I was talking to an art director who used to work for me.
I asked him how he got his start as a junior.
He said he and his copywriter were at Hounslow College.
In January, in the snow, they pitched a tent in front of various agencies trying to get interviews.
They managed to get an interview at FCB, but unfortunately they’d just lost some big accounts.
So a lot of the offices were empty.
The ECD said they couldn’t hire anyone because of the cutbacks.
The young team pointed to all the empty offices.
They said, if no one’s using those offices can we borrow one?
We don’t need paying, it’ll just give us somewhere to work.
The ECD thought about it and said okay, sure, why not.
So the young creative team picked an office and sat at the desk.
Suddenly an account man came in.
He said “Are you the new creative team?”
They said: well, er, yes.
He said “Everyone else is over the pub, can you knock out this small space ad by lunchtime?”
So they did.
In the afternoon he came back with another urgent ad, they did that straight away too.
Then word got out.
Other account men began coming round with urgent briefs.
Briefs they couldn’t find anyone to work on.
All the senior creatives seemed to be over the pub all the time.
Anyway, no one wanted to work on small space, urgent briefs.
So the young team sat at their desks and did loads of urgent small space ads.
One of the briefs was for the tube: Transport For London.
A little tiny poster to run outside tube stations.
The young creative team did it in an afternoon and the account man grabbed it, ran off with it, and sold it.
The art director then said to me “You know what happened next don’t you?”
As it happened I did.
I’d seen it at Bounds Green tube station: a little poster showing a parking meter as a skeleton.
The headline said STARVE A METER.
I thought it was really good and probably done by a junior team.
So I got my secretary to call up the agency, find out who did it and get them in for an interview.
And I hired them.
That junior team was Mary Wear and Damon Collins.
They stayed at GGT for years and did some great work.
And they won lots of awards at some really good agencies.
Mary went on to become a creative director at Abbott Mead Vickers.
Damon became the ECD at RKCRY&R.
Then he opened his own agency, Joint, with clients like TSB and Amazon.
Now they both have great careers, largely because of the sort of attitude that sees an opportunity in a problem.
At their very first interview, they didn’t just see empty offices and think: no jobs here, we’d better leave.
They saw empty offices and said “Can we borrow one?”.
Then they started doing every ad that no one else wanted to do.
Which lead to a better job, which lead to bigger and better ads, which lead to awards, which lead to whatever they wanted.
They didn’t just wait for luck to happen, they made it happen.
As Ben Franklin said “God helps those who help themselves”.