Remember that day a couple weeks ago when it snowed in Detroit even though it was almost May?
The day after that, everyone in our office was told to wake up at 2 a.m. and head to the airport.
You’d think all of this would have made us Broganites a wee bit cranky, but you’d be wrong. First, because our core value is “Cheerful and joyful.” And second, because we were embarking on our annual mystery trip.
We’ve told you about our mystery trips before. Basically, the annual adventure is a big, fat, kiss from Brogan to its staff for all the hard work we put in all year. It’s a chance for us to rest our brains for four days. It’s also an opportunity for us to bond with each other and expand our horizons. Some of the places we’ve hit since the mystery trip tradition began in 1995 are Iceland, New Orleans, London, Washington D.C., Amsterdam, and Miami.
As a mystery trip planning alumna, it was painful not knowing exactly how to pack (I surprised our crew in 2010 for our last tropical destination to Jamaica). For this trip, we were told to show up at that unholy hour with our passports and the only clearly deciphered clue: swimsuits and sunscreen. We had no earthly idea where we were going. This year's trip organizer, Lauren Zuzelski, had sent some clever but confounding clues like “The trip will be magically delicious” and “Limbs point southwest.” But nobody had cracked the code.
Only when it was time to head to security were we handed our tickets to . . . Aruba!
After that, we were so cheerful and joyful that it made the news.
On our layover in Atlanta, we picked up several of our staff from the Raleigh, North Carolina office. We made it to our all-inclusive Aruban resort in time for a late lunch.
I'm not gonna lie. It was luxurious. Our resort had a private island where we shared the beach with a small flock of flamingos. We spent hours on chaise lounges, napping, chatting, and reading. When we needed a little activity, we drummed up beach volleyball games, hit the pool (and the swim-up bar), played Euchre, or tried our luck at catching one of the roaming native iguanas.
We also got a chance to see Aruba’s gorgeous, uninhabited northern side by taking a jeep tour. Our guide filled us in on the tiny, desert island’s fascinating history while bouncing us along winding, rocky trails. Midway through this trip, we got a chance to swim and snorkel in a stunning natural pool. Like fretting mother hens, our CEO and managing partner, Maria Marcotte and Ellyn Davidson, had to hide their eyes when some of the Broganites decided to use the pool’s rocky surround as a high dive.
That’s the thing about a Brogan mystery trip. It feels like a family vacation. Our only “official” get-togethers in Aruba were a Friday night dinner and our jeep tour, yet we chose to spend most of our other hours together. On our trip’s last night, we almost sent one of the hotel’s sleepier restaurants into crisis mode when all 29 of us showed up for dinner. The evening lasted for hours, but nobody was in a hurry to leave.
Brogan regularly receives “great place to work” recognition. There’s no doubt that our mystery trip perk is one reason why. But the real reason Brogan is a happy workplace is because we love to work together. If we didn’t have so much fun at our jobs every day, these getaways wouldn’t be nearly as special. We go together to places unknown, whether we’re talking about travel or new frontiers in the marketing world. And that's why none of us were surprised when we spent part of our Aruban weekend hatching plans for an exciting new Brogan project while we were there.
We’re here at Brogan, not because of the mystery trips, but because we love our work. We do it cheerfully, joyfully and yes, occasionally on a beach with mojitos in hand.
You’d think in an era of social networking, it would be easier to find a job. But I meet young people all the time struggling to find where they fit in and how to get their foot in the door. And I remember those days at the University of Notre Dame, when I decided I wanted to be a copywriter, searching through the Agency Red Book, trying to get internships, mailing clever things to agencies to get their attention. So here are 10 helpful tips that I have to pass on to aspiring agency creatives.
- Be creative. If you want a job in creative, do not follow a so-called professional resume format. I have seen resumes on paper napkins and on video. Be different if you want to break through.
- Study award-winning campaigns. Get award books like the One Show, Archive, and Communication Arts Advertising Annuals. While you can find great award-winning creative online at places like Ads of the World, I think buying old versions of these books on Amazon.com is a great thing to have, to understand what makes a campaign and what makes it great.
- Learn the business. Seek opportunities (in class and out) to learn the business and add to your portfolio. Invent clients, do spec or do real ads for families and friends. The best way to get hired is to have a great book!
- Intern. Intern. Intern. I had two internships before I landed a full-time job. So pursue internships whether free or paid—but only at places where you like the work they do and know you can learn from their talent. Agencies like to try before they buy. An internship at your dream agency could lead to a better future than one at a mediocre one.
- Choose wisely. Big agencies are a great place to start as they hire more people more often. But at a mid-size shop like ours an intern could do web ads, social media, radio and get a shot at TV. Think about what fits you and your career goals.
- Brand yourself. Make your own brand speak uniquely through your website, business card, resume and guerilla. And be consistent with that unique quality that differentiates you from the pool of other aspiring creative. I have sent funny things to agencies over the years to get noticed. Attach a web video to your resume. Or try snail mail because in the digital world it’s a better way to break through and be noticed.
- Understand it’s not about you. It’s about what you can do for an agency. So research different agencies online and through the Agency Red Book at the library so you can talk intelligently at interviews and show them how you could move their business forward.
- Be patient and persistent. Understand Creative Directors and Creative Recruiters are busy. If they don’t get back to you, it’s most likely because it’s not a priority to them at that time. Find the Associate Creative Director or a Senior Copywriter or Art Director to glean info from. Any connection that can give you insight. Name drop their name (“So and so said to call you”) to get you to that next level. Stay visible so when they do need to hire, you make the list.
- Network. Join ad clubs. Freelance for local chambers of commerce. Friend people you admire on LinkedIn. Blog. Vlog. Increase your SEO. No contact is ever wasted.
- Stay positive! It takes time to get with the agencies you really admire but persistence eventually will pay off.
Those are the real secrets to getting a job in advertising as a creative. Take it from me, the school of life is more educating than even the best universities. Let me know if this helps. Or if there are any other tips that a young creative should try. Best of luck to you!
There is nothing like waking up to the smell of change. And today all of us at Brogan & Partners got a snootful.
We have a new managing partner: Ellyn Davidson. She replaces Deidre Bounds who is moving to our sister company, Ignite Social Media, as its COO. Ellyn started as an intern at Brogan 16 years ago. She quickly proved indispensable, ambitious and immoderately capable. She first tackled media and rose to media director, then turned her attention to client service and was soon heading our most important accounts--Michigan Department of Community Health, Travel Michigan, MEDC. She became an agency partner in 1998 and stockholder in 2004.
In 2007 she faced her biggest opponent--breast cancer--and won, becoming an activist, blogger and fundraiser for a cure.
Her next business issue was to learn social media. She has spent the past year working with Ignite Social Media on strategy and business development, as well as conducting a social media boot camp and weekly lunch & learns for all B&Pers.
Today she brings all this experience, energy and brainpower to her new post.
Ellyn will team with a brand new CEO--Maria Marcotte. Maria is our senior partner, second largest shareholder, COO. She joined the agency as business manager in 1990 and soon formed a corporate support team to handle all non-advertising stuff. Money. Legalities. Benefits. Buildings in Detroit and Research Triangle. Interns. Technology. And our most important issue: Morale. She has been part of ensuring that B & P is a place our staff wants to come to every day... that while we have abnormally high productivity, we also make sure every staffer feels loved and valued. Through regular thank yous, Hero of the Month awards, our annual out-of-town Mystery Trips, free Monday Morning manicures and more.
Somehow Maria also finds time to exercise her creativity. As cartoonist for B & P's annual booklet spoofing politics, as an award-winning oil painter, and as a scarily realistic duck carver.
Maria was named COO of the Year by Crain's Detroit Business and has won national Sloan award for innovations in Human Resources.
More soon about Maria and Ellyn's new vision for the agency!
What about me--the agency's former CEO/managing partner? I remain chair and stockholder of Brogan & Partners (as well as co-owner/COO of Ignite Social Media), work for both businesses part-time, and am on the lam the rest of the time. This month, for example, I am in Carmel as a temp nanny to my two-year-old granddaughter Brogan. In March I spent two weeks in Morocco with the SheMachine. I continue to work for boards/orgs who do good deeds. Next spring I plan to intern in DC for a Michigan Senator or Representative. See? Life can be good even when you shake it up and turn over your beloved businesses to others.
Well you aren’t alone; I myself was one of those lucky graduates who was sent into the real world jobless. Many college seniors and recent graduates are on the lookout for a job in Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and Communications and are stuck in a rut. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has some promising news to share. Employment in media communications fields is on the rise slowly but surely. Does this mean you can sit back and wait for your dream job to fall out of the sky into your lap? No of course not, but if that works let me know. So how do you go about landing the dream position? Well in one word, ENTHUSIASM.
If you stay positive and motivated that’s the key to getting a gig you love. And if you are one of those college seniors or recent graduates seeking something in these fields go off and show your skills as you are applying! If you are applying for a job in marketing do something to differentiate yourself and show that you can MARKET yourself. If you are seeking a creative position at an ad agency do some research on their big clients, if you know you will be working on the McDonald’s campaign why not submit your resume in a “Happy Meal” box? That means get to thinking, develop a brand image for yourself and make it noticeable so employers will have to meet the mind behind that brilliant resume.
Just in case you haven’t been told by every college professor, your parents, friends and the random guy at the coffee shop, you must NETWORK! Okay, go to career fairs, ask dad to talk to his colleague but it also means whenever you meet someone mention you are on the hunt and you never know their Uncle Andy may have a job opening at his PR firm that just happens to be awesome for you!
Now go out there and get that job that will actually make you want to get out of bed before noon!
During the Mad Men hiatus I use cable on demand for episodes I missed or want to see again. A recent one showed a secretary being hit on and verbally swatted by a group of tipsy account guys. She walked away with personal dignity; but how did she come back day after day to face the same people and the potential of the same humiliating treatment? Remember that this TV show takes place in the early ‘60s before there were any sexual harassment laws, before there was any consciousness of the corrosive effect on women’s careers.
Not only was a woman personally degraded by sexual harassment but her career was also degraded. Who can rise in an organization, who can become a leader if she is seen as a victim, as a potential plaything instead of any type of professional?
These days things are quite different in most workplaces thanks to activists and feminists of the recent past. However for many men and for some organizations treating women fairly is not done out of a raised conscience but only because of the raised cost of violating new legal standards.
Many organizations continue to diminish women even if they keep to the letter of harassment and equal opportunity laws. Let’s look at the largest and most influential groups in the world—the Catholic Church. Women cannot take any post of meaningful leadership, as they are not able to be priests. And why is this? Certainly there is no commandment from God or proclamation by Jesus on this subject. It is simply that the men of the church do not want to share the power and the riches. And sadly there is no legal, moral or societal pressure to make them share it. Which not only keeps women out of that workplace, it fosters that attitude of women as “less than” and second class. And directly results in policies that are contrary to the best interests of so many women. Birth control except for the unreliable rhythm method is still completely prohibited for anyone for any reason. As is abortion.
Of course, Mad Men hasn’t got into ecclesiastical gender politics; but it clearly and powerfully shows the historical position of women in the corporate workplace. And it makes me feel really good about all the positive changes. And makes me a raving mad woman about all the organizations, people, attitudes that are still wallowing in the patriarchies of the past.
Saturday I participated in the Detroit Adcraft’s 2009 AdCon event that saw a turnout of over 200 college students who were interested in finding out more about the advertising business. I served on a panel of 6 people which consisted of an account supervisor, a media planner, a strategic planner, and 2 creative directors (including myself). First, It was our job to explain to this group of students and advertising hopefuls who we are, how we got to where we are and what we like about the business.
Then, as we do every year at AdCon, we went through a marketing brief for a particular national brand — this year being Wendy’s. The media and account people walked the students through the brief which consisted of company research, annual advertising dollars spent and facts about target audiences. It was then my job (and the other creative director) to initiate a creative brainstorming session for Wendy’s. It was fun seeing how some of the ideas just flowed out of their brains, without any regard for what something may cost or how the idea would extend into other mediums. I was impressed by some of the quick and witty thinking by these young hopefuls. It was obvious that their minds weren’t yet tarnished by years of client changes and budget concerns.
At the end of the session, the students were given the opportunity to ask questions to the panel. One question a student asked was, “What department of the ad agency is the funnest?” I, of course, spoke up and said that creative was the most fun (the other creative director said that creative people get to drink lots of beer and come up with fun ideas). Another question posed to the creative panel asked what interviewers look for in a portfolio and a person. I stated that, for an art director, ideas were number one, followed by computer skills. Another question asked whether a student should finish school and pass up a job, or go for the job and get the experience rather than finish one or two more classes. I told this student (on the side) that you can only get so much “experience” in a classroom and that real experience happens at a job (where you have deadlines and budgets – something that I believe art school still hasn’t taught much about). One student asked whether he should stay in Michigan or if he should look in other states for a career. A media panelist spoke up and said that the “D” was the place to be and that we’d love to retain the most creative people in Michigan, specifically the Detroit area.
The very end of the session we were asked by the moderator to sum up why we do what we do in one sentence. I thought about it for the 3 seconds I had to prepare my answer and summed it all up with this thought about my career at Brogan and Partners: “I get paid to draw pictures”.
Since college, I've wanted to work for Brogan & Partners. I heard great things about both their award-winning creative and warm, friendly work culture. Sadly, it seemed as though I had graduated at the worst possible time in our ad community's history. Then, the clouds opened up and finally shed a bit of light when I was presented with an opportunity for an internship here!
Over the 3 months working here I got back a lot of what I had lost. At the College for Creative Studies ad department, there aren't many boundaries to what you can do creatively. Then, the diploma is accepted and you're spit out into the real world (which does not always involve the mind-blasting creative projects you dreamed of). Things tend to get watered down, over-analyzed and put through the appropriate systems.
But, it's different at Brogan. And working here has reminded me why I enjoy advertising so much and why I wanted to go into this field in the first place. They strive to produce breakthrough, award winning advertising while still meeting the satisfaction of their clients. I've never worked at an agency that was able to find a happy medium between the two.
It's also been fun and educational getting the chance to develop creative for non-automotive accounts. There's a satisfaction that comes from working on creative healthcare accounts, because you really feel like your helping market something that helps so many people.
I've always seen advertising as smart art. It's not just a place to showcase your creative abilities, but it also needs to be smart, intuitive and effective. This is something that Brogan & Partners helped teach me. I will take many good memories and new insights away from my time here. More importantly though, the experience has gotten me excited about advertising again. And at this point in my career I couldn't ask for anything more.
Interested in an internship at Brogan? Let me know if I can give you any pointers!
Media is not something we spent a lot of time learning about in college, so when I came to Brogan & Partners I had no idea what I was in for. From day one, I realized what my future would hold… invoices, lots and lots of invoices!
After learning the daily operations and being able to input five invoices per minute (I wish), the fun began. I have found that there is nothing more exciting than being given the opportunity to pick and choose what TV or radio stations should run our spots. And can you believe we should watch TV for research?! No mom, I can’t help you clean now, I am doing research!!!
Being in the media department has not only educated me on the business of buying, selling and placing but it has also allowed me to be more creative, thinking with a non-traditional mindset. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that media is ever changing and those that can think outside of the box will pave the way for the future.
As I move on in my media career, I will remember what I learned here at Brogan… to be smart, creative and successful at all costs. And I can thank the wonderful media team for beating (no, not literally) those attributes into me!
Healthcare. One of Brogan & Partners specialties and what brought me to the internship program. Being an intern at B&P, I was thrown into everyday life right away, which helped me quickly realize what it meant to be in the “account world.” I certainly can say I’ve had real world experience now. Everyday life here is much more exciting than the hit TV show, "The Office."
As the account management intern, I learned a lot about the wonderful world of advertising. And now that my internship is wrapping up, I thought it might be helpful to share some insights to those that may come next.
Top 5 Insights from a B&P Account Intern:
- Photo shoots are not all glamour. It may seem exciting and glamorous (it is very cool), but let me just tell you it is a LOT of work and a LONG day. (Especially when it’s an 8 hour shoot at 3 different locations and 90 degrees out!)
- Communication is key. Learning the way to interact with clients based on their various personalities is important to sustaining a good relationship. It also helps in making sure everything goes smoothly and everyone is happy!
- Practice makes perfect. Or close to it. The first time I tried binding I messed up. And then I just got better. I can now proudly say I’m the fastest binder in town (or at least at B&P). But this along with everything else I learned all began to come with ease after a bit of practice.
- Smile often. Sitting by the back door to greet everyone in the morning is underrated. How nice it is to have a steady flow of smiling faces bright and early! It makes the morning much more enjoyable...and brings some joy to my co-workers.
- New Business is your best friend. When I was first asked to start developing a new business database, I felt a bit out of my element. But after doing a ton of research, finding good new biz opportunities, and helping create the new biz letters, I realized how important the task was. I can’t even tell you how awesome it was when one of the letters I sent helped result in a NEW CLIENT!
Leaving this internship, I’ll take with me a whole set of new skills/experiences, a greater interest in healthcare marketing, and a ton of memories. Will my next job be as challenging and rewarding? Hopefully! Will I enjoy myself as much with the people and environment? Fat chance.
Are you an intern or looking for an internship? What other insights can you share?
The creative gang bang. Don’t fret, it is nothing that would land me in a sexual harassment lawsuit. It is a Darwinian approach, common at most agencies, where the best work rises to the top through creative team (writer/art director) competition. Only now, with the proliferation of the internet, the concept is going global. Clients can post their creative brief and creatives do the assignment pro bono hoping they can win a grand or so for their time and effort. Is this a good idea? For a one-off, perhaps. Or for clients who have no relative brand identity. Or for clients that burn through agencies because they hate trusting anyone besides themselves. But while a former art director partner of mine is worried about the ramifications of such trends, this creative director is not. Great work comes from great relationships. Shared passion for the brand. Greater insight working together from strategy to focus groups to production. I would think clients would want an agency who was 100% invested and cared about the work working, the phone ringing, the web hits rising. And I’m glad I work at that kind of agency. So if you want to work with us, we’ll pitch you some great ideas. But we won’t pitch them through the internet.
What kind of marketing partner do you want?