It's one of those days again
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.
Copywriter Robin Stam defies rules, challenges conventions and loathes the status quo in advertising. After five hectic years in Dutch advertising he studied at the Miami Ad School in Hamburg and worked at Duval Guillaume Brussels. Now he's back in Holland again to work for Lemz Amsterdam.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.