Thursday, May 14, 2009

The 11 Most Important Things I Learned in Ad School

Top-10’s are for pansies.

11’s the key number.

1. It’s what you think that counts. This is probably the most cliché thing on this list, but it’s also the most important. Being a subjective business, it takes an incredible amount of ability to judge your own work to compile only the best. Shopping my book around I got 20 different responses from 20 different people. In the end, it wasn’t as if I could listen to any one of those opinions. I was forced to trust myself.

2. Stay humble. The people who think they’re the shit usually aren’t. And the ones who don’t think they’re the shit usually are. Unless they’re not.

3. Compete only with yourself. Some other guy in your class did a sick campaign? Awesome. Some other guy in your class did a shitty campaign? Awesome. Who cares? What did you do? Are you proud of what you’re presenting, regardless of whether it’s the best or worst in the class? For more times than I care to remember I felt the evil pangs of jealousy and the even more evil pangs of gloating rise up inside me depending on what others showed. If I could do it all over again, I’d have made more of an effort to keep my head down, my blinders on.

4. Love the process. This is a Fenske original. When you’re enjoying doing your work, it not only doesn’t feel like work, it makes whatever you do better. It’s been said before, but your enjoyment shines through. People can see it. It's weird.

5. See everything as an opportunity, not an assignment. In 2 years, I worked on more than 100 brands/products/projects. 90% of them didn't end up in my book. But I approached every single one with the intention that it would, no matter how bad the product, partner, or circumstances. Looking back now, I think that made a big difference.

6. Learn more from your peers than your professors. The professors are brilliant. The professors are rich. The professors are successful. The professors are old. This is not a bad thing, it is merely an undisputed truth. With few exceptions (Charles Hall), it’s hard for them to be tapped into the modern culture of the 20-somethings whom you are often advertising/communicating to. Your 20-something peers are. And so are you.

7. Care. When you care about your work, when you want to do well, when you take pride in what you do, the work is forced to be the best it can be. It has no choice. It’s when you’re tired and your brain taps out at mediocre that you stop caring. And it shows in the work.

8. Don't create ads. Create culture.
This is straight from Charles Hall, and it's evident in most of the real-world work most of us deem as "great." Great work doesn't piggyback off the latest catchphrase or that year's cool kid lingo. It makes its own.

9. To be inspired to make ads, don’t look at ads. I've learned that when you’re stumped and need to seek inspiration, you shouldn't look at the awards books. You should listen to pitchfork. Look at ffffound. Look at computerluv. Look at The Dieline. Shit, read The Onion.

10. Listen to yourself. This was really hard for me for the first year and a half of school. Still is, actually. I am a shy and uncertain person by nature (why else would I have a blog), and it’s hard for me to let loose and believe in what I’m saying. I often feel like I am the only person on earth who feels this way, but more often than not, the exact opposite is true. If you’re a living, breathing, thinking human being, then what you have to say, from the deepest depths of you, will always be valid to other living, breathing, thinking human beings. From two professors’ suggestions on separate occasions, I’ve read Self Reliance by Emerson. It wasn't recommended twice for no reason.

11. Work hard.
I hate to say it, but it has to be said. The harder you work, the better your work. That old Fenskeism, “Hard work is a waste of time if your idea sucks” is valid, but to counteract it, hard work is never a waste of time if you get a good idea out of it.

I’ve learned about a thousand times what’s on this list, but this is, in my view, the top pinnacle of that enlightenment. Apologies if you found any of these trite or cliché. That's only because they're true.

dubs. out.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quote of The Week, Vonk - 5/10/09

Be honest. It may be painful in the moment, but in the long run there’s no downside.

-Nancy Vonk, Co-CCO Ogilvy, Toronto

A friend and I were discussing the idea of honesty this afternoon, and the recent lack of it we've both seen amongst people we know. In advertising, before we're honest with our messaging, we should first be honest with each other.

dubs. out.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quote of The Week, Orzino - 5/3/09

There are two kinds of creatives. There's the creative person who has a Rolodex of ads they've memorized and they're students of advertising. And then there’s people who are genuine creatives, who have to somehow express themselves. But within that is the ability to express themselves in a way where they enjoy getting a reaction from people. That's the person I'm looking for. They make better collaborators. They make better nurturers. They make better listeners. And they make better advertising, because they're more attuned to what other people—namely the consumer—is going through. I don't want to just hire someone with a great book. I want to hire someone with a great book who's—as pompous as this sounds—highly evolved as a human being.

-Marty Orzio, CCO, Gotham Inc. NYC

Supposedly Marty just became the new CCO of Gotham in New York, after a steallar job at Energy BBDO in Chicago. For anyone who has gone to Gotham's website, you'll see that there's not much there yet to be awed by. But I think it's a good move to keep eyes on this place.

It may yield some interesting things in the near future.

dubs. out.