Top industry players look back to when they were just starting out in the business, to reveal what they would like to have known back then. But then, being a bright young thing, you probably won't listen to a word they say.

JOHN HEGARTY - Chairman and worldwide creative director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Let's assume you're talented and you're going to get a good job. You're going to win awards and in no time gain the title "award-winning". Even if it's from Mechanics Weekly for best use of a spanner in an ad. And then the offers will come pouring in. Over-zealous headhunters on 25 per cent commission will tempt you with endless opportunities. Megalomaniac creative directors with wads of cash, and managing directors with more money than sense, will try to get you to "help them turn the agency around".

My advice: the last reason you should do anything is for the money. The only thing to invest in is your career. Creative people have precious short careers in our business. The only way of making it last longer is to put your reputation first and cash last. Remember money has a voice, but it doesn't have a soul.

TREVOR BEATTIE - Chairman and creative director, TBWA/London

If I could only tell you one thing, it would be to ignore what's gone before. To never study old awards books. They are, by definition, full of old ads. The grey matter of yesterday's people. You are now. You're tomorrow afternoon. Do it your way. Study life, not ads. Never hero worship people in the business. They don't count. The only thing that counts is what you're about to think of. And that's the most exciting thought of all. Oh, and feel free to totally ignore everything I just said.

ROSIE ARNOLD - Creative, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Don't be tempted to believe that it's not hard work being a creative. Come in early, leave late, then you'll be there to seize any opportunities that might come your way (you'll be surprised how often an idea is needed urgently at the last minute). A good idea can always be made better with work. Find good reference material, it helps bring your idea to life, so haunt galleries, cinemas and book shops.

Art direction is also an important skill: look at as many photographers and illustrators books that you can, and don't neglect typography. It's up to you to make the most of your idea, to pay attention to every detail. Most of all, it's a great job, enjoy it.

STEVE HARRISON - Creative director, Harrison Troughton Wunderman

It is perfectly possible for you to have a brilliant advertising idea on your first morning before lunch. (I didn't.) What is not possible at all is for you to know why it's a good idea.

Such wisdom is crucial. You might eventually pick it up as you bumble along. Or you can learn quickly by reading: Luke Sullivan,"Hey Whipple, Squeeze This"; David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising; John Caples, Tested Advertising Methods; Howard Luck Gossage, The Book of Gossage; Kirshenbaum and Bond, Under the Radar and the contributors to the D&AD Copy and Art Direction books. Within weeks you'll have a clearer idea of what you are doing and why you are doing it. You'll also find you can write knowledgeably on many subjects.

The opening paragraph of this piece is, for example, nicked verbatim from Jeremy Bullmore's Behind the Scenes in Advertising. You should read him, too.

JAMES LOWTHER - Chairman, M&C Saatchi

Before you open your pad, open your ears , your eyes and your mind. Don't just sit in the office. Your raw material isn't there or in the Groucho Club. It's out in the streets. See films and plays. Go to exhibitions.

Read. And most of all, observe people ... those funny things we're meant to be writing about, remember. Don't try and write award-winning ads. They might not win. Try and write a good ad. Then it might win.

Care. The best writers are not the ones with the highest talent but the ones with the highest standards. Don't stop when people say your idea is sweet. You're only 60 per cent there. Don't stop when the account group says it's great. It's 80 per cent there. Don't stop until you know it's 100 per cent there.

Don't trip over camera cables. Don't mix the grape and the grain before a presentation. Don't listen too much to old Turks like me. I didn't when I was a young one.


If I could say one thing, it would be: "Always be on time." Typically, for creatives being on time is equated with dullness. While being late indicates that one is living on a higher plane.

Rubbish. Being chronically late (I stress "chronically") indicates self-indulgence, a lack of sensitivity to others, being out of control, over-fazed by life, a pain to work with - even lazy.

Being on time suggests being in control, on top of the job, conscious of those around one, a pleasure to work with. Being on time leads to being better informed, doing better work and having it better received.

STEVE STRETTON - Creative partner, Archibald Ingall Stretton

What advice would I offer young creatives ...? Luckily, this is a question I've answered before.

After a talk to a group of third- year advertising students, Matt (my partner) and I were asked: "What would you do if you were where we are now?" We went into an eloquent, if somewhat lengthy, description of how they should: "Target your favourite agencies based on the type of advertising you like. Then do everything you can to meet the creative directors and when you meet them, ask to see a selection of their best work, to try to find the direction the agency is taking. Then narrow the list down and build a relationship with ... etc ... etc." After about five minutes the lecturer stuck her hand up and said: "Don't you think they should just get a job?"

She was right and it was exactly what we'd done.

JOHN WEBSTER - Executive creative director, BMP DDB

I was in a greasy spoon the other day when a taxi driver was complaining about his breakfast: "Who made this sausage then - Dunlop?" It made me smile, so I jotted it down.

I've collected all sorts of stuff over the years - riffs from CDs, quotes from the radio, newspaper photos, bits of poetry or dialogue, a catchy tune, bits of video, music hall acts, anything that happens to catch my eye or ear at the time. It might seem irrelevant at that moment but you never know - it may come in useful one day. Not necessarily to use direct but to adapt or inspire a route I may not otherwise have thought of.

Cresta Bear's spasm was inspired by Jack Nicholson's reactions to whisky in Easy Rider, George the bear was Fonz from Happy Days, Smash Martians came from Daleks, Hovis from South Park. Open your mind. Be a receptacle. Collect stuff.