Friday, July 29, 2011

BEST OF A View From An AdGuy - CP+B's Alex Bogusky Part Two - What Every "Student of Advertising" Should Watch -w/ Alex Bogusky, CP+B Creative Directors Dave Swartz and Bill Wright

Originally posted this February 5th, 2010 as second post simple titled under"What Every Advertising Student Should Watch". There 2 parts to the posting was based on the original "portfolio show" episode of the webcast FearlessQA from Alex Bogusky and CP+B. I have had over 7,500 visits to these specific post. Enjoy!

A few months back I posted a piece that I simple titled "What Every Advertising Student Should Watch", the posting was based on the "portfolio show" episode of the recently introduced webcast FearlessQA from Alex Bogusky and CP+B. Much to my surprise between my Blogger and Posterous blogspots I have had over 3,500 visits to that specific topic. Since that original post I also posted a message about finding how you define yourself, are you a "Student of Advertising" or an "Advertising Student".

Yet again, FearlessQA has hit another "Homer Run" with this episode on "Old School" advertising. Odd title on first glimpse, but the as the subject unfolded... WOWzer, it easily became "What Every Student of Advertising Should Watch Part Two - Alex Bogusky with CP+B Creative Directors Dave Swartz and Bill Wright.

The show was promoted on the idea of "Old School", upon first hearing this some of my students suggested we tell Alex to think about "dressing" the role, kinda "Don Draper" like. Well that's not what show delivered (nice hat Alex). Yes, "old school" was the concept... but message was timeless. Timeless because it is truly what every "Student of Advertising" should know. It may even seem that Alex and his guest are "old school" but in fact they are the "bridge" between old school and today as we move forward.
"Old School is not about doing it for a long time... it's more about what we have done and have forgotten... the craft of the business"
"Creative's must blend the craft and the knowledge of what has come before them and what is happening now... if you don't have that perspective, then something will get lost".

                                                       - Alex Bogusky FearlessQA
I remember my first informational and job interviews and being asked, "who did I follow... who inspired me"? Seemed like a trick question, but I knew the answer needed, I needed to demonstrate how I developed my craft. Who inspired me was about the past, while who do I follow was for identifying my knowledge of the moment. Oddly, my response was always quick and simple. The people who created the craft of "the big idea", Bill Bernbach, David Olgilvy, George Lois, Rosser Reeves and Leo Burnett, they inspired me. As an Art Director I studied Herb Lubalin and the art of typography, Helmut Krome, Paul Rand, they inspired the craft of Art Direction. That was my "school", neither "old" or "current"... it was my education. (Note: My Professor Ken Coleman actual inspired me to travel to New York to have my portfolio reviewed by both Herb Lubalin and Milton Glaser who at the time was the Design Director of the Village Voice, today viewed as the "old testiment" of old school.

What makes this episode a "must watch", is the insights of what you should be reading. I take some heat about having a "suggested" reading list that is about 100 books deep, but really where will you find it one place. Sadly, I see too many hours wasted on "Ads of the World", a wonderful site, but the navigation through "real" and "spec" ads can be cumbersome. But, does it really teach you about the craft? No, there is not point of reference, that is why the good old "book" on the shelf can't be beat. Between the covers is the story of "How".
"I'm speaking from a person who has no respect for advertising that has come before because of craft... just blow it up... blow it up... over and over... advertising is supposed to be timely, it's supposed to be about the NOW... but know the people and know the thinking... because they blew it up before you blow it up and before I blew it up... you're not going to be able to blow things up unless you know and understand the thinking behind the idea. Study the masters of the trade".  
                                                      - Alex Bogusky FearlessQA

Bill Wright started at CP+B as a copywriter showed two books that should top everyone's book list. First, "The Book of Gossage" and "The Art of Writing Advertising". Both have been referred to as "the Bible of the Craft of Copywriting". Howard Luck Gossage is commonly referred to as the father of the "Conversational Style" of advertising. The book is more then just a guide to better creative thinking but it displays the thinking any creative needs to understand. "The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interest them, and sometimes it's an ad” once said to describe what he needed to use as a baseline in any ad he approached. Gossage is often attributed with a line I often quote in lecture, "To explain responsibility to advertising is like trying to convince an eight-year-old that sexual intercourse is more fun than a chocolate ice cream cone", it's what we do, but we never clearly understand that. I guess it comes down to 'know your audience".

David Swartz has his roots is graphic design and joined CP+B as an art director. What brought great joy to me was seeing one of my favorite books appear, Herb Lubalin - Art Director, Graphic Designer and Typographer. This brilliant book was the soul of my development, sadly out of print now (if you can find it, you're looking at $350+ for a copy) it showed why in my book Herb Lubalin was a brilliant art director and designer who, for over forty years, produced a continuous stream of stunning graphic design and in particular expressive typographic ideas. So what makes a great art director? No simple answer was offered but, you need a grand sense of design. You need to study design because you are the backbone of the big idea, the bodygaurd. Understand the concept of "Hierarchy" and "Order", find out and clearly understand what that means, what order does the message need to be delivered. Maybe that's why the best art directors come from art schools and having studied graphic design and typography. Sadly, Dave and Alex do make it clear that maybe technology has ruined the craft of art direction.

I can't express enough why this episode of FearlessQA which could have been a "trip down memory lane" will hopefully remain a "standard" for all "students of advertising" as what you need to know to truly succeed.

BTW... I tried to keep up with the boys and their "bourbon", they drank me under the table.

Required/Suggested Reading:

The Book of Gossage by Howard Luck Gossage; Jeff Goodby and Bruce Bendinger
The Art of Writing Advertising by Denis Higgins
Herb Lubalin - Art Director, Graphic Designer & Typographer by Gertrude Snyder & Alan Peckolick
The Bill Bernbach Book by Bob Levenson
The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy by
When Advertising Tried Harder by Lawrence Dobrow
Creative Advertising by Mario Pricken
The Advertising Concept Book by Pete Barry
Hey Whipple Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan
History of Advertising by Stephane Pincas
Twenty Ads That Shock the World: The Century's Most Groundbreaking Advertising and How it Changes Us All by Bill Twitchell

View the FearLess Episode

Part One - What Every "Student of Advertising" Should Watch -w/ Alex Bogusky and CP+B Creative Director Tiffany Kosel

BEST OF A View From An AdGuy - CP+B's Alex Bogusky Part One - What Every "Student of Advertising" Should Watch - Your Portfolio w/Alex Bogusky and Tiffany Kosel

What should I put into my portfolio?

What order should it been in?

How many pieces should I have in my portfolio?

I'm a Art Director, does the copy matter?

Should it be about ideas, or is the execution more important?

If I got a nickle for every time I am asked these questions I could blog full-time, sip on 1981 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon and smoke Fuente Opus X Robustos. All of these questions are standard issues, standard concerns and the standard of every young future "AdLander".

But as often as I offer my answers, trusted answers based on my years of reviewing books and making my frequent trips to agency Creative Directors to ask "What should my students have in their portfolios?" I get a different response every time. Whether its how many pieces, size, quality, types of work to include, Print vs. Out of Home, Broadcast YES or broadcast NO, interactive... you get the deal.

NOT once have I got the same answer let alone even get the same recommendations. Simply more questions.

So every year as I set my young AdLanders into gear on building their portfolios I start with one difficult to understand standard line:
Recently, Alex Bogusky launched a weekly webcast called Fearless Q&A. Part Crispin Porter +Bogusky "news and views", part "self-promotion" but mostly very informational and very, very entertaining. Alex may have another career ahead of him. This past week (November 12th, 2009) Fearless Q&A turned its attention to the portfolio. Alex invited CP+B VP Creative Director Tiffany Kosel to share the stage and more important her thoughts on what makes for a good portfolio.

Tiffany Kosel has won awards at nearly every show out there, from Clios to Cannes Lions. She has worked on campaigns for BMW Mini, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Volkswagen, Burger King, Victoria's Secret, Jawbone and the "Truth" anti-tobacco effort, among others. After being promoted to VP Creative Director in 2008 she is the sole female among eight creative directors at the agency and directs up to 30 people on Old Navy, estimated to be worth a cool $200 million account for CP+B which she also led in the pitch. In June, Advertising Age named her as one of the "Women to Follow" in 2009.

The Fearless Q&A webcast offered some excellent insights and look into what Tiffany herself did to land the gig at CB+P. They both answered more questions then expected, and seeing this episode received more questions the any other episode to date. I can proudly say that my students bombarded the Twitter feed (follow my students on Twitter) in advance and several of my talented creatives submitted portfolios for review.

It was an excellent hour of conversation, the beauty of Twitter and the Justin.Tv it allows for a two-way conversation, live questions as the show goes on. Alex and Tiffany did there best not to just answer questions, but to show some samples of "what makes a idea great". I was proud that one of my students Ryan Dzur get his book shown and mentioned near the end, sadly they never got to give any feedback... the show was over too soon.
One of the questions submitted by my students was need for a portfolio if you are going into account management or strategic planning. I have crafted a unique approach to this type of portfolio over the years and I wasn't surprise that both Alex and Tiffany agree it is more  and more important as "creative" is needed in all areas of business. Suits and Planners need to bring more to the table then ever before.

Highlights of the conversation... the basics:
- Show your craft and show your skills
- Be unique, show you can think, find the "difference" in your product/client/brand" (the   Graham Crackers are an excellent example)
- Interactive and ambient are critical, show that you know what is fresh and what connects
- Makes sure that what you have are "Big Ideas" not just one-offs
- It really doesn't matter if it's a $10 book or $200 case, it's the work that matters
- Show who you ar, it can be more then just your advertising ideas.
But once it was all over (and too soon I might add), there are still a million questions... but really it's all about "Big Ideas" and  "Selling Yourself".

Watch Alex Bogusky and Tiffany Kosel on Fearless

Part Two - What Every "Student of Advertising" Should Watch -w/ Alex Bogusky, CP+B Creative Directors Dave Schwartz and Bill Wright
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