Pete’s Portfolio Masterclass

Following the madness of D&AD and as our 4th book inspection loomed, Pete’s portfolio masterclass served as a crucial reminder of how best to represent ourselves and our ideas. It’s been a joy working with Honor, and we love embedding as much of ourselves into our book. Though, largely due how busy it had been, it’s becoming increasingly clear how much there still is to learn and how many holes there are to address in our book as it is. 

Pete offered plenty of tips and tricks (I think it was at least 25). Here are a few that resonated with me: 

  • Back your instincts and trust yourself

… I struggle with this. It’s difficult to tell sometimes, with there being an air of subjectivity to any creative feedback, whether you have pushed the idea confidently enough or if it’s even worth pushing at all. Though, Pete also mentioned ‘the work should speak for itself.’ Arguably, the best ideas are the ones where you can sell it with conviction, briefly and easily enough. 

  • Research = the most important thing you can do

Gosh, Honor and I bloody love a Trello sesh. Sometimes, we can end up down rabbit holes. But, ultimately, doing our research means that our idea is more likely to be concrete or credible, rooted in something real and human. The key, as we would discover in another upcoming brief, is to not go down a route which is too niche or detailed, so as not to alienate the audience. Still gotta Keep It Simple Stupid!!! 

  • Don’t force ideas into places they don’t go

Yep, this resonates. Honor and I are pretty impulsive in terms of making stuff, even if it’s just rather theatrical and visually interesting. But, maybe a product doesn’t belong in a certain place. Maybe it is a step too far from the audience. Maybe it is magical thinking. Falling into the trap of overkilling a 360 campaign is symptomatic of wearing the green hat a bit too much. I’ve made a note to attempt black and white hatting more to not end up in whimsical territory as much. 

  • Posters communicate quickest

Though this seems like a potential no-brainer, it’s worth remembering the poster to 360 campaign ratio in the portfolio. Mike would say, a few days later after our 4th book inspection, that it is wise to begin with a poster when making any campaign – that if the campaign can’t work as a poster it probably wouldn’t work at all. Considering points 3 and 4 in this SCAB, there is a clear need to evaluate your campaign’s strength at its core before jumping to executions… I definitely need to train myself against that. If mine and Honor’s current book is anything to go by, we definitely have fun pushing into various exciting channels, but possibly need to reassess our campaign’s in their raw traditional context – do they work simply and plainly? Do they make sense at their core? Might be time to kill some ideas. 

  • Pick products / services / charities / causes / behavioural changes that allow you to do good work

Tupperware was a brand that was considered in my last book… couldn’t quite do it justice though and it felt like hitting a bit of a deadend. Not only would it be wise to pick brands with a broad scope for human truths, it would be wise to select brands that resonated with myself and Honor. We landed on exploring SheWees recently… It’s about time females peed without shame or complications, right? Altogether, the work becomes more fun and more ‘you,’ and, in a sense, maybe just easier to execute. 


Yep, this says it how it is. I’m still grappling with being creative and being strategic, whilst exposing a bit of cheeky personality. I’m sure with time and with thousands of iterations, there will be a process that comes as second nature. It feels as though personality is an umbrella to the creative element and the strategy element. 

Pete’s workshop couldn’t have come around at a better time, following D&AD and approaching our next book inspection. Also pretty chuffed that we have Easter to reflect on our books. A lot of what Pete covered reminded me to address strategy more, the idea at its core, before jumping impulsively to executions and creativity for the sake of it. With time, hard work and patience, I can’t wait until strategic smart approaches within the book become second nature. 


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