Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Unexpected Places

Being able to find a new and interesting place to put an ad is getting harder and harder. It seems every nook and cranny in the public world has become a canvas and people are challenged with finding unexpected places to use as media.

This link is pretty cool. A young designer has searched the web for what he thinks is great advertising and among them are some smart uses of both media spots you've seen before (shopping bags, bus wraps, outdoor) and some that you haven't. The beer cans on the subway bars is a personal favorite.

Check it out

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Darwin's theory of evolution argued that those who adapt best, survive. Mutations of stronger or better or faster traits survived, bred and ultimately flourished. That is, until something stronger, better or faster came along and ate it for dinner.

Now think about the current economy. Stocks falling, companies closing, swarms of jobs being lost. Everyone seems just a bit nervous about how this economic downturn might affect them.

Enter Darwin. And I will use myself as an example. Recently I was bracing for the possibility of being laid off after one of our biggest clients moved to another Y&R office. It felt like a low, underlying sense of nervousness that I can pretty much say everyone in the office was feeling.

People cope with the potential of being laid off in one of 3 ways: 1) They ignore it. Not sure if this is confidence or ignorance, but these folks will continue on in their jobs status quo with a c'est la vie attitude or 2) They stress about it. And this was me. Worried I may lose my job, my benefits, my ability to support my children. You name it, I was stressed about it. And, as a single mom, even more stressed knowing that I am the sole income earner in my household or 3) They do something about it. They refuse to sit waiting for an axe to fall, they take that opportunity to seize new skills, take on more projects, and make every effort to become increasingly more entrenched in the work while growing their own personal skills.

If a rumor of an impending layoff hits your company, I absolutely recommend you do #3. EVOLVE. Become better, stronger, faster.

Look around you, oftentimes the skills and tasks that you can learn are staring you right in the face. Are you a junior art director working on print? Ask to take on an online banner project. Start learning flash. Are you a junior copywriter? Ask the strategic planning department if you can help do some research or contribute to a case study. Are you a production artist in the studio? Again, learn flash. Learn action scripting. Even if you take this stuff on at night or on the weekend, those who expand their skills will become more valuable and certainly less expendable. Or even, at the very minimum, will be able to survive in the outside world with stronger, better skills than before.

Monday, October 13, 2008

There are no rules

Guys, there are no hard and fast rules as to what goes in your portfolio. Just a simple guideline: include your very best work that you are most proud of and that shows all your skills. That's it.

I was asked, for the third time, about whether a book can have more than one PSA piece in it. Each of the students who asked me was genuinely surprised to hear me say that there are no actual limits on what type of work to include in a book. Put in your best work, period.

I won't think poorly of you if you have 3 or even 4 PSA pieces. I won't complain if you only have 2 pieces in a campaign vs. the standard 3 (why 3? I always wonder). Nobody sat down and outlined the makings of student portfolios. Don't feel like there is a content outline you have to follow.

I want to see that you can think. I want to see that you can translate a creative concept to a creative layout. I want to see that you can execute on your skills (be you a writer or an art director). Beyond that, I don't really care too much about what the ad is for. Although, I will caveat these thoughts with the obvious, "in my opinion." Some recruiters may feel differently. They may want to see no less that 3 pieces to a campaign or think that one PSA is quite enough.

But one thing I am sure we would all agree on: we only want to see work you feel is your absolute best.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It never fails

Whenever I have absolutely no creative positions open, I get a deluge of portfolios sent to me. There must be some inverse relationship between job openings and the presence of candidates. When you have one, you don't have the other.

And so the case with me right now. I must have been sent about 15 links in the last week and barely one job opening on the horizon. Blame it on the economy, the subsequent bailout, the dollar menu, whatever. Clients are cutting back, scopes are slimming down, and there are less creative jobs available. Or maybe it just seems that way.

Whenever I go onto LinkedIn or Creative Hotlist, which is practically daily, I see lots of jobs. If I were an art director looking for a job right now, I'd feel confident that there are a lot of choices out there. Granted those choices might be in Smalltown America but they are there.

This Summer I saw a huge load of jobs in Arkansas; Saatchi X was hiring like crazy. So I asked a few people if they would ever take a job in Arkansas. (Mind you, these are Californians I was asking). Resounding no all around. Ditto to Austin, Texas where Enfatico is currently hiring like crazy.

So I know the jobs are there, it just becomes a matter of where. And who will take them. Maybe the gutsy people. People willing to trade off location for opportunity. People far more brave than I. But at least I know who to share all these new links with.