Getting into Advertising

It’s not like it was in Don Draper’s time when you blagged your way in by getting your future boss wrecked in a Madison Avenue bar but it’s still a fun industry. In this blog post our Senior Careers Consultant, Sue Holdsworth, offers her insight in to the creative world of Advertising.


Advertisements are everywhere in the UK – from television to radio to billboards. An advertisement helps to market a product or a service – it does this by presenting it in a positive way to make it sound interesting or attractive to the consumer. Bearing this in mind, it is an industry where having a creative flair is essential.

Think of an advertisement you have seen recently. Ever wondered how it was developed or who came up with the idea? If so, then a career in advertising could be for you.

If you are interested in this area then the most informative sites to start with are:

Both sites will provide a wealth of information about this career area including an industry guide and routes into it.


Advertising is a broad area and there are many roles available within it, including:

Copywriter: they write anything from a TV script, a tweet, a strapline on a press ad or the words on a website. Copywriters often form partnerships with an art director and they will then be hired as a creative team. If this sounds appealing to you then you might be interested in applying for the IPA Ad School creative programme, which runs every summer and is open to second and third year undergraduates and recent graduates.

Art director (also known as creative director): Art directors in advertising agencies generate creative concepts and campaigns in response to a creative brief – and then bring them to life. Fine Art or a similar degree is usually required.

Account planner (also known as strategic planner): works closely with the client to research the market and understand the consumer. Planners create a strategy for the brand, which the creative team then use to produce their work.

Media planner (also known as communications planner): decides which media channels should be used to communicate with a client’s target audience.

Media buyer: purchases media space and airtime on behalf of clients. Media buyers may specialise in a particular channel, such as TV or digital.

Pay per Click (PPC) executive (also known as search executive): they make their clients’ webpages more visible in paid-for search engine rankings.

To get your foot in the door you’ll need to have plenty of work experience in the industry, a creative mind and a business head. You will also need a good grasp of social media and be technology savvy. You can find details of all the agencies operating in the UK by consulting The Advertiser’s Annual – there is a copy in the Careers Centre.

Finally, think about which ads work for you and why – it’s a favorite question people get asked when looking for work experience.

Useful links

Adland Grads – a useful blog with tips and advice on entering the advertising industry

Careerweb has further information and insights into the sector

The advertising section of the Guardian newspaper

Prospects – further insights into the industry

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