I just need to rant this out.
I am a so-called greenhorn copywriter in this ad agency, and I hate my Art Director. Seriously, I have not harboured so much hate in me, and since no one I knows is in this business, I needed an asnwer for this question.
There's this colleague of mine who had this idea of which she actually copied from an ad book for award-winning projects/pieces. She now wanted me to write a copy for her, in the same direction using different words. Or maybe using different ways but still along the line of the original idea from the book. She and this AD somehow managed to convince our boss and here am I..disgruntled and working 'unhappily' to come up with the copy.
Previously I worked as an interning journalist in a newspaper and decided to switch because I felt the advertising field is far more creative but now that I'm here it seems like the creativity is all coming from other people and these people are just improvising. Is it the life advertising field leads to?
I'm just so fucking fed-up, so based on ur experience as a copywriter, does that mean that I dont fit in here?
Btw, I'm 25.
Oh, and I dont see you as an 'agony aunt' to whom anyone can write in to, to ask for advices, but I seriously do not know where else to vent this frustration. Sorry if you find this irritating. *chuckle*
First, thanks for the read and for troubling to write, Reader. I think there are two questions you're asking here.
Short term: should you write copy for the cribbed ad? (Hey, why not tell her to just lift the copy from the book, only kidding.) I wouldn't write for the lifted ad if there is a way to avoid it. If you feel you must, maybe you could pretend to start writing the copy, then in doing so, come up with a fresher approach to the problem and try to sell your AD on presenting it. Or--is there a way to discreetly get to the boss and alert him to the problem? This can be tricky, though, because he might not care that the ad is a ripoff. You'd be surprised how many people in the business don't, who say there are only so many ideas in the world and they've all been used up, so why not use one all over again.
If you encounter this attitude on the part of your boss--or suspect that you would--you're in the wrong place. The shop where you start is very important because in a way, it can actually determine the course of your career. Did you have a tracking system in high school, with some kids on "trades" tracks, others "university"? That's not dissimilar to the way things work in the agency world. If you've "taken the right courses", ie worked at "the right shops", you'll find it much easier to get to places where the creative means something and you can win awards which translates into more money and better jobs at even better places, or at least not worse ones.
Is your shop a good shop, creatively speaking? Is it a place where you can learn from people whose work you admire? If not, start looking around. What shop would you most like to work for? Make contact with the ECD there. When I was in my twenties I found myself briefly at a BDA (hi, George) and made a point of going to an industry luncheon where the ECD of A Great Shop was talking about a subject that was considered groundbreaking at the time: agencies getting computers for the creative department. I went up to meet him after the talk, wrote him a letter (admiring, but not fawning) and was called in for an interview and was working there a month later. The business is actually a small world and it's amazingly easy to find ways to make a personal connection with someone in it you admire. You might wonder why a name in the business would make time for you. But any name in the business who's actually good knows that maintaining creative chops means remaining plugged in and connected with young people. Your age (or lack thereof) is a commodity you can trade on, something you have to offer that his botoxed-up cronies on the golf course don't.
But maybe you don't have the luxury of switching jobs right away. Job market is tight and your rent is the GNP of a small nation. In this case, Scamp has sage words of advice:
Plenty of great teams started in not-so-good agencies. The key is what you do when you get there. You don't settle. You don't sit on your arse. You spend all your spare time working on the one good account they do have. And the rest of your time working on your spec book. When my partner and I were at a rubbish agency, we spent every night working on our book. Not once a week. Every night.
Don't do what your AD did, lift an ad hoping you won't be found out. Eventually (it's a small business, remember?) you will be outed. Which will reverse any progress you managed to make in building creative credence. Study the ads in the book you like. Figure out why you like them, what makes them good. Then, give yourself an assignment. Pick a product the agency has, that no one wants to work on. Do a concept exploratory on it. Take your work to someone in the shop whose creative opinion you respect--there must be someone. Work with this person to make your book better. All the while, be calling around to people working at the shops you want to work at. Don't ask for a job. Ask for a five-minute meeting to get some advice. People in this business love to give advice. They're always trying to give it and no one--especially clients--ever want to listen. . (Look how long you got me to go on, despite the fact I've got a 4 pm deadline!) Speed-meeting will get you networking with the right people and networking is how you get the best jobs which are never advertised on monster or in the backs of trade journals.
On your longer term question: are you in the right business? Rest assured that everyone--me and anyone who reads this --has questioned their career choice at one time or another. Advertising, as you know, isn't like it is in the movies. True, it's a lot more creative than most businesses (like journalism) are, but bottom line, it's a business, it's not doing art. That's why commercials are, well, called commercials. People outside the business assume ad agencies are zany hothouses full of crazy creatives, but sadly it seems there is less and less room for right brain thinking in these days of earnings reports and holding companies and management teams driven by fear of stockholders. But I still think it's the most fun you can have making money.
Best of luck to you. Hope something here helps. Perhaps others have thoughts they'll share with you in the comments.