“If you can explain to your friends and family what you do for a living, you don’t work in advertising.”
Anyone who has worked in advertising for a significant time – say, three weeks – understands that statement. “What did you do at work today?” “The art director and I went to a coffee shop and concepted.” If you think back to the last job you had before advertising – back when argot like “concepted” sounded like gibberish – you’ll realize that explanation makes no sense to anyone outside the business. Not to your boyfriend. Not to your college roommate who drops by for the weekend. Not even to your mother, who fervently wants to believe you’re succeeding in life.
Aside from the obvious absurdity of leaving the workplace to hang out in coffee shops, how can you explain “concepting,” except to say you have no idea why it isn’t “conceptualizing,” which is an actual word in the real world? “The two of us toss ideas around and when we come up with a good one, I write a headline and the art director draws a thumbnail.”
Stop now. If you want to be able to talk about your work, change careers. However, if you want to create value, keep doing what you’re doing. Because that’s what you do. You create value. Every day, you create words and pictures that intrigue and persuade. And that creates value for clients.
Just think. You get paid for that.
Blair Boone is an advertising copywriter and the founder of OneWriter™.
One writer is worth a thousand pictures.™
©Blair Boone 2018
Photo by Rick English
When I was teaching, I often took the opportunity to inject comments and advice from some of our own into a lecture. An old friend, Jim Hettich, Chairman and CEO at Crowley Webb, provided the following to students who would soon be looking to land positions in ad agencies. It came back to me that Jim’s advice was some of the best my students had ever received.
“What I look for in a new account service hire (and unfortunately don’t see much of it) is an interest in and an appreciation for the advertising industry, someone who has a sense of industry history, has a sense of current affairs in the industry, has read biographies of some of the great people and agencies, etc. etc. This aspect of an individual’s candidacy is always, always a tiebreaker.
The best advice I can give to an individual who aspires to have a career in this business is to find the right balance of intelligence, integrity and humility. Since everyone is different, everyone will have a different balance of these attributes. The point is all of them are necessary and I dare say critical if you want to achieve your dreams.”
Chairman & CEO, Crowley Webb & Assoc.
“People don’t quit jobs. They quit bosses.”
One of the founders of Crowley Webb & Associates
“The frightening and most difficult thing about being what somebody calls a creative person is that you have absolutely no idea where any of your thoughts come from, really. And especially, you don’t have any idea about where they’re going to come from tomorrow.”
Copywriter & classic ad man
BBDO, Ogilvy & Mather, Hal Riney & Partners
Four key qualities for an account manager…
- Ideas: All clients want new ideas from their agency partner. A good account manager always proactively offers their clients new ideas.
- Integrity: Never lie; never go back on your word—either to your client or to your colleagues.
- Communication: Writing and your presentation ability have to be stellar.
- Judgment: It’s tough to teach judgment; but you will need to be able to trust instincts and this comes with experience.
Vice President, Client Service & Media, Gelia Marketing
“Clients have very strong expectations about their agency relationship. They take a risk by using a portion of what would have been operating income and spending it on an activity that offers no guarantees. If this investment fails, they have no inventory or equipment to sell off. You may think you understand this reality. Think again. When clients make a major mistake in their decisions related to spending the company’s money, they have put their job and career in jeopardy.”
Author of How To Be a More Effective Account Manager
“The heart of our business is the creative product. Many clients do their own marketing, buy their own media, have superb research. But is there any advertiser with an excellent creative department? Creative people prefer an agency environment, the challenge of many products, the stimulation of other disciplines, all concerned with advertising. Advertisers need agencies for the creative product best produced by agencies. We never forget that fact.
Ogilvy’s first copy chief