How is an advertising agency structured?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - advertising agency

The organisational structure of an advertising agency involves the same fundamental elements, irrespective of the firm’s size. An account services team is responsible for managing client relationships; the creative team is responsible for developing the advertisements. Then, media specialists will select the media outlets which will run the ads. A senior management team takes responsibility for the agency’s business as well as financial operations.

The departments of an advertising agency

As stated above, an advertising agency is usually structured into departments. Each department has a head who runs the department and liaises with the other department heads as well as the CEO/MD of the company.

Design department

The design department consists of several graphic designers, at varying levels of seniority, who are responsible for executing on clients’ briefs in terms of visual elements.

During the process of interpreting the client’s brief, the members of the department will usually have a roundtable discussion on the brief and offer ideas on how the brief can be adequately interpreted. However, it is ultimately the creative director’s decision about how the final design will look.

The graphic designer assigned with putting together the visual elements will then proceed with the task at hand. They will incorporate the copy provided by the client or that written by the copywriting department.

Only once the creative director is happy with the output, will they feedback the designed copy to the copywriting department to proofread before it goes to the client for approval.

Copywriting department

As stated previously, the copywriting department is responsible for generating copy according to the clients’ needs. They are also responsible for proofreading the finished design product.

The copywriting department is headed by a chief copywriter who has several copywriters working under him. As with the design department, the number of copywriters in the department will depend on the requirements of the company. Only once the chief copywriter is happy with the copy will it be incorporated into the designer’s work.

Traffic management department

Headed by the traffic manager, the traffic management department is responsible for getting material from clients, for example, logos and already-written copy. They are responsible for making sure that both creative departments work together optimally to deliver to clients’ expectations.

The account executives will also be in this department as they are responsible for maintaining the relationship between the agency and the client.

Admin department

The other processes, which are necessary for the smooth running of the agency, are located in this department. These processes are – for example, accounts, HR and bookkeeping.

The structure of an advertising agency has the aim of integrating the various services as well as tasks involved in producing and placing advertising. Many of the top agencies in South Africa are owned by and report to international firms. They also are inclined to have a large staff complement and departments which are assigned to develop the strategy, perform research, design the ads and choose the media. Smaller, regional agencies are usually independently owned and operated; however, they provide the same fundamental duties of account services, creative and media.

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DSM Digital School of Marketing - Advertising and Digital Marketing