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"It sounds strange, but despite your job description, you’re NOT there to give your client exactly what they want every time – you’re there to excite them with new ideas, new directions, new possibilities; and that means challenging them from time to time." - Y&R South Africa's Lindsay Leppan.
Managing Director at Y&R South Africa
THE 4THINGS YOU
DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT
Brace yourself! You’re also in Service to
Studio, Strategy, Media Planning, DTP,
Production Service – EVERYBODY needs a
piece of you, not least your Client, who
relies on you to be the interface that keeps
great work ﬂowing, on time and (hopefully)
You’re in the business of two-way
communication – getting an understanding
of what your client wants, when they want
it and how much they are thinking of
paying for it. And then translating that
understanding into a crystal clear, easy-
to-implement plan of action for the agency,
where everyone knows what is required
and by when.
Then of course, you get to go back and
SELL the brilliant results to your client,
and revert back, and back again, and
again (so, good shoes and a well-
developed caffeine addiction are an
You’re not an order taker, or an order
giver – you’re a facilitator. The essential
cog in the client-agency dynamic and
that’s a bigger role than taking briefs and
You’re Not Just in Client Service
This leads on from the above. Your
overarching function is to provide clarity
and focus – to EVERYONE.
Your end of the business isn’t about smoke
and mirrors, it’s about extracting and
providing relevant information that will help
develop creative solutions.
Clear, comprehensive briefs, clear
comprehensive feedback, all the details on
creative reverts, timeframes, strategic and
channel objectives – you are the only
person in a position to extract the
information the agency needs to fulﬁll our
function for your client (and yes, some-
times it’s like squeezing chardonnay from
granite) and the only person who can give
your client the answers that will sell them
on our work – “Why is my logo so small?’ “I
asked for a blue background.”
“Why THAT magazine?” Who, why, what,
when, where, how – people are going to
ask you these questions at every stage of
the process and you HAVE to be able to
answer them. For everyone’s sake (So,
good shoes, caffeine and an industrial-size
Moleskine – go forth and ferret).
A huddle of clueless creatives picking
sulkily at a half-resolved brief? UGLY. Don’t
let this happen. A plaintive client wanting
questions answered at 2am? If you value
your beauty sleep, give them what they
need to know, before they know they need
Basically, inspiration begins with
What Happens In Vagueness,
Stays In Vagueness
It’s very easy to lose focus on what
actually needs to be achieved for your
client. Daily agency processes and
procedures can distract you or bog you
down in a morass of detail (how long is
your list of unanswered e-mails RIGHT
now?). Of course, they’re important and
you’ll get to them later (who needs sleep
anyway?) but your key function is
keeping the team working your account
up to speed with what is required, by
whom and by when, and making sure they
get there…so you can go back to your
client, take all the credit and bask in glory!
Besides it’s cool to be able to say, “I’m
sorry, can’t do that. I have a 2 o’clock with
my client.” And swing out the door, like a
But having said that….
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
“But MY client wants…” Just. DON’T, ok?
If every client got exactly what they
wanted every ad would have a
head-sized logo and a photo of “our
state-of-the art innovative factory.”
It sounds strange, but despite your job
description, you’re NOT there to give
your client exactly what they want every
time – you’re there to excite them with
new ideas, new directions, new
possibilities; and that means challenging
them from time to time.
By all means keep the team focused on
your client’s objectives, remind them of
what your (outstanding and incredibly
detailed) brief requires. But be open to
the possibility that there might be a
different, more exciting or creative way
of getting there – and then make sure
that you have the information and
back-up rationale required to tell your
client WHY it’s a better solution. Like I
said earlier you’re not an order taker,
you’re not a gatekeeper for your client’s
expectations. You’re a client service
operator for a creative enterprise selling
creative communication solutions.
Go and sell them.
So, great shoes, serious caffeine habit,
massive Moleskine and balls of steel!
- Lindsay Leppan is Managing
Director at Y&R South Africa’s Durban
NO! You’re NOT Your Client’s YES-man!