Most jobs now require a photographic treatment which comes from the tv commercials side of the business and designed to eliminate all problems prior to a shoot, so when the agency & client arrives everyone knows what each group will do with everyone pulling together.
It's similar to a 'Cook Up' prior to the shoot, which is such a sensible practical approach to how each dish should look in the final ad and how it would work with certain props, the size required etc. Both ideas are good as we all arrive on the day of the shoot knowing what everyone wants.
However, I was talking to another photographer who said she has one proto-type 'Treatment' which she sends to every client just changing a few tweaks, like changing names. As these are generally successful pitches for jobs it made me think that this can't be right as each treatment should be different for each job or are the people that make the decisions actually reading the treatment? Maybe they already know who they want to use or perhaps they like one picture which is similar to the job? This means the technical breakdown, prop descriptions etc are irrelevant.
Most agency provide 3 treatments to clients and sometimes the decision is made prior to these treatments being presented. In someways this is good; if the client chooses an agency to do their ads why not trust them to make a decision who they want to work with.
A few years ago agencies had Art Buyers who recommended a few photographers to the art director would make the final choice. Nowadays Project Managers decide the suitable candidates, sometimes using Instagram to find a certain photographer. They may hash tag Coffee and see what turns up or who has the most likes.
I love Art Buyers but they are a dying breed. A good AB can recommend a certain experienced photographer to work with a young art director or vice versa. I showed my folio recently to 2 AB's and I was impressed with how much they know about the craft of photography. A PM can't have this information as they have been trained differently - this isn't to say they have other useful skills to add, such as the business side.
I have a top award winning senior art director friend who lost his job and now works freelance at a top agency. I would have thought he would have been wanted by every agency. He is a very nice person with a brilliant work ethic, hugely creative and easy to work with so he must be the perfect AD to have in an ad agency, especially as he wins major awards every year. Maybe the advertising business no longer wants wonderfully crafted ads; if you look at many ads they no longer have that wonderful creative spark, there are very few with humour or superb design. I think this is a real shame.
Recently a lot of financial institutions have bought advertising agencies which doesn't help with creative input from the top. The crazy days of Mad Men appear to have disappeared!!