What They Don’t Tell You in School…

Advertising is about the client, not the creative.

When I first began my internship, I thought I was going to be putting out the most creative and inspiring advertising ideas ever created.

I was wrong and my first week at the agency was a rude awakening. I soon realized that there isn’t much glamour in the beginning of an advertising career.

Don’t get me wrong, I worked on a variety of projects that allowed me to explore my creative imagination and I loved it, but I soon found out that it doesn’t matter what I want the message to be. What matters is what the client wants since they’re footing the bill.

So I’ve had to learn to restrict my creative imagination and soon learned that a lot of advertising is based on the client’s demands. The result ended up with me stripping down my awesome body copy to essentially what was the most boring and straightforward message ever delivered. This was a buzz-kill for me considering I thought I was going to be surrounding myself in a pool of creative ideas for each project I worked on.

The other thing they didn’t tell me in my advertising classes at the University of Oregon, is how much paperwork is involved in advertising. I quickly learned this as my agency had me handling a lot of the paperwork chores. Some of these paperwork chores can be creating As-Produced copy of advertisements so that the agency has a hard copy record of what the ad looked like. The other paperwork chore that I do is making sure that all the work orders and insertion orders come in and that all of the “I’s” are dotted and “T’s” are crossed.

I realize that most of these are trench work assignments and I’ll eventually work my way out of doing them, but I’m starting to see that it’s a good way to view how an advertising agency actually operates.

-Nicholas Darracq

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5 Responses to What They Don’t Tell You in School…

  1. hailayn says:

    Hey Nick,

    I’ve had the same experience with my internship, as well. While I’m at an agency that values creativity and strives for originality, I’ve found that the client often goes with the idea that seems the most bland and lacks “sex appeal” in terms of uniqueness. It can be disheartening coming from the SOJC where they’ve trained us to think outside the box and then accept the harsh reality that sometimes the box is where winning ideas lie. I think the key is to take an idea that’s easy to digest and add a bit of glitter to it. Best of luck!

  2. pdxsx says:

    As you’ve noticed, Nick, client-services reality is never what you think it is; it’s always what the client wants. They should so a better job of preparing you for life outside the classroom, IMO.


  3. Troy says:

    On the bright side, you realized this pretty quick and accepted it, rather than go on some quasi-crusade against the reality of your job. Hopefully you’ll find a good middle ground between creativity and your duties to the clients.

  4. cmckee2 says:

    I’m sure as you climb up the social ladder and get better-paying jobs they’ll trust you to work with more creative projects, but your post is definitely an eye-opener into reality. No job is as glamorous as the people selling it to you make it out to be.

  5. lizazevedo says:

    That is the fantastic thing about internships! Internships allow you to actually experience real jobs stripped down, without the glamorous reputation they may have, and then make an educated decision about if that is the career path you want to pursue. If you are able to do the “trench work” and still like the job than that is a great sign that you have found a career fit.

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