How I got my first job in advertising (Part 1)

By Paul Syng

paulsyng.com

The bell to our one bedroom hall kitchen rang. We were expecting burgers and fries from McDonald’s this afternoon. But, this wasn’t your regular delivery.

There was a catch.

My roommate and me were jobless and broke as fuck. No advertising agency was willing to hire virgin copywriters. I was told repeatedly that I lacked creativity. During this period of financial adversity we began to creatively approach our cash. We had struck a deal with the delivery guy from McD.

Here’s the opportunity we saw, on a casual visit to a local McD, by observing the staff and operations. All the food (burgers, wraps and fries) that was prepared could only stay on the shelves (right behind the cashier, acting a divider to the kitchen) for a certain number of minutes- which was/is deemed fit for humanly consumption. Beyond the stipulated time, the food was discarded and replenished with a fresh stock.

On seeing this we couldn’t bear the thought of all this perfectly edible food being dumped into the bin- all while we were hungry and broke.

Btw. Hats off to McD for only serving customers “fresh” food.

On our way out we struck up a conversation with one of the staff members preparing to deliver food. He became our hook-up. On receiving a coded text message, he would bring us the discarded food (burgers, wraps and fries) in lieu of a decent tip.

A win-win for everyone, if you ask me. McD didn’t want anything to do with the wasted product (which was technically discarded because of time alone) and we were too high and broke to miss the opportunity.

As this routine continued we had put on several pounds. Only months into our hustle, it had become quite an apparent health hazard (check Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock) so we had to fire our hook up.

It was hard to let go.

We made several phone calls, contacted everyone we could find in our combined network and sent our resume to every possible agency to no avail. But one fine day, my roommate got hired, scoring a job at an agency doing healthcare client work, leaving me to stare into the emptiness of our flat.

Bored and with nothing to do, I decided to revisit my resume. Long empty stares later I came to a conclusion. Clearly it wasn’t effectively conveying who I was and how passionate I was about copy. There had to be a way I could get the attention of Creative Directors so they would, at the least, meet me.

Being on their radar became my first, self imposed, creative assignment. I began to explore different ideas and constantly found myself going back to Neil French.

I was/am a fan of long copy. I dreamt of doing long copy for several brands and winning awards. Naive is what I was. But that’s the one thing that worked in my favour.

Read part two.


paulsyng.com/365

Paul Syng has lived and worked in Chandigarh, Mumbai & New York- doing brand strategy and design projects of all scope & size. Currently based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter and Ello.


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