Product Design
  • Interview Excerpt: Mike Sweeney, Creative Director, BBDO New York

    Check out some great work from Mike Sweeney.

    WS: What about copy? How important is it to show that you can write? What is the best way to show writing abilities?

    MS: I guess there’s two different ways you can do it. I think you should definitely know how to write a headline. It’s important to be able to get across a good, funny, intelligent idea fairly quickly. It’s kind of what we do. And then you should also know how to write [longer copy]. So I guess you can show that through copy in a long-copy ad or other writing samples. Because I think it’s almost like a lost art nowadays. A lot of people just do visual ads, which is fine. But I think if you’re called upon to actually write something, you should know how to do that. So, in getting a job, you’re going to have to show somebody that you can do that. Hopefully.

    WS: Do you think it’s good to show things that aren’t ads in your book?

    MS: As long as it has something to do with thinking. Let’s say you shot a movie—that has something to do with advertising. It shows that you can put a story together and do that kind of thing. Say you wrote a book—that seems to me to have a very close relationship with advertising. And it’s still pretty cool if you’re an inventor and you made this new thing. It shows that you have some ability to think of new ideas. And some problem-solving skills and stuff like that—that’s cool. So I think it should be somewhat focused on the job at hand…

    [ … ]

    WS: And do you have any other advice for someone who’s just starting out, either in terms of putting together a book or looking for a job?

    MS: I think a lot of people always want to go to the great agencies to start off. And I think it’s good and it’s bad. It’s great to go to the good agencies because you get the recognition and you know you’re working with the best people and all that, and that is awesome. But then if you go to a place that’s too big or it’s got too many great people, as a junior you’re really not going to get a lot of the best assignments—you’re probably going to get a lot of shit work. You’re going to be doing that—which is fine, because you need to learn how to do that stuff as well. But if you go to a smaller place, I think you might have more opportunity to do more things. So I’m not saying go one way or the other, just don’t be upset if you get one thing that you weren’t looking for. And I think any job out there is still a job, and you’ll learn how to do it. So if you’re trying to go to a Goodby, or a Wieden, or a Crispin, and you don’t get a job there for whatever reason, it’s okay. You’ll still be able to get there somewhere down the line, and you might even be better off for it because you’ll maybe have a chance somewhere else that you wouldn’t have had there. I always liken Goodby to the New York Yankees. They always had so many great people there that they weren’t going to give them the shitty little retail ads. So juniors always had to do it there, which is fine. It’s just that you may get a different opportunity somewhere else. But you also get to learn from those great people, so they’re both good.

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