“Even with every advantage I was given, I’ve had to plan, sweat, and fight for each move on this marketing game board.” -Mat Zucker
There are two styles of books advertising professionals write when they want to tell their career “war stories” and impart some of their learned wisdom: Either it’s a cradle-to-boardroom minutiae-laden biography or a series of simple, 1- or 2-page digestible anecdotes.
Refreshingly, Mat Zucker takes a different approach in his new book Bronze Seeks Silver: Lessons From A Creative Career In Marketing.
Zucker takes highlights from his career and breaks it down into 13 brief stories, each adding up to a small standalone chapter. And he’s had quite a storied career: His first job was as a secretary at FCB/Leber Katz Partners in New York City (yes, once upon a time even the lowliest of creative directors had secretaries) which he eventually parlayed into a copywriting job. This was the mid-‘90s, though, and Zucker found himself at the beginnings of the Internet era, a time when most ad people turned up their noses at the idea of advertising on the World Wide Web.
But he embraced the new technologies, eventually working his way to senior positions at digital pioneers Blue Marble, OgilvyOne, and R/GA. Along the way, he navigated account wins, losses, and office politics while working on some of the world’s biggest brands.
Bronze Seeks Silver presents a brief snapshot of all these phases of Zucker’s career, with triumphs and tribulations at every step (an infamous sandwich chain pitch video makes a cameo appearance.) And that’s what makes the book interesting.
Many memoirs are written by people who’ve had storied careers at one or two companies, but Zucker’s job hopscotching is quite illuminating. We get a good glimpse into how hard work, timing, and luck all play a role in shaping a successful career in advertising, even when the setbacks can seem insurmountable. Bronze Seeks Silver is a great book for all those who want to learn how to thrive in a business that’s always evolving.
Special thanks to Mat Zucker who generously provided me with a review copy.