If you’re reading this, I’m glad you are. Because the creative advertising industry is in constant need of raw, restless energy. People who see the world a bit differently. I want to help you understand a little of what we do, the rules of play (many of them wrong, which is why we need you) and if you like the sound of it, how to get in.
Here’s my best shot.
1. Not all advertising is created equal
There’s obviously a lot of rubbish out there. We try to focus on putting brands as far into popular culture as we can. This involves a lot of wrangling between what’s creative and what’s good for business.
Fortunately, one drives the other – but because business is logical and creativity intuitive (sometimes irrational), this is something of a juggle. Also, there is advertising that is led by algorithms and automated AI stuff – small screen formats designed to click bait you.
However, that’s not what we specialise in. We focus on broadcast, so TV, cinema, outdoor, large scale digital platforms. These require significant financial investment to produce work for. Remember, all advertising starts as an unnecessary interruption in people’s lives – poor use of their valuable attention. Our job is to capture imaginations, not waste their time. Not easy but lots of fun.
2. Study the creative advertising greats
Start here – then check this out – finally this. There, you have your primer. Then like music, definitely go back a bit to inspire the future. This man inspired a generation and this a documentary about him. So did this guy, who I had the pleasure to be around at my last agency.
Finally, our own very special creative partner, Anna Arnell. I get to work with her every day. Read this great article by her. Important. Now, find your own taste in the work you like and don’t like. What are your top picks? What’s your worst? Why?
3. You don’t have to be “creative” to be in creative advertising
In fact, we are all born creative but tend to mature out of it. It’s important to be sensitive to creative thinking (basically moved by emotions over logic). And in good agencies, everyone is responsible for the creative work. I was lucky enough to be told this early, and have had an amazing time as someone not directly in the creative department, but very close to it.
There are other departments, account handling, strategy, production alongside creative/ design – this article is a pretty good primer. So there are many different ways to support creatively, even if you’re not an originator.
4. Reach out personally to individuals that represent your values
As you know, the world is full of non-committal interactions. As you go through the different companies you like the look of, seek individuals you think represent your own take on the world. Or that inspire you to think differently. Then reach out to them personally, having done your research.
Ten, really well researched, true approaches are better than spamming a hundred people on LinkedIn. It’s not a numbers game. It’s a finding connections approach. Ask them for 20 minutes to pick their brains, as someone you respect, pointing out what it is that you are drawn to. Short notes are better than long. 200 words max. Don’t worry how high up in the organisation they are. Often people up top enjoy connecting with grassroots and many agencies have very flat structures.
Try and get their emails or even write a physical letter personally. It’s ok to repeat your approach. The ones worth your time will respond within 3 approaches. If you get a bite, offer your services for experience only, if you can. I worked 2 weeks for summers at Saatchi & Saatchi more or less clearing out old boards from people’s offices. But it got me in.
5. Don’t be frightened of the truth that the future probably isn’t viewing people as consumers, fuelled by advertising
We’re citizens, we’re active, we care, we worry. We’re interested in our relationships with others. And sure, we buy stuff too. We’re a B Corporation run for the benefit of everyone, not just profits.
Humans aren’t designed for endless consumption and how we adjust the role of advertising in people’s lives – less, better advertising, being concerned with where advertising shouldn’t appear, is an important trendline for the industry, society and the planet. Creativity will find a way.
6. Be yourself, it’s a tough act to follow
Stephen Greene and Euan Blair, who run Apprentice Nation, are also big fans of this sentiment and have taught me a fair bit about it since.
Easy said. Reach deep to find it.
I’ve enjoyed writing this for you and I hope it helps.
I’m firstname.lastname@example.org – if I can help more.
Jonathan Trimble is co-founder and CEO of And Rising (18 Feet & Rising).