Thursday, March 03, 2005

My roots in advertising

I have been pondering how I've always had a fascination with advertising, even before I was a bonafide copywriter. I was talking to another copywriter who works here and she was saying how it all seemed dumb to her and she didn't care about it at all, and I realized that I really do. To me, this is really ... well... fun. Then I wondered, why do I think that? When did this begin? I began to realize that my affinity for this biz began way before Melrose Place or Kramer vs. Kramer ( wasn't that the one w/Michael Douglas and Terry Garr? The tuna fish campaign? or was that Mr. Mom?).

I can remember being drawn to ads as a child. For instance, after watching a Cascade commercial popular in the late 70s/early 80s a million times, I remember asking my mom "what does 'virtually' mean? The ad says virtually spot free." And my mom answered "it means 'almost'". Even at that age, I recognized the cleverness of vocabulary. How using the fancy word "virtually" made it sound so much better than "almost." The funny thing is, there's an ad out right now for some new prescription drug; I believe the line is "virtually pain free". Or something like that... it never grows old, does it?

Another early advertising memory is when I took Marketing in high school. That's when I first learned the term "weasel words" -- words used in advertising that can say something not absolutely true without actually lying. I also remember looking at print ads and trying to discern the naked lady in the whisky and cigarette ads -- i never actually saw her, but everyone around me (mostly pre-pubescent boys, now that i think about it) attested to her presence.

In college I majored in Journalism and minored in English -- yes, I was a nerd who took lit classes as electives because I thought they were fun (well, one of them WAS called "Women and the Supernatural in Fiction" - how cool is that?). I also took several marketing classes not because I had to, but because it interested me. I even took an introductory Advertising class, and while I don't remember much that I learned in there, I do remember it was one of the few classes I didn't dread during my illustrious college career.

My first job out of college was as a Marketing Communications Specialist at a tech company called OI Analytical. I did their manuals as well as their brochures and ads. I remember how excited I was to be writing copy for a print ad for PIDs -- photo-ionization detectors. Yeah. I believe the ad ran in a publication called "Testing and Analysis" or something like that. I still have it, although I don't include it in my "book" anymore. Little did I know it would be a good 10 years after that job before I found my way back into anything remotely resembling advertising...

I was SO excited when I landed my first writing job at an advertising agency. Even though I didn't actually get to do ads yet, I was in a department called "Creative", and that was cool enough for me! So what if the clients were all technical? I was a "creative"! I was devastated when the tech market crashed in 2001 and I lost my job, along with dozens of others. It then took another 2 1/2 years to get back into ad writing, and here I am today as a "Senior Copywriter" at a bonafide advertising agency. I get a thrill just looking at my title on business cards, which, I know, is uber-geeky. But I can't help it! I really like my job! It was worth all the years in between when I was a Technical Writer, writing manuals for different instrumentation, software and hardware. I was SO not cut out for that, and I could never understand why I felt so unhappy and so stuck.

All that to say I feel so fortunate to be in this place, at this point in my career. I hope I continue to learn and grow and maybe graduate from ads to books someday -- that is my all-time dream, after all. Believe it or not, this Blog makes me feel like I'm making progress, even if just a tiny bit.

So none of that was really funny, and I think my funnier posts are more interesting. Hmm. I'll have to think about it and maybe post again later. Don't want to bore my audience of thousands.


1 comment:

sarah said...

I think this is interesting! I also think it's fun to remember what you perceived of the world around you when you were a child. I have a vivid memory of when I was about 8 asking my Dad why duct tape was named that way. Without blinking, he told me it was made out of ducks. This made me really sad, especially since there was even a picture of a duck on the label! Talk about deceptive advertising. It wasn't until years later that I realized it wasn't d-u-c-k, but d-u-c-T!