Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Instructor Stats

I realize I may be a bit late with this advice, as most of you reading this blog are already out of school. But, I am becoming increasingly alarmed by the pool of instructors teaching in the advertising field. Specifically, by their "time since they worked in an agency" or their lack of expertise on a particular subject.

Before I rant on, I'll say this does not apply to all instructors in all schools. It just seems to me that a very important bit of research to do prior to picking a school would be to check the stats of the instructors who work there.

If their last job in advertising starts with a 7 (as in '79), you might want to reconsider. And if their specialty is broadcast production and they are teaching copywriting, be equally as cautious. I say this because I was recently asked to teach a media class. I am in creative management. Prior to that, print production. What I know about media could be taught in a single hour, not 12 weeks. Maybe some people are confident enough to teach in areas outside their expertise, I am not. And this is what makes me worry that the pool of folks teaching advertising is getting diluted.

Be diligent in this arena. Do thorough research. Make sure the school employs qualified people teaching appropriate classes. So much has changed in the advertising landscape in the last 5 years alone. Certainly you'd want to be taught what's current by people who know what's current.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If I can design it. . .

The first gauge I use for judging student/junior work is whether or not it looks like I could have designed it. If the layout is so basic, so un-designed, so could have been done by me, then why the heck is it in your book?

I did not go to art school. I have not studied fonts and typography. I have not taken concepting classes. Yet, I can layout out some copy and a logo. That certainly does NOT make me an art director. You (art directors), on the other hand, have gone to art school or ad school and have studied type, design and layout. That you can (and have) laid out a postcard or two does not mean a thing to anyone who may potentially hire you.

You should not be putting pieces like this one in your book. It doesn't prove anything about your skills. It only shows someone asked you put some type on a postcard. And that was only because I was busy and couldn't do it for them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A nice touch

As I look around my office right now, I see that I have no less than 35 Thank You cards posted around me. Perhaps I am a glutton for attention, but I'd like to think that people are genuinely appreciative of the time spent with a Creative Manager. Whether it be an informational interview or throughout the hiring process or from someone who works here at Y&R, I have loads of cards from people thankful for opportunity.

Now, did a Thank You card make me hire someone? Probably not. But it certainly made me think about them again. And, if written with genuine gratitude, I tend to keep it. I am a sucker for a hand-written note which stems from years and years of writing thank you notes after every birthday and holiday (forcibly by my mother, but you get the gist). There is nothing like a hand-written envelope poking it's way through piles of boring mail.

One favorite is from a recent Creative Circus grad who I met with for an informational interview. He sent me a note, in his boy-ish printing, and expressed thanks for the time I spent with him. He even crossed out an error and scribbled a little "ha!" next to it, which was nice to see that he could laugh at himself. At the end, he thanked me for being nice to him. That sentence hit a chord. Surely other recruiters are nice. Or maybe I was just especially nice. Either way, I know that it's my job to be nice to candidates. Whether I get thanked or not.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


If you want to become a better copywriter, read aloud what you have written. So often I read a block of copy and am pained by the lack of thoughtful sentence construction. I'm writing this after reading an ad that had three you's and one yours in a single 10-word sentence. It was one of those sentences you re-read just to try and give it the benefit of the doubt.

Just as an art director must pick his fonts and design every element in each ad, so too should a writer. Writing is a craft and as a copywriter you should know the art of the English language, starting with the basics.

Learn these terms and what they mean: alliteration, meter, consonance, cadence, and onomatopoeia. They teach you about the sounds and timing of words and syllables that make copy easier on the ear. Learn what they mean and apply them where appropriate. Pick your words and 'design' how they sound and feel. Then say your copy aloud. If it sounds funny, it probably reads funny too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


And this from an ad school graduate. Do your instructors even give you feedback? Perhaps "use a dictionary" might be helpful.