We try to help students where we can. It's not so long since we got a job ourselves, so we can at least give you some advice based on our experience of elbowing our way uninvited into the London elite.
What follows is a collection of snippets of advice we found useful, links, dos & don'ts and random tips.
Take with a pinch of salt served with a side salad of common sense. The one rule to over-rule all rules is if you've got a cracking idea (you'll know) then you can ignore the below.
- If there's one bit of advice you take away from this list, let it be this: do work that a client would never buy, but should.
- A great benchmark for a book that does the above is this by John & Chris (now heads of 4Creative, previously of Fallon in the golden days).
- Don't do work for a product that can only ever be judged on one merit. Ketchup (tomatoiness), glue (stickiness), hot sauce (hotness) all fall into this category. An airline on the other hand can be anything from cheerful to expansive, stylish, quick, convenient and more.
- Do work for challenger brands. They lend themselves to bolder creative ideas.
- Don't do work for brands that have done great advertising. Your work will always be compared to VW 'Lemon' and Nike+.
- When coming up with brands to do ads for, look for one with some leverage you can use to challenge in the sector. For example, British Airways has loads of good ads and is a leader in the luxury flight sector. Boring. Instead, look at a brand like Air France and see how they can compete with the Brits. There's already a natural rivalry, so can France to luxury better? Are they better qualified to be a luxury airline? Why?
- No condom ads.
- If you're having a problem with a campaign, try changing the problem. Instead of marketing to old people, can you try selling to teenagers? Can you target a budget brand at high-end consumers? Interesting problems make for interesting work.
- If you're working on a brief that your uni has set, or a competition brief, be aware that every student team will have the same work in their book. And if your answer to that brief isn't the best, you'll be in another team's shadow.
- Every page of your book should work really really hard. If you've got an ambient idea spread over two pages, you need to think 'is this page going to get me a job?'. If it won't, remove it.
- Don't have a campaign for the sake of it. If it works best as three print ads, do three print ads. If it only works as a single print ad, it better be a very good print ad or live work.
- Speaking of live work, don't put an advertorial piece you did for GQ magazine in there. It's real, sure, but it's not selling your ability to think conceptually. Kill that baby.
- Lines. There are plenty of mixed opinions on lines. Generally, a good line is one that I can read on a blank piece of paper (not on an ad) that tells me something interesting about the product.
- Some ads work without a line. Don't feel you have to put one in there to make it an ad.
- Videos. There seem to be more and more video books doing the rounds at the moment. But I can't leave a video on my creative director's desk. So I suggest if you want to go with a video book (which will probably go down great at Work Club and other digital agencies) have a printed version as well.
- Another note about videos - they make for an awkward crit. I don't really want to sit and watch videos in silence for 20 minutes. A crit is your chance to sell yourselves as people, not just your work.
- A tip for laying out your book is to have an intro page for each project, with the problem and idea written as a sentence. It'll prompt you what's coming up next in crits and enable CDs to evaluate your work even if they don't get the execution.
- You don't need to Photoshop everything. The closer an idea gets to a finished execution, the more it will be judged on the execution instead of the idea.
- At the end of the day, can you explain your idea to someone down the pub? If not, simplify it.
If you've read all that and still want to meet us, you can arrange a crit by emailing your work to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com