tadaa – branding, design and user experience

For the past few months I worked together with a start-up in Hamburg to help them create tadaa – an iPhone application all about photos. It has a lightning fast camera, a bunch of cool filters and a deep community system to help people share photos and interact with each other. On top of that every user gets their own tadaa photoblog with all their published pictures automatically added to it, here's mine for example.

My part in this project was the whole visual side: creating the tadaa brand look and feel, designing the whole user experience and interface and creating everything from the smallest of buttons to the website. tadaa is the first mobile application I fully designed. The process wasn't always easy but I learned a great deal during this project. Here are five things I've learned along the way:

  • 1. Designing an iPhone app is a huge amount of work and requires a lot of attention to detail.  Achieving consistency across the whole application and creating a balanced look while remaining user friendly is very very time consuming.
  • 2. It's not about great looking static screens – transitions, animations and interaction states are as important to the overall look and they require care.
  • 3. User feedback is essential to improving the experience, there's no perfect design and the app is hardly ever finished, there's always something to improve. If I'd start this over again, I would try out more radical design approaches and get more feedback on it.
  • 4. The retina display is a tricky thing – the resolution is quite high and tempted me often into sleepless nights of designing details no one else would notice. It's important to keep the older low-res displays in mind at all times. Also, downsizing from retina to low-res was not as easy as expected and vectors / smart objects were the way to go here.
  • 5. Probably my biggest insight: Getting a user experience designer / art director on board as early as possible is crucial. I joined the project after the developers already created a simple 1.0 version of tadaa where most functions already had a distinct user flow. At times this project was too much about redesigning a questionable user experience rather then re-imaginging a new one from scratch that would serve the user more. Starting over is a luxury that requires a lot of time and guts.

It was great to be involved in the tadaa design project. I think this app has great potential to compete with Instagram and Co. especially in the area of user community and photo interaction. I love the fact that people can have conversations around photos and reply with a photo to an existing one. There's lots of room to grow and I hope to be of help while improving this product. The tadaa app is free and can be downloaded from the iTunes app store. Give it a try and let me know what you think of it. My tadaa username is 'Waldemar'.

How to choose the right agency to work for

Ideas, Awards, Clients, Reputation, Location, Salary? All these things matter but if your aim is to grow as a creative you should look out for another greatly important factor: agency culture.

It's a combination of all things together and beyond. It also takes into account what your expectations and goals are. I think agency culture is crucial for choosing a workplace – yet at the same time agency culture is hard to grasp by being a rather abstract term that's both difficult to define and compare.

Luckily during the Cannes Lions festival 72andSunny held a Masterclass about exactly that topic. They called it 'Company VS Culture'. While most other agencies showed a lot of their own work, 72andSunny instead used their time to talk about agency culture and presented ways on defining and understanding it. For Robbin and me this talk was especially relevant as we're talking to different agencies at the moment and trying to figure out the right next step for ourselves.

Matt Jarvis & John Boiler started their lecture with a strong but simple statement:
'The most important career decision you can make is the culture you choose to grow in.'

A thought that particularly rings true if you're young and starting out as it will define a big part of how you do things later on in your career. Their advice is to look for a culture that doesn't only produce great work but also great people. I guess most of us know deep inside it's more than work that matters, but what Matt & John did here was to break down agency culture into five points and shared simple ways on how to recognize it. The five values they see most relevant to an agencies culture are Collaboration, Generosity, Courage, Accountability and Ambition:

1. Collaboration
If you get into a culture that values collaboration, there's room for you to contribute. Places that value collaboration tend not to be about the person, they tend to be about 'THE BEST IDEA WINS'. This is not about people or ego, it's about the idea. How you recognize it:
  • How are people seated? Departments? Integrated? Floors?
  • Do they assign ideas to people? Groups? The boss? Name on the door?
  • How do they review work? In the open? Corner office? Small/big?
2. Generosity
Is important because your early career should be about learning, not just output. And it takes generosity to teach. A culture of generosity will allow people to explore their own ideas, potential, find their own voice and learn from failure. How you recognize it:
  • Do co-workers celebrate your success as their own? Do they want what you want for yourself?
  • Ask who has grown and developed the most last year. Do they actively think about it?
  • How do they give and share credit?
  • What's the approach to training and education? How do they handle career reviews?
3. Courage
As creative people, you should be wired for courage. You need an organization that stands up for brave ideas, or you will learn fear. How you recognize it:
  • Do you look at their work and ask 'How the hell did they do that?'
  • How many ideas do they bring to a pitch?
  • Have they ever resigned business for a creative or cultural differences?
4. Accountability
A culture of accountability quickly teaches that success or failure matters. Being accountable for the outcome, either positive or negative, is leadership. Be in a culture that shares your definition of success and that teaches you to lead. How you recognize it:
  • Do they embrace metrics? Do set them at all?
  • What is the ultimate win to them? Awards? $$$? Long relationships? Happy clients?
  • What is the compensation structure for clients? For staff? For leaders? What does it reward? Performance? Seniority? Internal political success?
5. Ambition
It's important to understand your personal ambitions and find an agency that shares the same ambitions.  If you're missmatch it's going to be a bad relationship. If you aspire to greatness, attach yourself to an organization that aspires to greatness. How you recognize it:
  • What goals do they aspire to? Success as defined by clients, industry or culture?
  • Do they talk about what they could do better more than what they do well?
  • Do they visibly push themselves?
  • Do they attract 'Challenger' clients and brands?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For me this is a great check list and toolbox to have in the back of the head when looking into agencies and going on interviews. There might not be a perfect place that has all of these covered but it's important to have them in mind and also to ask yourself which of these of these five are most dear to you.

This whole lecture is quite in line with my learnings at Hyper Island. There I learned that there is great value in thinking about the 'how' side of things not only the work itself. One can be a happier and more effective creative when having certain expectations on your environment, workplace and coworkers and communicating them clearly. I think it all comes down to simply being a more considerate creative, thinking about what you want, what you want to achieve and finding a place that is best suitable for this. Thanks to 72andSunny for sharing their thoughts on this topic and to end on their words:
'Don't pick a company. Pick a culture.'

Creative Modus Operandi

It's 1.00 am at night, we're waiting for a creative check in with our ECD's – is there a better time to write a blog post? I don't think so.

I stumbled upon this interesting post today about what circumstances make someone creative. It's an interesting experiment that asks you to think about your environment and what influences your creativity. Here are the factors that I think make me more creative:

  • Clothes – Very comfy, ideally no shoes
  • Sound – For thinking music that's not too disruptive, for writing as loud and energetic as possible
  • Light - As sunny and light as possible, even at night
  • Time of Day - 9am - 11am and 6pm - 8pm
  • Location - Outside, in a cafe, or an empty meeting room, preferably not at the desk
  • Directionality – Not looking outside a window
  • Routine/spontaneous - Spontaneous
  • Long periods or short bursts - Somewhere in between
  • Carry something to capture ideas on the fly? - Never leave the house without my notebook
  • Squeaky Clean or Squalor (setting) - Clean and organized
  • Clean or dirty - Clean in the morning
  • Solo or surrounded - Surrounded by only a few
  • Digital or analogue - Analogue for concepting, digital for writing
  • What fuels you? - Conversations, lots of water
  • Leaded or unleaded? - Only one cup of coffee per day
  • Breaks – No, but sometimes yes
  • Mindset practices that fuel creation - Concentration, or thinking about something else
  • Movement practices that fuel creation - Walking around a room in circles, going for a walk, after sports

What about you?

Reflections on 2009

Happy new year everyone! An important thing I learned at Hyper Island is to reflect on past events and evaluate them to maximize the learning outcome. Let's give it a go and look at the past year:

After teaming up with copywriter Jai in 2008 and completing creative placements in London at Wieden+Kennedy, Leo Burnett, Lowe and Adam&Eve the year 2009 kicked off with us two turning into a creative freelance team. Our first gig was at Agency Republic which continued through January and February. Even though we worked on interactive briefs before this place was the first one with full on commitment to that. Looking at all the great digital work going on around the world got me pretty excited about new possibilities to engage with people in new ways. Yet when working on set briefs we found ourselves thinking often in stereotypical categories like banners, pop-ups, virals and minisites – not very. Countless banner concepts later in March we moved on to our next freelance gig at The Bank where we helped them winning a pitch for Grolsch. In the meantime we got to meet some brilliant creative directors like Graham Fink and Dave Trott and received invaluable advice from them.

This was quite motivating and the goal was clear, the portfolio needed work so we could land a permanent position at a creative agency – but Jai and I didn't agree on how to get there and thus finished our creative partnership in May. Footloose I started planning my next steps and spend the summer in Kazakhstan. My curiosity about creative work in the interactive space led me to an unexpected option: A post graduate course in Sweden at Hyper Island. A lot of research got me hooked on this idea and I applied for the Interactive Art Director course. After an intensive application process I got admitted to this great course and I packed my things and move from London to Stockholm in August. The course started off surprising me completely. I understood that Hyper Island was not only going to be about ideas but also about the How side of things. Team behavior, facilitating of processes, leadership, giving and receiving feedback and communication in general – all splendid learnings that pushed me on another level. On top of that I've met many new people that I now consider friends.

The second module continued in September with us interviewing the industry to gain insights about their needs and their future. Those learnings were accompanied by great lectures from the industry that kept surprising me weekly. All of this combined fruited in the first competition win for our work on Lipton that we presented in Paris. It's currently in production by Tribal DDB and I can't wait for it to see the light of day. 2009 was also the foray of my sister Anna into the world wide web where she presented two of her collections, expect more to come. The last few months of the year were spent working intensively on projects with Burn, North Kingdom, IKEA and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, oh joy.

The undeniably biggest change of 2009 was leaving London and starting at Hyper Island. It wasn't an easy decision, but this adventure has been a fantastic one and taught me many things that I am very grateful for. For me it was the year of the unexpected, change, more questions and the year of new learnings.

Now and it's time to look at this new year ahead and set goals – in the next post.

The impact of new technology on advertising

I received an email from Sital, a student at the London College of Communication asking me for help with questions regarding her dissertation. I remember how much bloody work it was to write my own back at Bucks so I decided to help. Maybe some of you would like to join the conversation and share opinions on his topic 'The impact of new technology within graphic design, specifically within the advertising industry'. Here the questions including my short answers:

1. Do you think that digital campaigns pose a threat to the more traditional forms of campaigns? Why?

I think both traditional and digital campaigns should co exist and work closer together. It's about traditional advertising telling stories about brands using . Then digital campaigns should pick up on his and engage people further with those ideas and stories and start conversations with them. There's a great article on the BBH Labs blog about that: If you want a conversation say something interesting.

2. Idea vs. Media. Do you think campaigns nowdays are getting too carried away with the media rather than the 'big idea'? Why?

Yes, there are different kinds of campaigns, some that use media in a new way, and other that just rely on great storytelling (strong & big ideas). I think we need both, the ones that get carried away with media are good because they explore the boundaries of what can be done. But then once the technology is 'exploited' campaigns are created that use a new technology or a new media and connect it with the story of a brand in a meaningful way. I prefer the later ones, but as mentioned before, boths are valid things. A current example for this is augumented reality. A year ago just using this media/technology was enough to create a buzz for a brand, now agencies must work much harder to come up with ways to use augumented reality in a relevant way for the brand. They cannot just play the novelty card anymore.

3. What do you think the future of advertising (online) will hold? Why?

Media knowledge will be crucial in order to create tailored concepts to reach people in a relevant way. On the other hand we might see more engaging campaigns once creatives will manage to combine digital media knowledge with great storytelling skills, disciplines that are somewhat seperated in the advertising industry today. We might see more specialized creatives that will collaborate closer with partners from other areas, for example storytellers + technologists. And there should be more hybrid creatives that will be able to span big stories over multiple channels all in a relative way rather than just being replicated in a different format. I would wish for more interactive and engaging stories being told around products and brands.

5 criteria for my dream job

What do I want from a job? Inspired by this post.
  1. I want a job at a place where everyone commits to doing their best and most creative work.
  2. I want a job where I can work with like-minded people who I can learn and get inspired from.
  3. I want a job that gives me the opportunity to use the tools that I've learned in the past years.
  4. I want a job where I will be constantly challenged and have the chance to fail and grow.
  5. I want a job without restrictions to media for my work and creativity.

5 experiences, 10 days & lots of learnings at Hyper Island

Real-time is running quick at Hyper Island so it's hard to keep up with blogging everything. I would like to reflect on the last 10 days and what I took out of them. Ordered around five key experiences:

1. Objectified, a documentary film by Gary Huswitt
After Helvetica Gary Huswitt set out to explore product design. A great journey into the minds of different product designers that we witnessed on the big screen last week with a few fellow Hyper Islanders. It was very satisfying and inspiring to watch it and think about the insights in the movie. Some that got me thinking: Can we design objects that get better over time? How do objects function in complex systems? Does design separate? Design is translation. Think about the value chain beyond the obvious. Entrepreneurial logic rather than employee logic. If there's no philosophy behind design practises, design may become useless. Design will become more collaborative. Form doesn't follow function anymore (example: iPhone). How and where can I apply my design thinking?

I'd like to re watch it and link more of those thoughts together and apply them to creative problem solving for brands. As the movie fits perfect into the current interactive user experience module, the educational DVD edition is already on it's way to Hyper Island.

2. Workshop on interactive copy writing / storytelling
Karin Ernerot alias Karinskii is a Creative Director, Copywriter & Screenwriter. She works closely with traditional agencies and educates them about digital media. The web is not just another media channel. Whereas in traditional media a brand buys media space and advertises a certain amount of time, interactive media requires a long term digital presence. The brand is always available, 24/7.

All those differences between offline & online mean that there are different questions we should ask ourselves during the creative process:
  • How can the brand activate people?
  • How can we create brand loyalty online?
  • How can the brand keep an ongoing dialogue?
  • What are the goals for the conversation?
  • How can the brand become a tool?
After this dive-in, into what digital media does best, we switched to storytelling. We discussed different aspects of storytelling. Structure makes it easier to write stories. Stories can be enhanced by adding some things or taking some away. A twist in the story makes a big difference. What are the motives? Karin showed us different structures like the three act structure, Jung's 12 character archetypes and the hero's journey. It's great if you take the archetypes and apply them to brands to define their tone of voice, of the hero's journey on a movie to see it working. The second part which will be more based on writing exercises will continue on Thursday – my expectations are high!

3. Workshop with Doberman
Doberman is a Swedish agency specialised in digital design and service development. They practice the Service design approach and work out how to improve everyday experiences. They shared the making of a new mobile service provider store with us today.
If you want to create a magic experience you have to hide the technology and put the fun in the foreground. Understand people's situation: How do they feel? What do they need? And what drives them? We received a new assignment for this week to work out a new user experience for a dull, scary or embarrassing situation in everyday life. A challenging assignment.

4. DDB creative contest for Lipton Ice Tea
The brief was to come up with a way to communicate Lipton's brand idea of 'Drink positive' in a way that could not have been possible five years ago, because of technology or people's behavior. We worked on this brief for two weeks in a team of three and delivered a pretty satisfying result. I'm hoping to share it once the results are in. Not only did we develop a great amount of ideas but we took the best one and presented it in a case movie that describes the background, the thinking and the user experience of this idea.

5. Lucy McRae
Today we had one of the most inspiring lectures so far: from Lucy McRae. Before she went into delivering craziness that makes people think, she was a ballerina dancer for 14 years, studied interior design for two years, and worked in architecture in London for another 5 years. She had a break through at Philips as an 'Body Architect' and worked on multiple projects with Bert Hess which you can see here.

It was amazing to hear her talk about the process of creating her pieces. About bringing immediate and spontaneous ideas to life using the simplest tools. She talked about her work at Philips where she created interesting visions for them such as Electronic Tattoos or Probe skin dresses. She worked in multidisciplinary teams, with a creative partner and on her own and shared her thoughts on those. What if computers would be more sensible to what we're feeling? A new whole bunch of new thoughts entered my head after having her speak how a huge company like Philips could benefit from findings of an artist like her and create actual products from those insights into the future.

* * *

So what have I learned? How to make a case movie from scratch. How to disassemble user experiences and gain insights from this process. How to tell a story in writing with the help of existing structures. How to use technology not for technologies sake, but to add value to people interacting with it. How to apply thinking from different disciplines to the creative process. How to combine interactive thinking with people's needs and objects in the real world. How to approach a problem from the point of view of the user. And most importantly – I don't know anything and there's still an abundance of things out there to explore and combine.

Sounds from the cloud

I'm a music collection addict, actually music is the only thing I collect. If I hear a good song I need to get it onto my hard drive. (Insight: nowadays people collect less actual stuff but way more data & information)

My iTunes library is completely sorted without missing album covers and of course everything is labeled correctly. I feel like I need to 'own' the music. Here at Hyper (and Sweden I guess) quite a big part of the music is listened through Spotify. I have a hard time liking this app, I can't imagine not having my music collection. Robbin, a fellow art director, has deleted his extra large (over 40 Gig) music collection and switched to Spotify completely for his music needs. He describes it as a very fresh feeling, a cleansing of old music. I won't go that far (yet?) but I should get out of my comfort zone and will have a iTunes free week. Let's see if I can survive on sounds from the cloud and discover some new audio goodness in the process. After all, music is part of my business.

7 Insights from Hyper Island

Last week we finished the first part of the second Module. In eight days our team of seven members interviewed seven people (Noah Brier - the barbarian group, David Droga - Droga 5, Iain Tait - Poke, Ben Malbon - BBH labs, Richard Gatarski - weconverse.com, Carlos Bayala - Mother, Annika Lidne - Disruptive Media) and listened to three lectures (Jonathan Briggs - co founder of Hyper Island, Petter Warnsberg - Kingston University, Mans Adler - bambuser founder) while crawling the web for countless hours. Using all this information, analyzing and connecting it was a very valuable experience. In the process we identified seven insights that are relevant to the media industry and that we think are worth sharing:

#1 In order to innovate we need to cross bridges between industries and categories
We need to look beyond the obvious and keep our eyes on other categories that are disconnected with our interests. Rather than focusing too much on technology we should look for new ways for suitable applications and combinations. Mashups and APIs are great example of exciting possibilities when blurring boundaries.

#2 Screens are not enough anymore, they are mere obstacles to seamless integration
Technology is getting smaller. Augmented reality is only the beginning. Interactivity can reach a new level if we interact beyond the screen with our surroundings.

#3 Emphasis will shift towards connecting ideas rather than remembering and gathering information
Tools like twitter allow for concentrated streams of information. We have more access to information than ever before. The world doesn't need more blogs, it needs better blogs. Inspiration VS Information – It's much more valuable to inspire than just to inform.

#4 The Baby Boom is yet to hit the Internet

A new generation of users is growing up with the web. Kids will flood the web with a lot of time on their hands and change they way we approach our work. We need to rethink our way to design interactive experiences because of more segmented user groups.

#5 Brands no longer compete with brands, they compete with everyday live and all media out there

More sources than ever fight for our attention. People are able to create themselves without very little costs. Creativity is the ingredient that will make a huge difference, if used for the right reasons.

#6 It's impossible to keep track of everything, we need to establish filters

Today's information society is ever evolving, we have to accept that we cannot follow everything. Identifying filters is important, and there is great potential in this direction. What sources to trust? What's a balanced mix of filters? Who controls them? It's crucial to realise that we cannot just fill our heads with the newest stuff – we need to stop and reflect and create something new out of those findings.

#7 When telling a story, digital media gives it the possibility to evolve and never end
The future is about collaboration and influences between industries. In contrast to traditional media, where a TV spot or campaign had a beginning, a middle and an end, interactive media gives us a platform to tell the story on and on and to re-engage people more frequently by letting them participate in the process and allowing them to navigate a story at their own pace and level involvement.

Creative Sensei

It seems like young creatives cannot afford to be picky about their first job nowadays. Yet we shall all have ideas where we'd like to work – and there are a lot of ways how to make that choice. I imagine many a creative is attracted by the glamorous name and the reputation of an ad shop and chooses the place they apply to by the name above the door. So were we. When we started out, we admired the coolest ones, always checking Campaign's new business charts, the award annuals and of course the recent work.

After some placements you realize that there's much more to it. Now there is one main criteria we're looking for in order judge whether a place is for us or not: a creative (director, or team) we can learn from. I think that's the critical point when you start out in this business, to find someone who can act as a mentor and help you moulding your potential and make you a better advertiser. A creative whose opinion you can absolutely trust and seek out if needed. Not someone who solves your problems, but rather helps to find the solution yourself. Finding such a person is not as easy as it seems and once you find that mentor, showing them enthusiasm and hunger is the real challenge.

When we look at an agency, we do not care about the name above the door. It is a only an indicator for where the great people are. We care more about the one person that can teach us to reach the next level – a creative sensei. Scamp and Dave Trott are great examples for this breed of advertiser. We're interested in your thoughts. Do you know more creatives like that? Or have you found your sensei already?

The big guys

Let's see what the advertising god themselves have to say about the first job, the portfolio and dedication, all things which are discussed in the thread below. Black Bag, a worldwide creative recruitment agency interviewed some of the finest creatives about a career in advertising. These bits I like best:

“…The only thing I know is that if you want to make money one day, the only thing people are paying for in this industry, is the quality of your portfolio. It’s up to anyone to decide at what moment they want to move for money, but obviously, the more you work, the better your portfolio is. The best one you can get. It’s as simple as that. People will be ready to pay you because you’re the star of the moment or whatever, but at the end of the day, invest in your portfolio and one day you’ll be able to do exactly what you want. You’ll have the freedom to choose the agency, freedom to move from one country or another or the freedom to get lots of money. Portfolio means money.”

“…I'm a really big believer that your first or second job can really make who you are. You can be really imaginative but if you get bad Creative Directors at the beginning of your career they can point you in the wrong direction and make you do hack work and you may never get it back.”

"If I am gonna to be in this industry I wanna be the best at it. You can't guarantee that you're the most talented, I mean that's something I couldn't guarantee. But I could guarantee that I'd work harder than anybody else. For the first six or seven years, which is terribly for my social life, I'd probably slept in the agency two or three nights a week. I would work as long as it took. I forced myself to write as many ideas as I possibly could. So I would do stupid things like, I'd get layout pads and fill it with a hundred squares. Like post-it notes. And I couldn't leave until I filled each box with an idea, even if I loved the first idea."

Have a look at their site Diary of a Creative Director for more interviews.

We want it, We'll get it

Phew, lots of comments on here recently. We read all of them and appreciate them.

We started this blog as a team to create a platform for us to keep track of our doings, to keep us looking around, to keep us exploring, to keep us writing & thinking. Perhaps it hasn't worked out as planned. Or maybe it worked too well? At some point a lot of people started tuning in. We think it was around the time we started getting our first placement offers. A conversation with you started. And we've been pretty surprised by it. There's no need to recap what was said on the comments, however it's been a lot of everything. We enjoyed it at times, and hated it at others. It seemed more of you were interested in comments then in the things we were actually writing.

Here's the most important thing we took away from it:

Our book isn't strong enough yet, the strategies could be far stronger. Yet it's nothing new, as we both know that we can do better. For us it's a constant process of improving the portfolio, and never to stop doing so because we'll never be satisfied with it. Admittedly we do slow down at times, as we're constantly doing placements. And they always take priority.

It's tough to work all day at the agency and work on the portfolio at night. Yet that's no excuse. In fact that's the main reason we went for the D&AD workshop in the first place. We wanted to have deadlines for ourselves that we had to keep hitting on the side of agency work. But it turns out that the briefs for the workshops aren't as portfolio friendly as we thought (more on this in a later post).

We need to and want to get better, constantly. All creative teams need to. It's our last day at adam&eve today. We haven't got anything lined up. So that gives us this weekend to work out a plan and refine it next week on where to go on from here. We want to make our strategies stronger, make our book more interesting and develop into a better creative team. From what we can gather hardly any agencies are hiring at the moment. So the only way in for us is to be better. We need to make them want to hire. That's what we're going to tackle. There's no shortcut, it'll always be hard work and it will demand a lot of time. We haven't had the luxury to create a book together at college, so we need to be quicker as well. If you like, stick with us and give us a hand. As long as you stay constructive, you're more than welcome.

It's gonna be a fun ride.

It's all about the book

OK, I've been around for some time, and things have changed. I think the portfolio of a young creative team is more important then ever. A year ago when I was doing the rounds with my former partner it seemed the book was a key to a placement. You just need it to get in and then it's up to you to crack the agency briefs and show you are hard working and can do something no one else does in the department to get hire.

But getting a placement isn't enough anymore. We had a chat with a great talent hunter this week and we came to the conclusion that it is really hard to find a place that hires at the moment. Most places are filled with placement teams that have been around and are cracking one brief after another. So finding an agency without a 'placement history' is hardly possible, and if you find one, it's going to be one that's not particularly good.

You need a Rock n'Roll book. One that flashes hard. Before starting the placement you need to appear as the hottest team since Tefal's thermo spot. Making a list of agencies that are likely to hire is a waste of time. You need to have a portfolio that gets people dripping. Fuck the credit crunch, if you are good you will get hired, if not, you will be placementing around. It's all about the book, more than ever. But then again, it always was all about the work, no matter the right place at the right time, no matter if you have a blog or not, if you're good – then you will rock.

Door to stupidity

Back in the day when we used to visit W+K with our portfolio we never managed to open the door on the first attempt, consequently we felt a bit stupid. I mean it’s only a glass door with a plus-shaped handle and a buzzer on the right side which once rung informs Holly who then opens you the door to their Shangri-La. Now, normally you would push the door open because that's how doors are opened, but not this one.

As far as we know Wieden+Kennedy has the one single door in the industry that opens the other way.

You have to pull it, sounds simple but it's quite unnatural. Honestly said it was a bit annoying as we looked like a pair of idiots rigorously trying to push a door open when all it needed was a little pull.

Perhaps it’s just us and we’re a bit slow, but we’d like to believe it fits with their motto of walking in stupid every morning.

It’s our third day and we’ve just about got used to it. Now we thought wouldn't it be great if the door had a shuffle mechanism that would always change the direction the door has to be opened? That would be so stupidly great.

Leo Playground

When we started the Leo Lab we were told it's was going to be a period of live briefs to gather experience. In the beginning it was pretty much what they promised. Now things have changed. All three Leo Lab teams were gathered on Tuesday for a meeting. The creative leadership wants to change the direction of the Leo Lab - instead of putting us on daily work briefs that need solving and have lots of limitations we are asked to do stuff that's 'really great'. Literally Leo Burnett's client list is our brief, pick a brand, do something great for it. Sounds good to us. It lowers the chances of getting work out, but if something does get through, it'll be pretty damn good.

We think it's a great way of using placement teams, agencies have enough teams who can crack briefs and please clients. Seems like they want a team who will challenge the norm. Exciting times for us.

What would you prefer? Getting the real briefs? Or working on whatever you like, trying to turn it into something amazing? The Leo Lab experiment commences.

Six weeks at Lowe

We had a brilliant last Friday at Lowe, cheers fellas. Today we've been reflecting on our six weeks there and here is what we walked away with. A big thanks to everyone at Lowe, Take CARE.
  • Considering how much effort goes into coming up with an idea, we've learnt it takes just as much, if not more, to hang onto it. We've learnt ideas don't take care of themselves and although it would be a lot easier to just let them go, it's just not worth the agony after. Note to self, take care of your work.

  • We were surrounded by truly brilliant creatives and it was really easy to feel intimidated but you just cant afford to let that happen. For one, they'll never know who we are and more importantly, we won't know them. It's important that we make the most of these opportunities and these people. Pick their brains whenever we can, wherever we can. We learned more in five minutes chatting with Lowe's creatives than we did in a whole day spent with a brief behind our desks.

  • Fair enough, getting stuff run was great, but it wasn't brilliant. We crafted work to tick everyones boxes - and forgot about ours. Granted, that got us from A to B, but in the long run it's not something we'll be telling the grand kids about. So now - we'd rather focus on doing great work rather than getting work out.

  • One thing we noticed was, we spent ludicrous amounts of time 'answering' a brief only to have the solutions skimmed over. It was strange, but the ideas that got the attention were the ones, that were a little whack. Lesson, don't stick to the brief, or you might miss out on something.

Not thinking, doing

Advertising. We read about it. We watch it. Care about it. We make it. We're interested in reviewing ads, discussing them, liking them or hating 'em. Lately I noticed I care a small but unhealthy amount too much about this business. I try too hard…

It's like being 25 and having an idea what advertising is. Frankly, I shouldn't have an idea what advertising is. And I shouldn't care about finding out.

It's the hardest thing to obtain the view of a child again. To forget the textbooks and stop being a schoolboy. I'm not talking about going cold turkey on campaign magazine. The key shall not lie within ignorance but rather in an open mind for other things. Seeing more, and most importantly doing more. Not thinking, doing. Stuff. Whatever. But doing. Let's see where that takes me.

Creative Portfolio 2.0

Okay, sorry for trying to raise the coolness factor of my topic with that number .0 thingy. It just fits and there is no other clever name for it – yet.

I'm thinking of setting up another blog dedicated to the development of a new creative portfolio. A blog that would establish a platform for an interactive online portfolio review.

It would start with the choice of brands along with the first thoughts. It would contain relevant research and links for the chosen topics. Propositions, strategies as well as first creative ideas would come next, followed by executions of the thoughts and media thinking.

During this whole process people are invited to leave comments to improve the ideas or point out weaknesses. The blog could function as documentation of the work in progress. As an application tool it shows one's thinking and what happened between the first idea and the finished campaign.

Of course there are down sides to this idea. Would people comment? This depends on the quality of thinking and the consideration of improvements.

Does this makes sense?