Advertising is positioning and creating brands and persuading consumers to buy them through messages in mass media. The clothes you wear, the cars you drive, the food you eat and the soft drinks you consume are all brands.
Each year, companies spend billions of dollars on advertisements to encourage consumers to buy their goods or services. Television commercials, radio spots, newspaper ads, promotional mailings, and banner ads have become part of our everyday experiences. It’s an advertising agency’s job to create and place these ads so that they capture the attention of consumers and encourage customers to purchase a client’s products.
Advertising agencies are typically organized into four major divisions: account management, creative, market research, and media. Each plays an important role in developing successful ad campaigns for their clients.
Full-Service Agency – As the name implies full-service agencies provide clients with a wide range of services from ad creation and production to media planning and buying, to strategic development. In the past 10 years, advertising has witnessed considerable consolidation. Most major agencies are now owned by one of six holding companies.
Creative Boutique – Creative boutique firms provide a more limited range of services typically focused on ad creation and production. Often these firms are founded by established art directors or copywriters who have chosen to leave the “big” agency world. Clients may seek out these firms for more cutting-edge design, or to try to save money.
Media Agencies – Media agencies focus on media planning and buying, which is the management and purchasing of media time and space.
Skills Needed: creativity, excellent written and oral communication, teamwork, design, motivation, analytical, good sense of humor, knowledge of popular culture/news/media
Account Services Department – Positions in account services include: assistant account executive, account executive, senior account executive, accounts supervisor/accounts manager.
- Advocates for client with agency and for agency with client.
- Manages relationship with client, acting as a liaison between art department, production department and client.
- Responsible for keeping team motivated and on schedule.
- Must communicate well with different types of people, be detail-oriented and be knowledgeable about client/brand.
Media Services Department – Positions in media include: assistant media buyer/planner, media buyer/planner, associate media director, media director, and media manager.
- Planners strategize where and when to buy media space, buyers negotiate the purchase of that space.
- Applies statistical models to audience, circulation, and cost figures to minimize media cost and maximize media effectiveness.
- Manages the purchase and control of large blocks of media time/space, recommends and allocates this space among clients according to campaign requirements.
- Must be analytical, detail oriented, able to draw conclusions from research and data, able to negotiate and sell ideas.
Account Planning/Research Department – Positions in research include: research project director, research account executive, associate research director, advertising research director and research department manager.
- Research focuses on quantitative analysis; researchers serve as experts in statistical applications, mathematical modeling, project design, and methodology.
- Account planning involves qualitative evaluation of consumers including focus groups, telephone interviews, surveys, etc.
- These areas may be separate or combined areas depending on the needs of the agency.
Creative Department – Art Direction – Positions in art direction include: assistant art director, junior art director, art director, and senior art director.
- Requires knowledge of advertising trends and strong visual communication skills.
- Develops and recommends visual strategy and oversee creation of final campaign.
- Oversees progression of campaign from rough sketches through final production.
Creative Department – Copywriting – Positions in copywriting include: junior copywriter, copywriter, senior copywriter, copy chief.
- Responsible for writing ad and promotional copy and developing concepts for campaigns.
- Requires knowledge of advertising trends and a strong writing ability, works closely with art director.
Creative Department – Production – Positions in production include: layout worker, graphic artist, production manager.
- Artists and layout workers create the visual impact of the ad by selecting photographs, drawing illustrations, choosing print size and type, and sketching scenes for commercials to accompany the copy.
- Designs packages and creates logos, trademarks and symbols.
- Production managers oversee the actual printing of ads, filming of commercials, and/or recording of radio spots.
Business Development – Focus on acquiring new accounts, usually a small department.
Traffic – Responsible for guaranteeing that departments meet deadlines, get approvals from all departments.
- Must be organized, detail-oriented and able to work under pressure.
Ad Club of Metropolitan Washington – Website of the Advertising Club of Metropolitan Washington, a chapter of the American Advertising Federation. Hosts local professional development, educational and networking events. Maintains a job bank.
Ad Forum – Includes a search engine to locate agencies by location, client and/or business sector. Site also displays top company website hits, and provides portfolios of select advertising firms. Includes information on over 18,000 agencies and 50,000 ads.
ADWEEK – Weekly magazine covering advertising, marketing and media.
Advertising Age – Magazine of marketing, media and advertising, published weekly. Publishes helpful reports in its “data center.”
Advertising Educational Foundation – Non-profit supported by ad agencies, advertisers and media companies that serves to provide educational content to students and professors studying advertising. AEF sponsors conferences, provides curriculum and classroom resources, and provides career advice.
Advertising Women of New York – AWNY hosts over 40 events a year including an annual advertising career conference. Also includes job database.
American Advertising Federation – Trade association representing advertising professionals. National network of professional advertising clubs as well as over 200 college- and university-based clubs.
American Association of Advertising Agencies – The national trade association representing advertising agencies. Provides roster of members with an agency search that includes a description of the agency; also has a client/brand search tool. Maintains a job search engine.
Media Bistro – Job search engine for creative positions.
New York Time – Stuart Elliott – Sign up for New York Times columnist Stuart Elliott’s weekly newsletters on advertising. Search for “Stuart Elliott” and select “receive newsletter” from the box on the right.
Occupational Outlook Handbook (Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers)
Talent Zoo – Job search engine for communication industry.
Vault Career Insider Guides (must use your WFU email to access)
Wetfeet Careers & Industries – Overview of the advertising industry and careers within the field.
For a timeline of the job and internship search process and advertising industry recruiting, click here.