AD206 negotiated project

The previous module has ended and I just realized I haven’t blogged about it yet.

The module was AD206, where we had to pick our own brief from any competition we wanted.

I looked at YCN awards and D&AD awards. I ended up picking a brief from D&AD, which was for The Copy Book and the client was D&AD itself. It was a copy-based campaign, which I found very scary and challenging. I was very much intimidated by the brief, the brand, the product, and copywriting. However, with all that fear and nervousness, there was something about the brief that attracted me. I woke up every morning with the brief on my mind. I think it was partly the fear that drove me to work so hard on this project.

This project is the first official project that I have ever worked on without a creative partner. Eugene and I decided to work separately for this project for a number of reasons. I believe it was a good decision because at least now I know that I can work on an advertising brief alone and I don’t always need him to help me through the whole process. Eugene is an art director and now that I was working alone, I decided to choose a copy-based campaign from D&AD brief, something that I couldn’t have picked if I was still working with Eugene. Working alone was definitely different but I found it a very pleasant change. I didn’t have the excuse of having to wait for my partner before I can start working anymore, so I ended up working almost 24/7, which I thought was very nice. I was much more involved and engaged with the project. I could do whatever I wanted to do and once I needed opinions on my ideas, I could still turn to my friends.

I had no idea where to begin. So I went back to my old research on copywriting and read everything over and over. Then I borrowed The Copy Book from the college library and read through the whole thing. I got both inspiration and knowledge from the read. I learned more not only about the art of copywriting but also about the product I was trying to sell. I also sent out a survey on people’s perception of their English-related skills and how they wanted to improve them. The survey helped me understand my target audience much better.

Coming up with ideas was tricky, as I had to think in only words. Sometimes I came up with visual ideas and even though I liked them I had to just brush them away. There were times that I had so many ideas rushing through my mind and times where my head was totally blank and I wondered how I was going to survive the brief. I was never sure for a minute of how the project was going to turn out.

Another tricky part was to realize which ideas were good, which ideas were bad, and which could potentially lead me to something half decent. During this process, I needed help from my friends. So I showed everyone who were willing to spare their time to read my ideas and asked what they thought. I liked the honest opinions, even though they were harsh sometimes, but I believe I needed that in order to move past all the crap ideas and come up with more until I found the one that worked. I read the headlines out loud to them sometimes to check whether they sounded believable or not. Embarrassing this might be but it really helped.

I then selected some ideas that sounded decent and presented them to both Neil and Kay. I remember sitting there, shivering with nervousness, while I waited for Neil to finish talking to other classmates. Then Kay walked by and asked if I was ready to show her my ideas. She liked some and discarded others. She also helped me improve the headlines that she thought would work really well but they just weren’t quite there yet. She gave me an idea of how to improve it, which I believe saved the campaign. Then I showed Neil the improved version of that campaign along with other ideas. Neil agreed with Kay on the ideas that would work. So we picked two ideas, where one was obviously stronger than the other, to be developed into the two initial concepts to be presented to the client.

Neil has always repeated to us not to present one idea that you favor and the other that you just put in just to fill the space. But I still couldn’t help favoring one campaign over the other. Everyone else seemed to feel the same way.

After the talk, I went back and developed both ideas further as I got ready for the meeting with the client.

I wasn’t sure how to write the pitch invitation letter so I looked at others’ and tried writing my own. I tried to keep it simple and polite. The client turned out to be very friendly and extremely kind. He gave me a very detailed description of how to get to the agency and seemed very keen of meeting with me. His tone of voice in the emails relaxed me a little. However, Neil told me that he was a little formal in real life and so I had to dress a little smart for the meeting. I found that out the night before the meeting. So I called up a friend of mine and asked if I could borrow some nice shoes and top. Being a generous girl that she was, she let my try on her clothes until we found the ones that she thought looked nice on me.

The morning of the meeting, rain poured down around five minutes after I left the house. Without an umbrella. So I walked in the rain down the streets, unsure of where I was heading. And just like every time I try to find a place with a map in my hand, I got lost. I tried calling my boyfriend who tried to guide me through Google Map and failed desperately. Then I tried texting Neil who was running late. At the end, I just gave up and stood there in the rain waiting for Neil, who showed up and showed me the place. I must say I could never have found it anyway.

The client was much more formal in real life than in the email. I was really nervous, wet and cold. I was told that I should have a glass of water to cool me down and stop me from sweating. I forgot that I was actually very cold, so the cold water wasn’t such a good idea. I think the presentation went pretty well. With my note cards, I didn’t miss a point. The client was impressed with the idea that I liked better and we then discussed how I could improve and develop the whole campaign. Neil also helped raise certain points that supported my ideas and overall, I felt pretty secured having him there in the meeting.

After the meeting, I went home and sent a thank you email to the client and asked to arrange another meeting after the Christmas break.

During the break, I didn’t get to work as much as I had planned. But after I got back from the vacation, I jumped right back on it. It was exciting because now I had a clearer view on the project and I started to see how it was going to turn out. I did some research on guerilla advertising and created another survey on social media. I thought of the mediums I wanted to use but Neil felt I was thinking too much about too specific details. So I stepped back and the ideas looked better and more organized. I didn’t get much opportunity to talk with Neil about the development of the ideas at this point, so I decided to just Mac everything up and showed Neil the day before the second meeting. Neil gave me some advice and I edited the campaign accordingly.

This time, Neil did not sit in for the presentation anymore. He said I needed this experience as well. I went there alone, this time knowing where it was so I didn’t get lost again. I was running a little late but luckily the client was even later than me. The encounter was less formal than the first time, as we had already established some kind of relationship via email beforehand. We talked about our Christmas holiday and other stuff. The meeting itself went fine but much shorter than the first one. The client liked the ideas and the amendment I made in the campaign, and also gave some suggestions where I had to work on after the meeting. He also offered to help if I needed during the development process before the hand-in of the project.

This project has given me more confidence in my ideas and myself. I have learned so much from having to deal with a real-life client. I also thoroughly enjoyed the project from beginning to end, even though I was pretty worried most of the time. Neil was a tremendous help throughout as well and I know I would not have done it as well without him.

To view Neil’s LinkedIn profile:

To view James’ LinkedIn profile:


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