A fellow junior and Dear Brook reader from Penn State University wrote an article about how Mad Men, Hollywood and the people in advertising send this message that Advertising in all about parties, 3 hour martini lunches and such.
Now, the glamour happens, but when exactly?
He reached out to Dear Brook and a couple of other Ad peeps for our opinion on this subject and he did such an awesome job that I had to share it with all of you. Check it out.
By Hasting Butler
Three martini lunches. Lavish parties. A large corner room office with a Manhattan skyline equipped with three packs of cigarettes and a bottle of gin.
Chances are you’ve tuned into an average episode of “Mad Men,” following the lives of advertising executives in the fictitious ad agency Sterling Cooper during the 1960s. You’re probably witnessing the countless extramarital affairs, adolescent humor that runs rampant amongst middle aged men and successful advertising campaigns pulled from thin air.
Racking up numerous Emmy and Golden Globe awards, “Mad Men” has caught the eye of millions of viewers, including Malcolm Egun.
Egun, a recent graduate of Penn State, wanted a job that could connect him with many groups of people and share his voice amongst various communities. That—along with his obsession with the primetime television show—led him to pursue a career in advertising, starting with an account management internship with Saatchi & Saatchi in New York City.
Following his short internship prior to his senior year, Egun prepared to wow his supervisors to obtain a full-time position. He had some reservations, but kept a positive mentality.
“I actually thought I wouldn’t get the job due to the lack of ad experience,” Egun admits. “But something told me I was destined to be an ad man.”
It seems Egun was right. In April, he was offered a job at Saatchi & Saatchi and began as an assistant account executive almost immediately after graduation. It didn’t take long for Egun to see the huge transition from being an avid “Mad Men” watcher and intern to working full time in account services. There is no excessive lighting, multiple takes or scripted solutions. In lieu, Egun discovers long hours, heavy workloads and immense competition.
“‘Mad Men’ is almost like a reality show because you don’t see all the behind the scenes action,” Egun adds. “It’s like a jungle out here. You have to find ways to survive.”
Many can attest to the fact that the glitz and glamour of the advertising world doesn’t actually exist. In fact, some even take to social media and inform fellow colleagues as well as the general public looking to be informed or patiently waiting to join the ad world.
“Dear Brook” is a blog headed by a junior art director in New York City under the alias “Brook.” Her blog not only chronicles her first year in a mid-size firm but gives tips to fellow entry-level advertisers and recent graduates.
“Advertising is not glamorous, at least as a junior,” Brook laughs. “Someone once told me that you’re underpaid the first half of your career and overpaid the second half.”
Brook spends her day developing concepts and designing advertisements for various accounts, often building a structure for at least 30 assignments. Along with sudden deadlines approaching and projects demanding up to 15 hours straight, conveying a simple message for varying brands and consumers can be strenuous.
Through all of the stress, Brook always remembers what keeps her going in the world of advertising. Her desire to communicate and inspire communities stands as her modus operandi. The creative and free environment is also a plus for her. However, she credits her mentors as a main factor in her pursuit of climbing up the ranks in the creative realm of advertising.
“Throughout my college years, I came across some really good teachers and ad professionals that became my mentors,” Brook said. “I can’t tell you how much that changed my life. I seriously wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
Constantly competing with other agencies—and sometimes even your colleagues—can take a toll on anyone. It makes no difference if you’re a junior or a senior and in creative or in accounts. Just ask Megan Lally. Entering the advertising world in 2008, Lally worked her way up the ranks in account management in DDB’s Chicago office.
Lally acts as a liaison between the creative department and the client. She spends her days supervising the creative team to help bring the proposed strategies to life by the given deadline. As expected, the job is a lot easier said than done.
A cult following of ad hopefuls also know Lally as the “Chicago Ad Gal” on the blogosphere. Lally gives readers a peak into her life as an account executive, describing how she must help the agency and the client reach a compromise which doesn’t always go as planned. Both sides won’t see eye-to-eye on everything and reaching an agreeable end goal can be trying and uncomfortable in many situations.
Although some parts of the advertising world can be intense, Lally stays motivated. While showcasing the challenge nose-to-ground aspects of the business, Lally also keeps her readers informed of the many perks that she and her colleagues receive.
Lally once took to her blog about her offices summer days. Every Friday at 12 p.m. on the dot, she was able to leave for an early weekend and explore Chicago and its summertime attractions. She could explore the big green of the city known as Hyde Park or venture out to a Chicago Cubs game.
Aside from successfully completing a task, another struggle Lally highlights in the world of advertising is actually getting a job.
“From an account standpoint, the world of advertising is hard to crack into,” Lally said. “It’s like what they say about dating—once you have a date, it’s easier to get it done.”
The economic standstill has already caused businesses to shrink jobs in agencies. Combined with the popular television and movie realms focusing on advertising, there happens to be more applicants than there are actual jobs. This dilemma has not only been noticed by professionals but by professors as well.
Ken Yednock is a senior lecturer at Penn State who brings 34 years of advertising experience to his collegiate level students. Starting out at Leo Burnett, Yednock reached senior vice president of The Doner Agency in Detroit in 1987 and chief operating officer at GKB Communications in Baltimore in 1996.
According to Yednock, the competition level has increased due to the lack of jobs and the evolution of the digital era.
“Everything is so accessible now,” Yednock says. “There aren’t even any training programs at agencies now. Recruiters are expecting new hires to come prepared and be ready to play ball within the first few weeks of hiring.”
Yednock’s experience and tenure at Penn State has given him a remarkable ability to spot two types of students: those who want to be in advertising and those who know they want to be in advertising. It tends to be a matter of those who see the flashing lights and fame versus those who have an uncanny ability to push themselves in their education and real world experiences.
In Yednock’s eyes, students must know immediately that they want to be advertising professionals, whether they reach an epiphany through their studies or their internship experiences.
“Passion separates the good from the bad,” Yednock said. “This industry is too competitive and you will get lost.”
The Hollywood image of the advertising industry is not seen as a farce or a damper to an agency’s reputation and work ethic, but as a marvelous melodrama that provokes and excites viewers. People have grown to love these shows and become inspired by them, but they only hit the tip of the iceberg.
Needless to say, if you’re gearing up for the professional ad world, don’t expect the Don Draper treatment. Be prepared to work.
Thank you Hasting for the great article, keep writing and keep sharing.
What the rest of you guys think about this subject?