Posted 03 July 2024
Interview by Isabelle Cassidy
Mention Manny Labram

How advertising creative Manny Labram used LinkedIn to break into adland

After a decade of experience in the hospitality industry, it wasn’t until lockdown in 2020 that Manny Labram's career took a big turn. After the milkshake bar he worked in closed down, he successfully applied to an ad school and since then, his “life has changed for the better”. In the years that followed, Manny secured placements at 4creative, BBC Creative and Waste Creative, as well as full-time roles at Quiet Storm, and he's currently working at The&Partnership. Here, advertising creative Manny shares his tips for getting into advertising and why it's never too late to pursue what you're interested in.

Manny Labram

Manny Labram

Job Title

Junior Creative, The&Partnership, 2023–Current



Selected Clients

Toyota, British Gas, Big Yellow Storage

Previous Employment

Quiet Storm, 2022-2023
4Creative (Placement) 2021-2022
BBC Creative (Placement), 2022
The&Partnership (Placement), 2021
Waste Creative (Placement), 2021

Place of Study

Watford Ad School, 2020-2021



Social Media


What I do

How would you describe what you do as a junior creative?
As a junior creative, my job is to ideate and create advertising campaigns. Sometimes, I'm there to support senior creatives; other times, I'm partnered with art directors to tackle briefs. As a copywriter, I specialise in writing – from radio scripts to poster headlines to TVC scripts to social posts.

Have you always known what you wanted to do in your career?
No, it took me 26 years to figure it out! From when I was about 15, I worked in hospitality. I sold pies in football stadium kiosks, waited tables in luxury hotels, worked as a barista, and made milkshakes at Shaketastic – I did the lot. I even studied hospitality at university.

It wasn’t until the lockdown in 2020 that the milkshake bar I worked at closed, which forced me to rethink my career. Afterwards, I went to Watford Advertising School, run by the late great Tony Cullingham. Since then, my life has changed for the better.

Manny and his year group at Watford Ad School

Would you say you need any specific training for what you do?
There are two sides to what I do - creating and writing. You can’t teach someone to be creative. However, creating is a process that can be refined. That’s why it is worthwhile to go to an ad school.

At Watford [Ad School], my mentor, Tony Cullingham, taught me how to think of ideas quickly and how to mass-produce them, which has served me well throughout my career. Writing is also a skill that must be crafted and worked on, and I think the best way to improve it is to write and read more. That, I suppose, is the most worthwhile training.

What’s been your favourite project to work on from the past year, and why?
A few months ago I finished up a campaign for Toyota GR Yaris. The campaign journey was fun, informative, and challenging. It was my first social-first campaign, and we were working on a smaller budget with tighter time frames. I learnt so much.

We finished with a piece of work I’m incredibly proud of and it brought me closer to my team. I'm now in post-production for another Toyota project that has been equally fun and rewarding.


Behind the scenes of the Toyota GR Yaris shoot


How I got here

How would you describe your journey as you’ve been starting out?
Probably like a British summer! When things go wrong, it can feel like the rain will never stop, but when they're right, it's bliss. Traditionally, advertising creatives come in pairs - copywriters and art directors – but I'm a solo creative. At points, I feared this would hinder me, but I’ve been able to work with such amazing creatives from different backgrounds. It’s allowed me to find new avenues of inspiration and resources.

How did you go about landing your first few jobs?
During my year at college we did something called the Watford Tour, where we would get briefed from different creatives from agencies across London. This really helped me get my foot in the door and gave me a lot of opportunities in terms of placements, particularly from The&Partnership and 4creative.

When it came to getting hired at my first agency, Quiet Storm, I had reached out to a creative who worked there through LinkedIn. She liked my portfolio and gave me a chance. I've gone full circle with The&Partnership, it was my first-ever placement and now I'm a junior creative there. Again, to get this role, I also reached out to the hiring manager on LinkedIn.

“I was taught to love my ideas enough to defend them but be wise enough to let them go when they're not working.”

What has been your biggest challenge along the way?
I think in terms of learning, every job will have hard and soft skills you need to build on. But as creatives, the desire to create something worthwhile is a never-ending battle. It can feel personal when your ideas aren’t chosen and you need thick skin in this respect. I was taught to love my ideas enough to defend them but to be wise enough to let them go when they are not working.

Work for a 360 campaign for 'The Capture' at BBC Creative

How important are social media and self-promotion to your work?
I think social media is a great outlet for creatives to show different kinds of work. Creativity is all about connecting with people, and social media makes achieving that easier; you can get a bit more personal and show off your passions without having a large following. When creative directors or hiring managers view your portfolio, they will often remember the non-ad bits. So it’s important to do things outside of your industry, which social media can help with - especially LinkedIn.

“Take a look at advertising agencies’ work, find out on LinkedIn who’s working there and reach out to them.”

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
The greatest piece of advice Tony Cullingham gave me was to watch more films and read more books. They're a great source of inspiration. Films help you learn how camera techniques, set designs, dialogue and writing can help bring storytelling to life. I enjoy watching foreign films, and I am also a lover of anime.

I believe there is a lot to be learnt from stories from cultures different to your own. Of course, the more reading you do, the more your writing will improve. Again, don’t stick to traditional stories. I’m getting into reading manga, for example. Though this advice is simple, it’s effective because it won’t necessarily feel like studying. It will likely become a hobby, as it did for me.

Work for a collaborative edition of Smash Hits magazine for 'Derry Girls' for 4creative

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into a similar role?
I was lucky enough to be part of the last Watford Ad School Alumni cohort. In London, there are many other programmes that can help kickstart your career - BBH Barn, BBC Creative U, School of Communication Arts, to name a few. These programmes will help you network and know the industry a bit better.

Having a general idea of the type of work you want to create is always good. Take a look at advertising agencies' work, find out on LinkedIn who’s working there and reach out to them. Creatives are generally happy to lend a helping hand.

If you’re a writer, start a blog about something you’re interested in or take on a similar challenge. If you’re more visual, try to display your skills by creating short web comics and illustrations or recreating film posters in your style. It can feel like you constantly need to be doing something to get noticed, but try to tailor your creative activities to things you’re genuinely interested in. Not only will it motivate you to keep going, but you’ll naturally find it easier and you’re more likely to be good at it. Remember, you can start small. Do things at your own pace. You won’t be amazing initially, but people will eventually start to take notice.

Interview by Isabelle Cassidy
Mention Manny Labram