If you don’t get the reference above, it’s an adapted chorus from the song “Clans, Posses, Crews, & Clicks” by Heltah Skeltah off their debut album Nocturnal. Check it out if you aren’t familiar!
Anyway, back to the real reason for this post: I’ve joined a guild. The Creative Advertising Guild of Toronto to be exact. It all began when Anthony Kalamut (the program coordinator for Creative Advertising @ Seneca) posted in our Facebook group a link for an upcoming Meetup event. I had heard of Meetup yeeeeeaaars ago, but never actually tried it. If you are unfamiliar with the site,
Meetup is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies.
Being a complete n00b in the world of advertising, I thought this was the perfect way for me to start “living” and “breathing” the industry outside of school. I personally don’t believe in regrets (as every mistake is an opportunity to learn from), but one thing I wish I had done better in the music business was to devote more time to networking with people face-to-face rather than online.
Also, this concept of connecting with strangers through online means was directly related to what I was studying for my CAB 001 class with Professor David Eames. This Meetup event was scheduled for January 24th, one day before I had a presentation due on the topic of Collaborative Consumption (a rising global trend of people sharing assets, services, and lifestyles to create communities facilitated by social media). If I could attend this event, I would be able to integrate my first-hand experience with Collaborative Consumption into my Powerpoint presentation the next day in class.
I proceeded to make a Meetup account and RSVP to the Creative Advertising Guild event. It was to be held at a secret location which would only be revealed once an “Attending” status was confirmed and a $10 registration fee was paid. The $10 fee went towards the snacks, refreshments, and pizza that the organizers were to provide so I had no issue with loading up my Paypal account for them. On the morning of January 24th, I received a friendly reminder e-mail about the meeting then hurried off to school for my Integrated Marketing Communications class.
Fast forward a few hours and I was on my way to the ad agency where the Meetup was to be held. I first met Bill Whitehead, the owner of the agency that was hosting this Meetup, as well as a fashion Account Coordinator named Celine who had just moved to Toronto from France. We chatted for a few minutes until the other organizer, Denny Kurien, arrived. Denny worked as a Digital Art Director for a different agency downtown and had been organizing these Meetups with Bill for several years. We were also joined by Mario, a copywriter freshly transplanted from Venezuela, and Kelly, a marketer from Nissan who had developed a passion for advertising after working on a campaign in Ottawa I believe. A total of 10 participants who had paid were expected, but several had called in sick as it’s been cold & flu season so we started the discussion.
(All photographs inside the agency were taken with prior stated permission)
A roundtable of ice-breaker introductions were made as we each spoke about what brought us into advertising, our past work experience, goals, etc. We also had to show off one creative thing we accomplished in 2012 that we were most proud about. I passed around a copy of my Vintage album while playing my Golden Age video on the boardroom’s flatscreen TV and explained how market saturation in Hip-Hop led me to read several advertising books, amongst them Luke Sullivan’s Hey Whipple, Squeeze This and Ries & Trout’s Positioning, inadvertently sparking my passion for the field.
Mario presented us with an Integrated Marketing Communications campaign he was a part of during his time working in the Netherlands. It involved a contest where users had to answer riddles through clues provided on GoogleMaps while interacting with the brand’s social media page (in a nutshell… the actual concept and execution he played for us on the screen explained it better than I can right now).
Celine related how she had to translate copy from English to French and how the differences between Canadian French and Parisian French could lead to awkward and humorous phrases if one was not careful*. Being new to the city, she was also excited for an upcoming interview for a publicist position so I wish her the best with that! Finally, Kelly played a Nissan campaign she was involved in where 3D holograms (I’m not entirely sure about the nature of the technology) created a dazzling display over a body of water on Canada Day in Ottawa.
*I smiled inside as it related exactly to what Professor Lisa Atkins had been talking about during our previous Monday class; how important it is to understand the “lingo,” language, and syntax of a Target Group.
An informal discussion eventually broke out about advertising. I learned terms like RFQ (Request For Qualification), RFP (Request For Proposal), and asked about what resources are available for market research since I have an upcoming AdLab assignment due. It was mentioned how sometimes a campaign can be so successful that it eventually exposes the fundamental structural flaws in a brand as the company cannot keep up with the massive influx of customers (in other words, success can be a gift and a curse). Bill and Denny also told me about several people in the industry who had previously been musicians such as myself: Brian Larter, for example, was the organist at Maple Leaf Gardens and found his fortune through writing jingles, while another ex-musician-turned-ad-man had been an underground rapper in New York named Franke Rodriguez! I definitely have to talk to him one day. I also learned how rotating the location of one ad can be effective in creating the illusion of a brand’s omni-presence.
Unfortunately, as I previously mentioned, I had a presentation about Collaborative Consumption due the next day so I had to leave early. They were about to watch and discuss the top 10 ads that won at last year’s Cannes Lion festival so I can only imagine what nuggets of wisdom I could have unearthed if I stayed. All in all though, I’m very happy I decided to go to this Meetup. I made new friends, set foot into an actual ad agency for the first time, learned a lot, and most importantly I had a good time. The next Meetup is scheduled for March 7 so I will definitely submit “Attending” into the RSVP box.
I’d like to thank Bill and Denny for hosting a great event to kick-off 2013 and I wish Mario, Celine, and Kelly the best in their advertising endeavours!