Mad Man, I: Selling Thought


Sometimes, this business is built on a vicious series of reactions, rather than solid strategy. Far too much time is spent speaking to the existing message, rather than changing the conversation entirely.

Now, as a Creative, I could very easily (and often do) simply blame the Account team. Their sole objective is maintaining a good relationship with the client’s money by virtue of keeping said client happy.

Far too often, what keeps the client happy in the initial phases of a campaign are the very things that sabotage its impact upon launch. If we back down from our strategies, we aren’t going to succeed and risk losing our client. But if we push too hard for our ideas, we risk losing our client.

It’s a very thin tightrope that must be walked.

By someone other than me.

I have never been an Account Executive, but I was married to one once.



By the estimations of most Creatives, it’s the Account’s job to take our ideas and convince the client they were theirs; it’s about providing the client with the confidence to let us do what they hired us for in the first place—convincing people to buy things sold by other people.

If Creatives don’t think deeply and thoroughly, we fail our ideas, and our client. If an AE doesn’t sell our ideas, they have failed us.

But they cannot sell what they don’t understand. They have to believe in the idea before anyone else will. And that requires a deeper collaboration between two very opposing schools of thought.

That requires the Account people to trust our ideas, as we must trust that they know what the client ultimately requires to remain a client.


As a Creative, I get to hold tight to my ego by virtue of a false artistic integrity. I only have to think of the challenge at hand, relying on my creative prowess over statistics and test marketing, human nature over strategic complacency.

Because I can.

Where others in the business react, I get to step back, light a cigarette, have a cocktail, and just…think.


I’m not discounting the importance of research. Research is crucial at the beginning and throughout every process.

It’s just not always right.

It’s not about what people do. It’s deeper than that. It’s about what makes them do what they do.

What truly influences their decision?

Peer pressure? The color red? Celebrity endorsements? Sex?


But…why do these things influence a decision?

That is at the root of every client challenge I face as a creative strategist.

To work in the creative part of this industry you have to be one part temperamental artist, one part psychologist and one part fortuneteller. You have to change a person’s perception. More challenging, you have to make them want to.

I suppose, that’s what the Account Executive does too, on a more singular, personal level.

So we have to come up with an idea, they have to convince someone it’s good.

Which one is really the Creative?


Those who think. Deeply.


It’s the best strategy we, as persuaders, can offer a client.



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