Monday, October 11, 2010

My first advertising job.

My first advertising job involved writing copy for a company that was 30 years ago major catalog--Montgomery Ward. There were some pluses to the job. 1) It was a job during one of those long-running Reagan recessions. 2) They allowed you flex-time. I got in around 7AM and so was allowed to leave around 3. 3) You had to learn the tonnage game--the Montgomery Ward catalog was no place to be an artiste. You were a laborer. Everyday you had to write your requisite number of pages. 4) You had to learn a way to get along with people because you would literally produce 200 pages a year. That means 200 layouts to work on with an art director, 200 discussions with buyers, 200 pages to be proof-read and produced. If you were an asshole you'd have been found out within 20 pages and fired by page 100.

One guy I remember was the print production manager, Rocco Imbriale. He'd look over blueprints with you of your pages and ask "Do you want a bang there? I think it needs a bang." Bang was what he called an exclamation point. He also had a giant peg board in the light room; he'd move the pegs forward each time another step was completed.

Rudy Mihalovich was the proofreader. He was the only guy in the office who wore a suit. Rudy was a nervous guy who stuttered if he came upon a mistake. A mistake was to be feared. If a catalog number was wrong or there was some other form of typo on a blue, you would get something called a "Blue Star Notice." It meant that a final mechanical needed to be changed. Five Blue Star Notices in a year would get you fired. Rudy was on the hook for these because he was the last stop on the error train.

Rocco and Rudy, and one other guy, Pat Patrichuk were the old men in the office. They were even older than my father and had fought in WWII against the Nazis. Now they were fighting the battle of retail against Sears.

I did this job for about two years while I was putting my advertising portfolio together. My starting salary was $11,700 and when I left I was making $18,300.


Anonymous said...

first jobs in the business. yr experience seems unthinkable today when seated across the table from a Miami Ad school wannabe or Williamsburg dandy. Expectations. Mentoring. Learning one's craft. All have changed radically. better or Worse? Careful now, you don't want to sound like a "mouldy fig"

eileenerb said...

This sounds like most excellent training and your salary wasn't that bad. My first salary 25 years ago in a recruitment ad agency was around 18K.