To the Victor, Goes the Target Gift Card
Fall 2011: I’m in an advanced copywriting class. Our professors assign us clients, and my partner and I go toe to toe with rest of the class, showing off our radical ad campaigns that would never fly in the real world. These ads will go into a portfolio that, if deemed good enough, will get us jobs.
Fast forward to the present: Three years out of my alma mater, I’m a real life copywriter at a real life ad agency. I’m working on real client work, and I’ve even written a nationally aired radio spot. I thought my days of ad experimentation were over. Suddenly, much like one of my school professors, our agency Creative Director lays down an assignment to the three youngest members of the creative department. He calls it “Creative Director Gladiator School.”
We are each assigned a make-believe product from a real company. One is bite-size cheese in animal-shapes from Kraft. Another is a butter applicator pen from Land-O-Lakes. And lastly, a new caffeinated orange juice from Minute Maid. I draw the juice assignment.
We are each tasked to come up with a name, a logo, print and out-of-home ads, an Internet banner, and a thirty second TV commercial. We are to seek each other’s help in execution, but it’s each of our individual duty to come up with the concepts for the ads themselves. As a copywriter, I know only enough Photoshop to make tacky wallpapers, so I required design help from my peers, and in turn they looked to me for word-smithing. At the end of the exercise, there would be a winner among the three of us. One winner.
This was a very fun assignment for me in particular. Most days, I’m “only” a copywriter, but I also believe I have a knack for design. And in this creative showdown with the help of my fellow gladiators I was able to art direct. I would (very poorly) draw pictures with markers and crayons, take it to our graphic designers, and they would make it awesome.
Much like school, we experienced late nights working on our projects, but this time I wasn’t restricted to the windowless confines of the UNT computer lab. Life is about competition, even when you graduate to a real-life ad job, and I found the assignment very rewarding. I got to unleash some much-needed creativity that wasn’t hedged by specific client parameters.
All of our work led up to a presentation in front of a group of agency folks playing the role of “clients.” I found this just as rewarding as the actual work, as I got to practice my presentation skills in front of my coworkers, and actually try to sell my idea with something more on the line than a participation grade.
The three of us presented, the results were tallied, and one of the graphic designers came out of the Creative Coliseum as the champion. Their prize? A highly-coveted $50 gift card to Target.
So even though I already have my diploma and a job, it’s still a good idea to occasionally step back from the real work and do something fun (and instructional) to unclog that creative filter. I’m not sure if our Creative Director has another assignment like this up his sleeve, but if he does, I’ll be ready and willing to go once more into the gladiatorial ring.
*Photo courtesy of XBOX