Who’s who in advertising?

Adelle King
Sarah Blythe
Team GradAustralia

Behind every tagline that’s embedded in our collective consciousness—from ‘Just Do It’ to ‘Think Different’—is a team of advertising professionals committed to capturing your attention and selling it to their clients. This is a complicated process—the ideal advertisement is not only engaging and memorable, but, more often than not, produced at speed and in accordance with a strict budget.

To succeed, agencies allocate the various steps involved—from the initial generation of a creative idea to the development of an effective social media strategy—to different advertising professionals. You can find out more about their specific responsibilities below.

Account managers

Also known as ‘suits’, account managers are the relationship builders of the advertising world. It’s their job to handle projects from start to finish, acting as an intermediary between the client and the agency. Account managers aim to understand the client's business, objectives, and challenges before translating their insights into an agency brief. They then work with creatives, strategic planners, and other colleagues to ensure the production of an advertisement that nails the brief.

Strategic planners

Strategic planners aim to understand consumers by performing research with a view to generating the critical insight that underlies an advertising campaign. Using qualitative and quantitative research, they get into the brains of consumers and figure out what they want. This helps them to ensure that their client’s branding is consistent and effective.


Nine times out of ten, when people imagine life in advertising, they imagine the life of a creative. Working in pairs—there is always one copywriter and one art director—creative teams generate ideas that meet the needs of the client brief provided to them by an account manager. Needless to say, creatives are very imaginative, with a knack for telling stories or thinking visually.

Media planners and buyers

Media planners and buyers try to ensure that the finished advertisement gets an audience. They do this by considering different channels (for example, radio and television) before buying spots that combine maximum exposure with the highest possible likelihood of connecting with a target audience.

Creative services and production

Once the creatives have come with an idea, it needs to be converted into a reality: whether that means filming a commercial or recording a radio bit. The creative services and production team control internal processes at the agency, and also scout for the outside talent necessary to meet a brief. They’re the people who arrange the actors, cinematographers, producers and so on.

Project managers

Project managers concern themselves with the administrative aspects of producing an advertisement. This means that they’re responsible for finances, deadlines, quality control, and processes, aiming to improve efficiency, support strong working relationships, and ensure that effective media is produced on schedule.

Social media strategist

Social media is the sine qua non of modern advertising, with most campaigns either targeting different social media channels, or using them to promote campaigns with an offline focus. Social media strategists understand the ways in which people use services like Facebook and Twitter, and use this knowledge to create engaging campaigns that cohere across multiple channels.