Is it just at my job or does anyone notice their account team never gets laid off?

Not one person from our account team has been laid off during this pandemic but our creative and production team that were already small, has been cut in half.

In an email wrapping up the lay offs, management wrote “there isn’t enough work for everyone.” But how is there still enough work for an account team that’s triple the size of the creative team, after the loss of three major clients?

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We lost some account people recently, but in layoffs in previous years I’ve noticed the same thing. I assume it’s because they prioritize the relationship some account people make with clients (if client feels like account team is constantly coming and going, they may feel their account isn’t well tended). However, creative is largely a nameless amalgamation of talent to them. Easier to “lose” without them noticing things are declining or changing at the agency.

likesmart

They also need a creative team. But we have to work 70+ hours a week to do it when we’re understaffed. And sometimes when we’re not. And we’re not that creative after 50 hours. Not an attack on your comment, more a vent about my agency. We’re all looking to leave in my department. Eventually massively cutting creative bites back. We make the thing. Account sells it. But you can’t sell a thing you can’t make. Even the best account people can’t pull that off (and I am sure are not on board with anyways).

At some agencies account people write the scopes of work and almost always give themselves the FT allocations needed to stay on the brand long term. They often put themselves and their team at the highest allocation the clients will pay for . In other agencies the PMs are responsible for this and do the same. I’ve worked at a handful of places and even in good times there was always a show down between creative hours and account/PM hours . Obviously account/PM always gave themselves the most. Some agencies don’t do a dept level of approval so creative leads may not always have eyes on SOWs and can’t catch these things .

Depending on what your client wants in a year an SOW should have creative hours be AT least 35-50% (even more actually) of scope - again depending on deliverables and what type of client they are.

likeupliftinghelpful

You're on the right track. Staff plan for a project or account, among other things, should be evaluated by looking at ratios between and within depts. There should be agreement among dept leads about the general makeup of the team. Lot's of Dev - tech should be heavy. Tons of product and service info needed - should show in copywriter allocation but might not require too much designer time. Operation config of the client's org, number of agency stakeholders and 3rd parties could require lots of AM/PM. If dept leads can't come to agreement on the general nature of WHAT the work is, they will never agree on specific allocations. There's lots more to it but first thing's first. Need to agree on WHAT before HOW, WHO, HOW LONG, HOW MUCH, etc.

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It’s just your job. Account people aren’t exempt from layoffs, and I’m speaking from experience.

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So many clients are taking a “wait and see” approach with new content given the climate, and that hits creative and production sooner and harder than it does the other sides of the house. Our planning and strat teams are extremely busy right now even if their budgets are constantly getting cut bc they’re basically having to replan the year/quarter/month every 2 wks as changes cascade from the clients

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Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ve been working 10+ hour days (obviously I’m not alone in this, but usually my client isn’t insanely busy) but producing almost nothing. It’s a lot of business forecasting, planning, replanning. So even though the account is busy, there’s not a lot making its way to a brief (and even less making it into production). And unfortunately given the structure of the industry, it’s almost impossible to find a solid freelance account exec to cover if things pick up after a slow window (and clients don’t love freelance account ppl) - but freelance creatives and producers are a lot more available, esp given the layoffs around the industry. Not endorsing the norm - but that’s what I’ve seen from my end!

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Account teams work on a lot of other projects that don’t necessarily involve creative (data, strategy, sales, etc), so... it’s not because you don’t see them that they don’t work ;)

likefunny

Agreed...at a junior level at least 25% of an AAE/sometimes even AEs day is estimate, verifying sales information, balancing out of pocket expenses... the creative team never sees that, but someone has to do it and it very rarely is an AS or an AD

likefunny

Definitely not just you. One of the agencies I worked at literally cut 75% of their digital team and half of their creatives but didn’t fire a single account person or project manager.

It’s a smaller place, and if the agency was a high school the account/PM team would definitely sit at the “cool kids” table. 🙄

I mean... I get accounts can help develop relationships for new biz but project managers literally EXIST to help organize creatives... so how does it make sense to have more PM’s than creatives?

likeuplifting

One more time: layoffs aren’t the same as firings.

We had a significant number of producers and account people let go. It was pretty much even across the board. What’s been hard is that we’ve had sr creative leave (for other opportunities and not layoffs) which everyone is going to feel the weight of soon.

It’s hard because I think account people hold the keys to the relationship with clients - but also they are first to go if a client leaves as well (i remember a beer brand left the agency abruptly. Swiftly the account team was cut first because there were no other allocation opportunities versus creatives had some spots they could fill) could be by agency and what’s open.

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Did your CCO just leave?

Our acct team had the most layoffs out of all depts

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One major consideration is that there aren't a lot of accounts people that freelance. You can find creative/design/strategy/production/PM resources available to work at the drop of a hat. Accounts has not historically been the type of skillset you tend to find available at short notice. Especially not good ones.

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Ah usually the account people are the first to go...

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While account is not exempt from layoffs, there has been, for a long while now, a trend toward creatives not being a vital part of the equation. Years ago, in advertising's heyday, the creative output was the most important part of any account. But not so now. Just look at what agencies and clients put out there as creative. I think agencies look at creatives as interchangeable hands. It's extremely unfortunate.

uplifting

I will have to agree with this. Feels like the industry as a whole is moving toward a more « consulting » approach. I feel like there’s less trust in creativity from clients, if that makes sense?

O1 Account shouldn’t be estimating anything. Or handling OOP. That’s where the problem lies. Only those that know how to do the work should be estimating the work.

uplifting

First, O1 is talking about tracking finances like CREATING estimates (not necessarily estimating anything), cutting POs, tracking AR etc. This is extremely time consuming. And 2- account teams are responsible for the profitability of their account, so we don’t under estimate creative time to pad our hours and save our asses, cause in the end, you WILL bill the hours you needed to complete the job. Why are we still having these conversations?!

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I guess they keep them on the longest in hopes the business will come back and they will answer the phone. But if nothing comes through they too will get laid off.

Account controls budgets sometimes they even do creative

We've lost some recently. Their hours are cheaper, so that's a piece. Also, their hours save more expensive hours, so that's another piece.

I'm fine with it. I'd rather have my specialty teams hours go to their specialty than account work. Client management is an enormous time suck.

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