Everyone loves to hate the advertising industry. The TV show “Mad Men” portrays the heyday of advertising as a men’s club of gin-swilling, secretary-exploiting, self-satisfied white men who live in Connecticut and work in a bubble surrounded by dim-witted, loyal clients.
I beg to differ. My job is to bring in new business to the agency -- in my case, McCann Erickson, New York, which produces work for Intel, MasterCard, the U.S. Army, Verizon Wireless, L’Oreal, Staples, Weight Watchers and other leading global advertisers.
Advertising might not be as exciting as Man vs. Wild or the NFL playoffs, but it does provide a career path that is more stimulating than Wall Street or the law or many white collar professions. Advertising is a unique combination of art, creativity, mathematics, industrial psychology, marketing, media and a host of other disciplines.
Here are seven more reasons to jump into a career in advertising:
- You can get a film deal. OK, I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. But the creative environment of advertising does provide a career path to Hollywood for dozens of writers and directors every year, from Michael Bay to the guys who directed the “Cavemen” spots for Geico. The vest advertising is better than most of the movies and TV shows out there, and you can get paid accordingly. Until you can write screenplays for Steve Carrell or create the next “South Park,” you’ll be having more fun than should be legal.
- Be the next Steve Jobs. The crazy-ass idea you have for faxing burgers or filling up your car online might just happen tomorrow. The world of advertising, media, the Internet and technology is changing so fast that no one can predict what will happen next month, let alone 10 years from now. You can change the world. (And it beats changing diapers.)
- Be an outlaw. Renegade thinking and behavior is rewarded. Are you quirky and full of weird ideas? Are you innovative, prone to breaking rules, and feel you always see the world differently than your friends and colleagues? You’ll fit in perfectly at an ad agency.
- This is not your parents’ career. Advertising is a youthful business, for people in their 20s and 30s. Your youth is valuable because you are talking to your peers. You can text your friends in a meeting and it will be cool.
- You’ll never be bored. You actually get paid to surf the net, look at YouTube, talk about “the Office,” diss Britney and Paris, and discuss “American Idol.” You’re involved in every aspect of popular culture. You’ll think on your feet. Your lawyer friends will be sick with envy. You will never have to attend a conference in Brussels.
- Leave the suits at your parents’ house. The uniform for creatives is t-shirt and jeans. Even the “suits”—the account people—don’t wear suits any more, because they are expected to be an integral part of the creative process. In the summer, you can even wear sandals or flip flops. And there are keg parties on Fridays. Seriously.
- You’ll be on TV. Your work will be in the world. Your Mom, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your posse, your kids, they will all see what you do. If it’s good work, people will be talking about your work on the subway, on blogs, on TV. Advertising isn’t brain surgery or rocket science, but it makes an impact. You can be a player. And you’ll never have to wear plaid pants or go near a golf course.
Matt Weiss is chief growth officer for McCann Worldgroup, North America. He overseas business development, both organic and new client acquisition, across all disciplines. He has helped bring in clients such as Verizon Wireless, Nikon, Intel, the U.S. Army, Applebee’s, and Weight Watchers. Part coach, strategist, cheerleader, and integrator, Matt’s true skill is to bring together teams to tackle business issues and develop breakthrough creative ideas for clients.