Mtern Spotlight — John Sokolowski - McKinney

Mtern Spotlight — John Sokolowski

September 1, 2017

Errand runners. Coffee grabbers. Copy makers. These labels are everything our Mterns aren’t. With their hands in every department from media to studio, our Mterns really made their mark this summer. As the summer winds down, we took some time to learn a little more about them.


John was our copywriter Mtern this summer, but he was no stranger us. It was, as the saying goes, déjà vu all over again. After a stint here at McKinney as a suit, he set his sights on being a creative and trucked off to the VCU Brandcenter. And then…he came back.

It’s an interesting boomerang you’ve engineered, leaving McKinney as an account executive and returning as a copywriting Mtern. How is it different for you here in your brave new world?

The key difference has been trying not to play account executive on my own creative work. There’s certainly an advantage to be had as a copywriter with an understanding of clients and how to manage them, but relying too heavily on that experience can lead to safe and uninteresting work. The most easily sold idea is rarely the best one. So it’s been a conscious effort to not default back to my account tendencies — in the environment where I learned them — and instead focus on being more purely a creative.


It’s hard enough to gain a foothold in this industry in the first place: What flipped the switch for you? Why leave the land of client lunches for the midnight oil of copywriting?


Maybe I just wasn’t being invited to the more glamorous client lunches that keep people in account management! Kidding aside, I’ve always had a passion for writing in this industry. Emails were my manifestos, conference reports my banner copy. And as much as I enjoyed discussing creative as an account executive, I figured the only way to enjoy it more was to make it my work that’s being discussed.


What has surprised you about your time as an Mtern? Have some things been easier than you anticipated? Or the other way around?


I was surprised — and pleasantly so — by how quickly my partner and I were thrown into the deep end on real client work. There weren’t any warm up assignments, no busy work to be done, just a “Hello, welcome, here’s your brief.” Which made it much easier to get our work in the mix to potentially be presented and produced. And as a consequence, also quickly exposed us to the professional level of scrunity by which the work was evaluated. But we didn’t come here for summer camp; we came to get real experience. And the only summer camp worth going to anyway is on Disney Channel’s Bug Juice, which unfortunately wasn’t an option for me.

OK, tell the truth, who in creative land has been the toughest on you?


Jenny. But as everyone who knows her can attest, only in a tough love kind of way. And it’s that kind of attention that makes the work better and makes me better as a creative, so it’s eagerly received on my end. It’s really no wonder why she was named one of the top 100 People Who Make Advertising Great. I’ve seen it happen in person.


What’s one thing you’d like to see change in the world — whether you contribute to it or not?


I firmly believe that pizza companies should stop being able to get away with selling cheesy bread and marinara sauce as an appetizer for pizza. That’s just a deconstructed pizza. Why would I eat it as a warm up for eating pizza? And yet we’ve allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into accepting this. What’s next? A pre-appetizer where they just bring you wheat, tomatoes, and a cow? It has to stop. This is my white whale.


In 5 years, I’ll…


…probably be nursing a strained hamstring from my Sunday afternoon semi-competitive co-ed rec kickball league.