Clients can be as terrible as they want, says Grey London's Wiktor Skoog

Wiktor Skoog: the strategy director at Grey London
Wiktor Skoog: the strategy director at Grey London

Grey London's strategy director shares his lessons from the career ladder.

I’m a bit surprised Campaign wants me to give advice. It definitely feels good… but also uncomfortable.

It’s two years since I was a Face to Watch and, after 2016, I’m not sure what people think of experts and advice any more. Look at Leicester City. Trump. Brexit. What do we know? How can I possibly give good advice or predict anything for a career in advertising?

I’ve only done it for three years – and I’ve spent most of that time trying to not make ads. Instead, I’ve been trying to make something different. I think there is something in that. Different people, religions, opinions, brands, messaging. Different doing. Basically, we don’t have enough "different" around our neck of the woods.

A lot of what applies to the world right now applies to us too. Take any self-proclaimed expert’s advice with a pinch of salt. And then take on this industry (as part of a crew who shares your vision) and smash it into what you want it to become in the future.

Advice? Don’t leave it up to the elders or the experts to change it for you. Respect them but make it your job to mix things up. Here’s what else I’d say. Some points may be basic, but they’re often overlooked.

Understand the basics of doing business rather than advertising or marketing specifically

This is regardless of what role you have in your agency. I’m definitely no expert in doing business. But even the basic understanding of "time is money" is useful.

When you send an email to a client, it will generate a cost for that client. The cost increases the more people you copy in. Same goes for meetings. I’ve been in a fair share of those quarterly all-agency meetings and, when you count every head, that morning can easily be a £10k-£20k meeting the client is paying for.

Respect that time and make that meeting the best it can be

You are in that meeting because someone rates you. Respect that. Participate. Airplane mode can be useful on the ground too.

Make your meetings count

Especially at times when this industry feels like the gigantic Ouija board that it is. What are the actions? Do them.

If you get shit briefs, it’s rarely because of the brief itself

It’s about the shit beforehand – the bollocking the client got from their boss, the relationship that has been neglected over the past six months…

Yes, clients can be difficult at times. And there will be moments when you think they just don’t get it. But, most of the time, that’s our fault. Clients can be as terrible as they want – it’s their money. It’s our job to earn their trust. And make them feel comfortable with making a different shape of work.

Which lead me on to people

During my short stint in advertising, I’ve met a lot of people who are extremely good at what they do. But the best ones I’ve worked with are extremely interested in what they don’t do as well. They are inquisitive rather than self-absorbed technicians.

To be interested in others is a very powerful thing.

Wiktor Skoog is the strategy director at Grey London. Skoog was featured in Campaign's Faces to Watch
in 2014.

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