It has come to my attention that a number of students as the UBC Sauder School of Business read this blog. Clearly then they aren't being assigned enough homework, nonetheless, it's a great school where I've had the fortune of speaking on a number of occasions.
As spring approaches every student in third of fourth year internal clock kicks in and fire up the internal dialog of I don't know what am I going to be the rest of my life, holy cow, summer is around the corner and even if I don't know what I want to be I know I should be doing something.
To those interested in advertising I wanted to point out the blog and case of what one fellow in the UK did by the name of Will Humphries. Will aspired to work in advertising, planning in particular, so to get in he started doing it, bloging it (Confessions of a Wannabe Ad Man,) discussing in and anything else he could about it. I really admired him for just jumping in and rather than saying I want to and thinking I can, he just did. If anything it demonstrated a sincere passion and willingness to learn the profession. I've always thought it was really cool and regularly read his blog.
He's since landed in a firm and co-founded another blog called AdGrads. It's UK centric but if you think advertising is for you it's a worthy read and a good entry point in the molten mesh of advertising/planning blogs.
Favorite part of the book is an anecdote on Orson Welles. Echoes a sentiment I've been repeating a lot lately - great creative doesn't sell itself. Scripts, storyboards and talk are rarely sufficient for most clients and die in the blender of over analysis.
When Mr. Welles was trying to get Citizen Kane made he could not find any backers. Nobody believed in, or really could understand his idea. So he raised some funds for casting, but had to beg, borrow and cajole people into building sets and shooting full blown screen tests which eventually formed a third of the film. The film then existed and backers could see what they were getting. Mr. Welles go the money. Citizen Kane is considered by many to be the greatest film of all time.
The recent assignment was to submit ten non-obvious propositions for Apples. The purpose being that propositions are a fundamental tool of account planning. Not the only tool, but one of the fundamental ways one might go about solving an advertising or marketing driven business challenge. Therefore we should all be solid at them.
I submitted Download planning_school_of_the_web.doc , and while I didn’t hold a candle to the winner a couple of mine did get the equivalent of a “shortlist” or “merit” nod on the podcast discussion between Russell and the judge (Simon of WK London) on the submissions. Though the other 8 feel kind of crap now.
Propositions in the form directed by Russell and Simon aren’t something I’ve really come across much in Canada. A colleague and I were chatting and concluded it is something more common in the planning culture of the UK.
It is an interesting observation as we here tend to be very insight driven. Part of that is the agency we (I) work at, but I think in North America we’re always on that elusive search for a consumer or product insight. Generally in the form of an observation or some kind of a factoid. Now a lot of propositions are born from insights, but what I think really differentiated the propositions from insights is how they are written.
This is what I really lacked in my submission - taking an interesting thought and making it something compelling through more economical and captivating usage of words. Essentially making a memorable headline to inspire the creatives and set a clear path ahead.
Coaching my own propositions (since Russell and his judges no longer can given the increased volume of submission due to the growing popularity of the school,) what was generally lacking was the presentation of the thoughts. There were some good notions but they either were buried under other words or simply not written in a great and captivating way.
As a sidebar – I am forever amazed at the awesome impact of technology and empowering mobility of media. I first read about the apples assignment in Vancouver, submitted from Whistler - home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, listened to the feedback podcast on a plane somewhere over the Rockies, wrote this over Toronto and will post tonight in Montreal. On Saturday when I’m in Seattle I’ll read up on the next assignment and work on it over the week from Toronto with my colleague in Vancouver. Power to the people!