Getting into advertising in 2015

I’ve recently been judging some of the portfolios that have been entered in the Cream portfolio contest run by The Talent Business.

So far the standard has been very high, but not just of the work – the websites (there are no actual books) are remarkably professional.

That made me wonder: what exactly does it take to get your first job in the creative dept of an advertising agency these days?

When I left Watford back in 1996 things were kind of different. No one expected you to have access to a computer, let alone a website, so portfolios were no more technical than they were in the 60s: paper, pens, maybe a bit of (colour) photocopying and photography if you were really making an effort. And of course the work was almost all press, poster, TV and possibly a tiny bit of radio. 8-10 campaigns and with no computer wizardry to bump it all up, the idea was naked, front and centre. A CD would flick through it, maybe flick back at the work he or she liked and that was that.

Now, as far I’m aware, there are no physical portfolios (I have no idea what they’re planning to put up at the Cream exhibition). I only have websites to look at, and not much of your bogstandard Cargo Collective drag-and-drop jobs, either; these have landing pages and navigation that function as well as many corporate sites I’ve visited, and many come complete with blogs and other extra-curricular activities to help the team nose ahead of their competition. And the work is a mix of really well shot case studies that explain multi-media and digital ideas in the best tradition of a Cannes entry film.

So, a few questions:

Where do they find the time and money?

How long does it take to go from an idea to a finished ‘case study’ film?

There’s very little print and poster these days. Does nobody ask for them even though they’re still a huge slice of what makes up advertising today? And they used to give a CD a clue to the art directional abilities of the AD (or ‘creative team’). Without them will anyone bother with that skill (let alone with its nerdier cousin copywriting)?

How are CDs expected to view them now? In the old days you’d have a pretty good idea of a book’s quality within a minute of flicking through (especially as the best idea usually goes first). Nowadays that’s just about long enough to get through half a case study. Three or four books used to take 15 minutes. Now it’s usually going to take an hour most of them surely can’t spare.

How did things end up like this?

It seems there are pros and cons to all of it, and if everyone’s doing the same thing then I suppose you have to join the party, but I miss some of the old simplicity.


Not a Millennial.