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Sobering Messages for Advertising Graduates from Toronto

1. Scared Straight Out Of Advertising

Advertising Agency: Zulu Alpha Kings Kilos, Toronto

This self-promotion commercial ‘Scared straight out of Advertising’ isn’t purely comedy. The agency is looking to fill 14 new positions, and is committed to developing young people for the serious business of a career in Advertising Communication.

The commercial is a ‘boot-camp’ parody that features just about every joke and insight you can make about the advertising industry including customary curse words and the industry’s obsession with winning awards. It may seem a bit harsh and over the top for some but it is nevertheless, an important wake-up-call.

The message is aimed at dispelling any misguided notion by graduates that because they have a hard earned academic qualification behind their names means that they are readily poised to win their first Cannes Lion as a junior creative, and proceed from there to a creative director position within a year and make big money without actually having to work all that much at all.

What every Agency is looking for is the best out of the good. Graduates that are able to hit the ground running and have the necessary endurance to make a sustaining contribution to their bottom-line by responding pro-actively to instruction, rather than being a drain on creative morale by requiring constant hand holding.

2. The Interview, Miami Ad School                                                      

Advertising Agency: john st. Toronto

 ‘The Interview’ commercial makes me smile as I recall similar experiences when I was a graduate seeking employment. The feedback I received from my portfolio presentation ranged from; “so-so” ; “shows some promise” to; “brilliant”, which I instictively knew it was not.

It was clear to me then that it is unrealistic to expect to have a portfolio that can please or interest everyone sufficiently to garner consistent and reliable feedback. The ‘one size fits all’ approach is not effective. There is some truth in the old words of wisdom that trying to be ‘all things to all people’ merely results in being ‘nothing to nobody’.

Your Portfolio

The best strategy is to do some research about the agency you are going to for an interview. Find out as best as you can who the key agency role players are, what accounts they handle and what their creative philosophy is all about and then try to intuitively structure or tailor your portfolio accordingly.

There are three important points to consider.

A. Agencys’ are rarely interested in how much you have done. Their focus will primarily be focused on the best you have done. They will be looking at the practical evidence you provide for the best proof of your creative competency.

So be selective, only showcase your best and proudest work and take the necessary time required to plan your portfolio carefully. You only have one shot at making a memorable first impression.

B. Often the personalty behind the work carries more persuasive wieght than the work itself, so face-to-face interviews are of the utmost importance. The question many Creative Directors will ask themselves is whether the person being interviewed will be a welcomed breath of fresh air in his creative department or possibly a highly talented but taciturn pesonality that may be difficult to integrate socially in creative discussions and reviewes.

C. Think about why you would like to work at the particular agency you have chosen. You will more than likely be asked “why us?” Be prepared to have a plausible, insightful answer.

Advertising is after all a communication business, so practice how to present your portfolio with articulate enthusiasm and confidence in defending your creative decisions. Creative Directors expect nothing less.