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Philo­soph­i­cally Speaking…

An inter­view with Michael Emer­son from REDBOOKS.COM
and a for­mer Man­ag­ing Part­ner of Ogilvy & Mather World­wide.


Sure, the busi­ness has changed, but more likely than not, some dichotomy between cre­ative and account func­tions will always exist. As a pro­gres­sive cre­ative I’ve never been afraid to bridge the aisle and engage with a few suits. I’ve always admired their peo­ple skills and my cafe chat with Michael Emer­son did not dis­ap­point. While I searched for a quiet cor­ner table he had already made friends and began his story…I was all ears.


Q: Most agency peo­ple have heard of REDBOOKS.COM and already know it’s a great tool for new busi­ness, could you tell us about some of your favorite features?

Michael: I think the more “sea­soned” mar­keters are more famil­iar with REDBOOKS as a resource usu­ally enlisted for an urgent pitch oppor­tu­nity or accessed to help defend an exist­ing account rela­tion­ship.  Over 100 years later, here comes REDBOOKS.COM, the updated daily dig­i­tal data­base evo­lu­tion of the REDBOOKS and for many pas­sion­ate mar­ket­ing prac­ti­tion­ers, more of a daily util­ity, like Face­book or LinkedIn. REDBOOKS is clearly the most com­pre­hen­sive data­base for global busi­ness devel­op­ment and com­pet­i­tive intelligence.

To that end, my favorite go-to fea­ture is the REDBOOKS “Oppor­tu­ni­ties” tab (updated daily) which high­lights adver­tis­ing account reviews, Agency of Record (AOR) awards, peo­ple changes – this is by far, the fastest and most effi­cient way to keep apprised of the Adver­tis­ing & Mar­ket­ing com­mu­nity. I also love the news tracker that sends me alerts on the adver­tis­ers, the agen­cies and the decision-makers and influ­encers I want to keep informed on. As a busi­ness devel­op­ment con­sul­tant REDBOOKS keeps me at the ready to take action.

Q: I like that REDBOOKS has fea­tures for search­ing both adver­tis­ers and agen­cies alike, can you talk a lit­tle bit about how this effects com­pet­i­tive research?

Michael: I encour­age sub­scribers and prospects to con­sider REDBOOKS as a com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence engine and in many cases an adver­tis­ing account “stan­dards dri­ver”. In min­utes, sub­scribers can build com­pany dossiers that include a back­ground descrip­tion, the key mar­ket­ing and adver­tis­ing con­tacts, agency rela­tion­ships, cre­ative (TV, print, dis­play), media spend, and news by com­pany and the key con­tacts. I’ve had the oppor­tu­nity to work with sev­eral ad agen­cies on how to mon­e­tize their com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence by pack­ag­ing their clients’ com­pet­i­tive land­scape high­light­ing strate­gic, cre­ative and media allo­ca­tion insights – weekly, monthly, quar­terly, annu­ally — depend­ing on the indus­try, an expense could become an valu­able client asset. You can also take it a step fur­ther and see how show­cas­ing com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence can raise the agency’s ser­vice bar of your account man­age­ment, cre­ative and plan­ning teams – show­case your peo­ple deliv­er­ing mar­ket insights — demon­strate ongo­ing value, your clients will love you for it, whether you charge them for it or not.

Q: Sounds like a great ser­vice how do peo­ple sign up?

Michael: You can reg­is­ter for a free trial on the web­site or con­tact me directly: michael.emerson(at)redbooks.com
646.214.7406 direct | 609.464.3197 mobile

Q:How has your expe­ri­ence at REDBOOKS been dif­fer­ent than some of your past career roles?

Michael: The real­ity is regard­less of what busi­ness we’re in, we’re always sell­ing some­thing. When you’re in account man­age­ment, espe­cially for an ad agency, you are sell­ing lots of things: cre­ative ideas to clients, bud­gets and resource allo­ca­tion to your CFO or boss or prob­a­bly most impor­tantly, build­ing trust with clients and agency col­leagues – any and all requir­ing sales­man­ship, elo­quence and finesse.

Q:Over the course of your career have you found any Account Man­age­ment phi­los­o­phy that works bet­ter than another?

Michael: Philo­soph­i­cally speak­ing, my keys to Account Man­age­ment suc­cess are rooted in tire­less enthu­si­asm for your clients busi­ness, hav­ing an artic­u­late (and endorsed) short and long-term brand plan and lastly a huge dose of patience, per­sis­tence and con­vic­tion – make your approach infectious.

Q: Being a cre­ative I’ve seen the indus­try change rad­i­cally over the past few years. I’m curi­ous how it looks from your perspective?

Michael: I’d say, yes the indus­try has changed and so has the world. Regard­less of whether you’re cre­at­ing ads or man­ag­ing clients, the facts hold true: in many cases, you have less time, less money and col­lec­tively less patience which height­ens the pres­sures — how­ever, great strat­egy, lead­ing to a great idea and great exe­cu­tion will always win the day. It sounds easy, and it can be, with the right part­ners from the client and the agency, whether you’re a writer, an art direc­tor or in account management.

Q: Where do you see the role of account exec­u­tives going from here?

Michael: Account Man­age­ment is all about value — value in under­stand­ing your client’s busi­ness and value in rep­re­sent­ing the agency’s work, that will remain con­sis­tent. Account Exec­u­tives sadly are a bit mis­un­der­stood, they rep­re­sent much of the account frus­tra­tions: dead­lines, bud­gets, approvals and rejec­tions, yet with­out them the work­flow would cer­tainly be com­pro­mised. The best AE’s I’ve ever seen are pre­emp­tive, they lead with a del­i­cate but author­i­ta­tive touch and most def­i­nitely have a tremen­dously thick skin.

Q: You’ve worked on accounts large and small, have worked inter­na­tion­ally and locally. Is their any wis­dom you could share with mid-levels and stu­dents get­ting ready to enter the field?

Michael: I’d say, treat every­day like a pitch. Big or small accounts, inter­na­tional or local, you’re as good as your last ad or cam­paign. If exe­cu­tion fails or expec­ta­tions are not met, your expe­ri­ence will not be that enjoy­able and you won’t last long. On a slightly more aspi­ra­tional note, if you have an oppor­tu­nity to work on a global piece of busi­ness, go for it – those sen­si­bil­i­ties and cul­tures will make you a bet­ter col­league and thus a more valu­able team asset.

Q: Besides REDBOOKS, what are your favorite resources?

Michael: I reli­giously read the New York Times (yes, the actual paper ver­sion), it keeps me sharp. I find great cre­ative stim­u­la­tion in mag­a­zines like Men’s Health, Esquire, GQ, Cigar Afi­cionado and Van­ity Fair. I might peek at Page 6 in the NY Post when I get a chance, plus I can almost com­plete their cross­word puz­zle with­out cheating.

Q: What’s the most impor­tant thing a reader should take away from our con­ver­sa­tion today?

Michael:I’ll leave you with one of my favorite sit­u­a­tional quotes, which to me is a con­stant reminder that you can be any­thing you want to be, pro­vided you have some vision and some balls: The eval­u­a­tion of Fred Astaire’s first screen test:
“Can’t act. Can’t sing. Bald­ing. Can dance a lit­tle.“
Believe it, be it, enjoy it.


As a cre­ative with a wide pas­sion base I’m always on the look­out for peo­ple I can learn from and pass on those key insights to my fol­low­ers. If you are a thought leader, trend­set­ter or just have an inter­est­ing view­point please con­tact me to be part of this inter­view series.

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