Friday, 15 June 2012

Where are they now? Ash Billinghay.

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Ex Creative Advertising student, Ash Billinghay graduated from the programme last year and is now a copywriter at top digital agency Lean Mean Fighting Machine. We'll let Ash explain in his own words how he got the job at such an influential agency.

Throughout my degree I always thought I would end up as a copywriter in a creative team and together we’d swan off to London and do placements galore, like everyone said we were meant to. However come the end of the third year I found myself without an art director and without much motivation to go and try it on my own. In my head this was a problem because everything I’d done for the last few years was to get to a point where I could call myself a creative, and now this point seemed to be escaping me. I had to come up with a plan B, which isn’t something I tend to do very often. My plan B was to do a Masters degree and hope that extra experience would stand me in good stead for another pop at the advertising world in the future.

I got onto that Masters (I bribed a lot of people) and also started applying for lots of placements and jobs around Lincoln. One of these applications came through, and for the next 3 months I found myself working as a copywriter at a design agency. Unfortunately this design agency didn’t really have a lot of copy that needed writing, but it definitely made a decent mark on my CV and helped open doors for me to other opportunities.

After the placement ended I went freelance and worked for a few local businesses writing copy for websites and brochures before a long term contract came up at The Collection, a museum and art gallery at the top of the city. I was their Marketing and Audience Development Officer, which meant I ran their social media networks and organised PR, marketing and advertising online. It was a very good experience for me, working in the cultural sector which I had always been interested in, and I worked with some lovely people who all came from very interesting and diverse backgrounds. I learnt a lot while I was there and made some good friends and contacts. 

At the same time I was obviously still doing my MA and part of this involved me producing my own book. I did this and self published on the Amazon Kindle network as well as getting it put into print. This was really quite exciting for me, seeing something I had worked so hard on come to fruition, and again meant I spoke to and met a lot of interesting people who could help me on my path to my future career goals.”


Lean Mean Fighting Machine’s office, empty of people.

It was while I was sat revelling in the book’s success (I sold 12 copies. Only 3 of which were to members of my family) that I saw a vacancy come up on my Twitter feed. I was always on the look out for more freelance work and hadn’t really considered taking on anything full time until my MA was over, but this vacancy was with an ad agency in London doing a very similar job to the one I had been doing for The Collection. It was an opportunity too good to miss and one I didn’t think I was going to have after coming out of uni as a single, but I went through the application process just to see if it was possible.

Two interviews later and here I am, sat in the office of Lean Mean Fighting Machine typing up these words. I’ve been here 3 months now after moving down to London in March and it’s been possibly the busiest 3 months of my entire life. I work for some pretty big names including Foster’s, Strongbow, Vimto and Unilever and am still yet to be tired of seeing something I have worked on exist in the real world. 

When university finished I was really quite frightened that I would be left behind and end up a withered old man with lots of cats and only a tale to tell of how I once did a degree in advertising.

That still might happen, but for now it’s not going too badly. While being in a team is definitely something I wish I had tried harder to achieve, going the single route can lead to some good places too.”

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