Monday, September 15, 2014

Me and Derek Jeter.

"The New York Times" has done its usual brilliant job on a bit of data visualization about how many swings Yankee great Derek Jeter has taken over the course of his 20+ year career.

You can take a look at it here and it's well-worth, I think, the minute or two it will take you to enjoy.

The gist of the item is that over the course of his professional career, Derek Jeter has taken over 342,000 swings at a baseball. In fact, it would take you four full days of non-stop watching to see all of Jeter's swipes at the ball.

It all made me think about longevity and doing something well over an extended period as Jeter has.

My first printed "ad" came out about 34 years ago. I was a young copywriter, more junior than junior, writing about shoes for the Montgomery Ward catalog. Over the course of the two years that I worked for Wards, I probably wrote two or three-hundred pages of shoe ads.

Eventually, I left and joined Bloomingdale's as an in-house copywriter. There, I literally wrote ten ads a week or maybe more. Most retail ads are not in the least conceptual. They have headlines like "Save 20% on plush cotton towels." And body copy is downhill from that. But the ads have to be written, and I got paid for two years to write them.

I probably wrote a thousand ads for Bloomingdale's, add to that total the two-hundred I wrote for Wards and the probably one-thousand I wrote as I was putting my portfolio together, I had probably writ 2,500 by the time I got hired for my first agency job at Lowe.

Since then, I've probably written 15,000 more. I'm figuring ten ads a week for 50 weeks a year for 30 years. So, counting liberally, I've probably written 20,000 ads by now. I think I'm pretty good at it. I'm not Derek Jeter. I'm no "immortal," no Hall-of-Famer. But I do, more often than not, put good wood on the ball and I often wind-up on base.

Unlike Derek Jeter,  I'm not wealthy enough to call it quits. And my powers, unlike his, have not withered with the onset of years. I'll keep stepping up to the plate and keep swinging.

I still like the feeling I get when I get ahold of a good one. 

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