Tools of the Trade: Jack McNamara of Publicis New York

By Kyle O'Brien 

Tools of the Trade is an AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps you perform at your top form, from your favorite drafting table to your best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Jack McNamara, senior copywriter at Publicis New York.

Jack McNamara writes postcards for passers-by as a way to connect.


What is the name of the one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire your work? 

Postcards. Originally, this started out as a way to keep sane during the pandemic by reaching out to people in ways they forgot to expect. When Trump threatened to defund the post office, I bought a hundred stamps, started printing my own cards and never really stopped after that. There’s not a single friend of mine who doesn’t have one of these on their fridge.

What makes it useful at work is that it’s a blank space. As a writer, it makes you think about distilling all the crazy thoughts you have into something that’s short and sweet. Ever hear about that trick for getting ideas by writing a letter to a loved one on the topic? This is like that, only more condensed.

It can also be just plain fun as a writing exercise—one time I bought a box of 100 from the Met museum and the challenge was to give each one a meme caption on the other side.

Why is it your favorite?

It can definitely go outside the office. I have a table that I’ll set up on the streets and just ask people to let me write a postcard for them. I don’t care who they want to write to, or if they even want to write to a person at all. I’ve had people just ask me to tell the Supreme Court to screw off (though they had a more flavorful way of saying it), I’ve had people confess love, I had a lot of people wanted to say something to their dead parents. Right now I’m working on a video about a guy that got punched in the face the night prior and wanted to apologize to his assailant because he felt he had it coming.

How did you acquire your tool or hear about it for the first time?

Honestly, I think it was one of the ones they’ll give you as receipt at restaurants.

How does it help you be successful?

It’s definitely a fun thing to talk about with other creatives, so I guess there’s networking in that. Plenty of people like to analyze this and reveal aspects of it that I hadn’t even really considered. Some people see this as a natural extension of myself, and some people see this as a chance to encounter the faceless strangers you’d never see otherwise.

It’s also scored me some interviews, so that’s neat.

Does it have sentimental value?

Definitely. For starters, it reminds me of the lockdown and those hard times being away from literally everyone. It reminds me of the love letters I’d write to ex-girlfriends. At this point, I keep doing it because it’s fascinating meeting the people who come up to me—I would never meet these types otherwise.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral?

Maybe. What I’ve been doing lately is setting up a stand on the street to write postcards for people and posting it, so here’s hoping. IG + TT @jackthemc.

We want to know what tools you use to make you successful. If you’d like to contribute or know someone who would want to be featured in Tools of the Trade, contact and fill out our survey.