Eclectic Curiosity

Pick Me


Posted on October 2nd, 2005, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

ihaveanidea.org is an impressive little initiative. It’s definitely one of the best resources out there for advertising industry information, contacts, events, competitions, contests, and of course actual creative work. It’s good, it’s thorough, and best of all it’s fun. So it was with pleasure to receive from them a shiny new copy of a just-published Adweek series book to peruse called Pick Me: Breaking Into Advertising and Staying There. Written by accomplished Ogilvy (Toronto) creative directors Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin, Pick Me is an ihaveanidea.org-initiated project that also happens to involve an ad school I nearly attended (VCU Adcenter) and a contributor under whom I once interned (ZiG’s Lorraine Tao). Pick Me is basically a collection questions and answers from the authors’ online advice column Ask Jancy combined with advice and job stories from some of the industry’s superstars and heavyweights (Bob Barrie, Rick Boyko, David Droga, Mark Fenske, Neil French, Sally Hogshead, Mike Hughes, Shane Hutton, Brian Millar, Tom Monahan, Chuck Porter, Bob Scarpelli, Chris Staples, and Tao).

While I’m glad to see a book like this published, I must admit that I approached the subject matter somewhat cynically. I personally think the ad biz has done a lousy job of adjusting to changes in media, culture, and organization-building over the past decade. For an industry loaded with some of business’s sharpest strategic and artistic minds (and probably more creative generalists per capita), agency leaders have not done an altogether good job of positioning their industry as a valuable link and partner within the general corporate food chain. Exeptions abound, of course, and the contributors selected for Pick Me are proof of that. But I was still wary of encountering the old school attitude that the ad biz is the best place for creative people in business, that it’s still deserving of the most talented new grads, and that the line-up of smart people at their door is endless.

Vonk and Kestin aren’t immune to that attitude but it’s not predominant and their advice is mostly so good as to be useful across a number of creative industries anyway. It covers the first-job frustrations, mid-career questions, and late career stresses admirably and gives real insight to the whole internship and hiring process. The writing is casual and friendly; the advice honest and generous. Overall, Pick Me is a very good book that I would readily recommend to anybody looking at advertising as a career. The contributors’ tales also make it an interesting read for those who are no longer rookies in the biz.

Some quotes of note for me:

Advertising is for you if you can be calm in a crisis, optimistic to the point of looking the fool, if you’re a team player, a hard worker, and deeply curious. It also helps to have God-given talent, although talent without drive is useless. …

No business is more dependent on the quality of the team than advertising. Yet most schools keep the disciplines in silos. Go figure. …

There’s a perception that ad agencies are made of money and that internships are the product of greed. …The truth is this isn’t the 1980s. Agencies aren’t fat; fewer creative people with less development time and production money are expected to come up with ideas not only for ads, but also for the Web, direct marketing, and multiple media campaigns. Training isn’t high on the to-do lists. We don’t have the time or resources. …

Creative people work best with account people who are passionate about the creative product. A shocking number of agency people are vastly indifferent to creative. …

Borrowing thinking is not okay. So look for your inspiration in as many other places as possible: art galleries, movies, culture, your family. The business values fresh solutions to problems, not familiar ones. …





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