In an industry where big creative ideas float around like smoke in Don Draper’s office, it is a particularly challenging task for a newcomer to get his portfolio noticed. Young creatives are battling for the eyes of Creative Directors and recruiters who have pretty much seen everything under the sun. So how does one stand out in the sea of portfolios, each more creative and better executed than the other?
It seems that young creatives are taking the very advice that advertising professionals give the big brands. Create content and advertising that makes your audience seek it out rather than tune it out. Just like the big brands are creating branded content to market their products, young creatives are doing the very same to market their portfolio. Which can sometimes mean keeping your best ideas outside the portfolio. While your portfolio is your masterpiece, it is not the first point of contact with your audience. The small things like your business card, your Twitter feed, or your blog could very well be the stepping-stone into the industry. That is why many young creatives are flexing their creative muscles to come up with ideas that live outside their portfolios but they also become an important of it.
Take this creative team, for instance (see the videos below). They essentially created a whole campaign revolving around getting their portfolio noticed. They tackled this challenge as any creative would tackle a brief. In the end, they created an idea that not only got their work in front of the right people; it also became the strongest piece within their portfolio.
If you don’t have the bravado or the desire to be escorted out of the top advertising agencies, you might want to stick to something more subtle. Maybe a brand new meme, a viral video, or maybe a website where you can sell your crazy ideas for unreasonable prices. Take any idea — you’re probably bursting with them — and create something hilarious, exciting, or just plain ridiculous, because you never know what the Creative Director of your dream agency might stumble upon. One such idea came from Creative Circus Copywriting students Will Benham and Chris Baker, who created the site GoArtDirecorGo. The site featuring words of encouragement from copywriters to art director became a huge hit on social media sites, especially among advertising professionals, and was even featured on the Atlanta Egoist.
Creatives be warned: while self-branded content may be an excellent way to get your foot into the door, the rest of the heavy lifting that gets you the job has to be done by your portfolio. If your portfolio doesn't illustrate the same level of creativity and pizzazz as the idea that got you in there, it is very likely you’ll be walking out as fast as you walked in. Like it's always been said: “Nothing kills a bad product like good advertising."
Nandini Trivedi is a Copywriter with a Masters in Advertising from Boston University (2012). She believes that great creative comes from solid research, good old hard work, and a little bit of mischief. Find her online here.