As a Global Account Director for BETC Euro RSCG, Courtney Berry specializes in working with health and beauty brands. She started her career at Publicis and has worked with popular brands such as L’Oreal, Armani Fragrance, Coppertone and Bain de Soleil. Berry is keen to not only talk about her love of the industry, but also how she’s had the opportunity of a lifetime: Last fall, Berry moved to Paris to manage several international accounts for Euro.
You’ve had rapid success in your career, eventually leading to the role as Global Account Director for BETC Euro RSCG. What do you think has set you apart and allowed you to succeed in this crazy, competitive industry?
I’ve been really fortunate to work with people who have championed me. And in some cases, they had no other choice but to rely on me! I remember being an Assistant Account Executive in a pre-production meeting two days before a major shoot with Gilles Bensimon. The account director was ill and the supervisor had quit — I was the only one left to make sure it wasn’t a complete disaster. I got my first promotion right after that. Since then, I’ve never forgotten what it’s like to be an AAE and that 90 percent of this business is all about having the confidence to step up to the plate.
Speaking of global, how do you think being an American helps and/or hinders one’s ability to strategize on a global scale? How has living in Paris changed your perspective?
It’s one thing to work on a global business out of America, but it is something else completely different working on a global business out of Europe. It’s actually been an incredibly humbling experience working with people who are so adept at navigating from one culture to the next.
Throughout your experience, what are the basic elements that make an account successful and a long-term client of an agency?
Trust. The client being able to trust that the agency has their best interest at heart and knows what it takes to make good work. It’s not always an easy thing to establish because agencies can be so incredibly precious about their work and their “process” that it can often feel like we’re working behind closed doors for a reason. I’ve always found that the more open I am with clients, the better.
It’s just as important for the agency to feel as though they can also trust the client — trust that they will believe in and fight for the work and know what’s best for the business.
With the rapid pace of the marketing industry, how do you think the role of an account director will evolve over the next 3 to 5 years? It often seems as though account people need to know everything already, but what else will they need to know in the coming years?
I think the most obvious answer is technology and emerging media. The buzz in the past couple of years has been a blurring of roles between account, planning and creative. Today, account people from creative agencies are expected to be experts in emerging media because creative and media are so intertwined. I think that will only increase in the coming years.
Much of your experience has been in the health and beauty industry. How do you think it differs from other retail-oriented industries?
Mostly they’re categories with highly engaged targets, which can make a brief more interesting. They’re also categories for which people demand expertise and accessibility at the same time, which can be a difficult balance to achieve.
Based on your blog, you seem to be an amateur photographer! What other creative interests do you have and how do you think they influence your work in marketing?
“Amateur” is the key word here! I just like things that are beautiful, things that are interesting. Understanding things that are visually appealing has a direct implication on the type of work I endorse.
One reason that you love what you do: The most successful people in the industry are of a rare breed who combine creative talent and business smarts – I’m lucky to call some of them my colleagues.
Must read book: My French-English dictionary.
Music that gets you in your zone: Almost anything live.