May 24, 2016

Break through the noise, that’s what you’ll be paid for

It’s getting to that time of year where if you’re an advertising student, you’re probably thinking: “Shiiiit, I best get myself one of those placements.” By now you’ve Googled the words ‘Creative Advertising Placements’. Been on the IPA’s website (you know who they are, right?). And filled out a perfectly thought out application form for BBH’s Barn (hopefully you didn’t miss the deadline). If this is all you’ve done, or dare I say less, it’s time to pull that finger out of your arse, and start using it to scratch your forehead, whilst you think about how you’re going to make yourself stand out.

Be your own brand

Hey you. Creative type. You’re about to enter the world of communications and branding, so for starters, you need to brand yourself. You don’t have to make a campaign about yourself (or maybe you do), but in order to stand out from the rest of your mates and other ad schools, it’s time to stop thinking like everyone else.

What are you going to be known by? ‘Tom and Ben’ or ‘Vikki and Hollie’? How many people do you know called Tom or Ben? Will your name be remembered? Probably not. Unless of course, you’re so brilliant that you’ve already won 10 awards.

Why not do something a little different? Creative team Newby and Wells did, by using their domain name in a unique way: //pleasecrit.us.

But if you’re going to call yourself something wacky, don’t do it if it doesn’t stand for anything. Giving yourself a parody agency name like ‘we are Falcon’, ‘Starchy and Starchy’ or ‘BB8’ may seem amusing, but will it get you remembered? Not if you don’t do anything to back it up.

What I haven’t seen yet, is a team who have changed their names to something unique and original by deed poll, so there’s one option. Or maybe you could get married and be known by your shared surname, there’s another option.

Your website is your digital canvas. Your front door to the world. Your “how you doin?”. Simply putting your brand logos in square boxes isn’t really enough any more. You’re up against some serious competition. As creatives, we’re told to think outside of the box, so why have you made it 150px by 150px?

Use your art directional knowledge and create your own style that you’re proud of. Your website represents you, make it great. That doesn’t mean that everything needs to be mocked up, when you get into a crit, they may hate your idea and tell you to start again. Don’t waste valuable hours polishing marmite turds, unless those turds are the product of Latvian space traveling, Eurovision winning alpacas. The internet sure loves alpacas.

cosmic_20stuff_20alpaca_original

Get noticed

So you’ve got a book, made a website and you’re looking for crits. But before you can get a crit, your first challenge is to get past the agency gatekeeper and receive a response from the person in charge of placements. You and every other ad student graduating this year... you may be waiting a while. Time to think about a way to skip that queue. What’s going to get you first in line? Maybe you’ll win an award, maybe you won’t. Then what?

Your portfolio shouldn’t just be about amazingly executed print ads, it should be full of big ideas that get people talking. Creating PR ideas will be part of your job role, so doing something that gets public intrigue before you’re even hired is certainly a good start. If you’re thinking about doing a stunt, don’t just do one for the sake of doing something different, and whatever you do, don’t post your favourite Creative Director a picture of your feet, accompanied with the message: “I’m trying to get my foot in the door.” That CD no longer likes you, and you didn’t even get the chance to say hello.

When I was a student, I was told about creative team Callum & Marc (now employed at BBH) who got their first placement through their Megabus Book. It was this idea that got me thinking about what I was going to do to get noticed. After a bit of thinking, I realised that the well known creative award the Cannes Lion, wasn’t actually a whole lion, it was only half a lion. So I created the back half as a new award for Cannes 2015, The Cannes Lion Arse Award. I sent it to Campaign magazine and tweeted about it like crazy, and ended up going with my creative partner to Cannes after receiving a number of placement offers. My university tutors didn’t understand the idea and were nervous about us putting it in our book, which goes to show, your tutors aren’t always right. Follow your instinct.

Antonia Jackson cannes lions

So you make ads, what else?

Agencies are looking for T shaped creatives, multi-faceted bi-lingual freaks of nature, or something like that. So take photos of your leftovers , illustrate awkward boner moments, blog about Phil Jones’ face, code, make short films, play the trombone, write slam poetry or paint using only the force of gravity.

If you have a skill, try incorporating this into a proactive idea. Make that art series featuring Kim Kardashian. Design that new product that cures man flu. Think about the take out. Do you want it to go viral? Do you want a journalist to write about it? Or do you just want it to be respected in the ad world? Whatever it is, make sure you’re getting it in front of the right people.

Think about what’ll interest the person who’s going to give you your first placement. They want to see that you’re hardworking, proactive, and good at problem solving. So maybe start there. Find a problem and solve it well. Really well. Look for insights, find a solution, and get it talked about. If you can get a stranger to share your content, then you’re on the right track. Social media should be your best friend. It’s your platform to communicate with the industry, use your Twitter profile like a CV. Cover it with your interests, post your work, follow Creative Directors and recruiters, partake in @oneminutebriefs, and hashtag strategically so the right people find it.

One minute briefs

And for god’s sake, Tweet at your favourite CD’s and be brave, ask them for a crit. The worst that can happen is they won’t reply. If they don’t, message them again with something different until they do.

Everyone’s making noise. Make yours ultrasonic.

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