We thought we’d look back 20 years at important roles in advertising agencies and how they have changed over the years. Firstly, let’s look at an Account Executive with insight from our own June Hendrie who has worked with more than a few Account Directors over the years.

Today, an Account Director can receive a brief, media information, copy instructions or changes by email, phone or face to face. Everything can be typed, spell-check applied, saved and delivered electronically. All documents, images, copy, proofs and instructions can be saved on your computer and organised in multiple folders which are easily accessible. A brief can be received through email, passed on to the creative department, saved on the computer’s shared network, picked up by the Account Director and emailed to the client for their thoughts. Once the design is approved it can be sent online to the recipient and picked up in a matter of minutes.

20 years ago it was a little different. Computers were not a part of the day-to-day life in advertising agencies. Instead, for example, to receive a press ad brief from a client an Account Director would have a face-to-face meeting. They would be given the brief in person which they would have to meticulously write down before returning to the agency and passing the brief over to the creative department. Once the creative department had put together a creative solution based on the brief, the Account Director would again go to see the client and discuss their thoughts on it. Future amendments might take a long time to discuss over the phone or face-to-face as well as to implement as everything would need re-done by the creative team. For press or print for example once the copy was approved it would sent out to be typeset by an external typesetter with instruction from the creative team on typeface and size. Once set it would be delivered back to the Agency by courier. The creative team would mount the copy onto an art board and make a bromide using a very large horizontal camera situated in the dark room every studio had in those days. A proof of this would then be sent over to the client for final checking. Any amendments at this stage would cause a rush as changes would need to be organised through the typesetter and studio again.

Once the artwork had been given final approval the Assistant Account Executives would write out address labels and copy instructions by hand, package up the ‘bromide’ and organise a courier to have the bromide delivered to the relevant media. Throughout this process, the Account Executives would be surrounded by piles and piles of paper. As there were no computers, everything would need written down on paper and properly filed which was important for keeping track of all necessary information.

The biggest change has been the time it takes to produce work. The journey from briefing to finished artwork is much faster today. 20 years ago account staff waited until an advertisement was passed by the client, the finished artwork created by the studio and the production department of the paper it was for notified you they’d received it safe sound. 7pm or 8pm finishes were the norm in those days simply waiting for a telephone call.