In matric, a family friend told me about this thing called 'copywriting'. Without thinking too much about it, I signed up for a course at Red and Yellow. I thought I was going to learn how to write, but instead, I was taught how to think and more so, how to sell ideas.
Do young creatives know what they're getting themselves into? The late nights, frustrations, and very little creative freedom that comes with some briefs. Had you known what advertising is like, would you still have chosen it as a career?
Many of us who enter the world of advertising have other passions like fashion, photography, or music. I mean, I can write, but do I really want to be a copywriter? It’s about finding those opportunities where you can express your passion in your work. Tapping into your cultural capital will help you to create work that is unique and memorable.
It is not always possible to be fresh from school and immediately start working in your area of passion, doing what you have always dreamt of doing, but many young people don’t want to wait it out.
Whether you’re in it to pay bills, or it’s a means to an end, this career has so much value to add. No matter where my creativity leads me to, I will always be able to use the knowledge I have gained in advertising.
What I have learned in my first few years in advertising:
Do it with passion or not at all
Everything I do, I try to do with passion, I give myself to every piece of work. Some jobs are less fun than others, but if you do anything half-heartedly you don’t give your best work. I enjoy advertising, but there’s the occasional brief that requires so much of your time and brains that you feel overwhelmed. It all passes, though – it’s all ebb and flow.
Put your heart in everything you do, BUT don't fall in love with every idea
The creative process is all about coming up with a ton of ideas. Most of them will probably not ever see the light of day, and you need to be okay with that. As young creatives, our job is to love the pursuit of ideas rather than the idea itself.
Grow a thick skin
There are rejections, multiple reverts and constant back and forth, between agency and clients. We work in a highly pressured industry and with that comes tension at times. Unless someone is taking unwarranted shots at you, try not to take everything to heart.
Don't be afraid to voice your ideas and opinions
There have been one too many occasions where I’ve sat in a room with seniors and I was scared to voice my opinion because I thought it wasn’t smart enough. Until one of them shares the same thought and I ended up being mad at myself for not speaking up. Until this day, I have to remind myself that if they didn’t think I’m capable, they wouldn’t have me there.
Learn to say no
There’s always a small job to be done, on top of the one or two big jobs you need to finish ASAP. Sometimes it’s okay to say, ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t have the capacity right now.’ It’s okay to tell your office crush that, ‘I’m sorry I can’t help at the moment.’ And I believe it should be okay to tell your boss, ‘It’s rather unfortunate that this was briefed in after 4pm, but I’m sorry, I have dinner plans with my boyfriend’s parents.’
So it seems as if advertising isn’t what Mad Men makes it out to be. Where’s the glamour?
Advertising is hard work, but we make up for it in how we party. Anyone who’s been to Loeries will tell you. Balance is important – we work hard and we play hard.
In this industry, you can learn, teach and grow as a creative and overall individual.
So, are young creatives really in it because they love it? Well, yes and no, and that’s the beauty of it. Diversity in interests and passions open up the portal to so many untapped ideas. Ideas that could propel the journey to the dream job or change the world.
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