My first advertising job was at Leo Burnett Advertising. Everyone who works at all the Leo Burnett offices around the world gets an apple pin. We all wear it. It’s a pretty cool pin that represents membership in a pretty cool club.
When Leo Burnett created his advertising agency during the Great Depression, he had a bowl of apples in his lobby for employees and visitors. Naysayers said that opening an advertising agency in the middle of the depression was a bad idea. They said he’s soon be selling those apples on the street.
Today, Leo Burnett is the 10th largest advertising agency in the world and every Leo Burnett office in the world offers apples at reception. Employees, clients, the FedEx guy, the UPS guy, everyone grabs an apple on their way in or out of the office. Everyone loves free apples.
I ate a lot of apples when I worked at Leo Burnett.
And I really loved being a copywriter. I wore my apple pin with pride.
Since my first apple at Leo Burnett, I’ve done a lot of copywriting. A dozen years, thousands of campaigns, millions of words.
But somewhere along the line, in all the agencies I’ve worked at, except for Leo Burnett, something has changed. They’ve become More More More factories. More ads, more versions, more emails, more mail. More more more. With less budget and less time.
And without adequate recovery time between churning out these ads, my work/life balance went severely off kilter. Monday through Friday became a flurry of work. Saturday became a rest day. Sunday became the weekend. Year after year of this… well, that’s no way to live.
So today, I quit my job.
(The sound of applause heard around the world.)
It’s not that I just quit my job. I quit advertising.
(I love saying “quit” rather than “resign.” It’s so much more balls to the walls.)
In the middle of the depression, Leo Burnett started his dream of becoming a copywriter.
In the middle of a recession, I am starting my dream of a life beyond being a copywriter.
It’s not just my experience with my latest agency that has led to this decision. In fact, they gave me everything they could. But what I wanted was work/life balance. And that, in some warped accounting way, is problematic for the bottom line of corporate America.
Other people can do it. They even like it. I’m just not these people. I’m not even from the same planet as these people.
So now, after a rest, I will travel the world and write about it. And I will take nothing with me from my former copywriting life except for one thing: My Leo Burnett pin.
It will remind me to be grateful for what my copywriting career gave me for this next leg of my journey: writing skills and cash.
I’m grateful for all the friends I’ve made, the writing skills I’ve developed, and the checks that always cleared.
But I’m done.