This will be the earliest I’ve gone to bed in ages…
I guess that’s the only good thing about having a crack-of-dawn (or “crap of dawn,” as my mom and I say) flight. It’s definitely motivation to go to bed early.
After weeks of prep, I’m heading off to New York City with a 60+ group of advertising students and three fabulous professors, Deb Morrison, Harsha Gangadharbatla and Dave Koranda. We’re taking on Creative Week and touring some of the top ad agencies like DDB, JWT and W + K New York.
I’ve only been to New York City once. It was back in high school and, to be honest, I don’t remember a lot of the details. Given it was about 8 years ago, but come on…it was New York! I do not want to be saying the same thing 8 years from now about this trip. This time, I’ll be the best curator there is! I want to absorb all that New York has to offer. I’ll be an NYC culture sponge of sorts. It’s such an international city and I want to take it all in. To start off on the right foot, I’m making a list.
- I’ll talk to/meet someone new every day, whether it’s a fellow ad student I’ve never talked to or a NYC local standing in front of me in the coffee line.
- I’ll eat/drink things I never have before. When I go to unique/little local restaurants, I’ll ask the server what the favorite dish is!
- I’ll take a picture of everything I eat so (I can see what a piglet I am) I’ll remember the delicious foods and places.
- I’ll ask at least one question at every ad agency we visit.
- I’ll take copious notes during visits and write thank you notes to the agency folk that are taking the time to show us around and share their knowledge. I’ve already got my thank you cards and stamps!
- Even if I stay out late, have to get up early and am dead-tired, I’ll always be on and alert during visits!
- Receipts, ticket stubs, random and inspiring odds and ends that will remind me of something special will go in this notebook. At least once I day I’ll write in it.
See you there~
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.
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!
Meeting someone who can say they’ve burst through the doors of Wieden + Kennedy riding a soaking wet, yellowish horse, tumbled down a flight of stairs holding a glass of vodka and smashing through a wall, and turned a page of their own book each day in front of a tiny picture of Oprah taped to a wall isn’t something that happens everyday.
Kathy Hepinstall is that someone. As our guest speaker in Creative Strategist today, she shared with us stories and insight that can be applied to much more than just our future in the advertising business.
While her lecture jumped around from one entertaining story to the next, there was definitely a recurring theme: kindness. She explained kindness as an artistic medium and suggested we perform random and creative acts of kindness as often as possible. Many of her stories revolved around acts of kindness done to her that she’ll never forget. Being kind makes a person memorable and being memorable is key in an industry where the level of competition is so high. Competition in the kindness realm, however, is not so high.
Along with the importance of kindness, there were a few other critical points I took away from her lecture. Here are 7 important points (there were definitely more than 7, but these were my favorites!) I left class with, along with some of my own thoughts.
1) Creativity is an exchange of energy.
2) Feedback is a form of art.
Use feedback to improve whatever it is you’re working on. Don’t linger on the negative words for too long.
3) Don’t drop the pen/don’t waste your energy.
Kathy explained her philosophy of “don’t drop the pen” by example. Just yesterday she received news from her agent about a book she’d written that wasn’t exactly positive. After hearing it, she dropped her pen. She then quickly picked it up again, ready to take notes from her agent. She explained that the amount of time it takes you to pick your pen up and get back to work is a measure of your maturity level. Take criticism in stride and know that the only way to improve is to get right back to work. Don’t waste your energy thinking about the negative words or defending yourself. Keep working and keep improving. Don’t drop the pen.
4) Give good news to your brain.
Kathy has had people ask her to read their work and give feedback; however, some people start off by asking, “Can you tell me if this sucks?” By asking this, you’re admitting to yourself that you think your work is bad. Instead, try giving your brain positive messages. It can do wonders.
5) Start out with others, not yourself.
This is something I’ve been trying to do a bit more of, so her discussion really struck a chord in me. This point ties in with the importance of kindness. People will remember you if you’re kind. It can be as simple as when you meet up with someone, be the first to ask how he or she is doing before talking about yourself. Show you’ve taken an interest and care in little ways. You’ll be more memorable and people will be more likely to want to contact you in the future. This reminded me of Maria Scileppi‘s lecture when she visited us. She discussed how important it is to make a personal connection with everyone you meet. They’ll remember you that way.
6) Know your audience.
“People aren’t music.” Kathy explained the importance of knowing your audience wonderfully. She played two short clips of instrumental music for us. Immediately, despite the fact that there were no words, we all had a feeling for the emotion of each song. If people were music, they could stroll into a room and others would instantly understand their feelings and what they’re about. Because this isn’t the case, it’s important to know and understand your audience, especially when applying for a job. Agencies go through so many books everyday. All this repetition of looking at the same sort of thing really brings down the energy level. Understand who you’re applying for, and surprise them with something unique and something that their particular agency can relate to. Seeing something that stands out will definitely lift the energy level.
7) Having a joke with Dan Wieden is like having a joke with Jesus.
I think this point is pretty self-explanatory…it’s Dan Wieden, after all.
Kathy’s lecture was full of general life lessons as well as ideas that can be applied specifically to the advertising industry. She herself seems very kind-hearted, and even though she has created beautiful and ground-breaking work and won countless awards, I’m glad to see how humble she is. This is the type of people I’d love to work with someday. I’m looking forward to reading her newest book, Blue Asylum, when it hits the shelves next April.
Click here for Kathy Hepinstall’s blog!
My 84-year-old grandma swears by it.
Ivory soap, that is. She has used it for as long as I can remember. When my mom and I would do her shopping, we always had to pick up a bar of plain, white, Ivory soap. That’s what soap should be after all: plain and simple. This is probably one of the Ivory print ads my grandma would have seen when she was a teenager.
Ivory’s newest campaign is taking the little bar of soap back to its roots of simplicity. The “Simplicity” campaign, created by Wieden + Kennedy, highlights the fact that Ivory may be simple, but it works. Dirt has remained the same all these years, so why should soap change? There’s no need to fix it if isn’t broken.
I saw this ad, Identity Crisis, the other day while I was on hulu.
When the ad first started, I thought, “…that’s soap, right?” Some of the soaps look like they should be decorations instead. What’s with the bacon and eggs?! I wouldn’t want to wash with something that represents a food that’s greasy (…even if it is delicious), and I know I’d much rather use a plain bar of white soap than a brain.
Wieden + Kennedy’s creative director, Karl Lieberman, says that the Ivory brand “has remained the antithesis of the overly complicated—from its ingredients, packaging and advertising—it’s a throwback to an era where there wasn’t time for such things.” In today’s society of glitz and glam and busy, complicated lifestyles, having something be advertised as the complete opposite is quite an attention-getter.
As a side note, I found the choice of music rather interesting. It sounds exactly like something from the soundtrack of the hit show, Glee. With Glee being such a new cultural phenomenon, this could have been Wieden + Kennedy’s attempt at grabbing the consumer’s attention. People watching Glee online could be fooled into thinking the show is back on. This particular a capella song is also very speedy and has a busy, nervous feeling, which could be playing into the idea of our overly-busy lives. While the music is congruent with the strange and complicated soaps, it’s very incongruent with the simplistic idea Ivory is selling. When the montage of obscure soap ends and we see the Ivory soap, the nervous music stops as well, leaving just the Ivory soap.