Friday, November 18, 2005

My first letter to Miami Ad School

When I applied for the Miami Ad School, I had to send a letter to apply for a scholarship as well. It's probably my best copy ever. It's honest, direct and I was not afraid to put myself in a vulnerable position. And it was effective: I am one of the ten lucky people who was admitted for this quarter and I got the badly needed scholarship. Classes start in January and from then on you can read all about my adventures. Until then, here's the one letter that started it all:

Dear Niklas,

I red on the website that you like misfits. If that’s true, you’ll probably going to like me because I’m probably the biggest misfit of all. Here’s my story.

The start of my career was explosive. During my study copywriting, I did an internship at Y&R and before I even graduated, I got a job at McCann-Erickson. Together with my former art-director Peter van der Helm, I won a big pitch for Fanta in the first week I worked there. That was only the beginning. We won a silver lamp (creativity prize), a bronze esprix (direct marketing prize) and we got nominations for the Eurobest and Epica. Besides that, we made a lot of television commercials for clients such as Fanta, Magnum and the Bulldog. Because of one of our commercials for Fanta Holland, Fanta France even became client of McCann Holland. That year, we were chosen to represent Holland for the Young Creatives competition in Cannes. Our salary got higher and higher, we made a lot of work, we won prizes; it couldn’t get any better. We thought we had it made.

Until a new creative director came to work at McCann. We got into an argument with him and we got fired. I thought we’d get a job in no time. Unfortunately, it was recession and our attempts to get a job resulted in one failure after another. Sometimes we did some freelance jobs, but it wasn’t enough and we didn’t make enough good work. After more than a year, Peter wanted to start his own agency. I wasn’t ready to start my own agency because I wanted to improve myself more. So I started looking for a job on my own.

Everywhere I show my portfolio now, agencies think I’m a bit of a risk. Mediocre companies consider me as overqualified and they think I’ll leave soon (I have the e-mails to prove it). Top companies consider me as promising, but not good enough to offer me a job. So it seems there’s no company I really fit in. Now I’m working at a call centre just to be able to pay the rent. Sometimes I get a freelance job at a company and I did make a lot of good work recently but it’s just not enough and I’m not happy. I realize that if I just get a chance at an agency, I’d become the success I always want to be. But I tried getting a job for too long now. For a long time I thought that I was the problem, and that my work was the problem. Even though the best creative directors like my work. Even though I love advertising so much. Then I realised that my country is just too small. Holland hasn’t been much of a winner in Cannes anyway (except for 180 and Wieden & Kennedy, but I don’t consider them Dutch agencies). I have to break loose and go into Europe. I thought: what is it that I really want? I don’t need money. I don’t need a big apartment. I just want to make a lot of work and learn from the best teachers in the world. That’s when I realized I had to go to the Miami Ad School.

When I talk to others about it, people share my enthusiasm. Although some people think I don’t need any more education. I totally disagree. The first step to improve yourself is to know what you don’t know. I think there’s enough I don’t know. I want a new start. A good one. I want to make a brand new portfolio filled only with new work. Better work. With all my preliminary experience, I think I’ll be able to excel at the Miami Ad School. My bank account is about zero right now, but I want it really really bad. And despite all the disappointments I still believe that if you want something really really bad, it’s possible. I’d sell all the furniture in my house to be able to pay the classes. I’m not going to need all my furniture in Hamburg anyway. I’d even sell my turntables if I have to (well, it would be an emergency option, but that’s what I’m willing to do if I must).

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to make it without financial help. That’s why I need a scholarship. If it’s possible to get one, I’ll do anything to get the rest of the money. I’m already looking what my belongings are worth, I’m looking for loans and I’m going to beg for more freelance jobs. I’m determined, because I want to be among the best in advertising. This ambition drove me to your school and I hope that this ambition, combined with my work and my letters of recommendation give you enough reason to grant me a scholarship. I’ve had success, I’ve had disappointment, now the only thing this misfit wants is a chance.

Thanks in advance,

Robin Stam