Last week was I Have An Idea’s annual Portfolio Night. For those who don’t know, Portfolio Night is held in cities all across the globe once a year. On the surface, one might say it’s simply an evening where students get feedback on their portfolios from respected Creative Directors. Seems nice enough.
But there’s more to it than that.
First of all, getting that many CDs in one room is a huge accomplishment. Between hiring, firing, working, meeting, stressing, thinking, smoking, therapy, and shopping for the perfect new business pitch outfit, Creative Directors are a busy bunch. Getting them to commit to anything is a challenge because they just don’t know when they’ll have to cancel everything to attend to a matter that account services prefaces with, “If you don’t do this, we’re in danger of losing the business.” (Hmm.. I guess that means I’m attending a client’s kid’s dance recital.)
Because of this scheduling quagmire, CDs rarely get together as a group. Sure there are awards shows and parties but they’re littered with a ton of other people and you never know who’s listening so you can never be as honest as you want to be.
Portfolio Night is different. You see other CDs. Talk to other CDs. Commiserate with other CDs. Vent with other CDs. As much as we’re all competing with one another, it’s nice to gather with a group of people who, at a minimum, are bonded by the same stressors and challenges. Throw in two free drink tickets and it’s no surprise that people are rather comfy talking about stuff they could never tweet about.
And then the students show up.
I always love to look around the room and see their nervousness.
Or their arrogance.
Or their confidence.
Or their wardrobe which was chosen, after exhaustive deliberation, as the one that’ll make them seem like they could play the role of junior creative even though their book says they have a way to go.
Regardless, you know what it all is? It’s nice.
It’s nice that an entire group of industry vets gather around the world to simply give advice to those people who will replace them someday. It’s nice that the students are hungry for the attention. And it’s nice that industry partners sponsor the whole thing so the cost can be kept low.
Congrats to Brendan Watson and the team from IHAI. Thanks to Y&R for sponsoring. Thanks to Rooster for allowing everyone in their offices. And thanks to every company and individual who contributed time, money, swag, or all three.
Aside: There’s always a grab bag of goodies that I, admittedly, always turn down. While I appreciate the thought, I don’t need another T-shirt or stress ball. But…
A HUGE mention goes out to Lisa Bonnici who actually donated a free photo shoot for a student who has the best pre-production thought. Now THAT’S something a student can use. Perfectly appropriate and probably more valuable than most of the night’s other speeches and demos.