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Scott McKay is a Toronto strategist, writer, creative director, patient manager, half-baked photographer and forcibly retired playwright.

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    "They had their cynical code worked out. The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket."

          – George Orwell






    "Advertising – a judicious mix of flattery and threats."

          – Northrop Frye






    "Chess is as an elaborate a waste of time as has ever been devised outside an advertising agency."

          – Raymond Chandler


    « "the new facebook sucks> NOW LET ME IN." | Main | nasty stories of creative directors who once interviewed me »

    a short note about the firing of an account person

    A long time ago in a galaxy that I happened to be working in...

    The account supervisor on a major retailer's loyalty account was new to the suit business. She'd been a strategist or data analyst or something at another agency – some sort of clever job that didn't actually involve client interaction. But she had a good résumé and references, I guess, because there she was, heading up day to day business with the client.

    It was a busy account, pumping out lots of card-related DM, a monthly newsletter and a pantload more. Somewhat logically, this mean lots of client interaction every day, both face to face and, because the client was a long drive out of town, more usually by phone.

    On the creative side we didn't realize that anything was wrong; this new suit had some good moments, some bad ones, but in her first couple of months this was expected. There was also a strong account exec working with her, a woman who was junior but smart and learned quickly, so things seemed normal.

    One week, we started sensing some tension from this junior account exec; she wasn't getting answers from the new supervisor, and the clients were acting weird, she said. A couple of our ongoing projects stalled, pending feedback or approvals that weren't coming. She hinted at other weirdness, odd moments with her new boss that did not bode well.

    The next week, the word went out in hushed, furtive doorway conversations – the new supervisor was gone. (Along with her boss, sadly.)

    We found out why a few hours later. She had simply stopped returning client phone calls, stopped having any interaction at all with the people paying the bills, and her salary. With no explanations pending, and no informaton, the clients had quickly gone from concern, to irritation, to truculence, and had called the powers-that-be to demand their kilo of flesh.

    Never found out why she did what she did, and I've never seen her since; speculation naturally ran to her cracking under pressure, which is of course only a euphemism for anxiety or depression or something else that was the real problem, and which her high-pressure job only exacerbated.

    Advertising is not a career that grants you space or time to get over things, or allows you to hide from yourself.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    I believe it was Clint Eastwood who, as Dirty Harry, said, "A man's got to know his limitations."

    May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Castellano

    And I believe it was Strother Martin who, in Cool Hand Luke, said, "What we got here is, failure to communicate."

    May 14, 2010 | Registered CommenterScott

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