the frequency a kenny chung blog

February 4th, 2018
according to

For the Advertising/Marketing Class of 2013, I present you everything I’ve learned about this industry.

1) Get out now. Don’t go into advertising or marketing. People will hate you. Your parents will think you’re doing the devil’s work. You’ll never be able to adequately describe what you do when you meet strangers outside the industry and feel good about yourself afterwards. GET. OUT. NOW. Okay, that should get rid of all the uncertain people. If you want to make it in this industry, you have to commit. There are so many places where you could take a wrong turn (which can sometimes be a good turn), so you have to know what you want to do, and then set a path to do it. But be flexible. I can count on one hand the number of people I know who got their dream jobs right out of college.

2) You will not be paid as much as you think you’re worth, and you are not above internships. Most gainfully employed people that I know started out at internships. A lot of them aren’t ideal, but they’re not meant to be. You have to remember the ultimate purpose of internships for most companies – they’re either for building talent internally through pre-entry level hires, or they just want cheap labor that can be easily replaced. Most of the time, it’s the latter. That doesn’t mean you should half-ass your job. Learn everything you can, and at some point, you’ll probably outgrow your job responsibilities. Use it to build your resume, and then you can leverage your experience for a full time position (either there or elsewhere).

3) If you’re planning on moving back home and home isn’t a big city, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage. Like it or not, agencies gravitate toward metropolitan areas. There’s more talent, bigger clients, and the mystique of saying your office is in Manhattan. My parents had the foresight to move to Brooklyn and stay here throughout my entire life. It has definitely opened a lot of doors in terms of networking and being privy to the multitude of jobs available. I really don’t have a solution to this if you’re from the middle of nowhere and don’t have the means to get yourself to a big city. I guess it boils down to nurture over nature.

4) For the creatives – a good portfolio is a lot better than a good resume. What good is all the fancy book learnin’ if you can’t execute? When I was studying graphic design, I ran into a lot of people who definitely had “it”. Great eye for composition, creative ways of remixing existing concepts and themes, etc. But a lot of people also didn’t have the chops in school or even straight out of graduation. And that’s okay too; those people go to ad school.

5) Corollary to Tip #4: Sometimes you have to face facts and realize you suck. You might not have an eye for design or you might never be able to write riveting ad copy. If it’s just not in your nature, then no amount of schooling will help. Willingness to learn is huge, but it’s more important to accept critical feedback when it’s valid. Learning to identify the truly useful feedback is the hard part; I’m still working on that one.

6) Volunteer for anything you can. There’s always extra work to do, and raising your hand shows that you’re engaged and want to grow professionally. It may take more of your time, but if it works out, it’ll pay dividends. You never know when there might be a position you’re qualified for opening up somewhere down the line. It might be one that you’d never find out about unless your supervisor realized what ancillary skills you possess.

Graduation cap
credit: JMaz Photo

7) Highlight your strengths. If you honestly think you have something to add to the conversation, speak up (given an appropriate situation). But don’t speak just to be heard. If people like what they hear, they’ll learn your name or ask about you in due time. Be visible, but not in an annoying, peer-antagonizing way.

8) As familiar as you are with your strengths, become more intimate with your weaknesses. Don’t rest on your laurels. Go in every day looking to improve. Set weekly or monthly goals. Presentation skills need some work? Seize as many opportunities as you can to practice and get feedback from your superiors who have been doing it for much longer. Lacking some technical skills? Ask if you can shadow one of your more experienced colleagues. If you can do it without inconveniencing them, you’ll not only learn something, but he or she might actually be honored that you asked.

9) Your college degree or GPA means a lot less than you think it does. Stop listing your GPA after you get your first real world job. If you don’t have to, don’t list what year you graduated (ageism is a litigable offense, after all). Let your experience speak for itself and try your best not to deal yourself any disadvantages. Your Ivy League undergraduate diploma will likely server its role as proof that you attained your basic education qualification. Sure, it may impress the HR people, but if that’s all you have, you’re not getting hired. Now, networking is a totally different thing. Take advantage of your alumni networks and see who your professors know in the industry. It will never hurt to know more people. And try your damnedest not to burn any bridges. The people you step over to get to the top will be the same ones you meet on your way back down.

10) For the love of all that is holy, keep your resume to one page or less. Nobody has time to read your fluffed up opus of an undergraduate CV.

11) Don’t forget to have fun your last year in college. But at some point, learn to stop procrastinating. Get all your job applications out of the way the end of Q1 2013.

12) Prepare your stomach for free lunches.

13) If you ever lose your passion for the industry, then get out. Otherwise, you’re just a cog in the machine and the longer you’re here, the more it’ll grind you down to your core. It’s not all Mad Men. 95% of the time, it’s as inglamorous as can be. It can get down and dirty and you may not see the benefits of the long term strategy until further down the road. If you’re unhappy, shop around before deciding whether or not you want to change career paths completely. But be warned, there will always be 150 qualified people gunning for your job the second you leave. And speaking of, don’t ever quit your job without another one lined up. Unemployment isn’t exclusive to the worst of us.

Day 1 Day 2

A random note to start off this recap:
At some point I noticed that I was hoarding all the bottles of water that the agencies gave us. And what struck me as extremely apt was the fact that Publicis, CDM and BBDO each gave us different brands of bottled water. Here’s the breakdown:

Water bottles

There’s never a missed opportunity to create brand awareness, right? Of course, Publicis has worked with Coca-Cola internationally (which manufactures Dasani) and BBDO works with Pepsi, which owns Aquafina. Just an interesting point. Now onto Day 3!

Kaplan Thaler Group

Clients You’d Know: Aflac, Champion, Dawn, Trojan, AdCouncil

First impressions: We were in a standard conference room. Nothing too fancy, but they gave us Snapple. We watched a very personalized reel (the same one they use to bid for clients) followed by a lot of Q&A with Creatives and Acct/PR people. We even had Linda Kaplan Thaler herself speak to us for a few minutes.

What I took away from it:
·The impression I got from some of their creatives was that traditional is still King. Sure, they’ve moved onto the web, but traditional still makes up a large percentage of their business.
·Creating a PR stir (as they did with their banned Trojan pig ad) whether intentionally or unintentionally will generally lead to good things for the company and the client.
·Regarding Creative interviews: focus on getting across who
you are. The book already got you the interview, so after the weeding process is done, the interviewee just wants to know the person behind the book.
·BU kids are all spoiled brats with trust funds. (OK, that one’s a joke, even if I got the impression that one of the Creatives didn’t think so)

Final impression: Linda Kaplan Thaler is the shining star of the agency (which is not to say all other aspects are subpar). She definitely believed in what she was preaching and made us believe in it too (the mark of a good Advertiser). She also graciously gave each of us the two books she had written with Robin Koval- “The Power of Nice” and “The Power of Small.” The creatives were pretty straightforward with us and seemed surprised at how accomplished individuals in our group already were prior to graduating. We also toured the agency afterward and the offices were really nice.


Clients You’d Know: Snickers, Absolut, Jameson, Skittles

First impressions: The place was really yellow! Also, the view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral from the area where we had our meeting was pretty cool. We had five to six speakers from different sectors tell us about what they do and they allowed us to prod them in a pretty intensive Q&A session.

Onto the key points:
·DISRUPTION is the big idea. Find conventions within the category and then disrupt them.
·The retention rate at TBWA is pretty high. People love working there and they stay.
·Personal chemistry, work and attention to detail will get you far.
·TBWA has recently gotten new clients…

Final impression: This was the last agency tour we had, and it definitely helped round out the theme of duality. Each day, we visited two agencies that were completely different from each other. TBWA has some huge clients and is the big dog of the yard, so to speak. As such, it was clear to me that their employees knew exactly what to expect and how to deal with everything (which may be related to the high retention rate).

(Tequila is a Worldwide agency involved in a recent merger with TBWA)

Well that’s that.

Six agencies in three days. Now I have to write a ton of Thank-You notes. Super-Special thanks to BU COM Professors Berkovitz and Cakebread, as well as COM Event Coordinator Lauren Glaser.

March 18th, 2009
according to

Day 1

Tons of initials for Day 2. I forgot to mention that Day 1 ended with a social event with tons of BU alumni meeting with us (as well as with the BU COM PR trip people). I met a lot of interesting people who were all very helpful and imparted much wisdom about how the real world is.

Anyway, onto a review of Day 2!

CDM- Cline Davis & Mann

Clients You’d Know Viagra (D2P only)

First impressions: CDM provided by far the most professional setting for our visit, which makes sense since it’s primarily a pharmaceutical advertising firm. We entered a conference room with individual place settings consisting of a bottle of Poland Spring water, a CDM keychain and a mini-book portfolio of the company’s work. We watched a reel, then took a tour, and when we got back to the conference room there was a complete panel of speakers representing all aspects of the agency. We had an extensive Q&A with them, from which I learned a ton.

What I took away:
·The holding company of CDM is SSCG, which stands for Substance, Style, Conviction, Grace.
·SSCGU is a semi-in-house ‘school’ that provides courses for all employees, ranging from biology courses (to better familiarize oneself with terminology) to creative courses (if one were considering switching career paths). They even entertain suggestions for new classes.
·Each position has Career Paths, which are like levels you complete, that provide a guideline for promotions, etc. but are by no means set in stone.

Lasting impression: Visiting CDM was a different experience. I loved the idea of their SSCGU program and would definitely enroll in classes if I were to work at CDM (or their sister agencies Lab9 and AgencyRx). My impression was that CDM really cares about their employees and wants them to achieve their full potential while still working in the agency.

Also, they gave us complimentary children’s books created through employee collaboration (written, illustrated and generally put together). It was titled “The Little Girl Who Found Her Heart” and proceeds for the book went to charity. That made me sit up and say “Wow! I’ve never seen that before.” Either Advertising is transcending mediums like never before, or Advertisers can also be people who care. What a concept!

There was also a Tibet march/protest down the block when we left (literally a sea of people as far as the eye could see). It was unreal how many people were involved. Pictures do not do it justice, but here’s an attempt anyway:


Clients You’d Know: FedEx, ATT, HBO, M&Ms,, Pepsi/MTN Dew

First impressions: Along with CDM, BBDO was another agency that really felt like it was housed in an office building. Also, it must be stressed that BBDO is BIG! They’re now worldwide and also have their own digital agency (Atmosphere Proximity). One of the professors who was leading the tour said that you can really determine what companies will treat you right by looking at where they have meetings. BBDO accommodated us in a conference room full of sofas and armchairs. It was by far the most comfortable meeting, and we were also offered Aquafina water, M&Ms and Gillette shaving gel.

·Digital, Digital, DIGITAL! If you want to stay on top of things, you must go interactive. There is NO excuse not to have an online presence.
·We had a very eccentric speaker (he had complete control of the room) who spoke to us about his unique job at BBDO (NY). He was the Creative Engineer and his duties were to figure out if an idea would be possible to execute and determine how to do it. I had never heard of such a position before, and was quite intrigued by it. Hopefully I’ll be in contact with him soon (side note: I’ve been purposely leaving out names for privacy sake; I hope it hasn’t been misconstrued as a sign of disrespect!).
·BBDO has an in-house bar! It’s called
Central Filing and we were all guests there. The best part was when our guide told us that we didn’t have to pay for drinks!

Lasting impression: BBDO was a little more buttoned-up than the places we visited on Day 1, but at the end of the workday, they sure knew how to party. We even met the supreme head honcho of the company (“Ozzy”) and had a drink with him between rounds of Guitar Hero. It was such a fine duality between business and pleasure. Also, as their in-house lawyer mentioned, one of the downsides to having such a large company is that not everyone gets to know each other. But overall, I respected BBDO for its decorum and like it for its prestige.

March 17th, 2009
according to

Our Boston University School of Communications Spring Break Advertising Trip began at the offices of Publicis USA. Then we had lunch, and then headed downtown to Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners.


Clients You’d Know: Citi, Oral B, BMW, Maytag, Charmin

First impressions: We were in a Penthouse-type meeting room with a nice view. They provided some coffee, water, fruit and some finger foods. We had six or seven speakers, about half of whom were BU alumni. According to my notes, we had an Acct Director, two AEs, two HR people, a planner and a Copywriter.

They were all informative and friendly. But here are the takeaway points:
·Understand the brand!
·Integrated Creative over different mediums is important.
·New business= new jobs!

Also, their bathroom was super nice:

(Yes, that’s a shower!)

Lasting impression: Publicis is very people-based, and build their accounts around the people instead of finding people to fit rigid slots. Their offices were modern and looked really comfortable, and I could definitely see myself working there.

Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners

Clients You’d Know: Kenneth Cole, Panasonic, Wendy’s, Mohegan Sun

First impressions: We were in a conference room with stainless steel tables (reminded me of working in food service). The walls were frosted glass with light pouring in from the hallways. We started with a reel (that was really more like a short film with several cameo appearances), had three to four speakers, and then a special treat- Jon Bond himself spoke to us personally.

Here are some key points from Mr. Bond:
·Radical is good. Be different and take the less obvious approach (pretty much KB+P’s mantra)
·Multimedia campaigns are the way to go- solve problems using different mediums.
(answer to my question: how do you know where the envelope is so you can push it?) It depends on where you think the brand can go and if its believable. As a corollary, know the brand!

Lasting impression: KB+P tries to break boundaries in everything they do (just look at their Kenneth Cole campaigns), and the personalities of their workers reflect that. By their account, they created what we know as reality TV (with their Snapple Lady commercials). KB+P seemed to be more creative-driven (we even had a Creative volunteer to stay afterward and review our work). The higher-ups definitely know where they want brands to go, and it’s up to the creatives to figure out the means. And that’s how wacky ideas come about.

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