Tag Archives: advertising

Flea from the empty.

I spent 5 hours at the Brooklyn Flea last Saturday with my face buried in racks of clothing from days gone by. Everything around me seemed to have value, seemed to have a story, a previous owner who loved, cherished, protected and valued that thing.

Not only that but everything was beautiful.

Charming.

Warm.

Pleasant.

Perfect in spite of their seemingly obvious imperfections.

Whoever made these things, whether it was a baseball bat from 1938 or a map of Lemberg from 1886 cared about what they were making. They were creating value and adding to the natural beauty of the world around them. They did this by transforming some piece of that natural world for themselves or to make money for themselves – true artisanship.

Contrast this with the shopping mall I spent an hour in (no purchases made) just before Christmas. Very little aesthetic value (unless you’re in the Apple store and maybe 2-3 clothes stores) anywhere. Brands melded together and there was nothing distinct from one place to the next except for the name out front.

We need to re-imagine the world. Re-imagine the way we make things. Creative class, this means seeking work (as much as possible) that will enhance the world around us and not just become a part of a growing grey mass.

We must rise up and ‘flea’ from all that which is not beautiful, interesting or of value. If we can stop churning out ‘things’ or ads for the sake of doing it, we just might create change and make the world a lot more like the Brooklyn Flea. Trust me, it’s a lovely place.

Give me a blank page, and I will give you some ideas.

Do you know where your ideas come from? Do you have a well that you go to when you need creativity and inspiration?

Some people believe that their ‘well’ is a bottle of red wine or some sort of narcotic. Just ask Van Morrison or Lewis Carroll. For me, creativity comes at unpredictable times and in unpredictable places, and trust me there is nothing more nerve racking than knowing that you have no idea where your next idea is going to come from.

More often than not my ideas come from random encounters, discussions with people and even after deep, pensive thinking.

That being said as a person looking for work in an ad agency as a jr copywriter it is critical to show your creativity and writing ability. So I have started developing a spec ad portfolio. For those of you who don’t know what this is let me explain. Speculative ads are advertisements that a person will make that are unsolicited and written or designed by you. Sometimes you may design and write your own ad, or as a writer like me, most of the time you will take the copy off original ad and replace it with your own copy.

So everyday I will post a spec ad that I have made up here on my blog for you to enjoy, hate, critique, share, laugh at or ignore.

Today’s ads: Smart Car. (I realize that some of you have seen these already).

Business Challenge:

Ad agencies are hired by businesses or companies to develop creative problem solving solutions to contemporary business problems. Designing good ads with great content for a great brand or product WILL add to a company’s value and will help drive their business. This is a very rewarding task.

I imagined a challenge for Smart Car and it goes like this:

Smart Car executives and marketing personnel feel like their product is stigmatized, people believe the size of the car is a negative, they aren’t aware of some of its impressive features and others believe the car is unsafe. These assumptions are holding Smart Car back from increasing its market share in the category.

Proposed solution:

I am the kind of thinker that likes to take a seemingly negative aspect from a product, flip it upside down, and turn it into a positive. I always want people to think and laugh when I write as well. I assume that the consumer is just as intelligent as me and try to do two things: 1. Illicit an emotional response (laughter, happiness, sadness, excitement, shock etc) and 2. Illicit a behavioural response (get someone to buy your product and or service, have a compelling call to action, have a person reconsider their current product usage etc).

So with all that in mind I wrote two separate speculative ads for Smart Car.

1. Raging Bull: I wanted to have very little copy, have good use of white space and make you think differently about the car. I also chose the colour of the car carefully.

2. It’s not a teapot: I wanted to make an ad that I would have fun writing and reading. I also wanted to dismantle a common stereotype that Smart Car faces; people think they are dangerous, slow, and tip easily. I have heard that some people go around and tip Smart Cars like some people tip cows. Ridiculous. I also wanted to surprise consumers with some of the features about the product that they might not have known.

Tomorrow I am serving up some Vespa ads. Until then I have to go finish watch Brandon Morrow DESTROY the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He has 14K’s through 7 innings. Unreal. My Blue Jays rock! And how about JP Arencibia yesterday?!

Until the internets connect us again.

Liam

It’s not you, it’s me… and oh yea, thanks for reaching out.

Can you guess how many applications I have now sent to ad agencies?

The answer:
Over 1,100. I have personally contacted every agency in Canada and every agency in 37 American states. No word of a lie I send dozens of personally tailored and researched letters to ad agencies every day. I personally follow up with people and now send them samples of my spec ads to give them a taste of my style.

You figure with that much effort the results must be astounding, right? Wrong. As you know I was given a freelance copywriting job with Saatchi and that is all fine and dandy. I successfully wrote some febreze ads last week and I am still waiting for my next assignment.

That’s it though. Of course we are facing a recession and ad buys are down across the board and many agencies are cash strapped and simply aren’t hiring new talent but you figure I have got to stumble upon somebody who just landed a new client who now has staffing needs, right? I follow Ad Age magazine, I write to every agency that lands a new account personally and tie my letter to their new account. For example one agency was just named the AOR (Agency of Record) for Virgin Mobile. I wrote to these guys congratulated them on their new deal, introduced myself and told them that I could help make the 911 fees and other annoying billing features sexy as a joke. No response.

When you do get a response in the Ad industry people are very nice and the one line you get over and over and over and over again is “Thanks for reaching out.” If I had a dollar for every time I have had this phrase written to me in the last 2 months I wouldn’t need a job let alone one in the ad industry. Gee whiz.

I feel like I am trying to ask the captain of the cheerleading team to the prom and she won’t return my calls. On paper I am exactly what she’s looking for but no matter how creative I get or how cool I am she is going to pick the dude on the motorcycle wearing the leather jacket.

Today alone I received 9 personal emails (and its only 3pm) all of them congratulating me on my wit, creativity, ingenuity and writing ability. Presumably these are skills that these agencies would want to recruit, but in the same breath they consistently tell me that there are no openings.

Here are some excerpts of emails I have received, just today:

“Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to email XXXXXXXXXXXXX. Of all the submissions to Talent I have received to date, I must say this is one of the most witty I’ve ever read.
We’ll be going through your work and we’ll keep you on file should a need arise in the future, as we are not hiring at this time.”

“Liam,
Never give up your dreams. I remember times being out of work and went
through what you are going through. These are difficult times for
everyone. Take a job outside the agency business for the time being.
The experience will pay off later when you least expect it. All your
experiences will find its way into a great campaign someday. David
Ogilvy was a door to door salesman, researcher and chef before getting
a job in the business. He used much of this experience later in his
career.”

“Just shared your work with a colleague, who was also impressed with your work. ”

“Liam,
Thanks for your interest in RLF and a most engaging email\cover letter. It does get one’s attention. I have no openings on the horizon, but will keep your skills and creativity in mind. Best of luck with the job search.”

“I think your ads look nice and clean.”

“Liam
How can something like this not catch my eye…happy to catch up with you on the phone if you’d like and have copied XXXXXX XXXXXX, our chief creative officer as well to talk.
Let me know when you might like to speak with one or both of us…we aren’t really hiring right now, but you sure cut through the clutter.
All the best.”

“Hi Liam,
Thanks for reaching out to XXXXXXXXXX. (NAME REMOVED) is our creative recruiter and is the one you should be in touch with. I’ve copied him here and forwarded all your attachments.
Good luck”

“Good evening Liam!
I did in fact receive your email as evidenced by the fact that it sits right below this message. And while having an office fern who can silly walk with the best of them is downright appealing, having a lion-clothed man who smells of raw fish and pine tar wondering aimlessly about the office is not. Which is to say, I have no budget for a new person (or fern) at this time, but will file away your silliness in case of serious silliness emergency.
Good luck in your search (and cabin building endeavors).”

“Liam, thanks for your email. You’re correct! Haven’t received one like that before. And that can be a good thing. I am directing your info to my erstwhile partner, XXXXXXX XXXXXXX, who supervises our creative discipline. His email is blank@blank.com in case you want to shoot him a note directly. Thanks – I hope the two of you talk soon.”

I should mention here that I have a new approach with my opening email. It has become infinitely more absurd than it was originally. This is what you would receive if you are a creative director or partner at an Ad Agency:
—————
Good day (Insert name(s) here)!

I just finished reading your website and I felt compelled by the power of Bill Bernbach to write to you and introduce myself. I hope you have 5 minutes or are a speed reader with less than a minute to spare.

We haven’t met before, but I think we should. You want interesting people, in fact you need them. So here I am – wanting to work for your agency. You have no idea how badly I want this – I actually dream about it.

I want to work as a copywriter in a Jr. position, an internship. Heck, I’d even dress up like a fern and stand in the front foyer during business hours to add to the decor if it meant me getting a crack at this place. All I need is enough to clothe, feed and house me. If you can do that at a minimum then we’re talking. If you can’t well I guess I could consider making an outfit out of loin cloth and sleeping in a self constructed log cabin in the woods. After all, I am from Canada and know how to survive this thing we call “winter” and we love the outdoors – a lot. As for the food part, I was never any good at fishing or hunting but I suppose I could give it a try if I had to, we have lots of moose and geese up here.

If you can’t stand the thought of me dressed as a potted plant in your office, then know that I just got a gig freelancing for Saatchi.

I realize you probably get more ‘job application’ emails than you could possibly shake a stick at – but I doubt you get many like this. So before you delete this I ask that you do a few things for me (I know we just met, relax, I am not asking you on a date or anything):

Read the cover letter I wrote for you (because I think it is super cool and therefore you will too) and take a look at my CV – it is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. I promise.

With all that in mind I have attached the following:

1. A mugshot so you can see who you are dealing with
2. Cover letter
3. Resume
4. An ad that I made just for you

The attachments are big so I would really appreciate it if you could email me to let me know that you received my application. This way I will know that this email hasn’t ended up in the nebulous world of the internets.

Also, you should know that my portfolio dwells in this internet cave:

http://files.me.com/liampatrickmooney/47bem6 – keep an eye out for the cover letter inside.There is a lot of spec ad material in there. You will find the most relevant stuff in the “Print” folder. If I modified an ad previously made I simply included the original, labeled it as such and included my revised versions with the new copy, you tell me if I improved the ads. Some of the ads are original concepts that I wrote and designed myself. My favourite work is in the “Smart Car” and “Vespa” folders located inside the “Print” folder.

Thank-you very much for considering my application and I hope to hear from you soon!

Cheers,

Liam

————

This has definitely yielded a lot more responses! People are taking notice that’s for sure. But what give with one of Toronto’s best independent agencies? I emailed their HR Department, and every single partner, all 11 of them and I have not received a single response. Makes me wonder.

Now, this isn’t meant to be all gloom and doom, it’s just simply a sample of what I deal with each and everyday. I wake up early apply and by the end of the day I am so thoroughly frustrated that I can’t imagine applying anymore, but then I wake up the next day and realize that if I stop applying opportunities will stop presenting themselves. Funny how that works.

Before I go I want to apologize for not writing at all in the past two weeks. My mind has been in other places.

Peace in the Middle East,

Liam

If you build it they will come…

So this morning I sent the ad below to a recruiting coordinator at one of America’s top ad agencies (we had already exchanged several emails).

Shortly after she responded and after an entire day of email exchange I just got this email (this is really really cool):

“Liam,

It is all very exciting on this end for me. I have three of the top most people who want you in this building. They are making up a role for you to fill. I have heard them talking about bringing you in on a contract “to try you out”. This is basically to get you in the door and then they will do what it takes to keep you. I am only telling you all of this so that you can be prepared. Also, we have you as needing $50k a yr. American dollars. They didn’t blink on that….. so we will see what happens.

I guess I should explain that I have been keeping all of your information in a folder, and I had mentioned to one of the VPs that your resume had caught my attention. Another of the recruiters here said no, there was no position for you, but I went ahead and dropped your info on the VPs desk this morning. He immediately said you were great… then your info went to another and he is totally pulling for you. So, if we can get the head of Human Resource to make a spot for you, you are in! Also, the VP I talked to out ranks her so hopefully that will help us.

The head of the creative department said you have the “it” he has been looking for. So, whatever “it” is you better not lose it! LOL

Have a great evening and stay in touch!

XXX”

This is one of the coolest notes I have ever received. Now I just have to hope that this materializes into a formal offer sometime soon.

More updates to come I am sure.

Liam

The ad campaign develops…

I keep getting ideas, some of them I put down on paper. Here are some examples:

As you know I do not do things conventionally, I mean after all I just compared myself to a spark plug – so I hope these are a nice little teaser for you.

I will just keep pumping out different ideas and see what sticks hopefully not everything is made of Teflon.

The Quest for the Holy Grail…

My Quest: To get a job as a Jr. Copywriter with an Ad Agency.

Okay well maybe I am not searching for the actual holy grail that Sir Lancelot and his chums were searching for. Although I wouldn’t have minded a stop at the castle Anthrax where Sir Galahad avoided almost certain temptation.

Too bad.

No no – I am and have been on the hunt for a job in the Advertising industry for a week now.

What does that mean?

I made a kickass resume – the likes of which you’ve never seen. Take a look.

Then I crafted cover letter than screams my name. Literally. Again, look here.

Applications:

According to the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) there are 310 registered agencies in New York City.

As of today I have personally contact each and every one of those firms.

Responses:

As of today I have heard back from 16 agencies. 7 said they would keep me in mind.

The other nine are interesting:

4 are CEO’s

1 is an HR rep

4 are creative directors or copywriters themselves.

Can you believe it?! I am writing back and forth with the CEO’s of these mega agencies.

Their comments range from: “wow, that’s funny,” to “I am interested, tell me more”

So how have I done it so far?

Well I drafted that CV, Cover Letter and then a simple email that gets the readers attention and urges them to read my documents.

I personalized each email, searched tirelessly for the right contact information and in a week I had gotten through them all.

Most importantly I was myself in the entire process. This allowed my personality to bleed through the page, as it were.

It turns out that there really are people on the other end of these internet tubes. You just have to catch their attention.

What’s next:

Well I am moving on to the next markets, Chi City, BOS, LA and SF in search of my holy grail.

I will be relentless. Soon I will start to post my exchanges with these CEO’s (without disclosing their firm or identity to give you an idea of how our e-mails go back and forth – and maybe get some advice from you as to how to move forward).

Tomorrow I apply to the SF & LA ad agencies – updates to follow.

Until then – keep cool.

Liam