By Lorinda Toledo and Dalia Martinez
Have you ever dreamed about ditching your boring day job and doing something creative for a living? Now’s your chance!
Lauren Smith is an Associate Creative Director at TBWA\Chiat\Day. She’s worked on ads for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Visa, Kraft, Southwest Airlines, and Samsonite, just to name a few. Next Thursday
Sept. 26, Lauren shows you how you can do it too. Lauren was kind enough to share what it’s like to be a real-life Peggy Olsen:
How did you break into a place like TBWA\Chiat\Day?
Hard work, good people and luck! Advertising, much like any industry, is based on who you know, the work you do and whether or not people like how you do on either one of those things.
How did you get Kraft to rebrand their salad dressing as “Anything Dressing”?
They initially came to us saying they wanted to change the way they did advertising. They wanted to start trusting their agencies instead of mandating to those agencies. And they also said that they wanted to win lions and make money. So they were looking for an idea like that changed things. We had the right idea and clients in the right mindset.
You say that you’ve worked long hours on ad campaigns for clients like Mandalay Bay and La-Z-Boy. How much time are you given to come up with ideas and copywriting?
That depends on the project and the client! I’ve had months to come up with some campaigns and I’ve had a matter of days with others. Some projects are quick, down and dirty. Some are big and important and stretch out over long periods of time.
Creativity to me doesn’t work on time frames. But, because it’s a business and not an art project, we have to work within the constraints given to us by the agency, the client, the media buy, the timing, etc. For instance, when I worked on Visa’s sponsorship of the NFL in 2012, we were briefed on the project in May and had one week to come up with our “big idea” campaign. Then, we finessed, fine-tuned, collaborated with Visa, the NFL, the players and teams, found a director, shot, edited, and got on air by September. We had very strict deadlines because we needed to be up for kickoff, so the timeline worked backwards from there.
What’s it like working with big clients like Nissan, Visa and Southwest Airlines?
Big clients come with big stuff. Sounds obvious, but it’s true. They come with big budgets, big expectations, big shots at the agency, big risks, etc.
It can be really challenging. When you’re doing a campaign that’s going to have a lot of money behind it and a lot of eyeballs on it, there’s a lot of pressure, internally at the agency and externally from the clients. That being said, you have the ammunition and the budget to make big ideas happen, so it can also be really exciting.
What are ad firms looking for?
That’s a tough question to answer. Ad firms are looking for YOU, in your best and purest form. It goes without saying that ad agencies are looking for creative, interesting, driven, exciting, colorful people.
What they don’t always tell you is that advertising is a social place. It’s competitive, and everything can change at the drop of a hat (or the drop of a client!), so you have to be the mastermind of your own destiny, and let people know you’re doing it.
The most important quality is that extra something – the je ne sais quoi. To make it as a creative, you have to have a good book. Check. But if you have a super successful blog, or a unique social media presence, or you worked as a photo journalist in Africa after college, or you had a previous career as a coal miner (that’s my current partner! coal miner from Wyoming!) but designed logos on the side, they are going to look at you differently. So treat yourself – and your career – like you would a client. Build a personal brand, love that brand, and make the world love it too.
What do you love most about copywriting?
I love that I get to make things for a living. I love that my job is blasting cool music, putting my feet up on my desk, talking about ideas and then writing them. I love that I work with the raddest, baddest, maddest people around. I love that I can turn on a San Francisco 49ers game and see a commercial I made running. And then check twitter and just watch people talk about how they love it. I love that one day I’m in an animation house making stop-motion food dance and the next day I’m working with Academy Award-winning editors. The next day I’m watching a cool band play a private show for our agency on the basketball court. Yes, I also love that instead of conference rooms we have basketball courts, parks and bars in the office. And I love that they pay me to do all of this.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished a commercial for Pepsi’s sponsorship of the NFL. I’m concepting a campaign for the 2014 Grammys. I’m working on a top secret new business pitch.
Can you give us a preview of what students will be learning in your copywriting class at
We’ll talk about the ins and outs of the industry. Like every business, it’s deeper and richer and more interesting than you ever knew. We’ll talk about career paths and how to start them.
But more importantly, we will practice making ads. We will make ads, rip them apart, make some more, start over again, look at other peoples’ ads, rip them apart, make them better, and then start it over again. This industry is about coming up with ideas, coming up with more ideas, and then waking up the next day and doing it again. And then we will work on how to sell those ideas, because if you have a great idea but can’t sell it, you might as well not have had the idea at all.
And most importantly, we’re going to have a heck of a lot of fun. Not a day goes by when I don’t have fun at work, and not a class should go by where you don’t have fun as well
Thank you, Lauren! We are pumped for your class, How to Make it in a World of Mad Men: Intro to Advertising/Copywriting that starts next Thursday.
Writers, don’t miss this opportunity. Only 2 spots left, so sign up now!