#agencylife: From Intern to Account Director in Five Years
As I know that most members of the National Millennial Community are Americans (or at least living and working in the U.S.), I would like to give you a short sneak-peak into my agency life in Europe.
I started my career in the advertising industry at age 23 at Europe’s largest owner owned and managed agency group Serviceplan. During an internship in their PR division, I realized that I would like to know more about classic advertising and big campaigns. Luckily, I got to know one of Serviceplans CEOs and Partners during that time, who is – until today – my mentor and greatest boss, I have ever had. He offered me a full-time job upon graduation and I accepted right away. A few days later, he gave me the following advice, which has been the most beneficial advice in my career so far: “You have to be so good that the good creatives insist on working with you.” That’s how I came to being an Account Director five years later.
The time at Serviceplan was very formative. I was im charge of the accounts BMW and LEGO. After I did my first projects, my boss supported my desire to work abroad. The agency won a big international account, Ooredoo Qatar, who needed an image campaign about their firm to apply to be an official sponsor for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Campaign team. From left to right: (Mathias Wilke, Marcell Francke and Amelie Harich)
Although I had never done a TV-project before, I flew to Qatar, stayed over two weeks to advise the client and produce the film (and believe me, Qatar-standards are nothing like German ones – we had several heart attacks during that shoot, but it prepared me for later. Now, very few things make me lose my calm during shoots.) It was a big challenge, but we got the job done and looking back, this was the project I have learned most of. Within 2 years, I got promoted from Trainee to Junior Account Manager to Account Manager.
Not long after returning from Qatar, the Creative Director I worked together with and I got the offer to move to northern Germany to build up an agency with a very well known creative entrepreneur. After only six months of doing this, our boss won the European Mercedes-Benz account without bidding, which was a HUGE coup in the industry and meant that the three of us would move to Berlin to start another agency. We began with 10 people and are now – 2.5 years later – 160 employees at the agency called antoni. Working for Mercedes-Benz, I had the opportunity to work on amazing projects. This year, our agency had the great honor to produce the Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl commercial, which was never done by a German agency before, and won its first Cannes Lion.
When the agcency’s success came to fruition, other firms called and asked to work with us. A very pleasant attitude about antoni is that we’re not pitching for accounts, like most agencies do in Europe. antoni wants to work with clients who see the agency as a partner on eye level and value the creative work.
The German candy brand Katjes approached antoni because they liked the work we did for Mercedes-Benz. As it is antonis concept to start individual exclusive agencies for every client, my boss asked me if I would be interested in doing that and I got promoted to be an Account Director.
We are currently working on the first campaign for Katjes, which will be on air beginning of next year. I got to choose my own team and we’re having a lot of fun together and enjoy gaining weight as a team ;-).
It is unusual to have the chance to shape an agency, its culture, its atmosphere, its attitude, its reputation and everything that goes with it from the scratch. I really enjoy bringing in my own ideas and conceptions of how I think an agency and a team should work. Also, it’s always an advantage to be the first contact of the client in an agency. You establish a relationship differently.
What are my takeaway from the last five years?
Build strong relationships. Without the great people in my life who gave me the chances to prove myself, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today.
Do something for yourself. I did my Master’s degree part-time while working at Serviceplan and antoni although most people said, a Master’s is not neccessary in the industry.
Be so good that the good creatives insist on working with you.
About the Author: Amelie Harich
I am Amelie, a 28-year-old marketing alumna of Steinbeis School of Management and Innovation, Berlin (M.Sc.), living in Berlin, Germany. I have the great honor of being one of the Non-US members of the National Millennial Community as an European observer.