I'm Jeremy Carson, a Creative Director, and this is everything I wish I knew about the ad world. After working in the creative industry for over 17 years, I believe bringing data and creativity together lets us speak to people in a way we never could before, making it more relevant and personal.
Can you make an ad in a day? Every day? For a month? I did. And it was the best decision I made as a student.
I challenge you to do it, too.
I was in college, earning my BFA in Graphic Design, when I decided advertising would be my focus. So, to prove myself, I entered a few of my old pieces in our annual Ad Show. I was excited to be the belle of the ball.
I didn't get a single piece in.
Well, I knew that there was no way I could make it in an agency if I didn't have the chops to beat out two dozen other creatives.
Then, I had an idea…
The Birth of Ad-a-Day
One month. An ad every day. Creative boot camp.
With a quickly-approaching graduation date, I needed to supercharge my education. I needed to create a portfolio I'd be proud of. One that would get me an internship. One that would prove I could think and execute. How could I cram years' worth of executing into as short a time as possible?
I had a month off. It was perfect timing. I created the Ad-a-Day project.
It's simple, really.
Step 1 - Pick a Random Brand
When I did this, StumbleUpon was more of a thing. I visited the site and clicked the "Stumble" button until it randomly landed on a brand's website.
Some I landed on:
- Bill Maher's Religulous
To make it easier, I threw a quick site together for you. Visit jeremycarson.com/brandomizer (get it? brand + randomizer!) and click the button to get your random brand.
Step 2 - Start the Clock
Now you have 24 hours (if you don't sleep). It's pretty simple:
- Find the insight.
- Come up with an idea.
- Execute an ad.
Work with whatever medium is best for the idea. Or at least whatever is easiest for you to create.
I've got to admit, being a designer made the execution part of this much easier than it would be for a copywriter. But, using different sites like canva.com and images from unsplash.com, even a writer can throw a print ad together.
Step 3 - Make it Public
Post your ad up somewhere. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, anywhere that people can see it. It'll do a couple things:
- Force you to make it good.
- Keep you on track.
Every one of mine were on Tumblr back in the day, but here are a few of my favorites.
Some Good, Some Shit
Over the course of a month, I made 30 different ads, mostly a series of print ads, because that's what I grew up learning (digital wasn't really a thing).
I quickly learned:
- How to find an insight.
- How to make a quick decision on an idea.
- How to execute an idea in the simplest way.
I showed them to my professor and he was intrigued. He said most were ok. Lots were crappy. But some were actually pretty good. They filled my portfolio out nicely, but that wasn't the most important part.
Proof of Concepts, of Ability, and of Drive
The Ad-a-Day project itself became the most impactful thing in my portfolio. At the next ad show, it was a featured project. It was one the strongest part of my portfolio.
Then, after I graduated, it became the main talking point of every one of my interviews. Creative directors wanted to talk about what inspired me to do it. Then, were intrigued about why I'd put the bad ones on display, as well.
I told them I didn't want to hide anything. That they knew the best work I could churn out in a day, and the worst, too. That threw them off. In a good way.
Do It Yourself
I challenge you: do an ad a day.
Maybe do it for a week. Or for a month. Shit, blow me out of the water and do it for a few months. Or even a year!
But push yourself. See how you can hold up to the pressure. You have no idea what will come from it. A great idea may sneak its way out of your mind. Or maybe you'll just clear out the cobwebs.