Sep 2, 2008

Joker’s 20 on 20 -- From the Bottom of Everything --

If anything is clear from within Blog Land it's that there is an extensively varied buffet of writers to feed your brain with. All countries, all disciplines, all ages, all levels of experience and it just so happens that for X or Y reason you come in contact with some very excellent blogs that definitely make you want to read more of how that person's brain works. This 20-20 is especially curious because there's a great blog by the name of From the Bottom of Everything. Why is it curious? Well simply because seeing an ad student/intern with such a disciplined and mature view of advertising is always inspiring, especially when lackluster work days make me think long and hard of why I got into this business in the first place. Here's #11 in the 20-20 series.

20 questions

20 answers

some comments

no editing

enjoy slightly chilled

1. What motivates you to be in advertising?

I have an insatiable curiosity and a desire to create. I am also highly motivated by happiness in life, not money, and despite what I've read on this blog and others, I believe advertising can make me happy. Besides, do you know how hard it is to become a professional lego builder?

Power to you and may you have a better path than us jaded ones, though don’t lose that professional lego builder dream.

2. Describe Denver in a 100 words or less.

I'll give you some words and let you add some of your own to make your own sentences. I'm convinced any sentence you make out of these words will be true about Denver:

Denver mile high low is Broncos the great place Nuggets Rocky Mountains Avalanche weather are sucks awesome art museum to live Rockies sunshine plains cowtown capital of was were can be no 16th street mall LoDo hip cool lame DNC fun rocks a in west cowboys urban parks outdoors cars bikes ride fly beer water drink drunk scene lifeless worth not ski snowboard snow cold heat hot humidity

In that case…..

In the mile high Rocky Place called Denver, there was a cowtown whose art museum was as urban cool as a LoDo snowboard among awesome water plains. The sunshine is not lifeless though the drunk scene was not worth the cold. A 16th street mall is the Bronco capital and the hot cowboys ride flying beers. Avalanche road on Denver Mountains can be no fun but low west parks rocks in an awesome Rockies way. Nuggets of weather makes it fun as the DNC is a great place to live, where cars and snow were hot and hip, not lame and the humidity of bike seats outdoors sucks the drink out of ski heat.

How’s that? :)

3. What hardships do you expect to receive from advertising?

I expect to be dirt poor for a while. During that time I expect to want to prove myself so much that I forsake something else in my life whether it's a credit card payment, a date with my girlfriend or a sibling's b-day party. Then I expect to learn the hard way about work / life balance. I also expect stress, heartburn, car repair bills as a result of my commute, and constant self-doubt. And that's just what I expect in my internship.

Your clarity is astounding and your pessimism is reassuring.

4. Great advertising begins with _______

Hard work or blind luck. Sometimes both.

Don’t forget about a good client.

5. When does your internship start and how anxious are you to get into the biz?

It started two weeks ago and I'm stoked! I've actually been able to work on real client work alongside real, live, copywriters! It's been great to be put to the test right away. I wish I could give them more time, but I've still gotta pay the bills (it's an unpaid internship.) I just hope my experience is better than the one you described in your intern diaries.

My intern diaries are a mix of what I lived, what other people lived and told me and what I was able to see in all the places I’ve worked at. Seems you’re getting a good deal experience wise, then again, you’re doing it for free so there’s your catch.

6. Name 3 beers I should definitely try before dying.

1554 from New Belgium Brewing - It's black, stout-like appearance scares a lot of people off, but with one sip you'll find out it's the most delicious black ale you'll ever have.

Old Chub from Oskar Blues Brewing - You might not be able to find this outside Colorado, but if you see a plaid green can in your local liquor store buy it up! It's a Scottish ale with little carbonation and a higher alcohol content that's the perfect flavor companion to a freshly grilled steak.

La Folie from New Belgium Brewing - You can only get this at the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins Colorado, but the brewery itself is so awesome it should be on any beer connoisseurs bucket list anyway (and Ft. Collins is home to several other microbrews and a Budweiser plant so just taking all the free samples from each brewery is enough to get a buzz going.) La Folie will hit you straight in the palette with a sour / sweet tart taste you never expected from a beer. Chances are you won't necessarily like the beer, but the experience of something so different is worth a try.

I never thought I’d ever travel for beer but I might have just changed my opinion on that stance.

7. How would you define success in the advertising industry?

I don't think it's industry specific: if you're happy with where you're at or where you're going that's success to me.

Write this down and look at it every day. If ever there were a mantra one would have to follow, that would pretty much be it.

8. Name ads you think that suck and why do you think they suck?

There's a local billboard that I see everyday on my drive to work. It's for the local Honda dealership and it features the Colorado Rockies player Troy "Tulo" Tulowitzki. It reads "Tulo Prices" on a big picture of Tulo and it makes me want to gag. I just imagine how it was conceived. Sometime last season, as the Rockies made a run at the pennant, there were a bunch of salesmen sitting around the dealership break room. They were supposed to be coming up with new advertising ideas for their genius sales pitch of "low prices". Instead they were talking about the Rockies. Suddenly Bob put two and two together and spouted off "Tulo Prices". From that moment on, Bob was a legend at the dealership. To this day, other employees buy Bob twix bars during their breaks just to show appreciation for his genius.

On the other hand, I have mentioned this ad (albeit how stupid it is) to nearly everyone I know, so maybe it's served it's purpose.

Also, the McDonalds Olympic commercials. McD's has a long way to go before anyone is going to believe that athletes of any kind get within 50 miles of their stores. They might as well focus on something reasonable if they're going to run that many commercials during the Olympics.

Good point regarding McD’s, I just think they want the media exposure and any type of endorsement usually reeks of hypocrisy so why change the formula? As for the other ads milking off the success of a local team? Well, that’s reason #234,567 why advertising sucks.

9. What are some of the goals you've set for yourself regarding advertising?

First off, I want to get an actual job in advertising. But not just any job. I want to get into a place where I can truly learn from those around me. I want to scratch my way up from the bottom and make a name for myself in a decent agency. I'd rather be a small fish in a big pond than visa versa.

I want to be proud of my book, in its entirety.

I'd like to win an award of some type. Just so I could let it go to my head and introduce myself as "An Award Winning Copywriter" at the local douchebag convention. It'd be fun for a night.

I want to do some work that earns the client outrageous amounts of money (whatever that means at the time.)

I want to do some work that brings about outrageous amounts of good to the world (whatever that means at the time.)

The fishpond scenario is something I think might change. I was a medium sized fish in a small pond and it was ok and I’ve been a small fish in a small pond. Being a big fish at any place? Not yet because I’m still not an ACD or any other such title.

10. Word association time, I say a word you say what you think:

a. Ads – TV (weird, cause it's dying)
b. Internship – Time to prove yourself
c. Copywriting – No one knows what the hell I'm talking about outside advertising (copyrighting? That sounds boring, who wants to work with patents all day?)
d. Creative – Sometimes I don't feel so
e. Account Executive – Lots of stories
f. Progress – Means challenging conventions
g. Future – Uncertain, but bright
h. Girlfriend – Erin
i. Health – I should ride my bike more
j. Career – Aim high and never settle for average

11. What difficulties do you think some students might have to get into advertising?

Well, there's no set "path" to working in advertising. Everyone has a different journey to get there. A lot of people struggle with that. They see friends who want to be accountants or teachers and that's a pretty clear path.

You also have to go make your own opportunities. Agencies (usually) don't come looking for you. You have to beat down their door and fill up their voicemail boxes just to get your book seen. And then, after all that, you might get an internship, which won't be paid. So then you'll have to figure out how to devote 20-30 hours a week to something you love and want to do, but don't get paid for while still holding down a paying job to take care of the rent. If you want to be successful in advertising you can't half ass it and that's hard for a lot of people.

12. What is your take on self-promotion regarding people, products, services and/or endorsements?

There's a fine line between confident and cocky. I feel as though I'm constantly balancing between the two. On one hand you want to put yourself out there, but on the other hand you don't want to seem like an un-humble dick.

Un-humble dick… I so wish I could paint right at this moment though I think I could settle for a t-shirt.

13. If you could have designed your own Bachelor's Degree in Advertising what would you include?

Belittlement 101- Getting torn down to your core on a regular basis to build up your thick skin

Ad History 105 - You gotta know the classics before you can create the future.

Why Advertising Sucks 150 - Students read every WAS post. This weeds out the weak. The final involves Joker dressed as David Ogilvy (complete with pipe) as a guest speaker telling everyone why advertising will ruin their lives. Anyone left in the room gets a C-.

Ad Skills 190 - Get the foundations you need for your area of expertise (i.e. english, grammar, writing, etc for CW's)

Ad Blogs 201 - Stay current on the industry without the pricey textbooks.

Your Portfolio Sucks 250 - Mandatory every semester until you graduate just to make sure you're pushing yourself in your book.

Encouragement 280 - Taken halfway through and at the end of your degree to give you the kind words you need to keep going. Cannot be taken concurrently with Belittlement 101.

And Now for Something Completely Different 295 - It's like GenEd, but instead of a bunch of rules there's only one: take whatever you want, but one class a semester is totally random, just to mix it up.

Think outside the box 301 - A class in creativity that teaches you techniques that help you through writers block / creative block.

Art Direction for Copywriters / Copywriting for Art Directors 310 - Learn just enough about the other half to not make their life a living hell. Not enough to think you can do their job.

Try Everything Once 350 - CW's write ads for every medium at least once. AD's direct for every medium at least once. Everyone learns the process and quirks of each unique medium.

Long Nights and Weekends 390 - A class where you meet at 11pm to get an assignment. That assignment is due the next day at 8am. Coffee is complimentary.

Put it all Together 400 - Small "agencies" are formed from all the different advertising disciplines. They then act as an agency as they compete in things like the National Student Ad Competition or similar local / national events.

Internship 490 - Go out and get some real experience. Then meet once a week with your class to talk about how things are going. After the 5th week this turns into a support group and is studied by psychology students.

I will make sure to buy some red suspenders ASAP. Excellent curriculum by the way and any further comment would take away from it, so lets leave it at “shit I hope some colleges read this 20-20”.

14. Ten things that inspire you:

People Watching
Listening to opposing viewpoints

15. How did you find our blog and what if anything have you taken away from what we write and post?

I read a link to a late night rant Joker had about why the client sucked and all the revisions they had to make. I can't remember where I read it now. After reading the post I grabbed the RSS and the rest is history. My favorite part is probably the rants and raves because it's a view into the real ad world. It also challenges me to re-evaluate my choice to get into advertising because let's face it, I don't want my life to suck. That challenge is good because it strengthens my commitment to pursuing a career in advertising and if the day comes that it doesn't then I'm in trouble.

You have just made a shitty week seem worthwhile. As to the rant that brought you to our fucked up blog, not sure which of the countless rants it was, but glad it got you interested and hey, we try to keep it as real as we can.

16. Speaking as earnestly as possible, what do you think influences a consumer and what ultimate role do you think advertising plays in the buyer's process?

That's tough. I think a lot of purchases are based on what's on sale / the best price. There are lots of people out there with zero brand loyalty who just want the best deal. In that case advertising really doesn't matter, unless it's to inform you of the low price.

On the other hand, there is some advertising I absolutely love but yet I'd never use the product. Burger King and Sonic come to mind here. I adore Sonic's commercials. I've had hour-long conversations about them. But I don't care for their food. Same with BK. There's a disconnect there that advertising alone cannot overcome.

Recently, I think word of mouth has influenced me more than anything else. A resounding endorsement from a friend has introduced me to more new products / music / food / etc than ever before. I think this is in direct response to the onslaught of ads we're subjected to today. People are recoiling and going back to what they know rather than taking a chance on the latest crap being peddled on TV. Either that or the rise of the Internet has leveled the playing field so much that smaller, previously unknown or locally known companies have been able to compete without an ad budget.

17. What do you think your average ad person could learn from looking at and studying old advertising?

On some level history repeats itself. Even if it's not in the same form as it was 20 years ago I've found that old ads can spark a new idea or new execution of an old idea. Sometimes it's just interesting to see what passed for good advertising in different eras.

Totally agree, the problem is when I see people copy pasting Archive ads and still getting short-listed.

18. What is your dream job?

Splitting my time between screenwriting and being a big idea consultant for companies (i.e. having the idea but not having to actually execute it.)

Freaky part is I was wondering last night if I could ever become a consultant, what methods I would use and how much I could charge for giving good advice that wouldn’t be followed by a company.

19. How has blogging changed your life?

It's made me pay attention to the ad world more, which is why I started in the first place. It's been a bit of an ego boost at times like being selected for this interview, but also a humble reminder when I look at the traffic reports. It's probably also made me one of those assholes who says "yeah, I blogged about that like two weeks ago." from time to time.

I’m actually humbled people have thought so highly of being selected for the 20-20 series, honestly. It’s extremely rewarding to see people so into it and though I often question our relevance in the blog side of life, this has been an awesome little run. At the very least I just thought a lot pf people might have some very interesting insights to share and I haven’t been disappointed by any of the people who have been cool enough to go with this series.

20. A question you'd like me to answer would be:
You're CD at an agency where I just interviewed to be a copywriter. I aced it and you've offered me the job, what did I (or didn't I) do during the interview that made you want to offer me the job? How much was me and how much was my book?

There should always be a balance between book/portfolio, the way a person projects themselves and references. I would never hire someone blindly and would do my best to pick at their brain during an interview in part to see how they think and in part to check if there’s any bullshit in their book. I know people who have literally lifted other people’s ads for their book and have gotten hired largely because of their book. Attitude also has a lot to do with hiring someone or not and though talent is always welcome, diva bullshit should be kept to a minimum. I’m not saying don’t be confident or proud of your work, just don’t be a cock about it. If I were a CD though, I’d also take into account how the group flows and what personalities would work best with that group because no matter what, you’re introducing something new to a recipe so you want something different, a new spice, but not something that’ll screw up the flavor of the group. Basically if I see potential in someone, see that they’re willing to put in the hours and seem like someone I wouldn’t mind being in ‘Nam with, I’m good and you’re hired.

As far as a clear-cut answer, they’re both important but I think it’s more important what I get from an interview regarding gut feeling comparing that with references from people I trust. If you’re completely unknown it’d be a gamble but I think it would have to do more with what you show me in person than what I can get from a book. Anyone can have a fantastic book, not everyone can have a great interview.

Then again, who says I’m cut out to be a CD? :) Also of note, every CD and every interview is different. Some people actually look for people with diva shoulder chips, humility or dalai lamaness, depends on the douche CD or nice guy in charge in question.


Justin said...

Thanks again Joker and keep up the great work here at WAS.

Joker said...

no need man, thanks for being a part of 20-20.


shaun. said...

this was a good read after a long day.

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