Advertising 101: In the Case of New & Free

What are you doing now?

I currently work in advertising.

Is it like Mad Men?

And the million dollar question has landed. The above conversation set is one that I have relived countless times in the last few months.

According to piece of paper in my parents’ living room I specialized in management and did a concentration in marketing during my years at Rotman. But I have to admit that I left school and dove into the agency life with little knowledge of the ad industry. As a student, the ad industry was one that was rarely ever touched upon in the classroom and as a result, it was one that had remained elusive and even mysteriously glamorous (other than the paycheck comparisons with client side). Now, with a full 3 months of my foray into the industry under my belt, I thought I would share a few lessons and a glimpse into the agency side with fellow aspiring marketers, advertisers, Mad Men enthusiasts, or just the curious soul.

For starters, I have yet to experience the 9 am old fashioneds and closed office door games that Mad Men is so fond of. And the crisp suits that Don Draper and Roger Sterling tend to sport are only seen at the coffee line, on the frames of the RBC guys down the street. My team prefers jeans and I have worn Lulus on Fridays. However, the beer cart is not a myth.

On a less fluffy note, I would like to share an insight a creative director I work with shared with me recently during a meeting:

If you can use new, use it. If you can use free, use it. And if you can use both, do it.

New is a word that is associated with the positive and free is one that triggers the feelings toward loss aversion. Of course that doesn’t equate to throwing these words into the copy where ever. If you do, you will only succeed in gaining single-day or single-week followers on Twitter that are merely interested in obtaining your company’s giveaways through the search function.

For more, Shopify has a fun read with examples.

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