What on earth have I let myself in for, I sometimes ask myself. On an ordinary day - when, once again, things haven't gone according to plan. When what I thought was a straightforward brief starts becoming more and more complicated as it gets dissected. When more and more requests get scribbled relentlessly into my notebook and the angst of my to-do list slowly creeps across my face. I think back to my old lecturers and family friends who told me I would be suited to a career in advertising and I ask them all, in my head: why didn't you tell me it wasn't going to be easy?
Worrying about timings, whether our creative concepts are delivering on brief, running from meeting to meeting, having discussion after discussion on strategy, battle after battle on concepts, eating chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is my job. My world.
There is no point in hiding or denying that we are living, breathing and working in a demanding and arduous economic environment. Our marketing clients are under enormous pressure to cut costs and, in turn, agencies are under enormous pressure to do more for less, faster. In this kind of climate, it is only inevitable that projects advance in a similar vein to horse-racing. Hurrying and rushing along while retaining skill, precision and expertise, encountering obstacles and hurdles en route, but still expected to battle on with the same speed.
The pressure can be intense.
This way of working would make lots of people feel terribly uneasy. "I feel sick to my stomach at the thought of it," my mother says. But, to me, this is my day-to-day life – a life I couldn’t imagine not living. And I love it.
The pace is accelerating, but it’s exhilarating. The obstacles you face are distressing, but the solutions you can come up with are surprising. Trying to convince and win over the heart of your client with a piece of creative work, because you feel passionate about it and because you’re convinced by the knowledge and genius of all those around you who have worked in this industry long enough to remember keeping hip flasks of whisky in their drawer, is challenging. Yet this challenge, this innate passion and belief that innovative and brilliant creative ideas can change the way the world thinks is what keeps you powering on, even when you feel there’s nothing left in you.
Passion for good creative work that you are utterly proud of makes every difficult conversation and sleepless night worthwhile.
So even if I do sit there, on one of those days, questioning why I’m here and why I work in a job where I have to constantly worry about every minute detail – when I see that finished piece of work, suddenly I remember it’s because I care. I’m here, just like everyone else in my agency, on a mission to get brilliant creative work produced. And the satisfaction you get – that’s a great feeling.
Aoife O’Dea is an account manager at Fallon London
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