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Who Said Account People are Irrelevant?

By Rahul Roy, EVP, director of account management, Chicago, and managing director, Los Angeles

There have been times I’ve questioned why (or how) I’ve remained in account management for 20+ years without running screaming from the building in search of someone, anyone, who’ll pay me a cheap stipend to take a sabbatical for the next 20. Thursday, August 8, 2013, will go down as definitely not being one of those days. Forget what you hear about the death of account management, the demise of the suit, blah blah. I assure you that Draftfcb Chicago’s account folks aren't going anywhere, especially not the graveyard of irrelevance. In fact, they’re on the front line of some incredible work being done for all 30 of our clients.
How do I know? Well, I had the privilege to be on a judging panel (with other Chicago office Executive Committee members) for the launch of our first-ever annual Account Management Cup program. The goal was to encourage submissions from account teams to showcase their contributions to the development of an idea that impacts their client or the agency. The role of the account team in the idea was critical. Teams were asked to prepare submissions that would be rated on the share-ability, creativity and tangible impact of the ideas. The last point was essential – did the idea get DONE and did it have measurable impact? We were thrilled to receive 29 submissions from 19 account teams that showcased a range of ideas with incredible merit.
The panel listened to terrific presentations from six teams who made the final cut, representing the Del Monte, Nestle/Tombstone, PACCAR Parts, Miami Tourism, Valspar and MilkPEP accounts. We saw costumes and props to support promotional ideas; mobile platform development dressed up as childhood-fable story-telling; account people who morphed into event producers within 24-hours’ notice; customized brand identity development for team gatherings; an “I need some t-shirts made, quick” client email that turned into a full-blown production of an entire sales event (and yes, it led to incremental revenue for the agency!); a request for a software vendor update that blossomed into an entirely new retail asset management tool launched across a client’s distribution network; and more.
Account Supervisor Francesca Moceri (left) and Account Executive Rachel Glaser of team PACCAR Parts with Draftfcb Chicago President Michael Fassnacht
The winner of the Draftfcb Chicago Account Management Cup was the PACCAR team. They blew the judges away with their unequivocal demonstration of how completely integrated – and essential – they are to their client’s business. They won a gloriously tacky gold (yeah, right) cup that gives them bragging rights for a year and has their names engraved for posterity. And, just to drive jealously through the hearts of the agency, each presenter on the winning team was awarded an iPad mini. Our runner-up, the Valspar team, came so close to winning that they got iPad minis too. Ah, their cups truly runneth over.
I can’t wait for the 2014 competition. I’ll even consider putting off my sabbatical– that no one will pay for – until then.