Friday, 10 August 2007
Right then, let's have a stab at this... ahem. So, my journey in Ad Land..
It could be argued that my journey into advertising happened from birth, to be honest. My father is a 'suit'. He's an account handler, and the MD of a Cheltenham agency (after stints at Cogent and as a marketing manager of Kays catalogue). I must hasten to add that he knows bugger all people in London, before cries of 'nepotism' are heard.
So I've always been aware of the wider ad world; he'd come home, complain about certain clients, and revel when a pitch went well. As someone who's always been interested in English (both reading and writing), I thought I'd become a copywriter when I grew up.
All of this was forgotten when I went to University to read English, right up until the second year. I then began to realise that perhaps a career as a self financing author wouldn't be that financially lucrative. So it was time to look around.
Having the world's crappest careers library, I took to the t'internet. As well as Advertising, I considered Publishing (not well paid enough, potentially very dull), Law (sign your life away for a £60k starting salary), Journalism (having to start at the very very bottom didn't really appeal) or Editing (snore).
So Advertising it was. I'm a bit lucky; because of my Dad, I was given access to Campaign each week. Visions of long lunches and massive accounts began to form in my mind - I was going to be an account handler, and a bloody good one.
I only applied to two schemes in 2005 (Grey and the WPP Fellowship) in my final year, preferring to concentrate on getting a good final mark - which, I'm happy to say, worked out. I was a bit put off by Grey's process; it was all about making a DVD of yourself, going to a party in London, and THEN make an ad. Seemed like a lot of work, but it was fun...sadly, I didn't get in. The WPP scheme, by contrast, seemed like a golden ticket, the Charlie & The Chocolate Factory of the ad world. Got to a first round interview there, but sadly no further...
Regardless, my appetite was whetted. I needed to find out some more. I thought to myself that I could do with some work experience - not being from London, I had no funds to get myself down, nor people to stay with. So I took a temp job at home to pay for my excursions - and did a bit of account handling/the odd competitive review at Fallon and DLKW. The advantage of all of this was that it helped me figure out just where I'd fit in..or at least gave me some idea.
At this point, I decided to write a blog, after reading Russell's, Noisy Decent Graphics (who later wrote a very nice post about me here) & Adliterate. I didn't have much to say, but I thought that it'd be a useful in showcasing how I thought, and how I'd be a useful addition to the agency world.
Come summer time, I was able to successfully get onto the Saatchi & Saatchi Summer Scholarship (after doing an online account management task or three, a phone interview and the infamous final task). All of that, plus my experiences beforehand, and my blog, convinced them to allow me on.
Sadly, I was a rubbish, rubbish account man. Working at SaatchiX, I basically found out that looking after the minutae of an account (at least as a junior) was really not for me - this wasn't the constant client meeting or strategising that my father did. No, it was very admininstrative, with what seemed like constant demands..and it really wasn't playing to my strengths.
Throughly chastened, I finished the scheme and buggered off back home to do some more temping, and some more thinking. Maybe Advertising wasn't for me? Well...after briefly reconsidering Law, and being abused by the locals at the local council, I came to a conclusion. What did I enjoy the most? Strategy. Helping work out business problems, and solving them. It was under my nose the whole time.
Yep, I was a planner. I tried to convince various agency grad schemes that was the case, but wasn't able to do it. However, various conversations with Richard Huntington at United (the writer of Adliterate) were occuring in the whole process, and I went up to London to meet him. We got on like a house on fire, and I was hired in March 2007 as a junior planner.
After some enjoyable months, the agency was touted as merging (after losing £75m worth of SKY business) with Grey. Sadly, we didn't, and selected staff members from United joined up with them. Still, it was enough for me to know I was a planner - I'd assisted on a lot of the agency's business, and was told I got on really well.
But it could have been back to square one...no, happily, it wasn't. I made a book of all my planning thinking and work (along with various brand positionings of my own), and went around various agencies, picking up some useful advice, and some freelance positions.
And here I am today, freelancing and writing this blog and 'Confessions of a Wannabe Ad Man'. Phew, I hope that was useful for someone...