Thursday, 29 July 2010

Star Stories: Ben Kay

He doesn't look like Father Christmas. At all.

Ben Kay is the blogger behind ifthisisablogthenwhatschristmas, an irreverent commentary on ads and the people behind them. He's also a damned fine copywriter, twitterer, and has ten points to bear in mind when getting into the business.

Anyway, I'll leave the rest to the man himself:

"I got my first job as an advertising copywriter in 1996, spending years at Y&R then AMV BBDO. In 2005 I became creative director of Lunar BBDO, leaving in 2008 to freelance. My experience in the industry has manifested itself in a blog, ifthisisablogthenwhatschristmas, Since 2002 I have also tried to write the kind of books I would love to read. Instinct, to be published by Penguin on the 2nd of September, is the first of these.

1. Planners are currently in the ascendancy. For various reasons, the creative product isn’t nearly as important as the work that goes on behind the scenes. Sometimes this work is specifically aimed at improving the creative product but more often than not it is arse-covering, unnecessary bullshit. But these days people are very fond of arse-covering unnecessary bullshit because...

People make most decisions out of fear. People want to remain in their jobs so that they can feed their kids and pay their mortgages and that means they do not necessarily want to do things that might lose them their jobs. Unfortunately this means that decisions tend towards the middle ground where perceived safety is at its strongest. Marketing managers approve ads that won’t get them fired; account handlers sell ads that are less likely to require expensive, time-consuming persuasion; planners will create strategies with the scared marketing managers that will sound like every other strategy going around town; creatives might write exciting ads but they won’t argue that hard for them. Result: vanilla flavoured blancmange with a glass of skimmed milk on the side.

3. Martin Sorrell is as good at predicting the future as Stephen Hawing is at the flying trapeze. However, when he speaks, most of the business world listens and the newspapers report what he says as if it’s a pronouncement of the truth. It’s laughable. And pathetic.

4. You might well meet your other half in the industry. Advertising is full of bright, ambitious, somewhat appealing people, and people who like the company of bright, ambitious, somewhat appealing people. If this looks likely, go with it. Forget all that stuff about not shitting on your own doorstep or whatever the proverb is. Get in there.

5. There’s a famous film saying from William Goldman (if you don’t know who he is, be ashamed and look him up): nobody knows anything. The same applies to advertising. When you join the industry people will talk as if they are very certain that their opinion is 100% correct. When you leave the industry you will do so stunned at the number of times those people (almost certainly yourself included) were wrong. There is nothing you can do about this except weep.

6. It’s going to take a metaphorical earthquake for the British public to like the people who work in advertising. The perception of slick chancers corralling people into buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have is one that is here to stay. If you want to be loved, become a nurse.

7. Advertising has very little absolute effect. By this I mean that it has been proven that advertising will not make you buy something you would never otherwise buy. Instead it makes you switch brands. This means your job will effectively be as cheerleader for the brand you are advertising. You should either try not to care about this or make sure you want the companies whose products you advertise to succeed.

8. People in advertising take cocaine. People in all sorts of businesses take cocaine but the fear of point 2 can be tempered (some believe) by sniffing white powder up their noses. Unfortunately it’s just papering over the cracks in their empty lives (just kidding!).

9. You might well travel the world, meet famous people, see things for which you are somewhat responsible on billboards and TVs (and computers – whoopee fucking doo!). This will give you a fizzy little thrill in your tummy and make mummy and daddy very proud. Whether or not they work out what the fuck it is you actually do all day is another matter (they never will).

10. Do things for love before you do them for money. This is a truth about life that’s easy to forget. If you forget it you will end up having a miserable ten hours a day that you hate, then you think that the fun you have with the money you earn will make up for it. You will be wrong."

I hope that's helpful. Ta for that, Ben.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Creatives In The City Pt 1...

(In best Attenborough voice) These...are...some...young...creatives...

Hello all.

One of the things AdGrads hasn't done, historically, is focus too much on the creative side of things (barring the odd Star Story by a CD or two). As we're a bunch of planners, it's perhaps not surprising.

So, with that in mind, we've put our heads together, and two of our creative mates have volunteered to write a series of posts on how to get a job within the big smoke, and what problems and opportunities they encounter along the way.

Without further ado, here's Luke & Wilf:

"Hello, welcome to our first post. We’re Luke and Wilf, two lads working as a creative team.

Hopefully we can use our personal experiences in future posts to serve as useful advice to anyone considering a job in advertising. For now we thought we’d give you an insight into what brought us together.

We met at UCA Farnham on the advertising and brand communications course where we learnt a bit about strategic thinking and idea generation, before we decided to specialise in art direction and copywriting. It’s at that point that we looked across the room and decided that we both loved football, films, dreaming up cunning plans/ ideas, and thus decided to pair up (There are lots of other courses, but there will be a post on that at a later date).

Wilf wanted to be a creative because he liked the idea that the job as a whole would not be confined to any one medium. Secondly, he loved the idea that he’d be able to collaborate with loads of interesting people.

I wanted to be a creative to appease my ego as I liked the idea of having my work seen by the public, and to be paid to solve problems. What’s more, I thought I might be able to learn a little bit about writing screenplays by writing adverts.

After a while you realise that being a creative is many of the above but the main reason for wanting to be in a job like this is that you crave the feeling of solving briefs of any nature.

Now that the ice is broken, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments section and we’ll try our best to answer them or dedicate future posts to explore the issue.

Luke & Wilf blog at and tweet as @lukeandwilf"

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Another Summer School Opens...

It has come to the attention of we here at AdGrads towers that quite a few agencies are beginning to launch their summer schools.

Amongst them are McCann London. Their grad scheme has just begun. More details are below:

"Bright, sparky thing looking to start your career in advertising? Here at McCann London we’re on the lookout for fresh talent, so we’re running a scheme called The McCademy this September to seek out the best of you.

The scheme will work like a sort of internship for six hopefuls, starting September 6th, running for 6 weeks - at the end of which we’ll offer a permanent job in account management to 2 or 3 McCademists. During the six weeks, a real day job as an account exec on one of our major accounts will be interspersed with training – you’ll learn much and find out quickly where your skills lie, and you’ll get to test drive the job too.

Applications are open from now until 28th July, so to find out more and apply visit The McCademy at Good luck!"

Best of luck with it.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A couple of new roles to tell you aboot...

Not this sort of collective. This is ANIMAL Collective.


The lovely chaps at Collective are after two folk; one Junior Planner, and one Project Manager. (These roles would be up on their site, but it is being made more spangly, so they aren't...yet). Crucially, these roles require 6-9 months of agency experience, so no straight raw grad roles; more mildly experienced grads.

Their main clients are EA Games, Honda and the BBC. Collective are down-to-earth, fun and friendly digital agency in Clerkenwell, near the awesome Exmouth Market.

There isn't a closing date, so get those CVs (and covering letters, if you have 'em) in to Nicola Morgan (nicola dot morgan at collectivelondon dot com) as soon as you can.