Monday, 10 September 2007

Nick Fell On Ideas

Nick Fell works for Ogilvy UK and is the brains behind the Facebook group 'Don't tell my mum I'm in advertising, she thinks I play piano in a brothel' - which currently has a membership of over 2,700. Nick has very kindly written us a piece about ideas.

“Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes” – Napoleon Hill

Ok, I admit it: I googled quotes with the word ‘idea’ in them. I’m not going to pretend I’d ever heard of Napoleon Hill either.

But I do think this quote is apt for summing up what I wanted to write for this blog.
In my humble opinion, the only thing that matters in advertising is producing great communications ideas that make money for your client. For me, it’s really that simple. So, if you want to work in an industry for which the most important currency is ideas, you need to prove you can have and nurture them.

The trouble is that ad agency job applications can be pretty uninspiring canvases. True, the questions are more interesting than the standard, “In no more than 500 words, tell us about a time when you proved strong leadership skills” (snore). But even the ‘wackier’ ones can lead to hundreds of carbon copy answers – it’s still just an application form after all.

So, how do you really stand out? Well, you do what they’ve asked of you, and then something completely different.

The guys who run this blog have done just that. They’ve been in Campaign and won creative awards for their ideas, before they’ve even secured a full-time job. You can read more about what they did here:

Sam's Saatchi Auction

Anton's Saatchi 'Hack'

Following their example is likely to put the fear of God into the people you’re competing with, and should ideally do the same to those individuals who are going to interview you. After all, to paraphrase David Ogilvy, your interviewers should always be looking for people who are better than them.

Be confident in your ideas and opinions. Get them out there in a courageous way. And don’t be fearful of stepping on toes or breaking convention – that’s what we get paid for.

Now, this is all very easy for me to say. Personally, I didn’t do anything that spectacular to get my job. But since starting work, I’ve realised that going beyond the call of duty to have great ideas will be valued whenever and however it’s done. Great ideas, implemented well, are timeless.

So, to my ultimate point: start thinking big now.

If you’re a student then you shouldn’t be too cynical yet, which will lead to some enthusiastic brainstorming. Plus, you have plenty of time to make things happen and no professional pride to lose. For these reasons and others, it’s probably this period of time before you even step foot in an agency when you’ve got the best chance of having wonderful thoughts and really doing them justice. Ironic, eh?

Here’s Mr. Hill again to wrap things up, “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”

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