Monday, February 27, 2012

There was so much irony on that 8 1/2 by 11 sheet.

In college, my biggest opportunity was serving as Creative Director on a giant class project for Chevrolet. We were responsible for positioning the brand, which was turning 100 later that year, as desirable to college youth. The work was great experience to draw upon when I interviewed at RPA, agency to another auto giant (Honda). My applicable experience helped me to land a Copywriting Internship, which was a step toward my dream job. I filled out all the necessary conflict of interest forms—my work with Chevy was done. Or so I'd thought.

When I sat down for my first ever print project, I didn't know what to expect. I saw the word "Chevrolet" on the brief, and felt I was in the wrong room—nay, the wrong building. It turned out my first assignment was a birthday card to my former client. There was so much irony on that 8 1/2 by 11 sheet. I took a deep breath, welcomed myself to the business, and began to concept.

Jen Winston, Copywriter RPA

Monday, April 11, 2011

I could see the Hollywood sign from the window.

I did this ad during my internship at Robert Elen & Associates with Robert Elen's son, Jason (who's a writer). The agency is now called Davis Elen. I thought the agency was so cool, because we were located on Hollywood and Vine, and I could see the Hollywood sign from the window. To a college student from Texas, this was pretty damn cool.

This ad was done back when you had to set type. (I can still see some imperfections with the type) The art was line art that the agency, and all the dealers, had to create ads. Once the elements of the ad was put together, we had to shoot a stat of it in a giant room with a stat machine. Nice huh?

– Marcus Wesson, Associate Creative Director

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's Got to be Tide - in any language.

The first ad concept I ever sold was for Tide Latin America. My spanish is choppy, hence the beginning of my career in visual solutions.

The client actually wanted a back to school ad. I learned that in South America it's common for children wear uniforms to school with tailored white shirts. This enabled us to distill the message down to the wonderful essentials.

Not to mention it was a blast getting my feet wet on set by tossing ketchup onto a surface with a spoon for hours to get a natural shaped drip to cover the logo. Ten years later I still think this ad is a winner in any language and I still drive stylists mad.

– Robin Milgrim, Senior Art Director

See more of Robin's work at

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Not much cheaper to run than a Mazda."

The brief came from a hells-angel-turned-creative type I reported in to at the time.

Hey Funke - here's your big break doos ("doos" translates roughly as jerk). You get to work on a car account!
However, it's newspaper, it's reatil, you only got a1/4 page, no color - black and white section, and we have no money for car photography.

Oh, and I want it to run in the Sunday Times. (It was a Wednesday morning).

– Erich Funke, Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi LA

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

“There are those who travel – and those who travel well”

This was the first full :30 spot I produced – it was February 2001. I spent a few car seasons (which used to be every and all summer) shooting running footage packages for the Lincoln Mercury division of Ford out of Y&R Detroit. Then, at the end of 2000 I was transferred to Y&R Irvine’s office where Lincoln Mercury had moved as part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group (lucky me, eh). Somehow was able to land this project – shoot in the Florida Keys, cars, boats, underwater cameras, helicopters AND car prep who brought the vehicle from Palm Springs? I was pretty lucky to think that my boss would let a 26 year old handle this spot. The even funnier part – this was 1 spot of a 9 spot package. Oh when car accounts had money . . .

Tricia Hoover Kovack

My first spot.

My first spot.

Bill Halladay VP, ACD RPA

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Gasoline and Fire"

It was 1997 and snowboarding (action sports in general) was on the brink of becoming an extreme sport. The magazines at the time we're filled with white powder, blue skies and athletes bursting out of half pipes. Airwalk included. When we were given the assignment to come up with a campaign they gave their normal direction, which was vague, let us know there was no budget to go shoot anything and that we had to use the existing assets from the snowboard photographers, which was 6 oversized binders with 35mm slides, messy and unorganized.

Days and days of searching for anything good amounted to a short pile of images, most of which were blue skies, white powder, etc. until we found this one. At first we weren't even sure what was going on, but knew it was worth checking into because it was the only red colored image out of thousands. When I blew up the image I showed it to my partner and he mumbled "gasoline and fire". We talked for a few, thought it was a nice metaphor for the snowboards vs the snowboarders. You get these two together and shit happens. We comp'd it, threw it in the pile of blue, snowy ads and wrote it off as the soon to be slaughtered sheep of the bunch thinking it would never see the light of day. In the end, for obvious reasons, they chose this as the first ad to run. Maybe we zigged when everyone else zagged. Maybe we got lucky. Who care's really. The fact that we were able to spend someone's money to run an ad with a bunch of snowboards wreaking havoc was fun. Isn't that part of the reason we're advertising anyway?

Chris Caparro

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This was one of the 30 or so ads

Newspapers were the major advertising source for local car dealers. This was one of the 30 or so ads done for what was called the Dealer Ad Planner every year, a three ring binder full of 1/4 page layouts for each model in the line up. The dealer would choose an ad, paste their name and address on the bottom and ship it off to the local press. In this case the CRX-HF (High Fuel). 45 MPG City/50 MPH HWY, not bad. The ad? Well...

Joe Baratelli SVP, Group Creative Director, RPA

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When Art Direction And Statistics Intersected

Back in the day, when Honda was a $22 million account, they wanted to do an ad celebrating the sale of their 1 millionth car. I was lucky enough to get the assignment. There was only one hitch. The lawyer for Honda needed to see the proof that there had indeed been a million cars sold.

Skipping the obvious question that they were the ones who had told us they sold a million, I had to figure out how to make the case. And remember, this was in the days before the Internet. And personal computers. So, I took the listings of all the registrations of Hondas since 1974 and did a linear regression analysis for the remaining 6 months to project mathematically when the actual milestone would be reached. The lawyer bought the argument, and that was the only time in my many years as an Art Director that I was able to use my Statistics class training to sell an ad.

Bill Halladay ACD, RPA

Friday, September 3, 2010

Um, dated much?

At the time, bluetooth and voice recognition was a new-fangled technology. Of course, now, seeing people chat with their steering wheel is an everyday occurrence.

I remember thinking how late I had to stay to pump out lines for this newspaper insert. I think I was there ‘til the wee hour of 8pm. Hah! Can you believe it? 8pm? Those were the days.

David Carlson Copywriter, RPA

Thursday, August 12, 2010

(before it became Goodby, Silverstein & Partners)

Umbro. While at my first job at Goodby Silverstein & Partners (before it became Goodby, Silverstein & Partners).

Boyd Coyner

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My First Splash in Print

This was one of the first ads I wrote in the early '60s at a long gone agency called Stern Walters & Simmons. We didn't call it that back then but it was "b2b," a trade ad for Booth Fisheries directed at restaurants. All they wanted to say was they purveyed fresh fish from all over the world. That's a stock photo of an ocean somewhere, partial view; we paid $25 for the rights.

Larry Postaer Co-Chair, RPA

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In the beginning...

We all have to start somewhere. For most people, their ignominious beginnings within the bowels of a corporation, law firm or nail salon are not immediately put on display and then saved in one form or another to be brought back years later at inopportune moments. Like when running for public office or wooing a lady. But such is the fate of the advertising writer or art director. While our very first headlines, layouts or (shudder) coupons may not get produced, at some point some project gets the green light and we are finally able to hold our first piece of bona fide advertising in our still-baby-smooth hands. Unless it’s a digital ad. Then we just stare.

Back before Al Gore even dreamed of claiming to have personally hand-coded the internet, I was a young, willowy sapling of a writer, trying my best to get a job in the red-hot advertising market that was Kansas City. I had been doing some freelancing for a small (six-person) shop on their retirement homes account. Seeing that I was not scared away by these glamorous assignments, the agency owner decided to use me for their next Jiffy Lube spot.

The local Jiffy Lube franchise was going to begin offering windshield chip repair and wanted a TV spot to tout this new profit center. The only requirements were that it had to feature the local franchise himself (as all their spots did), and it had to be cheap (as all their spots were). The former I knew I could somehow accommodate. The latter, well, I had no idea what anything cost to produce. So I winged that mother.

I gave the agency three scripts. One that, I would later learn, would be considered “direct.” (I now hate the phrase “make it more direct,” btw.) One compared rock chips to potato chips. And another that was the eventual winner. As I was a freelancing neophyte at the time, I was not invited to the set. In hindsight, not getting to sit around all day looking at a bearded rich dude standing on white cyc wasn’t much of a blow.

Lucky for you, I discovered a VHS tape of this spot whilst digging through my Archive of Advertising, currently located in a couple of plastic bins in my home office closet. So I fired up Final Cut, digitized that mother and stuck it on YouTube. Behold its wonder.

Produced in December 1994 and aired the following month, that spot is now over 15 years old. Sadly, it is not the worst spot I ever produced. That honor collectively belongs to spots #2 through #7. Some for Jiffy Lube Heartland and some for the national Jiffy Lube client (yes, somehow a tiny shop in suburban KC had an $8 million national account). Some of the spots’ awfulness is fully my fault. Other atrocities I can lay squarely at the feet of others. But the story of my first real war with account service will have to wait for another day.

And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t show this (or other old spots) to my now-wife whilst in the midst of pitching woo. I waited eight years. Which, for the spot I shall only refer to as “Lobster,” was still two years too few.

– Jason Fox

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I can’t believe I even found this piece of shit. It was my very first “freelance” project while working at my very first agency job as a jr. writer at “prima-donna-pearlstein.” (I’m aging myself on this one, but I had a BLAST working there)

I did this high-concept masterpiece with this hack art director by the name of Kyle Lewis (I can say that because he’s one of my closest friends, although I’m his only friend. Come to think of it, he’s very talented. But that didn’t happen until well after this ad was produced)

From what I understand, Zenith closed their doors soon after the ad ran. Coincidence? Crap, there I go dating myself again.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kicking the bucket

My first ads – Lynsey Yuknus

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


No reprint here, either, but none needed. My first ad came from The School Of Why Not Just Say It? The client had wonderful potential, King Koil, mattress makers.

And the proud headline of my first ad screamed: "Mattress Sale!"


Mike Gibbs

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"I feel like a monkey's ass"

I don't have the actual ad but I can tell you it was for a horrid place called Charles River Laboratories in Boston. They did, um, testing on animals for science. (I was told it was the good, let's find a cure for cancer type of science.)

The first ad I was tasked with writing was about their monkeys and how they were wild and this was better for the scientists because they hadn't learned certain behaviors in captivity.

So I wrote the headline, "Fresh from the vine" with, you guessed it, a monkey visual.

I haven't thought about this ad in over twenty years, but I feel like a monkey's ass as a result of doing so now. And not just because I was encouraging testing on helpless creatures.

You really ought to be able to sell your soul without having to rely on a pun.

Court Crandall Creative Partner, WongDoody

Don't Cut Yer Balls off for a Career as an Opera Singer!

fresh out of an internship and in my new part time job at borders perrin and norrander in portland, oregon. circa 1988.

our client, the portland opera wanted 2 tv spots. one of the senior writers at the time said, "who wants to work on the opera?, it's stuffy and boring, not me!" he exclaimed.

well, another recent intern turned copywriter, eric grunbaum, paste-up guy kent suter and myself tackled the assignment.

shot with my canon scoopic 16mm camera and edited on a 3/4" cuts only system. we created 2 spots for the opera that were definitely NOT STUFFY. total budget spent: less than $500. they went on to win just about every public service award that year. not to mention a job for eric grunbaum at chiat day, where he still is (and the executive creative director on the apple account no less).

Branson Veal

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sold my soul on very first ad.

This was the first newspaper ad I was ever hired to create, and my second piece of work overall. (The first was a direct mail letter that I still have the text for, but not the finished piece.) Created in October or November 1994, this half-page ad is for Chester Village West, a retirement community in Connecticut.

Why a tiny agency in Kansas City was working on client a couple thousand miles away remains unclear. The frightening thing is, our work was actually so effective at convincing elderly people to sell their homes and move into the CVW compound, the place filled up and we actually lost the account.

The ad itself is, of course, nothing to be overly excited about. But in retrospect, I'm proud to say that it does not include stock photography or puns, yet does invite folks to drink away their golden years.

Check out Jason's blog, The Ad Hole

I won more awards as a creative assistant. Maybe I should have declined the promotion?

The kind people of Saatchi Los Angeles threw me (a creative assistant) and Josh (an intern) this little bone.

As for the print ad, I thought I had struck "Archive" gold envisioning the city as a metaphorical labyrinth. Eureka!

The banner was more or less our creative director's idea (it's loosely based on the movie "Duel" which I had never even heard of) and of course that's the part of the project that got noticed by the One Show. Maybe 2007 was a slow year for banners, I don't know.

Truth be told, I'm not convinced a single consumer ever saw or took notice of these little gems, but my children will. I kept that issue of Rolling Stone.

Lindsey Montague Art Director, TBWA \ Chiat \ Day \ Night

Friday, April 2, 2010

It was a nightmare project

It was a nightmare project, through and through. We had to use the same imagery as what was used for the print campaign, but didn't have a high enough resolution of the photography that we could use for this huge banner (it was supposed to hang in the dealerships).

After three days of a waffling client (as to whether they wanted to use it or now), us scratching our heads on what to do and finally being pigeon held into whatever we could come up with, this is what we got produced.

It's just a shot of the US Open tennis court. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. I really like it a lot, actually.

Chase Domergue freelance writer

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"The dawn of computer age lost in craptacular trade ad from 1985!"

My first ad. A very terrible trade ad for Kelloggs selling the idea of using computers - imagine that! - to run inventories at grocery store.

For what it's worth the client did not buy our recommendation but if memory serves it was pretty shitty too. What I love about "first ads" is that they remind us of our common origins - at the beginning and at the bottom.

By the way, I often ask job seekers to show me their worst ad (in addition to all their favorites) and tell me about it.

Steffan Postaer Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Euro RSCG Chicago

Check out Steffan's blog: Gods of Advertising

Thursday, March 25, 2010

He didn't sound juiced

This is a script from (I'm pretty sure) my first produced radio campaign of any significance. It was for SportsChannel Bay Area back in 1996 – the date is on the script, so I know that's right. The campaign featured Giants and A's players answering fictional mail from fictional fans. Always a winner formula. In this script, Jason Giambi plays up his beefcake status, which was serious (among the account girls at my agency) back in 1996. Best thing about it was that I got Jason Giambi to autograph a copy of the script. Check it out. It says "To the best in the business." If my math is correct, I was 11-years-old in 1996. Not bad.

– Jason Siciliano

Check out Jason't blog: Modern Copywriter

"I was excited as heck"

Straight out of college I found myself in a new ad agency, doing something that turned out to be copywriting later on. When the first assigment came in (actually, I had to find it myself), I was excited as heck, and then reality struck back. The Art Director was busy and threw in some stock photos lying around. I churned out something that said "A new way to get a car? Wait for more info!". To this day I doubt anyone waited.

Krzysztof Kania

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"What about your career?"

It's actually still my only ad.  Gotta start somewhere, right?
William Shandling

"You Smell"

I'm pretty sure this was my first produced ad. I was part of a female creative team on Jack Daniel's at Arnold, back in 2004. It was my first job out of Creative Circus. The client made me change the original last line "You Smell" because it was too insulting. Guys are such wimps.

Amy Hollrah

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rockin' With the Rockettes!

My first ad turned out to be a big production number.  Pretty exciting for a junior copywriter... they even let me be in the photo shoot (I'm down at the bottom, leaning on the trash bin.) – Steve Wilson

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Good enough to rip-off, not good enough to hire.

Some time in 1982 I submitted a wad of ideas to the London office of a big American owned multinational ad agency. A senior team I had met through an acquaintance had asked me to work on their biggest and most visible award winning account, a vodka. For free.

I mailed them in. About 30 concepts sketched out on flimsies.

A few months later I was walking out of Warrington Bank Quay station, having just got off the Manchester>Liverpool train.

There was a big poster site over that station's car park, and on it was an image. The image was an ad, and the ad was for the vodka. The idea was one of mine submitted weeks and weeks before, and I had thought it really cheesey.

A woman waterskiing pulled by the Loch Ness monster.

Well, they said anything could happen, and it did. I got ripped off.

I was a second year art school student at Manchester at the time, and it was a portent of things to come in the ad game, at least for me.... – Nick George

Friday, March 5, 2010

"I lucked into a spot as a junior CW."

Here's my first ad, as a junior CW at Grey/LA back in 1996. I had clawed my way through a twisted chain from Exec Assistant to New Biz Specialist to presentation guru and eventually Director of Presentation Technology.

After a lot of hard work on the account side, and always with a sideways glance down the creative hall, I lucked into a spot as a junior CW. This was my first piece, a congratulatory ad on a bank's 70th anniversary. Felt like it had taken about that long to become a real creative, but I finally got there. (Props to my rockin AD partner, Tony Pinto.) – Allison Wood

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I dusted off my Pleather Portfolio to bring you this relic.

The year was 1987 (there, you made me say it) and the place was The Richards Group in Dallas. This was one of those junior team hand-me-down projects that was due almost overnight.

Luckily for me I was paired with a talented female writer who had a much deeper appreciation for mammographies than myself. You can tell I was heavily influenced by everything coming out of Minneapolis at the time. This actually made it into The One Show that year.

My, how times and tastes have changed.

Scott Ballew

"I hit a FUCKING Bear! That's right, A FUCKING BEAR!"

Okay, so this wasn't my very first ad, but my first sold piece was definitely something for Onstar. Doing print for them was actually a dream compared to the radio and TV I had to do, wherein I listened to actual Onstar calls. Imagine listening to helpless people who just had car accidents, asthma attacks or break-ins. And OnStar was there for them, but there would be hours of crying that I had to take note of day in and day out. If the crying sounded too horrible it wasn't good for radio.

But if there wasn't enough, then it wasn't good either. It was all very Goldilocks in a way. When I had started, listening to those tears and screaming was simply gut-wrenching. But after awhile, I became desensitized to all the calls. Even to the ones where someone would scream into my ear, "I hit a FUCKING Bear! That's right, A FUCKING BEAR!"  Luckily, there were little gems like this print assignment that reminded me why I was in Advertising.

Word – Barrie Arliss

Monday, March 1, 2010

“Congratulations, you have a reel.”

While interning at FCB San Francisco I was part of the pitch for the Hilton Family of Hotels. During that pitch I threw out this idea being the champions of hospitality. I wrote about 15 scripts and that was the end of it.

Or so I thought.

A few months later I got an email from the ECD saying something to the effect of. “Congratulations, you have a reel.” With a link to a posting of about 10 spots. About 8 of them were mine.

This one was the only one that everyone laughed at when I presented. Because they were laughing AT me.
I still like it. – Kevin Butler, Deutsch

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Not sure why he needed an ad.

My first ad was for a Senator in Texas who was running unopposed for another term. (Not sure why he needed an ad.)


It actually ran. Once. – Michael Fazende

Thursday, February 25, 2010

First Taste Of The Good Life

This is my first ad from 2003. At the time I was a hungry tour DJ/Producer. A guy I knew from the record industry (who was starting a music house) called me in a panic to help him make some Hip Hop for a commercial. We worked on this one spot for 2 months and my career in music for advertising was born. – Benjamin Kahle

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Go OJ, Go!

I dropped out of college to land my first job in the AV Studio at Rubin Postaer. A year and a half later, I was an associate producer. RPA won the California Lottery account and I assisted Gary Paticoff with producing the launch of this campaign. Magic Johnson, Jose Canseco and OJ were a few of the celebs featured. – Tripp

My Fabulous Plum

Website from 2000 - ten years ago - wow. Peter Himmelman is a rock/folk songwriter and TV music composer who wanted a website for a children's album. He is the kind of guy that you meet once and know for the rest of your life.

I had been doing a lot of work for Virgin Records for bands like Lenny Kravitz and Smashing Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle and somehow got hooked up to do this site freelance.

It was one of those things where we worked nights and weekends, I drew everything by hand and programmed as much of it as I could. Everything was converted to vector graphics to load fast. We did the sound design at my friends house in his bedroom. Peter provided a lot of the VO.

The site ended up being nominated for an award at SXSW. It won an AIGA Loop award. It qualified for a student award because I entered into grad school halfway through the project.

2000 was kind of the Wild West of the Internet. It was right before the tech bubble burst and a few years before the music industry tanked. Metric performance goals and best practice documents didn't have such a strangle hold on every idea. Process just meant getting the work done and figuring stuff out on the fly. No one knew enough to be an expert, but still thought they knew everything - so I fit in just fine.

Ha ;) – Matthew G. Pollock

Fried Chicken, Country Music and NASCAR.

My first TV ad ever.

KFC was a funny client for me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love fried chicken. Just not from there. And what was even funnier is that this spot involved a country music star who I had never heard of and NASCAR racers….what? I was way out of my element. I’m Jewish, we don’t know about those things. But I do love t-shirts and making cool graphics so in the end it all worked out. Oh, and I don’t think I’ve ever been given as much money to do an ad since. Not fair. – David Zorn

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Found $60 and got a SuperBowl spot.....

In the spring of 1989 I was sitting in my apartment in Venice by the beach, enduring one of those lulls in a career, when finding $60 washed up on the shore meant food ( or something like it ) for two weeks.

At that point I was very anxious to become what I am now, a sound designer. I had the gear, I had the ideas, now I just needed the call. A call came from Hans Zimmer, who asked me if I wanted to help with sound design on a Ridley Scott film, "Black Rain". I did.

So I spent the next three months making noises and trying to figure out what the hell Ridley was talking about when he gave me direction. In the final hours of mixing the film, I was looking at returning to hoping-the-ocean-would-provide again, even as I listened to Ridley talking on the mixing stage phone about race cars, jets and motorbikes. Obviously he was going to be shooting something outrageous, but I didn't have the courage to ask him for more work.

So, sadly I went back to sitting by the phone. A week or so later, it rang again, I think it was as surprised as I was. A voice ( actually that of Jan Wieringa ) told me that Ridley was cutting this big spot for Nissan and was wondering if I would be interested in working with him on it. I was.

So I went along and met Stuart Wax for the first time, Richard O'Neil was the agency producer, and as my head was reeling from seeing the rough cut, he asked me how much I wanted to be paid. I took a flying guess, it seemed like a lot, certainly many multiples of the $2k I got for three months of "Black Rain". Probably for the first and last time he agreed right away. I have a hunch that my answer set the budget for sound design for the next decade or so.

In those days, my resources were limited, 20 sound effects cds, a Fairlight and a vhs deck. If I needed to record anything, Hans was still prepared to lend me his dat recorder. I did record things, I spent half a day under landing aircraft at LAX, drove out to the desert to record the windmills ( who knew they were so huge and make a sound like trash trucks mating ? ).

It took me a long time to get the track to a decent place, there were a few early show and tell meetings where the look of concern on Stuart's face gave me that feeling of imminent vomit. However, there was plenty of time in the budget and during the course of September and
October I showed up at Margarita Mix and various other film stages around town with my massive Fairlight, a sound computer of the time, which frightened mixers everywhere, since this was still very much a time of film and mag.

Many days, one compacted wisdom tooth and one San Francisco 'quake later…Stuart started smiling, I still couldn't understand Ridley ( and later Tony ) but I had completed the soundtrack to my first ever spot, Nissan "Turbo Z Dreamer".

Of course I was excited about it debuting on a Superbowl, even though I had never heard of a Superbowl before. Sadly that excitement was diminished when some over anxious individual created some sort of legal stink resulting in that debut being the singular airing. Stuart at least won a Gold Clio for editing and I won a reputation and a career.

The phone started ringing like mad and I rarely made it to the beach anymore. – Stephen Dewey, Machine Head

I like to rock.

My first produced ad was this billboard. It didn't win any hardware, but the media company sent it to me encased in shiny lucite. – Kevin Frank

Hey, give this one to the intern.

I somehow landed an internship at Barkley Evergreen & Partners in Kansas City (now Barkley), and I'd never done an ad before in ever. One of the agency's clients, Mueller's Pasta LaBella, had a half-page, black and white sponsorship ad in an LPGA event program. Get it? It's spaghetti and--oh, you do get it? Okay. Nevermind. Sorry. – Jake Edinger

Monday, February 22, 2010

They didn't let us use any of the anagrams with the word "heroin."

Here's the first TV spot I ever did. The budget was $20,000. While we were showing the spot to the client he got a phone call and I hit pause on the 3/4 machine. It happened to pause on a frame that had a dog's paw reaching in to the pile of french fries. After the call, the client asked, "Why is there a dog's paw in my spot?" We didn't know so we called the stop-motion guy who said, "You saw that?" He couldn't believe it. It was just one frame. He said he puts his dog in every spot he does. The client made us take the one frame out. – James Brown

Psych 101

My first print ad was an outdoor board for the LA Convention Center to promote the kinds of groups they were hosting. We actually ended up doing a whole campaign, one for each group. – James Brown

Sometimes it is life and death stuff.

How I got my first job at a good shop just months after 9/11 is still a mystery to me. But I know it happened, because I have this first ad to prove it. It's the only ad, coincidentally, that I ever got produced there before experiencing another important first--my first layoff. – Troy Pottgen

Sellin' Timeshares

Check that word count! My first freelance gig. I remember writing all three of these in one night. There was zero collaboration with the agency's art director, so what you see is what they sent me after the ads ran. Footnote: the agency used a line from one of these ads as the tagline for the next year's campaign (but didn't hire me to write anymore). – Edward B. Baldwin

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My first spot.

My first spot. – Cameron McHarg

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day One and feeling the Agency Spy love.

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for your submissions and making Freshmen Ads Day One an Awesome one.


I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

The first job I produced was this radio spot.  I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, having never worked on the agency side.  My only saving grace was the writer basically told me what to do.  He must have seen my deer in the headlights look.  Said writer proceeded to hit on me like crazy during the mix.  Best. First. Spot. Ever.  – Vicki Tripp

It was a print campaign for vegetarian hot dogs.

It was a print campaign for vegetarian hot dogs. I think it was in 1998. Unfortunately, more than ten years later, my craft has failed to improve. So, these aren't really my first ads as much
as they are my career pinnacle. – Steve Babcock

really? that soft?

While it was eventually produced, it still feels soooo 1992. – Chuck Hipsher

Shiny Kudos

I had done a fair amount of collateral and direct mail before this. But to the best of my recollection, it was the first major print ad I got produced. Ended up getting some shiny kudos. It was also honored by the architectural and interior design industries as compelling work which was nice to hear. – Mark Trueblood

It never made it past testing.

A killer budget, great Director, and did I mention the media buy was during Super Bowl XLI? I should also mention it never made it past testing. I should also mention I still lose sleep over it. – Justin Lesinski

Good old LA Gear

Oh my first ad… Good old LA Gear. Didn’t know who the hell Luke Walton was, I was just happy I wasn’t working on the Dillard’s holiday catalog any more! – Amanda Mourenza

I got lucky.

I got lucky. My first ad was a TV spot for the 2005 Chevy Equinox. I had to fight for the music. I don't know that I was right. The funny thing is that Publicis just produced an almost identical ad last month for the 2010 Chevy Equinox. – Thom Cordner Jr.

Really, people, where would we be without it?

My first ad ever. I did it for the Arizona Science Center to really hammer home the importance of science. Really, people, where would we be without it? – Rick Utzinger

Recipe lessons

I didn’t go to portfolio school. Instead, I consciously chose to carve a career out of whatever came my way. Like this recipe ad circa 2000-2001. For those of you unfamiliar with the product, it’s a type of marshmallow crème only available in New England. While I had already produced a few things, this particular assignment was the first time I remember getting excited to work on a particular brand. (I blame my sweet tooth.) Too bad using the word “excitement” in a headline doesn’t automatically make the work exciting.

Also, after it sold, we were told to take the product image and make spec campaigns for award shows. Up until that time I had no idea people actually did that. For portfolios, sure. But professionals getting paid to do fake work? Crazy talk.

Today, it’s unclear to me why any of it was necessary. Fluff and fudge sell themselves.

– Lisa Taylor :: :: @taylorwriting

My mom was proud.

I don't believe I still have a copy of my first ad, although I did keep one for years. But it was for Yamaha snowmobiles and they wanted to sell them in the slow season, summer. 

The visual: A guy in shorts and sunglasses slouched across the seat.

The headline: "Get 'em while they're hot."

I wrote it as well art directed. My mom was proud. – Kevin Murphy

Back in the day, they were award winners!

Back in the late 80s, these beauties garnered all kinds of awards and appreciative murmurs.  They were produced by SMW Advertising (now Publicis) in Toronto for the Canadian Television Network.  I was the writer.  I can’t remember who the art director was, and I don’t want to libel anyone by guessing. – Suzanne Pope ACD john st.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The first Lexus ad.

Scary s##t

My first produced piece was a 1-page print ad meant to scare the bejesus out of parents so they'd get their kids fingerprinted. I don't have a copy of the ad. But here's the headline & visual. – Rebecca Rivera

Your child was born with the most sophisticated identification system known to man.

A child's tiny thumbprint.


Okay, this is my first ad. I haven't seen it since I wrote it but I understand it is now being used by the Minnesota Poison Control Center to induce vomiting in people who have ingested pills or poison of some kind. Even today, I still get a little urpy looking at it, so please be careful. If you are looking at this ad now, I encourage caution. In addition to gastro-intestinal reactions like reverse peristalsis, there is also some possibility of retinal damage. I find that if I look a little bit to the RIGHT of the ad, I can kind of read it without risking any optical damage. – Luke Sullivan Group Creative Director, GSD&M