The Surfer’s Journey, Volume 1

Editor’s Note: I found Stuart Cornuelle, a 23-year-old aspiring strategic planner/copywriter, digging around in the dumpsters out behind our office. After learning what he was after, I suggested a better use of his time—a weekly column detailing his campaign to break into the advertising business.

The personal branding geeks always say it’s important to blog about what you’re interested in. Develop a reputation for expertise in your chosen field. Become a thought leader, an influencer, a social media demigod in just 20 minutes, three times a week. This is the tao.

But forget briefly that the underpinnings of the “personal brand” cult are a bit grotesque. The fact is, its tenets are effective — and, as in the case of tort lawyers, they’re only repulsive until you need their services. Then suddenly it’s, “Hmmm…blog, you say? Thought leader, you say?”

So here I blog, because there is something I want that I don’t yet have. I want what you want. I want to work in advertising. I’ve wanted this for quite some time, but have been hamstrung by holding what’s perhaps the world’s most wonderful job for a 19- to 22-year-old: flying around the world based out of sunny Southern California to write for and edit the world’s foremost surfing magazine. It’s tough leaving that post to instead seek work hawking, say, dish soap; it’s downright impossible to explain this decision to others. But here I am.

And here you are, so you don’t need any explanation. You understand. Advertising just has that certain je ne sais quoi. Actually, je sais exactly quoi: advertising is where the intellectual stimulation of commerce meets the creative expression of art. That’s why we’re drawn to it, and why no other field is fit to do advertising’s sock laundry. Or so I’ve been led to believe. If this is not true, for God’s sake, please tell me now in the comments section. (Not you, cynical burnout — you just keep it to yourself.)

Long story short, like a forty-niner to San Francisco — or like a lemur off a cliff, perhaps — I up and relocated three weeks ago here to Portland, Ore. “Portland: Where young people come to retire.” “Portland: Gen Y’s Never Neverland.” Official municipal color: a middling gray. But it’s an ad industry hotbed and home to some amazingly smart, creative, enterprising humans, more of whom I meet every day on this quest into The Business.

These blog posts are meant to chronicle that quest. AdPulp has been gracious enough to yield its pulpit once a week so I can here espouse useful noise gleaned from the process of getting started in advertising. If you’re knee-deep in that process as well, or are a product of it, maybe you’ll find some value in my experience. I’d love to hear about your own — and I’m not just saying that to “foster a sense of community,” or “boost engagement,” which are other things the personal brand geeks advise. Because that’s just dumb.

Anyway, welcome.



About Stuart Cornuelle