Product Design
  • Interview Excerpt: Craig Allen, Copywriter, Wieden+Kennedy, Portland

    If you missed it, check out some great work from Craig Allen.

    WS: What do you look for in a student book? And what impresses you?

    CA: It sounds generic, but I just look for good ads. I’ve heard about people getting hired for all kinds of odd reasons like writing a word on a rock, or baking cookies with notes on them, but all I look for is ads. I think it’s good to add a little personality to a book for sure, but if the book relies on a gimmick, that’s probably not a good sign.

    WS: How important is finish? If ideas are the most important thing, can sketches be enough? Do you look at physical books anymore, or is it all websites?

    CA: Before I understood advertising I didn’t understand advertising. Two summers before I graduated, I took my book and went to California. My book was 100 percent hand drawn with colored pencil. I was told, “If the idea is great it doesn’t matter.” The recruiters I met with looked at me with an expression that was equal parts confused and embarrassed. They thought it was cute and didn’t take me seriously. I’m not saying I had great ads at the time by any means, in fact I think I was far from it, but I doubt it would have mattered. The sad fact is that you have to have good ideas and present them in a somewhat polished manner so people will take them seriously. I think you can have some ideas in sketch form, but you should also be able to show you know how to use a computer in some capacity.

    I prefer physical books, but I also know that most creative directors and recruiters don’t have a lot of time. I think it’s good to have both. Maybe send a link to your website and offer up the option to ship them a book. The one great thing about a physical book is that it sits on a desk as a reminder that I need to look at it. A link can easily be lost in the email shuffle.

    WS: How important is writing? Do you need to see long copy?

    CA: I think if you’re good at writing long copy then yes, you should include it. Whatever makes you look the best. I don’t think it’s a mandatory by any means. I was always told you had to have long copy in your book. I put in one campaign and everyone told me it was boring and I should take it out. Lesson learned.

    [ … ]

    WS: Do you have any other advice for a student or junior trying to get 
into the business?

    CA: Obviously, a lot of getting into advertising is luck. I was so stressed out putting my final book together that I forgot the most important ingredient: my name. The fact that I got a job at all is mind-blowingly amazingly lucky to say the least. I would start there and say first things first, put your name on your book. I would also say that you should look at what ads you respond to. Which ads you wished you did. Find out who did those ads and write directly to them. Find out which agencies are doing the ads you love and start there. Work every angle. Someone will be willing to talk to you. I promise.

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