Tony Cullingham

Watford Advertising

Advice On Creating Folios.


General Tips on Folios.


We live in difficult times. The recent stock market crash and the continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cast an uncertainty over  many businesses.


In Adland the fatted calf is being starved and its ribcage is  prominent.


Digital agencies are doing well but the traditional ATL brigade are struggling. Most have a hiring freeze.


Very few agencies take on junior teams with the frequency they used to. So if you are looking for an easy time in the next couple of years you are looking at the wrong business.


This doesn’t mean that there aren’t jobs out there.

There are.

It’s just a different kind of person that’s getting them..


You need the right folio. When I say right folio, it has to be the one that’s right for you. And the one that’s right for the agency you want to work for.


The one that shows off your creativity.


The one that shows you can answer difficult challenging problems with a solution that no other creative team would have come up with.


The folio that shows that you understand the issues of the day .


The folio that demonstrates how you can make the world a better place.


The folio that shows you can come up with big ideas that can be executed across different media platforms.


The folio that shows craft skills, writing, design, art direction, photoshop skills.


The folio with a little film you’ve shot on your phone at the weekend.


The folio with ads, games, business ideas.


The folio with a surprise on every page.


The folio that shows off your personality.


The folio that shows you are an enriched person who  takes an interest in culture, creativity and humanity.


The folio that says  ‘you’ve got to meet me’


A good folio will contain 8 campaigns. 5 is  minimum.


People would rather see less work but of a higher standard. Don’t put anything that you’re not proud of just to make up a campaign. If you don’t believe in it why should anyone else?


Put the best campaigns at the front and at the back of your folio. Open with a quick  punchy memorable set of ads to encourage people to continue and end with a brilliant campaign so that people remember you. We know how great poems,  films and books end. Your folio is no different in this respect.


Your folio should be balanced and varied. A wide range of products and services with different tones  of voice  throughout.. And everything should be fresher than the milk below the udder.


Be different. Pick products that everyone else is doing and do them differently.

Pick products that no one else is doing.


If you’ve seen your idea before or one like it, forget it. There is no point in going all the way to London to be told  “…seen it before”.


 Know your history and better it.


Ads are an intrusion .  Why should people  stop and look at your ad? . Unless your ads are interesting or emotional or both don't put them in your book.  Work on them. Or come up with some new strategies.


Most ads in your book should have a strong visual to draw people in. 

 That’s not to say you won’t have headlines somewhere in your book.

Creative directors want to know that you can write as well.


Work with emotional truths and in particular the emotion of your target audience.  A target audience is one person so get your ads talking to that person. Reward them, enlighten them, engage them.


Answer the punter’s question, 'what’s in it for me?’ You need to involve your consumer in your ads.


Tell them and they won’t listen. Show them and they might understand. Involve them and they’ll remember.


Steer clear of long copy. A crisp headline. shows you can write. So can a well written strap line. You might need  some line driven ads , 30 words should suffice. (See the 10k Run London ads by Nike in the 2005 Dand AD for an example of a strong type only campaign).


Your ads should be funny, witty, weird, sad, surprising…. psychedelic if you want. Just don’t be boring. Don’t be worthy . And don’t be dull. Your folio is you. It is your personality and your thinking. No one else's. so don't copy. Create.



Advertising is fun. Treat it as such. Putting your folio together should be a laugh, not a chore. If you are enjoying yourself it shows in the work. If you can’t imagine doing anything but working in advertising you’ll get a job. It might not be the day you leave college.


It might not even be the year you leave college. But if you stick with it, work hard and believe in yourself you will get a job in advertising.


The hardest workers and the nicest people get the jobs. Eventually.










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