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The Ad Game: The people and the pay

2009-07-01 17:25

First moves

I highly recommend advertising school, even though parents fall over when they see the cost. It gives you the right tools to work in an ad agency and makes it more likely that you'll find a job. If you just want to work in the marketing department of a company, it's not really necessary.

Excellent schools are Vega, AAA and Red & Yellow. For everything else you need to know, watch the following: "When I grow up, I want to be in advertising".

Creatives: Copywriters, art directors and designers. The 'talent' and colour of the agency, most of us are would-be authors and artists (see what Banksy says about that). Generally open-minded, fun-loving and partial to philosophy, especially when combined with brandy and late nights.

Creative Director: He or she approves and improves the work creatives do. A good CD gives you direction and support, a bad CD tells you what to do and shouts a lot. Either way, he / she is god.

Account Executives / Managers (client service): Affectionately known as 'suits' because they usually have to wear one. They deal with the client, put in briefs to the creative studio and make sure the work meets objectives. A good suit does what's best for the client, not necessarily what the client says.

Strategy: Before the suits write the brief, strategy does research to decide what the brand positioning and objectives will be.

Traffic: They manage the flow of work and nag creatives and suits alike when we don't get our arses in gear.

Repro & Production: Put the finishing touches on work before it goes to print. Set up shoots and purchase images. Can-do types.

For a more amusing explanation, watch this game show Who Wants To Be An Executive Creative Director.

Money, money, money?

As a junior copywriter, I got paid less than my friends who were journalists. Believe it because it's true. Five years later? Not so true. If you can eat spaghetti and tomato sauce for a year and scrounge up some freelance work to supplement your so-low-it's-tax-free salary, the rewards are worth it.

Also be prepared to work for free as an intern. This is often the only way you'll be able to gain experience. Just like any other industry, nobody wants to hire someone without experience.

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