Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Getting In

I'm always amazed how many young people gain entry into the business of advertising.

They "graduate" from of the many ad warehouses throughout the country and walk right into one of the youngblood/intern/indentured servitude stints at one of the holding company ad agencies.

Voila, 6 months later, after knocking out a few banner ads and some viral content that received 413 views on Youtube, they're a copywriter.
Or an Art Director.
Or an ACD.

In my day, meaning 20 years ago, it didn't work like that.

I knocked on more doors, lugging a shitty portfolio of shitty work, than I care to remember. But I'll never forget the first bite.

A woman who was the Creative Director at Bernard Hodes Recruitment Advertising had an opening for a junior copywriter. She thought my book showed potential but wasn't convinced. She clipped one of the recruitment ads that had just come off the press, handed me the inky newspaper tearsheet and said come back on Monday with three alternative headlines.

And so I did.

I cleared my weekend docket of all the dates I had scheduled with leggy supermodels. Canceled the test drive I had arranged at the Porsche dealership. And I went to work.

On Monday I showed up in her office. Not with three alternative headlines but with ten. If memory serves, I even wrote the body copy for each ad. None of it was any good. All of it sounded something like…

Tomorrow's challenges, today.


Opportunity is staring you right in the face.

To be honest I don't think any of that mattered. They had an empty desk and they needed to fill it with someone who could churn, burn and grind it out. Oh and gladly take home $17, 000 a year.

That was 3,489,621 words ago.
Today I'm still grinding.

The words come easier now. And hopefully they pack more punch and feel more relevant. When they don't, they're often changed by clients, account managers or Junior Creative Directors, recent college graduates who, at 22 years old, are exactly half my age.

I think that's the definition of irony, but I'm not sure.

1 comment:

Wade Paschall said...

Rich: When I got my first interview to be a writer and BBDO West (and you were on staff there), David Lubars made me wait almost three hours to see him. And his first words to me were 'I'm not hiring you today.' He then critiqued my (shitty) book and challenged me to write some ads for 'aspirin or something mundane' and make it interesting. So I went home and faxed him (that's how long ago that was) a campaign for aspirin that next morning after staying up half the night to do something I hoped he wouldn't laugh at. I got the job from that, but soon realized it would only get harder. -Wade Paschall