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Here's the Scoop: Matt Batten

Matt is the Executive Creative Director at Momentum Worldwide.

1. Why did you choose advertising/marketing as a career path?

I didn't. I like to tell people I woke up in a bath tub of ice with a scar where my kidney used to be and a note in my hand that read "You're in advertising now, kiddo!".

In reality, I fell into it as a creative graduate who landed a job as a Designer. On my first day, when someone handed me a scamp and said "lay this ad out", I looked around at the dozen other 20-somethings on 2nd generation macs and thought "Oh, you're in advertising now, kiddo."

So, pretty much the same thing.

2. What's the best advice you'd give to your younger self who's just started their career?

Learn other skills.

That has a double meaning.

Firstly, if this is the career you really want, you're going to need to diversify your skillset. There was a time when you only needed to know how to design a kick-ass poster or write a great script. But with ever-fragmenting media and tech, the data-centric self-actualisation of client thinking, the miasmic media-consumption habits, and the industry's race to the bottom, you need to remain as competitive, compelling and relevant as the products and services you'll be briefed on. Learn TikTok. Teach yourself Premiere Pro. Read the AFR. Go to creative conferences.

Secondly, if your advertising career bottoms out or you realise this shit isn't worth it, you've got skills for a second career path.

3. What do you look for when hiring young people?

Diversity in skillset. See above.

4. How do I make my resume stand out?

Lead with your best work. If you're a creative, then start with your three best portfolio pieces. If you're in account management or strategy, start with your three best business successes.

Focus on the results and impact.

You've got to prove to your prospective employer that you have the skills they need at a level better than the other candidates.

5. What skills have been most beneficial for you?

Thick skin. Rampant curiosity. A thirst for learning new stuff.

6. Do you need a degree?

It helps.

After university, I found myself working at an agency where an old school chum was also working in a more senior role. He didn't go to university and had spent those three on the job, working his way up. I thought my uni days were a waste of time... until 3 years later, he had peaked in his level of competence and I had become more senior, and continued to rise in the ranks while he stayed behind.

The degree is only part of the reason. It's also about the dedication, discipline and habits of learning as an adult at uni that can help your career flourish.

7. What was a key lesson you learnt in your career to date?

Never underestimate consumers. Clients do it all the time. Agencies do it too. I've had three different promotional/engagement campaigns slated to be live for 4-6 weeks each all be over very quickly due to consumer resourcefulness. One, expected to be a rather complicated challenge for consumers to solve, was over in the first 24 hours. It's hard to go back to your client and say "You know how we estimated 40,000 consumers over the course of the campaign? Well... we got 20. They were much smarter than us."

8. Have your reasons for joining the industry changed over time?

While I didn't join out of a conscious decision (see above), my reason for staying during the early years as a Designer was because I loved the culture: a group of young people all with creative backgrounds having fun while being paid to do easy work. Then, when I became a Creative, my reason for staying was that I was having ideas, making stuff, and basically being being paid to daydream. And it was still a lot of fun.

While it might be less fun these days, my reasons for staying are that I still enjoy the core of the business. I'm still in love with the idea of advertising. And while most of the work we do these days won't make you, your clients or their brands famous, there are still opportunities to be found. Or created.

9. Have you ever failed? How did you react?

Plenty of times. Failure is our best educator. We learn more from failures than we do from successes, because it's hard to replicate the exact circumstances and all the decisions that went into a success, but it's very easy to avoid those that led to a failure.

Wallow in self pity. Acknowledge the lesson. Dust yourself off. Do better.

10. If you had the chance to re-do your career knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

Join the circus.


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