Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Portfolio Robin Stam
In Stockholm we had to start with 50 campaigns for the class of Tim Zastera and Patrick Herald (Tim & Padi). In the first round of 50 campaigns the two teachers picked out only one ad. Then in the one of the last classes they said that if we want to show some extra work for clients we like, we could bring it the next week. Me and my art-director Andres decided to make another 50 campaigns(!) When we told Tim and Padi the next lesson that we did the 50 campaigns again, they thought we were kidding. But when we showed them the pile of work, they knew we were serious.
This campaign started with a one off. My teampartner Andres told me about an idea for an ad he once had in class about using a water cycle starting with somebody sitting on the toilet. I thought the ad didn’t make sense at all, but I had to laugh so hard that I thought: there might be something in it. Tim and Padi thought so as well, but they told us that it’s worth to think of a second and a third idea.
We decided to think about another ad separately. One day, when I was walking at a peaceful lake in the woods, I suddenly came up with the second ad (the one with the ashes). A third one was too difficult. So officially it’s no campaign, but I think these two are strong enough already. Better have two perfect ads than adding a third one for the heck of making a campaign.
The media idea for this ad was made before. When I was in Italy, I made about ten pages full of media ideas and one of them was a poster that’s slightly out of its frame. I just didn’t know yet what to use it for. So when me and Alexander Carls worked on a D&AD briefing to make an outdoor ad for homeless organization Shelter, it totally made sense to use this idea.
As soon as the idea was approved by Jan and Dörthe from Jung von Matt, we started working on it. And we worked on it the entire quarter to make the idea perfect. As a result, we got a nomination at the D&AD student awards.
How do you deal with clients that you don’t believe in? Very simple, don’t waste time nagging about it and just do the job! When Andres and I got the assignment from Tim and Padi to make a anti-smoking campaign that prevents teenagers from smoking, I thought it was quite interesting. I mean, I’m a smoker. I don’t smoke a lot, but I smoke with conviction. So if I manage to find something that would make me think about smoking, it must be quite convincing.
We first thought of doing something with the typical excuses that smokers have when they want to quit. And then we put it in a timeline to show that a lot of smokers follow the same pattern of quitting and that most of them fail. The quotes are both recognizable for smokers and a good warning for teenagers who think of starting.
No, it’s not a typical ad for teenagers. We could also make a hip-hop song about how bad it is to smoke. But we chose to treat teenagers like adults. The way they want to be treated.
TV commercial Vertigo
My assignment for Vertigo lollypops was one of the most fun, but also one of the most difficult assignments ever. Art-director Daniel Serrano and I worked on this assignment night and day and only after having about 50 ideas, we started to go in the right direction. The reason that Vertigo (and all candy clients) are so difficult is because if you want to do it right, you have to let go of all reason. Skittles is a good example of how it should be.
I think we didn’t make it to the level of the brilliant Skittles campaign made by TBWA/Chiat Day, but we’ve managed to come a long way. Besides, the commercial gives a funny note to my portfolio. It was executed by an animation artist from England called Cyriak and broadcasted in different parts of Europe.
Some advertising just works when you’ve done it for real. This one is that type of advertising. At student awards it doesn’t get attention because it raises a lot of questions: does such a product really exists? Is it possible to send this DVD by normal post? It isn’t an idea that you get after two seconds, but it’s probably the simplest way to promote a scratchproof DVD.
The reason I have it in my portfolio is because it’s such a simple idea. And direct mails will always be difficult in a student portfolio. But the fact is, that agencies nowadays demand more from a creative than just making a nice TV commercial. So I think you need to have at least one DM-idea to show that you’re able to do it.
I made this idea together with Andres Maldonado in the class of Tim and Padi. From our first pile of 50 campaigns we made for this class, only this work was chosen.
There’s a story about this campaign on my blog already so I’m not going to repeat myself too much. This simple campaign is made at Saatchi New York. We don’t have a lot of other work from Saatchi, but that’s because a lot of work still has a chance to be made for real.
This print and radio campaign was part of a bigger, integrated campaign. For example, we also made a website where you can order the swearing alarm clock. I left the other ads out of my final book because visually all the ads look the same. Too much consistency doesn’t seem to work in a student portfolio because after the fifth page it gets boring.
Sometimes you have a campaign that people either love or hate. The reactions to this campaign varied so much that at one point I even considered leaving it out of my book. At Saatchi New York they all hate it. But… at Mother New York they love it. On adsoftheworld.com I nearly got death threats for making this campaign. But on newcreatives.com it became ‘best of’. And when I came back to Hamburg my headmaster Niklas and some creative directors from Jung von Matt love it. The reason that I kept it in is because I still love it, no matter what anybody else says. Is it stubborn? Well, it’s good to listen to opinions of experienced creative directors, but in the end you cannot satisfy anybody so then you have to go for ideas that you believe in yourself.
And there’s a big story behind it. I made this campaign with Andres Maldonado at the first assignment for our class at Saatchi Stockholm. Our teacher Adam Kerj picked this 360-idea out of 15 campaigns that we made for Lego. We kept working on this campaign during the whole quarter. It took us so much work that we didn’t make anything else for this class.
First of all we had to think of 3x50 ideas of what to do with just three Lego bricks. So Andres got his old Lego from the attic and we just started playing with it. Every time we had another creation we made a photograph of it and we named every file after what it’s supposed to be. And it became more difficult to come up with new ideas every time. In the end we were sitting in a coffee bar to come up with the last creations. You have to do weird stuff for the Miami Ad School sometimes, but I’m surprised that nobody called the lunatic asylum when they saw two fairly grown-up men playing with three Lego bricks and making pictures of them. These photographs were just examples. Later on a friend of Andres, who is a photographer, photographed all of the creations again in a studio. Andres once forgot one of the three bricks. So in the middle of the night I had to go to the other side of Stockholm to bring them. It must have looked like a dealing drugs at the station, but it was three Lego-bricks that we exchanged.
This campaign was spread on so many websites with (by mistake) the name of Saatchi Stockholm under it, that the Swedish agency got a phonecall from the client about it. There’s even an article about the campaign published in a French magazine.
Mass production works! Tim and Padi saw this idea in the second round of the 50 campaigns that Andres and I made in Stockholm and they wanted us to execute it. So in the last week in Stockholm we were working our asses off to make the Jewish star, shoot the photographs and Andres did and excellent job putting it in the right format. It’s hard to make a consistent ambient campaign, but with this campaign we prove we can do it. Some people think it’s too shocking. I think it’s even more shocking if people ignore what happened during World War 2.
Red Bull stunt helicopter
Lots of thanks to Tim and Padi again! This was made in an assignment for their class in Stockholm in which we had to make a campaign for a private helicopter. Besides a lot of complicated ideas, my art-director Andres Maldonado and I came up with this small ambient idea for a private helicopter that can fly upside down.
Tim and Padi told us to make it for a stunt helicopter show. I remembered that Red Bull happens to sponsor shows with stunt planes. Further investigation proved that they also have a show with helicopters. Yes, it’s kind of cheating to change a client, but that’s the freedom you have as a student.
This is probably the most amazing story behind all my work! It took me 1,5 year, the advice of 5 creative directors at three agencies to make this campaign as it is now. It started in long copy class. My teacher Christian Vosshagen from Scholz & Friends said the idea of responding to annoying spam mail is good, but the copy wasn’t good yet. He even refused it for the exhibition.
I left the campaign aside for a while. Then, by coincidence, I met an art-director from Scholz & Friends at a party (it was a coincidence, because the party had nothing to do with advertising). I told him I have long copy class from Christian. He told me he knows him and we got in a conversation. All of a sudden he said: “I heard from Christian that there was a student who made a campaign in which he replied to spam-mails”. I told him that I was that student and then I knew that I had to work further on the idea. Another teacher, Dennis Lueck, helped me to make the copy perfect, at Duval Guillaume the creative directors Peter and Katrien asked me to find a better pay-off and at Saatchi New York Icaro Doria told me I should put a color behind the copy. The last one was a small addition, but it’s an important one.
I couldn’t send it in for student awards because it’s been on its way to be produced for a long time now. But I don’t need an award to know that this is the best campaign in my book.
Kneipp Bedside lamp
This work took me actually 3 years to make. Long before the Miami Ad School I made an ad with only the tea label as a logo. It was an idea that’s not worth mentioning, but I mentioned it the day that my teammates Gunnar and Alex were brainstorming to come up with an idea for a tea brand. It was on a Saturday and we were working in a relaxed way because the weekend is for me a time that you should take it easy. All of a sudden, Alex mentioned that the tea label actually looks like a cord on a lamp. A minute later we all agreed on the best execution for this simple idea. I said: “wow, this is great guys. This is going to win awards”.
My teacher Philipp Barth from JvM believed in the idea as well and he wanted to find a client for it. So he went to Kneipp and sold the idea! There are actually two photographers in the credits. That’s because we first made the idea with one photographer, but Philipp wasn’t satisfied with it. He said that if the ad is going to be send in for Cannes, it has to be perfect. So Philipp found another photographer that did the final shooting in order to make this idea perfect. Half a year later I got a nomination in Cannes for it. I have to admit that it isn’t even my best work. It’s a cool, simple idea, but it’s a one off and the idea isn’t really new. Nevertheless, it’s an idea I’m really proud of and I thank my teampartners, Philipp Barth and everyone else who believed in the idea for making this ad possible.
Portfolio the movie
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The last post
It feels strange that my time at the Miami Ad School is almost at an end. Next week there are screenings from German agencies and on Thursday I will get my diploma. And when there's no amazing news anymore, this is going to be my last post of this blog. Because on Monday I'm going to use the space on my blog to show my final portfolio along with stories about how the work was made.
And I've decided not to continue with this blog anymore. The reason is that whatever I write after this is going to look pale compared to my time in the Miami Ad School. The adventure of living abroad for the first time, learning from great advertising minds and being in four different countries in one year for an internship or to follow classes; that's what drew about 30 visitors a day from all over the world to this blog. And this experience is never going to get back ever again. It's sad, but a new adventure is going to start at Duval Guillaume Brussels. I'm going to the same agency every day, back to the same city every day and to the same clubs every weekend; my life will finally be consistent. For me personally it's going to be an exciting time, but for others it's boring to read about the same thing every time.
But...I'm going to start a new blog. I don't know what it's going to be but I already know I want to do something completely different. I think it's going to be less about me and less about advertising, but more about creativity in general. I feel I have to start something new. It's going to start when I start my new job in Belgium and I'll put the new website on this blog before I'll start in Belgium on the 14th of January. Thank you for reading this blog and I hope you'll enjoy my final portfolio.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
From zero to hero
Most of the work is done. My portfolio is ready and I've made CD-Roms in the same style of my book. As I told before, the theme of my portfolio is music. The portfolio is in the shape of an album and vinyl records in the book are the chapters. And in the electronics store I actually found CD-Roms that look like vinyl records. Now that's a fortunate coincidence!
Last week I was interviewed by a Belgium newspaper called 'De Morgen'. Recently I got the article in my e-mail. The heading above it was 'From zero to advertising hero'. It's always funny to see what journalists write about you. That journalists can't always stay neutral is something I experienced after reading an article about my trip to Croatia.
The Belgium article about the Miami Ad School was painfully true though. When I read about my time before Miami Ad School, how the first two years as a copywriter were really succesful and how I fell into a deep hole the years after, I thought: ouch, this must sound really depressing. But it's the truth. It was depressing. In fact, it was even worse than the way it was was written there.
But then I read about the story of Menno Kluin. His story before the Miami Ad School is also full of dissapointment and shattered dreams of breaking through in advertising. And as lot of people know, Menno is right now one of the best creatives in the world. From zero to hero really fits in his story. Although I never considered him a zero, because when I first talked to him in the Young Dogs-bus to Cannes he already had the enthusiasm of a future hero.
My career has probably been one of the weirdest. It goes from hero to zero and back again. And it's definitely the Miami Ad School that brought me back on track. Some creatives from Holland might cynically argue that I bought myself back into advertising. They think I was already good when I applied for the school and that I just needed the network that the school provides me. I can tell for sure that that's not the case. All the work I made before, even the award winning work, fades away by the work that I have in my portfolio right now. And if you read all my posts you'll find out that it hasn't been easy.
There are more students in this school that were advertising underdogs before. And they are often the ones that become the best. Not because they were good before, but because they know what they're fighting for. They know what happens when you fail in advertising and they'll work twice as hard to make sure that doesn't happen. Only after you've been a zero you know what it really means to be a hero.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Portfolio is finished
It doesn't mean that I can stop working now. I'm still going to make CD's for the screenings, finish the copy for my blog, finish my YouTube-movie and prepare work for competitions. But the biggest amount of work is done now.
That isn't the case with the rest of the students here. Everybody is working like madmen/madwomen to finish all their work in time for the face 2 face week. I've already seen the first students with pale faces and bags under their eyes due to lack of sleep. Good luck to everybody and remember that all these sleepless nights and nonstop working are going to pay off some day. Because it's hard work that separates the good students from the excellent ones. So go for it and kick some ass!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
It's official now: from the 14th of January I'm going to work at Duval Guillaume Brussels. Today I signed the contract in Niklas' office and send it back to the agency by fax.
Why would I already sign a contract when in 1,5 weeks I have the opportunity to have screenings with all sorts of headhunters and recruiters from German agencies? The main reason is simply that Duval Guillaume competed out all possible competition.
This agency is among the best in the world, although not everybody knows it yet. Which is strange, because this year they won a total of three Cannes Lions and had 12 nominations. They recently won 4 Eurobest awards (I wasn't even nominated for that) and a golden Epica for an excellent print ad.
Now I know by now that awards are overrated. But during my internship I saw that besides winning awards the agency makes consistently good work for their clients. They manage to sell really creative work because the account managers and planners are better than in any agency I've ever worked for. And what's typical for a top agency: they have a no-nonsense mentality. Even thought they proved themselves in award shows, they still have the feeling that they are fighting.
And fighting spirit is what I like. Ever since my internship there they kept on calling me if I wanted to come to work for them. It was difficult, but everytime I had to tell them them I wanted to finish school first. The reason is that I didn't do this school in the first place to get a job. I started the Miami Ad School to develop my creativity to the limit and to have a goal that you're working towards for 2 years. Those were two opportunities that I couldn't get when I worked as a freelancer in Amsterdam.
In the beginning of this last quarter they called me again to say that there's a job opening. So after the negotiations about salary were done, it was pretty clear that this was the agency I'm going to.
Now if you've read the posts about my internship at Duval, you'll know that I hate Brussels, the city that the agency is in. That's why I've decided to live in Antwerp! I never minded travelling by train every day, people speak Dutch there and it's close to Holland so I can easily go back to my place of birth every once in a while.
So what am I still doing in school from early in the morning till the evening? Of course I'm working with the same motivation as ever to make my portfolio perfect. When you start something, you have to finish it. So today I brought the final version of my portfolio to the printer store and I think it will be finished on Monday. And of course I'm still going to the screenings. Only I'll be a little more relaxed.
Monday, December 03, 2007
To make the cd-cover, I first tried to work in a special cd-cover design software. But because the printers in school only work with a Mac, I'd have to find somebody who has exactly the same software. So I needed another way to make it. Today I found some cd-templates on internet so I can simply make the covers in Photoshop.
And then I wanted to use my old Avid software to edit the video-version. But the sound wasn't working! And that's not good in a portfolio that has 'music' as a theme. So instead of wasting an entire day to find the error, I downloaded a new video editing program, learned how to use the software while working with it and finished the first version of the small film. It will premiere soon on YouTube.
Things don't always go like you expect. That used to be an excuse for me to drop the whole project, but after two years in this school you learn how to cope with problems very fast. The famous director Orson Wells once wanted to make a shot from below, but he couldn't because the camera was too big. His solution was to demolisch the floor so the camera could stand in the preferred position. There are no problems, just solutions.