Advertising Account Executives are usually employed by advertising agencies. Over two-thirds of advertising staff are based in London, but there are employers in cities across the country. Agencies vary in size. Almost half employ fewer than 20 people. Competition for vacancies is intense.
Account executives might focus on a single client or work on behalf of several at once. To ensure client requirements are met, account executives need to work closely with colleagues, including media planners and buyers, copywriters, designers and administrative staff. They usually report to an account manager or account director.
What's the work like?
Advertising account executives work to get their clients' messages across to the public. Employed by advertising agencies, they act as the main point of contact between the agency and client.
The job of an account executive is to quickly grasp each client's goals, and make use of the resources of their agency to build the most effective campaign.
- research clients' products, services, plans, competitors and target markets
- meet clients for briefings and present proposals to clients for approval
- brief agency colleagues, and work with them to plan and implement the best advertising solutions for the client
- ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. Long hours are common, and advertising staff are expected to work flexibly to meetproject deadlines.
- Advertising account executives are office-based. They travel frequently for meetings, and may be expected to socialise with clients.
- meeting clients to discuss strategy and report on progress
- responding to clients' requests as they arise
- taking part in pitches for new contracts
- keeping records and handling invoices.
Skills & Personal Qualities
An advertising account executive must be:
- quick to absorb and analyse large amounts of information
- enthusiastic, energetic and imaginative
- approachable, outgoing and diplomatic
- a clear communicator, in person and writing
- able to present ideas with conviction
- highly organised and flexible
- good with figures
- IT literate
- comfortable working as part of a team
- skilled at negotiating and motivating others
- commercially aware
- smart in appearance.
There are several different types of agency:
- integrated or 'full service' agencies, offering clients the whole range of advertising advice and creative services
- media agencies, which specialise in buying advertising space
- digital agencies, which focus on online marketing
- direct mail and direct marketing agencies.
It is very helpful to find a work placement with an agency, although these are also in high demand. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) lists agencies that run formal placement schemes.
Vacancies can be found in trade publications, such as Campaign, on the IPA website and specialist websites. Several recruitment agencies specialise in the advertising and marketing sector. Some vacancies go unadvertised. It is a good idea to make speculative applications to agencies after researching their work.
There are around 3,700 account executives in the UK (March 2008). They are employed by advertising agencies. Over two-thirds of advertising staff are based in London, but there are employers in cities across the country. Agencies vary in size. Almost half employ fewer than 20 people. Competition for vacancies is intense.
Account executives may focus on a single client or work on behalf of several at once. To ensure client requirements are met, account executives need to work closely with colleagues, including media planners and buyers, copywriters, designers and administrative staff. They usually report to an account manager or account director.
Hours and Environment
Long hours are common, and advertising staff are expected to work flexibly to meet project deadlines. This may include evening and weekend work. Advertising account executives are office-based. They travel frequently for meetings, and may be expected to socialise with clients. In agencies with international operations, travel abroad may be required.
Salary and Other Benefits
These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.
Salaries may start between approximately £12,000 and £26,000 a year, depending on the type and size of the employer. Experienced account executives may earn around £45,000 a year. The most senior account executives may earn £90,000 or more.
Entry for young people
Most advertising account executives hold a degree. This is not necessarily in a directly relevant subject, although degrees in advertising, marketing and business are available.
For a degree, the usual entry requirements are at least two A levels/three H grades, plus five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications.
It is possible to enter without a degree, although this is quite rare. Entrants may be able to progress to the position of account executive by working their way up from a work placement scheme or employment in a junior administrative capacity. Employers will normally expect candidates entering the industry in this way to have some A levels/H grades, as well as knowledge of and enthusiasm for the industry.
Entry for adults
Mature applicants are welcomed, although advertising does have a reputation for being a young person's industry. Entry requirements are the same as for young people.
Graduate trainees generally undergo an induction period of a few months before becoming account executives. During this time they learn about the industry and shadow experienced colleagues.
Training typically covers:
- marketing skills, such as how to gather brand information and analyse competition
- advertising skills, including research techniques
- organisational skills, eg team co-ordination and drawing up schedules
- communication skills, such as drawing up contact reports to record details of a client meeting
- people skills, including negotiating.
The IPA offers short courses in specific skills, such as new technologies. Graduates employed by IPA-affiliated agencies can join a seven-stage training programme that offers training at each stage of their career, up to the level of managing director.
The Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM Foundation) offers a Diploma in Marketing Communications, which can be useful for advertising account executives. Study is through part-time, intensive or distance learning. Entrants need to have a degree-level qualification or at least two years' experience in a relevant role.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) offers a range of marketing qualifications, including a postgraduate diploma.
Experienced account executives may progress to an account manager post, and later to account director. With further training, they may become client services director, with overall responsibility for the account management department. After establishing a reputation, some account executives work freelance or set up their own agencies.
- The Advertising Association, 7th Floor North, Artillery House, 11-19 Artillery Row, London SW1P 1RT. Tel: 020 7340 1100.
- Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), Moor Hall, Cookham, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 9QH. Tel: 01628 427500.
- Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM Foundation), Moor Hall, Cookham, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 9QH. Tel: 01628 427120.
- Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), 44 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QS. Tel: 020 7235 7020.
- A Career in Advertising - IPA
- Careers in Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations - Kogan Page
- Getting into Advertising - Advertising Association
- How to get into Advertising - Thomson Learning