Following yesterday’s little nuggets, we thought we’d have a little rant today.
Rather a lot of teams have popped in to see Angus and I over the years. It’s one of our favourite parts of the job. Meeting new, interesting, exciting, magical, young creative people on an almost daily basis. Often we’ll spend an hour or more with them, just chatting about what they want to do, answering their questions, and spouting the same old bullshit we’ve spouted at hundreds of other teams. And when it comes to the work, we always try to give honest and (hopefully) constructive feedback. But there are a few things teams do that make our brains cry.
So here you go, five things students do wrong at book crits:
1. Turning up with an iPad
Seriously? You’ve worked your arses off for months, ground your brains together night after night after night, finessed each and every idea in each and every campaign, poured your hearts and souls into this book that you hope will get you both a job… Then you show it on a 9.7-inch screen? Not only is it just silly, it makes it look like you don’t have any pride in your work. Shame that.
2. Showing a bunch of fake award-entry videos
This is a weird trend from the past couple of years. Fake award-entry videos. We get why students are doing it – it can distill the idea while making it feel bigger than it is (especially when they fake a load of PR stories, tweets and results around it too). But frankly, we don’t want to be watching a bunch of award-entry videos at a book crit. We just want to chat about the ideas. And you. Leave the videos for your website. Which brings me on to…
3. Talking us through your website
We’ve probably seen your website already. So if you turn up and present it to us on a laptop, well, it’s just a waste of time for you and for us. Show us other stuff. New stuff. Don’t put everything on your website either. The best book crits are total surprises – moments of ”WHERE THE HELL DID THAT COME FROM?” “WISH I’D DONE THAT” “BUGGER ME SIDEWAYS WITH A HERRING CALLED SIMON” - all of which are more likely to get you a job. If we’ve seen it before, it’s not a surprise. We like surprises. We’re little kids like that.
4. “Naming” yourselves
You are not contestants on Britain’s Got Talent. You aren’t taking part in a challenge on The Apprentice. And you haven’t built a killer machine for Robot Wars. So making up a name for your team and branding yourselves is just silly. Yes, we see what you’re trying to achieve – stand out, recall, a sense of professionalism – great, good for you, but if your work’s dull, we won’t remember you anyway. No matter how good your team name is. And worse still, if you have dull work plus a cringey team name, we’ll actively try to forget you by bashing our faces into the floor really really hard. It’s a waste of time. Just be yourselves. Concentrate on the work. By all means make your book stand out. Make it all one colour, make it one long scroll, make it double-ended, tattoo it onto a herd of pigs. Whatever. Just leave the team name out of it.
5. Putting the brief before every campaign
A personal bugbear this one. The old “the work should speak for itself” rule still applies. But we also undertand that some ideas need a bit more explanation. Do it as a sentence or a very short paragraph at the start of the idea. Explain what you’re trying to achieve, not what you’ve been asked to do. If it’s a really complex idea, make it easy to understand. Take us through the steps page by page. It works better and makes you look more professional. Treat each campaign as a presentation to a client. Walk us through the thought. Make it make sense.
As always, this is just what we think about book crits. Some people want you to beam your book to their iPhone, others can’t get enough of fake award-entry videos. Some (very busy) people will never want to meet you ever and will judge you solely by your website. Some might think that naming yourselves is highly creative (you probably don’t want to work for them though). And a few people may even enjoy reading the brief before looking at your work. Remember, it’s up to you to be yourselves.
So take our advice, or tell us to sod off. Either way, we look forward to meeting you.