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How’d You Get In: Damon O’Leary

Posted on December 10, 2008 and read 1,288 times

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This weeks we check in with yet another New Zealander, Damon O’Leary – Creative Director at  Ogilvy NZ. Damon got his start in the U.K. during a time when a raise to eighty pounds a week was considered luxurious (for a junior).

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damon1 Howd You Get In: Damon OLeary






• Damon back in the day •

1986, London, the middle of winter, unemployed, living in a studio flat with my girlfriend (who luckily had a job), trying to put a book together with Basil Christensen – another New Zealander equally desperate to get into advertising in the U.K.

Firstly, we managed to get a place on the D&AD 6 week course and put a folio of 6 campaigns together.

Once we’d finished the course, Pete Gatley at BMP was the first creative to review it.

I use the word ‘review’ loosely. ‘Totally rip apart’ would be more accurate. And it was some of the best advice we ever got.

For the next 6 months, we worked on the book every day, making appointments to see creatives all over London.

BBH, JWT, Saatchi, GST, Bates, Dorlands, CDP, Legas Delaney… We learned the basics by listening, not arguing, and being prepared to completely re-do the work every week.

Eventually the work got better and we started being offered placements at agencies like Wight Collins Rutherford Scott and Ted Bates.

After that we went to an agency in Soho – Chetwynd Haddons – where we worked in a large cupboard filled with filling cabinets for thirty quid a week.

We finally got offered full time employment when our idea won a pitch for Creda Cookers.

Our salary sky rocketed to eighty pounds a week (luxury) so we went out and got totally smashed at a bar called Freuds – they served Pilsner Urquell in big bottles so you only needed 3 or 4…

As I remember, that winter was hard, but it was also a lot of laughs and an amazing introduction to what has to be one the best fucking jobs in the world.






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