Monday, August 31, 2009

Creative Graduates - What's in your BOOK?

Dear Students,

Welcome to the first ever back to school week on Dear Advertising. For the first insertion I wanted to put the legacy of the creative book into the spotlight. This is something that has stayed pretty much the same for graduates throughout the years despite how much advertising has evolved and changed with time. The equation looks something like this; Cool Brand + Witty Line = Print Ad. Don't get me wrong I feel that there is still a place for the 'book' but I think that their just might be a more effective way to use it especially for new grads.

Since moving to my current agency I have not only had the pleasure of interviewing and helping hire new suits but I have also been privileged to be a part of hiring creatives and most recently new graduates. I felt as though I was a part of some kind of secret society. We all sat around this room in silence, peeling back pages of the book, nodding our heads, asking questions, looking up to imply deeper thought and finally shaking hands with the fresh faced new generation before sending them on their way. After about 2 or 3 of meetings it hit me that for the most part these books are all more or less the same for a graduate.

The similarities aren't in the quality of work, the art direction or even the copy, what I mean by this is that each book showcases the same executions, some print, out of home and maybe the odd online display ad. On top of that the ads are usually for some of the worlds’ largest most established brands; Coke, Coors Light, Google, Toyota, Tide, Colgate, etc. etc. In an industry where you need to stand out as an individual (or team) that sees things differently this needs to start and end with your book.

I do not blame the graduates of these programs, instead I blame the teachers who have lived in an era where things were always done this way. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to work with some very talented individuals but I have to say the best creatives were the ones that weren't looking for a solution that involved a witty headline with a clean layout. These creatives seemed to come up with the big idea first from a true insight and allowed this idea to dictate the mediums to be used. Instead of setting out to develop a print ad or a billboard.

So please dig a little deeper, put on your client or account person hat and develop some rationale that speaks to a true insight or solves a real problem.

I think that if the next generation can apply this type of thinking we will be in good hands.


1 comment:

  1. I'm currently working to develop my book with the goal of getting a job as a Copywriter at an ad agency. I take classes in NYC and the professors always say that for an ad to be "book" worthy it must be F---ing Great (Brilliant, slick, homerun, etc.)

    They say that we shouldn't get too bogged down with actual problems a product might be having in the market or dive too much into strategy. Our ads just need to be so damn good conceptually that they stop someone who is flipping through hundreds of books a day. Their point being, when someone is scanning through books so quickly they won’t notice the great strategy behind your ad. (But isn’t that the goal of great advertising?)

    For one assignment we had to come up with a campaign for "Wrecking Balm," a tattoo removal product. After doing some research I found that many people were unhappy with the product and they weren’t shy about the horrible or lack of results they saw. There were also some people who liked the results.

    Fans of the product were trying to remove very small and basic tattoos. Wrecking Balm did NOT do a good job removing/fading larger more complex tattoos. I thought that the negative comments and feedback that unhappy customers were giving might be hurting their business so I developed a campaign that said if you have a tattoo like this (large and complex) you're out of luck but if its like this (small / simple), we can help you. The goal was to have “Wrecking Balm” be honest with the consumer. Sure they may lose some business but they will be targeting customers who will be more likely to have a positive experience and they will build trust in an industry that is known for promising big and falling short.

    I showed it in a creative way and was proud of the fact that I identified a real business problem. I was told that I shouldn’t worry about solving real problems. I was spending too much time researching.

    I agree that every ad in your book should be great but I think that part of what makes it great is the research that goes into it.

    Hopefully, the people hiring these days recognize not only great concepts but also the prospective hire's ability to identify problems.