The Interview Series // 03

When we heard Droga5 (http://www NULL.droga5 NULL.com NULL.au/) Sydney had an executive driver, we went nuts. Who is this guy? He sounds young. He sounds creative. But he’s the driver? Maybe this job is the modern day answer to the ad agency mailroom? We wanted to know more. So we sent an email to Marcus asking if his bosses would allow us to get an interview with their junior minion. And although we may have called the MD and partner Marianne Bess “Shebangabang” by mistake – and it was an honest mistake, promise – they let us into the Droga5 fortress to see how their promising junior made his way in.

Junior: Ok, so you’re the executive driver at Droga5. Tell us the story with the position. How did you get there?

Marcus: Well I went travelling – which was November 2006. I’d moved to London and I’d just finished my degree in a bachelor of graphic design.

Jr: Ah I see. Where did you study?

M: A graphic design college in Broadway, it’s called Sydney Graphics College. I finished that and I wanted to go travelling, but I wanted to keep working. So I went to South America for a while and then I went to London. I was living there, did a bit of Europe, and I just didn’t get anywhere ‘cause I was first year out and it was pretty cutthroat.

Jr: We know someone who did graphic design in Melbourne, she was really over the city and really over the scene, so she decided to pack-up and go to Europe. She knew people in Berlin, she knew people who were working, and thought the whole thing would be her big break. But it just never happened.

M: I was wrong. So wrong. Half of my teachers were telling me, ‘you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine’. I did pretty well at college but when I got to London, I got absolutely nowhere. It’s a bit of a blow to how good you think you could be.

Jr: Did you just show your folio around?

M: I didn’t really get much chance to show my portfolio around to many people. I did show some people and they said, ‘Shit – yeah, that’s alright’ but I had no luck. So I came back from overseas and started working at a record label called Future Classic (http://www NULL.futureclassic NULL.com NULL.au/). I was working there doing some graphic design stuff for Jay and Nathan, who run the label. They were giving me some graphic design work a few days a week. But then I was talking to a mate of mine. I asked him ‘how am I going to get into the advertising industry? That’s what I want to do.’ Because I wanted to learn and make ideas – I don’t want to sit around, pushing a mouse for the rest of my life. So I decided I wanted to try and be an art director. But I’d literally just got back a couple of days after the cut-off date for AWARD school (http://www NULL.awardschoolonline NULL.com/). So I missed that. Then I had a chat to a couple of people in the industry who were from completely different sides of advertising. They said to me, ‘you’re either screwed or you’re not.’ But a mate said, ‘you’ve got to put your book together and then I’ll get you interviews at some places’ and then he said, ‘you should get a job at Droga5, it’ll be the best place.’

Jr: When was this?

M: I think it was March. So two weeks later my mate rang and said, ‘dude, check your email’. So I checked my email and it was an ad from B&T (http://www NULL.bandt NULL.com NULL.au/) saying ‘Office Assistant – Droga5.’ We’d dreamt up this job in our own heads and he said, ‘right you’re going to get this job.’ So there’s this ad saying, ‘Office Assistant, VB drinker,’ and I thought ‘yes that’s me!’ So we went out the front of the Droga5 office and took a whole lot of photos of me dressed in all this VB gear.  I looked like an absolute idiot but it was funny. Then we went back to my mate’s studio and we printed out these A4 posters with my picture bleeding right to the edge. In the picture I was holding a sign saying ‘Droga5, Marcus Johnston, New Office Assistant’. Then I walked in there with a VB hat on pretending I was the VB delivery guy.

Jr: What, with a case of VB?

M: No, no with my CV pretending it was a document that I needed to give to them. Sudeep came down and said, ‘uh, can I help you?’ And I said, ’yeah look I’ve got a delivery from VB, and I need to give it to David Nobay.’ (Who is, for those playing at home, the Creative Director) And he said, ‘he’s in a meeting.’ Which is obviously bullshit.

Jr: Ha yeah everyone says that.

M: Yeah of course. So I said, ‘look, I’ve got strict instructions from my boss at VB that I have to deliver this personally.” Sudeep just looked at me and said, ‘OK’. I guess he kinda knew what was going on. Then he said, ‘just sit down’. So Nobby comes down and says, ‘mate I saw you taking photos out the front’. I was like, ‘oh, ok. You know this is my application for the job.’ So he says (completely deadpan), ‘sweet’. I guess he kinda interviewed me there and then. He just asked me why I wanted to work for them. Then I came in for an interview with Marianne. She called me back the day after and said, ‘we’d really like to offer you the job.’ So I said, ‘definitely.’  I’d convinced myself I was going to get the job.

Jr: In our first Junior interview we asked Tim Kentley – if you don’t have a book together but you know you’re good, how should you approach getting a job? You didn’t have a book, and now you’re working at Droga5.

M: Well the thing is with my job, the requirements were: good personality, great smile, intelligent and willing to do anything to get the job done. Then after that it said, ‘two of the people who run this company started in this position’. It didn’t say, ‘you need to go to AWARD school and you need to have a book’. I didn’t even know what that meant before. I had no idea what advertising was about, I’m still learning. All I know is I want to make ideas rather than only do graphic design.

Jr: So back to the driving thing… Do you have a car?

M: Yeah I drive Nobby’s car.

Jr: You drive Nobby’s car? What’s that like?

M: It’s good! It’s a VW GTi. Goes pretty quick. Oh, he’ll love this story. I picked him up one night out the front of The Establishment Hotel where he was having lunch with a client. I was parked in a bus lane, and as I was pulling out I got a fine.

Jr: Nice.

M: Three points.

Jr: Oh shit. Did Nobby take it?

M: Yeah he took it. He took the points and he paid for it.

Jr: Ha. Legend. So a few weeks back, Stan said in our first Monday Morning WHIP that ‘you need more than just talent, you need patience and persistence.’ Do you think either of these helped in your search for the job?

M: Yes. Persistence is one of the things but patience is something that you really have to learn when you start at the bottom. If you don’t have patience you’ll just…

Jr: Crash and burn?

M: Well you won’t even get a chance to crash and burn.

Jr: Yes. And I guess the thing that’s really key for young creatives is to be patient, be persistent, and then say, ‘I can work wherever I want.’

M: I think you can work wherever you want. If you want to get a job anywhere you can get it. You might not get it that day but they’ll remember you. I’ve now realised how valuable people who are willing to do anything are in an agency. Because they can kick the little goals that those higher up are too busy to do. You need to have people that do that stuff.

Jr: Something I’ve now said in the last two interviews – Networking: a stupid fucking buzzword…

M: Yeah I remember reading that.

Jr: Yes! It’s such a big thing for us because there are so many young kids who say, ‘gotta go network, gotta meet people.’

M: Networking is everything, unfortunately. Well it’s not everything, but it is a big thing. When I say networking I don’t mean schmoozing or being a wanker but actually becoming friends with people. The fact that you’re friends with someone at the end of the day is more important than using them for work.

Jr: Yes! Absolutely. One thing we want to do with Junior is say to the kids out there, ‘stop trying to network, and start trying to make friends’.

M: Yeah. I think you’ve just got to try and be yourself. If you’re not yourself, that’s when you start networking.

Jr: On that note let’s stop the interview and get a beer somewhere else.

M: Yeah we should go to the Cricketers and grab a VB.

Jr: I love Sydney.

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 12/11/2008