Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Letters, we get letters

Last week I had three copywriters (names withheld) reach out to me.

There was desperation in each of their missives. Even more apparent because they were reaching out to me. All, to the effect of...

"Dude, it's really slow out here. Agencies are cutting back on their freelance budgets and I can't get any work. You've been doing this awhile and always seem to be busy, any advice?"

Yes, of course, let me whip out my spreadsheet of potential employers and get you some names and numbers, poste haste.

Listen up, I've said this before, I'll say it again.

The secret is "there is no secret."

BTW, this little nugget of wisdom was taught to me years ago by Lee Clow. When I was at Chiat we did a lot of traveling together to pitch new business. I distinctly remember sitting at an airport terminal (before we started taking private jets) at LAX and having a few private moments with Lee. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I asked him point blank why Chiat had succeeded where others hadn't and what was his personal formula for success.

He said, and I'll never forget this:

"Brian, there is no secret." 

Adding, "It's all about resilience, a willingness to work harder than the next guy and never taking no for an answer."

And that's what I parrot back to my fellow underemployed freelance copywriters.

If I were to go a step a further and steal precious time away from trolling supporters of Precedent Shitgibbon, I would also tell them this.

You have to expand your horizons. And by that I mean stepping out of the comfort zone of the Big Four Holding Company roster of ad agencies. I do a lot of work for independent shops. Entertainment agencies. Hell, I have no ego, I'll do pharmaceutical ads for Zibesta, Lucretia and Cramitol.

Also, PR firms are looking to move in on advertising territory. They may be skilled at press releases and spinning damage control but they are in sore need of folks who can come up with big branding ideas. Plus, they don't want people like me (with a face for radio) spoiling the well kept appearance of their pristine offices, so they insist I keep my ugly fat ass at home.

And finally, there are a thousand companies of the Fortune 1000 list, how coincidental is that.

Not all them need or want a big bad ad agency and their youthful troops of ink-festooned brand experts. My partner and I recently reached out to some of these alternative-seeking clients and much to our surprise our inquiry has yielded fruit. And a car payment. And a mortgage payment. And the promise of a new Bowflex machine for the gym in my garage.

"Hey Bowflex, let's talk about your advertising."

The point is, as an advertising mercenary you have to open yourself up to all possibilities. Or, if I may paraphrase Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.


Always Be Opening.


george tannenbaum said...

When people reach out to me--usually after they've been fired, the first thing I tell them is to start a blog. Or a tumbler. Or something.

You have to figure out a way to get your name front and center three or four times a week without annoying people.

It's also a way to show off your talent.

Allen Richardson said...

I love that to Lee, you're Brian. Good article, Bri.

Théo said...

I freely give contacts to anyone, as long as they have replied to my calls and emails over the years while they were on salary. So far it hasn't come up.

Dave Trott said...