Monday, 30 March 2009

Grads Down The Track: Sam Haynes & Lee Trott

A hobbit and a wise man. Truth.

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.


“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?


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.


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.


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.

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