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The A list podcast Logo      EPISODE 5003, DAVID ESRATI


For those of you in school, who want to impress an agency person with a cover letter, here’s the William S. Howard edition:

He sent it, unsolicited, from our internship page. You can watch a short video of William there.

We always want to know what your 3 favorite ads are of all time. It tells us a lot about you. They all don’t have to be TV either: print, experiential, etc.

Will sent this. Note how he added his own brief to each ad.

Subject: Will you really get back to this Intern candidate quickly?

To Whom it May Concern at The Next Wave,

Even if for some off reason on a rare occasion you asked me to make the coffee, you bet your ass I’d make it, love making it, and make sure it was the best coffee you’ve had all year. That’s just my work ethic.

My mentor recently surprised me. You see, I’m a Junior down here at Xavier University double majoring in advertising and public relations. They are not just my majors, they are my passion. Ever since I saw my first episode of Mad Men (great show, but poor representation of the creative revolution to agree with George Lois) I knew this was the industry for me. I thought I was doing everything right, taking video production classes, writing classes, going to marketing and PR seminars, I felt all I needed was a mentor to help me get a foot in the door some where and work my butt off.

“That’s a great idea William,” my mentor said when I told him I wanted to intern in a creative department and start copywriting. “I’ll introduce you to our agency Creative Director.” This was February, I was beyond excited. He shoots me an email and says, “the CD wants you to read “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” (how fitting) first,” a welcome challenge, the book is a bible to our industry.

When I finished it I immediately sent him a text to let him know I was ready to come in and finally meet his CD. “I quit,” he responded. I haven’t heard from him since. What a surprise that was.

So here I am, floating in the limbo that is wanting to work in advertising. To be quite honest, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you all have had your interns for the summer lined up for the past 3 weeks, I thought I had everything squared away for the summer, now I’m way behind the curve, having loss my connection, looking for someone to take a chance on me.

You all wanted an email that showed how your lives would improve if you bring me on? To put it simply, if given the opportunity, I will show you from the moment I walk in that you made the right choice. I mean it when I say advertising is a passion, there is nothing else I could ever see myself doing, period. I want to learn, I want to work, and I am willing to work above and beyond to get my foot in the door. Bring me in, let me show you how I can not only be a pupil to “how it’s really done,” but a valuable asset to your established team and program. I want to soak it up and learn as much as I can, and I will be of value to you while I do so.

Coming to Dayton would be coming home, it is my home. CJ was my high school, I spent 4 years of my life downtown everyday. Cincinnati is a great town, but Dayton is home. An opportunity to work and learn my passion at home, would be incredible.

I hope you consider, even though I’m a little late.

-William S. Howard

Attached is my resume and in my portfolio included is a flyer and brochure I researched, interviewed, designed, and wrote the copy for at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, where I have been interning since last May doing promotions work for many of their programs (though I am not a designer, I’m a writer). Also included is a document with my three of my favorite ads and my very short briefs for each. Lastly included is an essay I just recently submitted to an advertising essay contest, if you want to know my deepest feelings and opinions on our industry and purpose.
Thank You

P.S. My attachment titles are tongue and cheek, I’m not really that simple

Becoming an Ad Nerd

Of course, you should read “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” even if you are an agency veteran.

Some good advice I heard on a podcast (the A-List, of course) about advertising: “always read the company handbook.” It was from Derek Walker of Brown and Browner. Derek’s a little funky in that he doesn’t have a website. Anyways, in case you’re wondering about our handbook, you’ll find it at

Have you read any Peter Drucker? Or Tom Peters? Advertising is a business that builds businesses. Strategy is everything, but without a common vocabulary, you’ll have a hard time selling your ideas. One of the best businessmen I’ve ever seen in the design business is Joe Duffy. He could make a business case for good design like no other.

Living by Design” is long out of print, but it was an introduction to design like no other.

Tony Vernon was my first supervisor in the business. When he couldn’t get any traction with his book after going to 30 agencies in Louisville, he redid all the agencies logos and started again. He got 3 offers immediately. We met at a firm called Graphica, and Larry Holland hired me. The business made it through one transfer of leadership, then got subsumed by a group that wasn’t even in their league. Sad.

Build your own library of work you admire. A pinterest board can be really intriguing as mood board for an employer hiring you.

We used to have crib files, we used to hoard annuals and issues of CA or Campaign or Critique, now we just google. What makes you an ad nerd, when you can tell stories about great campaigns that made you think “how’d they ever come up with that idea?” Like “Flame” cologne for Burger King. That got insane earned interest, check it out.

For 4 years, I worked with Sally Hogshead who wrote “Radical Careering” after she left CP+B LA. Met her on the book tour. She’s an amazing writer. Now, she’s an amazing public speaker.

Alex Bogusky

Alex Bogusky and David Esrati, Boulder, Sept 2015

Alex Bogusky is a sort of common thread as inspiring me to keep getting better. Here’s my homage site to him. feel free to leave a recommendation to put him in the AAF Hall of Fame.

The Truth ad that haunts me:

At one time, this PDF of the CP+B handbook was one of my most valued possessions.

They came up with a new one in 2018. I hated the design.

Here’s a few sample redesigned pages, with interactivity. It was sent as an Xmas present. Let me know which you prefer.

Moving in Stereo

I learned how to sell Hi-Fi at the end of my Hi-Fi selling career thanks to a single brand: Linn, of Scotland. How they sold was so different than all of their competition. It’s a great case study ready to be written but for now, there’s this: PRaT. Closest I come to mentioning this part of my history is in this post: Why I love my iPod and hate it at the same time.


There aren’t a lot of veterans owning creative shops. I know of one other: Jamie Barrett of Barrett SF. Leave a comment if you find more, I’ll build a list.

The HR/Diversity guy at McCann who built the brick wall? David Hamlin. He’s not there now.

The DDB Army Pitch deck was brilliant. But since a McCann employee was sleeping with someone on the Army Procurement team, the contract ultimately went there (where the Army promptly threw out the winning campaign).

Abbreviations all Military folks know:
HMFIC- Head Mother Fucker in Charge
FUBAR- Fucked up beyond all recognition
SNAFU- Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.

Note: the word Fuck comes into play later in the story- thanks to my brother from another mother, Aquiles La Grave and his fucking presentation. He founded Brandzooka. You should check it out. 

Creating turmoil in the local political scene

You need to either read these three posts- or at least watch videos that go with the first two.

Fugeddaboutit, and we’ll give you a nice little account

Some of the work we did for Mendelsons, “The First Place to Look for Every Last Thing”

I really liked working for the Dayton Bombers, because of my love of hockey.

There are a lot of posts, so keep scrolling through the pages. Besides getting to do a spot that got banned by the local TV station, I got to write a lot of radio which can be a lot of fun, really. “Take the kids out” is a favorite.

The very first place I worked, ended up being a creative force in Dayton. Real Art does a lot of experiential design. They are the place all the cool kids want to work.

Steve Jobs

Here’s one everyone should watch. It’s how he defined the purpose of his company.

If you don’t know the story that goes with the 1984 ad, how it almost died, you probably shouldn’t be in advertising. I’ll put a link here. Youtube has taken down multiple versions. If Apple was smart, they’d have all their ads online (hint).

Recently, Fortnight punked them on it in a retribution for their treatment by the iTunes store. A great strategic move.

The Chiat\Day Get a Mac campaign was strategically brilliant. When CP+B had to counter, they did their best with Laptop Hunters. Their client was Microsoft, the company Apple mocked in 1984.

Odds & Ends

Although we’ve been too busy to sustain our Websitetology Seminar, the site still stands. Our initial goal was to make a way to get paid for teaching our clients about the Web and WordPress. It actually ended up bringing us a lot of clients- and also got me onto a few conference stages.

If you’re looking for binoculars:

We have a list of our local competition on our site:

Who said google has to be the only directory?

The magazine issue that pushed me into advertising? Communication Arts in 1984 because it had an article about Fallon McElligot Rice Duffy. See this post for a retrospective of their work.



  1. The Next Wave on the A-List podcast | The Next Wave Marketing Innovation | - […] And, because the link ended up on the cutting room floor- and not in the show notes- after you…

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