Portfolio School Lies to You, Part 4

Another lie that took me a long time to recognize:

Great creative sells itself.

This is one we want to believe. That you’d present something so groundbreakingly brilliant, the client has no choice but to run it.

But here’s the reality:

The Apple “1984” spot was never supposed to run. The clients hated it. The only reason it ran was because the media – a Superbowl spot – was already purchased.

The clients initially hated Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” campaign. Cliff Freeman was told, “Under no circumstances should you run this spot.”

You need to be focused on creating great work. But great creative will not sell itself. You have two choices:
  1. Develop the presentation skills you’ll need to sell your work.
  2. Find someone whose presentation skills you trust to sell your work.
There are different schools of thought here. One says the account management should sell the work because they have the objective view and usually more face-time with the client. Others say the creatives should sell the work because nobody is as intimate with the work as the ones who created it.

One way or another, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll have to do some presenting at some point in your career. This is especially true if you want to become a creative director.

Learn how to sell your work. Not like a used car salesmen. Be able to communicate why the spot works beyond, “It’ll look cool.” If public speaking’s a challenge for you, take an improv class and expense it to the agency. Do whatever you need to do. Because the work isn’t going to do it for you.