Where portfolio students talk.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How do you get a Good Job?

Below is an excerpt from an article I Have an Idea did with a couple CD's @ Wieden + Kennedy:

ihaveanidea: What about the skill sets of copywriters and art directors who are responsible for making this kind of 'non-traditional' work. Is anything changing?

Todd: I would say you need to have a very intimate knowledge of almost every one of the clients that we have. We want someone who has authority in some specific area in their industry. We feel it's important to have a level of specialization, a level of knowledge as it relates to what they are doing.

So in answering the question, when we are looking for a team or a person that would be working on ESPN, they absolutely need to know and love sports. You know, it's one thing to be an interesting typographer, but it's another to be a really great designer and love basketball.

So I think what's changed is the need for expertise and enthusiasm in a lot of different areas, it isn't just, "I have a really good book from an ad school", it's more "Here's what I'm interested in as a person, here's what I'm passionate about and I'm looking for a place to provide a kind of stage so that my passion can play itself out". And that means that we don't always hire people from ad schools, we hire people who are smart and curious and want to say something. That area could be playwriting, that area could be architecture. We have a playwriter who never went to ad school and who is probably one of the most successful writers here, we have a guy who got his degree in architecture who is also working in our creative department.

We don't want ad people to make ads, we want interesting people to bring what they love and their expertise to our conversation.

ihaveanidea: Kevin, you're a VCU Adcenter graduate. What role did VCU Adcenter play in shaping your career and leading you to finally become co-CD at WK?

Kevin: At VCU, I developed my craft and my understanding of the business in an environment that, because there were planners and account people on every project, was very focused on creative solutions to business issues and not just advertising gags. Two years ago VCU added a media planning track - so now every creative who graduates from the program will have spent four semesters working alongside both a strategic and a media planner. It's a far cry from the days when a student book was a condom campaign, a guitar store campaign and a bunch of funny headlines. How has this helped me? I think it's a lot easier to take that approach from the beginning instead of trying to reorient mid-career.

(-) Do you want a book showing more great/unique strategy? Or one more focused on killer executions?

(-) Do you want brands that you're supreamly passionate about? Do you want brands that are somewhat "studenty" but are executed in great/unique ways? Or do you want really, really hard brands? All the above?

(-) To what extent do you want to show your ability to think outside traditional media?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What Makes a Campaign?

Recently, the: "It's the same thing three times"(or formulaic) critiscm has been brought up in class, and leads me to the question: When are you doing a different execution in the same campaign, and when are you doing a different ad (not the same campaign) for the same strategy?

By now, we all (including those who couldn't care less about the advertising industry) know and recognize the iPod ads instantly. But to me, these are as formulaic as they get. See below.

Essentially, we're saying the same visual executions with slight differences in sillouete and color scheme every single time. The class instructor, an art director at Olson in Minneapolis, agreed that the iPod ads were infact formulaic. Now look at the ads for the Minnesota Film and TV Board below:

Very similar executions, with different pictures, and different copy. The idea stays the same. But what makes this ok on the non-formulaic meter, and the iPod not? Or is it? Regardless of how you answer, we get back to the original question of what makes a campaign a campaign? As everything is in the ad industry, it's a subjective thing.

But can you have one ad that solves things visually, and one that does it with copy (communicating the same big and smaller idea) and have it be the same campaign? As usual, all thoughts are very much appreciated.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Get Fantastical

The following are marker comps that a group @ Brainco worked on for a 3M Air Filter system. The idea, is that the air filter works like some of Earth's natural creatures (Whales = filter feeders, bees taking care of pollen) to clean/purify the air.

Does it work? Need a better tag? Need some body copy? Or does it miss the mark entirley, being wild and wacky simply for the sake of being so?

Friday, March 9, 2007

On the Issue of Borrowed Interest

The use of borrowed interest in advertising is a tricky, subjective line that ad students often try and stay very far away from. That being said, we've been taught at Brainco, that any of the rules or guidlines can be broken, if they're done in a different, "shit-my-pants" way.

So when is borrowed interest simply borrowed interest for the sake of it, and when can it be legitamtley creative element to an execution? Above I've posted two examples. On top, Miami Ad School grad Samantha Barsky uses a shot from a Christina Agguleria video to show the converse of Lego's. On bottom, Wojtek Stachowicz uses Charles Manson for Lego.

In your opinion, are these legal, or illegal? Do one of these work? Ensue discussion.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Crispin Porter Effect

The past couple of years have been big ones for the Miami based agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. They've brought a new wave of guerilla marketing/advertising to the forefront of the industry, and challenged classic norms on how people interact with the thousands of messages everyday consumers are bombarded by, to cut thru the clutter of today's age of commercial clutter (phew, long sentence).

Their non-conventional/alternative approach to Cooper Mini won them awards and accounts--including the VW account without even having to bid.

But the question I pose to all of you: Is the Crispin model for sucess, a legitamete model of sucess for students trying to break into the advertising industry?

How many clever ego emissions ads, mailers, or magazine placement specific ads should we as students be putting in our books? A lot of these kinds of executions seem risky to me in the big picture, and our industry professional teachers either really dig them, or dismiss them. I often find myself boiling it down to a battle of classic vs. contemporary. There are those who will say that a great idea is a great idea, and you should find a way to do it no matter what, and while I agree with that--there's no doubt in my mind that it isn't that clear cut. Case in point:

We were given the assignment of 3M Filtrete Air filters. One cross-platform campaign we came up with was the idea of marketing air as a cologne, or perfume. There would be print ads that looked like classic cologne/perfume (essentially parodys) that had the fold out tab where you could smell the scent of pure air. Interactive would follow, as well as possibly television running the whole campaign as this sarcastic homage to a scent that doesn't really exist.

To me, that's an example of a big idea that has cross media legs, but our instructor--a writer at BBDO Minneapolis, and veteran writer at Carmichael Lynch wasn't a big fan of the idea, citing that it seemed played out.

But when we brought the campaign idea to another writer, Colin Corchoran, admitidley younger, he really dug the idea. I know, I know, it's a really subjective industry--but what I'm trying to get at is whether the pervasivness of the Crispin Porter attitude/creative creedo, is merely a style that only comes into play once you get into the industry, or, a legitamte well for all students to not only try and tap into--but, a must to tap into.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Is the Headline Dead?

Look thru a Communications Arts Advertising Annual from just a half decade ago, and you'll find something very interesting. Words. Lots of them. Long headlines, short headlines, and body copy--both long and not so long. But fliping thru this year's ad annual, isn't quite the same experience.

Words--there aren't as many of them. So it goes without saying that the headlines, and the body copy are fewer and far between. And while I actually believe that we may be witnessing a slight increase in the value of copy (because its being utilized more efficiently) --the days of visual and headline, particuarly straight visual and smart headline--are nearly exctinct. Visual solutions have uped their frequency dramatically in recent times, and they're becoming quicker, smarter and easier to read. I'll admit, they work. And when they work well like Ogilvy Johannesburg's Harley Davidson campaign ('06 Annual, pg. 45), there's simply no better way of saying it with words.

They preach to us in ad school all the time, say it without saying it. But in today's world of consumer instant-gratification--how much room is there left to say something, without saying it, but still using words to do it? It's understandable that the industry will go through different fazes, where certain styles become popular, and dominant for periods of time--and I'm sure in time, we'll see more headlines--we'll see more body copy, but here's where the trend is most relavant to all of us ad school students: What does that mean for my book?

A big reason why I started this blog is to gain some sort of feel and understanding of what kind of thinking, and maybe what kinds of executions ad schools are pushing over others. At Brainco, while the writers still write a mildly fair share of straight headline-driven ads, I feel that all the good teachers almost discourage using headlines primarily. Of course, it comes down to having the great small idea within the great or good big idea, but the line of thinking sees headline driven ads as only one very small possible solution amongst countless other ways that strategies can be executed. "If you're going to do a headline campaign--it better be fucking awesome," an instructor of mine says. And to be completely honest, I agree.

The ad above, goes to recent Creative Circus grad, Adam Samara as a print campaign for LA Boxing Gym. It says: "Win arguments without saying a word." Did he do it? I think so. Is it a great headline? I'm curious to know what all of you think, and what you're experiences are in terms of the value of copy, and the value of headlines at your respective schools.

To me, a great headline is a great small idea. It isn't about how gracefully, or poetic the line is written--though phrasing and termonology is important--but it's about how originally you can arrticulate the strategy. There aren't really any set rules, but I think it should suprise me. Look for more rants on lines in the future. Thanks for your eyes, thanks for your thoughts. I know you'd rather prefer a picture, but somethings--even today, can only be said in words. Thank goodness.

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