Advertising is omnipresent; yet, most people, especially on the receiving end of advertising, have little concept of who and what’s behind it, and no idea how it gets made.
There are a handful of schools that endeavor to teach advertising, but most practitioners learn on the job. Because there are thousands of agencies, each with their own take on the business and how to raise the creative bar for clients, there is no standard education in advertising and very little in the way of industry standards.
Carol Williams, founder of Carol H. Williams Advertising and the second black woman ever inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame, says, “People try to teach creative, but it’s about finding the mindset that works—the space where I can tap into the cultural collective unconscious and give voice to it.”
When Williams worked for Leo Burnett in Chicago, she became the agency’s first female creative director. She also coined the tagline for Secret deodorant — “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” The line is perfectly crafted but that’s not why we remember it or celebrate it. We do this because the line captures the spirit of the 1970s.
A mentor is willing to tell it like it is. Williams could argue for obsessing over technique or technology but she is right to say that advertising is all about making connections. Therefore, working in advertising is all about focusing attention and the powers of observation.
It takes raw talent to make it in advertising. There is also a certain personality type that finds success in the business. Open minded people who feel things and care about others do well. You can gain all the technique in the world, but if you lack empathy, the ad business isn’t a good fit for you. When you lack empathy, it’s highly likely that you also refuse to listen, and no creative person can make connections when suffering from such ego delusions.
Learn from More Ad Industry Luminaries
The video above is one of several “Stan Talks.” Stan Talks is a library of short videos produced by the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations in the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin.
There are talks from Lee Clow, Jon Steele, and other industry luminaries, including Stan Richards.
Previously on Adpulp: Future Ad Makers of America Get Schooled In Pasadena