McKim’s creative director Carey Pradinuk grew up around advertising. In high school, he spent his summers working in his father’s advertising agency, Pradinuk Advertising. While he enjoyed seeing the work develop from tiny thumbnail sketches to posted billboards, he says, “I was sure that I wouldn’t work in advertising. As sure as you can be about something when you’re 17 anyway.”
Carey completed two years in the education program at the University of Manitoba. One day each week, he worked in an elementary school. And while he believes it’s honourable to be a teacher, he found that for himself, the profession was not the right fit. “I found it a lot easier to have fun with the kids than be any type of authoritative figure.”
During a strike at the university, he left. His father gave him a full time job at his agency.
“I did a bit of everything,” Carey says. “I took a media-buying course, then helped with that. I helped file. I was a fair student at creative writing in high school, so I started writing ads for him, too. That’s when I finally discovered something I could really see myself doing as a career.”
Not long after that, Carey found himself in a dark auditorium at the WAG to watch television commercials for the Cannes Lions Film Festival. He was inspired, but he compared what he was writing to what he saw on screen and realized that his work was “terrible” by comparison.
Around that time, a family friend had returned from Humber College’s copywriting program in Ontario. She spoke highly of the course, and within a month, Carey had enrolled in the program and moved to Toronto.
A step in the right direction
While on a job placement at now defunct agency Harrod & Mirlin/fcb in Toronto, Carey was invited to work as a junior copywriter for Palmer Jarvis DDB in Winnipeg. There, he met and worked with Ron Sawchuk, who today is McKim’s vice president of creative services.
“Carey has always pushed himself and others to attain the best creative ideas that will get our clients noticed,” said Ron when asked how Carey’s writing and creativity has changed over the years. “But in these last few years, he’s also demonstrated an excellent understanding of the strategic side of advertising and how to work a client’s budget in order to get the message into more heads. He’s more of an invaluable part of the McKim team than ever, and certainly an asset to our clients.”
Carey’s ability to hone in on key issues was one of the first things I noticed about him, and it’s definitely a skill I envy. After a lifetime in and around the business, he has a unique ability to put himself in the audience’s shoes and see straight to the heart of a campaign.
On the job know-how
When I first started at the agency in 2010, Carey quickly taught me two things that my college advertising program did not:
First, you have to be prepared to write a lot of variations of your work. Whether you’re creating a concept, headline or new company name, you need to open a new Word document and get writing. While it’s painstaking and time consuming, it’s necessary to get the crux of the issue and approach the job with insight.
The second thing I learned is that a copywriter’s job goes beyond generating documents of copy that just get handed over to the designers and art directors.
“If you want to be a good copywriter, you have to be able to express ideas visually as well as through copy,” he told me. “Because sometimes, the best creative solution is one that has nothing to do with words. To be really successful, you have to be able to visualize the final creative and imagine how people will respond to it.”
This is what makes Carey good at his job. That, and his competitiveness and tenacity.
He constantly pushes himself to make every ad more compelling, to refine every line of copy and to capture every ounce of emotion in an image. Even when he sees or hears ads he’s worked on in the market, he wishes he could get them back so he could make them better – even the award-winning ones.
Advertising guru David Ogilvy said, “There are very few men of genius in advertising agencies. But we need all we can find. Almost without exception they are disagreeable. Don’t destroy them. They lay golden eggs.”
But there are exceptions. While Carey may disagree with a direction, an approach or a piece of copy, it comes from his determination to improve the work. The truth is, there’s no one more infectiously funny to work with, and truly passionate about advertising.
Without exception, the solutions he strives for helps McKim produce golden eggs.