Apr 21, 2010

Cool as the Other Side of the Ad

Unfortunately I have to tread a little lighter than usual when it comes to sounding my opinions here. Being employed will do that to you.
Just over a year ago I was a victim of this wonderful economy of ours and found myself on the wrong end of layoffs at a top agency in Baltimore. Thus I embarked on a 9-month voyage of self employment. I quickly found out that it’s not as fun going it alone—something I learned years ago.

So, I ended up spending more time trying to find a job than working on those I already had. And after 9 long months the job offers flooded in, and I found myself sitting at a desk writing copy once again. However, this time it was not in an agency, but on the client side for eInstruction.

Now that I’m on the other side of advertising, people are asking me which I like better—agency-side or client-side? Well…it depends.

I know that answer is right up there with an MVP saying he’d like to thank the lord when asked what it’s like to win the Super Bowl, but honestly it truly does depend on what you’re looking for. Each side has its positives and negatives.

For one, I met with one of my old agencies last week who is trying to gain business from us. The sense of unremitting power was overwhelming.

That's a rarity. But, as a copywriter, you typically get three things at an agency you don’t get on the client side—Cushion, Filter, and Creative.

Cushion—at an agency there are numerous people between you and the client. On the client side you’re constantly face to face with your so-called client. You don’t get the comfy bubble you can find in an agency creative department. You don’t have to deal with all the back and forth wishy-washy crap the client goes through on a daily basis—“Are we or aren’t we?” “Should we or shouldn’t we?” A lot of decisions are already made before that creative brief hits your desk at an agency.

Filter—when you’re a copywriter at an agency a lot of what you say never quite makes it to the person who needs to hear it, and vice versa. Even if you talk directly to your client, chances are they have to go relay what you say to someone higher up. It’s never said the right way and the message never quite makes it. On the client side you’re talking right to the client and the filter, for the most part, is lifted.

Creative—typically, but of course not always, the majority of the creative work comes from the agency side. That’s where you’ll find your ADDY, TELLY, CLIO, etc. Then there are the exceptions to the rule, like Under Armour. An extremely large percentage of their work is done in house, and they have some great creative.

So, if you’re someone that prefers the agency, but can’t find a place just yet, a job on the client side that balances a nice combination of all of this can be a very happy home.

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