Interview with an Advertising Executive

Posted March 13, 2012 by

I am a Sr. Copywriter and Creative Director, an executive management position in the advertising and promotion industry, and I have been in this line of work in one form or another for 29 years.

Mine is a dual role: on one hand I am a commercial copywriter tasked with persuasively engaging prospective customers on behalf of the client, while on the other hand, I am the lead creative mind on a team charged with developing winning creative strategies through a well-established core process adhering to industry best practices.

No job is a day at the beach, but if I had to rank my ‘job’ on a scale of 1 to 10, I would have to give it a 9.5 simply because I love it so much. I get a fresh challenge every couple of days, and as tedious as things can get from time to time, I wouldn’t change a thing. Long hours, disagreeable clients, and uncooperative technology are all parts of the job, but I don’t think I would ever change a thing — well, maybe flawless technology would be nice.

Since I was a little kid running around the streets of Los Angeles, I always thought I could say it better than they did on the radio and TV commercials that were airing. Today some would say I can and I do, but with that said I continue to search for validation with every new campaign. I suppose you could say advertising and promotion is in the fabric of my being, and I want to reassure myself that my fabric is still in tact.

There are a couple of aspects of my profession that one should consider before entering into a career in advertising and promotion. The first thing to be aware of are the long hours you will be committing to in the ad game. An eighty-hour workweek is not unusual in this business, in addition to working at home, which includes awaking in the middle of the night having to scramble around for a piece of paper and anything you can find to write with because you just came up with the solution to a problem, or the big idea for your client’s new campaign. It can be a crazy lifestyle.

The second thing to know, I suppose like any business, you’ll have a lot of different egos and personalities to deal with, some easygoing, some not so. The thing to be aware of in the ad game is creative minds must be tempered, and the young ones rarely are, so in addition to being the creative lead, you have to be a surrogate parent of sorts, i.e. half mentor, half disciplinarian, and half co-worker, a difficult balance to strike indeed.

Looking back I always wanted to be an ad man. I can remember as a kid I always used to flip through magazines for the ads. The same with TV and radio spots, you can guess my favorite part of the Super Bowl… So when I entered college in the late seventies it took about 30 seconds to decide on my major, and my continuing education has always had an advertising bent. Even today when I take a course, insurance agent training for example, my interest is to learn the industry so I am better able to promote it.

Almost everyday presents a new challenge in one-way or another. Recently I was presented with a naming project. A Hong Kong-based tablet PC manufacturer that was interested in putting a Western face on their Chinese product. After preparing the creative brief with our team I explain that just giving yourself a western name will not necessarily make your brand accepted in the western markets. You can’t just put lipstick on a pig, and expect it to be named prom queen. That analogy really resonated with them.

By way of explanation, I proposed that they would need to stop thinking like a “Private Label” OEM, and approach business as a name brand. Develop a fixed line of products rather than produce whatever any buyer with the money was willing to pay for. In a nutshell, they would have to turn their focus to the establishment of a specific quality control regime, and customer care agenda after the sale. Today, nexTab Technology is poised to enter the U.S. market with “The People’s Tablet. I am as proud of this as I am of anything I’ve done in the past 10 years.

The rewards for producing that kind of work for my employer are great. My current base pay exceeds $200,000 per year, and with performance-based bonuses seven-figures is not out of reach in any given year. Beyond the significant financial remuneration I receive, I am also rewarded with a comprehensive benefits package.

When I began in this business I got a week of vacation each year. Once I had 10-years of professional experience under my belt, my seniority earned me 30-days a year, plus 10 personal days I use for doctor’s appointments and such. Today, I enjoy a one-week vacation every three months. In truth it’s more than enough because I love what I do.

More than a good education, you must have a creative drive to succeed in this business. A strong creative drive, combined with a critical eye, and a modicum of formal training, you too can make your own mark in the ad game.

If one of my kid’s friends were to ask me about getting into this line of work, I would advise him or her to consider whether the foregoing description applied to them? If so, were they were willing to start at the bottom, and put in the time and effort to refine their craft? As I advise my own kids today, I would tell them to “do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Because I am still a relatively young man of 52, I can say with a high degree of certainty that you will find me right where I am today, in another five, 10, or even 20 years from now — God willing.

This is a true story as told to DiversityJobs, where you can find career interviews for the job you’ve been looking at and available positions in your desired field.

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