An Ad Man Turns Honest

I’m at an age where I have one more shot at changing my life.”

—former advertising man, Jerry Comyn, as he exits a dishonest profession he says he hated

Jerry Comny did what a lot of folks want to do but can’t. He flipped the bird to the job he had in an industry he greatly disliked. Since he is a single man without kids, he wrote an email addressed to “all”  in which he tells us what we already knew about the advertising bidness. I just came across it recently via an article in HuffPo:

Hello all,

Having spent the past 18 years of my life in advertising sales, TV, Radio and Outdoor, I’ve always wondered why I was in a business I detested. For years, I couldn’t figure it out, and then I realized what was motivating me, MONEY! There are few careers where one (we called ourselves a business of C students) could earn so much money for doing very little.

The hardest I ever worked were the first 5 years of my career, from 1994 to 1999. This is mostly because I spent my days making my boss look good. I earned him/them a lot of money by making sure the media buyers were kept happy. Let me tell you, back in the mid 90′s, NYC buyers were animals. If you weren’t at the top of your game, they would eat you without salt. As a result, I believe, I learned ‘the business’ from the best.

Over the years I learned that I was part of a ‘club’ I had no desire to be a member of. By the mid 2000′s I found myself lashing out at the very corporate system I had signed up for. Had I sold my soul? No, there was no way I could have done that. Alas, I realised I had indeed sold my soul for the almighty dollar.

Recently, I decided, once and for all, to leave the industry I have dedicated the last 18 years of my life. The reasons are numerous but following are a few:Jerry Comyn

* I was trained to lie to clients and cheat as much as possible.
* I was encouraged to dismiss FCC regulations on clients business.
* 99% of Advertising Sales Reps spend their days figuring ways to rip off clients
* 99% of Advertising Sales Managers got their positions by lying and stealing their way to the top.
* Most competing TV and Radio Stations COLLUDE on rates.
* Most vendors are ripping off clients by up to 80%
* Reps WILL rip off their bosses (through expenses) if you treat them like crap.
* Most reps are managed through fear, the worst motivator, in my opinion.
* There are few leaders left in a business that once promoted leadership

I know most of you will think these are the bitter words of a disillusioned ex-rep. Maybe you’re correct, but I like to to think of my words as coming from someone who is finally calling BULLSHIT on the ad sales world, both in the USA and Ireland.

I wish you all good fortune and good luck.


You’ll be happy to know that, as HuffPo reports, Jerry Comyn is,

spending the summer in Uganda as a volunteer for an energy project. Then he plans to live off savings while he finishes his political science degree at Trinity College in Dublin.

The 41-year-old hopes eventually to forge a low-paying career in human rights and possibly in public office.

“One thing I’ve got is a big mouth and a brain and conviction about politics,” he said…

Can anyone argue against the notion that the world is better off with one less ad man and one more advocate for human rights?

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  1. Real insights into human motivations are pretty rare in my experience, and so I find them interesting, as I do this one. It also strikes me that there are damn few professions that offer the chance to rise above base motivations and mere money. I don’t mean to denigrate honest toil, but if one can earn a living doing something one believes in and be passionate about, he or she is most fortunate. I felt that way as a Naval officer, but became disillusioned about the prospects of that continuing were I to enter the Pentagon bureaucracy, and so I never tried to do so.

    I thought about making a cynical comment on this post, something to the effect that Comyn might be jumping from the frying pan to the fire given the nature of politics, but who knows? Every once in a while the real thing comes along. Let’s hope.


    • Jim,

      I am with you on the hope that the guy truly finds his “calling,” no matter how futile it may be. One thing we know is that the advertising world will go on without him and the good guys may–and I mean, may–have an advocate with conviction.



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