Ruth Naperbaumhausen interviews freelance ad exec, Simone DeBlasio.
Q: How long have you worked in advertising?
A: Coming on two decades. So, I started when I was ten years old.
Q: Why advertising? Why not politics, banking, psychology, or the service industry?
A: Advertising is a grab bag of many professions. Only you get to wear jeans and a T-shirt to work.
Q: What was your first look into the world of advertising?
A: Growing up, I loved the show “Bewitched”. Samantha’s magical powers were cool, but I was more impressed with Darren’s copywriting. I loved his pun-filled taglines.
Q: What was your first advertising gig?
A: In 5th grade we were given an assignment to write, direct and star in a TV spot. My commercial was for “Honeycombs” cereal.
Q: Other than the “class project” which is totally legit, what was your first paying job?
A: About eight months after college graduation, and 479 sent resumes later, I landed a job at a direct marketing shop in Mountain View. They hired me as an “assistant account manager” with the caveat I could move into copywriting. That was 17 years ago, and I’m still in management. Advertising folks know how to sell an idea (even if it involves a little finagling of the truth).
Q: Why stay in management if you’d rather be a copywriter?
A: I didn’t know how to put together a portfolio, and I was terrified to ask for help. I took the safer, less satisfying route. Decisions based on fear usually don’t pan out.
Q: Wow – admitting to selling yourself out.
A: Um, that’s not a question…
Q: Fair enough. What are some of your favorite aspects about advertising?
A: Other than the late nights, leftover food from meetings and working with lunatics? I love seeing cool ideas come to life.
Q: What is your favorite commercial?
A: “Aaron Burr/Got Milk” produced by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in the mid-90s.
Q: Why does that commercial stand out?
A: The premise is simple and relatable, and the execution is brilliantly satirical. The strategy plays on the basic human experience of deprivation. Running out of something you need more than anything at the particular moment. Joni Mitchell said it best – “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”
Q: Who are some people you admire in the advertising industry?
A: The variety of quirky personalities is endless. Some folks are memorable for representing what NOT to do, while others are etched in my mind for their prolific idea-generating minds. Jon Steel, Chuck McBride and Todd Grant from my days at Goodby come to mind.
Q: Do you think you’ll eventually take the risk and move into copywriting?
A: While I’m a glutton for punishment, I’m not a fan of rejection or rules. I admire creative teams for their inexorable endurance to work inside a cage, and listen to annoying feedback.
Q: What’s next?
A: I’m releasing a book of essays titled Letters from the Dead – inspired by my demented and haunting dreams. After this freelance gig is up, I’m going to Lopez Island (2 hours from Seattle) to finish writing my sci-fi novel.
Q: Any final words of wisdom?
A: Today is the only day of your life – do something you love. Or start drinking, heavily.
Q: And as for lali?
A: Two of my favorite adgirls! You lovely ladies are so incredibly inspiring. Don’t ever stop :)
Simone DeBlasio is a struggling writer and musician living in Los Angeles. The struggle is mostly in her mind. Otherwise she has a pretty dope life, writing her venomously satirical blog, short stories, novels, movie scripts, and really depressing songs. For more Simone, visit simone-says.com.
Ruth Naperbaumhausen is a figment of Simone DeBlasio’s imagination.
*ladies, let us know if you’d like to be featured as a guest adgirl*