My Top 5 Faves from CA’s Interactive Annual.

I love advertising competitions because they feature work I might not’ve seen but for the shows. The new Communication Arts Interactive Annual 21 just came out and I have done my readers the courtesy of picking out the top five projects featured in the magazine. There is no charge for this service.

This first one reminds me of that great saying they use at RG/A; “Make sure what you’re working on is either beautiful, useful, or entertaining.”

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Well, this first one is beautiful and — if you were thinking of travelling to Maine — also useful. “The Maine Thing Quarterly” site is beautifully art directed and flows along so sweetly I suddenly find myself 20 clicks into it and going deeper. Still, it doesn’t beat my all-time favorite piece for Maine tourism, a bumper sticker that read: “Ah-yuh. Been To Maine.”

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Google Labs had several things in the show. This first one is called “DevArt” and it’s a collection of cool artsy stuff people have made with code. For example, in the “Giant Map” idea, kids can stop through Gotham like they’re Godzilla. Here you can see cool stuff made out of different APIs like flickr, Instagram, tumblr, Twitter, Google Maps. As I tell my students, “Don’t make stuff for the internet. Make stuff out of the internet.”

A similar Google project called “Made With Code” was also featured in CA’s Interactive Annual; similar, but different. Made With Code is all about reaching out to girls to show ‘em how learning to code can help them build the next world and then rule it. Also, it doesn’t hurt that grads who can code start their careers at around $60k; that’s almost $15k more than most grads pull in their first year out there.

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Also featured in this year’s annual was an app called the John Lennon Bermuda Tapes. It’s available on iTunes and if you’re a Beatles fan, dude, go get it. It’s an interactive app that tells the story of Lennon’s life-changing journey sailing through a mid-Atlantic storm in June 1980. The “interactivity,” while fun, is mostly silly stuff and isn’t technically interesting, but that’s okay — you can hear demos he made for Double Fantasy. Way cool.

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Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has quietly turned into one of the best clients out there and their latest collaboration with Droga5 is also featured in the annual — the Coke Zero Sweater Generator. Me, I’m still partial to what they did for Coke Zero on Mother’s Day.

Those are my favorite top things from the new CA Interactive Annual. Again, there is no charge for this service. You’re welcome.

Your Site VS Your Book.

Your substitute teacher today is Mr. Carroll.
Your substitute teacher today is Mr. Carroll.

Good morning, scribblers. Your substitute teacher this morning is Mr. Carroll again. You remember Mr. Carroll, a CD at Austin’s GSD&M. He’s here to teach us how to get jobs so please give him your full attention.

YOU SITE VS YOUR BOOK

Yes, there is a difference between the two.

1.) Your site is the thing I look at on my mobile phone when I’m in a meeting, pretending to listen to account people. Your site gives me a sense of who you are as a human being, your creative sensibilities and, of course, your best work.

2.) Your book, on the other hand, is the thing you talk through when we meet in person. Unlike your site, in your book you can show, say, the detailed version of your integrated-digital-social-mobile-experiential-AR-and location-aware campaign for pet food.

I’m not suggesting you have different work on your site and your book; only that you package and display the work differently to best capture the attention of the most ADD people on the planet: CD’s like me. (True story: I checked my email five times before finishing writing that last sentence.)

Let’s start with the site and some tactical considerations.

3.) Make sure your site is responsive. (If you don’t know what responsive is, find out.) Make sure your site works beautifully on mobile. It may be frustrating to hear, but nearly everything I do is on my mobile – including looking at your work. And I’m not alone. My phone is the one thing I always have on me. So if you email me a link to your site, there’s a good chance I’m checking it out on my iPhone. Same thing if our recruiter has a site she wants me to see; I’ll get it via mobile. Now … if I really like your site, I might go to my laptop and check it out in more detail, but I can tell from the mobile site alone if you’re the type of person I wanna call in for an interview. (Also, having a site that’s built for mobile says you get it.)

4.) I always go to the “About Me” section before I check out the work and I’m not alone. Most creative directors do this and nearly all recruiters do. Why? It gives me quick look at who you are, your skill level, and your work experience. It gives me a frame of reference for how to judge your work. This section is almost as important as your work so don’t blow it off or half-ass it. This section (and really your entire site) is your opportunity to make me like you; really like you. If you purport to be a writer and you can’t entertain me or make me like you with words, well, that’s a problem. Give me an insight about you, how you think and how you look at the world. We don’t hire books; we hire the people behind the books. You are the one I have to travel with. You are the one I have to put in front of a client. You are the one I’ll be spending weekends and late nights with. It helps if you’re a likable, interesting person.

One of the best “About Me’s” I’ve seen was for a junior art director who titled his bio section, Ten Things About Me That Might Be the Truth or a Lie. When you rolled over each one of the ten things, it would tell you, true or false. Each of the statements was hilarious and it became a game to determine what was true about this person and the more you learned, the more you wanted to learn. (Dude now works at Wieden.)

5.) Treat your site like a campaign in your book. Every aspect of your site is an opportunity to show off and to impress me — from the design, to how you talk about your work. If it’s a standard Cargo Collective template, part of me calls you out for being lazy. With all the resources out there, you couldn’t customize a site to best reflect you and best showcase your work? You’re trying to land a job that requires you to help brands stand out, breakthrough and connect with their audience. Show me you can do that for yourself.

4) The first campaign in your book needs to floor me. You can’t stumble out of the gate because you’ll never get anyone to check out the second campaign. Put your simplest, most compelling idea first. Simplicity and power is key.

Too often, here’s what I see: the first piece of work on the site is an integrated campaign executed in five different media with a paragraph explanation for each execution. Half-way through, I still can’t figure out the idea and so in an attempt to show me how big their idea is, I’ve lost the idea.

You should be able to explain the problem in a sentence, the strategy in a sentence and the idea in a sentence. Follow that with an image or two (or one-minute video) taking me through the idea. If the sentence describing your idea doesn’t sound interesting, chances are, it isn’t. That’s a problem.

Next, put your second strongest campaign. I know convention is best campaign first, second best campaign last. “Start strong, finish strong,” and all that. I disagree. This is a boxing match. Try to knock me out with each punch; don’t save your best for last. If I love your first three campaigns, you are moving on to an interview.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I hate it when I have to learn things from people way younger than me. But Ryan’s right about how the “start strong, end strong” thing is bullshit. I used to think so, and so I’m making that correction in the next edition of Whipple. Fact is, I’ll be including a lot of Ryan’s material. Dude’s smart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portfolio Advice From 20 Top Recruiters.

How recruiters felt about videos in student books.
How recruiters felt about videos in student books.

Recently I had the chance to meet with and talk shi…. talk shop with some 20 or so creative recruiters from agencies all over America. It was a great opportunity to ask a bunch of top agency recruiters what they look for (and don’t look for) in student portfolios.

In particular, I wanted to know if recruiters took the time to play those concept videos students sometimes put in their portfolios. You know, videos that show how a campaign unfolds, with voiceover to describe the flow; one of those ideas that’s hard to show off with just a few flat pages, you get me, right?

While the recruiters’ answers weren’t unanimous (this is a creative business), they did agree on a few big things. So let’s start off with the majority opinion (and it isn’t good).

• “I hate every single video I see.”

• “The thing is, nobody wants to watch them because they take three minutes to explain what could’ve been covered in thirty seconds.”

• “I think videos are a catastrophic waste of time.”

Wow, thank you for that constructive crit….

• “My god, those videos, they take way too much time, especially when I have ten books to go through and 20 minutes between meetings to do it.”

• “The videos are all about five minutes too long because students don’t seem able to edit them down.”

Okay, everybody, so what I’m hearing you say is “maybe”…  No, it’s “no.”  A big fat no. Okay. Okay. Still, you gotta agree not every concept can be shown in….

• “Yes, an integrated campaign can be shown in 2-D.”

• “I think having a quick 2-D visual of the main idea of the campaign along with a very short description of how the idea translates across multiple platforms, I think that solves the ‘quick-look’ issue.”

• “And for those students who really want videos? Have ‘em do Vines. They’re just six seconds long and their length might actually inspire our CD to click on ‘em.”

Oooookay then. That went well, … right?

Good talk. Good talk.

So we chatted some more. Turned out not everybody hated videos.

• “Include a video only if you absolutely, totally and completely cannot show your idea on flat paper.”

• “If I see it’s longer than a minute, forget about it. A minute or less, always. We even have that rule for our own case studies.” 

• “It has to be engaging from the very start. Give me a reason to keep watching.”

• “If there has to be a case-study video, put a two-sentence elevator pitch right above or below it. Sell me.”

• “The set-up you put next to the video needs to sell it, needs to make me want to click PLAY. Persuasion is what you’re supposed to be good at, right? Selling? So … show me you can do it. Show me right here, right now.”

• “I’m in the minority, as I honestly enjoy a good case study now and then. (I’ll just watch one though.)  Figuring it’s their prized idea, if they can keep me engaged, I welcome it. I also love the personality that sometimes comes through these videos.” 

• “I’m seeing more people coming into the business being able to shoot and edit their work. These skills are becoming important to demonstrate.”

 • “Once I narrow the books down based on other things, maybe then I’ll start looking at a few videos.”

• “I’m a little more willing to watch a video … if the rest of the book is killer.”

We also had time to talk about other stuff, just some general do’s and don’ts, one of which was, surprisingly, don’t suck. (Nah, I threw that in.)

• “It’s really simple. From writers I wanna see great writing. From art directors I wanna see great design. And from everybody, great thinking. Period.” 

• “I want the creativity to jump out of the book and slap me.”

• “Make it fast. If I can look at it and love it in two seconds, there’s nothing more powerful than that. I want to fall in love in two seconds.”

• “Have a pdf version of your book. It’s faster for us to review pdfs.”

• “I’m tired of ‘fancy’ websites that work only on specific browsers and make me all batshit crazy trying to navigate. I usually just go right to the pdf anyway.”

• “The first thing I assess is how the work looks. I want to see the kind of attention to detail this person puts into the way a thing looks.”

• “At the top of the page, have one single sentence to intro the campaign. No, target audience stuff. Just have… well, here’s a good example in a student book: ‘Citi Bike: How do you take an activity New Yorkers already do and turn it into something that does tangible good?’ See? It’s one sentence.”

• “Don’t do an app. Please, stop with the apps already.” 

• “Here’s what I think a student book ought to have: three or four integrated campaigns, obviously, plus one digital-only campaign, a couple of 2-D campaigns (print/outdoor/etc.), plus a few things that’re just … cool: inventions, evolutions on existing products/services, etc.”

Looking back on all the comments, a theme jumps out – speed.

Obviously, your concepts have to communicate quickly. But so does your whole website. Recruiters should be able to fly through your site, startin’ with your best work upper left (that’s how we read), then click in the center, then click on the right, just barrelling along clickety-split with no videos-as-speed-bumps to slow ‘em down.

My two cents?

Yeah, I think you probably oughta have at least one cool video; one big-ass integrated idea, if only to show your chops in using Adobe programs for visual storytelling. Set the idea up with a one-sentence caption, park it under the PLAY frame, make sure the video starts fast, no set-up, just get right to the coolest part, and be gone in sixty seconds.

Oh, also… it shouldn’t suck. Sucking, apparently, is bad.