Industry Roles

The business of advertising involves marketing objectives and artistic ingenuity. It applies quantitative and qualitative research to the creative process. It is the marriage of analysis and imagination, of marketing professional and artist. Advertising agencies handle a broad range of marketing tasks requiring people with experience and ability in overall management and specialized skills. In all agencies, the jobs usually fall into five categories.

Account Management

The responsibility of the account manager is to be the client’s representative at the agency, and the agency’s representative at the client’s organization. It is his or her job to get the best possible work from the agency for the client-but at a profitable return for the agency.  This means knowing how to handle people at the agency so that they give the client their best effort without spending more time than the income from the client’s business justifies.

The effective account manager develops a thorough knowledge of the client’s business, the consumer, the marketplace and all aspects of advertising, including creative, media, research, and commercial production.

As team leader and strategist, the account person must communicate the client’s needs clearly to the agency team, plan effectively to maximize staff time and energy, and present the agency’s recommendations candidly to the client.

In the final analysis, the account person must be able to foster productive communication between client and agency staffs, identify common goals, and make sure that the final product is profitable and effective for the client and the agency.

Entry-level positions

Successful candidates have strong general business skills:  the ability to write and speak effectively, demonstrated leadership experience, a capacity for statistical analysis, and developed organizational skills.

Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree and, in some cases, a master of business administration. A degree in advertising or marketing is not a prerequisite.

Career Opportunities

An entry-level position in account management usually leads to account executive and then to more senior positions, with responsibility for more than one account and for the work of several account executives.

Account Planning

Essentially, account planners make sure the consumer’s perspective is fully considered when advertising is developed.

The account planner works to continually focus and re-focus the agency’s strategic and creative thinking on the consumer, helping the team—particularly the creatives—understand what “turns the consumer on”.  They study how consumers actually make use of marketing communications.  Using that knowledge, they help the agency “break out” into new ways of communicating about products and services.  They offer not only consumer insight, but a plan of action for approaching marketing communications challenges.

The account planner’s primary tool is research:  consumer psychology and behavior, brand-sales history, competitive sales and customer information, consumer demographics, and much more.  They use this information to determine how the agency can leverage a brand’s strengths in a strategic and creative approach.

Career Opportunities

There is no entry-level account planning position, nor is there a clear-cut path to a career in account planning–yet.  However, most account planners have academic backgrounds in Liberal Arts, and certainly exposure to such subjects as psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology is beneficial.  What planners tend to have in common is the ability to interpret and synthesize information, generating useful insights that can be readily understood and acted upon by others.


The creative department of an advertising agency is responsible for developing the ideas, images, and words that make up commercials and ads. While many people in the agency contribute to the process, the invention and production of advertising is mainly the responsibility of copywriters and art directors.

Entry-level positions

Junior or Assistant Copywriter

The junior copywriter assists one or more copywriters in editing and proofreading ad copy, writing body copy for established print campaigns, and developing merchandising and sales promotion materials.  With proven ability and experience, assignments might include generating ideas for product or company names and writing dialogue for TV commercials and scripts for radio ads.

Although a bachelor’s degree is not required, most agencies look for candidates with proven intellectual ability and emotional maturity.  Degrees in English, journalism, or advertising and marketing can be helpful.

Junior or Assistant Art Director

The junior art director assists one or more art directors in preparing paste-ups, rough lettering, and layouts for print ads and television storyboards, developing visual concepts and designs, and overseeing photo sessions and the filming of television commercials.

A successful candidate will have strong visual concept skills and good basic drawing and design ability.


The media department of an advertising agency is responsible for placing advertising where it will reach the right people at the right time and in the right place…and do so in a cost-effective way.

Planning and buying media at an advertising agency is exciting and challenging because ways of communicating are constantly changing and becoming more complex.  Such technological advances as cable television and the internet, or videotext make an impact on what media are available for advertising and how viewership is calculated.  A recent increase in the number of specialty publications enables more precise targeting of consumers.

It is the responsibility of the media department to develop a plan that answers the question:  how can the greatest number of people in the target group be reached often enough to have the advertising message seen and remembered—and, at the lowest possible cost?

Entry-level positions

Assistant Media Planner

The typical assistant media planner reports to a media planner and gathers and studies information about people’s viewing and reading habits, evaluates editorial content and programming of various media vehicles, and about media vehicles, and becomes thoroughly familiar with media data banks and information sources.

To accomplish these tasks requires the ability to find and analyze data, apply computer skills, ask innovative questions, and interpret or explain findings with attention to quantitative and qualitative considerations.

Interactive Marketing

If you have ever visited a company’s web site, you have been part of how interactive marketing is changing the relationship between advertiser and the audience.

An important point to understand is to realize that with traditional marketing vehicles, companies had to find you to get your attention.  In the world of interactive marketing, the consumer  seeks out the company’s web site and decides how long they will stay.  They can tailor the experience to their own needs. This is why interactive marketing is the fastest growing phenomena in the media and marketing world.

Career Opportunities

Opportunities in the interactive marketing field are exploding and are most plentiful in the areas of design, marketing, and computer programming.  Agencies need computer-based designers and programmers, as well as strategists who understand how marketers can use interactive media creatively and effectively.  The advantage in job-hunting in this area is to those who have a strong knowledge of computers and the digital realm, and are on top of the daily changes in digital technology and its capabilities.

"Honestly, the speaker made a career in advertising sound so attractive that I am considering changing my major."
— Student at University of Tulsa after AEF sent Speaker from Insight Creative Group