A veteran in the industry shares his experience

A few of us from the blog team just left a room from listening to a fabulous guest speaker here at Temple. His name is Ted Regan, and he’s had a successful career in the advertising industry for over 30 years now. For the majority of his career, he worked at N.W. Ayer, which was the first advertising agency in the U.S. located in Philadelphia. In 1973, it  moved to New York. He was a copywriter there, and then went on to become a creative director. He was very informative due to his great knowledge of the business, which comes from a lot of experience.

He began with some words of wisdom he’s learned over the years. He told us that the most successful people in the advertising business are passionate about the industry, passionate about type, and passionate about design. You have to love what you do. Along with this, comes perfecting your talent. To ensure a lively career, “work on your talent. Work on your talent until it’s really, really good.” He also said that to create really good work, you have to know the client inside and out. Who is the company, what are they about, who are their competitors, who is their target? You need to know what you are talking about. To quote him exactly, “A ton of work get’s done before you get to be a genius, and if you do it all, you get a chance to be a genius.”

Regan is most known for his work with the United States Army campaign. Being a veteran himself, he brought useful experience to the topic. The first campaign he worked on for the Army came up with a wide variety of slogans.

“Today’s Army wants to join you.”

“Take the Army’s 16-month tour of Europe.”

“If your job puts you to sleep, try one of ours.”

Due to the fact that the Army was a government account, N.W. Ayer was required to come up with a fresh campaign every three years. They would present these at the Pentagon, and compete with other agencies to win the account again. Because this was such a big campaign, they had to come strong, and they did. They won the campaign every time. Their second round of campaigns came up with the slogan, “Join the people who’ve joined the Army.” And for their third round of campaigns for the Army, Regan came up with perhaps one of the most memorable slogans of all time. “Army. Be all you can be.” He worked on this campaign for almost his entire time at N.W. Ayer, and left in 1991. From there he went on to work with another creative team.

He finished up by saying that the ad business is like sports. “It’s competitive. If your not competitive you probably won’t like it.” When asked what he missed most about the business, he said he missed the social aspect of it. He missed the meetings, the screaming, and the arguments. He then left us with a closing statement. “It’s a great business. It’s a tough business.”

One comment

  1. I was there too and this is what I got from his quote…

    “A ton of work get’s done before you get to be a genius, and if you do it all, you get a chance to be a genius.”

    Before we step outside of the box, we first have to be able to do everything that’s inside the box. I also thought it was interesting that he said that only art director’s are trained specifically for advertising and that every other position has a background from another field. I was trying to think of anything that didn’t coincide because things are much different now than when he was in his prime, but I still think he has a point. I think everything else can be broken down to marketing, accounting, and writing (and a bit of sociology). I’ll be covering this in-depth some time this month.

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