What does a workflow procedure look like in an advertising agency?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - workflow procedure

All advertising agencies will have their own processes that they follow, which suit the business; however, there is one basic workflow that all agencies follow.


The client will approach the advertising agency with a specific need. He or she will either have a brief that it already conceptualised that merely needs to be sent to the creative teams to be actioned. In other cases, the creative director and the account executive will sit down with the client to flesh out his or her needs and to translate these into creative outputs. For example, during this process, it will be decided on what the look and feel the client wants as well as the copy which needs to be generated.

Design and writing

During this phase, the designers and copywriters will execute the parts of the brief that are assigned to them. In bigger teams, designers will bounce concepts and ideas off each other as will members of the copywriting team. This is so that they can get input into what they are creating and so make enhancements to deliver the best possible outcome.


Before the creatives are presented to the client, there will be an internal review of the work that has been produced. Members of the team who were not involved in the creation the initial drafts will be called in to give their input into what has been produced. If necessary, the team who did the first draft will make further amendments before the client is presented to.

The people who have the final say, in this stage, vary. It could be the account executive who’s taking care of the particular account or – in the smaller agencies – it could even be the head of the business. However, what’s critical here is for people who haven’t been involved in the initial drafting stages to be involved so that they provide a fresh perspective to the work.

Client presentation

During this phase, the client will be called in to view the results of what the team has put together. The client will either accept the work as is, required changes to be made or reject the concept outright (however, the third option shouldn’t happen if the brief has been interpreted correctly). They have the final say in terms of whether or not they will accept the work done.

Should revisions be required, the team will make these. This process will go on until the client is satisfied. However, it is not a good idea for too many client presentations to happen as if they feel that the agency does not ‘get’ what they have in mind, they will most probably take their business elsewhere and not give favourable reviews to others needing to engage an advertising agency.

What is a job bag?

In most advertising agencies, each job has what is called a ‘job bag’. This is a large envelope with a checklist attached to the front of it. This list will detail precisely what processes have been taken in the project’s workflow and who authorised that this step could be finalised.

Inside this job bag, there will be physical copies of the final designs that the client signs off. These will have the client’s signature at the back of these copies. Smaller agencies still have physical job bags while larger agencies make these electronic to save on space.

Agencies are perhaps one of the most exciting environments to work at. It’s not a secret: a lot of agency executives are coming from inside the industry. This means that they’re very good at the creative parts of the business. However, constricting systems, as well as processes that guide the work, are still applied to agency management, as much as to any other company. A shortage of those systems can single-handedly generate chaos in the demanding agency workflow.

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DSM Digital School Of Marketing - Advertising