Do you know that feeling, when you bite into your favourite dessert… it’s delicious, exciting, sweet, rewarding, it makes you feel better and you just want more of it?
Well, that’s how I feel when I think, talk or write about advertising…
Who am I and why am I telling this to you? For starters, I’m a Communication Studies graduate, studying for a master’s degree in Strategic Marketing Communications. I come from a small European country, Slovenia, which is set between Austria, Italy, Croatia and Hungary. I’m really passionate about many things, such as music, tourism, medicine, writing, psychology, nature, ecology, volunteer work and entrepreneurship but my heart belongs to advertising.
I haven’t had a chance to work in an advertising agency yet but I have managed to get a fair bit of experience through student jobs including writing, public relations, event organisation, customer services and so on. I also try to take part in marketing competitions which involve coming up with campaign ideas. Little by little, I’m paving my path to where I want to be and what I want to do for a living.
1. Bitter sweet moments
Now think about the first time you realized what you are good at and what you wanted to do with your life. That’s a special feeling and a memory that stays with you forever. But it’s not always a peachy moment, that’s for sure. When you tell it to the world, well, then things start to change. Maybe your family don’t approve of it, maybe your friends laugh at you or they think it’s just a phase you’re going through. In most cases, when a family realizes that its precious child won’t become a lawyer, a doctor, a pharmacist or an economist their world collapses. When you mention you want to work in advertising, they’re finished. “What’s wrong with you? Why us? What did we do wrong? You want to be a what? An advertiser? What will you do? Walk door to door and sell things? You don’t need an education for that.”
On the other hand, if you’re lucky, you can get a more positive response, for instance, “I really admire your courage to take this path”, “I think you’re really going to be good at it” or “Wow, that’s an awesome occupation” (not a really common response as you can imagine). When I tell people my field of study, they just make some weird grimace, a mixture of judgment, pity, amazement, fear, disgust, worry and bafflement. And then they’re left speechless. You can imagine what an encouraging reaction that was for me.
2. What is creativity?
Advertising can be a very touchy subject – most people just can’t stand it or don’t care about it, others tolerate it and some adore it (probably because they work in advertising). Well, I’m definitely one of the latter. I love it. Love. Love. Love. Not because of advertising’s role in the greater economy or anything like that but thanks to its essence – creativity. Creativity is such a magical thing. It’s so simple, yet so complicated. No one can really pin it down, what it is or isn’t, can it be instantly activated or not, and whether you inherit it or can learn it.
As kids we used it all the time but as we grow up we become pretty much unaware of it. We just get into a routine, day after day and put our creativity on a leash or, worse still, lock it down completely. Observing the world, being curious, generating new ideas, thinking about new ways of problem solving, doing a chore, testing your latest recipe inspiration and hoping everyone will survive it, taking a different road to work or school, designing your own accessories, trying out new hobbies: the list is endless. That’s what being creative means. To constantly evolve and look for new things, views, ways and solutions. For me, creating means living.
3. Advertising: a job like no other
Advertising amazes me because it works for creativity. There are so many jobs that could be done by a robot but advertising isn’t one of them. And that’s one of the reasons why I love it. I see advertising as a magical world. It’s where all the forces unite. Where creative energy, writing, ideas, hopes, wishes and needs come together and create something completely new, until then unknown and unseen. Advertising is one of those rare industries that really let you express yourself, your thoughts, ideas and wishes. It lets you be curious, to research, observe and walk around with open eyes and ears. That’s what makes it so unique, mystical and so appealing.
Knowing you can make your craziest idea come true is really exciting. When I’m writing, creating and imagining new ideas I feel fresh and alive, energetic, like everything is possible and the world lies in my hands. Limitless, like the sky. I’m aware that the reality isn’t quite like that: crazy schedules, constant pressure, deadlines, always hunting for new ideas, second guessing clients… but I still want to be a part of this AD WORLD.
4. Driving ambition
I wanted that since I was 13 years old. Back then my neighbour was this great ad producer and director. He made one of the best TV commercials in the history of our country. It was for the state’s sport lottery and it was really advanced for its time. It was so fresh and humorous that everyone talked about it. This commercial was a stroke of brilliance and I still remember all the words by heart. I even used to act out the commercial over and over again with some other kids outside of our building. When we noticed this producer going past we made sure to enact the commercial as well and as loud as we could. We thought he would laugh, say “You did a great job guys” and we hoped he would choose us for a role in one of his upcoming commercials. Of course, none of our hopes came true. He didn’t even notice our effort; he was always busy in his own creative world. But it was his commercial that changed my life. It hit me then and hasn’t let me go all these years: I want to write ads, therefore I will be a copywriter. And not just a regular one but a great one.
5. Social responsibility
I want to be able to produce works which will change things, perspectives, feelings, relationships and the world even. It’s important to know what to say, how to say it and when to say it. It’s not about selling that new deodorant or Snickers but it’s the feelings you get to arouse, exchange or portray with the ad. Isn’t it wonderful to know you make someone laugh or wonder every time they see your ad? That you made someone realize something new? Or simply just made someone’s jaw drop over a genius idea?
I believe that advertising can and should be used as a tool to make a positive change. That’s where social advertising plays a crucial role. It’s so underestimated most of the time because it doesn’t make money and many agencies aren’t happy to do it. It’s good for their image and that’s about it from their point of view. In my opinion, the biggest impact you can have is that a person changes something because of you. That’s what good copy makes possible.
6. Make a splash
Getting a job in advertising isn’t really that easy, because so many people want to do it and you have to stand out. But that’s not enough. You have to be noticed by the right person at the right moment who will see that special spark or potential in you. Experience and personal characteristics play a big part too. Agencies like to hire people who are not only talented but also tough (ruthless even), self-confident to the point of being self-centred. If you don’t have these personal characteristics then you have to really really really impress the agency people with something special, like juggling during a triple somersault from the highest skyscraper into a pool. Okay, maybe not so dramatic, but you see my point.
7. Follow your passion
If you can’t do that, there’s always the option to find a mentor who will guide you and share his or her advertising experience with you. Passion, enthusiasm, curiosity, good writing skills and the ability to see inspiration in everything around you are essential for a good advertiser – or a great employee in general. But there is always a catch with wanting something really bad. When it happens, it may not be the way you imagined it to be because your expectations were too high.
That must be a very troubling and disappointing moment, a sort of personal test, but the key is to realise that you experienced what you wanted and can move on to another thing you love to do. But you can’t know until you try it. That’s of utter importance. Maybe I’ll be disappointed when I finally experience the day to day life of a copywriter but either way I will know I tried and followed my passion.
It’s tough to pursue your dreams, to innovate, to think positively, to be inspired or to wish for something better in today’s world, because we’re constantly worried about our future due to showers of bad news and the world-wide economic crisis. Different authorities remind us that young people should take whatever job they can and stop daydreaming. But let’s be honest. If you do something you don’t want to, you won’t be good at it because you’ll be forced to do it. Insist with your passion, you can and MUST achieve what you wish for. It may be harder than a few years ago, but it’s still possible. And the world needs these fresh thinking people, their energy and ideas ASAP! Inspiration, an open mind, effort, goal, focus, are the key components of success, so remember: If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you will find an excuse.
Best of luck,