Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's one of those days again

Today the adapter of my laptop broke down. Costs for a new one: 60 euro's. I found out I didn't win anything at the German student competition of the ADC. A ticket to Berlin for this weekend costed me more than I expected. Brainstorming went so bad I considered it a waste of time. I missed my subway train by 10 seconds. I worked on Illustrator but Illustrator didn't work with me so I worked until 1:30 in the evening to make something really simple...

I guess it's life's way of compensating for the great weekend that I had. The rest of the week can only get better.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Salvatore and me partying in the weekend

In the Miami Ad School it is not an option to put your work in a ready made portfolio. It's mandatory to make a book yourself. In the beginning of the quarter our headmaster Niklas asked us to come up with an idea for the book. In other words: I'm not allowed to use just blank pages, but the whole book has to reflect my personality.

This is actually the most difficult task of the whole quarter. Because in the end the most demanding, careful and skeptic client is me myself and I. Self-promotion always seems to be a difficult task and even the best agencies seem unable to do it. That explains why websites of agencies are either boring or always under construction.

As for the book: it's scary as hell to think of a concept that will bind together 2 years of Miami Ad School. If there's no idea in it, Niklas won't accept it and if the idea is too good, it will draw away attention from the actual work.

It wasn't easy to come up with something, but I finally thought of something I feel comfortable with. I'm not going to tell the concept yet, but it has something to do with music and my DJ background. I think that music (if made with passion and not just for making money) is one of the purest forms of creativity. There seem to be no limitations for making music. As long as it's a collection of sounds that is structured, it is called music. So within this 'limitation' you've got all the freedom to express yourself.

And music has been important for me. I need a good party in the weekend to set my mind on something else. Prevents me from going crazy. And the better the music, the better my mood (beer also helps a lot, but if there's no music I can drink all the beer in the pub but I won't like it there). Thursday I went to a concert of the German/French electro-pop band Stereo Total. And on Saturday I went to Gruene Jaeger, an alternative club in the Schanze. Because of this, I'm quite tired now. But at least tomorrow I can work on my book again knowing that I got all out of my spare time in the weekend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quarter away: a never ending story

Today we had to tell the whole school about our quarter away experiences. Most of the students have to do an internship or follow a school program abroad, so we tried to explain as much as possible about the advantages and the disadvantages of each city and agency.

We had two hours to tell about it. So every student had about 15 minutes of fame. It seems like you can tell a lot and show a lot of pictures in 15 minutes. So we went as fast as possible through 3/4 of a year. I told a lot and so did my classmates. But somehow, afterwards I got the strange feeling that I forgot to tell most of it. No matter how many experiences you put in a presentable order, I have the impression that I haven't even told 10% of what I should have told to give a clear understanding of how any of my quarter aways must have been.

Being a creative is being in a constant state of insecurity about your work, so I immediately started thinking about what I did wrong. But as I started writing this post, I started thinking of what all the other students told when I was in my first year of Miami Ad School. Did they tell an interesting story about their quarter away experiences? Definitely. Was any of my quarter away experiences what I thought it would be because of one of these presentations? Not at all.

To all Miami Ad School students who heard me and the other 8th quarters talk about their quarter away experiences: it's not going to be like that. For you it's going to be all different. As soon as you step out of the plane in an unknown destination you won't know what hit you. But that's also the exciting about it. You'll come back with tons of impressions. And you won't have the time to tell all of them.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Contact with Miami

Ron Seichrist is judging work in Hamburg over the videoscreen

If you've read the earliest posts of my blog, you know that in the first quarter every student at the Miami Ad School has to make soccer posters. The assignment is simple: make a poster that motivates people to play soccer at Moorweide on Sunday. It's a Miami Ad School tradition that originally comes from the first school in Miami.

When I came back to the Hamburg school, I saw a videoscreen upstairs. This screen is connected to the Miami school and people can talk live with students there. It's like an ongoing webcam that connects the students from Hamburg with the students at the other side of the ocean. So when we walk upstairs we often wave at the people in America.

On Thursday the first soccerposters had to be judged and for the very first time, the judging had been done by none other than Ron Seichrist, the founder of the Miami Ad School and headmaster of the original Miami school. So the students presented their posters one by one to Ron Seichrist in Miami.

I've never seen a presentation like this before. The technique was there before, but the fact that this is now accessible to schools means that it's possible for agencies as well. Soon every agency will be able to communicate directly with clients on the other side of the world. Can you imagine what opportunites this brings? Creative minds all over the world can directly brainstorm with each other or look at each others work, agencies can open anywhere. Yes, you could always send work by e-mail, but the direct contact was still missing.

This video session probably had a great effect on the students. There wasn't one bad soccer poster. All of the posters had one simple message in it. If technique is used in the right way, it can give an awesome boost to creativity.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Look at me!"

Posters made for Outdoor advertising class

The cardboard dolls were already in the school, so why not put your picture on it?

This week our headmaster Niklas came back and he looked at all of our work on the portfolio wall. He gave us some advises and whether you agree with him or not, he always sets you to think about the work that you're about to put in the final portfolio.

There's two types of work on my wall right now: work that everybody totally loves, but I've got only 2 campaigns and 2 one offs in that category. The rest is work that is generally considered good, but not everybody likes it. And those are the campaigns that can still be replaced by something else. In the end you're just looking at what fits the best or what lacks in the overall portfolio. I just hung up a new copy campaign because of that.

What's great about the Miami Ad School is that there's always a vibe of working and students do all sorts of crazy stuff for classes. For the outdoor advertising class the students got a really cool assignment. Their teachers told everybody which route they follow when they go from their work to school and the students have to put work on that route. If the teachers notice the ad, it's a sign that it did its job.

So right now Hamburg is polluted with posters and stickers with the names of the students. There was even somebody who put advertising on the back of his Vespa and tried to drive in front of the teacher's car. I don't know if they succeeded, but it's an interesting idea. And of course the teachers walk into the school, so the front door of the school was full of posters with faces of students. There was even a poster of four metre hanging out of the window.

Nobody's going to put work like that in his portfolio, but for educational purposes it works. The point of the teachers is to let the students experience for themselves what works and what doesn't work in outdoor advertising. They've probably heard by now that noboby's going to see an A3 poster hanging in a tree when you're driving 50 kilometres an hour. On Thursday the first soccer posters will be reviewed by Niklas, so by now everybody is probably cutting and glueing posters again. The work never stops here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


This whole week has been a week of deja vu's. Everywhere I go, every station I'm getting out, every street I'm walking, every club I'm going, I've been there before. And it's great to see it again. Every once in a while I also see former Miami Ad School students. Today former student Lennart walked into a coffee bar where Salvatore and I were drinking a cappuccino. And a couple of days ago Marius and Charles came to school and showed us one of the weirdest portfolio's I've every seen. Some stuff they made makes no sense at all in a traditional way of thinking, but it's damn funny. And in every ad you can just feel the fun they must have had making it.

The risk of working in advertising as a creative is that you tend to think too much about selling the product. Of course, in the end that's what you want to achieve. But in order to sell the product, you have to be original and entertaining first. If a salesman comes to your door wearing a tie, you might slam the door in his face before he can even finish his first sentence. If, however the same salesman is dressed up like a clown, he grabs your attention and you're more likely to find out what he has to offer. It's that simple.

I think agencies often make the mistake that the main objective of a creative is to sell the product. It's not. The actual selling happens in the store and there are no creatives behind the counter. If you're interrupting someone's favorite TV show you better be really entertaining to make sure he watches your commercial instead of walking to the kitchen to make coffee. The power of advertising is that it can give a brand a sympathetic face, it can make people feel passionate about a package of butter. And when a product has become like a friend, consumers are more likely to buy it next time they're in the stores; even if it's more expensive than other products.

A creative who really understands the value of entertainment in advertising is my former teammate Daniel Serrano. His work is among the absolute top of the Miami Ad School and when you look at his portfolio you know that there's passion behind every piece of work. There's even a good idea in the portfolio itself. Take a look at his work here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Back in Miami Ad School

Behind Salvatore there's my own portfolio wall

After 9 months I'm back in Hamburg again. The city is like a second home to me, so I'm in a really trusted environment again. The good old school building is still the good old school buiding, but it's filled with new people now. So during the first meeting I saw about 50 new faces with about 50 new names. And because I'm bad at remembering names, it will probably take me the whole quarter to remember every one of them.

But in the meanwhile I've got more important things to do than to remember names. This is the last quarter. The quarter where we have our own room on the top floor where we have to hang up all the work we've made in the Miami Ad School so far. So I'm busy making the last changes, printing out campaigns and begging former teampartners over the e-mail to send work.

Everything is pretty relaxed right now. We have all the time to help each other with choosing the right work and to look at the details in our own work (I've found a tiny mistake in a long copy campaign that I've been working on for more than a year. It makes me realize that a campaign is never finished). Pretty soon we'll get three assignments from three different agencies, so I think from that moment on it's done with the rest and we'll all dive in the great whirlpool of Miami Ad School working pressure for the last time.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Home sweet Hamburg

This week probably some friends of mine will call my parents because they heard I'm back in Alkmaar again. And then my parents have to say I'm in Hamburg again. It happened before and it will happen this week for sure. Because this was my shortest break in Alkmaar so far: 12 days; and 3 of these days I spent in Amsterdam and in the Northsea trying to keep my balance on a surfboard. I feel ashamed for being there so short and hereby I apologize to everyone I didn't call or didn't call back to meet.

Strange, I could have gone to Hamburg on Sunday, cause the school starts on Monday. So why didn't I do that? Here's why. On Friday some friends call me and I go to the pub and drink beer.
Saturday night is my last night so I go to the pub and drink beer. So on Sunday I sit in the train to Hamburg with a hangover. Add to that the fact that I didn't feel 100% healthy anyway. I almost got a flu and I'm still sneezing all the time. So on Monday I'd have gone to school looking like a zombie with a snotty nose. So when I heard that I could get into my apartment immediately, I didn't hesitate for too long. Instinctively I was looking forward to go to Hamburg earlier so I have a couple of days extra to get used to my new situation.

I arrived today in my new apartment in Hamburg at 18.00. I put my stuff down. I did some groceries. I checked my e-mails. And for the rest I have nothing to do. I'm bored. And now I realize that I haven't been bored for a long time. It feels great to have nothing to do. Until Monday I have nothing to worry about but to blow my nose every time I sneeze.

And the apartment is even better than I imagined. It's bigger than any apartment I've ever had and it's on walking distance from St. Pauli, the party neighborhood of Hamburg. I told Dominik that I can't thank him enough for putting so much time in arranging my new apartment. So hereby, I'm going to thank him again. The great work Dominik has made in the Miami Ad School combined with his instinctive drive to help people will bring him far in advertising. Because in a world where envy and backstabbing seems to be the norm, it's the people you can rely on that you want to hire.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New work from New York

Text on cup: Folgers. Tolerate mornings.

Text on cup: Folgers. Tolerate mornings.

Text on cup: Folgers. Tolerate mornings.

Time to show some work. I was doubting between showing recent work I've made at Saatchi NY and a campaign I've made 2,5 years ago to boycot oil company Total for its commercial activities in Burma (or Myanmar). The reason I wanted to show the Burma campaign was because since the demonstrations in the country it has become a big issue. It's about time the world knows about the suffering of the Burmese citizens under the military regime.

But I'm not a politician. And I don't think it's good to show work I won't put in my portfolio anymore. So above you can see a print campaign for coffee brand Folgers. It's meant to be a follow up of an earlier campaign, which also featured an alarm clock.

A good thing about this campaign was that everybody at Saatchi thought it was pretty good. The problem was that not everybody thought it was excellent. And because the last Folgers print campaign won a Cannes Lion the benchmark for the next print campaign has gone up and this campaign didn't stand a chance.

It was dissapointing that a campaign gets killed for that reason, but it happened more often during the internship. Nevertheless, this campaign was hanging on the wall during the whole quarter. And during that quarter my art-director Julien and I stayed amused by the simple truth this campaign tells us about mornings. So after two months and hundreds of new scribbles we still liked it. And it is very campaignable. During our internship we kept on "exploring the reach of the concept" and we made a radiocommercial, TV-commercial, outdoor spectacular and online campaign. Whether this work stays in my portfolio depends on the reactions of others, so don't hestitate to give your comments.