Recently I was talking to a young guy who had just finished training to be a copywriter.

He asked me if I had any tips on how to get a job.

I said, if you want a job as an advertising professional, you must think you’re pretty good at it.

If you’re good at it, use what you’re good at to get a job.

He looked at me like he didn’t understand.

I said, look it’s your job to get people to buy things, right?

Okay, we have a product, which is you.

We have a target market, which is creative directors.

The object is to get creative directors to buy you.

As an advertising professional, how would you do that?

Again, he looked at me as if he didn’t understand.

I said, okay if I was a client you’d expect me to give you millions of pounds to sell my product, right?

Why should I do that if you can’t even sell yourself?

For the one time in your life you’ve got no restrictions.

You are the product.

You are the brand.

You are the client.

You are the writer and the art director.

You are the planner and the account man.

You are the media director.

For once in your life you are free to be totally creative in all areas.

There is no one stopping you from doing whatever you want.

And then I realised what the problem was.

The problem was he had no one to do all that work for him in all those areas.

He’d never been trained to be creative in all those areas.

He thought ‘creative’ just meant writing ads.

To wait for someone else to do the research, to do the planning, to write the brief, to work out who was the target market, where the ad should appear, what it should say..

Then, when everyone else had done all that, he’d write the words.

Then an art director would Mac it up, someone would sell it to the client, someone would photograph or film it, someone would put it all together, and eventually the ad would appear.

Meanwhile he’d sit at his desk and wait for the D&AD award to arrive.

Of course he didn’t see it like that.

To him it was ‘concept creation’ or ‘content provider’ or ‘story telling’ or ‘involvement maximisation’ or ‘director of engagement’.

But what it actually came down to was a little bit of styling in the middle of a lot of other people’s work.

Without them he was helpless.

Without them he couldn’t even think creatively about how to get a job.

He was reduced to carrying his portfolio from interview to interview.

That was the extent of his creativity.

Here’s my book, can I have a job?

I asked him what he knew about his target market: creative directors.

Were they male or female?

Were they writers or art directors?

Old or young?

Black or white?

Posh or working class?

Where did they live?

How did they commute?

What paper did they read?

Why should they give him a job, what was in it for them?

Would he make their lives easier?

Would he make them famous?

Would he make them get a promotion?

Would he make their department work harder?

What did they want?

Did they want him to win awards?

Did they want him to make money for the company?

Did they want him to be good with clients?

Did they want him to look and sound trendy?

And what did he have that no one else had?

Was he funnier?

Was he harder working?

Was he ethnically or culturally unusual?

Were his ads more logical or emotional?

Was he better at digital or mainstream media?

What did he know that no one else did?

Work out what he’s got that makes him different.

Work out what creative directors want.

Then work out how to let the one know about the other, in a way that stands out from the competition.

And he looked at me like he didn’t understand.

Because I hadn’t used any of the advertising language he’d learned about at college.


So this couldn’t be good advice.