The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Career Advice From A Dummy, Not For A Dummy …
November 18, 2011, 6:03 am
Filed under: Comment

So I’ve been doing this advertising lark since 1989.


The thing is, I never really wanted to be in adland – not because I didn’t like it, but because I never had considered it and the only reason I got in is because an opportunity fell into my lap … thanks to being very, very, very cheap.

And gullible.

Very, very gullible.

Anyway, despite all that, I’ve done OK and while I hope there are new adventures and experiences ahead, there are some ‘lessons’ that I’ve learnt over the years that I wish I’d known when I first stepped in to the industry … and because I am soooooooooooo generous I am going to pass 5 of them on to you, to do with whatever you wish.

Which is probably ignore them.

Which is probably right.

Anyway, here we go …


At some point you’ll work with people – colleagues and/or clients – whose definition of ‘common sense’ won’t be anywhere near yours.

You’ll find yourself in a situation where the response to your ideas make you literally question your sanity, intelligence and experience.

OK, so sometimes that will be because you haven’t thought something through – or you’ve just been an idiot – and when that happens, you should learn from the experience so you don’t make the same mistake next time – however there will be occasions where you realise the person you’re dealing with is a total idiot and while it would be tempting to smash them in the face, there are 3 ways you can go:

[A] Walk away in the knowledge they’re going to get what they deserve.

[B] Keep reframing how you state your point of view so it kind of fits within their feedback.

[C] Go and do it with another client/colleague/agency and make them regret their decision. Even if they are too stupid to realise what you’ve done, you’ll know … and if you’re a petty little shit like me, you’ll appreciate success is the best form of revenge.


You will experience some of the most superfluous, pointless conversations and meetings in your life … where some of the most flowery, pretentious and pointless language you’ve ever heard will be used.

While it is a great opportunity to play Bullshit Bingo, DO NOT BECOME A PART OF IT.

You might think saying words like “synergy” and “brand onion” will help you fit in, but it will also suck you away from reality and to be any good at this job, understanding of what’s going on in the real world – rather than the marketing world – is a necessity not, as the ad industry seems to like to believe, “novel”.


If you’re lucky, there will be at least one point in your career where you are part of something that achieves incredible success. You will feel like a star because you’ll have people wanting to talk to you and – potentially – hire you.

Don’t believe it.

By all means bask in the glow of praise for a while, but don’t think it’s real.

Adland is a shallow industry where people will pass praise on anyone who has achieved a modicum of success … then bitch you out as soon as your back is turned.

The people who have the right to act like God’s are the ones who’ve consistently produced great, powerful, effective and meaningful things … and the funny thing is, the people who have achieved that are generally the most humble, kindest of guys.

Remember that, because it’s people like Dan Wieden and John Hegarty who you should be looking at, not the guys who created the latest ad that’s got adland panties wet.


Adland loves to talk about methodologies. They love to say stuff as if there is irrefutable evidence that their way is the right way. They come up with fancy terms and proprietary tools … but it’s all bollocks.

Well, not bollocks, but all open to debate.

For every successful approach, there’s a counter successful approach.

The thing with adland is that there are so many variables that what works once, might not work again. Or what once failed might become an overnight sensation. Seriously, if you want proof, just look at Fallon’s Cadbury’s campaign.

But in all seriousness, the reality is there are lots and lots and lots of ways to approach challenges and very rarely will something be totally wrong. It might not work as well as another approach [emphasis on ‘might’] but don’t fall into the trap of believing there is only one way to do things because anyone in adland who say’s that is either a deluded twat or someone who is responsible for their agencies proprietary tool.


Advertising is a business. I know it doesn’t always act like it is, but it is. And while it doesn’t cure cancer or stop famine, it does play a role – albeit small – in society and industry.

Now contrary to popular belief, it’s always been this way … except in the last 10 or so years, adland has decided that it’s better to dress, speak and act like their clients rather than do things that their clients actually want – like helping their business be better.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for agencies – and bosses – who appreciated clients pay us for what we do for them, not how we look and talk in meetings with them … so while we have to produce work to the highest of standards and approach every challenge with a sense of purpose and professionalism, don’t forget part of the reason we’re hired is because we have different ways of looking at things and that is a strength, not a weakness.

So be true to yourself and enjoy the madness … because this industry needs personalities as much as it does talent.

39 Comments so far
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6. dont be a planner.

they get paid a fuckload and walk around like theyre the only fuckers with a brain but they tall shit, do nothing and have fucking zero respect or influence.

Comment by andy@cynic

I must be an amazing planner because I knew you were going to write something like that.

Comment by Rob

i thought planners knew exactly what the fuck was going to happen, not sort of happen, so youve basically come out and admitted youre a shit planner. the good news for you campbell is that makes me like you aboout 1000 times more than i did 3 seconds ago. you lucky, lucky fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic

sir martin midget has asked me to ask you to stop pulling the fucking curtain back on the fucking industry because its hard enough for him to attract cheap labour fuckers to give 2 shits about adland now and youve just made it 10 times fucking worse.

Comment by andy@cynic

hes obviously totally fucking fucked up about how much influence you have because i know you mean nothing to no one.

Comment by andy@cynic

you do fucking realise points 2, 3, 4 and 5 are worse now because of ego twat, intellectual groupie planner fuckers.

and they are behind a fuckload of issue 1.

planners are the new creative wankers. just with less talent.

Comment by andy@cynic

but 2 & 5 are at least focused on making the industry an enjoyable place to fucking work and that hasnt happened since 1987. so semi well said campbell. just semi.

Comment by andy@cynic

That is a compliment Andy. A COMPLIMENT.

Or at least I’m taking it as such, but then beggars can’t be choosers.

Comment by Rob

That’s all very well, but I’m told that social media has changed everything.

Comment by John

yes it has doddsy, its made it fucking worse and theres more bullshit said about it than 10,000 planners locked in a room.

yes. that fucking bad.

youre back doddsy and youre on fucking fire.

Comment by andy@cynic

Nice John. Very nice.

Comment by Rob

Great post with great advice. I particularly like points 2, 4 and 5 because they stop people being sucked in to the advertising vortex which is one of the reasons why the industries pact and influence has been on life support for years.

Comment by Pete

stop. being. so. fucking. nice. its. fucking. sickening.

Comment by andy@cynic

Despite the dan weiden sucking up thesis fantastic advice on The believing your own hype stuff just because a few people like your blog and campaign quotes it doesn’t mean you’re any good at your job you are just good at writing about it this doesn’t mean you rob by the way you’re obviously pretty good even Andy has admitted this

Comment by Northern

im guessing northern super junior has shat themselves which is why youre up writing a fucked up complimentary comment at this time of uk night.

sad thing is if you stopped your ass kissing comment at the end of your 3rd line, id be in full fucking agreement with you. thats about the only fucking thing i will admit.

Comment by andy@cynic

What are you doing up at this time Northern?

Is Andy right? I hope so … not because I like that you’re not getting any sleep, but because it will be another undeniable bit of evidence of how Andy’s life will be changing in the next few months.

And before you come out and say “that’s the wife’s job” Andy, we all know your much, much. much better half is tougher, stronger and more influential than you.

Evidence? Mills & Boon house in Vancouver.

The defense rests it’s case.

Comment by Rob

fuck. shit. wank. bollocks.

Comment by andy@cynic

thats a rant, not a fucking christmas wish list.

Comment by andy@cynic

It was another bastard night feed. Takes here two hourse to get back to sleep.
Enjoy Andy.

Comment by northern

This should be written in every agency handbook that is given to new employees on their first day of work. Or it should be if they handed out handbooks these days.

Comment by George

You mean e-handbooks surely.

Comment by Rob

youre so much more fucking agreeable when youre being a motherfucker..

Comment by andy@cynic

Inkeeping with the ‘truth in adland’ theme of this post, one of my lovely planner colleagues, Richard Summers, has started the internets new home for ‘adland working life honesty’.

Like the name? Badnes … or should I say badness??

Make sure you visit it.

Comment by Rob

Good post, good sir. 🙂

Comment by Aditya

Good advice. Andy is also on top form today!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hello. I’ve not read the post (is it any good?). I just wanted to say hello to everyone. Hello. Are we all well? I am.

Comment by Marcus

1. Hello.
2. No.
3. Don’t blame you.
4. Hello again.
5. Not bad … not bad. But then it is Friday.

Comment by Rob

Rob, you number listed your reply. Jesus.

Comment by Marcus

The powerpoint will follow.

Comment by John

Keynote you mean
Hope it’s his Mum though, that was good

Comment by northern

All of these are very true… just needs more tilt-shift.

Comment by Age

just be grateful its not in fucking impact.

hello marcus. giving the hun some shit? and doddsys back and even groper is putting the boot in. like old times. except lauren has fucked off to have a boob job or some other shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

and age is making fucked up comments. its 2007 all over again. how fucking depressing.

Comment by andy@cynic

love you and missed you my Andy-Pie!

Comment by Age

andy pie? do you really like eating fucking hospital food through a straw that much? fucking freak.


Comment by andy@cynic

Hey Rob,
Well i think your first point refers to an amazing french book called “the end of courage” from Cynthia fleury, a young french philosopher.
Given the fact that your advises are not only relevant for ad industry but for any companies in the world, the point is that Cynthia fleury denounces a loss of a value (courage) that is drastically important for democracy. As most of the time ad agencies work like democracy, i think ad agencies and companies in general suffer from a lack of courage. This lack of courage comes from the sum of daily resignations.
The difficulty is that courage is a risky choice. A risky choice that makes you feel alone. A risky choice that makes you fired. Not all the time but most of it.
That’s why perhaps ad agencies as a business model is not a democracy but givres you only the taste of it.

Comment by Yann

campbell and french philosophers go together like shit and cheese. it had fuck all to do with whoever this fleury is, its basic fucking advice. youre a planner arent you? well i have some more fucking advice for you. dont make connections that arent fucking there. doesnt make you look as smart as you think it does. now thats fucking valuable info.

Comment by andy@cynic

Dear Andy – I see you still suffer from Tourette syndrome. Take care of yourself and get well soon.

Comment by yannkretz

That will encourage him, not put him off.

Comment by Rob

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