The Coffee Tastes Better In The Real World – By @CiRCUStrongman

By Lee Allen


The Coffee Tastes Better In The Real World

So our two-week placement has come to a close and it’s been absolutely brilliant – I’m not enjoying the thought of slaloming through Brixton high street again on Monday and I’ll be starting a petition to move SCA to Battersea. A big thank you to Sapient for putting up with the four of us the past couple of weeks. Here are ten learnings from my time outside of the SCA bubble:

  1. Have as much fun as you can with your book: On placement, it becomes a lot more evident that your book is the best opportunity you have to go wild and show off your personality. When you’re a student, everyone is your client and every client says yes to everything – whether that’s using grime to promote the Army, using Eskimos to sell washing up liquid or politics to sell cereal bars. In the real world, clients don’t take as many risks plus you’re bound by brand guidelines, budgets and often a concrete, predetermined strategy.
  2. Direct has to be direct: We had the opportunity at Sapient to work on some of the slightly less glamorous direct mail briefs. Direct mail is strict, and simplicity is the key to doing it well. We all pitched elaborate concepts on our first go round and while there is room for smart thinking, we learned that, when it comes to DM, the idea can’t distract from the proposition and the price.
  3. Don’t bin your funny ideas: It can be tempting to bin your funny ideas at times because they don’t seem serious enough, but chances are if they make you laugh then somebody else might enjoy them. Secondly, there’s usually a logical reason to why something makes you laugh and often you’ll find a smart strategy lying beneath every joke. Our best idea (which I don’t think I can explain ‘cause I signed an NDA) during our time at Sapient was one of the more absurd and came with more than a few giggles attached.
  4. All agencies should be situated on Battersea Bridge: What a location! My first primary school was on the same street, and it was nice then but now it’s bloody gorgeous. Right on the river, not too busy, a brilliant pub (Draft House) with an awesome selection of beer, £5.50 Japanese food at Bento which can disable you in minutes, a 10-minute bus to Clapham Junction and a 10-minute walk to King Road.
  5. Copywriting is not Jesse’s strongest skill: and while he is undoubtedly a phenomenal copywriter, Jesse’s table football skills are frightening. He combines speed, alertness and surprising wrist strength to flatten his opposition.
  6. Don’t touch religion: Just a small one but offensive or not, any ideas involving religion will get killed 99% of the time – so save yourself the scamps!
  7. Coffee is a valuable perk: I don’t know if every agency offers free coffee but Sapient do, and good coffee at that. In Starbucks terms we were going through about £40 worth of coffee a week – so if your job offers £20,000, add another tax-free £1000 on top for coffee spend.
  8. Get ready to budget: the Monopoly money we use at SCA to send out solar panel Metro wraps, build robotic limbs or to purchase Southern Rail for the purposes of selling curry, sadly isn’t there in the real world. Both teams saw very early on how good ideas can be axed when they fall outside of the budget. I’d encourage everyone to attach a £100,000 budget to the next brief you take on, it’s interesting to see how much things cost.
  9. SCA is perfect preparation: We still have bundles to learn and a lot of which won’t come until we’re out in the real world, but one thing I think we all felt was confident in a working environment. At SCA everything is 100mph, every second of the day – and it’s because of that we were able to knock out 20+ ideas in a day, write them up and have them ready to pitch the next morning, the Metro briefs have been perfect practice. SCA really does turn you into a robot and I certainly feel better now about the five hours sleep I’ve been averaging since October.
  10. We get paid to think: Lastly, the coolest part of the two weeks was the realisation that we literally get paid to think of stuff, and telling my office-bound friends felt even better. #LIVINGTHEDREAM

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