BMF's Chris Kay takes to the AdNews Soapbox

22 June 2011

The rise of the creative entrepreneur
Watching Campbell in the latest season of Mad Men, it’s pretty clear that although comical and at times charming/annoying in equal measure that this archaic view of the "suit" underplays the growth in the importance of the role in today’s most admired creative companies.

Being a bill-payer, a coffee-pourer, a timekeeper, or a bag carrier, is a lazy perspective on the immense value of a great "suit". Seeing this role, as our AMC cousins do, as an administrative one whose only potential value is to pour the gin and to organise - (and I use this term in its loosest fashion) "the entertainment" – on a night out, really underplays the role a great account person has in driving the ideas and ultimately the business of an agency forward.

The ability to spot an opportunity where no-one else can, to build the nub of a thought into a fully grown idea, the drive to lead a team from good to great, and the nous to maximize all revenue opportunities; are the characteristics of a hard working "creative entrepreneur" which you could argue seems like a better summation of what is needed from a modern account man.

It’s this expertise alongside their more strategic and creative partners that an account man brings to the agency holy trinity – or the less grand-sounding "project team" as we call it at BMF.  Although I would argue – and clearly being one myself – that it’s the account person or aptly titled "creative entrepreneur" who drives this core project team with their creative and planning brethren to make the type of work that becomes admired the world over.

Before we get carried away though let's be clear, this is not a clarion call for a change in title to make "account people" feel better about themselves – that would just be a little weird – nor is this a moan about the standing of account people within the industry.

This is really just a clarification on what other departments and clients should be expecting from their "suit" on a daily basis whilst putting something out there to recognise those talented creative entrepreneurs that get this, deliver this and are this, on a daily basis.

Stepping outside of agency life while being a "client" for a couple of years at Manchester City Football Club, it’s this type of partner that I wanted on my business – for those in the know you could say I wanted my own Carlos Tevez – someone who rolled their sleeves up, got stuck in, had flashes of inspiration and brilliance, and was the leader of a winning (okay just the FA cup) team.

Now I am back in the industry it’s even clearer that great agencies get it, and it’s abundantly clear from the work these great agencies produce - the Wiedens, the Sid Lees, and the Anomalys of this world - that the rise of "creative entrepreneurs", or our brilliant account people as we know them at BMF, are what would be driving the modern day Sterling Cooper Draper Price versus the Canadian Club-drinking Campbell.

Chris Kay
Head of Account Management, BMF

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