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CLARE MCNALLy hAs tAught ADVERtIsINg CLAssEs FOR thE MIAMI AD sChOOL QuARtER AWAy PROgRAMME IN AMstERDAM sINCE 2001. hER FIRst CLAss ENDED IN WILD APPLAusE! – PLEAsANtLy suRPRIsED, shE hAs tAught EVER sINCE. shE hAs ALsO gIVEN LECtuREs At thE sChOOL’s hOME bAsE IN MIAMI, As WELL As At thE AAA sChOOL OF ADVERtIsINg IN jOhANNEsbuRg (WhERE shE Is ORIgINALLy FROM). CLARE WORkED As A COPyWRItER At tbWA huNt LAsCARIs jOhANNEsbuRg AND 180 AMstERDAM. hER ADVERtIsINg AWARDs INCLuDE D&AD, thE ONE shOW, ARt DIRECtORs CLub, CLIOs AND gOLD, sILVER AND bRONZE At CANNEs. shE’s bEEN IN thE guNN REPORt tOP 50 ADs IN thE WORLD MORE thAN ONCE FOR LANDROVER, bMW M5 AND bIC PENs. IN 2002 shE DECIDED tO ExPLORE bEyOND AgENCy WALLs AND DIsCOVERED thE gERRIt RIEtVELD ARt ACADEMy. shE gRADuAtED FROM thERE As A gRAPhIC DEsIgNER IN 2006. CLARE NOW WORks As A tEAChER, WRItER, EDItOR AND gRAPhIC DEsIgNER.


CONTENTS. 7 11 13 15 21 23 27 39 40 47 51 58 61 69 72 79 90 94 97 101 111 115 123 130 133 137 141 160

Foreword! I felt like an idiot. Enjoy your freedom! Remember the Real World. You’re making ads, not awards. How to start working. Strategy? What to do when you get stuck. Climb the Creative Castle. How to not get stuck in the first place. Find the gap, please find the gap. Develop your own opinion. How to become your own best critic. Stop. Do the logic test. So, how important is execution? Print campaign bootcamp! Writing taglines. Writing more than a tagline. Radio Tips (if anyone’s interested) Now let’s rip some work to shreads! Prepare for brilliance. Presentation is super important. Presenting when you’re not there. Let’s talk rough. AD or CW? Check your horoscope. I think your portfolio is ! :-)


FOREWORD! To get a great advertising job, you need a great portfolio. This book will help, with clear advice, tips, specific examples and inspiration for creating consistently great advertising now and beyond your student days. I talk about a) What is in your book and b) Your book. No use having great work presented badly, or bad work presented well. What we want is great work presented perfectly! New to advertising? This book is about you and where you’re at now. Either at or near the beginning – the best time to get directions ... when you’re doing okay to quite nice work like everyone else, but want to be doing great work like a select few. I talk about idea generation, broader advertising issues and specific student topics: Art Direction or Copywriting? ... dealing with teachers, presentations, putting your book together etc. Of course, I mention clients and the real world along the way as this is where you’re heading (many of you will also be doing internships while studying). This is not an awards annual. I don’t show tonnes of awarded campaigns as I presume you’re already aware of them. I don’t see much use reprinting the D&AD annual here. You know what you should be doing, now we need to get you doing it. Examples? You only need a few clear examples to direct and inspire you to the next level, so I only use a few. If you get core rules, issues and ideas crystal clear in your head now, you’ll be able to draw on them quickly and apply them consistently to all your work. You shouldn’t be trying to remember what to do all the time – you should be doing it. Looking at examples with a clean mental slate is hard when stuff has already won or been bashed in the media ... so the examples I do use are either from students or older work. Hopefully this will free up your judgment. 7


Print’s where it’s at ... for now. My focus in much of this book is on classic print advertising. This may seem odd as we catapult forth into the age of all things interactive. But there’s method in my madness. There is nowhere to hide on an A4 sheet. It is still the best place to cultivate and learn about ideas – what they are, how they work, do they work? Also, when I talk about print campaigns and execution, many of the principles apply equally to entire campaigns across all mediums: consistency, freshness, getting the correct message across clearly etc. Using this one medium hopefully allows me to get my message across clearly. In print, the task at hand is also right in front of you ... a blank sheet of paper and a marker are all you need to begin. The format is realistic and manageable for you as a student. With a good printer, design programmes, digital photography etc. it’s a format you can execute professionally for your book. It is also a medium that can be experienced as it is meant to be, on a page, in a publication. And, when I last checked they were still handing out Cannes Lions for print ... But really, what this is all about is ideas. Generating ideas consistently. Once you understand ideas and how to craft and control them – it won’t matter if you are using a marker or a mouse or a magic wand, as long as it works. In my subjective opinion ... ‘Subjectivity’ is not a good excuse for your lack of success, it’s just an easy one. So, while you’re bombarded with a gazillion opinions on your road to stardom, remember this ... other people can’t make your great ad bad or your bad ad great. All truly great ads work. You can’t argue with them. Just how well they work is the variable. I might like baseball, but love tennis. So show me a baseball execution and I’m like okay ... show me the same idea with a tennis execution and I’m like cool! I believe you can be taught advertising. When I started teaching advertising, an industry guy asked in a slightly sarcastic tone: “So, what exactly do you teach in advertising class Clare?” I also heard: “Oh, anyone can teach advertising” and “Nobody can teach advertising”. Of course I can’t teach you something that has never been done before; I can’t make your brain 8


I felt lIke an IdIot. My student days felt like a drawn-out game of hit and miss. With a lot more miss than hit. I floated in a sea of half-baked ideas, relying on others to steer me in the right direction. If they said something was good, I made more of the same. If they said something was bad, I threw it out immediately. My ad school mentor was from the days of cut-and-paste. Manual cut-and-paste. So I soaked up every page of every awards book I could find in search of clues, answers. I remember being very impressed by the work I saw and rather depressed by my inability to emulate it. Instead of finding answers, I just found more questions. I spent the next fifteen years answering these questions, working as a copywriter in various agencies, then freelancing and teaching ... and here is the result. This is the book I wish I’d had when I was an advertising student.

go 11


through problems, not around them. Sabrina Ward Harrison

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ENJOY YOUR FREEDOM! This is it! Your chance to do whatever you want, and get away with it! So, for the sake of all those has-been industry stalwarts, be cheeky, be political, screw fear. Blow the budget on one piece of outdoor. Make a fifteen minute Superbowl Bonanza. Put George Bush and his favourite pet in bed together. Why? Because you can! You’ll have your whole long, illustrious career to fight caution and experience and stupidity and fear. You’ll be told no and it’s not possible and we don’t have that sort of cash time and time again. So, come on! Use your naivety and untarnished enthusiasm to your advantage. Show those Creative Directors how it’s gonna be done from now on! It is exactly your sort of bravery and carefree attitude that can revolutionize a brand, or an agency or the entire industry. Believe it is possible. Push boundaries. Question everything. Anyone who has been in advertising a while will tell you that the longer you work the more restrictions you place on yourself, without even realising it. After a few hundred client meetings, it’s hard to keep the faith and take yet another risk. That is why the advertising industry needs you! Show them how it could be, how it should be. Promote the fact that you are fresh. Flaunt your student status (in a good way). It’s a priceless asset that can not be claimed by ‘successful’ seniors. Make them wish they were you, not the other way around.

eXperIenCe

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IS THE OPPOSITE OF BEING CREATIVE.

Paul Arden

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RemembeR THe ReAL WORLD. Every lesson I give is in a faraway land. A place not known to mere mortals. A land of sharp minds, wit, very important people, large salaries and stellar work. A land of grand prizes with grander names like Titanium! and Lion! A land with glamorous awards shows and heavy books containing only the best of the best. This rich, wonderful, perfect land has a name. It is called Adland. And here, all ads are great, Cannes is the capital, mediocrity is scorned, commercialism is revered, 30'' TV spots are called movies and anyone who disagrees is dumb ... there are no bad ads here. Oh no, those are somewhere else. Somewhere far, far away. Yes, those ads are light-years away ... in another place ... all unexciting, predictable, boring ads are in a place called – The Real World – we have no idea how they got there or how this place came to be. It’s a complete mystery. Sarcasim aside, it’s true right? Advertising people (students and professionals) often live in a D&AD, Cannes, Shots bubble. They don’t want to know what’s going on outside of this perfect, respectable, hard-working world. Why? Well in almost every magazine, on every TV channel, on the road, your computer ... are loads of these embarrassing Real World campaigns, selling cars, fridges, watches, washing powder, orange juice, you name it. All bad. All seen again and again and disliked more and more by all the Real World people. An expensive waste of time and space – while most industries aim to hide their bad points, advertising is one 15


THE crEATIVE cASTLE.

(illustration: Patricia Choi)

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1. Think the opposite of what you want to say. 1. Think of theofopposite of what you want to say. Ironically, thinking ofopposite the opposite of what you want to always say always Ironically, thinking of the of what you want to say somehow clarifies what you do want to say. Try it. If you to say somehow clarifies what you do want to say. Try it. If you needneed to say this iscar is fast, things a while ... think of a world this car fast, thinkthink aboutabout slowslow things for afor while ... think of a world no cars, fast cars, or slower ... think the disadvantages of being withwith no fast or slower cars cars ... think of theofdisadvantages of being at worst you will fun making adsslow for slow slowslow ... at ... worst you will havehave somesome fun making ads for cars,cars, unhealthy ‘health’ or dishonest banks. unhealthy ‘health’ bars bars or dishonest banks. 2. Work a Distraction 2. Work on aon Distraction Brief.Brief. Distraction Briefs are exactly that distract you from Distraction Briefs are exactly that:that: briefsbriefs that distract you from the the real brief youworking are working on. Might bit to oddcreate to create real brief you are on. Might seemseem a bit aodd moremore to finish butit.tryWorking it. Working on something workwork to finish otherother work,work, but try on something else else will will get your creative juices flowing and unexpected add unexpected elements get your creative juices flowing againagain and add elements to your thinking onreal the brief. real brief. to your thinking on the Distraction Briefs canclients be clients within the agency or ones you just Distraction Briefs can be within the agency or ones you just up. The to have fun crack and crack a nice makemake up. The idea idea is to ishave somesome fun and a nice littlelittle ad orad or twosomething for something proving to yourself that are younot areanot a two for else else thus thus proving to yourself that you complete can then return to your real brief confidence. complete idiot.idiot. You You can then return to your real brief withwith confidence. Distraction Briefs, you don’t to crack anything, and that’s WithWith Distraction Briefs, you don’t needneed to crack anything, and that’s often just the incentive your brain needs to get back to work. often just the incentive your brain needs to get back to work. LessLess pressure equals creativity. Just remember get back the task pressure equals moremore creativity. Just remember to gettoback to thetotask at hand at some point. at hand at some point. of things that make distraction ... binoculars, The The kindkind of things that make goodgood distraction briefsbriefs ... binoculars, a school lemon plastic razors, pocket tissues, toothpicks, a school ruler,ruler, lemon juice,juice, plastic razors, pocket tissues, toothpicks, gloves, an advertising school, Archive Magazine, angallery, art gallery, dish dish gloves, an advertising school, Archive Magazine, an art a table-tennis centre, car rental, an escort agency, a local theatre a table-tennis centre, car rental, an escort agency, a local theatre group, Amsterdam Sex Museum, chair massages, a posh hotel, vacuum group, Amsterdam Sex Museum, chair massages, a posh hotel, vacuum cleaners, Beano capsules, oh, speaking and speaking oftask the task at hand. cleaners, Beano capsules, uh ...uh oh,...and of the at hand. 3. Change the medium you working are working 3. Change the medium you are in. in. If your for print, just print, yourself thinking of viral If your briefbrief asks asks for just don’tdon’t stop stop yourself thinking of viral or web or or TVradio or radio or outdoor or packaging or web or TV or outdoor or packaging or ...or ... a) Maybe you take can take TV concept and transform it into a) Maybe laterlater you can youryour TV concept and transform it into a print execution. Maybe thinking in leads TV leads youa great to a great a print execution. Maybe thinking in TV you to viralviral as well a new execution ... take the same anditdo it idea,idea, as well as a as new printprint execution ... take the same briefbrief and do 41 41


3.

What’s right?

What’s wrong?

The idea: (most NB!) – This pencil is hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Looks clean and simple ... These ads do own some visual space. Nice interaction between the 3D pencil and the 2D drawing. At real size (A4) there is also a nice interaction between the life-sized pencil and the reader, you almost want to pick up the pencil. Soft style of drawing figuratively reflects the softness of the pencil. No separate product logo required (fewer elements is always good as it speeds up the time it takes for consumers to get your idea) The product is the star!

The pencil position is the same in two – at a glance, consumers may think they’re the same execution (perhaps the ‘bear’ could just be pushing the pencil the other way?) Either make them all different or all the same (the same might get boring and repetitive). The bird needs to be huge in comparison to the ‘branch’ in order to read strong and not made of wood. But then it will be more in line with the other two executions.

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To consider: Could maybe use the Karismo pencil that has VERY SOFT printed on it instead of just SOFT as this reinforces your idea a bit more. Try a landscape format – this might give you more visual breathing space. A bigger format (maybe then you could change the executions and have more freedom) Make posters for art shops perhaps? Encourage people to add to your executions with their own drawings? In general with this campaign, thinking about how an art pencil is different to an office or everyday pencil is also a good exercise. Even a positioning like Not an office pencil could have led somewhere interesting.


Miele 4000 oven (Always done right) 1. Steak

2. Salmon

3. Lamb chop

Side of magazine would be colored to allow you to see the inside of the roast.

side view

back page

What’s right?

What’s wrong?

Great new use of a classic media. The medium is the idea. Nice. Same idea executed pretty well three times. Media interaction nicely presented. Miele branding is clear. Tagline Always done right is, uh, done right.

Logo placement is inconsistent. There is a bit of a ‘logic’ problem: the food shown looks pan-fried, not over-roasted. Mmm. Another odd thing for me – how big is that salmon? Or, how small is that hand?! :-) To consider: Is the look a bit clinical? Does it need more appetite appeal? (of course, the real versions look more appealing than what I show here) Is it right to just ‘flip’ the visual for the second shot placed later in the magazine (back page)? Do you need the full logo plus tagline plus copy blurb on this back page? Perhaps there could be more variety in the thickness/format of the publications – another way to show cooking variance. And, a really picky little detail, but the left-hand page of the magazine (which you can barely see) is the same in 1 and 3. Maybe change that? The explanation text – could it say Side of magazine would be colored, allowing you to see the inside of the perfectly-cooked roast. Anything that helps your idea along is good.

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I kid you not, this ‘layout’ was presented to me. To see what it is ...

Man washing dishes. Why? Olay anti-aging nightcream makes his wife look hot. I think this is as far as you should go with a rough-layout. It took a whole 5 minutes. Any more and we’re wasting precious thinking time. Any less and we’ve wasted precious thinking time. 132


AD OR CW? I don’t know — I do know that’s probably not why you’re reading this chapter. You want a nice, clear list of reasons to become either, neither or both. Well. I’m afraid I don’t have it. And won’t pretend I do, even after working for almost a decade, teaching for seven and being both a writer and designer. Even when I started it wasn’t clear. Now, even more so. Some students tell me they became writers because they can’t draw. So? < look left < top ‘drawing’ – art director, bottom drawing – copywriter. Many art directors can’t draw. If you fancy writing ’cause you don’t know how to use design programmes, you can learn those. If you wanna art direct ’cause your spelling sucks, uh ... heard of dictionaries? Spellcheck? Many art directors know little about typesetting (’cause they hardly ever have to), write headlines and call themselves art director/writers. Many copywriters never write more than two lines, use Photoshop and InDesign and don’t mind working together in ‘copywriter’ teams. The days of art directors love Pictionary and copywriters love Scrabble are gone. So what now? Does it matter? I think that any good creative should have qualities of both. The split in expertise is mostly to uphold professional standards in the real, working world. As students you are not working under pressure with high production standards, tight budgets and client demands, so it is easier to be undecided or say you can do both. In the real world, they need someone qualified to direct photographers or voice-over artists. They need to know who to blame when pantones are wrong or incorrectly is spelled incorectly. What is far more important in this choice is you. You have to consider which you prefer taking responsibility for? Which area turns you on a little more? Maybe it helps to think about 133


other professions: journalist, screenwriter, poet, novelist, editor, proof-reader, features writer ... director, painter, illustrator, photographer, animator. Just think a bit about why you would or wouldn’t go for those. This might help you choose. I believe that if you’re 100% a writer you should go be a writer. If you’re 100% an artist, you should go be an artist. Advertising is not so polar, you can appreciate and have an eye for both fields. I struggled to choose between art direction and copywriting. I have never seen images and text as separate – I still don’t. (Which would explain why after 10 years as a copywriter I went off and studied art and graphic design). The image/text marriage appealed to me. But I was forced to choose. I felt that writing within tight restraints offered more of a challenge. Using letters as tools to communicate clearly, chopping and changing to save space and time. I enjoyed the fact that copywriters could control language, make it do party tricks. Something many people don’t understand. We all learn to read and write at school, so everyone thinks they’re a bit of a copy expert and meetings can turn into grammar lessons. It’s often harder to prove your extra quality or value as a copywriter than as an art director. Art Director’s know programmes others don’t and have learned ‘art’ and production things not everybody knows. A copywriter’s value is not about grammar or a big vocabulary or being good at spelling! It is about the way you think. The way you choose to express yourself. A real flare with words. (Art Directors only really notice you’re different when you effortlessly chop a paragraph in half to improve ‘their’ layout. You only notice they’re different when they go nuts over a 3% magenta shift). Specific skills do become more prominent and necessary in production. When I was producing radio ads, for example, I felt like a copywriter – not because I think radio should only be done by a writer (I don’t) but because that’s when everybody mostly left me alone. There are specific things you need to know in a recording studio to get the best results. You gain experience and learn how to work better with voice-over artists and engineers. In the same way, art directors need to know more about printing techniques, typography, styling, lighting and new technology to produce the campaign you want. I think that in a good team, both creatives are educated about and interested in both disciplines, you can share roles as you see fit. 134


The point is to work together as a unit to ensure your idea works as well as it possibly can. The whole ‘team’ thing can also be empowering and make you feel like ‘together we can do it!’ If the industry requires that you have titles to make everyone feel comfortable, then so be it. What’s important is your happiness and productivity. You can always switch. They’re just words right?

Most of life’s Most worthwhile journeys begin, 135


and often end, in glorious confusion. Nicola Barker

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CHECK YOUR HOROSCOPE. Yip, here is your advertising horoscope. I believe there are four advertising planets that need to align for you to reach your maximum potential. These are: Planet Partner You need to work with someone who compliments you. Not like “Hey, nice hair Brad!”, but someone who fills in the gaps, makes good better, works in the same rhythm as you and makes a killer cup of coffee. Of course, it’s great if you enjoy hanging out together outside of the office, but you do not need to be best friends in the world with your creative partner. I think many people mistake comfort for good, and this is not always true. Feeling too comfortable can make you lazy and complacent. You need to push each other a little. You need to surprise one another. You need trust, a dash of competition, respect, a lot of brain bingo and loads of fun ... then ... voila ... great work is eezy peezy! Planet Place You need to work in an agency that lets you grow, makes you feel challenged and positive. They need to have strong ideas on creativity and the bigger picture. You need to gel with their thinking. You need to admire them in some way, want to be a part of what they represent. Again, being at the right place doesn’t always mean it’s a nice place. They must have the right attitude to work, which may not infiltrate 137


:-) “ You made me love advertising in a new and different way.” – Jenny, Art Director. “ It was good having you as a teacher, pushing us to do more. I greatly appreciated your highly technical strategies to beat the dreaded mind block.” – Mathieu, Copywriter. “ Thankyou for class today. It was really insightful and smart, maybe the most sound advice I’ve heard in a while.” – Mike, Art Director. “ I got a lot out of your comments and criticisms. I really appreciated your honesty in regards to our work.” – Jan, Copywriter. “ Thankyou for showing that this is no miracle or weird talent, but a process and some serious brain training.” – Deger, Art Director. “ You give far better feedback than anyone else. Seriously.” – Croix, Art Director. “ It’s so refreshing to know there are still some people out there that really care how we do; how hard we push ourselves to be the best.” – Colleen, Art Director. “ Now I see all you were saying from the beginning.” – Emery, Art Director.

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Portfolio Class with Clare :-)  

This book shows those embarking on a career in creative advertising how best to put together an effective, professional portfolio. Author Cl...

Portfolio Class with Clare :-)  

This book shows those embarking on a career in creative advertising how best to put together an effective, professional portfolio. Author Cl...