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July 28, 2009
Class of 2009
 

What do you tell art students coming fresh out of art schools? Those students who dream of becoming art directors, copywriters or graphic designers overnight? Those, who were told that they’d be shooting a commercial by the end of August? Or, at least producing their first real guerilla campaign? I meet some of them often and some of them we manage to put to work here at Darling. The enthusiastic fire in their eyes has dimmed a little bit since graduation day only two months ago. Some, are shopping their books around while finding a temporary job elsewhere; like Starbucks where one made me a lovely cappuccino.

This is what I tell them. I tell them to believe in themselves, to hang in there and I tell them that twitter needs an idea. Upon which I usual get a blank stare. “Twitter?” I hear them think, “Is that why I studied Greek art, color schemes, typography and everything Adobe makes?” “Yes, Twitter”, I tell them. “Facebook can also use a few ideas and you may as well add the smart phone and regular emails to that.” At this point they usually are fascinated by what in God’s name the answer to this riddle is.

So I continue: “Twitter needs an idea”, I reveal again. “Actually, Twitter needs many ideas. Facebook needs ideas too, before it starts to die off, like MySpace did”. Usually at this point, the color in their faces returns a bit and I get inquisitive looks.

“That’s right,” I continue, “You can shape twitter, facebook, emails, mobile messaging and anything else with a much needed idea.” This is what agencies are struggling with and continue to struggle with. “You do have a twitter idea in your book, right? You know, a big streamlined idea that crosses over and makes an email less annoying because it’s coming from the same brand voice. Or find a clever way to link the brand to the consumer involving a clever trick? Find a way to get the consumer to upload their videos, again? Find a self-generated response to your idea that allows your client to gather their information?”

I realize that by this point I have confused them somewhat. They must be thinking - I’m worth nothing if not for a twitter idea. My guerilla campaign, that got a pencil and convinced my parents that the two hundred grand they invested in me wasn’t for nothing, is worth nothing. My D&AD student award, that made me fly to London with my last money, is worth nothing.

So I quickly and gently address this sudden loss of artistic self-esteem. “Do not worry,” I hear myself preach; “Your twitter idea is just as artistic an idea as an multi million dollar brand campaign. In fact, your twitter, or whatever-digital-idea-you-can-come-up-with, is the new multi-million dollar brand idea.”

At this point they seem to get it. Some of them are humming and caress their overpriced portfolios as they rock back and forth.

“Work on your books,” I continue. “Do not give up, in fact, go back into your campaign thinking and add twitter to the campaigns you’ve already done. Add an email. That’s right, a well crafted, non irritating, nor infuriating but rather enjoyable email.”

With this advice, the art directors get shifty in their seats, because how are they going to write an email that your neighbor is going to read?

And then I tell them the most important secret of all.
I ask: “How old are you?” Not waiting for an answer, I reveal their ages: “Your not. Old that is. You’re young. And that’s never been more important than right now. Because you can out-wit, out-twitter, out-facebook, out-email and out-IM anyone out-there.”

“You are twitter. You live facebook. You dream in IM. Therefore you must be valuable to those ‘old people’ in agencies who are only trying to catch up and pretent they can think digitally.”

My stump speech is starting to catch on. At this point some of the class of 2009 are feverishly scribbling, sketching and pulling pages out of their books and they’re not paying attention anymore. A good sign. I manage to get one more sentence in over the noise that’s growing faster and faster; “That million dollar commercial? It can wait…”


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Jeroen Bours. Dutch born. Started his career as an art director. Well known for the MasterCard Priceless campaign (with Joyce King Thomas). Also know for major product and brand introductions like BP, the Acela train, the Blue Card, OPEN, the Liberty Mutual Responsibility campaign, and so on. Founded the Darling Agency in the West Village. Finds time to teach advertising at the School of Visual Arts. Rides an old Vespa to clients in Manhattan.

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