From September 11th
Being one of those crazy bloggers I get occasional contact from eager young folk keen to get into advertising and bursting to know what it's like. I always have to tell them I don't really know. Like many people my age I blundered into it without really knowing why, though I suspect a lot of it was because of Samantha in Bewitched and the glamorous lifestyles in 30something. And I can't imagine what it'd be like to be a first-jobber in advertising these days; I started at Yellowhammer in the 80s, nothing can be like that anymore. It was all Subbuteo in the boardroom, carphones for everyone and mad parties where we'd chuck things at the receivers. But I do know what the end of a career in advertising is like. And I think it's the end that makes it worth starting, because the best reasons for starting in advertising are the countless opportunities you've made for yourself when you leave. British adland may have lost much of its glamour and its preeminence in the pantheon of global creativity but it's still the best training you'll ever get for most of the things you might dream of doing. It's like a gateway drug for interesting jobs; a never-ending, always-changing training scheme. You're constantly moving from one client, one problem, one opportunity, to another. No project ever lasts that long, you rarely do exactly the same thing twice and you bump into all sorts of other experts, industries and professions. Which means ad people have the best collections of odd and arcane jargon you'll ever come across, picked up from various clients. I was over the moon when I found out about yellow fats, stationality and anthem jackets. But all this flitting from one thing to another isn't just pointless dilettantism, you're building up a tremendous body of experience; expertise in some broader creative endevour. You learn how to work with talented artists and monstrous egos. You're obliged to consider what everyone in the country might want and what a few CEOs and cabinet ministers might want. You get good at explaining the complicated and the intangible to the unwilling and ill-informed. You come to understand the peculiar and different demands of images and words, briefs and ideas, traffic and production. You find out when to brainstorm, whether to workshop and how to take things to the next level. And, eventually, at some point, most advertising people take these ineffable, unteachable skills and go and do something else. They pursue some private passion or quieter life. This is a good thing. This is to be celebrated, not lamented, and this is a reason to get a job in advertising. Good luck with it.