By Jesse Sharp-O’Hare
The Most Famous Ad Student in the UK
Looking through my emails yesterday, a certain message from Marc caught my eye. An offer to become ‘Instantly the most famous ad student in the UK’. Obviously I clicked through and began to read through what this offer entailed. A competition to win ad space on ‘The One’, a famous billboard near Hyde Park, advertising the IPA’s Festival of British Advertising in a few months time.
The huge exposure for any student to win this competition would be fantastic. To have hundreds of thousands of commuters, taxi drivers and tourists see your work in just a few weeks is the kind of fame most students could dream of. Slap a couple of twitter handles on the bottom of your work and see the follows and retweets skyrocket. Forget a book, you could stroll into most agencies with a picture of you giving two thumbs up next to your billboard and still probably impress some of the world’s best ECDs.
Speculating what it would feel like to win aside, the brief itself did raise some questions. Again and again we’ve been told ‘get over yourselves, because first and foremost no one gives two shits about advertising or the people that make it’. And largely that is the case whenever I speak to my friends or family. Apart from maybe the John Lewis ad at the end of the year, unsurprisingly most regular people think of advertising as the Go Compare opera singer, or possibly talking meerkats. So, the big challenge in getting people to want to go to the IPA festival is really going to be getting people to think back to adverts that made them laugh, cry or think, which is going to be a lot harder than getting them to remember a jingle that particularly annoys them or a frustrating character dancing across their screen during breaks in the X-Factor. Compounding this is the speed at which most people will see this poster. Traffic jams not withstanding, most people are going to wizz through the tunnel below the billboard and catch a glimpse of your ad. During that glimpse, you need to remind them immediately of someone else’s work, perhaps from twenty or thirty years ago, and once again make them laugh, cry or think. No mean feat.
Still, if you do achieve that, you’ve cracked one of the hardest briefs in advertising. You haven’t just cracked a brief for a product someone can buy, or a place they can visit, you’ve cracked the brief to get people to care about the advertising behind these things themselves and scrutinise it somewhat detached from the product it once marketed. So good luck everybody, this one’s going to be a real headscratcher.