Before joining us at Dunn&Co., Copywriter Kaitlyn Zeitler had already spent years giving back to the Tampa Bay advertising community. During her first year in Ad 2, the 32-and-under branch of the American Advertising Federation, she spearheaded their pro bono campaign for local nonprofit The MacDonald Training Center. Fast forward to present day: she currently spends her down time as President of the Tampa Bay chapter, managing a 20 person board of volunteer professionals to bring experience and opportunity to aspiring young advertisers.
Is it weird for our intro blurb to say that we’re proud of her? No—it’s cool. We’re very proud of her.
A few months after college graduation, I was still adjusting to life working a full-fledged nine to five in the advertising industry. It was eerily calm by comparison; every waking moment of my final college semester was occupied with wrapping up a life cushioned by the “I’m allowed to make mistakes, I’m just a college student!” safety net. What I once diagnosed as stress, hindsight began suggesting was adrenaline. Turns out, I was an extra-curricular junkie. And I was looking for my next hit even if I was in total denial.
I accepted an invitation for coffee with a mutual friend with the same trepidation one does when you’re, like, 70% sure you’ll be duped into joining a pyramid scheme. I went with an open mind, but had excuses at the ready should “Ad 2” end up not being my thing.
That night, I learned Ad 2 is a national organization within the American Advertising Federation that caters to professionals under the age of 32. I discovered there were chapters in cities all over the U.S., and although Tampa Bay was one of the strongest chapters, they were all tied to larger, shared initiatives. Ad 2 advocated for diversity, championed students, worked with local government on behalf of the industry, and donated campaign resources to local nonprofits in need of advertising and marketing services.
It’s not that I didn’t care about education, government relations, or diversity. I just didn’t see how I could help with those so early. I was very recently a student, myself. I hadn’t even voted. The one thing I felt I could even remotely contribute to was helping a nonprofit that accepted they knew less than I did. I signed on that night to help with the annual Public Service campaign. I wanted to help change lives, and I was young and foolish enough not to consider that mine would also change.
My first year in Ad 2, we worked with a nonprofit called The MacDonald Training Center. They help people with disabilities get the training and education they need to enter the workforce. I had the privilege of meeting a lot of their trainees, but I most vividly remember Billy. He loved bowling so much he got a tattoo of pins on his arm with a cartoonish “wa-pow!” because he was really good at getting strikes. Not long after the campaign wrapped, we learned Billy was successfully placed in a job and had his own apartment. By no means do I believe our zero-budget campaign was the direct catalyst of that, but it cemented my belief that the advertising industry does a disservice to itself when we do not participate in something bigger. We are in the business of telling the right stories to sell, but we have the platform to tell stories that sell others on becoming the real catalyst of positive change.
That mindset is more common than we might think. It’s probably why it was incredibly easy to recruit eight Dunn&Co. employees to join the Ad 2 Tampa Bay Board just by asking nicely; I didn’t even have to bribe them or anything.
Whether encouraging employees to join organizations like Ad 2, or taking on more pro bono client work, it is this copywriter’s opinion that showing people the positive impact their work can have is the kind of professional development that pays back tenfold. That’s why outside of client work with Dunn&Co., the story I’m currently selling is my experience with Ad 2 Tampa Bay.
Since my days on the Public Service team, I’ve grown through Ad 2 leadership positions like Creative Director, Vice President, and, now, President of the organization. I got involved in my community in ways I once thought didn’t make sense for me. Every week, I see people with differing skill sets, at competing agencies, come together in their precious free time to work toward the common goal of bettering Tampa Bay. This is my last year with the organization and as endings are wont to do, I’ve been tricked into reflection. What I’ve learned through it all, is regardless of experience or expertise, everyone starts on the same playing field: concerned about how they can meaningfully contribute. But, that’s the thing. The only prerequisite for helping is being human––everything else can be picked up along the way. You just have to find your platform, and then sell the hell out of it.