Career Descriptions for the Biggest Roles in Advertising

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Although every advertising agency is different, most share a very similar structure. From the creative department to account services, and copywriter to the media director, the different roles within a well-functioning agency are varied and essential.

Here are some of the biggest roles; are you right for one of them?

The Creative Director

The Creative Director (CD) oversees the creative team to help develop the agency's creative product for clients. This team includes copywriters and designers. The CD also works with Account Executives to make sure the client's needs are being met, and the creative goals are on track. CDs also develop every aspect of an ad campaign based on the client's marketing plan, conceptualize those ideas for clients, assign projects to staff and verify the client's deadlines are being met.

A CD generally gets the glory when a campaign is a success and takes the blame when it's a failure.

The Account Executive

The Account Executive (also known as an AE) in an advertising agency is often referred to as the "middle man" between the client and the creative department. It is quite the understatement, as a great account executive is the glue that holds the entire project together. 

From the time a client initiates a request from the ad agency, up until that campaign is live and the results are being collated, the account executive facilitates the exchange of information between the agency and the client.

The Media Director

When you see (or hear) an advertisement, be it on TV, radio, a billboard, the Internet, in your mailbox, in newspapers and magazines, on your cell phone, or at the movies, a Media Director will have played a major part in getting it there. It is his or her responsibility to head up the media department, and make crucial decisions regarding the timing and placement of those advertisements.

The Media Director will work hand-in-hand with the client, the account team, and the creative department, to ensure that as many of the target demographic as possible see the ad campaign. Using a mixture of market research, analysis, pricing structures, and client considerations, the Media Director is ultimately responsible for making sure the ad campaign has an enormous reach for the best possible price.

The Production Director

At the end of the day, an advertising agency produces a product. That can come in many forms, be it in print, on television or the radio, onlinemobileoutdoors, or anywhere else an ad could be placed. It is the production director’s job to make sure the ads make it to those specific places.

Working hand-in-hand with the creative, media, traffic (which is sometimes part of production), and accounts departments, the production director manages a team of skilled production specialists who are experts in getting all kinds of ads created and published. If it’s a piece of direct mail, it may require something to be specially fabricated. If it’s a billboard, it could require a unique placement or a custom build. If it’s a television spot, the production director may have to oversee all aspects of the production, including casting, set builds, wardrobe, permits and more.

The Traffic Manager

The traffic manager will create detailed schedules, set deadlines at each stage of the project, and will also make sure that work is distributed equally and fairly between creative teams and other departments. If too much work is coming into the agency, and resources are in short supply, the traffic manager can work with account services and the creative department to move deadlines, or hire additional help in the form of freelancers and temporary contractors. The traffic manager will constantly monitor this process, often with the help of a trafficking system, and will be able to make adjustments accordingly.

The traffic manager can also work closely with the media director to strategize media budgets and ad placement. When the traffic manager does his or her job correctly, they will be considered the quiet hero. Everything is running smoothly, due to their schedules and input, and the client is happy. When the traffic manager does a poor job, everyone notices. Deadlines are not met, rush fees are paid, teams are overworked, and clients can quit the agency due to the logistical mess. You can also expect to work late, come in early, and be available on weekends.

The Art Director

An Art Director (AD) is the person responsible for designing ads, websites, outdoor media and brochures for an advertising agency on behalf of its clients. The AD creates and then maintains the visual look for all the work on an account, making sure the client's marketing materials are visually engaging, and the selling message is clear.

In a world increasingly driven by computer and mobile phone screens, the visual component of marketing has become even more important, elevating an AD's importance.

The Copywriter

Copywriting jobs in an ad agency will have you working at an agency that handles multiple clients or a company's in-house agency, meaning the client is the company and they do not handle advertising for other companies.

If you accept one of these copywriting jobs at an agency, you will work on the creative team, and you'll usually report to the Creative Director. A copywriter's main focus is on writing for ad mediums like print ads, brochures, Web sites, commercials, and other advertising materials.