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2 0 Tips for creating
your first portfolio Edward Boches Portfolio Development Boston University College of Communication
IntroductionSome thoughts on wherethe industry
is going Burberry streams live its fashion Most advertising shows to iPads in stores around the word. Yet if you’re in this interrupts a story course, you’re probably thinking with a less of becoming a copywriter or art interesting story. director. Daniel Stein, CEO, EVB True those skills remain essential, but today it’s important that you learn toWhat a time to start your first create something moreadvertising portfolio. What do meaningful than messages.you put in it when the entireindustry you are about to enter is Ironically, your book will stillchanging, evolving from need to convey some traditionalcompanies that interrupt people creative ideas -- CDs like to see core concepts, and TV and even Nike FuelBand, from the legendary brand and its agency R/GA, won the Grand Prix at Canneswith messages they don’t want this year. What is it? A utility? A digital platform? Marketing as service? Advertising? Maybe allto hear and ideally into print-style storytelling will never of the above.companies that make things -- go away.platforms, experiences,applications, services -- that are But remember that the futuregenuinely useful? creative person in any discipline will know how to inventR/GA just created Nike Fuel. products, design experiencesCP&B builds things like Epic Mix. and help build digital platforms.
IntroductionWhy create a portfolio: it’snot
just to get a job This course is intended to get you started on a portfolio, both Exercise your creative muscles with assignments that invite you to create original, compelling Replicate the challenges of real world assignments creative, and with a workshop- like environment in which Develop tactics, tricks and approaches that work for you students critique and discuss work, learning from each other Create benchmarks to exceed and helping each other get better. Elevate your personal standards Over the course of the semester, Ad for The Economist, but a reminder Get feedback from those who critique your work that you will need both sides of your you will complete four creative brain to create a great portfolio. Master your craft (of art direction, design or copywriting) assignments. Each is designed to guide you through thinking Keep in mind that even after the Get used to rejection strategically, and then solving a class is over, you will want to problem or challenge with polish and fine tune the work Learn to overcome failure creative ideas that leverage you create in this course. You Realize that its OK not be great right away different kinds of media and are never done making an idea technology and that (hopefully) -- whether a traditional ad or a will enable you to show your new digital platform -- great. creative thinking without being dependent on executional software.
Course Objectives1 Learn to generate
creative concepts that solve real problems2 Practice delivering ideas that are on strategy, on time and on budget3 Understand how to create across multiple platforms and media channels4 Learn how you think creatively as an individual, trying different ways of creative problem solving (word play, mind mapping, asking what if, thinking visually, etc)5 Develop and elevate personal standards for creative excellence6 Hone copywriting and/or art direction skills as appropriate7 Identify ways to stay up on emerging trends and platforms that create new challenges and opportunities8 Begin to development personal portfolio of speculative work and ideas to show prospective employers
1Know what great worklooks likeBefore
you can do good work Great work earns youryou have to know good work. attention, deserves toTake the time to evaluate all be sought out andthe ads, messages, content makes you want to-- digital and otherwise -- pass it on, sharing thethat you come across. Are goodies with friendsthey good? Are they great? and colleagues.What makes them so? Learn from the newMore importantly, learn what emerging companies: Madethe taste makers, CDs and by Many in London. Bigcritics think is good work. Spaceship in Brooklyn. EVBRead old annuals, explore in San Francisco.the award show galleries,pore over the sites of the Apple’s 1984 from Chiat Day. Still considered the best Super Bowl spot ever Develop your taste,very best agencies -- judgement, and opinion as toDroga5, CP&B, TBWA/Chiat, what is great, what is OK,72 and Sunny, EVB, BBH what is an insult to the(London and NY), Wieden unfortunate consumers whoand Kennedy, Mullen. have to encounter it.
2Be honest with yourselfWhen you
are starting out, it’s often easy to thinkthat any idea that solves the problem is OK.There’s a tendency to fall in love with all of yourideas. After all, they are your ideas. But the mostimportant thing you can do is stay honest.Don’t try and talk yourself into thinking somethingis better than it is. Ask yourself, “Is itcompelling?” “Does anybody care?” “Would it getinto the books?” “Is it truly original?” “Will it makesomeone else wish they came up with it?” “Willpeople want to share it?”If not, keep at it. From Truth campaign, created by CP&B and Arnold
3Take chancesIt’s easy to play
it safe. But safe won’t get you togreat. It won’t get your book noticed. It won’tmake CD’s jealous. Remember that this is theone time in your career when there is nosupervisor, no account guy, no client to tell you,“We can’t do that.” Or, “We’ll never sell thatidea.” This is the time to be brave. Conceiveideas that are risky, provocative, attention getting,eye-opening.That does not mean be weird or wacky forwackiness sake. Or to create an idea that’s not “Playing it safe can be the most old Benetton ad, years before the Obama kissing campaignaligned with an audience or community. Or that’s dangerous thing in the world, becauseoff strategy. It does mean you should try things you’re presenting people with an ideathat would make at least some clients and they’ve seen before, and you won’t havemarketers a little bit nervous. impact.” - Bill Bernbach
4Welcome criticismIt’s a chance to
learn. To find out whether or notyour ideas resonate. Are they as good as youthink they are? Have you missed an alternativeapproach that might be better? Are there smallchanges -- design, language, simplifying -- thatmight make them exceptional? Or should youthrow it out and start again. You need to know.So stay open minded. A partner, a teacher, a CDa friend could all offer you useful reactions. Andwhile there are no shortage of jerks in thebusiness, it’s also possible to find plenty oftalented people willing to look at your work andgive you a constructive criticism. Seek it out andwelcome it. You’ll be better for the effort.
5Familiarize yourselfwith the pastThere are
three reasons. One, you can’t createsomething truly original if you don’t know what’sbeen done before. Two, most CD’s will fault youfor conceiving an idea that’s already been in themarket, even if it was years ago. And three, evenas we move into an era when traditional,message-based advertising is less relevant, thegreat, classic ideas and executions from the pasthave stood the test of time and offer lessons andinspiration for us all. Old Volvo ad from Scali, McCabe, Sloves
6Master a craftAdvertising today is
created by developers, UXprofessionals, digital designers, writers, artdirectors, animators and film makers. You don’tneed to be in one of those professions to think upgreat creative ideas. In an age when everyone isfamiliar with media almost anyone can conceive aclever ad. But eventually you have to executethose ideas. And even before that you need topresent them beautifully and finished in a book.Plus it’s likely the job you apply for some day willhave a title -- copywriter, designer, animator, artdirector.So while you may need to have some skills inevery area -- read Teressa Iezzi’s The IdeaWriters -- it would be wise to focus on masteringat least one discipline. Art directors still have to Jan Vermeer, A Lady Writingart direct, and writers still have to write.
7Embrace collaborationMost great advertising ideas,
at least by the timethey are finished, are the work of teams. Goodteams, whether the old fashioned art director/copywriter, or the more modern teams that alsoinclude developers, experience designers, mobileand social expertise, even creative strategistslearn to build off of each other’s ideas, to willinglygive credit to others who contribute, realizing thatan iterative process can yield the best outcome.That’s not to say the autocratic control of SteveJobs won’t work, too. But you better be a genius Open space at Made by Many, London. The new creative environment is one offirst. collaboration, real time interaction, and iterative development.Stephen Johnson, in Where Good Ideas ComeFrom, reminds us that the best ideas result fromcollisions. Create as many as you can, in yourlife, in your work, in your creative process.
8Learn to work fastThere is
no patience anymore. Clients want tosee work in days, creative directors in hours. Andwhile there will be plenty of “hurry up and wait”situations when the team delivers in real timeonly to wait a week or more for the client to getback to you, it’s imperative that you learn todeliver ideas -- at least rough ones, kernels ofsomething great -- quickly.So work that muscle. Write down what you wantto say or do or build and then start generating CP&B ad for GT bicycles.ideas -- concepts, headlines, layouts, app ideas.You may need and actually get a reasonableamount of time to make it great, but learn to thinkand generate volume quickly.
9Be prolificMost great creatives and
creative directors willtell you that quantity can help you get to quality.You want to get all the obvious and mediocreideas out of your system. It clears the way forsomething breakthrough. It doesn’t matterwhether you are writing headlines, exploringvisual metaphors, thinking about type treatments,or coming up with digital or viral executions,pages of ideas can be your friend.See what Luke has to say. I remember TomMcEllligott telling me he wrote a hundredheadlines for every great one. And today, evenwhen we’re iterating our way to a great digitalexperience, we often start with dozens of optionsbefore we start developing one. Starting on page 83. See what Luke has to say.
10Collect ideas constantlyCreating should be
likeeating or taking a shower.Part of your daily routine longbefore you have a job. So geta good sketch book or aMoleskin. Write down ideas,even half assed ones, all thetime. See a problem? Sketcha solution. Can’t think ofone? Write down theproblem. Have a crazy ideathat just pops into your Clip stuff from the web, takehead? Put it in your pictures of things that inspirenotebook. you, learn to “steal” the essence of art and music and theatre and snippets of conversation heard on the subway. You never know when they’ll come in handy. This Picasso doodle from the Picasso Museum in Paris inspired an award winning ad campaign for Smartfood many years ago
11Master the basics Typography, layouts,
headlines, art direction are all skills and knowledge that remain relevant even in the digital age. Nike Fuel is beautiful. Even YouTube videos need shots with good framing. And despite the size of a mobile screen and the limited options available, there are ugly mobile sites and beautiful ones. You see app descriptions written by amateurs, and others that show a respect for language and the user. So master the basics. Learn the elements of good communication. Pay attention to detail. Care about the craft.
12Create pictures withwords“People start reading
when they’re interested andstop reading when they’re not.” That was afavorite expression of Jim Mullen, one of mymentors. Words are still incredibly powerful.Whether on Twitter or in a poetic tv commercial.Whether from the heart in an It Gets Better video.Or a commencement talk given by Steve Jobs.If you want someone to read and admire yourwork, whether a poster, a script, a landing page,a blog post or a brand manifesto, learn to tellstories and paint pictures with your writing. Andhave at least one or two great examples in yourbook. A decades old ad for Britain’s Health Education Council still works today. With our without the picture.
14Imagine things you canbuildTV spots
are still here. Outdoor in the hands ofApple and other brands still works. But print isslowly dying. OLA is proving less and lessrelevant. Facebook engagement ads? Just look atthe stock price. In the future we will build thingsthat invite participation and create community,which in turn spreads the word. It might be a longlasting platform such as Nike + or GarminConnect, or even shorter lived campaigns like thewonderful Chalkbot for Livestrong that invitedpeople to write messages from their homecomputer in support of cancer victims then see Come up with ideas like this -- relevant,them appear on the roads of the Tour de France. compelling, participatory, that connect theA physical thing that turned into marketing and physical world, human behavior and brandadvertising. objectives.
15Conceive relevant utilityWe are moving
into an age of Tesco installed digitalmarketing as service. Too supermarkets in Korea’smany ad campaigns and subway stations so thatideas start with “What should customers could shop onwe say?” and “What do we their way home and havewant consumers to do?” their purchases waiting forInstead they should ask, them. It saved real estate“What can we build?” and investment, allowed for“What can we do for our centralized warehousing andcustomers?” Obviously took into consideration thebrands don’t give stuff away way Korean’s actually lived,just to give it away, but commuted and shopped.rather to create utility that Come up with useful ideasoffers mutual value. Uniqlo like this for your book.might let users lower theprice of clothing items byTweeting. Charmin’ has anapp that helps you find cleanpublic restrooms.
16Start with the mediumMedia is
the new creative department in manyagencies. It’s about relevant context. Ask whereare users hanging out digitally? What kind ofcontent are they already sourcing? How can you,the creative person, use it differently to connect,engage, make a point?What can you do with Spotify, with Pandora, withYouTube, with Twitter, with physical spaces?Take a look at how Droga 5 launched Bing withJay-Z. Or even how Mullen helped Jet Blue hi-jack YouTube or let Olympus demonstrate acamera’s features with an augmented realityexecution. Then find a media property and thinkabout how you could use it inventively to help abrand to solve a marketing problem.
17Invent with the newplatforms The
future of media isn’t coming from New York or LA. It’s coming from Silicon Valley. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Springpad (OK, they’re in Massachusetts) are the new networks and magazines. Places where consumers come to create,Play with Instagram and photo apps. curate, and be entertained. Learn to conceive ideas in these new spaces. Know what you can do with the social platforms, with their APIs, even with the latest apps as they emerge. Broadcast using Create a complete website using Pinerest Thunderclap, create ad-like objects using Over Write + Text, hack the systems in a positive way.
18Become a T-shapedpersonThese are the
creative But you also need a goodcredits for Nike Fuel in this sense of what all the otheryear’s Cannes Creativity roles are. How do you relateFestival. It’s a long way from to them? How do they relateSterling, Cooper, Draper, to you? To what degree canPryce. You may have one job you think like them?title and focus on onefunction in particular. In fact, It may not necessarily beyou have to develop a vertical reflected in a comp thatskill. appears in your book, but it’s a good idea to become aware of the multiple functions and be a T-shaped person. It will help you find co-creators to work with on your ideas and prepare you for that first real job.
19Learn what works foryouWe are
all creative. But getting to ideas isdifferent for all of us. Some like to write downdozens of directions or lines. Others think inpictures. Or in metaphors. You might like to startgenerating ideas immediately, or ruminate forwhile. Take a shower or a long walk. Doodle orcreate mind maps. Experiment, try differenttechniques, start in different places.Explore lots of options. Eventually you will figureout the tactics and techniques that work for bestfor you. W. Glenn Griffin and Deb Morrison have written a book exploring how dozens of creatives jump start the process
20Don’t forget to playToo many
people are afraid to be creative. Fearfulof taking chances and putting their work out therefor world to see. Petrified of showing or sharingtheir ideas to someone who might criticize it.Play helps. It builds trust between you and yourpartner or colleagues. It helps overcomeintimidation. It makes you comfortable. All ofwhich contribute to releasing your inner creativity.
About the instructorPortfolio Development forAdvertisingHi.
I’m Edward Boches, If you want to access me,Professor of the Practice in you can find me asMass Communication, edwardboches on Twitter,Advertising and PR at Boston Facebook, Pinterest,University’s College of Springpad, Vimeo, YouTube,Communication. Slideshare and my blog Creativity_Unbound.Im also the chief innovationofficer, at Mullen where Ihave been a partner fornearly 30 years, most ofthem as chief creativeofficer, a role I gave up in2010. In addition, I serve onthe board of directors forSpringpad and also for BDWat the University of Colorado.You can access the syllabusto this course on Lore.com.
CreditsPage1: Page 14Taken from a
presentation by Gareth Kay, From Picasso Museum in Paris, a doodle on an olddirector of strategy for Goodby Silverstein and magazinepartners. Page 16Page 2. Saatchi Cramer ad for Britain’s Health Ed CouncilEconomist ad by BBDO Abbot Mead Vickers, Page 17London Ad for Bic pen by TBWA Hunt Lascaris, SouthPage 5. AfricaFrom Apples’s 1984, spot by Chiat Day Page 18Page 6. Nike Chalkbot, Wieden and Kennedy and DeepTruth logo from campaign by CP&B and Arnold LocalPage 7. Page 19Bill Bernbach Tesco, KoreaPage 8. Page 20Rooftop Comedy Logo Mullen ad for OlympusPage 9. Page 21Scale McCabe Sloves Volvo ad Scamp conference created on PinterestPage 10. Page 22Vermeer’s A Lady Writing Creative credits for R/GA Cannes entry for NikePage 11. FuelMade by Many, London Page 23Page 12. The Creative Process Illustrated, by W. GlennCP&B ad for GT Bicycles Griffith and Deborah MorrisonPage 13. Page 24Hey Whipple…by Luke Sullivan Tim Brown, CEO, Ideo Ted Talk