Portfolio-Launch.com Beta Testing

[Portfolio Launch is currently off-line. We'll repost once we find a new server. 8.29.12]

Before I launch this site officially, I'm announcing the beta version on makinads.com.

There are five concepting exercises on this site meant to help portfolio school applicants put together a competitive book.

The art direction of the site is admittedly underwhelming. I'm working on that. Comments and criticism of the content is very welcome.

Ambient Ads on Pinterest

Check out this Pinterest board from Karin Birch. Karin is a CD at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, and we met when we judged the Las Vegas Addys a couple weeks ago.

Make Your Book Less Student-y! Act now!

I see a lot of student porfolios. And I can peg most of them - say 80%, and that's pretty generous - as being a student portfolios before I even look at the resume. It's not a unique skill. Most people in the industry can do the same. Because most student portfolios just feel student-y. And the thing is, it's the other 20% that make the big impression.

There are lots of different contributing factors to the studentyness of a book. For this post, let me just bring up one: Most studenty books neglect calls to action.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a call to action is something that gives the reader, viewer, participant, whoever, something to act on. It could be as simple as a website or phone number, or as specific as a date and location. It doesn't have to be crass like "Hurry! Limited time offer! Call now!" (In fact, if you're considering that kind of copy, you might be reading the wrong blog.)

Maybe you buy the argument that a lot of advertising is about brand building, or having a conversation with the consumer. I buy that, too. Sometimes. Nike rarely uses a call to action unless they're trying to send you to some kind of microsite. iPad commercials don't end with "Visit apple.com" popping up at the end. But for most ideas you're going to present to your client, you're going to need something more than just a logo. A book entirely full of pure branding pieces comes across as a very studenty book.

Look at it from a client's point of view. You're paying your agency to come up with a great idea and execute it. You're paying your media company hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of dollars to make sure people see/hear/experience the idea. You've got a boss who's expecting you to deliver some kind of tangible results. And you're going to run an add that hopefully gets people to think of you as cool?

You don't have to slip into gross promotional language. Just figure out what you want people to do once they come in contact with your ad. And then give them a way to do it.

Creating. Just to create.

Natalie Goldberg is a writer. And she says as a writer, you have to write every day. In her book Wild Mind, she says people who attend her writing seminars often ask, "What do you do with what you write?" Her answer is, "What do you do after you drink a glass of water?" She's saying writing isn't something always do to get somewhere. You do it because you're a writer and writing's what you do.

Van Gogh didn't sit down and decide to paint masterpieces. Most of his work that's hanging in museums he saw as practice. Here's what he did when he was experimenting with what he saw outside his sanitarium window:

Sometimes we create amazing things. Sometime we create garbage. The point is to keep creating.

How to Make Great Commercials

There's a great series of articles over at Fast Company by Gerry Graf walking through the process of making a spot from beginning to end. Lots of good wisdom along the way.

I don't always practice writing copy. But when I do...

His blood smells like cologne.
He can speak French in Russian.
He's a lover not a fighter. But he's also a fighter, so don't get any ideas.
He is the only man ever known to ace a Rorschach test.

If you were on this account, what kind of lines would you write?

It's a good exercise. In fact, I keep a document on my desktop where I write my own lines for him. Just for fun.

Am I going to send them to Euro RSCG? Nope. They wouldn't bother looking at them.

So why do I write them?

Because I'm a writer. And any writing I do makes me better. I don't have to use what I write for the act of writing to be useful.

So here's an open challenge: What would be your Most Interesting Man in the World lines?

VCU Brandcenter, The Most Innovative Business School in the World

The VCU Brandcenter beat out Harvard, Wharton, Notre Dame and the London School of Business to be named The Most Innovative Business School in the World. Couldn't be more proud of my alma mater.

While this speaks volumes for the Brandcenter's success, I think it also says a lot about a creatively focused organization versus more traditional approach. I'm not about to knock Harvard or Wharton. But I've got to believe they don't approach problems with the same level of creativity you'd find in most portfolio school programs. (Don't let the suits and ties in the photo fool you.)

IMG 3010 1 391x261 VCU Brandcenter: The Most Innovative Business School in the World

I especially love the quote from Lee Clow in the interview: "If you wish to outsmart, out simplify."

Temerlin Advertising Institute

For a long, long time, if you wanted to get a job in advertising, the Portfolio Center in Atlanta was your best (and maybe only) shot. By the time I applied to the VCU Adcenter, the pool of legitimate, post-graduate portfolio schools was up to three (including the Creative Circus). Students today have a much greater selection, and I think that's to everyone's benefit.

I recently met Dr. Patty Alvey, who heads up the Temerlin Advertising Institute at SMU in Dallas. Dr. Alvey's helped build the creative programs at UT Austin at the VCU Brandcenter. Like Luke Sullivan joining SCAD, It's exciting to see someone with such a successful history building a new program and giving more options to those looking to break into the industry.

If you're scouting out portfolio school programs, do yourself a favor and see what Temerlin at SMU has to offer.

My Favorite Super Bowl Ad

I love everything about this ad, including that it only ran in North Platte, Nebraska.