Degrees of Urgency in Advertising

Their names, their qualities, the various role players and their functions
By Pieter Uys

Everybody knows advertising to be a high pressure industry but do you know the details? Here’s a brief guide for those outside the industry who wish to learn the basics of the causes, techniques of coercion, processes, power plays, emotions, scapegoats and heroes. This is a superficial treatment as an in-depth analysis would confuse the average reader. Really, this is all you need to know to steer well clear of a career in advertising. We shall take the urgent print ad in a medium to large agency as example. The Client – s/he who must be obeyed – will inform the Account Executive (Client Service person) that an advertisement with such and such a message must appear in a certain publication at a totally unreasonable date – like tomorrow. The Account Executive quickly writes a brief and either emails it or delivers it in person (according to the degrees of urgency described below) to the Media Dept, Production Dept and Creative Director. Those who suffer most amidst all this urgency, are the Traffic People in the Production Dept. They have to take the brief to the Creative Dept and co-ordinate the execution of the task. Everybody blames them for anything that goes wrong or for missing the deadline. And the creatives charged with the task resent the Traffic Person, the bearer of the evil tidings.


no trace of a smile but often pursed lips. the Account Executive puts on various types of her/his Worried & Important face. Her/his demeanour is one of gravitas. Those who remember Mrs Clinton’s “stand-by-your-man look” next to President Clinton around 1999 during the Monica scandal will have a good idea of this carefully cultivated image. Like deep.Also according to the Degrees of Urgency. and large. This appearance includes a firm jaw. round. dark wells of murky water. The Degrees of Urgency The WANTED YESTERDAY 2 . troubled eyes.

Great stress envelops everyone involved in it and there may be little tantrums too. The AE will mill around the Creative Dept and make a general nuisance of her-/himself in order to seem involved and look important unless chased off by the Creative Director. s/he has to somehow bypass or deceive the Media Dept where ad placement bookings are made. a dishonest Account Executive will apply the term to a non-urgent job in order to expedite it through the system. Sometimes.Although it represents the lowest degree of urgency. The Account Executive puts on a severe look of Worry & Importance and usually makes personal visits to all concerned. the Wanted Yesterday can still cause much stress and ill-feeling. The WY may sometimes be sent from the Account Executive to above-mentioned departments via email. 3 . In order to pull this one off. No Account Executive would try to pass a regular job off as an LMDC. The LAST MINUTE DOT COM The Last Minute Dot Com is always serious.


even explosions of rage. Agency management may get involved (usually to the detriment of all). The saving grace – and in my opinion the prime reason why The Screamer has not led to many murders or serious assaults – is the fact that the advertising people on the newspaper/magazine side are understanding. tears. 5 .The Screamer is a hideous thing. have compassion and will mostly go out of their way to extend deadlines in order to place The Screamer in the edition demanded by the Client (s/he who must be obeyed). For this one. anger. the Account Executive puts on an extreme look of Worry & Importance and makes personal visits accompanied by her/his senior manager and/or even more senior agency management. This one is certain to cause enormous stress.

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