What got me into marketing: Integrated Planner

Shut up and listen. Here’s something you should know. There is no one ‘way’ into marketing agencies, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I’m only here because my mate sold me a guitar for ‘pocket money’ and I saw an episode of Mad Men that same week.

Seriously, until I was 20 I thought creative thinking was for people with silly haircuts, bizarre glasses, and listened exclusively to Radiohead. I only bought the guitar because I was skint and needed something to do for a year. And then it happened. The guitar made me feel creative and I ENJOYED that feeling.

And that was it.

Creativity was under my skin. I immediately felt like the politics degree I was halfway through was a waste of my life. Although I did finish it, because mum didn’t raise no quitter.

Side note… Don’t let anyone tell you you’ve got to get good grades to do marketing either. I got a 2:2 at university and even bagged myself an ‘ungradable’ at A-level, which my family still think is “Very good for someone like you”.

Anyway, the penny had dropped. Creativity was mint. At 20 I tried to volunteer at a design agency, but I had such a profound lack of talent and was so lazy, I couldn’t even give my time away for free.

For some reason, then I applied for the role of Account Director AT THIS VERY AGENCY.

I very clearly remember someone asking me: “Do you have extensive experience across multiple advertising channels and clients?”. Dear reader, I did not. I hadn’t even graduated. Shockingly, I did not get that job.

But I was determined. Fuelled by Rory Sutherland’s TED talks and Ogilvy On Advertising, I would get into the agency world. What followed was a full year of me reading books, getting hopeful, and being rejected from jobs.

Until one evening in the pub with my friends Shannon and Stevie. The thought just arrived in my head: “F*** this, I’ll do it myself”.

So, supported by my wage at a tool shop, me and a mate started ‘a thing’. Turned out to be some sort of quasi-agency. Our first client was York’s tourist board. The second was Jack Daniel’s.

However, with no real experience I was clearly out of my depth. I even had to Google what an invoice was.

But after all the rejection and people who should’ve known better telling me: “You aren’t successful this time and you probably won’t be next time” (verbatim quote), this silly thing I was doing crystalised one thing in my head: I’ll tell you where I’m going and what I’m doing.

I’d never had something as weird as a ‘career ambition’ before. But from the ramshackle beginning to whatever I am now, the spirit was always the same. We’re off to the top of the mountain and we’re never coming back down.

Anyway, that’s how I got into marketing.

P.S. I credit three ads as getting my interest.

The “Probably the Best Pub Football Team” for Carlsberg.

“The Surfer” for Guinness.

And “Make It Count” for Nike by Casey Neistat.


Written by:

Michael Hayes Integrated Planner


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