Ivan Musoke speaks out on life in the advertising world

Ivan Musoke’s works involves self-reflection. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Ivan Musoke: A copywriter and graphics designer, he has enjoyed working on several campaigns but he is proud of couple of them for different reasons.
  • He takes us through what life is like working in the advertising space.

What does your job entail? 
Taking credit for my team’s ideas and sweat. Seriously though, I work hand in hand with brilliant writers and designers, overseeing and guiding the direction of our clients’ campaigns. The goal is to ensure we deliver great work consistently so the brands shine. To get there, we must ensure the messaging aligns with the brand’s vision and resonates with the target audience. I also provide feedback and support to team members now and then. Part of the job entails learning from the team and trying to nurture their desire to play outside their comfort zone. I also present ideas to clients, take their feedback and make adjustments where necessary.

What professional traits got you to where youare today? 
Being able to think outside the box and a desire to push the envelope, along with an underlying lack of tolerance for poor grammar and the employers that have taken a chance on me. Effective communication skills have also been crucial in pitching ideas and collaborating with team members and clients. Curiosity has allowed me to stay relevant and responsive to emerging trends. Having thick skin came in handy from time to time.

What goes on in the mind of someone in-between jobs? 
There is some second-guessing yourself - am I making the right call? Is this an emotional decision? There are moments of self-doubt, no matter how good you are, while you wait for that next opportunity. On the flip side, it can also be an opportunity for self-reflection - giving you a chance to reassess your career goals, refine your skills, and consider new directions you might want to pursue. Things you would ordinarily not give a second thought suddenly start to look like viable ventures.

In your opinion, do people leave jobs or people? 
Stripping everything away, it boils down to job satisfaction. Poor relationships at work can influence this, the feeling of not living up to your potential for various reasons, or the desire for personal and professional growth. If the way things are structured at work does not support your growth, and those with the authority to bring about change are not doing much to address it, when you eventually decide to leave, is it the job itself that is not working for you or the people involved?

Who has impacted your career life most significantly?
Picking just one person over the rest feels restrictive because various individuals have impacted my career differently. Friends who have consistently spurred me on and believed in me, and my family - who have shown great patience and support - the advertising industry demands a lot. There are also amazing workmates and colleagues I have collaborated with, and I learnt a thing or two. Those that have encouraged a collaborative atmosphere and a growth mindset, offering invaluable guidance and constructive feedback.

Then there have been those who provided me the freedom to explore and experiment with ideas, no matter how far-fetched they might have seemed and these are on both the client and agency side.
All these individuals have played a crucial role, providing mentorship and unwavering support, their influence very instrumental in shaping my journey.

When do you choose to slow down at work? 
I rarely do, to be honest. When there is some downtime, I might chat with colleagues, return long overdue calls and trawl the web for ideas and inspiration.

What is the last unspoken frustration you chose not to let out? 
To answer that would be counterproductive, wouldn’t it? (Laughs).

Why would you choose to miss a meal for work? 
To meet a deadline.

What is the last advert that tickled you and why?
I know you have asked for one, but there are a couple; KFC had a fun take on the lengths people will go to enjoy their chicken - it featured a guy posing as a fake food inspector going from place to place ‘sampling’ meals. The interesting thing for me anyway was that it was based on a true story.

There is a Tide Ad that aired during the Super Bowl, and it was set up so cleverly that any subsequent ad featuring stainless clothing became a Tide ad.

Oh, there was an Ad for some chocolate that featured a woman vying for a world record - don’t want to spoil it, but check out YouTube for Carre de Chocolat.

When does an assignment turn into fun? 
When it challenges you. When you have to throw out everything you knew and come up with an entirely new way to deliver a message. Whether it is upending the way the medium works or ditching the conventional media to find different ways to create a buzz. Deep down, you get a kick when you feel that you are subverting people’s expectations. 

For instance, when you decide to rethink how dialogue is delivered, switching things up with a jingle, or even changing things around in a video Ad. One of the projects I mentioned featured people auditioning; that was fun because it was fool-proof and from a viewer standpoint, still delivered.

If you sat in the CEO seat, who would you hire, and why would you hire them?
This is a tough one. Do you mean specific people or generally speaking? If we were to go into specifics, there are people I have collaborated with who had an incredible work ethic and were so structured, almost to a fault. I would not hesitate to pick up the phone and ask them to join me. 

But generally speaking, I would look out for people who are creative, innovative, and always up for a challenge. I would seek out individuals unafraid to think outside the box and eager to push the boundaries of what is possible. I would also prioritise people who are adaptable, open to feedback and collaborative. 

As a lot of what we do involves pitching ideas, I would be on the lookout for people with excellent communication skills. I think I would be remiss if I did not hire people who can call me out where I am wrong because you never stop learning and a little humility strengthens relationships.

In the end, the ideal team would be a kick-ass blend of talent, passion, a sense of humour and a shared vision for creating exceptional and groundbreaking campaigns.