Arman Khavari’s Journey to Copywriting at Draftfcb

Arman Khavari graduated from Loyola University of Chicago in 2010 with a degree in advertising and public relations. He’s now happily employed at Draftfcb as an associate copywriter. If you’d like learn how he broke into the advertising industry, then by all means read on.

Please describe your journey to becoming a copywriter at Draftfcb?

Well it all started with a talking fish. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in school. I was going into the medical field but wasn’t really feeling it. And something about this commercial grabbed my attention. It wasn’t like any McDonalds commercial I had ever seen. So I went online and did some research and found a name associated with the commercial (it happened to be the copywriter). From there I started asking her questions about the commercial which turned into questions about what she did and finally the industry as a whole.

I was super excited about everything she was telling me and decided I’d take the plunge and switch my major to advertising. She basically laid out what it takes to break into the industry – a portfolio, connections, hard work and a little luck. So I decided to work on my portfolio for a year and then consider portfolio school. I created some ads and thought I’d test the waters by applying to a few places. Draftfcb happened to be one of them and they decided to call me back for a round of interviews. The rest is history.

How was the transition from the medical industry to working at one of the largest advertising agencies in the world?

It was definitely a shock. I thought for sure I’d have to start with an internship somewhere and work at smaller agencies before moving on to one as large as Draftfcb. So it was definitely intimidating. But they saw the passion and skills I possessed and really provided a nurturing environment. That’s a big thing at Draft – helping young employees grow. And I think they do a great job. Never ever would I have thought I could do that- especially not going to portfolio school or having any formal training. But it just proves with some hard work, dedication and luck things are definitely possible.

What’s a typical day for a copywriter such as yourself?

In advertising it’s either really busy or really slow. When it’s busy I’ll be working on a few projects at a time. Staying in contact with my point person on the account side to make sure everything is done correctly from a business standpoint. I also interact with my creative director to make sure everything looks good on the creative side. We have a set team on the creative and account side, and morning meetings with the entire team (account/creative) three days a week to lay out what needs to be done.

Of all your advertising work so far, what are you the most proud of ?

A few months into my job I got to work on TV. Typically young creatives don’t get to work on TV until they’re a bit more seasoned, about three years in the industry. My account is 360 degrees so we do everything, including TV. So long story short my idea for a commercial made it all the way to the final round with the client. But they ultimately ended up choosing a different one. It was an awesome experience though. You get to have fun and really flex your creative skills.

What skills have you developed while working at Draft?

One of the biggest things was coming onto an integrated or 360 degree account. Some people only work on digital, some only on print, some only on direct mail. I do everything. Getting to work in all mediums except for radio has been an awesome experience and has made me a better thinker and writer. Just being friendly and eager to learn helps too.

How important is it for students to have an online portfolio of their work?

It’s essential in this day and age. The act of having a physical portfolio book is becoming obsolete. Everything is done online now and you use the online space to flex your digital muscle and skills. Plus it’s more convenient. I actually showed them (Draft) a physical portfolio… not even a portfolio but printed out ads in a folder. I had an online portfolio but decided I’d show them physical work. Typically you’ll go the online rout. Everything about my story is a little unconventional.

How did you develop your professional network?

LinkedIn and Facebook. I’d type in the name of an agency and people would pop up. I’d send them a message saying I’m a student looking to break into the industry and ask them some questions. More often than not, they were really helpful. As I was creating my ads I’d email certain people in the industry and ask them to critique my work which they did. And you always have the connection when you need it.

What are your favorite books and blogs about advertising?

Favorite book is definitely “Hey Whipple Squeeze This.” My favorite website is Ads of the World. I also frequent the Ad Age website and Ad Week. Haven’t found a really solid blog yet.

In your opinion, what makes a good copywriter?

A really solid copywriter is one that can write for any product – healthcare, pet food, makeup, car parts, etc… If you can give a voice to various products, making them interesting and profitable for your client, then you’re doing some awesome stuff as a writer. Winning a few awards helps too.

What makes an advertisement entertaining, thought provoking or unique?

What makes an ad unique is the reaction you get. You can feel it in your gut, whether it’s a line of copy or a visual. If an ad goes viral or gets a huge number of hits on YouTube, then it’s gotten a reaction from the public. And a reaction is what you want.

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