NYC Days 4-6: Welcome to the Real World

07May09

I’ve heard from several reliable sources this week that advertising is one thing:

The intersection between ART and BUSINESS.

The intersection between ART and BUSINESS.

Coming from a business background (if we can really call an undergraduate education a background worth coming from) I’m reveling in seeing things from an artist’s viewpoint.  In the UO Journalism School, there’s a huge emphasis on everyone being a “creative strategist” first, then focusing on being an art director, account planner, media buyer, etc.

We’ve heard from several agencies during our trip, including Strawberry Frog, TBWA/Chiat/Day, BBH, and JWT (all these acronyms bring me back to my accounting firm days).  Between the professionals we’ve heard from and just being in the living creature that is NYC, I’ve gleaned a few humbled insights.

1. What can you do for me?

We can serve you a good burger.

We can serve you a good burger.

Professionals could care less about where you come from or who you are.  Advertising in particular is all about your “book” or portfolio of work.  Your work truly speaks for itself, and pedigree is the last thing on agencies’ minds.

The broader truth of the job market is obvious here: be in the right place at the right time with the right skill set and you’ll be the lucky one.  The tricky part is the 95% of preparation it takes to get these rights components where your 5% luck will kick in.

2. Are you listening?

Even Trump does it.

Even Trump does it.

We’ve all heard the cliched “active listening” schpeel, but when it comes to the advertising landscape, listening is going to make or break each and every brand in the near future.  Strawberry Frog is all about “cultural movements” that leverage what consumers are already engaged in to integrate the brand into real life.  Much like in the dating market, research is done in advance to determine what a prospective mate is interested in.

3. Are you surviving to thrive?

Call it evil, corporate, soul-sucking, or downright icky, but marketing and advertising are here to stay, and in the words of one professional we heard from, if you don’t do it, someone else will.  The top three things our professionals said they would never work on were:

  • pharmaceuticals
  • tobacco
  • McDonald’s

No matter how badly we may want to change the world for the better, we’ve got to put in the time to survive before we can thrive.  We need to crank out some McDonald’s print ads before we get to work on promo for TED talks to make sure food gets on the table.

Just don’t call it “paying your dues” or I might have a thesis fit all over the place.

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