Portfolio School Lies to You, Part 2

Here is another lie that’s often perpetuated in portfolio schools:

“Account people are your enemy.”

Sometimes they’re called “suits.” Or “account execs.” Or even just “the account side,” like there’s a geopolitical barrier between you.

They usually wear slacks while we wear frayed jeans. They read The Wall Street Journal and Brandweek at their desk while we flip through Wired and Dwell in the a coffee shop around the corner. We’re creative. They’re not. We’re superior. They’re mostly idiots.

Come on. There’s a part of you that believes this, right? That you heroically champion the creative spirit while they couldn’t straighten their spine in a client meeting to save their life?

Stop it. Take the thought, wad it up, flick your Bic and incinerate it. Seriously. No agency needs a creative (especially a young one fresh out of school), who distains someone on the same team.

True, there are a lot of bad account people out there. I’ve had the displeasure to work with a few. And I could tell you some funny stories that would perpetuate a certain stereotype.

But I’ve also worked with a lot of account people who are smarter than me. Who have more patience than me. Who are more adept at seeing a bigger picture than me. Who deservedly make more money than me.

My advice: When you get your first job, cross the tracks and make friends with the account folk. Talk to them about advertising. See what they like about it. Find out what they consider great work. Have the same conversations with them that you do your creative peers.

And I recommend you not refer to them as “suits.”

4 thoughts on “Portfolio School Lies to You, Part 2

  1. Amen. And it’s good to become friends with them. I’d imagine it’s easier to champion a creative’s idea when you’re friends vs. enemies.


  2. Another suggestion. Occasionally go to their desk and show them some work, even if it’s work in progress (you don’t have to show everything!). It breaks down the ‘them’ and ‘us’ barrier. Getting the account team to buy in early to work helps you sell it in later. And ask for opinions, even if you don’t take their advice. Having them as part of team is more productive than alienating them. A good creative often can’t be a great creative without a fantastic ‘suit’.


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