Brand Strategy

I'm a brand strategist at a media agency, but want to shift to a creative agency. What preconceived notions about media people would affect you when interviewing me? Flip side: any assumed strengths?

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Preconceived notion: there's no such thing as a brand strategist at a media agency

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I would assume 1. that you are not practiced in original, creative thinking 2. that you do not understand creative or brand strategy at all 3. that you do not understand fundamental qualitative research methodologies or have participated in commissioning or conducting research yourself 4. that you do not understand briefs, how to write them, or what a good or bad one is 5. That you do not understand insights 6. That you do not understand and may never have been to a real creative briefing 7. That you do not understand the creative process 8. That you do not understand how to work with creatives 9. That you do not understand the fundamentals of creative work like the differences between an idea, a tactic, a program, etc at more than a superficial level 10. Based on your educational background, that you don’t have a deep background in critical thinking 11. And that you may not be a strong writer 12. That you think media is interesting (which is a very bad sign because it’s boring - which is not to say that it’s unimportant. It’s good stuff to know about but it’s not interesting) 13. That you are used to process and will struggle in process-free work 14. That you are dependent on access to tools and services that we might not have or use 15. That you are probably a terrible visual storyteller and deckmaker despite a background in design (pretty slides don’t mean you can tell a story) 16. That many media people aren’t as smart or interesting as creative agency people (based on the hundreds that I’ve met and worked with over the years) Those are the ones that come immediately to mind. There aren’t really any transferable skills besides MRI. In terms of strengths, I suppose you might understand campaign architecture, comms planning, and journeys to some degree. However the most important thing is that you prove that you have an innate curiosity matched with the ability to think critically. In other words, I’d hire you despite the above if I thought you were the right person as an individual. It’s really a completely different job. I made the same transition you’re thinking of, 10 years ago, so I’m not sure if these are more than assumptions. People will probably hate this post but I liked your question so wanted to be honest with you about what my assumptions would be, even if they are socially repulsive to admit to

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ms1: I have probably worked with about 150ish media planners by this point in my career, and in that set there are exactly 4 that I thought were distinguished

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You’re early enough in your career that hopefully you can switch easily and take some media knowledge with you. Ad folks think media people are in it for the perks. Show that you’re nerdy and curious and get excited about understanding consumers.

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My assumption would be that you work 9-5 then go sip champagne in the exec box of a basketball game, as media folks seems to be all about the perks!

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Sapients list is pretty good, but I’m not sure I would overthink it that much out the gate. I would assume as a junior that you may have taken a wrong turn on your journey and that you want to course correct back to an agency where you can actually learn brand strategy from other brand strategists. I would assume you may have seen and been exposed to some campaign planning/programmatic buying which is always helpful exposure IMO. I would want to better understand why you want to be a brand strategist, and look to hear you speak passionately about brands and the actions they’ve taken that substantiate their position. I would find it interesting to hear you talk about clients you have now that you would have liked to work on at the agency I am at because you would have been able to do true brand strategy work with them (and I would want to hear what your thoughts would be on that having worked with them so much). If you wanted to squash quite a few of Sapients concerns you could pull together a short deck that’s more of a “here’s who I’ve worked with and what I’ve done, here’s the challenge and insight that unlocks possibilities for one or two of them, and here’s some top level ideas I have around what they should really have done”

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I think the goal of an interview is to build rapport, present yourself as someone I would want to work with professionally and leave me feeling like I learnt something I didn’t know before we spoke. That doesn’t mean shower me with knowledge, but do pique my curiosity and have a lively conversation about your clients and work with me.

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Minds + assembly is hiring for media. But we are a creative agency, check us out

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Added context: I have ~1.5 year experience in creative agencies (including internships), and double majored in Marketing & Graphic Design.

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