Ad Agent
What I now know.
  • If you want to work for large, recognized accounts work for a large agency.
  • If you want to have a wider range of account activities, work for a smaller agency.
  • At the beginning of this project I wasn’t sure what role I wanted to play within an agency. After interviewing people who have worked/are working for both small and large agencies I want to pursue a position for a smaller agency. I like the idea of being able to work on more local campaigns as well as not having one-specific task within the team.
  • Don’t settle. Never settle for a job that isn’t what you want, a salary that isn’t enough, and work that isn’t your best. 
  • Never stop networking, no matter how great your job is you should never stop connecting, sharing, and learning from others.
  • Most of the individuals I interviewed got to where they are through someone they knew, they were in the right place at the right time or someone told them about a position they thought they would be a good fit for.
Interview #7

For my last interview I interviewed a family member who is in the advertising industry. This individual has only been in the industry for a couple years. 

When I asked how she got to where she is today she laughed. 

Her laughter stemmed from the fact that it was a series of events that led her to where she is today. These events included switching majors, working in a call center, and living in Idaho. She said she would have never imaged that she would be doing what she is doing now, but now that she is working in the industry she couldn’t image doing anything else. She absolutely loves her job. She loves the aspect of traveling the most (at the moment), but she also says that she has gained valuable friends and connections. Her job has allowed her to branch out and meet people that should have otherwise never met. 

She gets to go to work everyday in jeans and a t-shirt and play ping-pong on her break and has endless snack choices (jealous right?) But she said it is not all fun and games. There are deadlines and clients to please.  She admitted that her job is demanding and time consuming, and sometimes the traveling can make you tired, but she admits that it is all 100% worth it. She said there have been endless nights where she has stayed up working on a campaign that they are showing to a client the next day, but the time that she puts into her work pays off when a client is content with the work or when sales increase because of a campaign that was implemented. She loves the excitement within the industry and the fact that no day is the same and no account is the same. 

When asked what advice she had for a graduating college senior she replied…

Find what it is you love to do and don’t settle. She admits that she went through working a couple jobs that she hated before she found what it was that she truly enjoyed doing. It was that persistence that led her to the agency that she is at today, and she said it is that kind of motivation that will allow me to go where it is I wish to go within the industry (or even outside of the business). 

This campaign caught my attention. I am drawn to the simplicity of the campaign.

Fast Company asked several of the most creative ad agencies in the world to rebrand baby girls. Their mock campaigns recast girls as the No. 1 choice for consumers from China to the U.S.
Agency: Everybody Shout
The Ad Folks:Shout is part of She Says, a network of 3,000 ad women who collaborate outside their day jobs on campaigns directed at women.
Their Campaign Strategy:This ad shouts what studies suggest—that female leaders can be more empathetic and inspirational. The ad evokes movie posters because its creators “expect to see plenty of successful females coming soon to a corporation, startup, or Oval Office near you.”
From The Case For Girls

This campaign caught my attention. I am drawn to the simplicity of the campaign.


Fast Company asked several of the most creative ad agencies in the world to rebrand baby girls. Their mock campaigns recast girls as the No. 1 choice for consumers from China to the U.S.

Agency: Everybody Shout


The Ad Folks:
Shout is part of She Says, a network of 3,000 ad women who collaborate outside their day jobs on campaigns directed at women.

Their Campaign Strategy:
This ad shouts what studies suggest—that female leaders can be more empathetic and inspirational. The ad evokes movie posters because its creators “expect to see plenty of successful females coming soon to a corporation, startup, or Oval Office near you.”

From The Case For Girls

Interview #6

During week 6 I was able to interview an individual who owns his own advertising agency here in Richmond, VA. 

I began the interview by asking about his agency, I was intrigued. I was intrigued because this individual held a career in the finance industry for number of years before switching careers and opening his own shop. He believes in sharing his love of the industry through mentoring younger individuals in the industry (his company offers various internships).

He said that his agency “specializes in developing branding and advertising strategies that help clients connect with their customers. The strategies do things from logo design to television ad campaigns. They aspire to help clients grow and succeed”. 

His agency is a smaller agency that consists of individuals that have diverse backgrounds and skill sets. His team consists of business people, artists, graphic designers, and web developers. His team has worked with larger organizations such as Walmart, The Martin Agency, and the United States government. 

The services that his agency offers are web development, content development, search engine optimization, brand development, and image creation. 

After finding out that I was a graduating senior at VCU he asked what it was that I wished to do. When I responded, “get a job in the industry and travel” he suggested I get my foot in the door through an internship. His agency takes on anywhere from 2-5 interns and he helps the develop the skills and network they need to be successful in the industry. 

"Big ideas are so hard to recognize, so fragile, so easy to kill. don’t forget that, all of you who don’t have them."
John Elliott
Interview #5

During my fifth interview I spoke with the Senior Account Executive at a local news station. 

This Senior Account Executive has been with the news station for the last five years. During her time at the station she has been responsible for consulting with clients concerning business issues and research designs (I met this individual during a business meeting with a local advertising agency). She has also had to reach assigned sales targets and developed strategies to help enhance and increase sales. Meanwhile, she is expected to manage her team of account executives and deal with managerial issues such as sales or delivery issues. 

While her job is demanding and time consuming she made it clear that she loves what she is doing and is thankful to be in such a fast-paced, exciting industry. She loves that she gets to meet so many people through her job. She gets to meet with ad agencies as well as companies and people in the community, because of this she mentioned that it is important to network, network, network (and then proceeded to give me her business card!). 

She actually switched careers and has not always been in the industry but she says that this is by far the most rewarding position she has held. She hopes to stay with the news station for the time being. 

Interview #4

During my fourth interview I learned more about how to go about getting my first job in the industry. I interviewed an individual who works as the President of Marketing at a local company.

His advice was simple, start with an internship and don’t be afraid to have to work your way up (because you will have to).  You should take any opportunity you can get, even if it’s unpaid. An unpaid position could lead to a full-time, paid position. An internship will give you a good look at all the areas within an agency and help you decide where you would fit within an agency. This advice has caused me to pursue an internship. I currently am seeking out an internship for a local advertising agency as a way to get my foot in the door.

He also mentioned a few other things that I found intriguing. These include: creating spec ads, always expanding your network, and maybe contacting local businesses and companies or local radio and television stations for entry-level positions. By doing the above he mentioned you are taking control of your career path and showing people in the industry you have enthusiasm and are willing to put in the work (and extra work). 

He also mentioned that if you’re an aspiring copywriter or art director, consider freelancing. Freelancing is a great way to see if you like the agency, meet new contacts and try out a place without a long-term commitment.

As far as getting a job he spoke about going into an interview. He said to be knowledgable about the company, learn as much as you can about the company and position you are applying for. This shows you are interested in the company.

His last piece of advice was to sell you. Why do you belong on the team? What do you have to offer? You can use email, social networks, websites and blogs to communicate with the advertising community, make sure your digital profile is professional and a reflection of who you are as a professional.

Interview #3

This was one of the most insightful interviews I have had with someone about working in the industry. I was able to interview the Senior Vice President of Marketing for NAVTEQ, which is a $1.5 billion technology company.

I began the interview by asking this individual to walk me through her time in the industry.

Her first job ever in the industry was Advertising Sales for the Chicago Tribune. She received this job through an interview on her college campus. During her first job she learned that advertising could be extremely time sensitive and that sales requires a lot of personal motivation.

She decided to make the jump to a multinational ad agency, Leo Burnett Company, when she realized she preferred to be creating advertisements and marketing plans. She was hired by Leo Burnett after submitting her resume to Human Resources via a friend who was already working for them. During her time at Leo Burnett Company she learned how to plan and buy advertising time and space (on TV, radio, magazines, etc.), learned to produce work to a high standard of excellence to meet client expectations (McDonald’s), learned that she was being paid to speak up, learned how to excel at an ad agency that was demanding, learned that work can be really fun and a place to meet great friends, and learned how to live abroad (had a two-year assignment in London).

During her time at Leo Burnett Company she moved to being an account executive/supervisor. During her time in this position she learned how to write a comprehensive marketing plan, learned to tie marketing programs to sales results, learned strategic analysis of product sales mix, learned how great creative and great media can be when they come together, learned how to operate globally with assignments in Norway, and Spain and, eventually, 14 countries in the world. 

She then moved to New York and worked as the Management Supervisor for DMB&B (multi-national ad agency). She found this position through an executive recuiter in Chicago who set her up on several “meet & greet” meetings. During her time in New York she learned how to manage disenchanted clients, learned how to create personal relationships with clients up and down the east coast, learned a new corporate culture, learned aspects of digital and interactive media which was just emerging. 

After deciding to move back to Michigan with her husband she took the role of Director of Corporate Marketing a Donnelly Company (a billion-dollar automotive supplier). While in this position she learned what marketing looks like on the client side, including commissioning advertisements from an Ad Agency, reviewing the work, etc. 

She then decided, after a divorce, to move back to Chicago. This is where she fell into her current role as Senior Vice President of Marketing for NAVTEQ. She received this positon after being sought after by an executive recruiter who called her and asked her to interview for the job. So far, she has learned how to run the complex mix of marketing (branding, advertising, events, collateral, tradeshows, PR, web/interactive, etc.), she built a team from scratch (3-60+), she learned to operate as a senior executive, and she has learned to infuse brand excitement across an industry. She has held this role for 10+ years and is aspiring to run her own shop. 


Interview #2

During my second week of my portfolio I spoke with an individual who is now doing freelance work while working on her PhD. However, prior to this she has worked for CRT/tanaka and at Burson-Marsteller. Both here in Richmond.

When asked how she received these jobs she responded, 

"I got hired at CRT/tanaka through an internship. I was interning there for about six months and then they decided to hire and bring me on full time. I was there for three years after that. I got the job at Burson-Marsteller because I had a friend working there and they were looking to hire, so she reached out to me and asked me if I would be willing to meet with her boss…and it just kind of happened from there. Most of my freelance jobs since have come through people I worked with at CRT/tanaka or contacts I’ve had from being in the industry through networking groups, like Ad Club and PRSA."
What has she learned during her time in the industry?
"I learned a number of things from both jobs and both were great experiences, in their own way. CRT/tanaka was an amazing first job. It was very laid back and fun. I met a lot of great people, so of which are my closest friends today. I was able to work on a lot of different accounts, travel a bunch and really learn about the PR industry. They gave me a lot of responsibility for being so young, and it really gave me a chance to grow as a PR professional. At Burson, I was working in a very small office, and we only worked on the Altria account, so it was a lot more like working a corporate job. It was an interesting experience for me because I learned what it would be like if I ever decided to do PR for a huge company and it gave me a chance to really work independently without a boss around all of the time…which eventually helped me a lot with my freelance work."
Why did she stick with her job/leave?
"I stayed at CRTT for three years because it is one of the best companies to work for. It’s really that simple. Had I not been offered another job, I’m not sure I would have even left when I did. I will say that I was ready for a change and ready to learn a different side of the business, but the main reason I left is because the job offer I was given at Burson was too good to turn down. I left Burson for two reason. One, I got back into school and was ready to fulfill the dream of getting my PhD. Two, they actually ended up closing down the Richmond office about a month before I was leaving to go back to school."
Interview #1

During my first week of my portfolio I interviewed an individual who is now working at a local full-service advertising agency in Richmond, VA.

This individual began working in the industry on the client side of the business. First in customer relations at Toyota in Los Angeles. After a few years, he moved into marketing as a “Senior Administrator” in the Toyota  Parts Marketing Department.  After moving back to Richmond, he went to work at The Martin Agency as an Account Director. Since then, he’s held Account Supervisor-level positions at RightMinds, ND&P, and the agency he is currently working for.

When asked what the biggest thing that he learned on the client side of the business he replied "it was how to frame marketing objectives with specific business needs in mind."  

He liked the stability of working client side.  Because Toyota was such a big company, they had tremendous resources— a big plus.  The downside— many people, individual roles are more defined and a little less flexible, and you don’t have the variety of work that you get at an agency.

Large agencies give you the opportunity to work on large, recognized accounts.  There are lots of people working on the account.  In contrast, a smaller agency provides the opportunity to be responsible for a greater range of account activities—essentially being responsible for all of it.  Overall, working at agency enables account people to learn lots of different businesses and work with very bright, interesting people.
When asked how he landed his first job he replied,
"I got my first job by writing a letter to the head of Toyota PR.  He was impressed with my writing abilities and put me in touch with their college recruiter.  I then offered to fly to LA at my cost to meet with college recruiter, who conducted a series of interviews and then offered me a job.  I moved to CA three weeks later."