What is a Advertising Account Executive ?
An advertising account executive is responsible for handling communication between the agency and the client as well as the creation of campaigns.
You’ll be responsible for presenting your creative ideas to the client and managing their expectations throughout the process. Once approved, you will then be liable for coordinating and executing the campaign from start to finish.
Understanding the needs of your client is the key to ensuring your creative idea is successful and on-brand. You will learn this by liaising with them over time, finding out what is important to them and what they want to achieve. You’ll also be responsible for administrative duties throughout the campaign process to ensure each project is completed on time and on budget.
As an advertising account executive, you'll need to:
- Meet and liaise with clients to discuss and identify their advertising requirements
- Work with agency colleagues to devise an advertising campaign that meets the client’s brief and budget
- Present (alongside agency colleagues – particularly the account manager) the campaign ideas and budget to the client
- Work with the account manager to brief media, creative and research staff and assist with the formulation of marketing strategies
- Liaise with, and act as the link between, the client and the advertising agency by maintaining regular contact with both
- Ensure that communication flows effectively
- Negotiate with clients and agency staff about the details of campaigns
- Present creative work to clients for approval or modification
- Handle budgets, manage campaign costs and invoice clients
- Write client reports
- Monitor the effectiveness of campaigns
- Undertake administrative tasks
- Arrange and attend meetings
- Make pitches, along with other agency staff, with the aim of securing new business for the agency.
- Starting salaries for an advertising account executive will range between £19,000 – £24,000
- Once you become more experienced you will be able to progress to an account manager where you will earn between £30,000 – £40,000. Directors can earn up to £55,000. Senior account directors might earn up to £65,000.
Salaries will vary depending on the size of the company and where it is located. For example, according to Glassdoor the average salary for an advertising account executive in London is £34,000. You will also be eligible for additional agency benefits, such as profit-sharing schemes, bonuses, free gym membership, medical insurance etc.
You can expect to work between the hours of 9am – 6pm, Monday to Friday. However, this will vary depending on the agency and you may be asked to start the day early or finish late, in order to meet deadlines. Weekend work is rare unless a campaign is due to go live over a weekend – this will be agreed with the client beforehand.
Although there are few opportunities for paid overtime in the industry, some agencies will offer time off in lieu. Career breaks and part-time work aren’t common, but job sharing is sometimes possible and some of the larger agencies offer paid sabbaticals after a qualifying period of service.
What to expect
- You may work with clients on multiple accounts and the hours can be long, in a competitive and sometimes stressful environment.
- Although you’ll generally be office-based, travel within the working day is frequent as you’ll be expected to visit clients and may attend TV shoots, radio recordings or castings. Absence from home overnight and overseas work or travel is occasionally required.
- Large advertising agencies are becoming increasingly international in scope. Many are part of a larger media and communications group, whose parent company may be based in another European country or in the USA.
- The working environment is generally informal, although smart dress is often the norm. The role can involve socialising with clients.
- Redundancies can be common in the advertising industry, for example, if there’s an economic downturn or the business is undergoing a difficult period. Advertising agencies are continually trying to win new business.
The advertising industry is open to graduates of all degrees. However, the following subject may improve your chances, especially with the industry being highly competitive amongst graduates:
- Creative writing
- Public relations
It is possible to go into the advertising industry without a degree if you have enough relevant work experience however, a degree is generally preferred especially within larger agencies.
Utilising social media sites, such as LinkedIn, to find potential employers and network with your community is a great way to build your profile within the industry and market yourself. Look out for events hosted by agencies and other communities where you can attend and network with other professionals and meet industry representatives. Reading job adverts can be a useful way to gain an understanding of what skills you already have and those that are required and you need to obtain.
Consider related posts for work experience, for example, in sales, marketing or public relations, as employers often find the skills and experience gained in related roles transferable to advertising.
A Master’s degree in Business and Administration with Banking and Finance (MBA with banking and finance) is beneficial and will put you in a better position to start earning the highest salary straight away.
By being certified as a qualified Risk Manager, you can ensure that you continue to grow your talents and increase your income. This entails earning internationally recognised qualifications.
You'll need to show evidence of the following:
must have skills:
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- A proactive attitude, with the ability to use initiative and be flexible
- Excellent organisational skills
- The ability to work under pressure and assimilate large quantities of information quickly, while maintaining attention to detail
- Drive and determination
- Effective teamworking skills
- Influencing and negotiation skills
- Oral and written communication skills
- Commercial awareness
- A passion for advertising and an understanding of what makes a good advertisement
- A willingness to learn
- Resilience, to enable you to deal with problems and constructive criticism
- IT literacy and an awareness of how the industry is developing through the use of new communication technologies.
Work experience prior to going into the industry is extremely desirable and will help you stand out amongst the competition. It is also a great way to get an understanding of what agency life is like and make valuable contacts, which may be useful when you start your permanent role as an account executive.
You can gain work experience through vacation work, placements or job shadowing. More formal work experience opportunities or internship programmes are offered by larger agencies and can usually be found online.
With the industry being so competitive, it may be difficult to secure work experience however, gaining experience in a similar vertical will also make your application more desirable. Voluntary work is also a great way to gain valuable experience.
Many opportunities will be within larger advertising agencies which range between 50 to 80 employees, although some agencies can have more than 300 employees. Smaller companies can range in size from 5 to 15 people.
Many of the larger agencies will require multidisciplinary service to clients, such as marketing and public relations in addition to advertising – this is otherwise called a ‘communications’ package.
Look for job vacancies at:
You may also find roles through speculative applications. A speculative, targeted application using a focused, attention-grabbing CV and cover letter can be an effective approach. Try to learn as much as possible about advertising, the role of account executives and about the organisation you wish to work for before applying directly. The IPA has a list of agency members listed on its website, including relevant contact details.
Larger agencies, which have graduate training schemes, invite applications through their websites. These are usually made early in the autumn term of your final year. Smaller and specialist agencies recruit as vacancies arise, often using specialised websites or recruitment consultancies.
It’s usual to enter this career as an advertising account executive and then progress as follows:
- Account manager (often starting as a junior first) – managing executives and handling high-profile clients. Most account managers spend at least three or four years at this level before having enough experience to seek promotion
- Account director – taking responsibility for all account staff and clients
- Group account director.
How quickly and far you progress in your career will depend on the level of experience you gain and the success of your campaigns. Working on an award-winning campaign, for example, will give you a higher profile and industry recognition, and your career progression will be much more rapid. As a result, you might even be headhunted by other advertising agencies.
Moving between agencies and working for several different clients can help you progress more quickly, so mobility and flexibility are important in building your career.
Studying towards a BA (Hons) in International Business sets students up with the necessary skills to work in a range of professions. The course involves working closely with academic theory and practical case studies, allowing students to grasp how the theory can be applied in real business scenarios.
Within this programme, students will cover modules such as business studies, finance, human resource management, marketing, and economics. BA International Business takes a very hands-on approach to learning by incorporating workshops, guest lectures and field trips into the programme.
Other related courses
Postgraduate related courses:
The MBA component of the course takes a broad look at business practice and functions such as accounts, finance, and HR – and how they are all interlinked. This allows students to grasp the importance of strategy and communication within a managerial role.
Alongside a broad business view, this course allows students to specialise in digital marketing in a more focused way. The marketing aspect of the programme is intended to allow professionals with substantial digital marketing experience to hone their skills to enhance their career prospects. Areas of study include digital marketing strategy, management, social media marketing, search engine optimisation, pay per click, email and influencer marketing.