Babatunde Alaran

I never wanted to write this here. I told myself that this would be part of my forthcoming memoir about advertising before. But with the pain in my heart; and the compassionate desire I have for those who are planning to move into an agency. I believe this will be helpful. Don’t take this with levity; I mean it!

I want you to understand that not all agencies would welcome you because they would see you as a threat if you’re trying to prove your worth to them. They would think you are coming to break the jinx of their conservative ways. Sometimes your creative director or a senior colleague would feel maybe you want to collect the job from them. This is a bigtime politics in an ad agency.

But if you’re someone with a juicy of creativity, someone who wants to break the mould, you want to do something that no one has ever seen before, then you’ve got to be prepared that the industry will not help you because it’s full with extremely conservative people who believe they know how it has been done. And if you come in and say, I want to do it some new way that comes out of your spirit or some intuition of yours, there’ll be a hell of resistance.

Well, like I have said before in one of my writing that as a writer or art director in an ad agency your job is to come with innovative ways of doing things from the status-quo; and to provide solutions creatively. Advertising abhors clichés but rather it welcomes creativity by doing old things in a new way. You need to have the tenacity to work by reading books and follow the trend locally and internationally.

And working in the advertising agency is competitive. You have to prove your worth by creating new ways of doing things; while doing that, some people in your department would feel you are overdoing. They would feel you’re trying to break the structure but you’re trying to prove to them you are talented and capable of doing the job if they give you a listening ear for rationales to your ideas.

I learned from David Ogilvy's ‘’ confession of an advertising man ‘’ that as a copywriter or art director in the industry you need to be expected to answer ‘’ WHY’’ to your ideas because everybody has different ways of seeing things. E.g I may see it from this angle while you may see it from another angle, but the ability for me to tell you my view gives you the chance to know how I think and how I write or how I visualize the concept.

The truth is that; working in an advertising agency, you have to understand the literal and lateral approach to every concept. My former creative director taught me this. He exposed me to always think to an international standard and to always create a concept that is different from other colleagues.

But some agencies would feel like you are not getting it right. They would see you as a threat and they would feel you are not listening to them. That you’re not competent to your job. This is bad.

Every talented man or woman has his/her unique way of expression. If you’re a writer, your style is different because, in advertising, you write with your voice. You write as if you are talking to a friend. Your customers are your friends.

Thus, part of the ‘’ politics of advertising ‘’ is that they would talk at your back. They would discuss with your boss that you are not qualified because always want to prove your point. In advertising, there is always room for justification of ideas that is why confidence is allowed. You need a proactive idea and not waiting for the strategy team before you come with a campaign idea for your account.

Therefore, I want you to know that writing skill is different from others. This is also a threat because they would feel you aren’t doing it well with your skill. They will expect you to write the way they want but as a creative person, you have the willingness to communicate differently. You should also understand that your talent is essential to approach the brief differently by doing fresh things toward the clients’ expectations.

You have to grow a tough skin. You have to know how to face rejection. You have to know how to handle your pain because politics could derail you. It is non-productive because some of your colleagues hate you. They would also lie at your back or your present. They would think you are lazy and you don’t get the grip to be in the business. Having said this, we all know politics is like the air we inhale everywhere; but the one in advertising is ostentatious.

While reading an advertising book, cutting edge advertising; the author says ‘’ creativity is subjective’’ some believe that writers and art directors are motivated by ego and awards. However, David Droga, founder of Droga5 warns that mediocrity is contagious. If your agency doesn't want to listen or see the right thing from your experience that would make them see you as a threat that you are trying to break the structure and before you know it they would lure you to become a mediocre too.

Consequently, in your career in advertising, don’t wear gossamer of politics, you just have to be careful with people because many of whom are a snitch. They would appraise you while they talk at your back. They would not give you room for correction rather they would give the work to their favourite.

Favouritism is a bad influence in an ad agency that wants to grow. Everybody in the creative department has different ways of doing things. Everybody has its strengths and weakness. Some may be good for content creation and some may be good for writing brilliant radio or television commercials. While an art director may be good at visualizing concepts and giving brilliant art direction and some may be good at directing the designs for television and other related services in the creative department.

Nepotism kills an advertising agency. Cronyism buries an advertising agency. Advertising politics is deadly to the business than any other thing. Every staff needs to be treated equally. Nobody should be given preferential treatment than the others. Every copywriter needs to be responsible for his/her brand and not that they would give someone else brand to another person to work on and make the owner of the brand becomes uncomfortable.

I would advise you to stay away from politics if you enter any ad agency. Do your job and pray to God because people are wicked. They would see you as a threat because you are trying to prove that you’re experienced and you are versatile about the industry. Creativity doesn’t come with an idle mind; it comes to the mind that keeps practicing and try to explore new things. If you know you are creative, stay away from politics because many creative minds are too emotional. When people ridicule their ideas, they feel bad.

And for anybody who works in advertising, it is percept to not believe the conservatism works well as advertising works. It is absolutely wrong. For you to become a great man/woman in advertising, you just need to know that a conservative approach is salubrious to your ideation process. It doesn’t tally to how great advertising works because great advertising breaks the barrier and it promotes the synthesis for the brands to speak without any restriction.

I have seen many advertising messages that are imbibed to the conservative style and those advertising messages die because none meets the expectation of the consumers to breaking boundaries to draw out realistic expectations. It is a great opportunity for brands to know that their products are not treated with a conservative style. It affects sales. It is easily counter-productive and to the brands’ marketing directors.

Lastly, don’t fight for promotion. Stay out of competition and do your best and leave the rest to God to decide because those who engage in the office politics pretend to be loyal but they’re a hypocrite.

Like I have said to you before, advertising is a place for a passionate person who is always proactive to do something new and something wowing. Go forte to an agency and avoid office politics just for your creativity to flourish.



This is a page of a troubled mind. I write essays. I write stories. And I write anything worthy of reading

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Batunde Alaran

This is a page of a troubled mind. I write essays. I write stories. And I write anything worthy of reading