Blogging By Moonlight

Mario Schulzke was enjoying his weekly steam session on Feb. 19 when a naked man walked in with a handful of towels and began doing yoga. Two minutes later, Schulzke, manager of business development at WongDoody in Los Angeles, headed for the door. Ten minutes after that, he chronicled the encounter on his online journal at themarioblog.com for the site’s estimated 5,000 monthly visitors to enjoy. “With that kind of topic, it’s important to get it off my mind as quickly as possible,” he says.

People at ad agencies spend their days communicating their clients’ messages, and now, with the proliferation of blogs, some of them can be found during their free time broadcasting their own opinions—much like others in the blogosphere. The 23-year-old Schulzke began his blog three years ago as a way to share the events of his daily life with his mom who lives in Germany, but now a significant number of strangers read his thoughts. Others use these forums, which generally cost less than $20 a month to maintain, to muse on ads, rant about industry news and respond to gossip.

Freelance copywriter Gari Cruze is a ranter. His Feb. 21 posting on adblather.com links to a story about a lawsuit regarding Blockbuster’s new “no late fees” policy, which he calls “a lie of epic proportions.” “Thanks for harshing the ad industry’s credibility that much more, you idiots. Who’s your VP of Marketing? Karl Rove?” writes the 35-year-old Chattanooga, Tenn.-based blogger.

Though most blog for their own enjoyment, many are aware of sites’ potential to draw employment. “I thought it would be fun to do,” Cruze says. “If freelance business comes along, that’s icing on the cake.” Likewise, Jack Cheng didn’t start his blog intending to land a job, but the University of Michigan senior does mention it (jackcheng.com) during interviews. “A blog is one of the best self-promotional tools I have because it really lets people see my personality and how I think,” says Cheng, 21. “At the very least my blog shows other people I’m passionate about advertising, and passion is something that doesn’t always come through in a portfolio or one-page résumé.”

Indeed, sending his blog address with a résumé helped Piers Fawkes get hired at the brand development agency Satori Partners in New York last October. His blog about cultural trends, psfk.com, interested his future employers. “My impression was they were very impressed by it,” says Fawkes, 33. “They loved the insight, speed of thought and passion.” Started last June, PSFK draws 5,000 daily visitors—at least a quarter of whom work at agencies across the world, says Fawkes. He’s careful not to write anything that could breach the confidentially agreement he has with Satori, so readers will never find posts about the agency’s clients or methodologies. “I’m considerate of my employer,” he says. “You have to be careful.”

For this same reason, Gareth Kay, director of planning at Modernista!, makes it clear that the views expressed on his blog are his own and not those of his Boston agency. Nevertheless, he does think Modernista! may benefit from his creation. “You get on the radar of clients looking at blogs and a talent pool of employees,” says Kay, 31. Like most blogs, his (garethkay.typepad.com/ brand_new) encourages readers to post comments. “The great thing about it is I can put out a point of view about a brand … and see how people react to it,” he says. For example, in a recent posting, he ranted: “Isn’t the new Toyota tagline the dummest [sic] thing? ‘Moving forward’ … well I suppose it’s better than ‘standing still’ or ‘moving backwards.'”

Men are behind most ad-related blogs, but there are some exceptions: Boston-based freelance copywriter Jane Goldman runs Cup of Java (caffeinegoddess.blogspot.com), and Copenhagen, Denmark-based freelance art director Åsk Wäppling operates Adland (ad-rag.com). Like many bloggers, they keep their identities somewhat a mystery. “People don’t know who I am and it’s cool,” says Wäppling, 32. “But they think I’m a guy, and that gets annoying.”

“You could talk to 30 people about one campaign and they could all have different opinions,” says Goldman, 27. “In that respect [a blog] is a good sounding board, and having a little bit of anonymity isn’t a bad thing.”

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