Interview with Jerry R. Louis – Copywriting Essentials and Ad Agency War Stories – Episode #20

“People buy what they remember.”

Jerry Louis is a seasoned marketer with 6 years of experience and he is currently a senior creative at The SpringHill Company. As a copywriter, he has worked with several amazing clients—Jordan, Sprite, FOX Sports, McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Best Buy to name a few. Additionally, he is also a fellow alum of the city college of new york and a good friend of mine.

In this episode, we talk about the fundamentals of copywriting, the purpose of advertising, how to harness your creative energy, how to get into a copywriting career, books that can help you with your writing, and more.

 

Full Episode Transcript:

Kenny Soto  0:00  

We are now recording in 5432. Hello, everyone. Welcome to Kenny Soto Digital Marketing podcast. I just want to start off again with saying thank you to the listeners for sticking with me. Through these three months of the podcast, I am truly grateful. Again, I am asking anyone who has been listening since episode one to send over any questions or comments. 

What do you like about the podcast? What don’t you like about the podcast? And most importantly, what would you like to learn? I have finally gotten some messages via Instagram of people requesting more information on advertising and more information on website design, specifically, but there are so many other facets of digital marketing out there that people can do as profession. 

So if you have any questions, please send them to instagram.com forward slash Kenny Soto or Kenny soto.com, forward slash contact again, Kennysoto.com. Forward slash contact. But if you want to send a question via LinkedIn, Twitter, wherever you find me, that’s fine. And with that being said, I have a very, very special guest on the podcast today and I’m super excited to talk to him. His name is Jerry Lewis. Jerry is a seasoned marketer with six years of experience and he is currently a senior creative at the Spring Hill company. 

As a copywriter, he has worked with several amazing clients such as Jordan, sprite, Fox Sports, McDonald’s, Pepsi, and BestBuy just to name a few. Additionally, he is also a fellow alumni of the City College of New York and a good friend of mine. Welcome, Jerry.

 

Jerry Louis  1:48  

Hey, glad to be here. Kenny. Glad to be here.

 

Kenny Soto  1:50  

Perfect. So I mentioned before we started recording that the purpose of this podcast is to help anyone who is currently struggling looking for work, who is interested in marketing or is already in marketing, but they just want to explore all the other avenues available to them in the career space. And with that being said, I wanted to start off with just a simple question. Why did you get into marketing?

 

Jerry Louis  2:22  

Wow, that’s I mean, so I fell into it. I feel like I went to college for a while. And I majored in a couple of different things. I was actually a triple major, pre law, social psychology first, and then upon leaving, I needed a couple of electives to graduate picked one was advertising and it seems so interesting, I decided to stay a year longer to kind of finish the degree in it. After that, I kind of just loved it. I loved it from there.

 

Kenny Soto  2:51  

And would you say that, based on what you’ve experienced these past six years? And from what you can recall, in what you learned at City College of New York, did the courses prepare you for what you’re doing now?

 

Jerry Louis  3:05  

Huh, yes and no, I feel like so the courses I think they really told me the different departments that go on in advertising, such as account project management, copywriting art direction. But when it comes to the nitty gritty, day to day activities, there’s nothing better than actual first hand experience. Nothing could prepare me for that my first internship actually was in project management. And I did not like it. It was not for me. Great, great, great field. My wife actually does it. But it just wasn’t for me. 

 

Kenny Soto  3:40  

Why? 

 

Jerry Louis  3:41  

So it needed I find myself to be more of an abstract thinker, creative. My mind jumps around, I like to play with words. And project management was actually more structured. And you have to keep everyone on task. I like to joke and call them the adult babysitters of the advertising industry, because everyone that kind of off their timelines trying to create things and project managers kind of keep them on task. And for a free thinker like me, that was not the position that I shouldn’t be in.

 

Kenny Soto  4:14  

So you went from project management into the creative side of advertising, correct? Yes, correct. And what would you say was the main calling or the main reason why you went into the creative side?

 

Jerry Louis  4:32  

So I started my first internship was at Saatchi and Saatchi New York, was a huge advertising agency have people know of it? So I was sitting there in project management, knowing that this was not for me. And there was they had these presentations of the different departments and I think creative came in one day. 

And they were just going through different things, different things that they do, and I was jotting down notes in the middle of the meeting like well, I could do that. And I had written poetry before. I always had a love for words, I grew up writing poetry to girls that I liked, and different things like that. So I like playing with words. And I just figured like this was the avenue for me. And I didn’t at the time have any money to go to portfolio School, which is traditionally the route that people take to become a copywriter or art director. 

So what I did is I went online, I looked at creatives, their websites, most of them have portfolios when you enter the advertising space, at least. So I looked at their portfolios, and I kind of just said, Okay, let me try to recreate what they did. I found an art direction interned. I was working at Saatchi and Saatchi. And I was like, Hey, do you want to work on stuff? And she’s like, Yeah, let’s do it. So I made up my first made up project, which was SmartWater, I made up a problem that SmartWater could have in the industry, which was that, what differentiates it from other water companies. And then I created my own creative solution to it. And me and her worked and created mock ads, and mock activations for it, and we put it online. Well, from those from those things, I was able to get my first internship and creative.

 

Kenny Soto  6:09  

That’s amazing. So when you started your first official gig, you were a copywriter? Correct?

 

Jerry Louis  6:16  

My first official like hired gig. Yeah, the first the first paid yet. paid gig was. Yeah.

 

Kenny Soto  6:23  

And how was that experience?

 

Jerry Louis  6:25  

Wow, it was rough. I mean, honestly, I stepped into it. So I created those. I created the fake portfolio, the online portfolio with mock assignments and mock solutions. It was enough to get me my first advertising internship at y&r. I worked at y&r It was unpaid, but it was good enough because I was getting experience. 

After a while once I graduated college, I spoke to them and I said, Hey, I kind of need to get paid, because the bills and stuff they were gracious enough to get on and give me $15 An hour freelance. But again, being that I didn’t had and go to portfolio school, I was learning a lot of things on the fly. In the moment, strategy is the most important thing that a creative at least a copywriter should know. 

They don’t tell you this, but copywriters are very often the brains of the operation in terms of why we’re creating this, what is the language, they’re going to get people to resonate with this? So that is all things that I learned from my years in the industry of doing instead of learning?

 

Kenny Soto  7:32  

And what would you say not just with y&r, but throughout the years, what would you say is the most challenging part of what you do?

 

Jerry Louis  7:43  

Most challenging part of what I would do, I would say it’s concepting.

 

Kenny Soto  7:51  

What is concepting?

 

Jerry Louis  7:53  

So if you get a brief from a strategy person in the traditional advertising field, and I stress that because copywriting varies in different fields, if whether or not you’re doing digital marketing, website, design advertising. So in the advertising field, you’ll get a brief, which is a document saying this brand, let’s say Beats by Dre, needs to get young Caucasian youth from the ages of 18 to 25. To buy beats. 

With blank, you need to now come up with a creative solution to solve this issue. Because you can’t just say, Hey, kids, this by these Beats by Dre, things need to be entertaining, they need to gravitate we right now, in this day and age have the attention span of like six seconds. And if something doesn’t grab our attention, within six seconds, we’re not going to watch the rest of it. 

So concepting is essentially coming up with an idea from nothing. And that has to be the hardest part. It has to be because you are pulling from your shit you’re pulling from your life experiences to come up with this idea. And then you’re going to take this baby that you’ve birthed, and put it in front of your bosses that could kill it and chop it and telling you that they hate it. And that that has to be like the most terrifying part in my opinion.

 

Kenny Soto  9:14  

And when you as the copywriter are beginning this process, who else is involved in it? Are there other people who their roles are not necessarily copywriters?

 

Jerry Louis  9:28  

Yeah, so I would say strategy strategy has a huge role. Strategies is essentially another creative because they’re there they get the they get the information from the client as to as to what the client needs to do in the market. They find a way to take that massive document of word vomit that the client has given them and put into a one pager that can give inspiration to the creative that that strategy is an integral part of any top tier agency. 

After that you have Have your copywriter and your art director, they are the ones that begin to shape the idea of copywriters from a more of a language perspective. What is said if it’s a radio what is literally said if it’s a commercial what is said and, and art directors really come in there and, and kind of try to design what it looks like. 

That being said, as you go on in the industry, you learned to do both sides. And lastly, from that hodgepodge of creative talent, I would say, creative directors. And they’re, they’re just more seasoned creatives that kind of shape the way of the idea to make sure it’s hitting all the target goals from the strategy.

 

Kenny Soto  10:36  

Besides the classic example of just gaining experience over time to get better, what other tools, resources and techniques do you personally leverage to get better in your career?

 

Jerry Louis  10:52  

Yeah, live life. I think I can’t stress this enough that so many people enter the industry. And they, they treat it as if it’s like accounting, or they treat it as if it’s some kind of tangible skill that you just do, do do. And then you’re better. But talk to your creatives draw from real life experiences. So if you’re a dancer, continue to dance, if you’re a painter continue to paint, because those are the ideas that you’re going to bring to each and every, those are experiences that you’re going to bring to each and every one of your ideas. 

And if you resonate with it, there are millions of people around the world that are just like you and have that same kind of inspiration. So bringing your authentic self first learning your what your authentic self is, and then bringing that is the best way to get better.

 

Kenny Soto  11:41  

Have you used any like YouTube channels or books to help with concepting or any other aspects?

 

Jerry Louis  11:51  

Yes, so I’ve used a bunch. I don’t have them next to me if you can actually pause. I could find some. Give me one second.

 

Kenny Soto  12:00  

Okay. Well pause right now.

 

Jerry Louis  12:03  

Great, yes, I have a couple of one that I do. Like, hey, Whipple, squeeze this by Luke Sullivan. I don’t know if you other guests have mentioned that already. Advertising concept book by Pete Berry. That this one is the one that kind of taught me a lot about concepting and actually goes through popular ads done and kind of shows you the trajectory of it from ideation to concept to actual creation. 

So if you’re really confused about completing creative ideas, strategies and campaigns, this is the one for sure. Yeah, it’s advertising concept book things now designed later. And one that I would highly recommend is actually from a CCNY, bit alumni. This is a writing you’re writing you’re way ahead in advertising. It’s for junior creatives, or junior copywriters. And it just teaches all the things that you would want to know if you are a creative, perfect and just freshly entering the industry.

 

Kenny Soto  13:08  

And for the listeners, I will put all of these books in the show notes so that you can get them online, wherever you buy your learning materials. So with that being said, Jerry, with you were to go back in time, and you had all of the knowledge that you have right now. What would you do? And would you do anything differently to speed up your career? How would you go about doing that now?

 

Jerry Louis  13:40  

Yeah, so if I if I had all the knowledge that I know now, I guess I would be a little less shy. I feel like when I first entered the industry, I’m more. I’m more introverted in nature. I had to learn extraversion and advertising and honestly, corporate America marketing in general is a people business. So if you want to get ahead, you have to meet people, you have to talk to people. And I think so that’s what I would change I would be a little more outgoing from the onset of my career. 

 

Kenny Soto  14:13  

it’s not necessarily part of you like the skill set you have but more so like thinking outside of just marketing but like just professionalism. You would focus more on being out there networking, attending events, talking to more people online remotely, etc.

 

Jerry Louis  14:30  

Yes, 100% writing for anyone that’s listening writing is going to come your you know, if you’re if you’re thinking about entering this field, the chances are you can already write you’re gonna already form ID ideas and long paragraphs short form writing, long form writing, you’re going to do that connecting with other people and finding mentors in the industry is really what’s going to take your your, your talents to the next level. It’s drawing from those people who have the experience and learning how you can take your craft and make it better.

 

Kenny Soto  15:01  

Now, my next question may seem like redundant or a little too simplified, if you will. But I asked it because I had the same question when I started in the industry, especially because I came as like a music major. I didn’t know anything about marketing. What is an advertisement?

 

Jerry Louis  15:26  

Oh, an advertisement? That’s a loaded question. But I would say an advertisement is a created thing that that, um, a restart that. An advertisement is something made that gets people to do things in its simplest form. It’s in its simplest form, it is kinda like people manipulation. Right. We don’t like to think of it as that. 

But essentially, we have a problem, you want to sell the new iPhone 12, we need to get it in front of people’s faces. And we we, we need to, because people buy what they remember, people buy what they’re interested in. We all know, we all have slogans and jingles that are dangling in our head from years ago. And when we don’t notice, when we go into a store, we think we’re making choices based on our own personal desires. 

We’re making choices based on familiarity. We know what Anja my minute, so we’re quicker to pick that up rather than whatever other no name. So the more you hear a name in your ear, a brand name in your ear, the more you see the logo, the more you see it’s being worn on you, the more likely you are to buy it. 

And that’s essentially what advertising in advertising doesn’t necessarily have to be commercials. It could be activations, it could be a cool little installation, it could be your favorite artist wearing that T shirt. And that is that’s essentially advertising, getting people to know the logo. And the most successful form of advertising is when people can see your symbol and know what it is. And a drop of the hat. 

And who does that the best is like Nike, you see that checkmark, you instantly know that is Nike, they don’t have to put their name on it. They don’t have to do anything they can they can create a film and just put a checkmark at the end. And you just attributed all that to that checkmark. And what they do through advertising is they assign a motion to a symbol. Right? So if you get checkmark, you’re thinking just do it. 

You’re thinking athletic, you’re just thinking go for it be driven checkmark, like Correct. That’s what you’re thinking. So you see and you’re like, yes, I want to do this. When it comes to financial brands, TD Bank, or chase, you get the green or the blue which the colors that they use even have emotion behind it. You think green you think money then growth Do you think life so you’re more likely to put your money into that bank, you see blue and chase and you think trust it’s pacifying, it’s cool, you trust them with your money. So all of that is is advertising. It’s getting people to associate your brand and logo with a feeling of motion and sense of familiarity.

 

Kenny Soto  18:17  

Is it possible to make an effective ad without words?

 

Jerry Louis  18:23  

It is it is an I would say a huge proponent of that huge huge is apple. I don’t know the one of the best campaigns that I personally think is the shot on iPhone campaign. Simply what they did they want they have this app, they have this new phone. Awesome camera, they’re trying to enter the camera market and compete with the Sony’s of the world of professional cameras of the world. So what did they do? No words? No, no nothing. 

They just showed the image that you can take on your iPhone and blow them up on billboards and put them everywhere. And immediately people are seeing these amazing images. And they’re associating amazing images with Apple. No words. And from from that you’re you’re seeing yourself in the image you’re like, Well, I can take that on iPhone 12 I should go get an iPhone. 

So yeah, I asked 100% 100% So the best advertising is not necessarily to words. It’s the motion that you feel. But what I always say is I create to make people feel if you can make people feel something from your commercial from your radio ad from whatever it is that you create, if you’re a photographer, you can make someone feel something you have stumbled upon something great.

 

Kenny Soto  19:43  

Now, I definitely want to ask you something on a more personal note that doesn’t necessarily need to be related to marketing. Who’s your favorite writer?

 

Jerry Louis  19:56  

So many

 

Kenny Soto  19:58  

Why?

 

Jerry Louis  20:00  

My favorite writers, I’m gonna pick two off the top of my head. Probably loads more. Robert M. Drake is he’s a poet. He’s a poetry writer, and oh, no, there’s another one. I have another one. Rudy Francisco, Rudy Francisco is my favorite writer. He is, all of these people are poets. So I’m sorry, go start from them. My favorite writers are Rudy Francisco, Robert M, Drake, and Atticus, these are three poets.

And it’s just how they structured their words, it’s very short. And from that they can make you feel these visceral emotions, they, they, they unlock something within yourself. And I think most of the human population is trying to understand themselves to a huge degree, we’re all trying to understand why we think the things we do, why we feel the way we feel, and how to navigate that jungle, that is our minds. So I think when you make someone feel something, you allow them to see within themselves, and that’s what gives them that connection towards you. 

Those three artists that I, yeah, I’m gonna call them artists, their writers, but it’s art. Those three artists that I named, I think that they can do that the best. Within a short timeframe, within those three or four lines.

 

Kenny Soto  21:25  

You seem to be a big fan of poetry, how is poetry affected your career?

 

Jerry Louis  21:32  

Poetry is the reason for my career, I think the ability to make people feel something is so powerful. It’s such a talent across all industries, when you think about DJs, photographers, painters, art, writing, it’s all the ability to make you feel. So I found that poetry allows you to dig deeper within yourself and unlock those emotions that you have within yourself. And from from I was younger, that’s what I love to do. 

And I found joy in writing for others and writing for myself and writing to release from myself. And then that kind of just led me into words. And then when you get into copywriting, especially, it’s all a love of words, you there’s a way to say something, and then there’s a creative way to say something, and then there’s a shorter way to say that thing, then there’s a longer way to say that thing. 

And then there’s a way to say that thing without words. So but you have to enjoy playing with syntax playing with how it’s structured, playing with how someone else is going to perceive what you just said. So yeah, all of that kind of lead. So I think poetry is like the first introduction to that. Even from Shakespeare, you read Shakespeare as a kid, and you might not even know what he’s saying. But you feel something from what he is saying.

 

Kenny Soto  22:58  

And my last question for you is, and this is just for more like advice, whether someone is in their first year or in their 10th year of being a copywriter. What would you say is the main thing they should focus on in order to stand out from all of the hundreds and 1000s of other copywriters in marketing,

 

Jerry Louis  23:22  

Create stuff. Create stuff that you like. That is how you stand out. The only person that can be you is you. If you are into skateboarding, if you are into ASMR bring that to every single idea weird is normal to be to it, you’re not supposed to be in life to fit in. 

Because that’s how you become just like everyone else, whatever your quirks are, embrace those quirks and bring that to your everyday life and your everyday ideas. And then you’ll you’ll explode in ways that you never thought possible. So whether in your in your first year or your 10th year or your 20th year, find what makes you you find what makes you different and bring those ideas to whatever you create.

 

Kenny Soto  24:14  

Straight bars. I love it. And if anyone wanted to find you online, where can they connect?

 

Jerry Louis  24:20  

You can find me on LinkedIn, Jerry R Louis, you can also find me on Instagram at J.r.Louis and yeah, that’s where you find me.

 

Kenny Soto  24:33  

Perfect. And I’ll put that in the show notes for everyone. Again, thank you so much, Jerry, thank you so much to the listeners. You have just listened to another episode of Kenny Soto Digital Marketing podcast and as always, I hope you have a great week. Peace out awesome.

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