Pre-September Learnings For Next Years Intake – By @CiRCUStrongman

By Lee Allen


Pre-September Learnings For Next Years Intake

Forgive me if this is a tad boring and I use the words brief and idea a bit too much but it will help, I promise.

1. Propositions: A proposition is a single statement from which all of the ideas in your campaign must come out of, sounds boring I know. Most of our intake spent a least a month banging their heads against the wall trying to come up with a decent proposition, so if you could get a head start on that you’ll stand a pretty good chance of winning early portfolio briefs. Generally speaking your work on portfolio briefs won’t end up in your book but winning them can lead to opportunities throughout the year. Some teams got time with Creative Directors. I managed to get on to a £200 comedy course free of charge, one which I was planning on paying for anyway, from winning briefs throughout the year.

2. Repositioning/ Reframing and the art of simple: Check my last SCAB for some more on that. Though the AA’s ‘fourth emergency service’ is probably my favourite example of simple but smart reframing.

3. Photoshop: ESSENTIAL! It’s so easy to learn and even if you’re not planning on being an art director, it allows you visualise your ideas and can take the burden off whoever you do leave in charge of handling the pictures. I’m probably offending half the class here but working with someone who knows none of the software can be a nightmare, especially for your sleep patterns, as you’ll be mocking everything up while they’re dribbling on their pillow.

4. Illustrator: Although the interface looks similar to Photoshop, it operates completely differently so treat it like you’re learning a completely separate program. Incredibly useful for layouts and mastering it will get you on Ian’s good side.

5. After Effects: One of the easiest programs I’ve ever tried to learn. Helped me massively with my scholarship video, can be the difference between winning and losing a brief and essential for D&AD. If you plan on winning a D&AD pencil, know that craft won out big this year, ideas are of course important but if your idea isn’t in pretty packaging it probably won’t win.

6. Digital vs Traditional: If you know which one of these you want to do early on, it can help massively with choosing the right partner, as well as helping you craft your book for the right agencies. It might not seem like a massive gulf between the two but if you want to do TV, then the agencies that do big TV briefs don’t care much for gadgets or gimmicks in your book, and the same vice versa; you want to do innovation and tech then having a load of 6 sheet posters in your book will get you laughed out of a crit with a digital agency.

7. Writing Less Well: There’s a big difference between being good at writing and being good at writing copy, the same way you can be the best fighter in the UFC but will get schooled by a 40 year old retiree in a boxing match. The art of writing copy for me is writing in a conversational-style, if you can’t imagine yourself or someone you know saying it then delete it and start again.

8. Topicals: SCA won diddly-squat at the Chip Shop Awards this year, but if you do want a Chip Shop Award then topical ads offer good practice, though if you really want to win a Chip Shop Award, don’t bother with wit and just submit a charity idea with a full explanation from your book and it will probably win.

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