[Ed. - I wrote this post several months ago, halfway through the first semester of Next. After I was finished with the post, I saw the brief for the third project. It specifically asked for print and poster executions, which rendered most of what I'd written irrelevant. Blog post, meet drafts file. Since we're about to begin another semester, I decided to dig up my post and publish it today. Enjoy.]
We're through two cycles of Next. I've showed up at both presentations, although both times I've been late and angry when I walked through the door. Gregg and Norm are two of Denver's best, most insightful, most ethical creative directors. And I should probably keep my mouth shut and let them do the critiquing. But, meh.
At your presentations, I've seen kazillions of good ideas. New business ideas. Marketing ideas. Technology ideas. What I haven't seen much of is good advertising.
Understand that I mean advertising in the broadest possible sense. I'm not boring enough to demand you all come to your presentations armed with print campaigns. But street teams, websites, guerrilla demonstrations, branded content, posters, short films, stickers. Anything.
As junior creatives, your first brief is unlikely to read, "Come up with some cool new technologies our client could develop." If you are lucky, it'll read, "Our client has decided to launch Initiative A. How do we publicize it to Target B?" (More likely, it'll read, "Please write a mirror cling that families with the existing brand campaign.")
Maybe you want jobs on the client side, in the marketing department. Or maybe you want to be planners. But assuming you want to be creatives, you need to anchor every campaign with at least one tangible piece of communication. Something that shows you can concept, write and design. (In addition to coming up with iPhone apps.)
For instance, Fallon London's Tate Modern work hinged on a marketing idea. But that didn't stop the agency from creating posters like the one that illustrates this post, which I hijacked from Creative Review.
To get a job, you're going to need more than ideas for new marketing initiatives. You're going to need communication skills. You're also going to need books that can ride by themselves, without explanation.
I would love to see some work that doesn't require a long commentary. And that's my unasked-for advice. Create a thing, and make that thing awesome. So awesome you can tack it to the wall. And walk away.