My Big Future in Advertising

Big Impact. Bright Minds. Big Future.

brandless pop can1

You may think being an advertising professional involves helping yourself to a 3-martini lunch but it's really about helping this can. We take this naked can and we give it stylish clothes. We issue this can both a name and a personality. This can comes to us as 12 cents' worth of raw materials and we turn it into a buck. In short, we add value. Value to the can, value to the can's creators, and even value to the people who consume the can and throw it away.

This page will give you a sense of this business we love and, more importantly, help you determine whether you might come to love it.




Get a better understanding of what advertising agencies do for their clients by checking out high impact, CASSIES award winning case studies.


It takes a very smart and imaginative person to change a nothing to a something. A person who can use both sides of their brain. These people are hard to find. Many of them probably never even considered a career in advertising. Why? Well, we like to blame Hollywood, which tends to portray all ad people as arrogant, self-important, and hopelessly shallow. Of course, in reality these are just a few of the qualities you'll need. Joking. We're joking. Throw all of those qualities away. The one thing you will absolutely need is a good head on your shoulders. Oh, wait, and a sense of humour. Long hours will demand an ability to laugh. That and a knack for rolling with the punches. In addition to these three general pre-requisites, there are specialist disciplines within advertising like interactive, location based, direct marketing, sponsorship, experiential, social media, public relations and consumer research demanding different but complementary skills and educational backgrounds.

Account Manager

What You Do:

When movies are being made there is always a producer that oversees all the work being done. You'll do the same thing for your brands. Your job is to lead the charge and make sure everything comes in on strategy, on time, and on budget. You are the single most important guardian of brand strategy and the vital line of communication between the client and the agency's specialist departments. You are the hub of the wheel, in constant contact with all the "spokes" in and out of the agency.

Who You Are:

You're a rare breed - booksmart and people-smart, possessing both analytical skills and a charismatic personality. You're a juggler: you can keep a number of balls in the air at any one time, but you're not a showboat. Flourishing under pressure, you're a shepherd that somehow manages to get the sheep into the corral without aid of dogs or ropes. You often represent the agency, so you must be an excellent communicator. Within the agency, you're a jack-of-all-trades, revelling in variety. You know a little bit about everything and everything about the client's business. The buck stops with you.


What You Do:

Call yourself Joe Q. Public, because you represent the consumer in the strategic-creative process. You conduct and analyze research, taking seemingly obscure consumer trends and meld them into compelling strategies. Then you work with the creative team to ensure that everything hits the strategic mark.

Who You Are:

You are fascinated by people and frequently find yourself their confidant. You often come out of left field to catch insights invisible to everyone else. You could be captain of the debate team. You are scary smart. Friends marvel at your ability to jump on, then off, the bandwagon, always at just the right time. You enjoy trying new things. Your claddagh ring faces out. You actually understood what that last sentence meant.

Media Planner

What You Do:

Like a club treasurer or a personal shopper, people trust you to spend their money wisely. You are the key link between client and outside media partners; you meet with the client almost as much as the account managers do. You understand brand strategy and the ever-changing media environment. You cultivate relationships with media partners so that they'll give your clients the plum deals and unique opportunities.

Who You Are:

You are quick with an idea and even quicker with a calculator. You were voted "Most Conscientious" in school. Numbers don't scare you. You like people and always look for a chance to mingle. You pride yourself on staying ahead of the latest trends and in seeing creative possibilities in every kind of media out there.


What You Do:

When account managers come to you with creative problems and strategies to implement, you condense, twist, and transform them into ads. You are an idea person and you are a craftsperson. You obsess over the smallest of details, all to ensure that the ad achieves exactly what it has set out to do.

Who You Are:

You're a little off-centre -- you see things differently than the average Joe. People may even find you strange or fascinating. More than the gift of the gab, you're blessed with the talent to twist a phrase, or a paintbrush, just right. You know the rules of grammar and you know when to break them effectively. You are the most creative person your friends know. You have ideas: brilliant ideas, bad ideas, you've got them. You aren't afraid to swing and miss. You can't imagine a job that doesn't expand and challenge your strange mind. A bit of a dreamer and romantic, you believe that you can beat the odds. You have the ability to convince others of your vision.


What You Do:

Clients and agency generalists count on you to speak the Klingon that is digital. You can understand and identify the latest technology or killer app that is taking the net by storm. Your job is to escort brands (via strategy or execution) into the digital realm.

Who You Are:

You just plain dig the web. Dig? You know what SoLoMo is. You've already replaced your television with your computer. You were the first to trade in your laptop for a tablet. Friends come to you to get beta invites. You have friends all over the world and you catch up at SXSW.

Project Management & Production

What You Do:

In many ways you are like an account manager, except that you manage the production of individual ads rather than overall brands. You are creatively oriented, working with the creative teams to make the best possible ads. You help the teams realize their vision and you help the account manager by bringing in your projects on time and on budget.

Who You Are:

You thrive on detials. You even noticed that details was spelled wrong in the previous sentence. Visual or graphic, you are a lover of the arts. You can remain calm under duress and solve problems on the fly. When the tide rises, everyone looks to you. They know that things are safe in your hands. You can cajole and convince with the best of them. You've never met an ego you couldn't tame. You pride yourself on being with the times -- you know which way the wind is blowing and what colour it's wearing.



This page is just the first step in learning about careers in advertising and communications. You can learn even more by talking with an advertising professional firsthand.

Opinions concerning the ideal advertising candidate differ, but nearly everyone can agree on the importance of passion. The business of advertising is very challenging, especially at the outset. There are some growing pains to manage and dues to pay, so agencies look for people who are passionate about the business of advertising. Passion is best demonstrated via industry knowledge of roles and responsibilities, hot agencies, and great campaigns.

For most entry-level positions, interviewers will expect you to be able to explain exactly why an ad is good or bad. There are no clear right or wrong answers, but your opinion must be based on something other than subjective personal preference. You will need to look at ads as agency people do. Regardless of the position you are seeking, search out people, even friends of friends, with agency experience. Many agency professionals were once in your shoes on the outside looking in, so they are sympathetic to your plight. Call and see if you can book an information interview at an agency.

For a list of advertising agencies that are members of the ICA, go to the Member Agencies List.