Welcome! This post is one for the archives. If you missed our first Marketing & Advertising Panel and you are interested in a career that fits within these creative industries, this will hopefully be informative.
We had the pleasure of hosting speakers from market leading media agencies; our first was Mara Dettman – an Editor at BBH London. Mara graduated from the LSE eleven years ago having studied International Relations. Prior to joining BBH, Mara had worked in business development as a project manager and account managed at an agency that worked on the London Olympic Games. Taking a year out and moving to Paris to freelance, she realised she actually enjoyed working in an office and relocated to the UK, where she joined BBH.
In her capacity as an Editor at BBH, Mara manages the editorial team, small consulting projects and user experience analysis. She frequently works on creative campaigns with a social focus – ‘How KFC trolled the clean-eating trend…’ for its Dirty Louisiana burger campaign, being an example.
Our second speaker was Shams Manzur from DF London @ Engine. She explained the importance of coming up with new and innovative ideas for those working in the ever-changing creative industry. Her unorthodox start as a medical student proved to her that you really can study anything and go into advertising. Following a few bumps in road and a couple changes in direction, Shams spent some time in her native Pakistan, where she cracked her first ad. Having gone on to work with local brands, Shell and Unilever, Shams realised how important it was to maintain a sense of purpose in what she did.
An opportunity soon arose, which allowed Shams not only to get in touch with her roots but as a woman in Pakistan, effect real change. “Even before Malala Yousafzai, education was a huge issue in Pakistan”, Shams explained. A project was being developed and it was intended to try and tackle the lack of accessible education. Shams drafted a script inspired by Stanley Kubrick, which focussed on the idea of being blindfolded. Though the campaign was banned in the mainstream Pakistani media, it went viral online in Pakistan, neighbouring India and even reached American sites like Buzzfeed – which as Shams explained, “was a big deal!”
Shams has continued in the creative industry, working with companies like Virgin, Sky and Spotify. Her journey has also seen her work for MI5 and MI6 on counter-terrorism campaigns, and the UN on the ‘Humanity Lost’ project.
Our penultimate speaker, Lydia Sammout Kanellopoulou currently studies at the LSE and is completing her Master’s degree in Social and Public Communication. She also works in the Corporate Communications/ PR department at Ogilvy UK. Lydia always knew she wanted to do something creative while simultaneously delivering important messages to a wider audience – “working in the advertising sector was the best way to do this.” Having completed several internships, her deeper insight into how the industry worked enabled her to more confidently decide exactly what she thought wanted to do.
Lydia has worked at M&C Saatchi in the Consumer department, predominantly for sports and beauty clients. This was valuable experience, but essentially “we were communicating a simple message to the public – ‘buy a product’, which was not very fulfilling.” It was when she moved (in the open-plan office) to sit near the Corporate Communications team that she saw the kind of work she knew would provide the balance between creativity and positive influence – working with NGOs for example.
Last but not least, Malique Broome from The7Stars Media agency joined us. Malique was a unique guest in that she was able to share a little bit about her experience as a placement student at The7Stars and how she subsequently joined the London team as an employee.
Originally, Malique was adamant she’d be a dancer – having attended the Brit school for two years, she had submitted her applications to train professionally at Dance School. Similarly to Shams, Malique had a change of heart and completed a few internships at companies from a range of different industries. Though, it was after studying Marketing at Surrey and abroad in Florida, that she realised she could really enjoy a career in this industry. She had always wanted to work with people in an environment that would allow personal, creative and intellectual growth. It was in her capacity as a placement student at The7Stars Agency in 2016 that Malique was able to understand the power of building networks and the importance of being open to learning new skills. “You really need to have a student mindset and be prepared to learn!” The placement was an enriching experience and heavily influenced her decision to return after graduating this July.
Malique works primarily on ensuring advertisements reach their intended audiences, largely in the entertainment sector. She explained how this role has highlighted the importance of diversity in the work place because “an advertising agency must, to some extent, be able to relate to the audience it is trying to pitch ideas to”; and that the advertising industry is constantly changing, so an open and adaptive mindset is 110% necessary.
How do you assert yourself in the workplace as a young woman?
Malique – “For the duration of my placement year, my immediate team were all boys so I had to realise my worth and value. You need to realise that every experience you’ve had brings value to the company – you learn a lot from your team but they can also learn from you.”
Shams – “Advertising is not about being talented, it’s about working smart. Realise that advertising is largely about psychology/consumer behaviour. So use what you know as a young woman.”
Lydia – “Know your worth and other people will respect you. Understand that while you’re junior, you’re smart, you work hard and deserve to be where you are.”
What made your applications successful?
Lydia – “You need to know how to sell yourself in an interview. Be confident – know your worth and communicate that to the interviewers. Practice as much as you can – your first time will almost definitely be a disaster! As you practise you will find a way you can sell yourself convincingly and precisely.”
When Lydia got an interview at Oligvy, she had completed a uni assignment that was relevant to the company’s values and objectives. She stressed that even though she didn’t have much experience, she was able to give them proof that they should hire her.
Malique – “Personalise/ tailor your CV and cover letter to the company you are applying for! For example, include campaigns the company had worked on that you were interested in. Before your interview look at their social media as well. Know what the company stands for, their business objectives and goals. Also, make sure you take the opportunity to ask a question in the interview – it shows that you are interested, an example: ‘if I’m working here as a grad, what does my day look like?’ Finally, make sure that you are polite to everyone, even the receptionist and security guards - if you aren’t chances are, others in the building will hear about it!”
Shams – “Make sure you have a portfolio to show them!”
Keep being passionate and stay true to yourself. If you want to do this work, do it for the right reasons because it takes a lot out of you
Seek out internship opportunities, even if only for a week!
In this industry you need more work experience than academics because it’s so fast-paced and they don’t have the time to teach people from scratch - even having a blog would help!
Use your existing network and grow it organically, even if you just chat to people about their job over coffee
When you’re on a placement just speak to as many people as possible because you never know who can vouch for you in the future
We really hope that helped anyone interested in a career in Marketing / Advertising!
Alt Careers Soc ☺️