So you are thinking of being a copywriter at an advertising agency and you are wondering how to “get een.” I had the same question before I got my foot in the door. I dreamed of writing ads that would bring new and exciting local commercials to our television screens. Not being aware of any school of advertising where I could learn the rudiments then graduate and apply to an ad agency, becoming a member of the advertising world was indeed a mystery. In 1999 I got my break. How did someone with no experience or “qualifications” in advertising get through? I shall explain how I did it and also share with you some ideas that could gain you the opportunity of an interview.
As I mentioned before, there was no school teaching advertising in Trinidad and Tobago. Agencies therefore chose people with related skills and/ or education which the individuals would then transpose in the advertising field. In my case, I had been working in the theatre for almost 15 years prior. I also had English language and English Literature at A’ Level under my belt along with a Ceritficate in Theatre Arts from UWI. I did not think this was enough so I wrote two fictitious ads and sent them with the resume. One year later (yes, one year later. Obviously there wasn’t an empty space there just waiting for Eric Barry) I got a call from one of the agencies to whom I had sent my resume . I was asked to come in for an interview. I went. I spoke. I got in.
I have been a copywriter since that first interview. My “school of advertising” was working at the agency where I learnt how to write for this genre of creative writing. My experience in the theatre also presented to the agency someone who personally knew local actors so I was an excellent resource person for talent. My experience in the theatre also allowed me to function in the area of production. For both radio and television ad production, I was able to talk with the actors to get them to bring out their best interpretation of their role. In a nut shell, I believe having that background in theatre got me the interview and has made me function well enough to be still in the business. What skill or talent do you have that can be applied to work at an advertising agency?
Aspiring copywriters, remember that advertising is all about standing out among the competition. You want to enter a creative field, therefore if your application is of a creative nature, your chances of securing an interview is increased. I remember a girl sending a postcard with an image of herself when she was a child. She wrote something about having a very active imagination when she was a child, she had now grown up and still has an active imagination, and would love an opportunity to express them. She got an interview and the job. I recall another application where the aspirant created a short comic book. He got an interview. Having mentioned this, here is another tip; be honest!! Whatever you submit should be from YOUR creative mind and not a talented relative or friend. The worst thing would be for you to get the job and not be able to deliver. You would not last as long as a drop of water upon a hot iron.
I hope this blog inspires someone who is creative and dreams of joining the exciting and crazy world of advertising.