Sunday, 20 December 2009
Quite a few of you will already have had, or will be beginning to have, second round interviews. Congratulations are in order. You're past the first round stage, which is a massive achievement in itself.
And I thought it'd be a good idea to write some second round tips and tricks, whilst underlining the most important thing to take away from the whole experience.
The most important (and honest) thing to say is that it's all a bit of a lottery, really. If you've gotten this far, you'll be good enough to work in this business. You have the qualifications to prosper, you undoubtedly write well, and know what you're talking about. But the second round is ultimately like preparing for an exam. You prepare for ages, try to second guess what you'll be asked to do, but it comes down to on the day. You can think you've done incredibly well and still not get through.
Depressing? Perhaps, but it's not meant to be. You're in a situation which has many chaos elements, and i'll outline them. These points should hopefully help.
1) Other Candidates
You're surrounded by the sort of people who only have two things in common with you. Firstly, that they want a career in advertising (for the most part - some are dabbling), and secondly, that they impressed your interviewers well enough to be there. But they won't be the same as you. Oh no. Some will be loud. Some will be quiet. Many will have done vastly different degrees and have had very different experiences. I remember one of my second round interviews; one of the blokes there was a very promising acoustic guitarist, and preceded to sing a song half way through the day. Never found out if he got through.
But again, don't worry about it. What you can learn from the other candidates is a little about the sort of people the agency is looking for. Do you think everyone else in the room is a bit of a ball-breaker? Well, that might tell you a little bit about the agency's culture. Maybe they like the sort of people who'd sell their own grandmothers to make an ad. Or, are they all the sort of people who've taken up knitting at 22? Again, it'll help you learn what the agency wants. And this is useful when trying to understand whether you'd fit in - because, God knows, this is just as much about you as it is the place. There's nothing worse than forcing yourself to like a place and hating it from the outset.
2) The Tasks
Hopefully, this won't be like The Apprentice. But if it is, don't panic; again, it tells you something about the sort of place you might work at. I remember being asked at one agency to try and make something (out of selected materials) to stop an egg from smashing. Wacky, a bit mad, but interesting.
Now, this might seem very trivial, much like some of the more spurious and odd questions you were asked in round one. And it can piss some people off. I mean, who gives a flying fuck about keeping an egg alive? Well, there are two points to this. One is the crux of the matter - there's always a question behind this sort of thing. Why, in God's name, would you be asked about something like that? It's really to see how you react and how you think. It's a lateral thinking exercise; only in this instance, you're in a room full of people who're keeping an eye on you, and assessing your response and how you work with others.
Throwing your arms up in the arm and saying 'it's fucked', while possibly the correct response if this was an everyday situation, won't endear you to your team or the people having a look at you. That said, being entirely po-faced about the situation isn't realistic either. Having a chuckle and a laugh with the people who're in your team is the right sort of response. The second (but no less important) point is that you get asked all sorts of strange things in advertising. Things that make you wonder why you need a degree to have gotten onto the grad scheme, that your client is potentially nuts, and that bond you and your team together. That's just advertising, and the second round tasks are the start of realising that.
3) The Presentation
I'm not going to go as far as saying 'it's like a pitch', because you usually have something ressembling a series of facts to go from in a pitch. But, it is just as much a 'on the day' thing as a pitch. That really confident, brassy Brummie girl, who claimed to love presenting? Her freezing on the spot might happen, and often does. That quiet Swedish bloke? He'll come up with the goods when it looked like a stiff breeze might blow him over.
Don't rely, or expect the presentation to go as planned. Also, those people who 'win' the presentation don't always get jobs. It'll be a combination of how you work with your team, and what you've contributed to the whole day. There won't be one moment where you think you've suddenly cracked it. You never truly know. You can have an idea of just what the individual judges are after (based on their job role - the planner will be interested in the sort of insights you've come up with, the account handler will want to know how you promise to deliver it, and how it'll work moving forward), but there's always room for someone to charm the room with a captivating presentation.
4) Your Judges
Already alluded to in point three, the people popping in to see you are a funny bunch. You can't really second guess them. Is asking for help, or for their opinion a good thing? Do they expect you to be self-sufficient? (Well, in truth, nobody expects you to do it on your own, so don't be afraid to ask them what they think).
And that friendly planner who's been giving you advice all day? He may just turn into an absolute bastard when assessing your presentation, just to see how you react. And what of agency management, who (if my experiences are reliable) swan in towards the end of the day - not having been able to give up the whole day - and decide just who they like during the presentations? What's worse...they have the ability to overrule people who have spent the whole day with you. The best won't, mind.
How the whole bunch are with you will give you an insight into that mysterious thing, 'agency culture' too. No matter how friendly, shiny or spangly the website or rumour about them in Campaign might seem, this is where you begin to have an idea about them. Would you, in truth, like to work for them? Respect is key in this situation. Sure, you want a job in advertising; you don't want to work for a bunch of fuckwits who mistreat you and have egos the size of small planets. Don't go in with those kind of preconceptions. People are those who make agencies - they may once, for example, have been a great agency, but the people you meet on the day are those partially responsible for improving it and winning business. Do you trust them to help train you and make you better?
Some Final Words...
If rumour is to be believed, Sorrell, Bullmore and Steel (the owner, ex-JWT ECD/Chairman and WPP special consultant and the man who runs the WPP Fellowship) were all rejected by JWT on their graduate recruitment scheme. One now owns the entire network, the other was Chairman, the last is still called upon by JWT to help with pitches.
Personally, I was rejected by Lowe when I applied for a graduate job with them in 2005. I've just finished two happy years there. Being rejected from the graduate scheme doesn't mean you can never work in a place, or ever work in advertising. Sure, it's hard to take when you're used to achieving academically - but that's real life, i'm afraid. Keep trying, and you'll get in. Grad schemes aren't always the way in. Getting in is by far the hardest thing to do though.
If you're one of the lucky few who got through; congratulations. It'll be a helluva ride.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Short but sweet, this 'un.
Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and Clemmow Hornby Inge have opened their grad schemes. Sorry for not picking them up sooner.
Rainey Kellys' deadline is the 29th of November.
CHI's is the 27th of November.
Best of luck guys and gals.
Monday, 9 November 2009
We're right in the thick of advertising interview season. By now, first round acceptance emails and letters will be winging their way to those lucky few.
And it suddenly hits you; shit, this is all a bit real.
Well, as someone who's had more than a few grad interviews, I thought i'd share a few first round interview tips. Read on, Macduff:
1) It's likely to be pretty formulaic.
For all of the challenging questions you received in the grad application form, most of the real life interviews will follow a set routine. They sort of have to; you've still got hundreds of grads at this stage, and you need to have something straightforward to judge them on. How they usually go is to talk about you and your achievements/CV/answers in the first half, then talk about some ads (usually print), and what you think the message behind them is. There may be a few lateral thinking questions thrown in at the end (what product would you invent being a favourite), but many don't even do this. It depends on the mood of your interviewer/how engaged they are with you.
2) Good Cop, Bad Cop exists.
Now, normally, you'll be interviewed by a planner and an account handler. Sometimes these are in the same room, other times they are in separate rooms. Every now and then you might have two account handlers, or (rarely), a account handler and a HR person. Though the latter is fairly rare.
In the most conventional (planner/account man) situation, there will definitely be a good cop and bad cop. And, to be honest, usually the planner's the nice one, and the suit's the more tricky. (Of course, sometimes both are lovely). Why? Well, planners are interested in people who are lateral thinkers, and got into the job to find out about people. Don't be surprised if they just let you talk, then get excited, and you find yourself talking about something else entirely. Account handlers on the other hand - they want to make sure you can do the job, and will be looking for obvious reasons as to why and how you can do it. You're a raw material to both, but in the case of the latter, you're one they don't want to have to refine much.
3) You don't have to fill the silence.
I speak with real conviction on this point, because it's something I (still) struggle with. It's especially hard when speaking a lot and having a point of view about an intangible book or theory in University is positively encouraged. And, while there are rarely concrete 'right' answers in advertising, there are those which are nearer to right than wrong. You can easily go the other way if you talk too much. Feel free to ask questions too - let people talk, tell you what it's like to work at agency x or y. They won't mind.
If you find yourself talking, and wonder just what point you're making - it happens to all of us now and then - then shut up, or re-direct the conversation.
4) Know your ideas.
Most candidates won't know the difference between executional and campaign ideas. Most won't have a point of view which bears in mind why or how crap work comes to be made - a lot just like the ads on the telly. So know this stuff. Don't get me wrong, post-rationalising why an ad is a certain way isn't an exact science, but you should have an idea about just why an ad turned out a as it did.
Just don't do what I did, and slag off a very well known campaign, then get told 'you're not strategic'. Don't let your prejudices stop you getting through to the next round - christ, i'm a planner now, but just speaking my mind without thinking things through when I was a grad did for me. (You'll also end up working with those people whose ad you spoke about at some stage. It's sod's law).
Frankie Goes to Hollywood had it right. Relax, don't open your mouth without thinking about what you've got to say. And, for God's sake, let your personality out. It's the only way you'll know for sure about whether (at this stage) you'll fit into an agency. Yes, it's just a first round interview, but if you can't be yourself/feel trapped, then the place probably isn't for you.
You'll just know this, I think. An interview situation is always artificial, and you may just not get on with your interviewer (Lord knows it happens - you're probably the 50th person who's made the same comment about the work). Despite this, you can usually tell whether you'd like working in a place - you can sometimes tell from the worried looks on the faces of the account execs hurrying around the agency.
Letting your personality has another advantage too - you may not think it, but I bet your interviewer is wondering what you'd be like to be stuck on a train with, or on a very boring conference call. Will you be someone who's interesting and interested, or will you be someone who bores the bejesus out of most people?
Best of luck to everyone going for their first rounders...
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
There's another opportunity for you guys. If you're interested, email Tom Brady (tom dot brady at bmbagency dot com):
BMB are looking for a digital production intern for 3 months to assist in our burgeoning department.
- Assisting with the scoping of projects (statements of work, timings, budgets)
- Liaising with the traffic department to make sure work is effectively developed
- Liaising with the client services department to ensure the smooth transition of projects
- Dealing with digital client administration as and when required
- Briefing designers and developers on projects
- Working with the TV production department on projects as and when required
This in an internship position with a nominal weekly allowance, but with the distinct possibility of a perm role at the end of the period.
The ideal person will have the following attributes:
- Knowledge of the digital advertising industry
- A well rounded, outgoing and enthusiastic personality
- Excellent attention to detail
- Positive problem solving approach to work
- Ability to multi-task and prioritise large workloads
So there you have it. Best of luck guys.
EDIT: This position has now been filled.
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Following on from the seemingly exhaustive list of grad schemes we posted a little while ago, there are even more that've opened.
The Cossette lot have opened. So this means:
Dare Digital have opened, deadline's the 15th of November.
MCBD have opened. Get your apps in, also by the 15th of November.
I'm not sure about Elvis - couldn't find anything. Anyone from Elvis want to confirm?
If there are any more we've missed, give us a shout. Ogilvy & McCann still haven't opened.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
One more thing to tell you about; it concerns the creative fraternity.
YouthNet is a youth charity and online community set up to provide 16 to 24-year-olds with support and trusted guidance through award-winning website www.TheSite.org. They are running an open brief to improve their presence on and offline.
And this is where you come in, creative types. You get a few hours with the brief on Friday 25th (from 3pm-6pm). It takes place in Shoreditch Town Hall. Agencies can enter, I think, as there may be real life spangly work at the end of it.
More details here. Best of luck..
Monday, 21 September 2009
Hello again. After an uber list of impending grad schemes, a few more have been brought to my attention in the comments. Check them out here.
This is more about a paid gig though, for an agency called Mason Zimbler, who are after an account exec. The position is based in their agency in Bristol, and you can apply here.
They've also given me some more details about the position, which is below. You need a year's experience in a marketing or advertising agency. Best of luck:
Primary Focus of the Role:
The primary focus of the role of Account Executive at Mason Zimbler is to support the Account Managers in the day to day management of client activity on assigned accounts, through office based client services and administration support.
The job holder will work across specified Mason Zimbler accounts, and will involve general office administration, client services and creative liaison.
Key Roles and Responsibilities:
• Liaising with creative, production and account managers to ensure that all budgets and estimates are accurate and available at the appropriate times.
• Estimates and costings, obtaining Purchase Orders from clients and ensuring approval from AM/AD or client.
• Briefing and liaising with production teams to ensure that innovative and cost
effective solutions are proposed and agreed.
• Client liaison at all stages of the process, including status and contact reports.
• Working with the media department internally or external media agencies.
• Managing all files/job bags, both physical and digital, ensuring approvals are
documented in writing and filed appropriately.
• Attending meetings and briefings, both client facing and in-house.
• Proof reading.
• Assisting in the briefing of designers and copywriters, liaising extensively.
• Report to account manager, according to agreed timescales, in appropriate format (both written and verbally).
Monday, 14 September 2009
Hello there. This is meant to be a work in progress grad scheme list, so let us know if we've missed any off.
Anyway. Have a look at these (they've begun to open):
BBH haven’t opened their grad scheme…yet. There’s an email for grads (grads at bbh dot co dot
Update: BMB have just opened! Check out the 'join us' section on their site. The deadline's 30th of October.
Leo Burnett's scheme has opened now as well. Deadline's the 23rd of October.
McCann Ericksson’s grad scheme is due to go live this month too. Another to check out – go to ‘about us’ and you can find the grad scheme link from there.
Hope those help - and best of luck...Feel free to tell us of any we've missed.
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Well, after our last NABS event (which Sam and myself presented at, and seemed to go well - no-one ran, at least), there's another to tell you about. The details are below:
'Present to Persuade' is a two hour workshop for graduates, taking place at Fallon.
Presentation skills are the one business skill you need to answer, whatever your discipline.
In this two hour workshop, Speakers Corner will give you tips to communicate your messages more effectively, and help get others to act.
It takes place on the 2nd of September, from 2pm to 4pm. Hope to see you there. You can register by emailing Siobhan Long at S.Long@nabs.org.uk
Saturday, 15 August 2009
As some of you may know, NABS is a charity for the communications industries. They do a heckuva lot of charitable stuff, such as helping recently unemployed people find work, housing, and even help out with grad recruitment and help creatives find partners.
They're also putting on a graduate recruitment half day at JWT, and Sam and I have been asked to speak. Details are below:
"Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. A duck's quack doesn't have an echo. Advertising is not all long lunches and witty lines. Come to JWT on Monday 24th of August at 10am to find out more about the truths of advertising: What an agency does, how it works and how does it. And how to get in."
The agenda is below:
1. Welcome address (10am)
2. JWT welcome (10.05-15)3. How an agency works (10.15-45)
4. How to be a good Account Man (10.45-11.10)
5. A creative perspective (11.10)
6. Break (11.30-45)
8. Group exercise (12.15-50)
9. Q&A session (12.50-1)
Please contact email@example.com to get your name on the list for the workshop.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Just to alert you guys - Albion are hiring.
For more information go here, but some of the blurb is below. No CVs...interesting stuff.
Graduate Account Executive
Graduate level with a good (and relevant) degree with any agency work experience being a distinct advantage.How to apply:
CV’s are boring. Why not send us a link to your blog, website/online portfolio or social networking page – or even create a short video-clip of why you want to work for Albion and post it on YouTube or Vimeo. Make it stand out – be original. Point of contact: Neil Potter
Best of luck guys.
Monday, 3 August 2009
Euro RSCG are recruiting. Details below:
'EURO RSCG London are looking for an enthusiastic graduate to join on a temporary contact working on one of the agency’s flagship accounts. You will be involved in account handling, planning and assisting in research amongst a multitude of other tasks. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details'.
The deadline's the end of this week (7th), so get your skates on.
Saturday, 4 July 2009
I think it's quite a difficult question to answer. In terms of advertising, it really depends on the job it's required to do. Indeed, the same thing seems to apply when considering which sphere to move into when first starting out.
It really depends on you. Some people are more naturally interested in the web, whereas others are fascinated by people and why they do the things they do - or, to be fair, want to be involved with famous work that gets on the telly and gets people talking.
And in all honesty, the choice is getting more tricky. Agencies like BBH, WCRS/Engine, AMV et al, once derided for not 'getting' digital a few years ago - have now begun to win big at the digital awards.
Does this mean you shouldn't work at a digital agency, if the bigger, 'traditional' boys are kicking arse and taking names online?
Well, no. Digital agencies may typically have smaller budgets, and may have to work with the same strategy the lead agency has devised; but, as a result, tend to be smaller. And there's a lot to be said for not being a tiny cog in a very big agency. Sure, you may not get the same sort of traditional training you get in a big shop, but you will get your hands dirty, and quickly. Not be cosseted by an agency which spoon feeds you until you're two years in or more.
Flip that, and sometimes digital shops expect too much on a raw grad, and don't invest in them properly - given the greater responsibility, it can be a nasty combination.
It really depends what you're after at that moment in time. Yes, 'digital' (whatever that term actually means) will eventually permeate every single shop in town. But the mindset might not. I've always felt pure digital shops have had a willingness to share and to learn from their mistakes, where their more traditional cousins haven't. They also don't tend to have the politics which naturally comes with a larger agency and, traditionally, more senior staff on board.
I'm firmly of the belief that, within the first few years of your career, it honestly doesn't matter which side of the fence you sit. You do the job for a few years, and find out just what you're interested in, and, crucially, who at work you admire, and what kind of person you think you'll become within an agency. Will you be the thoughtful planner? The professional account handler? Or a mixture of those? Well, no-one will have any idea before you get there. So use the web to highlight your personality a bit.
Even if you don't really use the internet beyond functional google searches and reading around online, there's nothing to compare with actually using the tools - because they'll help shape the comms industry for years to come.
Before you've gotten in, have some form of presence online. Both Sam and I both had quite major presence online before we got our jobs. It helps when someone has already read your blog/knows a bit about you. If you enter a room with your interviewer knowing your interests, and crucially, how you think - you'll be in a good position before its ever begun.
So go forth, blog, twitter, hook up your music taste to last.fm, keep a delicious, or run a facebook group. It doesn't matter whether it's obviously to do with advertising. If it proves you're self motivated, intelligent and thoughtful, you'll be in a good position.
Even now, i'm surprised when I can't google someone's name and find out more about them. I'd bet this'll get more apparent in years to come.
Monday, 22 June 2009
Short and sweet one. Rapier are looking for an account exec (ability with an actual rapier is a quality I don't think you need, but i'm sure it wouldn't hurt).
EDIT: Rapier are now interviewing. Thanks to everyone for applying.
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
Some more activity on the Lowe front.
As you can see in the sidebar, the grad scheme has begun. But, along with that, we've made a cheeky short film for you guys to have a look at, as well as some real life employees' (shock!) views on life at Lowe.
The deadline is the 25th of July, and you can download an application form from the main site. Keep an eye on the Youtube channel - there's some more employee videos to come.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Advertising's not your typical career. It's not something where you need to spend a few years converting your degree and winning a training contract, like Law. It's not like Dentistry, which takes seven years of study, with many different specialisms. It's not even like becoming an Actuary, which requires a degree, and then passing many, many exams over the next five years or so (hell, it may be even more than that).
In fact, you don't need a degree at all. And, God knows, with degrees not being the mark of the academic elite, it may even be better to get a bit more life experience, or try your hand at something entirely different - quite a few planners I know are wannabe rock stars.
I'd go so far as to say it doesn't matter your exact background, as all the people who succeed in advertising are gifted amateurs. It's not to put them down, it's more to say there's no precise formula for getting in and on. You just have to persevere, and use your instincts.
Obviously, there are things you can do to improve your chances - such as looking and tailoring what you offer to the agency you're applying, so they can't easily turn you down. Some are more trendy and appreciate extra-curricular bits and bobs; others like some proof of organisational skills. Either way, both are really after gifted amateurs.
You have to be gifted, in that you have to want to understand people to discover things and do well. This is not something that'll happen tomorrow or by next Tuesday. It's something which requires you to put your head down and watch and learn, whether you're an account handler, planner or a creative. It's this which leads to the most interesting lateral thoughts; seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what no-one else has thought (yes, i'm ripping off Albert Szent-Gyorgyi).
You'll never really know for sure that you're gifted; it only happens at the end, when you can look back on a career founded on perseverence, thoughtfulness and a bloody minded devotion to doing the job to the best of your ability.
Also, the amateur part is equally important. If you try to enter the business as a po-faced, incredibly serious 'professional', it becomes difficult to do well. First of all, people will wonder what led to that rod being inserted up your arse. Far better to acknowledge that you DON'T always have all of the answers. Why can't you admit you just have an intelligent opinion based on your own knowledge and research, rather than assuming you know it all?
This helps stop smug planning, over officious account management and junior creatives who make a TV ad and assume they've inherited the combined skills of Bacon, Dali and Shakespeare.
If you have an instinct for people and care about your work (that means taking care of your own output, NOT on getting qualifications which you can point to and say you're an 'advertising professional'), you'll do well.
In short - don't assume you've got all the answers. Do believe in yourself, like ol' Cassius, and keep trying. People will like you a lot more, and you'll do more interesting work.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
There have been a bunch of opportunities that have been slipped through our proverbial mailboxes in the last week or so, so here we go.
Lowe London have a grad scheme going for start in January 2010, they're recruiting for both Account Handlers and Planners. As a bonus, you get to direct your gaze upon Will Humphrey every day if you get in - I don't think you need much more incentive to get your application on.
Apply here (click "Join Us").
Next up, Protein OS (which is run by my homeboy William Rowe) is looking for a Media Sales grad to help the awesome Protein Network get up and running as they stretch out to world domination. Mr. Protein is looking for someone with a year's experience in media. If you're interested email me your cv at samismail [at] yahoo [dot] com.
Lastly, an integrated agency in London (that has asked me to keep their name secret) is looking for a creative team with a years integrated (online, dm, and above the line) experience AND an art director with a years experience also. If you're interested send me an email, again at samismail [at] yahoo [dot] com.
So just to recap
Lowe London are recruiting account handles/planners for 2010.
Protein OS is looking for a media sales graduate with a years experience.
An integrated London agency is looking for a creative team and an art director with a years experience.
Every. damn. department. covered. Good luck!
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
The kind folk at NABS asked me to speak at the IAB a little while back to a roomful of creatives about getting down with digital. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to unleash some Boogie (Boogie is something Eaon and I have been talking bout for a while, inspired by inimitable Marcus Brown).
I think/hope it went quite well, or maybe people were just being nice. Regardless, as requested by the powers that be at NABS, the Slideshare deck of what I said is below. Thoughts/cyber tomatoes thrown at me are welcome. Boom.
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Hello there. Been holding off posting this, to ensure it got a little closer to the deadline.
Anyway, some lovely 3rd year students from Farnham, on the BA Advertising and Brand Communication class, are holding a show at the Truman Brewery, running from the 28th to the 1st of June.
More details about it are here - along with an interesting blog. You can follow their efforts on twitter here.
Best of luck chaps.
Friday, 15 May 2009
This is a little bit of a sneak peak, but I thought it's worth letting y'all know this early.
I'm involved with London Digital Week (also on Twitter @digitalweek - follow us!), which is scheduled to run from the 21st to the 27th of September. The plan is that on the 27th (the Sunday) there's a day of AdGrads; some stuff from industry heavyweights, some stuff on applications and some interview tips. It should be awesome and hopefully helpful as it's at just about the right time that applications will open.
Soooo if you can, try and be free on the 27th, more details to come soon.
And if you happen to go to Warwick University, we should be doing a workshop for a small number of people, totally ripping apart application form questions and some more in-depth advice. We're really looking forward to it. If you'd like to have some similar stuff go down at your university, shoot us an email and we'll see how we can help.
In the meantime, here's a little presentation I did for Brett and his homeys at Warwick. Criticism, comments and questions as always are most welcome. Have a great weekend everyone.
Friday, 8 May 2009
There's an interesting talk on game changing, hosted by the IPA Strategy group happening next Wednesday. Three very different speakers with different backgrounds, who'll explain how they came to their strategies.
A little bird tells me it'll be cheeep cheep for AdGrad folk. It's only £28.75 if you are a member agency now, so here's hoping lots of you guys turn up.
See you there, hopefully...
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
I love Twitter. Not cause Diddy, Ashton Kutcher or Britney Spoons use it, but cause it rocks. Plus it makes it easier to send out quick messages for stuff that comes up, like new grad opportunities, internships and all the rest of it.
Sooo we set up AdGrads on Twitter a little while back, and initially just used it to tell people when we had posted new stuff. But broadcast only stuff sucks, so I thought it would be better to get a little conversation in the house on the Twitter front. Humphrey and I are already on it spouting garbage about the Dallas Cowboys (me) and tweed (Humphrey), you can follow us if you like but for more focused AdGrads stuff, it's gots to be AdGrads.
So to help Twitter be a place where you can ask questions and get them answered relatively quickly as well as being able to find out new job related stuff pronto, I'm gonna be giving away stuff on Twitter for every 50 follwers we get. Over the weekend I gave away 4 advertising type books to people who were already there, as a sort-of thank you.
So now every time we hit 50 new followers, I'll give something away, maybe a book, maybe a movie, maybe a PSP or PS3 game, maybe something else. But it'll be free to first person to reply to me.
Get on Twitter and follow AdGrads. Cause it rocks. Happy short week to y'all and good luck to all those who are in exam hell in the coming weeks.
Thursday, 30 April 2009
NABS are hosting a talk on May 14th which we thought you might be interested in.
It's in conjunction with the History of Advertising Trust (brilliantly named HAT), and is going to be held as the London College of Fashion.
There's going to be an all star lineup of the industry's leading creative types - copywriters, ADs and directors. Sir John Hegarty will chair - with the panel picking their 3 favourite ads from the archive of every TV ad submitted to the BTAA since 1977.
Go along. It'll be good. There are more details here.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
How totally and utterly shit was Lethal Weapon 4? I mean 3 was totally shit and then 2 was just shit whereas the first was totally and utterly awesome. Lethal Weapon seemed to provide us with no slow decline into the belly of total and utter shit. Aliens at least gave us a bumpy ride which led you to watch the next incarnation with a degree of hope that they could pull it off….all hope of which was lost after Alien 3.
Anyway, this has nothing to do with what I’m writing about. Just that I’ve wanted to use a Lethal Weapon image for some time and write a post about partnership being a nice way to pull off interesting stuff.
So, Burger King go to Crispin Porter + Bogusky and tell them there’s a Sponge Bob Square Pants meal coming out. CPB rather than throwing their arms up in the air saying this will totally contradict the brand strategy of targeting the Superfan (16+ year old guys who like computer games, girls and controversial humour) they say ‘ok, we’ll do a rap song about square butts and not show the food at all, then we’ll launch it as a music video’. Burger King say ok and a King (of sorts) was born:
I’ve often used and heard the term ‘perfume advertising’ as a way of describing something that limps with a vacuous and very non-genuine nature likened to Tony Blaire’s smile. However, when Gucci decided that rather than approach doing scent ads in black and white with models crawling over each other or walking on a New York roof top why not partner with Chris Cunningham and do something different. As a result the category norms are broken and stuff is made that stands out……and for the right reasons.
Numerous other examples are out there such as Nike & Apple, Breitling & Bentley, Top Shop & Kate Moss maybe even Destiny’s Child and Nirvana. Partnerships when done well seem to take category standard and mash up something new and wonderful.
What seems to run through all great partnerships are 3 things i) A skill set which is best in class ii) A common interest and iii) Courage. The third being the most important in order not to slightly dabble but to fully commit to appearing as one.
What seems crazy is that not that many agencies are pro-actively getting their clients to meet up with partners in film, music, clothing, cars etc. Surely the ad industry should be the shepherd to these partnerships rather than allowing them to…..well….just happen like the Beckham and Gillette marriage which is uglier to watch than his actual one. As opposed to the Beckham and Adidas affair which was much more sexier….you do get that I’m referring to Rebecca Loos. Anyway, my point being that the more exciting partnerships generated in the name of creating difference and rule breaking the better coz Riggs was small and Murtaugh was tall and together they made a difference by busting special service trained crime lords…which is no small feat.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Recently, I had a very interesting chat with a planning friend of mine about planning development.
Unlike most roles, planning doesn't really have defined job titles for each level - you don't go from exec, to manager to director to whatever it is. No no, you are a planner for most of your days. This obviously means that decisions made on your salary and your position are partly made on how long you've been in the business, and what you've achieved (ie, whether you've been involved in pitch wins, whether you've won the odd APG or IPA Effectiveness award).
And it was when we were talking about this that he mentioned something interesting about more junior planners. About how, until you are about two years into planning, you have a glorious naivety which means you can sometimes have the midas touch, before you get a bit more bogged down with the 'right' way to do things.
It's rather like the analogy Scamp was drawing with creatives being like children. Whilst there are positives and negatives to take from this (I personally think it was just trying to say creatives need to have 'innocent eyes' before tackling most problems, which is no bad thing), I do think something similar happens with baby planners.
The chat went on - apparently, between two and say six, you are still formulating your 'voice', and prone to anxiety as you can't be quite so innocent as before, as half theories can't just be dismissed with a hearty 'aaah, he/she/it is a junior'.
Now, this interests me, because I am a two year old planner - and I do look around, and wonder what I'm missing out going forward. Should I be more data driven? Are groups the answer? Should the creatives be involved upstream, downstream or should the boat be overturned? (Yes, i'm being sarcastic).
Well, reading a post that Mr Suit wrote about the importance of writing got me thinking (a dangerous thing) about this.
If we accept that this innocence comes from not knowing any better, then surely what we should aim to do going forward (at every level) is to speak and write as plainly as possible?
I've often ranted on Wannabe Ad Man about pseudo-intellectual bollocks that planning tends to wallow in if left unchecked. Let's be clear, right from the off - when you begin in planning, you aren't writing the next great American novel, and nor are you trying to add another level to Maslow's hierarchy of human needs.
I think a lot of planners, without any job title inflation to take account of their awe-inspiring intellect, fall into this trap of assuming they 'have' to be clever when briefing, speaking, or behaving in the agency.
This is especially true of baby planners, or midweight planners realising that Bambi's mum has just been shot in front of them, and they can't make the same rash assertions as they used to. I also think that certain industry stereotypes that are put forward further this, along with bad mentoring.
It is easy to do though, given your background in University; for example - I wrote my dissertation on John Milton and Thomas Hobbes's major texts, Paradise Lost and Leviathan. Both incredibly complex, both which were attempted to be simplified; but that didn't stop me (as it was an intellectual essay) from trying to be clever and compare the two.
This absolutely, positively, categorically does NOT wash in adland. You have to be a funnel, to not confuse people - you aren't speaking or writing to a professor with 30 years of understanding a topic - you are talking to creatives who want a straightforward answer that they can use as a springboard to make great work from.
So act plainly. Speaking and presenting is just as important for you as it is for account handlers - and so is writing, presentation and generally being in the agency. How will you know whether you've succeeded? Creatives will seek you out; account handlers will want to include you in every discussion. Someone who dwells in wanky, made up brand terms won't be - unless the agency in question wants to bullshit its clients on an epic scale.
Friday, 10 April 2009
I was at the APG Junior Planner thing last night and enjoyed meeting some very sound people. What has recently struck me is the amount of account handlers wishing to make the move into planning. Not just from some I met last night but overall. All the friends I have who started in advertising when I did have made the move into planning. I’ve been asked to mentor two young account handlers into making the move where I work. Would it be correct to assume that the wish to get into planning and out of account handling is more acute now than ever before? Well, actually I’m a co founder of this blog so I’ll just assume it is. It is. So now that we’ve established that it is, why is account management driving bright young things in droves into planning? Should planning be easy to jump into or should it be a long and arduous? I’m thinking the latter but then if you’re right for planning it wont feel arduous.
Now, put that up against the role of a young grad account handler at the usual large, massive global networked, clumsy shit agency and you have a fit much like a hay bail being inserted into a rabbit’s arse….when constipated. Thus we either lose to the finance or management consultancy world or we get people who are happy with contact reports, timing plans, cost estimates and whatever ever else their tormentors puke onto their to-do list……or you get a lot of people looking for in roads into what they took a job in advertising originally for….advertising.
Therefore, it seems like it’s time for account management at certain agencies (my massive caveat) to either buck up its ideas or at least be honest with itself….that or stop breaking the career hearts of hundreds of bright young people every year. This has become more of a rant than a post hasn’t it. Maybe it should take the track of being more about advice on how to get out of dodge and into planning. I guess then my advice would be to raise your hand ASAP to make the move. If you don’t, then sure as your jobs worth account manager will tell you about a spelling mistake in your last email, someone else will and then time will be devoted to sustaining their move and not yours. It’s also quite a risk for a head of planning to sign that kind of thing off. So the more you can get in front of them and ensure that it would be a great move the better. I therefore think that getting that dialogue going and your heart felt passion for planning across is crucial. If you’re asked to ‘task’ prove your abilities i.e. brief writing etc then fair enough but turning the head of the person making your move possible should be your priority. That also means that for the majority making the move has to happen internally as opposed to making it by switching agencies, Especially now when hiring is more cautious than ever.
I think this has probably gone on long enough so will end by being seriously wimpy and stating that account management when great is awesome….however when it’s not great, like some of my experiences, then it’s as painful as your eye ball becoming best mates with a bee sting
Friday, 3 April 2009
This is a cheeky guest post from the gentleman account handler, Mr Adland Suit. I have been remiss at posting this, but thought that a Friday evening was the right time to ruminate on the mysteries of suitdom, and why it is an excellent job.
Of course, I was a rubbish, rubbish suit, but i've met a few good 'uns in my time - so it's best you hear it from the source. Without further ado, here we are...
There were a number of titles that I could have chosen for this post: "Why I Love Being A Suit", for example; "Maybe It's Because I'm A Suit..." crossed my mind; or, of course "Why Being A Suit Kicks Ass" (apparently a fair few people have started reading this in the States, which I for some reason find extremely exciting). But, as the intention is that this will be reposted over with those delightful young whippersnappers at AdGrads, I thought it better to make at least the headline fit with their target. Because, unlike the (seemingly) popular and (certainly) controversial 'Everything Is Your Fault' strand, which is, ostensibly at least, advice for Junior Suits (although contributions from everyone continue to be welcomed and encouraged), this is very much a post for all of us - for all Suits.
Monday, 30 March 2009
To try and attract the most talented and creative students into the industry, the APG has recently launched a new prize to celebrate the power of students’ creative thinking. The APG Young Talent Award is a nationwide competition that asks students to design an original brand from scratch that will appeal to people of their age. The entries will be judged by a panel of experts from the leading agencies in the industry as well as a venture capitalist looking to invest in the very best thinking.
This is a great opportunity for students looking to get into advertising. Not only will you get to flex your creative muscles at something far more interesting than anything else going on but you also have the chance to bathe in the glory of having your work published and seen by pretty much anyone who is anyone in the industry.
Check out the APG site to find out more.
....also I'm one of the judges so am more than open to bribery:
Here's another story from some intrepid grads learning the ropes. Only this time, they aren't planners or account handlers - these chaps are junior creatives at Lowe London, where they have the pleasure/misfortune (delete as appropriate) of working with me.
FEAR AND LEARNING IN LOWE LONDON.
“Welcome to advertising,” said Ed Morris.
This was the moment when half a years’ worth of sweat and blood finally paid off. The placement at Lowe had been a rollercoaster for us. Not least of all because we were still in our final year at Saint Martins and trying desperately to juggle this fantastic opportunity along with a degree that we were so close to finishing.
It was an intense baptism of fire for us noobies, who had only ever been on one placement: 2 weeks with no work at AMV. If truth be told, thinking back to some of the layouts we were presenting in our first few weeks on placement is not a pleasant experience. But what we lacked in discipline and experience we made up for in energy.
If you throw enough darts eventually you’ll hit the bulls-eye. This was our rather haphazard way of learning what a good idea looks like. Incidentally, it’s also how we got the placement in the first place. In our second year of university, we sent out 600 emails and got only 5 placement offers. That’s less than 1% return! That’s a lot of darts, and a lot of injured bartenders.
And that’s after painstakingly trawling through D&AD annuals in an effort to piece together the email addresses of different companies. But then, rejection is an enormous part of this job. Get used to it. But that process is forgotten in an instant when you’re walking the green mile to Ed Morris’ office on Judgement Day. It was terrifying. We wanted to believe that we’d done enough to secure a job, but we couldn’t quite let ourselves hope. But get it, we did.
Go to up to roof and scream like girls, we did. But the fear doesn’t really leave you. At least it hasn’t for us. Even now we spend most of our time terribly insecure, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It makes you try harder. We both hold true to the idea that energy wins over talent, and although we’re still honing the talent part, at least we’ve got the first one down!
But this year something seems to have clicked. What that something is we’re not entirely sure. The random dart-throwing that got us the job seems to have focussed itself a little. But then, practise makes something a little closer to perfect.
We’re not there yet by any stretch of the imagination, but at least now it feels like there’s some method to the madness. It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be, which is quite a reassuring thought when you’re just starting out in this dog-eat-dog business. So what humble advice can we offer those who are only just starting out, based on almost 2 years of trial and error?
1. DON’T WAIT FOR WORK TO COME TO YOU.
Find it. Whether you’re at an agency or still at college, there’s always something you could be doing. OpenAd, for example, is a great way to test yourself amongst other working creatives, and earn some pocket money on the side.
2. ENERGY WINS OVER TALENT.
We cannot stress this enough. Even if you haven’t quite cracked strategic thinking, if you can come up with 70 storyboards in a day, a Creative Director is going to notice. That’s how we got our first TV ad through. Nail this, and with the right guidance talent will come. We hope.
3. THINK BIG.
Don’t just stick to the usual advertising formats. The possibilities are infinite. Whether it’s a sponsorship event, an idea for a new product, a mobile phone applications, or even a silly loading bar design you came up with on the bus, get it down. You can reign-in the ideas later. Go nuts. That’s the fun part.
Saturday, 21 March 2009
I'll preface this all by saying i'm really, still, a baby planner myself (just over 2 years of being a planner), so i'm still learning some of these - and feel free to chip in if there's something i've missed/can add to another post.
Anyway, on with the post.
1) You're bright; you aren't useful yet. A lot of planners will be incredibly bright chaps and chappesses who like the thinking behind brands and much more - how the mind works, the social impact of the decline of the Norwegian leather industry in 1980, anime and so on - but that's not immediately useful. All that said; you're still basically an interested student. You don't really have knowledge of client relationships, of business or even of how to talk to different 'types' of creative. So don't waltz in and expect to have it handed to you - it's extremely unlikely you'll have creatives coming up to you and listening to you from the off. You may have a first from your University and have been academic hot shit; that doesn't mean anything in the real world.
2) Data's one of your weapons. No-one else in the agency will know the penetration of yellow fats in lower income households. You must suck up this sort of data - it's vital business information, and it means, effectively, you can participate in conversations with the client, with creatives, and with account management. Without it, you've got the square root of fuck all - senior planners can go with their gut because they've done it before. You can't.
3) Smugness will not be tolerated. You are a planner, and that means you have to get on with people. By all means be a grumpy fucker now and then (sometimes it's a useful tactic when trying to get your thinking heard), but if you are perceived as smug, you've entirely destroyed your value. Think about it. If you're smug (though the agency and client may believe you know what you're talking about) you won't be perceived as empathetic, and it's a killer. Planners have to understand their audience; they can never truly 'know' what punters are going to do next. You can have a damned good understanding, but if you get into a routine where you think you know the audience better than themselves, you're kidding everyone, and the work and your relationships will reflect that. You're in a privileged position, being paid to think - don't abuse it.
4) Don't be too quiet. It's oh so easy to retreat into an ivory tower of thinking, just because that's what you used to do when writing about Milton's England or convalent bonding. This is advertising; it is not a place for the timid. You're being employed for your opinions, so speak up. Also, you're (again) in a damn privileged position to be able to talk to more senior suits and clients than your junior account handler counterpart; so you have to be able to bring your thoughts to the table. Obviously, don't be too loud and opinionated, as everyone will hate you - but for God's sake, don't be the bright quiet (and ultimately useless) one.
5) Work on your ability to think laterally. By this, I don't mean reading and regurgitating planning books (though reading several of them is a good idea). I refer instead to reading, as my old boss says, 'weird shit'. Read/watch stuff which opens your mind. You'll never know when that quote from Howard's End can be used to help reposition your automotive brief, or what a tea brand can learn from Grandaddy. Spouting things about a 'purpose idea' or a 'lighthouse identity' is old news. You should know it, but don't be over reliant on it. Lots of baby planners talk about the same old shit. How's that going to create interesting communication, or good propositions?
6) Job title is unimportant. I was told by Charles and Richard a while ago, that there's no such thing as a junior planner. You either are one or you're not. Took me a while to realise, but I think it relates to point 4 - senior and junior planners alike are paid for their informed opinions. This also relates to whatever prefix comes before 'planner'. Digital, comms, integrated, account - planners should be able to think in every discipline. After all, it's ideas and strategies you are dealing with - would that TV spot be able to work in digital? Why not? Could it be shared? Again, don't become a discipline snob, or assume that because you've specialised, you know best. Absolute nonsense, that.
7) Account management are your friends. These guys go through hell and back to keep the show on the road, so you should show them the utmost respect. All you do is think. Who's got the easier job? Don't be surprised if your account team don't know x or y about a brand or market - often, they are problem solvers, and often don't have time to stop and consider certain issues like you do. They aren't stupid, or 'unstrategic'. Just because you're the planner on the business doesn't mean you automatically know best. Account handlers are just as bright as you - but focused on other areas. Also, whilst your job is increase knowledge on the account now and then you'll find yourself doing some basic account handling. It may not be what you signed up for, but maintaining the client relationship is paramount, and if you are sometimes involved in writing a cheeky contact report or leading the relationship on one project, it should accepted without a grumble.
8) More Powerpoint doesn't mean better thinking. If account handlers have contact reports as their personal hell, then for planners, it's got to be the endless competitive reviews, especially when you're starting out. You'll note that some clients seem to think the longer the presentation, the better it is. Well, let me tell you that no-one learned anything from the 150+ slide presentation which was presented last time. Far far better to keep it to 30 slides of well thought out thinking than bombarding with endless ads and miscellaneous thinking. Plus, as Jon Steel put it in the Perfect Pitch, no-one speaks like Powerpoint; so why present most thinking on it? Far better, more often than not, to chat to your client about things.
9) Information is fine, but filtration is best. You've been employed because they think you can deal with all different types of data - from quotes to sales statistics. What you need to do is synthesise the data into something your client and all the agency folk you deal with can understand. This is a large, large part of your role, and one where it pays to talk to senior planners about what they'd ignore and what they'd use. It's all too easy to get bogged down in data; the crappest planners offer too much in the hope they're doing the right thing.
10) Find a mentor. As mentioned in other points, you don't know jack at this stage. But, assuming you know what you don't know, you should realise planning is a bit of a beast to try and learn all by yourself. Perhaps you have been lucky enough to find someone at your new/current agency who can show you the ropes and advise you (because, God knows - whether junior or senior, all planners need advice now and then). Or perhaps you haven't. If you haven't, go and find one! Read planning blogs (like Northern Planner's excellent series of planning tips) and exchange emails - go to APG events, meet other planners. The APG's introduction to planning is terrific to teach, and to help you meet your peers. You'll find people who inspire you, and people who can mentor you; they'll go on helping you throughout your career.
Phew. There are a few tips for you guys. Any other folk who have other suggestions, stick 'em in the comments.