This article originally appeared in AdNews Magazine, 24th June 2016.
Will Edwards is associate creative director at JWT Sydney, and has a few awards under his belt including a Bronze Lions at Cannes. He’s a Macleay College alumni but also part of the team that helps shape the next generation by giving lectures and mentoring current students.
Doing great work is really, really hard. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in advertising. I learnt quite a few years back that chaos creates great ideas. But no one likes chaos or taking a risk. It feels uncomfortable. That’s why there is such a huge reliance on research. But if you don’t know how an idea will be received, then you’re in a good place. I used to panic when I felt this way but now I embrace it because it means you’re onto to something.
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I went to uni, lack of direction was a factor of me getting into advertising. I did the advertising course at Macleay College while I was getting my act together. It turned out to be exactly what I wanted to do. I learnt very quickly that great ideas helped great advertising stand apart and I decided that’s the kind of work I would aspire to create – not an easy task.
I got my foot in the door a number of ways and I started out working at Leo Burnett in its despatch department. I got to see how an agency worked, who did what, and figure out where I would end up focusing my energy. A career defining moment came from quitting a frustrating agency job. I had been working below-the-line for four years, working with a particularly problematic client. I decided to change direction and within four weeks of quitting I had a new job in an agency with great clients and a huge desire to create good work. I realised difficult situations often push you and redefine you. It taught me not to fear or avoid challenges or negative experiences as these make you stronger in so many ways.
My biggest piece of advice to others starting out is to make lots of mistakes. Be bold. Be inquisitive. Become a sponge to all things pop culture. Above all be passionate. I don’t see the same work ethic I used to see in my peers when I was getting in. Advertising is a demanding and tough industry, but it’s a piece of cake if you stand apart from your peers and demonstrate you will work hard to get the job done. Someone once said, ‘Good is the enemy of great’ and I really believe that many of the young things getting into the industry think ‘good’ is good enough.
I always tell students and future advertisers that the hardest lessons to learn in this industry is finding balance. If you don’t find balance and chill out while you’re actually working, you can work yourself into the ground. It’s a relentless industry that won’t look after you.
To be inspired I need to be healthy and experiencing stuff all the time. I can’t be good at what I do if I just sit at a desk and drink coffee.