I fell in love with the ad business at age 11. I was forced to attend this very boring Home Expo show with my parents and was wandering around and came upon this tent with a projector that was playing The Best Commercials of the Year. I sat there and watched the commercial reel over and over again –easily 15 times or more.
Fast forward 7 years to college at Clemson University, as a History Major. Okay, I had always liked history and was going to become a teacher. As a Freshman, I took the required English Composition class and I made an easy A, even though the class was at 8 am. (What was I thinking?) I also exempted the final exam and found out I was the only person in my professor’s three classes to do so.
(Bells ding, ding, dinging here ): Hmm…I have a way with words.
Even though I’d been writing since I was in my early teens – secret stuff like journals, and poems to help deal with the angst of growing up – it took excelling in my college English class before I realized that I was actually quite good at creative writing.
The cosmic forces whirling in my subconscious came together and came tumbling out about half way through the second semester of my Freshman year. One day I just woke up and felt compelled to blurt out to everyone I knew: “I want to be an advertising copywriter and write ads and TV commercials.”
Whoa! This was epic.
It would require transferring schools – I was having the time of my life at Clemson – and most probably, attending the arch-rival University of South Carolina, which offered Advertising in it’s highly acclaimed College of Journalism. Which is exactly what happened.
At USC, feeling somewhat displaced at first, I dedicated myself to excelling in my major. During my college career, I was selected Outstanding Rising Senior in Advertising as a Junior and received the J. Rion McKissick Award as an Outstanding Senior in the College of Journalism.
Funny thing. Today, I can’t remember a single one of those commercials that had such a profound impact on my life. But I will never forget the mind-twirling fascination and visceral connection I felt sitting there at age 11, totally immersed in the sheer genius of great creative work.