The flip answer is likely, "The Creator." However, one thing is clear despite what the industry bible, Advertising Age might suggest: advertising comes from lots of places but mostly not from advertising agencies. In a conversation I once had with Rance Crain of Crain Publications and publisher of Advertising Age, he believed that less than 10% of all advertising is created by ad agencies.
OK, you might say, but all good advertising comes from ad agencies, right?
Well, no. Certainly a great deal of excellent ads come from ad agencies but the myth that all advertising or all good advertising comes from agencies is merely that. A myth that is perpetuated by colleges, portfolio schools and the trade press and bought into by the would-be creative person who aspires to a career at a glamorous Madison Avenue firm.
A few years ago, I organized a seminar for graduating advertising students to highlight some of the career options they might not have previously considered. Research at that time of graduating J-school students suggested that a career at an advertising agency wound up being the least used option. Working with clients, with the media, with public relations firms and with careers outside of advertising/marketing all finished higher in the jobs taken arena.
Can I be creative with any advertising medium? Consider for a moment what is a good newspaper ad (since it's my medium of choice). Is it one that looks good? Is it one that meets the goal in the creative brief? Is it simply one that works? Sometimes, the worst looking ad, the smallest ad, the ad with no art, layout, illustration can be the best ad.
The ad that follows ran in the classified section of a major newspaper.
"SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good looking girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. Rub me the right way and watch me respond. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me. Kiss me and I'm yours. Call (000) 123-4567 and ask for Daisy."
Thousands of men found themselves talking to the Humane Society about an 8-week old black Labrador retriever.
The ad worked. Pure and simple. It was not done by an agency. Everyday, more advertising appears on the pages of a daily newspaper than in any other medium. Less than 5% of those ads came from agencies yet all were created and given the fact that the average newspaper runs several thousand ads per issue, it is probably safe to assume that a good number of them performed well for the advertiser. Every one of these ads was created to be effective and many were created by trained ad creators. Opportunities for creative talent abound, whether in newspapers, online or in broadcast.
Since many of you are in the beginning, middle or end of a job hunt, I'd like to leave you with a list of ways that you can use the newspaper as you research, interview and get a job. Sure that might mean using the help wanted section but there are ways to use newspapers for every phase of the process:
1. Doing Your Homework
Nothing impresses a potential employer like a well-prepared candidate. Read the newspaper or search the newspaper's web archives for stories about the firm you are about to interview with. The more you know about your potential employer, the more impressive you'll come across.
2. Marketing Means a Lot
What do you know about the location you are possibly going to work in? Use the newspaper to research the market for cost of living, for real estate listings in the classified section, for information about commuting, even for information about things like insurance or auto expense.
Everyone says they are a people person but how does a potential employer know that you are more so than the proverbial next guy? One way to demonstrate yourself as a "people person" is to come across as conversational. People who read the newspaper, cover to cover, typically can hold an interesting conversation on a variety of topics.
4. Dress for Success
You can get a clue about how people in a city dress from reading the newspaper. Look, for example, in the society pages at photos of people at various events. Typically, community leaders are business leaders involved in local society.
5. It's Classified
Usually when someone mentions using the newspaper to look for a job the first words to come to mind are classified. That is because in print or online newspaper classified employment pages are both the most popular and the most populated job availability barometers.
6. Don't Forget Careers in Newspapers
Newspapers themselves are major employers in most cities. Careers in newspapers are both varied and plentiful. Many people when asked about a career in a newspaper think about writing and editing, but remember that newspapers are big business too. Careers in Marketing, and advertising, and more are options to consider as you pursue a career.
7. Two Way Street
Before you go on your interview, relax. Read your newspaper horoscope or the comics or the entertainment section or sports. The point is that you need to relax and remember that as much as you see a potential employer as an opportunity, the employer sees you as one. If you don?t like the employer, don't take the job. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.
8. Carry on
People always seem to look up to people who read a newspaper. They come across as more intelligent, well read, trusted like the newspaper itself. Therefore, I always recommend carrying a paper along on an interview. You come across as a person prepared not to waste waiting time and frankly reading the paper while you are a waiting room takes your mind off the butterflies that many people have about interviews.
After you get your job or maybe even after the successful interview, take a moment to reward yourself for a job well done. You can use the entertainment section of the newspaper to locate local clubs, events, restaurants and movies.
10. Follow Up
Sure, you'll remember to send the interviewer a thank you note and you will probably remember to check back along the way. Clipping and including a relevant newspaper article typically gets you points. Keep reading that newspaper. Not only will reading help you stay on top of your game, it will also alert you to changes in the market that might indicate it's time to look again.
So, where does advertising come from? Well, it could be coming from you.