The Plight of the Account Executive

Having worked in marketing for many years I’ve noticed the plight of the Account Executive. An Account Executive is a relatively low-level job in an advertising or marketing agency. They are more or less the point person for clients and are charged with coordinating all the details of the advertising programs being run for the client.

When things go wrong, as they inevitably do, everyone blames the Account Executive. This happens regardless of who is actually at fault. Understandably, this is very frustrating for the Account Executive and the position has a high burn out rate. I suspect it is because of the blame-game that is played.

What Account Executives don’t fully appreciate when they get hired is that taking the blame is part of the job. There is literally nobody else to blame. The agency has to maintain the relationship with the client at all costs. It is for this reason that they can’t blame the client. They also can’t blame the account manager on whom the agency relies. They can’t blame the creative staff because they would lose credibility. They can only blame the Account Executive—an inexperienced, replaceable employee.

Of course nobody tells the Account Executive that taking the blame is part of their job. Doing so would be dishonest. Everybody just blames them and talks themselves into thinking it’s the right thing to do.

It is the right thing to do. It keeps the agency in business and the client happy. Are they kidding themselves? Maybe, but it is how the business works.

Account Executives who get promoted are the ones who inherently understand this practice and take the blame standing up. Sooner or later they will be promoted into a position so they can blame Account Executives themselves.

Mike Moyer

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