Wednesday, November 21, 2007

'Tis the Season or Not?

What happened to the cool agency holiday cards?

Maybe it’s just that I'm not on anybody's card list or nobody enters them in awards shows, but it doesn’t seem like there are as many ambitious agency holiday cards out there as there used to be.

We used to have an art director who said he hated to do holiday cards, but I’ve always kind of liked it. And we’ve had some real fun with them in the past. I posted a couple here. In the top one (shot by Ira Wexler), the “bum” model is Karen’s father, John Nasuti, with a couple of “ladies” we got though (ahem) Lim-O-Grams. The "kidnapped Santa" is Gonz Accame and it was Debie Accame who did the photography.

I loved the one we sent out with Slim Jims and the one where we used a rough piece of cardboard with orange type. (A friend told me he couldn’t throw that one away, but he just didn’t know what to do with it. I liked that.) One year Debi Fox shot a very cool sort of time-lapse sequence of a dancing elf (the kind of thing people would do in Photoshop today, but she did in the camera). We sent it out as an oversized poster. Another year we ran a picture of a snowman trapped in a refrigerator. Then there was the one that apparently pissed off our clients, because none of them even owned up to getting it.

And then one year we were totally broke and sent out a blank #11 card, with a rubber-stamped logo. This one was “guaranteed to absolutely not offend anybody.” And, actually, it got us some business.

Maybe it’s the expense, or maybe it’s the time it takes. But it just doesn’t seem like agencies have the fun with holiday cards they used to have.

Personally, I think clients need to step up, make America great, and pay us all to do original holiday cards -- so we can tag onto the print job and get ours done for free. Are you with me kids?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Found Art

We're moving our office. These two things have been on my bulletin board for 10 years, and I thought I'd share.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Experience Necessary

A talented young recent ad school graduate I’d met with (but didn’t have a job for) a while back sent me an e-mail last week. She’s been looking for a job, but with no experience, it’s tough. “ Everyone seems to be hung up about the fact I have no internship or experience. It's incredibly frustrating, since I'll never have any experience until someone gives me some. I've looked for internships, but most of them require that you are still enrolled in undergrad classes.” Obviously, she’s not eligible.

How do you get experience without a job and how do you get a job without experience? Everybody should be able to identify with this particular dilemma.

We worked something out with her, but it made me start thinking. Like most people in my position, I see a lot of people with student books and no experience trying to break in. Most are willing to do any damn thing just to get their foot in the door. But not everybody has an entry-level position open – at least not one they can devote any real money to. And the reality of the situation is that people need paying jobs, so a lot of these kids wind up taking jobs as waiters or temps or whatever to make ends meet. Which further hampers the job search.

So here’s an idea for the DC Ad Club. Find a way to fund small subsidies (and I mean small) for relatively short periods of time (maybe 3-4 months) that will let people right out of school be able to afford to take part-time or full-time internships with agencies. And then agencies won’t have to be able to find available payroll dollars to take them on.

I’m not talking about bringing someone on board to answer phones or file or run errands, but I mean let them do some work under the guidance of working writers, art directors, AE’s, media buyers and designers and get some real experience under their belts.

Obviously I don’t have it all worked out, and there would obviously have to be some sort of application process, but it does seem to me like it’s the kind of thing that can benefit the entire community – present and future. Not only would it help agencies and studios find some short-term, low-cost help, but also – and more importantly – nurture the next generation to help keep Washington alive with talent.

I have no idea what the Washington Ad Club Foundation does. Nobody’s keeping secrets from me; I just don’t know for sure. But near as I can tell from the Ad Club’s web site, a lot of it seems to center around scholarships and internship programs and such for current students. Well, maybe there’s a way to stretch that assistance a bit and help recent graduates and agencies at the same time? Might be a real direct benefit in there somewhere for everybody.

Just a thought.