Tag Archives: advertising

Agency Vs Client Side

I worked in the advertising agency right out of college. I had an eventful 5+ years in the industry and few months ago, I finally left the circle and jumped to the other side of the fence, the client side.

The client side is often known to be the greener side. I have former colleagues who joined the agency from the client side and they described agency as if it’s a sinking ship where everyone is toiling to stay afloat at the mercy of clients who are pointing guns at us. We’re slaves to clients. While client-agency relationship are now improving as clients recognise the agency as industry experts, ultimately we depend on clients for our rice-bowls and that’s why “customer is king” delineates agency culture.

Now that I’ve switched to a client position, I can finally make a first hand comparison of life in the agency vs client-side and here are my two cents –

Working Hour
Advertising agency is notorious for its crazy working hour because that’s true. Even if you work on a retainer account, somehow you can never guess when you’d be required to stay late for emergency so it’s rather hard to plan activities after working hour. On the bright side, most agencies tolerate late-comers so you can sleep-in a little but you probably need that after working late the night before.

Verdict: Client-side wins!
As client you may need to check your email often even during holidays but you basically plan for things and ask the agency to make it happen. So you have that break time while your agency scrambles to make things happen.

Company Culture
One of the things I miss the most working in agency is the company culture. Agency people thrive on being a fun bunch of people. I remember few of us were staying late and one of the director said this before he left office “It’s just advertising guys! Nobody dies (even if we fail).” Agency environment can be stressful, working around deadlines and unfortunately there are cases of personnel who died from overwork… but I think majority of the days we know how to let loose. On the client side, people are a lot more cordial. They know how to keep things professional on the surface even if they hate your guts. Clients seem more proper than advertisers.

Verdict: Agency wins!
I guess Agency gives off a more fun and genuine vibe. It’s like being in the last class versus the best class in cohort. (Not saying clients are smarter, I’m just talking about the atmosphere).

Projects/ The Work
There are vast learning opportunities being on either side. The benefit of being with agency is that you’ll handle different brands and be exposed to a range of industries (unless you are on a retainer account – then you should experience working for different accounts). You would also learn to manage offline and online media, working with suppliers, third parties, etc. Being a client hones my planning and strategy skills and here I have the opportunities to interact with more senior level executives within my working industry (not just within the corporation).

Verdict: It depends on your interest. Personally I developed an eye for detail (which is NOT my natural skill) working in the agency. Agency does a lot of implementation while clients does planning. Agency is good place to start, but if you start off as a client then stay – Do not enter the agency zone.

If you start your career as an entry-level in the agency, you probably earn less than your peers in other industry but the learning you get is priceless and you could get more perks (free booze, client’s products, tickets, etc) working in agency. But for long term goal, I think client pays better.

Verdict: Client wins! (Agency wins if you’re director level/ have won awards/ white person in an Asian agency which probably means you’re director level)


It’s too early for me to conclude which side of the fence I prefer. I am sure both sides have their pros and cons. I certainly have enjoyed being part of the advertising world because I’ve met really great colleagues who were my comrades-in-arms while battling with client briefs. I just feel that being in the agency allows you to form really great relationships, do work you’re proud of, have fun, be creative however it keeps your world rather secluded. Whenever I meet someone from advertising agency, I look at them as if they’re my countrymen. Maybe I’m dramatic. But you can grouch about timesheet, laugh over client briefs, share crazy agency party stories, you belong to a unique industry. Right now, even if I meet someone from my current industry, I would probably look at them as competitors? I can learn from them but at the same time I need to be wary. I don’t know, I’m really too new to say anything conclusive.

In any case, enjoy yourself wherever you are. If you’re working in advertising agency and feel everything sucks, trust me you’re gonna miss it when it’s over – hopefully it’ll be over. It’s a love-hate relationship really.



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Welcome to Digital Age. Finally!


If you haven’t known, I’ve been sucked into the digital world. Alright, I willingly walked into it and being the tech-unsavvy person that I am-soon-to-be-was, I’ve been doing my best reading up on all things digital. Surprisingly, or maybe not, I enjoy reading digital advertising or tech related news so much that I sensed myself transforming into a tech geek. 

Our world has changed so much since the introduction of internet. Everything is shifting to the digital arena. The traditional advertising industry, which is where I came from, is taking the punch from this movement. Although I am a traditional girl at heart, it is inevitable for me to pick up digital knowledge to stay afloat in the industry.

If you’re like me, pretty much clueless about what’s cool in the tech world, fret not (although I don’t think you’re fretting because let’s face it, we don’t really care unless it affects us). I’d like to share a bit of my findings that will keep you enough to stay relevant but not too much that I start sounding gibberish.*

3 Cool Finds on Kickstarter.

Firstly, what is Kickstarter? It’s a website that allows people to pitch their ideas to the crowd and ask for fundings. The crowd, us common folks, can choose how much to fund and in return we receive some goodies from the creator (the more you give the more you get). The project has to achieve the targeted amount of money before it can proceed, which means they won’t charged you a single cent until they have enough funding and the project is confirmed. Awesome ey?

Enough introduction. Now, here’s my top 3 finds on Kickstarter:

1. Mighty Mug – The Mug That Won’t Fall (say what??) 3c6fb6f2eec7ca458cd8615da86861b6_large-1

This is absolutely genius and a lifesaver for klutz like me. I’ve spilled water on my laptop a few times before and this is no doubt one of the best and most considerate invention I’ve ever seen around.

2. Memobottle – A4, A5 & Letter Reusable Water Bottles0e128807408ada4a490daf547628b7ab_large

Isn’t this a beauty? The idea is so simple and so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It’s easy to slot into thin bags, and it comes in 3 sizes; letter, A4 and A5. The only reason why I have not backed this project is because I’m wondering how I’m gonna wash the bottle. But it’s so alluring…

3. Jaha: The Most Affordable Fitness Band That Motivates You b2e7d7fe4c8c963e8a248c578fd9a301_large

It might not be the most fantastic product you can find on Kickstarter but nonetheless it’s a good price! My friend forwarded this page to me because she knew I was looking for a sports band and voila! it is way cheaper than all the bands that I’m looking at in stores. I hope the actual product would be better than the prototype design on its video though. Then again, for the price I shan’t be too fussy about it.

Aren’t you excited about this website?? You could pretty much searched for anything or even if you’re just looking to be inspired, Kickstarter has all sorts of items to keep me amused. There are many creative ideas. Some projects are outright ridiculous that it works.

I might be a late bloomer with Kickstarter, but it’s never too late to join in the crowd!

Cheers, Mel.

*One way to find out if you’re tech-savvy or not is by googling “what is jQuery” and if you understand what Google says, congrats! — The answer looks to me as if they are typed in elvish, and I think I have better chance understand elvish.

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How to Survive Your Mid 20s Crisis. (1)

Chapter 1

You’re fired.

21 days since they announced my termination I started penning this. When I sat in my big boss’ office and heard him reading off the script “I’m sorry but we can no longer keep you in the company”, I have not fully grasped the situation. I knew I was being fired but the emotion came much later than that and fast forward to today, it’s been 21 days. I have one month notice to serve and clearly time is running out for me to look for a new job and hopefully a better place where I can be rooted and grow. Then again, they say it’s not good to be too grounded to one place just in case the company has to “restructure” and people with tendency to be complacent in staying would often be the first batch to be cut off. Trust me. I speak from experience.

Before I started giving you advice on how to survive the mid-20s, let me introduce myself (you might be thinking why should you take advice from a stranger who can’t even keep her job? You’ll find out.) I am a soon-to-be-ex Account Executive with an advertising company and this is my first job. Recently the company is downsizing to half its size because I think we lost an account and there is a drastic cut down of work amount for the account my team handles. If you’re planning to join the advertising industry, be brave or think again. Anyway, so this whole being let go thing made me think of what I really want to do with life. Like most of the mid 20s, at some point you began to wonder what you want to do for the rest of your life and for me, the answer has always been writing.

To be continued.

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