Hank Blank - Should Young People Get Into the Ad Game?





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Published on Aug 20, 2014

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Should Young People Get Into the Advertisement Game?

Yes. Jump in with both feet.

Enjoy the splash.

Many people would say no. They’d rather work at Google and get free lunches.

I want to work at action sports companies and get free T Shirts and be equally cool.

Oh sure people can give you a litany of reasons not to get into the advertising game and it is a game.

The number of people in the industry has declined due to the great recession.

Absolutely true. Go to the 4A’s site and you can probably find some data to confirm that.

There is no training.

That is true again. Most Agencies don’t have the resources to train you. They want you to figure it out.

Salaries are depressed. That is true overall but it is yes and no and salaries are depressed in every industry. If you are a STAR this is an industry that you can make good money because your ideas will grow your client’s business, your agency’s revenue and your paycheck.

So why get into the game?

Because there is so much change going on and change always provides tremendous opportunity.

New opportunities aren’t the things you have already read about. They are the ideas that you are thinking about that you haven’t told anyone else about yet. Your thinking creates opportunity.

Getting into the game can follow some crazy rules.

The irony of advertising agencies is that while agencies are change agents, they are stuck in the Old Normal when it comes to hiring. Experience provides the safety zone.

Some will hire the slash generation but not many. They tend to be larger and smaller agencies that take chances on hiring interesting people that might not have the experience set.

If you are client facing, agencies need to tell clients why you will be an asset to them because although you work for an agency, client fees pay for your salary.

Thus you have to offer the promise of contributing to their business. That is easy once you get the job. You just think about your client’s business all the time, deliver commitments on time and on budget and you will be solid. It is easy if you get it but not everyone does.

Give them added value ideas that could grow their business and make them a hero and you will rule.

There is also no hierarchy in the ad game today.

Oh there are still titles but the business is much more horizontal than vertical today. That means that if you are the newest and lowest person on the former totem pole with the best idea you are in charge of your boss. Nobody can hide behind titles and in offices because titles don’t mean anything and there are no offices.

At every level you have to be as smart as the person above and below you and that is a challenge for some people that want to coast.

The advertising industry is a whirlpool of discovery these days with traditional, digital, social media, mobile, demographic, ethnic, economic and other trends colliding and integrating.

This provides a cornucopia of opportunity for people that are creative, focused, organized, goal oriented, and not afraid to speak their minds. Not just with gut feelings and opinions but with facts.

Is it a business that your parents would recommend? Probably not. Your parents want security for you. That is why they are your parents.

The ad game has no security as when the economy goes south the first thing that gets cut is marketing and people go out the door.

But ad people have never wanted to work at secure places. That would be boring for them. They want to work at stimulating, challenging companies with talented people.

Will the business be fun? Absolutely. The majority of the time yes and sometimes it won’t be. The people will be very interesting, the pace like a horse race, the energy dynamic, the stress high, with many days running on adrenaline. The parties superb. The laughter deep.

Will you meet stimulating people? Absolutely yes. I am still connected with people all around the world that I met in the ad game. They still connect me. They still resource me. They still share opportunity with me.

Will you grow?

How do you get into the game?

I grew up at 672 Bathurst in Toronto. It was in the heart of the city. I never grew up with any advertising folks. I ended up working with the largest advertising agency in Canada at the age of 28. It was JWT and I worked with them for 10 years in Toronto and Chicago. Their office in Toronto was 2.1 km from the house where I grew up but it was a much different world.

If you follow your passion you won’t have to go too far to get far.


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