BBDO Advertising, New York
Sarah grew up in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri: Independence, Missouri where Harry Truman was born.
Sarah has a Bachelor of Journalism (BJ) from the Missouri School of Journalism, well known for producing famous journalists. She also graduated with honors from the Portfolio Center, Atlanta, Georgia. The Portfolio Center has a two year program which is treated like a Masters program in advertising, enabling writers to build a writing portfolio.
“I always wanted to be a writer. I read a ton; I’m always reading a novel. I wanted to be a writer and go into creative writing when I went to college. Being the first person in my extended family to go to college, my parents thought of college as a vocation, I was going to college to get a job. They felt that if I studied creative writing I might end up back at home. We agreed that I could go for a Journalism degree. During my junior year of college, I met a professor who pointed me into copywriting, focusing on advertising and suggested that I go to a graduate school.
“My first job was working for an advertising agency in Birmingham, AL. l was a junior writer and worked on small accounts to gain experience. I produced TV campaigns, print campaigns and I received an International Award, The One Show Award*.”
Now at BBDO Sarah works on a number of large accounts, presently handling Starbucks, GE, Hyatt Hotels and a website for Federal Express, focusing on sustainability.
“At a large corporate agency, my day usually begins with meetings to figure things out. I normally write for half a day, attend production meetings and client presentations. Once I have an assignment, I get a “Creative Brief” from the Account Manager with the main objective being the one thing that the client wants to say or to happen. I do a lot of research before writing anything; so I know what I’m writing about. Then I go to work on a headline and body copy. I summarize it and turn it into a story that is engaging so that the general public does not have to read too much. It then gets presented to my boss, the Creative Director, for approval or suggested improvements. Any needed changes are made and then it goes to the Account Manager to make sure I was listening to the client. Once we have Account Service’s approval, the work can be presented to the client.”
Sarah says her biggest challenges are building trust with the clients so they know that the agency is recommending what is best for their brands and secondly proving yourself to your male counterparts as well as your female colleagues.
“The most rewarding part of this career is when your work is finished, it goes out there and it gets a positive reaction.”
“The keys to success are very hard work, having a thick skin, not to take criticism too personally. Nothing is ever perfect; you may have to scrap it all and start over or make smaller changes. When starting out you have to accept there will be long hours and that your social time will be very limited.”
Sarah says her job has changed almost 100% since she started in the field. When she began her career it was all TV and print advertising that was about a story and the emotion behind it. Today it’s 100% online websites, social media and banner ads. It is about being the first to do something or having a “shock” effect that is almost more important than the story. It is getting harder and more difficult to produce creative work that meets the new criteria.
When Sarah has free time she takes writing classes. She likes to run, cook, sew and read. Her favorite book, is Straight Man by Richard Russo.
* One Show Design awards excellence in design in advertising, branding, and other forms of visual communication in a dedicated ceremony.