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Memory Lane

It’s Watford Week. And I’m feeling slightly fuzzy round the edges. That’s what drinking with advertising students will do for you. It’s a heady mix of premium French lager and fond, dewy-eyed memories. Not only did I probably imbibe a few too many Katonas, I also almost definitely and quite cringingly recalled the halcyon days of touting our book around London.

It is without doubt the most exciting, confusing, character-building, horrifically hard and stressful time of your life. And despite the rate at which the world is changing (we now broadcast our Watford crit live on uStream and Liveshare), it’s not changed much. Let’s paint the picture a little for you from first hand experience. You finished work in a bar at 1.30am, you stayed up playing Grand Theft Auto Vice City till 2.30am. You get up at the crack of 10am, slog your way across town to meet your partner, try and get away with just buying a bottle of water in Starbucks and stay there all day working on a brief set by a creative director with a thing for terrorising students with an impossible task.

Later, at a self-proclaimed top advertising agency, you sit nervously awaiting the drubbing. The creative director enters. He’s had a bad day. The client didn’t buy the route he liked. They changed the edit. He’s got an itchy rash. His wife is livid he’s at the office late, again. Time to take it out on students who have the gall to walk in here with gusto and enthusiasm.

A team arrives less than one minute after he does. He boots them out. “Here’s your first lesson in advertising, ladies” he cries. In the 1990s it was de rigour for all creative directors to reference to male teams as female. Then, it’s demolition time. He tears through the work. Nothing meets his benchmark. None of it could run. None of it would pass muster. Having torn it all off the wall, he pulls out flip chart and draws a diagram (yes, a diagram) of how to come up with advertising ideas.

Cut to later (in the pub) and sixteen 20-somethings are crying into their Lowenbrau’s, metaphorically. In actual fact, we were all getting hammered and laughing a lot (laughter was and often still is the soundtrack to being an advertising creative). We laughed at the ludicrously aggressive but somehow strangely inspiring crit we’d just endured. Despite the antics, the arrogance, the mock-anger, it was a thrilling ride that I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. One thing I did change, however, was how we came to approach group crits ourselves. Opting for enthusiasm and energy over aggression and alpha-male posturing. If a student team have made it thus far, it’s unlikely their work is devoid of merit, and in my experience, everyone’s got a workable idea. Beating it out of them may work for some creative directors. But we prefer to tease it out.

WCRS Tweets
  • Add some jolliness to your day with Finnish illustrator Toni Halonen's new work http://t.co/4Z8OR8P4SN @itsnicethat http://t.co/MRTYV1t9c1

    17 September, 10:51:21
  • RT @Creativepool: Toy Story That Time Forgot By @WCRS_LDN #CPspotlight http://t.co/a6gxFSq9LL http://t.co/ONgdfQjAcc

    17 September, 10:26:26
  • The Harry Potter saga visualised as one graphic by artist Lucy Knisley http://t.co/DXxXs3350F via @FastCoCreate http://t.co/sNrjnKoya0

    17 September, 09:33:19
  • Out of this world (!!) old @NASA pictures on display at @BREESELITTLE http://t.co/2Q2EzSuFyC via @itsnicethat http://t.co/Cm1YvFh7Xa

    16 September, 14:22:46
  • Our new @notonthehighst brand ad has made @creativitymag Picks http://t.co/FrxEoVVw3Z #Choosealifelessordinary @adage

    16 September, 14:09:36
  • Stunning pictures of Hong Kong from the 1950s snapped by teenager Ho Fan http://t.co/9frKkTSqCQ via @wherecoolthings http://t.co/CtLEnblyGy

    16 September, 13:57:23
  • Behind the scenes of our latest campaign Choose. Via @notonthehighst http://t.co/HWmBS0N4iG

    15 September, 21:35:00
  • RT @notonthehighst: We're coming up in the next break. Make sure you stay tuned for something a little less ordinary. http://t.co/Y57TM4Q382

    15 September, 20:14:12
  • There's something pretty un-missable for all the @notonthehighst fans this evening...make sure you turn on your TV's at 9.15pm!

    15 September, 17:04:39
  • RT @bensaint: Introducing our brand new TV ad. Superb work @WCRS_LDN and all of @notonthehighst marketing team http://t.co/hK0el5cp3s

    15 September, 16:54:59
  • Our @notonthehighst ad Choose has received a lovely 4* review from @JasonAtDavid http://t.co/HjaMTbD5jA http://t.co/X1ApeeWfAx

    15 September, 16:12:18
  • RT @Tiggerbouncer: A couple of @WCRS_LDN classics in this list of Phones 4u top ads from @Campaignmag http://t.co/kPaSTcIQcG

    15 September, 15:37:32
  • RT @mattwilliams100: ...and not just because the ad's strapline is the same as one of my favourite songs. @WCRS_LDN #NOTHS

    15 September, 13:23:51
  • @simongray3 thanks for the tweet! Cc:@notonthehighst

    15 September, 13:23:42
  • RT @mattwilliams100: Obvious bias I know, but the new @WCRS_LDN http://t.co/Ay2yJUXqLs ad is really rather lovely... http://t.co/ePuTtmmFR5

    15 September, 13:22:03