Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How does one put a book together in the year 2008?

I'm a book junkie. Doesn't matter if I am happy where I am or not. I'm always replacing and reordering campaigns. Other people watch TV. Me, I look at my book and wonder how much it sucks.

Take the ad that illustrates this post. One of the last I wrote at TT&D. It's kind of cool. Especially for the alpha-mom target. Then again, it's just headline - photo - copy - logo. Couldn't it've been a little rougher around the edges? Should I put it in my book? And if so, what should I kill to make room for it?

But I digress.

Because what's really bugging me is how to display stuff like web banners, integrated storytelling, and nontraditional media.

Like the Regis stuff we did. I love the heck out of it. Because it wasn't just a print campaign. It was an attempt to build a relationship using a mixture of wild postings, SMS and student-generated content.

What does that look like in my book?

Or our new web banners for Denver Tourism. Some cool, fun rich media executions. But you really need to play with them to appreciate them.

When I got out of ad school in 2000, you could flip through my book in 60 seconds flat and decide whether you wanted to interview me. Now, it takes 60 seconds just to explain some of my work. ("See, when the page loads, it looks like this. But then when you roll over this banner, suddenly this other banner expands and becomes a game...")

I considered divvying things up. Print in a PDF, video as an Quicktime movie, sound as an .mp3, and digital on a website. But it felt clumsy. Worse, it lessens the power of the integrated campaigns I am proudest of.

I also considered abandoning my book altogether, and just posting my favorite stuff here on my blog. But I'm not sure that the world is ready for that sort of approach. I know that when Karsh looks for new creatives, we ask for physical books we can flip through and sort into Yes, Maybe and Hack piles.

I'm not the only one struggling with the issue of building the perfect portfolio. Astheria (via my fave anonymous ad geeks) did a non-scientific study which concluded that all online portfolios suck, always.

Sigh. Being good is hard enough. Do I still have to figure out how to prove it to complete strangers, too?


Anonymous said...

Great post, Matt. This issue has taken several thousand brain cells of mine as well.

I think this issue is what stunts many creatives from leaping from traditional print/out-of-home stuff into the brave new world of media. Every time you execute something...there is a second where you envision it in your book. If you can't, you hesistate. A bad habit, but I think most creatives do this.

One answer may lie in The Denver 50, something you may know about. The descriptions I believe can deliver an idea.

Early in our careers, when print was the mainstay, we were told the ads should stand on their own without descriptions. When Sukle won at the 50 for the Denver Water Board, their description stated "If it's a big idea, does it really need a 100-word description?" I think it does...if it needs it. Granted, Denver Water was a big idea based mostly around traditional media we all know, so a description for them would be unnecessary. For other ideas, like the iRovr or HP Days to Dream, you need to tell how they work.

If a CD is serious about me, they will take the time to understand and even ask questions. If they think it's hogwash...do I really want to work for him or her?

I'm like you. I think a LOT about my book. What goes in? What order? Is it a simple read?

I use to be huge on print. HUGE. Now I'm just trying to make a fun roller coaster out of it. I start off with a funny, award-winning print campaign. Then a one-off on downloadable golf cards from a microsite. Then a serious campaign showing out-of-home, a Facebook application, a Google Map application and direct mail. And so forth. I plan on adding descriptions (maybe two sentences at the most) on that last one.

I'm also slowly dissecting my print portfolio and opting for a more electronic version. I never liked the idea of having a print portfolio and a reel. I wish the two could co-exist. Print and reels are easy to assemble and dissasemble whereas creating a CD/DVD is expensive, complicated, and as soon as you get something new, suddenly its obsolete.

Phew. Sorry for the rambling, but hey, it's fun to think about.


300 Spartans Gym said...


Thanks for the post. The Denver 50 requires written descriptions of the idea because these days, many ideas are open-ended. Individual executions in a campaign like Beta 7 (for instance) may be confusing. It's when you realize the depth of the storytelling that the campaign comes to life. TD50 is set up to reward ideas like that in a way that no other show in America can.

patrick c. said...

great post matt. reminds me that i need to look harder at my own book (as much as i don't want to).