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How to... Blag Your Way Into Advertising

How to... Blag Your Way Into Advertising

Amanda Jones, founding partner and executive creative producer at Mad Ruffian, outlines her dos and don'ts of making it in the advertising industry.

At Mad Ruffian and Ruffian Post, we’ve never been what you could call 'conventional'. We didn’t plan on making commercials - we never went to school for it or asked anyone for help... In fact, we hardly went to school at all!

Our first budget templates were sneaked from people we’d worked for and our prices were copied from ancient rate cards of competitors we found online with a, “I don’t know, I guess we could do that for half?” and a “what’s a mark-up?” approach.

Above: Mad Ruffian's Amanda Jones

Needless to say, our first clients really scored big with us. We started with one job almost five years ago in a studio in Vauxhall with a Murphy bed that came down from the wall (some of you may have been there without knowing it was also our humble abode.) With barely enough room to get past the computers, we’d climb into the sheets at the end of a long day as both new business owners and self funded/ self producing creatives; our tiny gang of rogue employees sometimes crashed out on the couch or blow up mattress as it was too late to make it to their homes before the start of the next day -- all of us defeated, but also proud of what we made out of absolutely nothing.

"Hire people who are kinder, smarter and more sensible than you."

So, clearly, we’re qualified to tell you how to run your businesses.

Here’s a list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts from the experts on fake it til ya make it - Mad Ruffian style. Some of them learned the hard way and some still sting. All of them, though, have made us who we are today.



Dare to dream. Dream big and if someone tries to bring you down - beat them with their own shoes.


When someone steals your awesome name, sue them. When you don’t sue them, send an anonymous glitter bomb to make yourself feel better.


Remember everything. People will ask and ask of you until you literally end up in the hospital. And then, the next time they’ll only remember you were willing to work so much it compromised your personal health and ask you to do it again! It’s your job to remember every aspect of every job and to protect yourself.


Have a strict code of ethics - both personally and on a grand scale. You can turn down work from clients who steal water, bottle it, and sell it to poor people who are dying of thirst. You can do this without being hypocritical. True, sometimes your priorities will need to be in paying your employees so they can feed their families - that’s the right thing too. You might have to accept a job for a company whose values don’t align with yours, but every step in the right direction counts. At the end of the day, the companies don’t really care about who does their jobs, but you might sleep better at night knowing you aren’t helping to sell shoes made by little children.


Always pay people on time. (See 'don’ts' about accepting jobs you can’t afford.) Always give money to homeless people. Tip generously.


Hire people who are kinder, smarter and more sensible than you.


Reward your employees. Always pay for their drinks, dinners, and cabs. If you’re smart enough to have hired well in the first place, hold on to them because this biz is in need of great people. It’s way cheaper and less stressful in the long run to be generous. Give them raises and let them go when you can’t afford them any more - with any luck, they’ll come back with loads of clients they want to share with you when they’ve hit the big time.


Stay hungry for knowledge. Every single job we’ve ever won is because we can offer something more clever for a better price than the big guys can. Keeping up with technology is essential for innovation and innovation is essential for relevance.


Do everything yourselves. Learn every aspect of your business and be able to jump in when shit hits the fan.


Have a Prosecco Party (registered MR trademark) after every job. Celebrate your wins. After all, you never know how long this industry is going to be around; might as well enjoy it while you can!


Don’t take yourselves too seriously! We’re making commercials, not curing cancer. And, on that note, you should probably go out of your way to befriend people who aren’t in this industry to keep a grip on reality and what is important. Donate your time or energies to causes that really help people.


Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Be smart about your choices - do a job on the cheap ONLY if it will benefit you greatly in the future (or if it’s sharing your skills for a good cause - but still do that cautiously). And don’t waste your opportunity to ask for something in return be it an introduction, a connection, a barter (because you’re worth it).


Don’t do more than one free job for the same client.


Never throw any employee 'under the bus'. Take responsibility for your company’s mistakes and protect your team.

"The loudest person will be heard and the one with the most stamina will make the most money."

Never accept a job you can’t afford. Meaning, if you have to ask people to work for free or cheap or you can’t pay on timewithout being paid for the job you’ve just had, don’t accept it. Your choice to take on a job isn’t the choice of your employees or freelancers and the risk lies solely with you.


Don’t expect anyone to return a favour. Choose kindness or generosity fully without expectation of reciprocity. It’s ok to say NO.


Don’t falter once you’ve made a commitment to say NO. It will only lead to resentment or the inability to deliver what you’ve promised - even if your intentions are to please everyone.


Don’t be the last one at the party.


Don’t hold your tongue; chances are, you’re right. The injustice you felt was right. You really were the only person thinking of it and definitely the only one with the gall to say it. No one else is going to stand up for the little guy, or the woman, or the kind thing or the fair thing. No one else is going to stand up for you. The loudest person will be heard and the one with the most stamina will make the most money. You can’t make your mark by doing nothing.


Don’t take advice from some young, arrogant know-it-all douches with absolutely no expertise to write a DO’s and DON’Ts list.

Fake It Till You Make It image courtesy of Mark Tewart

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