Can a left-brained suit be transformed into a right-brained creative? Crystal Davis (pictured), former account-turned-creative for Publicis Worldwide Australia certainly believes so. Davis was the Queensland state finalist for AWARD School 2023 and she outlined her experience of the 12-week course for B&T with some tips to help account execs get their heads out of the spreadsheets and into the creative side.
When my boss encouraged me to apply for AWARD School for the second time, I felt the pit in my stomach grow. As a pragmatic, organised and strategic thinking suit (or so I thought) I prepared myself for disappointment again. After applying for AWARD School two years earlier, I was confident that creative was not for me. Despite this, I wanted to understand the creative process more as a suit, so decided to open the application and give it a shot.
I’m unsure if I got lucky on the brief one in my application, but something felt different this time. The feeling from cracking that brief made me see the challenge in an entirely different light. Then came the email: AWARD School 2023 – Congratulations.
For the next 16 weeks, I found myself buried up to my neck in old annuals collected from around the agency, unable to converse about anything other than the brief I was trying to solve. My bedroom walls became covered in pages of words, scamps, and insights. Most weekends were spent in our agency with my fellow AWARD-Schooler Eli, where we shared countless ideas over a succulent dinner of whatever we could muster from the work fridge.
In our first tutorial, our tutor asked us to go around the table and share why we had applied for AWARD School. My answer was ‘to be a better suit’. Only a few weeks in, I realised this had changed, and that solving creative problems was something I didn’t want to let go of.
As I was scrambling to the finish line in the week leading up to submission, my ECD approached me offering me a job in the creative department. At the start of 2023, if someone had asked me if I ever wanted to work as a creative, I would have laughed at them and said no way. While I was unsure if I could crack a brief in the ‘real world’, I loved every moment of the creative process, so I decided to give it a shot and say yes to an offer I never previously imagined having.
I won’t lie; AWARD School is challenging, humbling, exhausting and intense, but you never know where it might land you or who you might meet. Some of my talented peers have become lifelong friends with whom I get to work both within and outside of advertising. For those of you wanting to apply for AWARD School, my best advice (take it or leave it) is:
- Surround yourself with great ads — radio, print, TV, direct, the lot, and find some old annuals! The work will inspire you and help you to understand what makes a good (and simple) idea and execution within each medium.
- Write hot and edit cold — get your ideas down in any way that works best for you and then come back to them with a clear head, removing anything that doesn’t work and building on what does.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to people for advice (but don’t overwhelm yourself with too much) — you will find the people who you feel most comfortable going to and those who challenge you the most.
- Go all in and keep pushing — often the briefs you find the hardest and dislike the most will be your strongest and most rewarding ideas. When you feel like throwing the towel in, try once more.
- Follow the five-minute rule — if you struggle to start working on briefs after a long day, sit down and commit just five minutes to each brief. I found this the most useful way to tackle the workload, once I had spent five minutes on each brief, 95 per cent of the time I didn’t want to stop and got hours of work done.
My greatest piece of advice, however, is to give AWARD School a shot. Whether it is to become a creative (or a better suit), to win, to experience a different way of thinking, or to meet other creative people – apply! If you do, jump in headfirst and give it everything you’ve got, because you never know what might come from it… anything is possible.
Applications for AWARD School 2024 are open from 8-22 February. Tune into to the Virtual Info Night on 6 February for tips to ace your application. www.awardschool.com/events.
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