Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ad Up to a Creative Career in Advertising

Advertising is perceived as a glamorous profession - and that's because every glamor dealer is connected to advertising, for example: big companies, shapely client executives, models, sports stars, singers, actors and everyone and anyone that's in the buzz.

Well, that's the outsider view of the industry. When you get inside, things may start looking a little different - creative arguments, long hours, impatient clients, flop campaigns, demanding bosses, and things like that, will combine to make you think what the heck was it about advertising that hooked you in! But that's not to say that the advertising job stinks - it really doesn't. In fact, a career in advertising may be extremely rewarding and soul-satisfying for the right kind of person! So, let's first take a look at the departments and the positions in an advertising firm.

Job Profiles and the Qualifications Required

An advertising agency works in a compartmentalized environment - different departments perform different actions that merge into one desired result, that of increasing the client's sales. Here are the various key departments functioning in an advertising firm and the various key positions that are sought after in them.

Accounts Services Department

This department acts as a bridge between the client and the advertising agency. It helps bring in business and is responsible for the communication that flows from client to accounts executive to various departments in the agency. The key positions in this department are: Accounts Executive and Accounts Manager. Plus, there are assistant level positions too.

An accounts executive liaises between the client and the advertising agency. He needs to possess excellent communication skills and, therefore, a course in effective communication is integral requirement for those seeking out a career as an accounts executive. An accounts manager typically manages the accounts, deals with the accounts executives, the client and the agency. Therefore, apart from excellent communication skills, he must also possess human management skills. A management degree or diploma is required for the post of accounts manager.

Media Services Department

The key positions in this department are media planner, media manager and media director. The media services department analyzes the effectiveness of various media in the market, recommends the media to the client, and then buys space for the client on the selected media after negotiating rates with the media sellers.

The media planner is more of a statistical guy - he analyzes circulations, costs and reach of various media, and reports about them to the media manager. Figuring out statistical data needs common sense rather than a separate degree and, therefore, a basic degree or diploma is okay for a media planner. A media manager negotiates and manages the media buying process in addition to managing the staff under him; so he needs to major in communication and management. A media director directs the operations of the entire media services department and he needs to be an experienced management graduate.

Creative Department

This department is filled by creative people who create the advertisements. It is necessary that each and ever member of this department has majored in visual arts and knows how to handle the latest graphic design software packages. One can find art directors (junior and senior), graphic artists, copywriters, layout designers, production managers, and website designers.

The art direction section in this department produces and directs the creative content. The entire team must know the latest advertising trends and should possess strong visual communication skills (degree or diploma is needed). Copywriters too need to take a special course in writing effective marketing material, but it is not necessary that they have in-built writing skills. The graphic designer must be a graduate in fine arts and should know how to work the latest design software; the layout designer must know how to work on the latest layout software and should have a strong sense of aesthetics.

Apart from designers and art directors, advertising firms need website designers and programmers too. The qualifications for them are self-explanatory.

Ad Industry Pay Scales in USA

The following are the YEARLY pay scales prevalent in USA (source: salary.com) for the key positions discussed above:

Accounts Executive: $57,000-$76,000
Senior Accounts Executive: $71,000-$96,000
Accounts Manager: $69,000-$98,000
Art Director: $83,000-$124,000
Assistant Art Director: $83,000-$124,000
Artist: $44,000-$92,000
Creative Director: $63,000-$115,000
Graphic Designer: $40,000-$61,000
Copywriters: $36,000-$88,000
Media Planner: $40,000-$52,000
Media Director: $97,000-$127,000
Layout Desktop Operators: $32,000-$48,000

The salaries in Canada are expected to be more or less in the same range.

Top Advertising Companies (USA/Canada)

The following American/Canadian companies have been ranked as the best in pay scales, working environment and employee growth:

Ogilvy & Mather
BBDO Worldwide
Saatchi & Saatchi
McCann Erickson Worldwide
Grey Worldwide
FCB Worldwide

This was a brief guide on the various career options available in the field of advertising. Go for what suits your qualifications and skills the most.

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