I Want to Work In … Advertising
- Profile: Advertising Account Executive
- Profile: Advertising Copywriter
- Questions asked at Advertising Interviews
- Professional Bodies
- Advertising Agencies
- Recruitment Agencies
- Other Useful Information Sources
- Digital Marketing/Search (separate page)
According to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising there are about 19,000 staff working in member agencies in 2008 with about 700 graduates being recruited per annum. The internet is beginning to dominate advertising with digital agencies growing at about 100% per annum.
There are five main areas of work within advertising agencies, to which graduates of any discipline may be recruited:
- Account executives are the link between the agency and the client. They co-ordinate all aspects of the planning, production and implementation of advertising campaigns, working with colleagues, clients and outside organisations.
- Media planners/buyers place advertisements to achieve optimum impact, deciding on the appropriate timing, vehicle etc to reach maximum target audience at minimum price.
- Account planners are concerned with research, analysis and strategic thinking. They are “the consumer’s representative at the agency”, ensuring that campaigns receive input from those at whom the products and advertising are aimed and that they are accurately focused.
Extroverts are more persuaded by adverts than introverts! They tend to want rewards more strongly.
- “Creatives" (copywriters and art directors) provide the message (verbal and/or visual) that will sell the product, according to the brief determined with client and colleagues. This is by far the smallest area of recruitment and the hardest to get into.
- Computing. Agencies are increasingly recruiting IT grads. They are using IT to analyse the effect of advertising which enables them to give customers real information about the costs and benefits of advertising in a variety of locations and media. The second use for IT/Multimedia is the increasing variety of platforms available for advertising including Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and keeping abreast of new trends in technology. See our page on digital marketing
Vacancies are scarce in all areas of advertising and competition is fierce, but this will not deter those who are really suited to this career. Graduate training schemes with the big agencies often have closing dates in October or November so it's imperative that you apply early in your final year. Smaller agencies may not advertise vacancies for graduates and speculative applications will be required. See our pages on the Creative Career Search and Creative CVs Lots of graduates get jobs after work experience in an agency and many graduates start as dogsbodies and work their way up.
Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.
Qualities required include: communication skills, commercial awareness, creativity, attention to detail, analytical skills, leadership qualities, initiative, enthusiasm, organisational ability, energy and stamina and ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
Starting salaries can be quite poor (about £19,000) compared with other professional jobs in London, but earnings can rise rapidly if you are successful. This low starting salary means that many people who enter the London agencies already live in London and often have family members who work in advertising, helping them to get work experience. There is quite a high turnover of staff in advertising and many people seem to move out of the profession in their thirties into other areas such as marketing. THe lack of a strong professional qualification can also put new entrants off, but 90% of these now take the IPA Foundation Certificate which forms a good introduction to the industry
This online tool is designed to help individuals see for themselves whether they have the distinctive and uncommon ability to think in two complementary ways, their brains oscillating between linear or rational thinking and creative or lateral thinking. These characteristics, often thought to be contradictory, produce a potent mix which is particularly apposite to working in advertising.
Applicants can complete the self-test online and receive a certificate which can be used in conjunction with their application for one of the various roles in the advertising industry. For further information on Diagonal Thinking and to access the self-test visit www.ipa.co.uk/Content/Diagonal-Thinking-Introduction
INVOLVES: Liaising with & advising clients on all aspects of marketing communications; briefing agency departments; presenting proposals to clients; managing advertising spend budget; keeping clients up-to-date on their own & competitive activity; proof-reading & approving ads. & artwork; occasionally negotiating with media on clients' behalf; approaching prospective clients whose accounts are under review; liaising with foreign agencies on international accounts; occasional copywriting.
INVOLVES: working together in creative team with graphic designer/art director. Originates ideas & then creates advertisements. Responsible for the verbal part of the creation while the designer deals with the visual part.
IPA Copy Test
This is an on-line test which was introduced by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising www.ipa.co.uk. You had to answer 6 random questions on-line which will then be assessed by a creative director from a top agency. the very best applicants were invited to interview and if successful, given a placement with one of these agencies.Questions were of the type:
Interview questions for an on-line copywriter post
You can find full details of all these roles, and background to the advertising industry, in the Prospects Sector Briefing on Advertising & Public Relations www.prospects.ac.uk/links/AdvertisingSB
If you have been to an interview or assessment centre recently please fill in our interview report form to help other students.
- Why do you want to work in advertising? (Grey, Ogilvy, TBWA)
- What is your favourite advertisement and why? (Grey, Ogilvy, TBWA)
- What is your least favourite advertisement and why? (Grey, TBWA)
One student called for interview with an advertising agency got his friends to carry him in, in a coffin. The friends told the panel to ask a question and then wait for a response. The student then sat bolt upright and answered all the questions sitting in the coffin, emerging only to show his portfolio to the amused and slightly ruffled panel.
- Name an ad campaign that hasn't worked and why? (Grey)
- What do you watch on TV?
- Tell me about your work experience?
- What newspapers do you read?
- Why do you want to work for our agency in particular? (Grey, Ogilvy)
- One thing in your life you are least proud of?
- Have you ever been in a situation where you have led a team?
- If you could go back or forward in time – where and why would you go?
- If you could have designed any building, which one would it be and why?
- Have you read any books on advertising? (Ogilvy)
- What makes a good advertising campaign? (Ogilvy)
- Do you know a campaign which has actually made a company worse off? (Ogilvy)
- What will you do if you don't get into advertising. (TBWA)
- Think of a situation when you have had to bring other people around to your view point. (TBWA)
- What experience of teamwork/leadership do you have. (TBWA)
- What do you like about our agency. (TBWA)
- Questions to assess how sharp you are e.g. "Think of a photo of a group of men in the 1930's 1940's and even 1950's. They are all wearing hats. Imagine a group of men in the 1960's. They are not wearing hats. Why?" (Ogilvy)
Tests and group exercises used in the selection process
- Creative/divergent thinking test: 10 questions, 4 minutes to answer each one by writing down as many solutions as you could.
- Pick an advert (they gave you a choice of 5) and along with another candidate had to do a ‘Pitch' to the interviewers.
- A five minute oral presentation. We had to take in an object which we felt represented us and talk about it for five minutes.
- We were given a product and asked to come up with an advertising campaign for it. We then had to present our ideas to the rest of the interviewees and about ten interviewers, all from different parts of the agency. In this case, it was for Ski yogurt. We were given a brief and we were told to go into our groups (4 people) and we had four hours to come up with a way of relaunching the product and then make a fifteen minute presentation explaining it.
- Individual interviews: discussed a script for a new advertisement.
- In groups of 5:
- Pitch design and cost an ad campaign.
"Develop persistence: don't take no for an answer": this is the advice of a creative director at a top advertising agency.
In his final year he applied for graduate training schemes with all the top advertising agencies but found that no one was interested as he was heading for a lower second class degree. After lots of rejections he decided to email lots of agencies but was devastated when he got no response. So he decided to phone the agencies but couldn't get past the receptionist.
After this setback he thought a lot and decided that the only path left open to him was to visit the agencies in person. He made a list of all the agencies within reasonable traveling distance and spent the next week going round them and asking for some unpaid work experience. Again the same problem: everywhere he visited the receptionist said that everyone was unavailable or too busy to see him. He was finally on the point of giving up on his dream.
He decided to have one final throw of the dice.
He decided to go back to the agency he most admired. He arrived early in the morning and asked the receptionist if he could talk to one of the managers about the possibility of getting some work experience with the agency. The receptionist said that this wasn't possible, as he knew she would. So he sat down in the reception area and refused to leave until someone saw him.
Late in the afternoon, the receptionist whom he had got to know quite well during the day and who had taken a liking to him rang one of the managers, explaining the situation and asking her if she could come down have a very brief chat with him. After hearing his story, the manager took pity on him and told him she could offer him just a few days work experience but nothing more.
At 7.30 when the doors opened on Monday he was standing outside and that week he was always the first into the office and the last too leave at night. No task was too menial for him and he put one hundred percent into everything he was given to do. The manager was so impressed that she offered him a temporary job at the minimum wage.
He never left ....
- Come up with a new product, name it and pitch it.
- Team board game: logical thinking, maths and verbal tasks along the way.
- Balloon debate: why my product is the only one needed.
- Pitch design and cost an ad campaign.
- Try to relax: talk to as many of the assessors as possible.
- Be confident.
- Don't try and be too "different" or "out there." It's advertising but the most important thing is to be yourself.
- Research the agency and its main competitors. Make sure you know some of its ads.
- Make sure you make the interviewers aware that you have other interests apart from advertising.
- Nobody is out to catch you out. They just want to assess whether you would be right for the particular company so they will take an easy going attitude at the interview. Be the same but do not be fooled by this and start chatting to the interviewers as if they were old friends. It is likely to be an informal interview but remember why they are having this "chat" with you.
- Very relaxed, they were really nice. (Grey)
See our applications and interviews section for much more help on interviews
- AdMISSION www.theadmission.co.uk the IPA's new careers website for people who want to get into advertising, media and marketing communications.
- The Advertising Association www.adassoc.org.uk
- Account Planning Group www.apg.org.uk site includes a downloadable booklet, “What Is Planning?”
- The Creative Circle www.creativecircle.co.uk runs workshops for potential copywriters and art directors
- Design and Art Directors’ Association www.dandad.org
For a full list of agencies recruiting graduates, see the IPA Factfile under www.ipa.co.uk/careers
- Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO www.amvbbdo.co.uk includes useful general advice on advertising careers
- Grey Advertising www.grey.co.uk
- Leo Burnett www.leoburnett.com
- M&C Saatchi www.mcsaatchi.com Not to be confused with Saatchi & Saatchi (see below)
- Ogilvy www.ogilvy.co.uk
- Publicis www.publicis.co.uk
- Saatchi & Saatchi www. saatchi.co.uk
- The Engine Group www.theenginegroup.com provides an integrated marketing service to solve promotion, creativity and advertising needs.
- Vizeum www.vizeum.co.uk media agency. Recruit about 10 graduates a year. Digital team is part of global Aegis ISOBAR brand. Integrated full service solution to clients. A role in implementation involves working closely with the planning team on the strategy of a brand and translating this into effective media placement. Being experts in a given media (TV, radio, print) you will advise, plan, negotiate and buy the optimal media plan in line with the clients’ needs.
- J. Walter Thompson www.jwt.co.uk
- Writing Machine www.writingmachine.com/careers marketing agency that recruits copywriters.
The top 30 UK advertising agencies
(Source Nielsen: Campaign Magazine 2008)
|1. Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO
2. McCann Erickson Advertising
3. M&C Saatchi
4. Bartle Bogle Hegarty
5. JWT London
7. Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
8. Euro RSCG London
10. DDB London
|11. Leo Burnett
12. Ogilvy Group
13. Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
14. Saatchi & Saatchi
16. Grey Worldwide
17. Fallon London
18. CHI & Partners
22. Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
23. The Red Brick Road
24. Wieden & Kennedy
25. Beattie McGuinness Bungay
26. Draft FCB
27. Rpm3 Beechwood
29. Uber Agency
30. WFCA Integrated
Most advertising agencies will not use recruitment agencies to fill entry-level positions – they receive more than enough speculative applications – but there are some specialist agencies
- Pathfinders Media Recruitment www.pathfindersrecruitment.com specialises in finding first career opportunities for new graduates in the media including Advertising, PR, Broadcasting, Publishing, New Media, Events Management, Marketing, Music and the Arts.
- The Stevens Company www.thestevensco.com Recruitment company specialising in media and communications positions such as Media Planners and Buyers, New Media Assistants, Media Researchers and Account Handlers.
- Campaign Magazine – read by everybody in the advertising business and you should read it too if you are at all interested in advertising. The website also links to a downloadable “Campaign Careers Guide” www.brandrepublic.com/magazines/campaign
- How to Get into Advertising - a book by advertising lecturer and copywriter Andrea Neidle, available in the Careers Information Room. Describes the various job roles and gives a great deal of practical advice on applications and interviews. Andrea also runs regular and excellent Get Into Advertising Workshops www.getintoadvertising.co.uk providing information on how to find jobs in advertising and advice on applications, CVs, graduate training and work experience. See the web site for details of forthcoming workshops or email email@example.com
- Adgrads http://adgrads.blogspot.co.uk keep up with graduate schemes and jobs in advertising here and at http://twitter.com/adgrads
- Media Careers – Advertising provides a comprehensive insight into the advertising industry and how to break into it, with advice from leading practitioners. Available in the Careers Information Room.
Last fully updated 2016