Stripes recently hired a new VP of Accounts, Scott Brown. Scott has worked in marketing agencies for over 20 years spanning many disciplines, including branding, advertising, digital, and content marketing. His client work includes Taco Bell, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, Stanley Steemer, Terminix, and more. When he isn’t working, Scott is likely cheering on the Longhorn football team, or camping and hiking with his wife and two kids.
You’re an agency man. How many agencies have you worked for?
1, 2, 3, 4… like 8. I was an advertising major in college. I chose advertising just because I was like, “It’s kinda close to business.” Not in the business school but like businessy-ish.
I’ve been out of school for 23 years, and I’ve spent 90% of those years in agencies.
I started out in the dawn of the internet days. In my first job I worked on Taco Bell. I worked in a field marketing office for an agency called Bozell. We did a little bit of everything, all their local media planning. We did local promotions. I realized I didn’t want to do this for my whole career. So I transferred over to Temerlin McClain, which is TM Advertising today, and I worked on NationsBank, which is now Bank of America, amongst others.
Sounds like a lot has changed in advertising since you entered the game.
Money was no object for clients in those days… Then the dot-com bubble burst. Everybody received a pay cut, and I was like, “All right. I think I’m going to go try something different.” So I went to work for Verizon as a marketing manager. It was fun to work on the client side because I hadn’t really done that before.
Do you think working on the client side prepared you in a special way for client services?
Yeah. I think it gives you a better understanding of what clients do. We see only a piece of what they do day in, day out. They’re responsible for much more than just advertising. What ad agencies do is a small piece of that puzzle.
Working on the client side made the distinction for me between marketing and advertising, which I believe is a pretty big distinction. We’re just a piece of the entire marketing puzzle, albeit an important piece. But it gave me a different level of respect for what they do and helped me realize they’re not always thinking about the things we’re working on. They’ve got plenty of other things on their plate, and they hire us because they trust us to do those things.
Agencies are hired for a reason — not just to do stuff, but for a level of thinking, a level of expertise that’s beyond what a client can handle.
What do you think of Stripes’ mantra: balancing art and science?
I like that Stripes isn’t just a media shop. I definitely lean more toward the creative side of things, and I have throughout my career. But I think bringing all of that together is something this agency clearly has in its DNA.
You have to have good creative to go with good media, or it doesn’t work out. And I definitely see that here. I definitely see it in the work. I definitely see it in the culture — that it’s collaborative and integrated and everybody works together. That’s the beauty of it.
What’s your vision for client services?
At the core of what accounts people do is relationship building, both internally and externally, and establishing trust in that way. That means more than just communication (or ideally overcommunication). It also means leadership, being informed and strategic, having a point of view, and being human — it’s okay when you don’t have the answer, but you have to say so and let the client know that you will and when you will.
At the end of the day, our team:
- Builds (stronger) relationships with clients and colleagues
- Makes the agency’s work better
- Orchestrates to assure all teams are integrated and rowing in the same direction
I view account services as the lead of the ship. Everything an agency does runs through us in some form or fashion. And with that comes a lot of responsibility. So we have to be generalists and know a little bit about everything.
At the end of the day, we walk this tightrope of having to do what’s right for the agency and what’s right for the client. We have to strike that balance.