For 30+ years have worked as a full-time advertising and marketing writer for various types of communication agencies. I have had to concept and create just about everything from television commercials to printed brochures for consumer, business-to-business, and pharmaceutical clients and their customers. My past experience in advertising, direct response, retail, and sales promotion serves me well as I continue to be a full-time writer for high-tech healthcare creative assignments. I purposely chose this broad approach to creative development because it made me a better writer overall.
My first real job:
Early in my career when I was between writing jobs, I worked at a steel mill in East Chicago to pay the bills. I answered an obscure ad for a small consumer agency in Columbus, Ohio that needed a copywriter for their large retail department store clients. To apply for the job, I was asked to complete a creative writing test as soon as possible because the creative director at the Columbus ad agency was going on vacation in a couple of days. Since I was working the midnight mill schedule at the time, I stayed up 3 days straight without sleep to quickly complete the creative test, complete with full-blown TV storyboards. Apparently the lack of sleep helped me create some pretty edgy creative work which got me noticed and hired.
I turned the disadvantage of one brand of TV dinners into an incredible benefit which helped that frozen food manufacturer increase its market share by 34% via a TV campaign in just 1 year. I created an Olympic themed radio campaign that promoted high-performance automobiles to a specific market. The campaign sold all 35 cars in just 3 days. At one of my agency writer jobs, I was asked to give an old prescription drug a creative face lift. I came up with a nifty headline and my art director complimented it with some exciting graphics. The campaign actually extended the life cycle of the drug for several years.
What Drives my professional career:
Even after 30 years as a professional copywriter, I am still driven to create a unique concept supported by persuasive copy that sells a particular product or service. I'm always up for the challenge to prove I've still got the creative edge in the face of a highly competitive industry that accepts only the best work. I get as much of a thrill about creating good work today as I did when I first started out in advertising 30 years ago.
Advice for today's students:
Those of you--hoping to be advertising writers, art directions, or account executive marketers some day--can't afford to specialize in just advertising and become a siloed creative. I suggest you learn all you can about advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct response. These disciplines are all interrelated. They're all important to the creative arsenal. Also take the time to learn the key role marketing plays in creative process and how, for example, a product position can drive the end product of an ad or brochure. Make the most of your creative experience at Columbia College. You'll be glad you did when you get hired in your first real job.