31. Don’t give up. Just get creative.

When class starts with The Final Countdown blasting over the speakers, you know you’re in for an epic night.

Last Thursday, I had the privilege and joy of sitting in on David Ewald’s Digital Production class. He organized what he was calling “The Producer Showdown 2012.” The contestants? Ann Marie Harbour of Wieden + Kennedy, Jeremy Adirin of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Marcelino Alvarez of Uncorked Studios.

As I mentioned, Ewald played The Final Countdown to set the mood. Next, each digital producer introduced themselves, giving a brief background of their life, where they’ve worked and what they’ve worked on. Class started at 6, and before I knew it it was 9 o’clock. Three hours definitely isn’t long enough for a crash course in producing, but along with hearing funny stories about the Old Spice Guy and exploding/fuming ChalkBots, I gathered a few important take-away points that cannot only be applied to producing, but advertising work in general.

First. If you’re going to be a producer, you need to perfect this way of sitting.

Ann, Marcelino & Jeremy

This is crucial!

Okay, seriously. My take-aways from the historical Producer Showdown of 2012 were…

1)    Assist and nurture an idea.

  • As a producer, you’re going to encounter some strange and bizarre ideas. If you don’t think the original form of it is quite right, it’s okay to make some recommendations.

2)    You’re the conduit for the idea being made.

  • Producers are like the caregivers of a newborn idea baby. It’s your job to see that it grows up into a full-fledged idea adult. Its life is in your hands!

3)    You want to be a person who is saying yes.

  • Going back to #1 and 2, you don’t want to become an Idea Killer. Ideas are killed throughout every step of the way before an ad finally goes public. Instead of shooting down a weird idea right from the start, accept the thought that (with a few minor tweaks, perhaps!) it could be a great success. Say yes! Give it a chance to grow, to be crafted…then if it’s a terrible monster, maybe kill it.

4)    Break production down into steps.

  • Basically, production is a lot of work. You need to be extremely organized, or understand how to work through your organized chaos. Make lists. Break it apart so you don’t miss something important.

5)    Don’t work on a project you don’t believe in.

  • Sure, we’ve all been stuck working on something we’re not very fond of. But if you can help it, don’t produce something you aren’t passionate about. Chances are you won’t produce it well.

6)    Don’t supersede a business problem.

  • When working in digital, far too often you’ll get companies and brands coming to you and asking for a new website or an application. Before you say yes to producing it, you need to ask them WHY. Do they need an app? Is it going to solve a business problem for them? This is crucial. If there’s no problem, there is probably no need.

7)    Create tension. Ask challenging questions.

  • This ties in with #6.

8)    Smash every button.

  • Digital is always live. People can look at it all the time! Even if something seems to be working perfectly, poke around a little to find the bugs.

9)    Follow great people and build great relationships.

  • Make personal connections. Network. The relationships you build with the people from your first internship are just as important as a connection you make with an agency head. Don’t think people won’t remember you down the line.

10) You have to have empathy for everyone.

  • Self-explanatory. Be kind J

11) The cornerstone to good work is good client relationships.

  • This applies to all areas of advertising. You need to completely understand your client to create great work.

Thus concludes my take-aways from The Producer Showdown of 2012! While the focus of our discussion was of course digital production, the knowledge Ann, Jeremy and Marcelino shared with us can be applied to all fields of advertising. I’m so thankful I was able to hear from them. I hope my fellow classmates were just as inspired as I was to follow Jeremy’s words and not give up. Just get creative.

Even though I’ll have graduated by this time next year, here’s to an equally successful Producer Show 2013!


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