Wednesday, April 9, 2014
We're Not Hiring
Weeks ago a reader complained that my arguments would carry more water if I weren't so disdainful of younger people, what they wear, how they work and the "jewelry" with which they choose to adorn their body.
But, I'm 44 and approaching middle age.
It's my job to disparage those with so much energy, so little wisdom and so many misguided sartorial decisions.
Besides I find it hard to hide my disdain for their budding advertising careers. Not so much for what they are doing in advertising, although there's plenty of grist for the mill there. It's more about how they got into advertising.
Somebody -- the holding companies -- is holding the door open for them.
It wasn't like that when I came up through the ranks.
Not by a long shot.
You could't get a job as a copywriter unless you had experience.
And you couldn't get experience, unless you were a copywriter.
There were no Young Gun programs.
Or agencies hiring cubbie copywriters, as they did in the 60's and 70's.
If you wanted a job as a junior you had to fight off the competition like some fast swimming sperm with the strongest tail and the best package of chromosomes.
I did what many fellow 44-year olds did.
Instead of going straight into the big time, I spent a few years in the D league.
The Farm System.
I got a job writing recruitment ads. Recruitment ad agencies were eager to hire any writer who could string together a few words. Particularly if they knew the difference between it's and its, your and you're, as well as their and there.
There are many "professional copywriters" today, stewarding billion-dollar brands, who don't.
Recruitment advertising was not easy work. There are not that many ways to say, "We offer a challenging work environment with competitive salaries and benefits."
That never dissuaded my boss, a squat, chain-smoking, Napoleonic man with all the manners of a feral pig, from taking a red pen to my work and sending me back to my desk for more options.
This didn't happen once a day. It happened 15-20 times a day. Recruitment ad agencies don't get hired on the basis of their creativity. It's all about volume. Excuse me, Volume.
It wasn't glamorous.
In fact, I'd argue it was 180 degrees from all of the above.
And I didn't do it for a month. Or a year. Or even two years. I churned out that bird cage lining for 2 & 1/2 painful years. But the experience was invaluable.
Kids today seemed to have leap-frogged over this kind of hardship. They waltz out of college with their Vines, their case studies and their fake ads for glow-in-the-dark condoms, and walk into an ad agency expecting to be wooed and handed a gym membership and a generous car allowance.
So how did I unshackle myself from the recruitment ad agency world and break into the big time?
For that, let's go to a sample spec ad from the Siegel Humility Files…