for the profitable running of the agency and its future development. In addition to running agency operations, they aim to build relationships with prospective clients and increase business with existing clients. The senior managers generally come from backgrounds in agency positions and they have significant experience.