Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Michael Dick: The Naked Intruder

Michael Dick was arrested when he broke into an 88-year old woman's house and proceeded to harass her until she applied a vice-like grip with her wrinkled old hands onto his wrinkly nether regions.

Sometimes these things write themselves.

The importance of placement in advertising.

For those of you who know my wife and I, it probably comes as no surprise that apartment hunting in Chicago was a bit of a shock for us.

We both come from small farming communities in central and southern Illinois. Our previous adventures in apartment hunting took place in Champaign, a city of less than 100,000 and we bought our home outside of White Heath, a town of less than 1,000.

So when the call came on Dec. 19 that I'd gotten the Upshot job, we were a little concerned about finding a nice place to live.

We had a lot of things to look for and a Junior Copywriter's salary to pay for it.

First a neighborhood we'd be comfortable raising the PeeJ in.  Given that the closest neighbor I had growing up lived a quarter of a mile a way and that my wife's closest neighbor growing up was her grandfather, we both had pretty lofty expectations of the neighborhood we're looking for.

This immediately added either an hour to my commute or $300/month in rent. We found what we thought would be a nice 2 bed place for a reasonable price on Craigslist only to find the neighborhood was a who's who of the ISOR and state-HQ of the Future ISOR of America.

Secondly, we needed at least 2 Bedrooms, but wanted 3. This, as with the previous stipulation led to the previous two trade-offs or to some crawl-spaces being creatively titled as "Bedrooms." 

I wish I was joking.

We visited two separate places that claimed to have 2 "bedrooms." I'm not sure who is sleeping in these rooms, but I honestly could not have laid down in these "bedroom" without my head and feet touching the opposite sides of the room. Although I may have been able to have lain down diagonally without touching both sides of the room.

Third, we wanted to keep our pets. 

Now I understand that sometimes pets destroy things, and if you don't want pets in your building that's fine I understand. But do not tell me pets are fine, then when I'm looking over your lease have a amendment that says we'll pay an extra $300 non-refundable damage deposit for each, yes I said each, of our pets.

So we went on line to find our perfect apartment. Some people posted the same apartment on multiple sights. One agent tried to tap her internal copywriter for her subject headings in Craigslist and other sites (unfortunately, she had not read Jeff's infamous 10 commandments of copywriting and went over the top with borrowed interest.) Other's listed all the great little amenities in the apartment while noticeably skirting the more important factors like, does this apartment have heat. Eventually we settled on 9 places to tour on our whirlwind trip to Chicago, basing them on the descriptions of the neighborhoods and a little creative use of Google Maps street view function.

Of those 9 only 4 actually bothered to call us back when we left messages about coming up to tour the apartment.

And you know which one we went with, the apartment we never saw on-line. It was down the street from the first place we looked at, in the Ravenswood Manor neighborhood. There was a simple "For Rent" sign, with a phone #. The landlord answered and was friendly and informative. He said he could meet us the next day at 2. The apartment was wonderful, the neighborhood was perfect, the rent was incredibly high.

But hey 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

But the point to all of this is sometimes you've got to think about where you're putting your ad and the type of executions you're coming up with. These rental agents all spent so much time on their web listings, writing creative prose to tweak our interest in their all hardwood bathrooms (again, I wish I were joking) that they neglected to actually post "For Rent" signs on the actual property.  And they may have lost potential renters because of it.

The same goes in advertising, sometimes we get caught up coming up with the next HBO Voyeur or the the True Beauty executions that we forget to post "For Rent" signs for our client.

Talk at you Later, 


Friday, December 26, 2008

The Hunt

For those of you getting ready to finish portfolio school, good luck.

The market is an absolute b*tch right now.

Of course, everyone knows that, I'm not sharing any great insight with you.

But if I do have a tip, it's don't be afraid to ask friends for help.

If you know someone from your program who's got a job, ask them if they're hiring. If they say yes, ask them to pass along your book.

The worst anyone can say is no. Especially if they're a junior :). 

I got a couple interviews, because a friend of mine passed my book along to a creative director. 

At one agency, I sent my book into the creative recruiter and never heard back. Three months later my friend asked if I'd like him to pass my book along to his creative director, and within a week I was interviewing there.

Recruiter's have busy schedules, they get enough .pdfs/link e-mails a day to crash a g-mail account. Despite how great you might think your book is, sometimes it gets lost in the cracks. Sometimes a recruiter's having a bad day and may not like your work. 

So that's my first tip, ask your friends.

My second and the one that affected me the most of these past six months, is keep an even keel in regards to an agency showing interest.

It's ok to get excited. If you don't get a little excited every time an agency shows interest in you, then you're in the wrong field. Go out and find something that does excite you, like biological waste removal.

But don't get crazy. The first couple of times I had an agency talk to me, I was convinced that this was it. I had gotten my first job. When in all actuality, it wasn't it, I had impressed one person and I had a longer row to hoe than I thought.

You have to be willing to consider the thought that you're not "exactly" what they're looking for.  

The reason you can't get euphoric until someone's offered you a job is just that, they haven't offered it to you.

You know what the most embarrassing thing in the world is?
Telling everyone you're expecting an offer any day now from an agency and then 6 months later telling everyone you're still expecting that offer any day now.

I did that twice and let me tell you something, humble pie tastes even worse as leftovers.

But even worse than eating a piece or two of humble pie, is the crash you get when you're told that "We don't think you're the right fit for this agency." If you had convinced yourself you were going to get the offer.

And trust me, right now you're going to hear that. 

Sorry, unless you've got the next 1984 in your book, you will probably hear that phrase at least once.

And that's why it's important to stay level-headed. Until you sign the contract you don't have a job.  And it hurts when you think you have one and then get the rejection note.

Finally, accept the frikkin' offer and be happy. I'm paraphrasing from a great post of Greg's blog, Makin' Ads, but an offer in hand is worth two on the way.

I had two agencies on the verge of hiring me. One a small, very creative place and another a monolithic monstrosity of global proportions, but a great shop none the less. One didn't hire me because I turned down their immediate offer of freelance work. A guy who had been a senior elsewhere accepted it, even though it was a demotion, and got the job a few months later. 

The other offered me an internship, which I was on the verge of accepting when the Dow dropped 600 points and the agency went on an immediate hiring freeze. 

Now, one of these I could have changed with a different decision and one I couldn't have. What's my point, you never know when the offers going to come, so you can't afford to pass up on one that's been made.

To recap.

1. Take advantage of your friends with jobs. Send them your books, as them to pass it along. Sometimes they can, sometimes they can't but the worst they can say is no.

2. Keep a level head. Sometimes the place that seems the most interested in you, isn't the one that hires you and sometimes the place you think that is blowing you off is.

3. Accept the offer.

Get the job, start a blog, become a rockstar.



Monday, December 22, 2008

Really cool design

At least I think so. 

It's a co-op spot for Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart for the latter's holiday sale on Coke 2-liters.  It is everything the ad should be, simple, concise, pretty.

Click Here.

It's definitely better than the ad that goes along with it. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 4 - T-Minus-15 Days Until Start Date

The answer to your obvious question is yes, I am that good looking in real life.

The answer to your not so obvious question is that day 1 and 2 were not recorded due to the embarrassingly amounts of alcohol consumed and tears wept, perhaps not in that order.

The answer to the questions you did not ask but should have is:

1. I will begin working for Upshot on January 5, 2009.
2. I will be a Junior Copywriter on the Disney account. 
3. That's private.
4. No I will not be maintaining journalistic integrity in my journal. I like my job, I want to keep my job, if something sucks about my job after I start, I will maintain the party line. 

What I will be doing is collecting my thoughts on what should be an interesting first year in a very strange and wonderful industry: advertising/marketing.
When something awesome happens I will share it (so long as I am not violating my nondisclosure agreement), when something terrible happens I will share it (so long as it won't piss anyone off who can fire me), and when I get something pounded through my thick skull, well I'll share that too.

That being said, here's what's happened so far: nothing.

I was sitting at Bacca's (my favorite cigar shop) smoking a cigar, working on freelance, talking to my friend and talented art director Lindsey Krupicka on g-chat. She asked how the job search was coming along.

I said I had some interest from some pretty cool shops, but no offers yet.

She asked if I had heard back from Upshot.

I replied that I had not and I thought they were politely brushing me off.

Phone rings. I step outside to take it. It's Lisa from Upshot, they'd like to make me an offer.

I play it cool, ask for the weekend to consider it.

Walk back into Bacca's and buy the most expensive cigar in the joint.

Tell Lindsey that I stand corrected Upshot was not blowing me off, but strategically waiting until I was convinced they didn't like me to offer me a job.

I then call my wife, embarrassing conversation happens in a very full cigar shop.

We eat at Red Lobster (sorry Champaign doesn't really have a Morton's or Ruth's Chris or a Shaw's)

I proceed to call anyone I've known in my lifetime and share the news and even a few people that I have spoken to only during wrong number conversations.

I go to bed. 

I wake up and call Upshot and accept their offer.

I proceed to start hunting for apartments and smoke another very expensive cigar.

That brings us to now.

I decide at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning while at my in-laws that I need to start a blog and do so.

I think we're all caught up now.

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am, the length of this post probably does that for me. I just know that this is a dream come true for me. For those of you who know me personally this is no revelation, but to those of you who don't I sacrificed a crap ton of my life to be in this business. And to have those sacrifices pay off, generates a feeling of satisfaction that you can not imagine.

So a quick bunch of thank yous. Scott, Melissa, Blaze, JCS, Carter, Craig, Troy, Tracey, Greg, Gary, Allison, Sarah, Maria, Jeff, Grandpa, Mom, Dad and the rest of the Fam and most importantly Cathy and the PeeJ.

I'm sure there are a ton of others, but I just wanted to make sure I thanked you guys first. 

Now, the description. 

I'm going to make this a public diary. I am going to list my struggles and successes. And I'm going to post stuff I find that I find awesome, and my wife probably fines nerdy.

Okay, I'm getting yelled at to wrap it up, the wife and her sister's want to go to Mass.