|Original articles from Brian Keller.|
|How Do Copywriters Get it All Done?|
12:06 AM, Thursday, February 27, 2014
I write for an ad agency and write a column, weekly, for Beyond Madison Avenue. This week I promised two columns. Now, I have to be lucid and think of columns and create a pitch deck, for work, too. Impossible. I’ll get up early tomorrow to meet deadline and complete the deck.
|Exactly What is Digital, Anyway?|
We were interviewed recently and the interviewer asked for work that we were proud of. We spoke of a TV commercial we loved because of the strategy, the execution, and, most importantly, the results for our client.
|Are You Getting 'Juicy Feedback'? |
Ad agencies, creative labs, designers, engineers, etc. create apps every day. If you look closely at every great app and every great user experience, its genesis is usually based on a very simple idea that people connect with. A great app is like your first bike. It’s easy to use, creates an emotional connection...
|Random Stops on the Way to Advertising Apocalypse|
A group of twits, some of whom are actual Knights, stirred a few pots by pontificating on ads they’d bring to a desert island. These musings actually got ink our "trades." Gee whiz. Most people would bring a boat or some food. Be passionate about your work, but the line between passion and overinflated ego is sometimes thin.
|'You Wrote it On Paper?' or, Good Ideas Work Everywhere|
“The medium is the message.” Marshall Mcluhan’s thought is resonating more now than it did during the early ‘60s. The digital space is fast moving and adaptable and can be used along with data and a plethora of tools, but the word “digital” is not a panacea, nor is it an idea.
Oreo’s tweet “You can still dunk in the dark,” executed during the Super Bowl...
|The Greatest Creative Director Ever|
The work lasted around six and one-half minutes.
“Just Do It!” “Why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” “Think small.” “Think different.” “Got milk?” “A diamond is forever.” “Expect more. Pay Less.” “Wings of Man.” “You deserve a break today.” “A coke and a smile.” These and others of their ilk are all nice campaigns done by small-brained people once revered as ad geniuses until Sunday, August 25, 2013. On that fateful night, friends, a campaign crafted and executed...
|It's All About the Beer Bottle|
A room at Marcus Bailey Worldwide: 20 creative teams, 10 Creative Directors, 40 Associate Creative Directors, 10 group heads, 30 Account Supervisors, 10 Media Supervisors, and their counterparts in Marcus Bailey Digital Interactive Social Worldwide. Waiting for Creative Chief M. L. Lee.
M. L. Lee: “I was airlifted off one of my islands while vacationing with my wife Dakota..."
|Do You Need a Cover Letter in the Ad Business, and Why?|
Along with your resume, many companies ask for a cover letter. A cover letter is something you use to cover your resume and introduce yourself as a person wanting the job you sent the resume in for. People could be confused, in today’s high-tech, fast-paced world, that you may just like to send resumes...
|You Want the Job, So Get Your Resume (On Your Own)|
You need a resume.
You need a good one because you are going into advertising or staying in advertising. What do you do to get one? You could do it yourself or you call the resume service. We went to our search engine of choice, selected an area, and found (on the first two pages) 56 resume services. One had “professional” in its name, one had “executive” in its name. We could find none with “professional” and “executive” in the name, so if you want to be professional, look for the former; if you want to be executive, choose the latter. If you want to be both professional and executive you may have to start your own resume writing service.
|If You See My Mother, Don't Tell Her I'm in Advertising...|
Most of us ad people have thick skins and pleasant dispositions. We have thick skins because we fail every day and even our “best work” usually appears in some kind of watered-down fashion after hundreds of revisions of what was a great concept.
Remember, everything you see and hear was probably better when we first thought of it. At least, that’s what we think.
|Don't Be Stupid; It Could Be Your Career|
If you work in an ad agency, have been in an ad agency, have worked in an ad agency, have walked by an agency, or live in a state where they have a city that may have an ad agency, you have gotten calls or notes like this: “Hi, I’d like to get a job in an agency. I’ve sent resumes to at least one hundred agencies..."
|So You Want to Start Your Own Advertising Shop|
So, you’re one word away, one concept away, one design away from just the right age, just the right experience, just the right budget, just the right client, just the right agency and just the right job in just the right place where you will find someone who looks like January Jones or John Hamm and they’re interested in not only sleeping with you but staying with you after they sober up. And they have no personality flaws.
|So, What Do You Do?: A Career in Advertising|
Well, you’ve been fired, laid off, moved from one job to another for a chance to do something great. Doing something great usually means not doing what you were hired to do.
You’ve written “Final Days,” “Ends Monday,” and the mind-boggling “Absolutely Ends Monday” for dumb TV commercials done for miserable little places disguised as ad agencies.
|How to Get a Job in Advertising, Part II (It Still Ain't Easy)|
"Dweller on the Threshold"
Last week we explored getting a job in advertising by using a headhunter. Headhunters are good, as they need to get you a job so they can make money. If you don’t get the job they want you to get, they go on to forget about you in ways that make you think they haven’t forgotten you.
|How to Get a Job in Advertising (It Ain't Easy)|
Advertising “headhunters” help get jobs for people. They collect “portfolios” (also called books; these are mostly online, sometimes physical) of work done by advertising people and arrange interviews, etc. They usually have strong relationships with a number of different ad agencies and represent talent to the agencies.
|If You Think You're Too Old, You Are |
People are working longer. A whole generation is flying into their sixties and seventies. They are becoming a huge market unto themselves. Someone needs to speak with grace, humor, and insight to these emerging markets. There are products aimed at mature markets. There are agencies springing up and concentrating on selling to the aging and aged market.
|Here's an Idea: Ideas Are Still the Commodity That Counts|
Lately, many ad discussions have been centered around the always-delightful subject of writing vs. art direction et cetera, et cetera. “There aren’t enough writers.” “There are too many writers.” “No one hires writers." “There are plenty of jobs for writers.“ “Writers don’t get paid enough.” “Writers get paid too much.” "I’m a Copy Writer and Copy Writers used to come up with solutions; now they just write headlines. They can’t write real copy.” “Writers are neurotic.” “Art Directors are too popular now because everything is visual.” “We don’t have real Art Directors any more; they’re just designers.”
|Is It True That Nobody in the Ad Industry Hires Writers?|
You get a pencil in Kindergarten and, boom, there it is; anyone can write, or so they think. Some, the real writers, have taken pencils and traded up to pens, typewriters, word processors, and the computer keyboard and turned their knowledge of culture and business and suitcases of arcane trivia into careers as copywriters—the concept kings and stars of advertising.
|So You Want a Job in Advertising|
This is what you think will happen.
You will spend Creative days in cool offices with basketball courts, ping pong tables, and espresso machines, amongst well-dressed attractive people. Your work will be crafted, creative, coveted, comprehensive. You’ll work on TV commercials all over the world and make the Internet hum with your intellect. Verbs will fly from your keyboard, be it virtual or viral (viral is now planned). Your adjectives will advertise. Your descriptions will not be denied. Your Art Director will never pander, never give in.
|Complaints? What Complaints?|
Overheard in the hallways of our mighty agencies are the complaints of many ad folks throughout this great land of ours and even in foreign countries, like Texas.
One: “Dude, it’s all about the work. This is so bogus. The client’s crazy. What’s up at your place?”
Two: “I got no budget. The Group Head is a jerk. I got someone looking around for me.”
One: "Me too. We should start our own shop. Make some money and dictate what’s happening and not take on jerky clients."
Two: "Dude, really? That’s my plan. Three years."
Most who engage in these conversations are dressed casually and stylishly. Some people who are writing this would need to take a few steps up in fashion sense to get to “train wreck.” But in most agencies this type of dress is just fine. This type of b*tching is usual. It’s part of the mentality. Folks should remember that in an agency you get to do all sorts of things.
|Advertising on Social Media: Do We Have the Time?|
Whether you are busy on FarmVille, SchoolFeed, or Glassdoor, you know there is a lot of time spent on social media. Quick to capitalize on this media is the advertising industry, where agencies have online media departments and “engagement agents” who plan online experiences and media.
|Ad Folks on Summer 'Vacation'|
Many things separate civilians from advertising people in that “ad folks” see things about services, products, etc. that may not be apparent to many. Where some see one store we see a nationwide chain. We don’t see a small-market TV spot; we see the next bold step into the expansion of a brand. We see a chance to create something out of nothing.
|Sticky Situation: An American Pastime|
It’s an idea so simple, old, and cheap that no one uses it anymore...except for millions of people.
I was riding my bike today. I was almost hit. It wasn’t a big deal. It almost happens all the time. So, the guy almost hit me and screamed at me. That was okay. I was wrong; I was riding down the street in the bike lane and I guess that my bike, and the stop sign he ran, got in the way of his texting.
|Don’t Stop Believing|
Stop Believing: Ads that say: I’m a sports drink that will enable you to smash your opponent and be victorious. I’m an athletic shoe that will give you that extra step and to allow you to smash your opponent. If you drink the drink and wear the shoe, you will smash your athletic opponents and go on to riches and fame.
|Hey, They're Catching Up! We Should Advertise.|
Miles ReCo was the premier “record store” in the country, specializing in vinyl recordings for audiophiles. The new love for old analog technology had left Miles of Miles ReCo with 70 stores throughout the country in neighborhoods that used to look like Baghdad on a bad day. Then, hipsters in black who buy fair-trade coffee populated these neighborhoods. There were people looking for the original “Love Forever Changes” LP, an album so hip that it was rediscovered by the hippest hippie hipsters of them all.
|How Much Does it Cost?|
Marcus Bailey Advertising is one of the great shops in the country. It has offices on a bunch of continents and Texas and is fully integrated with expert staff in all the disciplines. Marcus Bailey has been kind enough to allow BMA to be a fly on the wall at a number of important junctures. This week’s reality column is culled from a discussion with Executive Creative Director M. L. Lee.
|Advertising: It's All About Relationships|
Agencies spend time cultivating relationships with all who could pay off. Account folks keep in touch with the client side and creative staff stay “friendly” with friends at other agencies, just in case. Those going up the ladder stay in touch with those that are a little higher up the ladder and friendly.
Relationships are a shortcut to more business and a method to stay employed. Now, there is a shortcut to get to the shortcut.
|The Generation of an Idea|
Overheard in the main idea creation lab at Marcus Bailey Advertising – NY Office.
Copywriter: Cool, that’s a great idea. We can produce the idea that we got from an idea we saw on You Tube and put it up across all social media channels and have it go viral.
Art Director: Cool, I thought that in order to go viral it can’t really be planned. It just has to go viral on its own.
Copywriter: Cool. People will think that it’s viral because viral is like digital and no one really knows what it means and we will be telling them it’s viral on the viral microsites that somehow pop up all over inviting them to make their own viral video. Maybe they will buy the product, too.
|Tag! You May Be It|
We love tag lines. We know that tremendous effort goes into creating these short, masterful summations of a company’s brand. We know that the tagline, no matter how good, can backfire just a bit. I called Cisco Systems (Together we are the human network). I got an automated response.
|The Pitch, Part 3: OMG, It's Not Your Spot...Or Is It?|
You went through a number of rounds of creative on your TV commercial. You were victorious. You won the internal competition. You went to Cincinnati. You were ready to be on “The Pitch” and ready to “stumble into a rapper” on YouTube rapping about pancakes. You would be ready to use him as a concept for the Subway chain. You were ready to have Subway call you genius. You would be on the cutting edge of advertising. You would study “The Pitch."
|The Pitch, Part Two: OMG, It's a TV Commercial!|
Producing “your” TV commercial and having it look somewhat like you envisioned is the most miserable thing a creative can do. If you have read this far, then read this: “Your “commercial will not be recognizable when and if it’s done.
Your concepts are picked for development and you are on a non-drug high as you get your creative ready for the internal pitch and then the client pitch.
|The Pitch, Part One: OMG, It's TV|
Our next few pieces are about TV. Face it; TV is still the most prestigious and fun thing a creative can do. If you haven’t, one day you’ll be asked to pitch TV to a client. It will be your ticket out of a windowless “Death Row” corridor office and maybe your portfolio school paying off.
It may go like this:
The toothpaste project begins for yourself and your beloved partner in the conference room.
|Wanted: Not a Rock Star|
We’ve explored hiring a “Rock Star” and the process. This week we extend our investigation into the non-“Rock Star.” It all begins with an ad that is both enticing and promises great job satisfaction. Anyone would want this job. POSITION: Creative individual to generate effective, results-oriented copy for “Not Organic Chips.” They are not organic so they last.”
|Wanted: Rock Star|
Advertising agencies have interesting ways of advertising for the personnel that create the communications that make the whole world buy. Some ads take longer to read than the time it took Germany to go through Poland. They will list pages of needed qualifications, experience, skills, secret clearance, and of course Photoshop and PowerPoint, etc.
|Advertising: 'It's a Living'|
There is a fascination about advertising in this country. It’s exhibited by the furor around Super Bowl commercials, funny TV commercial shows, and touring compilations of commercials that play as films and are found in theaters across this great country of ours. We’re praised for amazing websites, web films, vertical integration, UX, media manipulation, SMM, SEO, and making viral look viral even if it’s not viral. We’re all geniuses working at the heights of creativity, science, economics, art, writing, strategy, trends, business, and politics, and we are thought leaders. We’re thought of so highly that some of us have our own TV shows and some have retired to palaces in France.
So, as a public service, we present some thoughts on our business.
|How (Not) to Build an Ad Agency's Brand With a Press Release|
Nothing builds an agency’s brand like a carefully placed Press Release. The problem is that you may not have anything to say, but you can turn that into a benefit by finding a subject that can be announced without any fear of anyone checking facts or knowing what or whom you are talking about. PRESS RELEASE: After an extended creative shoot-out spanning over three days, the Los Angeles office of the Marcus Bailey Agency (MBA) has won the (billings withheld) Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertson his-and-her line: Stupefied by Ben & Courtney.
|Youth is Wasted on the Young|
These days the youth versus age is everywhere in our business. There are “web” pages for older practitioners of the art and science of advertising and there are “web” pages for the younger practitioners of the art and science of advertising. They all seem to be complaining about the other one. It seems that the biggest voices are coming from the creative side of the discipline.
Actually overheard (although "actually" is a hard word to define):
“One year out of portfolio school and they already have an ACD title..."
|When to Walk the Other Way|
In this era of advertising we have a lot; cool offices in ex-slums with a fair-trade coffee shop next door, a myriad of communication technologies for our brains, and all kinds of new stuff like Innovation Strategy, UX, and more. There's also shrinking budgets, fewer boondoggles, less time to think, more thinking to do, higher expectations, disappearing partnerships between agencies and clients, and more. Where relationships were once nurtured and trust was valued, we now seem to have many impediments to that.
Follow these mating don’ts and one day, children of the Corn Flakes, there may be a working dinner without bad deli-trays.
|Don't Ask Questions.|
The Tweet was from the management company with a link to a site where there is an article: “20 Questions to ask yourself before accepting a new job.”
Today there is one main question one should ask before accepting a job. “Can I have the job, please?” Everyone who is looking for a job wants a job, and no one asks questions. You usually nod in affirmation and say, “Right,” “Yes,” and many times may say in answer to salary questions “Money doesn’t motivate me. I’m here for the work!”
Once, I got three Instant Messages from three people asking me to call. The IMs came from offices next to mine. No one walked over. Instead of calling them, I emailed them non-existent assignments and asked them to call me to go over the non-work and to discuss the first IM requesting my call.
|The Most Impactful Commercial of Super Bowl 2012: Twinkies Come Out on Top|
The best commercial in this year’s Super Bowl “Advanganza” was by far for Twinkies, the resiliently resilient snack food created in 1930 by Hostess parent company Continental Baking Co. This commercial is probably the biggest thing to happen to Twinkies since the 1940s, when Continental switched from a banana-cream to a vanilla-cream filling.
|Email Sign-Offs And The Agency Map of Power|
People in agencies get emails for meeting times so they can be avoided, budgets to be complained about, concepts that need complaining about, schedules that mess up freelancers and need to be complained about, and traffic meetings that need to be complained about, etc.