Most advertising books are written in retrospect, with the authors looking back on their successful careers, often through a filter of mildly infuriating nostalgia.
But not Junior by Thomas Kemeny. It’s a guide to getting started in your creative career by a copywriter who’s still grinding away at his own.
“Most advertising books are written by marketing consultants, people running companies at the highest levels, or David Ogilvy,” Kemeny tells Adweek. “This book is written by somebody who is definitely still in it, still figuring it out. It’s how I’ve succeeded, despite not being David Ogilvy.”
To promote the book, Kemeny created a series of socially optimized ads that play up the author’s humility while also complementing the book design by Anna Kasnyik. He created still images and, in partnership with digital artist Frank Guzzone, smoothly animated clips about the book.
Adweek caught up with Kemeny—who began as an intern at CP+B and worked at agencies like Mother New York and Goodby Silverstein & Partners before going freelance—to learn more about his goals for the book and the process behind the ads:
Adweek: So tell us about the book. What made you want to write a guidebook of sorts for junior creatives?
Thomas Kemeny: This is the book I wish I had starting out, written in a way I would’ve actually read. When I was a junior creative I would’ve read a shampoo bottle if it would’ve helped me out. Freelancing now at different agencies, I see a common theme: starting creatives are eager to learn; creative directors want to help but don’t have the time. So creatives turn to books.
A frequent question in this industry is, “What book would you recommend for new agency creatives?” But so many books out there seem dated. How did you try to make your book fresh and relevant?
If people only read just one advertising book, it should be “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This.” Wait, crap, my publisher is going to kill me. Never mind. Tell everyone to buy my book.
There are a lot of great advertising books, written by really talented people. That’s been done. Who needs another book of seasoned wisdom? I think what makes this book relevant is that I’m not looking back on my career, I’m up to my eyeballs in it.
The ads for your book are hilariously self-deprecating. Do they accurately reflect how you feel about positioning yourself as a career guide, when you’re probably still trying to figure stuff out yourself?
It’s hard to get too cocky when 99.9% of your work dies every day. Each day in this industry is a near endless deluge of reasons to stay humble, and if you can’t laugh about it, it’s going to be long days and a short career.
How did the promotional animations come together?
Every social post for a book is either the author holding the book, the book with a cup of coffee, or the author holding the book and a cup of coffee. So there was a lot of white space to play in. I didn’t want the book to feel like it was up on a pedestal, so I messed with how precious a book should be treated. I reached out to an amazing 3-D animator artist I’d worked with at Mother, Frank Guzzone, and asked if he wanted to collaborate with me on it. Each animation paid off a line about the book.
What’s the reception been like for the book? Any challenges in getting it out there to the target audiences?
Despite the book being called Junior, it’s done really well with people who run departments, CDs and people adjacent to the industry.
72andSunny in New York hosted the launch party. Droga5 and Mother New York invited me to talk about the project. Spotify and Sir Kensington’s brought me in for workshops. Plus I’ve been visiting a few of the portfolio schools.
So while the book was written for junior creatives, it’s also applicable to anyone who is willing to buy it.
To learn more about Thomas Kemeny and his book, Junior, visit ThomasKemeny.com.