Bankrupt economies, sluggish growth, Brexit and the continuing wars in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Syria have cast an uncertainty over many businesses.
Clients don't like spending money in the best of times.
They all want advertising for nothing. Or they don't want advertising.
In 'adland' the fatted calf is being slowly starved and its rib cage is prominent.
Tech companies, content agencies and start-ups are doing well but the traditional above-the-line agencies are struggling. Many have a hiring freeze.
Very few agencies take on junior teams with the frequency they used to. So if you are looking for an easy time in the next couple of years you are looking at the wrong business.
This doesn't mean that there aren't jobs out there.
There are. It's just a different kind of person that's getting them.
You need the right folio.
When I say the right folio, I mean the one that's right for you. And the one that's right for the agency you want to work for.
The folio that shows off your individual taste.
The folio that shows you can solve difficult problems with a fresh solution. A solution no other creative team would have come up with.
The folio that shows that you understand the issues of the day.
The folio that demonstrates how you can improve an individual’s life.
The folio with big ideas executed across different media platforms.
The folio that shows craft skills, writing ability, art direction, design software and social networking skills.
The folio with a little film you've shot on your phone at the weekend.
The folio with ads, games, business ideas.
The folio with a surprise on every page.
The folio that shows you are an enriched person who takes an interest in culture, creativity and humanity.
The folio that says, 'You've got to meet me.'
A good folio will contain 8 campaigns. 5 is minimum.
People would rather see less work but of a higher standard.
Don't put anything that you're not proud of just to make up a campaign. If you don't believe in it, why should anyone else?
Put the best campaigns at the front and at the back of your folio.
Open with a quick, punchy memorable strategy with a set of executions. And end with a brilliant campaign.
Your folio should be balanced and varied. You need a wide range of products and services with different tones of voice and different audiences throughout.
Pick products that everyone else is doing and do them differently.
Pick products that no one else is doing.
If your idea is familiar forget it. There is no point in going all the way to London to be told, 'It's been done before'.
Know your history and better it.
Ads are an intrusion.
Why should people stop and look at your ad? Unless your ads are interesting or emotional or both don't put them in your book. Work on them.
Or come up with some new strategies.
Most ads in your book should have a strong visual to draw people in. That's not to say you won't have headlines somewhere in your book. Creative directors want to know that you can write well.
Work with emotional truths, in particular work with the emotion of your target audience. A target audience is one person so get your ads talking to that person. And talk in the way they talk.
Reward them, enlighten them, engage them, provoke them, tease them, flatter them, surprise them. If you can't do any of those things then make your audience laugh.
Laughter is the new rock and roll. It sells out stadiums. Get 'fun' in to your book.
Answer the punter's question, 'what's in it for me?' They are looking to be rewarded with fun, insight and something that is interesting enough to share and talk about.
If you cannot reward your consumer you need to get back to the drawing board.
Steer clear of long copy. A crisp headline. shows you can write. So can a well written strap line. The art of writing is saying a lot with little. You can say a lot in 6 words.
Don't be worthy. And don't be dull.
Your folio is you. It is your thinking. And it is your personality.
If you are quirky your folio will be quirky. If you are funny your folio will make people laugh. If your folio is different then you are.
If you can't imagine doing anything but working in advertising you'll get a job. It might not be the day you leave college.
It might not even be the year you leave college. But if you stick with it, work hard and believe in yourself you will get a job in advertising.
The hardest workers and the nicest people always get the jobs.
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