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Advertising Career

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Advertising has, in one sense, always existed; it is as old as mankind, for, broadly speaking, it is merely some sort of announcement. But advertising as a profession, as an active and most important factor in the conduct of business, is a distinctly modern development. It is a science so young and so constantly changing that to most people the word "advertising" conveys only a vague idea of its scope and influence. Advertising today is the great business-getter-it is the presentation of goods or service in such a way as to appeal with the greatest result to the largest possible buying public.

The positions of highest standing in the world of advertising are those of advertising manager or director, plan man in an agency and copy writer. The work of these men is in many respects identical, but each has also certain specific individual duties. The advertising manager may be employed by any kind of firm or enterprise having anything in the line of goods or service to sell. The advertising manager is responsible for the advertising policies of the business, for the form these policies take and for their success. He must be able to build up a name and prestige for a new firm, or to continue that of one already established. The one standard by which his work is invariably judged is its success, for advertising is a very practical profession. It looks always for results; its very nature makes this the thing of prime importance.

The advertising man must be familiar with the day's business conditions in general, and in particular with the conditions of that field for which he is doing the advertising. He must know his own business and the business of a great many other people as well. Advertising is primarily salesmanship and, in selling, it is necessary to know what public to approach and how to approach it. So the more experience in business, and the more knowledge and judgment of goods and people which the advertising man has, the better for him. Very often the advertising manager does but little of the actual work of carrying out the advertising plans, but he must supervise this work and, to do so, he must understand it thoroughly. For this, actual knowledge of all the phases of advertising work is necessary.

The advertising manager does not always originate the new plans, but he should be able to do so, in order that he may know the difference between good and bad suggestions, workable and impractical plans. Some enterprises, which do not employ their own advertising men, leave their publicity work to an advertising agent, who acts in the capacity of advertising manager for many different enterprises. In former years an agent simply transferred prepared advertising material from the business man to the medium through which this material was to be made public. But the advertising agent of today is an expert, who can plan and carry out an advertising campaign for many different types of clients. In order to do this, he must, of course, have a large fund of commercial knowledge, and a thorough training in advertising methods and the use of advertising mediums.

The most important man in the agency is the plan man who actually organizes the publicity campaigns. He must always be advised on current business and financial conditions, the character and extent of the competing enterprises and the general state of mind of the public. He must be capable of devising a campaign which will be original and distinctive, or a series of campaigns which, while differing from each other, may effectively characterize the firm for which they are planned. Both the advertising manager of a store or other business and the plan man in the agency should have a thorough understanding of the technical and artistic side of advertising. They should know the advantages of the various media of advertising—such as news-papers, magazines, booklets, posters, billboards and displays; should be acquainted with the fields of typography and design; and should be capable of writing their own copy, even though they may leave the actual writing of it to the "copy man."

The copy writer is the man who writes the advertisements. He is responsible for the turning out of brief, simple, accurately worded statements, which will be forceful, original and appealing enough to bring the required results to the advertiser. He should be able to take a few salient facts and, with these in mind, compose advertisements which will make the most profound impression on the reader. The copy writer's work is not, as too many people think it is, merely a stringing off of words. Unless he believes in the article he is advertising, he cannot make other people believe in it. Unless he is sincere and truthful, his advertisements will not be backed up by the goods he advertises, and, consequently fewer and fewer sales will result. He must be, as should every advertising man honest, enthusiastic, a man of business and also a man of literary and artistic ability.

In advertising it is, above all, personality which counts. What-ever special line he may finally follow, every advertising man must have certain natural qualifications, and certain others which are the result of practical experience. He must be a thoroughly wide awake individual, alive to every opportunity which may present itself. He must know a good idea when he has one and, having recognized it, he must have the energy and perseverance to work upon it till he has evolved from it an effective publicity campaign. The most successful advertising has been, like most inventions, but one-tenth inspiration and all the rest hard work. Complete mental alertness is necessary, too, in order that he may recognize an advertising possibility and make the most of it. And for this, another quality, originality, is absolutely essential. Originality, imagination and versatility will give distinction and variety to the advertising man's work and will help him to under-stand and make use of hitherto unrecognized possibilities in the advertising field.

We have several times already mentioned the fact that the advertising man should have real business knowledge and ability; but this point cannot be emphasized too much, for many young men do not realize that the advertising man is, above all, a sales-man, and that he must know his article and know his public. If he is to know his buying public he must, of course, know human nature, and he must also have tact, so that he will be able to deal wisely with human nature in the everyday conduct of his business. Then he needs energy and executive ability; a capacity for hard work, and the power to make other people, too, work hard and well.

The advertising man should, of course, have facility in expressing himself in writing, clearly, simply and forcefully, and in preparing material quickly and accurately. If, in addition, he has some artistic ability, he will always find it useful. But more important than all other qualifications are a willingness to learn, capacity for hard work, real enthusiasm for the work and honesty. Only truthful statements will create confidence in the public toward the thing advertised, and establish a sound reputation for the firm or business.

Many of the qualities discussed above are natural ones—either the prospective advertising man has them or not-but others are the result of training and experience. Training for advertising work can be attained only partly in schools. It is true that high schools, the Y. M. C. A., private business schools and over thirty of the large colleges and universities in this country give courses in advertising; but the student who has taken such courses should remember, when he is ready to start his first actual advertising work in business, that his studies are just beginning, that he will be given, in practical work, infinite opportunities to learn the advertising business thoroughly and that he will get his best training by taking advantage of these opportunities. Experience is much more important in advertising than merely theoretical training, though a certain amount of theory is necessary.

Many men have, till now, entered the field of advertising more or less by accident. Some have come from journalistic work (which is in some respects similar) , some from work as salesmen or merchants. It is generally considered desirable for the young man who wishes to enter advertising to have had some experience on a newspaper as typesetter, reporter, editorial writer or all three. In this way he may gain experience in the actual make-up of advertisements, a knowledge of news values and a certain terse, simple style of writing. Some experience as a salesman behind the counter or on the road is also considered desirable, for then the would-be advertising man knows the practical problems of selling. Besides experience in these lines, he should have a fairly good academic education, with some knowledge of science, ac-counting, economics and history and, above all else, a thorough training in the use of the English language.

To make good in advertising it is not absolutely necessary for a man to have had former experience in newspaper work or selling, provided he is prepared to work hard and to learn from his daily work the essentials of successful salesmanship, and provided he is energetic, resourceful and alive to every opportunity.

Advertising work often makes great demands on one's time and energy. Much of it must be done within a limited time, so that the advertising man must frequently work under high pressure, and far beyond the ordinary hours of the average business man. But the advantages in the advertising field far outweigh these disadvantages. Advertising is a profession where ability is quickly recognized and rewarded. Promotion depends upon accomplishment the man who does good work is soon given a chance to show his mettle in a higher position. For the person of ability and initiative, advertising work offers great opportunities. It is not a less crowded profession than others, for many have entered it, thinking the work to be more a matter of glib talk than earnest effort—but these men are easily passed by the conscientious and original worker.

The advertising manager and the plan man, of course, have the largest salaries in the field; they can make anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 a year, and in exceptional cases even more. The copy writer may at first earn only $12 or $15 a week, but later his salary may rise to $35 or $40 and, if he is exceptionally capable and well known, he may earn almost as much as the manager or plan man. Of course, most young men start in subordinate positions, at low salaries; but plenty of opportunity for advancement offers itself to them. The work itself is always fresh and new, and so always interesting, for no two advertising problems can be alike. Besides its great importance in business, advertising has another significance. Advertising men are always awake to the newest things and methods, and these they popularize. By so doing, they render not a little public service, and educate the public taste.


ALLEN, FREDERICK J.: "Advertising as a Vocation," The Macmillan Co., New York, 1919.

BLANCHARD, FRANK LEROY: "The Essentials of Advertising," McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., New York, 1921.

CALKINS, ERNEST ELMO: "The Business of Advertising," D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1915.

CHERINGTON, PAUL TERRY: "Advertising as a Business Force," Doubleday, Page & Co., New York, 1913.

HALL, S. ROLAND: "Advertising Handbook," McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., New York, 1921.

SCOTT, WALTER DILL : "The Psychology of Advertising," Small, Maynard & Co., Boston, 1917.

STARCH, DANIEL: "The Principles of Advertising," A. W. Shaw Co., Chicago, 1923.


F. A.: "Advertising : Its Principles and Practice," The Ronald Press Co., New York, 1917.


Advertising Club News, Advertising Club of New York, Inc., New York. Advertising World, Advertising World Co., Columbus, Ohio.

American Newspaper Annual and Directory, N. W. Ayer & Sons, Philadelphia.

Associated Advertising, Associated Advertising Clubs of the World, New York.

Poster, Poster Advertising Assn., Inc., Chicago.

Printers' Ink, Printers' Ink Publishing Co., New York.

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