On reflection of my Netflix finale of Breaking Bad, I think I’m right when I say; it’s not easy being Heisenberg. Well, likewise for a young creative.
If you’re excited about starting your new job in Advertising tomorrow, just graduated University, or just finished Ad school. Then I’m sorry. Because the title of this article alone suggests your first 12 months in Advertising is going to feel like 4 years worth of writing, filming, directing and/or watching all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad.
If you watched, then guess what. You’re already more clued up about how your next year in industry is going to pan out than you know. I passed the year marker a couple of months back, and besides some minor details; this is pretty much how it went down…
Mr. White was a chemistry teacher, but felt his skills could be put to better use in the meth industry. He was a good chemistry teacher. Like Mr. White, you decide Advertising is where you can make the most of your talent.
You market yourself to agencies with a portfolio and package yourself with a neat shiny bow. But, the key is to differentiate. The ad industry doors are locked tight for people like everyone else. So prove your product (you) is worth giving a shot. It also helps if your logo is way bluer than anyone else’s.
The first day
You rock up with your partner and walk into unknown territory with your head held high, ready to sink your teeth into your first creative brief, expecting to be shitting awards by lunch time.
Reality is quite different. More often than not, you’ll be caught with your pants down with more briefs to do in a week than you’ve done in your whole 3 years at University. You have to bide your time, work hard at the dull briefs and smile politely when the client picks your least favourite idea.
It’s not all for nothing. Eventually the one you’ve been waiting for comes along; cool brand, awesome brief. Take your opportunity and knock it out the park.
Getting noticed for your hard work can be tough at first. No one knows who you are. You definitely don’t know who the hell they are or what the hell they do. But you’ll learn, probably the hard way. Watching them beat a fellow colleague to a bloody pulp will make you realise they’re probably quite senior.
Friday drinks will provide you with the necessary amount of alcohol to bond with your new co-workers, realise “he’s actually a nice guy”, and share awkward smiles on Monday without mentioning the strange things you talked about just 2 days previous.
The ultimate battle for creative supremacy where the odds are stacked 5-1 against. Don’t stop improving your idea until it’s 1 minute before you go into that room and sell it. It’s that extra hour you give to provide that extra bit of magic you need to impress the client and win.
If all else fails, poison the competition and force the client to work with you at gunpoint.
The rumours were true. You do work long hours. It’s fine, you understand. Your friends and family do not. It takes exactly 3.5 pitches for your family to abandon you; your friends stop calling you and your dog dies of starvation from all the late nights.
Seriously, even your best friend will randomly change his name to Flynn without a word of warning.
But if you buy him a new car he’ll be your bro again.
Or breakfast. That should do it.
In all honesty, your friends and family will be supportive. They’ll even try throwing ideas your way, which you’ll instantly reject with a quiet acknowledgement, ‘yeah’. But they will continue to help you nonetheless. Be thankful for that.
You’ve worked hard and you’ve earned it. So what if there were some casualties along the way. Now go buy that new bike you wanted.
Who are these ‘new’ people eating your food and holding your PlayStation controller? That’s you 6 months ago. You’ll meet lots of fresh faces threatening to do your job better.
Watch out, they’re ready and willing to kill your entire family, steal your money and make you live a solitary life in a cabin.
So stay on your toes, this job doesn’t get any easier. Or, take those fuckers out with a hidden machine gun mounted in the boot of your car.
Sounds negative. But in truth, for all the pain and sadness Bryan Cranston’s character Walt suffered throughout Breaking Bad, he only truly felt ‘alive’ during those pivotal moments that defined him as Heisenberg.
That’s how you should approach your first year in Advertising too. No fear, take every opportunity as it comes and enjoy every moment. You’ll soon earn the accolades you deserve. People might even remember your name.
More importantly, you’ll love your job and die happy.