THE PRAGMATIC VIEW
When I was a College student I dreamed of working in a corporation and pursuing that career in a multinational company. Somehow life decide that I should not follow the path I dreamed of. So, I ended up working in Advertising, Digital advertising.
Why I didn’t want in the first place? I didn’t want Advertising because I felt I wasn’t cool enough. “Advertising is cool”. And it’s for the cool people. I have been working in Media and Advertising for 8 years now and I must admit I love it even if I have my moments when I feel like I so much hate it. I realise minutes later that I am incapable of truly hating it.
To answer the question “is it worth it?” I need to slice it down a bit.
In order to define “advertising” as being “worth” it I believe 3 questions must be answered.
1. Is advertising rewarding?
Yes, it is. I feel that every time I look for a solution to a potential problem, by myself or with the team, it’s rewarding. Every time I laugh at a client’s weird and funny feedback, it’s rewarding. Every time I am debating with a colleague and we end up getting to the core idea of the debate which will result 1 – 2 months later in a great tactic, it is rewarding. Every time I see an ad when walking the street or in the subway that has a smart copy and a great visual, I feel like it’s rewarding. Every time I see the product I advertise for on the shelf and people buying it or the seller teasing the customer to buy it, it is rewarding. Every time I feel challenged at work, it’s rewarding! It’s f*****g rewarding!
I don’t think you get those things from working in a multinational corporation.
2. Is advertising boring (for) me?
Hell no. I can’t get bored at work. I simply can’t. I work with different people, departments, on different projects, for different clients. We all do. And you can’t get bored. You don’t have time to get bored and I strongly believe that’s the awesome side of it! Your days are different, people you are working with are different and there is something that feels good about that. Also, the projects and deliverables are different and you can get a taste of everything: a mobile app, a congress (or other event), a digital banners campaign, a leaflet etc.
And the pitches…in between your daily projects, advertising industry allows people to grow and challenge themselves when working on pitches. Even if they are for free (probably in all agencies in Europe), working on a pitch gives you a bit more freedom than sweating to deliver on a campaign ready to be launched. And when you win that pitch, you feel proud to have been part of the team!
3. Is advertising only about work, work, work and long hours?
YES and NO.
YES because it’s true you sometimes have to work long hours or a couple of weekends. NO because this is being compensated by the funny colleagues who make you laugh, by the beers on Friday nights with your colleagues, by the movie nights in the office or a pub quiz, by the rewarding stuff I mentioned at question 2. Don’t imagine that you won’t have time to enjoy your personal life (health, family etc) if you work in advertising. Bullshit. You can, if you speak out, if you know how to and if you want to make time. 🙂
THE HATER VIEW
If you’re a designer the answer is yes, and definitely NO.
If you decided now that design (graphic, web, mobile ui, etc.) is what you want to do in your life then working in advertising as your first job is one of the best decisions you can make.
First 6 months
The first 6 months will be hell, you will hate your life, you will hate design and will probably think each day to change your carrier. But why? Because you will find no structure, even if the company has one, everybody ignores it, they won’t be able to deliver anything if they follow the procedures. You will get hired as a junior (digital) designer and half of the time you will make print or change texts in other designers’ files and when you work on that great project, you will have only 6 hours to make something. In advertising deadlines are crazy, you will spend more time changing texts than designing, more time in meetings than designing and more time trying to understand the client’s feedback than designing.
Wow, that sounds crazy. “Then why should I get hired in advertising?” Because, you will quickly learn the “advertising” language, learn to think for yourself, learn the workarounds and learn to adapt your design style to be easily modified when feedback comes. After a couple of projects, you will learn that client’s style of feedback and know from the beginning what to avoid and what to focus on. Another great aspect of working in advertising are the people. You will find a group to share drinks, laughs, lunch and the pain of day-to-day work.
3 years later
After 2, 3 years you will be a different person and probably will advance the “junior” title. Coming to work you will no longer think about what you need to do in that day and be scared about not making that deadline. Money will be better, you will afford to buy that gadget you want but won’t be able to shake that feeling of regret. The “time available” regrets. The “if I had 5 more hours I could have made that design 10x better” feeling.
Probably now is the time to say “goodbye” to your comfort bubble and try a startup or a large corporation. There things will be different.
Advertiser in a Startup
In startups you have more time to do your design but you will probably be the only designer. That means that your tasks will include making a flyer, business cards but also working on that great app. You will need to a design ninja but since you worked in advertising, that won’t be a problem for you. In startups you won’t find the same chaotic structure because there isn’t one. People come to you directly, the feedback comes from your colleagues and you can debate and explain them your decisions and most of the times, things will remain how you made them.
Advertiser in a Corporation
In large corporations you will have a lot of time. Time to design and redesign 3 times that project if you want to. You got hired to make design for apps and you only do design for apps. You can say that making a flyer is not your area of expertise and no one will be mad at you. Here you will quickly realize that no one gives a damn about you and about your design. If it respects all the requirements, then no one will give you feedback on the actual design. Here is up to you to stay motivated or become another lifeless corporate that just comes to work and leaves the first minute before the end of day schedule.
Now my very first sentence makes more sense. Yes, it’s worth it to work in advertising but only in the first years of your carrier and trust me, after working in startups of large corporations only 5-10% of designers want to go back in advertising.