Now that Spring is (legitimately) here, students everywhere are ramping up for those last few weeks before graduation. Working at a branding and design agency down the street from VCU and the VCU Brandcenter, it got me thinking about advertising majors, specifically. Whether they're getting their Bachelor's degree at VCU or getting ready to graduate from the Brandcenter, what tips do these individuals need as they enter the world of Advertising?
That led me to a delightful chat with Cabell Harris, founder and owner of WORK Labs, and my boss. Over a cup of coffee, I asked Cabell a few questions I thought would appeal and assist students of advertising. So, over the next few weeks, I will be dispensing his words of wisdom.
The first bit of advice wasn't advice, but a chart on how to judge creative. Given to him by Ty Montegue, formally with Jay Walter Thompson, this chart is an objective tool to judge work (even your own), allowing you to be honest and to think critically about that piece of work with 10 separate categories, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best. For Cabell, this chart worked so well to defend his thoughts on individual projects, that he used it while grading students at the VCU Brandcenter. Saying he "liked" or "didn't like" a student's work was not enough, he needed to be able to explain why.
So what about advertising currently out there? Cabell said the majority, sadly, fall under numbers 1, 2, and 3, and that even mainstream advertising with some of the top agencies in the world, still tend to rank around numbers 4 & 5, while only a small percentage hit numbers 6 & 7.
So for Cabell, what hit on numbers 8, 9, and 10?
Market Leading (8) and World Class (9):
As far as leading the market, Geico comes to mind. Face it, if I asked you to think of a car insurance company, let alone, a car insurance commercial, they'd be the first to pop in your head. Nike is another leader in their market and has been for a very long time. While they are, unfortunately, often mimicked to the point that they may no longer appear innovative, Nike set the bar as a brand, and a pretty high bar it was.
World Beating (10):
Making it all the way to number 10? I'm sure you've guessed at least one of these. Apple, specifically their Think Different campaign, http://www.thecrazyones.it/spot-en.html, the "What's Up" ads from Budweiser, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkqKzqyvebg, and the Great American Heros" ads from BudLight, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzOjt1e5W8c. These are the commercials people talked about at the water cooler. The ads that made you, as Apple commanded, think differently. These are the ads that aren't just liked by the viewer. They are smart, creatively and strategically.
So as a student or a new employee in advertising, take this chart. Ask yourself where your work lands on this list. If your work can't make it to at least number 4, it's time to go back to the drawing board. You are not just selling a client's product. You are a Creative. Be creative. And hold yourself accountable for your work.