Tricks of the trade – By @Holly_Georgious

By Holly Georgious


Tricks of the trade


For the past three years of my life I have been the account (wo)man. The suit. The client service middle man, keeping the peace between the agency and client. I have worked in marketing, PR (never again), experiential, media (great if you like going out all the time…. And I mean ALL THE TIME)  and of course (mostly) ad agencies. And I have, in my time, picked up a thing or two. So I thought I’d crush a few of the rumours that have been floating around the room about agency life and set the record straight. 


  1. You have a studio

Obviously, it is very helpful and will make your life a little easier if you do happen to be an Adobe whizz, but in reality your skills will be put to the test more at SCA than they ever really will out there. Don’t get me wrong , art directors especially, definitely keep it up, those Photoshopping, Premier building, Illustrator using skills will be incredible useful, it’s just… that they will be used (generally speaking of course, I cannot and do not claim to speak on behalf of every agency…. just all the ones I know… and that’s quite a few) more roughly. You may need to mock up an idea to pitch to clients (or even each other), create a rough outline to demonstrate a format or a point, or even (more commonly than you think) create something to promote activities within the agency (a Halloween themed Friday drinks, The Great (insert agency name) Bake Off or even create a beloved leaving card {although sometimes studio did this too.

Joking and not really joking aside, your Adobe skills are used more for mock ups than anything else, all big and finite details are left to studio. How to describe studio – as an account person they were my best friend, any number plate that needed retouching, file that needed shrinking and campaign that needed tweaking, studio are there for you. They are your right hand man (or women, maybe person) when it comes to anything Adobe or editing related. They will take your roughly drawn Scamp, your Photoshopped rough, your loose format video and turn it to the cinematic beauty it deserves to be. They are the polish to the turd, the diamond to the rough and God almighty, the zest in your lemon. I guess my point is mock it up, direct it, but all the stain blurring, shadow adding, light popping; that’s studio. They do it. They do it more. They do it better. 


  1. The client Is always right…even when there not.

There is more truth in  ‘behind every great campaign is a great client’ than there are confessions in a church. The client is your biggest hurdle. They can be your worst enemy or the your idol, (depending). They can be black hatted, no butting, black and white thinking mice OR they can be brave, ballsy trail blazers, ready to set your creative touch a flame (these are the exception, not the rule.)  

There are a myriad of reasons why clients can be a trouble. Starting most potently with:

  • They are not creatives. Nay, they are not creaTIVE. They often struggle with the conceptual, with imagining what something “could be” and instead get stuck on what is presented in front of them. They (most) do not see value in your genius idea. They see value in the return, the outcome, the benefit. It is not wrong, it is business,  but it being business takes me swiftly on to their second problem
  • Money, not the lack of (although I am sure for some that is the case) instead the risk. The risk of losing it. The risk of a failed campaign. The risk of losing their job. Brands, big brands can put millions, tens of millions if is big enough into you and your idea and it’s scary.  Because if it fails (and sometimes they do) then not only have they wasted money and potentially lost their job, but it could, in the worst situations, damage the brand and that is not good. To avoid this disaster clients tend to go two ways:
  1. A) They become needy, controlling. They want to create the campaign narrative, they want to have control of every aspect (this is a dangerous place to be).
  2. B) They play it incredibly safe, sticking to what they know; old, worn out formats that worked for the past 20 years and so will probably do an okay job now. If this happens, do everything in your power to persuade them otherwise. 

–  Clients are SLOOOOWWW, they do not stick to deadlines. They cannot be rushed and if you are expecting feedback on Friday you may as well make that Wednesday in three weeks’ time.

– The final (for this…) client issue is that sometimes no one knows. 

Big clients are big companies with big employee numbers. This can lead to crossed wires, miscommunication and general confusion. There have been times where I have been in meetings and the clients were having an argument over who the target audience was (for context the TA’s they were arguing about could not have been more different and had no similarities in their execution). Sometimes they do know but if they don’t know then you don’t know and your audience certainly will not know. 


The client brings the money which gives them (rightly or wrongly) the power. They are they the judge jury and executioner.  They are always right even when (most of the time) they are not. What they say goes and sometimes no matter how much you challenge it, that’s that. 


3. Only ideas will save you

In a perfect world – yes. In the world Marc wants us to create. Definitely. And who knows maybe when we get hired it will be this way. But the sad truth is, is that for some reason or another (see above to clients), around 90% of your genius ideas will never see the light of day. Cue the bottom draw.


I’m not telling you this to crush your dreams, ruin your Utopian vision of agencies, or even really to prepare you for the world you will soon embark on. I guess, instead I am telling you because it’s useful. If knowledge is power then maybe the knowledge of a studio will make the Adobe illiterate stress less (this is not me telling you – or myself – not to learn it!), or the perfectionist art directors who spend hours fiddling with a shadow to spend their time more wisely and if we know what we are facing with clients and challenges then we can change them. Because that is where the true value lies. 

Related SCABs

Go back

Student Application

  • Fill out the Application Form below to be a part of our next Award-Winning intake.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY