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The soul-crushing joy of advertising


Tom Millington, Copywriter, DiMassimo Goldstein

This is my first job in the world of advertising. I had taken Mark’s class, done some freelance work, and completed some necessary reading so I could be deemed competent with a certain amount of confidence. More or less though, I was hired on faith. Faith that what had been seen from me during my time in class and as a freelancer was not an outlier, but indicative of greater, underlying potential. Since the day I started, I’ve felt a constant assault of anxiety and self-doubt as I try to reward that faith. I’ve experienced the never-ending rollercoaster, as I’m sure most creatives have, as I’ve gone from feeling like an utterly worthless piece of crap to being roughly 99 percent sure that I am actually the second coming of Christ, only to plummet back down again. It’s exhausting and thoroughly, unapologetically addicting.

Two months in, I was getting into the swing of things. Tyler and I had pitched some ideas for Reader’s Digest that we were proud of, but ultimately went nowhere. We had missed our shot we assumed and would surely be looking for new jobs soon. We underestimated how much being bargain bin cheap worked in our favor. Before we knew it, a new opportunity arose in the form of DSE, The Digital Signage Expo. We weren’t even initially supposed to be on it and were brought in during the eleventh hour after a few things hadn’t gone quite according to plan. We helped shout ideas across the table until we had a list the client liked. Tyler and I were given the concept “Return on Innovation,” We looked at each other and with excitement gleaming from behind our eager eyes, we said, “What the f*** does that mean?”

The rub was that of course, it meant nothing and it was our job to change that. So we concepted, fought, ordered in, stayed up late and ultimately ended up with a concept that embodied “return on innovation.” At least we were pretty sure it did. It had been a long process and by the end, our grips on reality had become dangerously loose. It was sent to the client and was out of our hands.

A few days later, I got to the office, to find my brother waiting there. He told us DSE had bought our campaign and I just about sucker punched him, being pretty positive that this was one of those jokes that, if anyone other than your brother pulled it on you, you’d black out in a fit of rage and wake up in prison without the chance of parole. Sure enough, he was telling the truth and I lost it, but was forced to wait for Tyler to get in to tell him. I excitedly relayed the news and he met me with the same level of disbelief. Once he was convinced, he also went nuts. We had sold our first campaign. We, the new guys, beat out the others. We proceeded to celebrate with naps that would make Rip van Winkle seem like an insomniac. That was my first time at the top of the roller coaster. I’ve had many ups and downs since then, but the downs don’t bother me so much anymore. I see them more as a necessary evil because without them, the ups just aren’t as much fun.