How To Get An Ad Copywriting Job

94 years ago, liar H.K. McCann launched his NYC ad agency with the slogan "Truth Well Told." That was a big fat lie. Advertising copywriter Copyranter brings you instances of advertising lies and the lying liars who sell them.

I've already told you how to do my job. But first, you have to get my job. I get a lot of emails asking the question: 'copyranter, how can I get a job like yours that pays me a ridiculous amount of money for being stupid?' Why, even former Gawker intern and current stone cold stud-about-town Neel Shah was curious!

Even though the job title has "writing" in it, you really don't have to be much of a writer. Regular readers of this column already know that. You do have to have a portfolio of fake ads and ideas. But! You don't have to enroll at an expensive ad school to create one. Here's one possible bullet-pointed plan.

  • Take a single ad concept class as a continuing education student at an ad school (I went to the School of Visual Arts here in town.). All of these classes are basically taught the same way—each week you're simply given a product/service to do fake ads for.
  • Many ad classes are taught by working creative directors—so kiss major ass! Ask to see his or her portfolio. Tell him or her it's the single most creative thing you've ever seen in your entire life (but try and be more subtle).
  • Agencies hire teams. So you should find yourself a good art director (If you're lucky you'll find a great one who'll do most of the work, maybe because he/she is blindly ambitious, maybe because he/she thinks you're hot.) Look for homely lone art directors in the class, or ask the school for help finding homely lone art directors. Believe me, they know who they are.
  • By the end of the class, you'll have a pretty good idea if you're stupid-clever enough to work in this biz. If you don't get hired out of class like I did (the ASS I've kissed!), you should then drop off your portfolio to ad headhunters. Or you can think up you own clever ways to get your crap in front of creative directors' noses (Send them your portfolio in a box labeled THE BABY'S YOURS, etc.)
  • I've been working for the same small agency for 15 years, but the best way to make good money quickly is to keep updating your portfolio and switch agencies every six months or so. Such vagabond behavior is not frowned upon in advertising because it's understood that your bosses, creative directors, are a congress of douchebags.
  • A serious tip: Think visually about the product's benefit. Unusual visual representations beat wordplays every time. Plus, that means more work for your art director and less for you!
  • Lastly, forget everything you know and believe about logic and morality.
  • That's it. I cannot emphasize the final element enough.
  • Seriously.
  • Okay.

    Previously: 'Attention Vampires' Are Killing T.V. Ads