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Structure and Organization of an Agency

Structure and Organization of an Agency

There are some difficulty precisely defining department and personnel in advertising agencies. Not only is the function and form of various staff titles constantly changing from one agency to another, but even the man behind the title is changing constantly too.

Distinctions are extremely blurred often quite intentionally depending on the size, need and orientation of the leadership of the agency. Therefore, practice and responsibility vary from firm to firm and periodically from one stage of evolution of the same agency to another. Furthermore, the internal structure of workloads varies from one organization to another depending on its size, clientele and management style.

Hence, where tasks are similar, the degrees of output expected can differ not just from one agency to another, but from one year to another as partners and key staff come and go, and as the agency expands in its clientele, the personnel and facilities.
For example, some agencies use an all-in-system, which allots jobs to individuals as the occur, from whatever account. Others use a group system whereby self-contained cells of executives and creative people operate exclusively on certain products and no other. A few agencies are big enough for the indulgence of maintaining “think-tanks” of creative “trouble shooters” who roam round helping out on many different accounts. Some have experts who only work for them part of the year, but on regular retainer.

Some agencies are equipped with departments for research, public relations and marketing. Some are content with a strong head while others are hydra-headed and the arrangement works well for them. Nevertheless, in most standard agencies, the following important departments re applicable
a). Administration
b). Client Service
c). Creative
d). Media
e). Production
f). Accounts
g). Traffic/Progress

At the head of the agency are the Chairman, his Managing Director (sometimes both positions are rested in one person) and a Board of Directors. In some organizations, there is also a General Manager. Routine administrative and personnel functions fall within the ambit of the responsibilities of the this department.
No other element of the advertising enterprise is capable of delivering as great a return on investment as its human resources. Superior technical facilities depreciate in network over a period of years. However, the values of people to an advertising organization should appreciate as their period of employment lengthens, experience being a great asset.
The administrative department should, therefore, always bear in mind that the ultimate success of the agency is dependent upon the interest and abilities of its employees. The maintenance of good human relations should be top in the agency’s priorities to enhance efficiency and productivity.

Equitable wages and salaries, proper recognition for work achievement, and opportunities for advancement in the organization are vital. The assurance of job security for efficiency and productivity is a great moral booster form most employees in advertising agencies where labor turnover is known to be remarkably high.

Moreover, because work in advertising agencies has been identified a a form of show business, it attracts mostly creative personnel. Once such talented persons discovers that their work assignments are merely routine, the odds are that the highly creative ones will seek opportunities elsewhere that will enable them make use of their talents.
It is one thing to have the best talent in the industry. It is yet another achievement to retain them. To sustain their peak performance is an all-important task of successful agency management.

It is, therefore, imperative that an agency that aspires to create leadership in the advertising industry must have some component staff with appropriate authority to choose new or replacement staff and who should be responsible for employee development.

To run a successful advertising agency, management should be able to hire, promote, discipline or fire its staff. In so doing, management should be fair and impartial in dealing with workers. It is always to be borne in mind that staff members desire prompt payment of salaries, good working conditions, training, medical attention and adequate cessation benefits among others.

Client Service
This department is headed by a Director, usually of board rank and constitutes the pivot around which all agency actions revolve. The personnel of this department are the link between the agency and its various clients. In the process, they serve the agency as its diplomats, interpreters, consultants, advisers, planners, critics, coordinators and leaders. Within the agency, they more or less serve as the Client’s representative, his eyes and ears in the creative execution of a Brief.

Irrespective of titles and the hierarchical structure applicable in respective agencies, client service activities are well defined. The client Service Executive or Account Executive organizes the market research, briefs the copywriter, designer and media planner, ensures that space is bought for the advertisement in decided media and puts in hand necessary print and audio-visual production. Usually, he sells the agency’s work to the client and serves as a link between agency and client on a day-to-day basis.

The Client Service Executive’s prime responsibility is to get the advertising and sales promotion right so that his client makes more profit and much of the work necessary to achieve this will be done in close collaboration with the Client. The Client Service Executive also has a responsibility to increase his value to the agency. He can do this in two main ways;

1. By understanding in depth, all the markets with which he is concerned. This will mean spending time in the field (at least one-day a month) with salesman, in supermarkets, with wholesalers and other links in the distributive chain depending on the market and product concerned. He should attend workshop; listen to group discussions and company interview in the field. He should be exposed to periodic training programs necessary to improve his performance.

2. By building relationships within the industry. This involves keeping in touch with as many marketing and advertising men as possible such as ex-colleagues in other agencies and ex-Clients from previous agencies. By continually broadening this network people within the industry and keeping systematically in touch, he will be able to gather intelligence, which will be invaluable for his company.

Generally, therefore, the Client Service Executive in an advertising agency is responsible to his line director for;
1. Efficient management of the account
2. Assembly of background data, initiation of research to complete data, preparation of strategy Briefs and marketing plans
3. Initiation of the work of the various department
4. Preparation of timetables to ensure that the work is concluded on schedule
5. Evaluating submissions from all departments against the Brief.
6. Planning meetings and presentations as well as preparing and circulating agenda
7. Preparing and circulating contact reports
8. Ensuring that records are kept and that requisition are issued
9. Ensuring that all work receives the correct approvals at all stages
10. Checking invoices and inspecting vouchers
11. Budget control and estimates of turnover
12. Analysis of research results and implementation of findings
13. Ensuring that work is completed to timetable and comes forward for meetings
14. Preparing work lists to facilitate progress/review meetings
15. Preparation of charts and presentation document
16. Administration meetings and logistics
17. Maintaining day-to-day contact with client
18. Keeping in touch with the market place for his brands.

Creative Department
This department is responsible for all the creative output of the agency. Here, advertising copy is written, creative strategies and rationales are produced as well as visual or rough layouts and finished artwork. It is headed by a Creative Director, who is the link between the client Service Executive and his team of copywriters and artists.
The copywriter does the basic creative thinking on the product or service to be advertised and originates copy strategy and expression on the approved platform. He also writes copy and in some big agencies produces the layouts as well.

Some organizations employ specialist visualizers who interpret, visually, the copy ideas initiated by the copywriter giving the ideas the desired emphasis, appeal and distinctiveness.
It is also common practice to have freelance layout people carrying out essential layout work for agencies. Irrespective of who produces the layout, artists in this department interpret the roughs so created into finished drawings or artworks suitable for the particular reproduction process to be used.
The typographers stipulate the typeface and size to be used in interpreting the copy supplied by the copywriter. In many organizations, the finish artist also doubles as typographer, executing type mark-up to facilitate the work of the typesetters.

The Media Department is the link between the Client and media owners. Its functions are three-fold. That is, media planning, media buying or placing and monitoring media placements.
Media planners determine the most judicious media allocation of available financial resources for a given advertising campaign, based on needs or objectives In so doing, they ensure the selection of the right media, to carry the right message to the target customer, at the right place, at the right time and at the right cost.
The media buyers on the other hand, are responsible for booking space and time as well as negotiating the best of “deals” from media organization.

Depending on the size of the department, media executives maintain extensive files of periodicals (called “voucher copies”). They are responsible for seeing that all copy-dates are met, are correct, and if necessary, amended or extended to meet sudden “panic”, a copy-date being the last date before publication on which a given media will accept an advert for insertion and guarantee its appearance. They also check to ensure that advertisements are carried as booked in the various media

In some organizations, production is a sub-unit of the Creative department. In most agencies, however, it stands on its own and is usually made up of Print Production and Audio-visual (Radio/Film) Production sub-units.
The Print Production section is responsible for the production of the actual printed product of the agency’s assorted skills. It obtains quotations for jobs, places orders and supervises printing to ensure that the agency’s standards of quality are met. It ensure delivery, first of proofs and then finished articles, on time and in the right place.

The Radio/Film production section advises the creative team in the development of ideas for commercials provides quotations for their production and is responsible for the recording of the creative ideas into films for cinema or television and into tapes for radio commercials. It ensures that production quality is high and in consonance with the creative concept of the campaign

The duty of the traffic Manager (controller in some agencies) is to organize the agency schedule to ensure that every stage of the business is accomplished as speedily and smoothly as possible. He is both the logistic expert and quartermaster-general of the agency.
His index cards or board plans reveal at a glance what every executive, writer, artist and production staff is doing each hour of the working day. Although this position is one of the most essential responsibilities in agency management it is often priced lowly and undermined.

Under the Traffic Manager serves the Progress chaser. He is abreast of the job situation in every department and hounds all concerned ensure that all jobs are executed on schedule, move on to the next department and are concluded as well as charged out as and when due.

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