Not to disparage the many talented writers at the biggest Madison Avenues, but I’d like to offer some perspective on the inferiority complex prevalent in small markets. Of course, there is a certain cache rightfully due those who develop the advertisements we see every day. But does anyone with a creative bone in their body really think most of those are in any way superior?
It’s not about the budget. Well, it sort of is, but only given an absurdly large media buy. These ads enter our consciousness and stay there, whether they are good, great, indifferent, average, or simply poor.
It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. I’ve worked with many talents whose resumes contain big-city pedigrees. I’ve also met others of that description who couldn’t emerge from a closed room in five hours with a fully developed thought, i.e., creative directors who do more “directing” than “creating.” The difference comes down to those who describe problems brilliantly and others who brilliantly solve them. Being great at the former doesn’t necessarily equate to competence with the latter.
Even quarter-page ads deserve full attention. The AE comes in and says, “I know we started with a full-page ad yesterday. But the client just called. Now it’s going to be only a quarter-page, and it’s due by four o’clock.” I know how frustrating this can be, but a good copywriter will always try to make the most of it. Sometimes, really great work can result. Although, in the minds of “big market” talents, this can sometimes be enough to make heads explode.
If you want to do work above you, nothing can be below you. Every copywriter wants and needs to curry favor with those in the corner offices. Don’t complain (out loud at least) that “so and so” always gets the cool projects while you’re stuck writing catalog descriptions. Invest in yourself by doing your best work at every opportunity and the rewards will come.
In the creative mind, whether it’s in a big city or a small market, no idea is ever wasted. Talk, however, is often greatly wasted. It can be done to dizzying degrees of brilliance by some in high places, but that doesn’t make them truly valuable creatives (at least by mere local standards).
Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Gerald Northup has written professionally in the fields of advertising, marketing, social media, and corporate communications since the early ’90s. For a look at his blog posts and social media articles, as well as TV, radio, print, and website samples from his online portfolio, visit gnorthup1979.wix.com/44words.
Jerry is also a talented guitarist, an avid tennis player, and a lifelong student of linguistics.
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