April 13, 2010

"The Big Idea: Contemporary Ad Campaigns" Course - Option 1

The Big Idea / The New School / Spring 2007

By Kurt Brokaw

This is a three-credit course. Class members will work on four assignments in two-person teams. The first three assignments count 15% each; the fourth assignment counts 35%; and your class participation counts 20%.

The primary goal of the course is to infuse each class member and team with knowledge of the advertising process in today's marketplace as well as the creative processes of conceptualization and execution, so that each team can devise original and persuasive ads and commercials.

As a class, you are free in our first three meetings to self-select your own 'partner,' and you are encouraged to do this. The only requirement is that your partner must be a fellow class member. The ideal team partners a person with writing interests with a person with design interests. Person(s) without partner(s) after our third meeting will be linked by the instructor. The grade for each assignment will go to both partners; class participation is considered on an individual basis.

The secondary goal of the course is to accomplish the first goal in a positive, supportive and stimulating environment. The classroom should always be a safe, inviting place in which to explore, discover, discuss, sift and winnow ideas and viewpoints and what-ifs and dreams. This is not the workplace. This is, in a real sense, a lab course with more than a few similarities to science courses. You will be experimenting with your own imagination as well as that of another person who you may not know very well, or at all. We'll do everything possible to make the journey a productive and happy one. Your emails are answered promptly and your instructor is available to meet with you before or after class, as needed.

Text(s). You will need Advertising Strategy: Creative Tactics From The Outside/In (2006, Sage Publications) by Tom Altstiel and Jean Grow. The New School section at Barnes & Noble at 18th and Fifth Ave. has new copies; used copies may be available online at BN.com/Amazon.com/abebooks.com/bookfinder.com There are 17 chapters and our sessions will be weaving their way through most chapter material week after week.

The other text, which will be a good optional investment, is Mad Ave: Award-Winning Advertising of the 20th Century. (2000, Universe Publishing, Rizzoli). This is a publication of the Art Directors Club of New York, edited by Jackie Merri Meyer. It is out-of-print but copies turn up online as well as in the design/advertising section (second floor) of the Strand Bookstore at 12th & Broadway (around $15). This volume of a century of award winners will inspire every copywriter and art director.

There are a number of additional handouts from week to week covering
many aspects of the creative process. We view numerous commercials and a variety of film clips in class.

Course Outline (Starting Mondays, Jan. 22, 8:00 to 9:50 p.m.)

The Workplace. We begin with a general overview of how the relationship between advertising writers and art directors has evolved from the first half to the second half of last century and into a vastly changed technological world. The organization of agencies and corporate workplaces is reviewed--who creative people report to, how they interface with account, media and interactive personnel as well as brand managers, advertising and marketing heads who are agency clients. Select AICP award winners are screened.

Assignment: Obtain "Advertising Strategy" and read the first chapter, "Copy and Creativity"; if possible, talk with potential partners before /after class

The Process. Using "Copy and creativity" as our starting point, we examine the production process--creation, revision, making the sale, casting/selecting photogs, illustrators, production houses, the shoot, editing, scoring, presentation, testing. We view a stunning exercise in creative imagery--Kylie Minogue's "Come Into My World," by Michel Gondry. (His commercials for Foo Fighters, White Stripes, Chemical Brothers will be shown later.) The team relationship is reviewed.

Assignment: Read the second and third chapters, "Getting Started" and "Issues In A Changing Marketplace"; Talk with/select your advertising partner

The Blocks. The chapters on "Getting started" and "Issues in a Changing marketplace" frame this session on unblocking the imagination through trial-and-error. We contrast the steps an actor uses in learning a role with the artist's work on a canvas, viewing several scenes from Jacques Rivette's 1991 film, "La Belle Noiseuse," celebrated by the New York Times' Vincent Canby as "nothing less than an examination of one of life's great mysteries, the artist's creative process...as sacred as it is mysterious," with Emmanuelle Beart as the model for Michel Piccoli's painter. Team relationships are set and Assignment #1 (on public service/cause) is yours.

Assignment: Begin work on Assignment #1 with your partner. Read chapter four, "Concepting (What's the Big Idea)"

The Beginnings. Class exercises in blue-skying and brainstorming are held. Initial concepts are considered and contrasted with strategic objectives and budgetary goals. We view several years of award-winning AICP student entries, discussing concepts and executions of the commercials. A final portion of class time is given to team work sessions.

Assignment: Continue work on Assignment #1 with your partner. Read chapter five, "Design for Writers"

The Transition. Assignment #1 is due at this session. Assignment #2 (business/corporate) is yours. Design elements of unity, balance, layout and typography are discussed. We view examples of Stephen Frankfurt's 'Design In Motion' principle that informs his classic motion picture campaigns (the title credits for "To Kill A Mockingbird"), print campaigns for "Alien" and "Rosemary's Baby"). We also examine samples of master designer/illustrator Milton Glaser from his landmark "Art Is Work" book, including concepts for the retail and corporate marketplaces.

Assignment: Begin work on Assignment #2 with your partner. Read chapter sixteen, "Business To Business"

The Business. Our first invited guest, Matt Miller, President of AICP (The Association of Independent Commercial Producers), gives his perspectives on overall student work as well as an overview of commercial production worldwide, with attention to office products, manufacturers and the general category of durables and hard goods. Teams can Q&A Miller on their developing concepts/executions for the assignment.

Assignment: Continue work on Assignment #2 with your partner. Read chapter fourteen, "Internet"

The Music. Assignment #2 is due at this session. Assignment #3 (on a singer/band) is yours. You'll be creating for new and/or interactive media. Attention is given to active/static content, rich media banners, interstitials, emails, instant messaging, Google/MySpace and other online properties. Leading edge music videos by Michel Gondry are reviewed.

Assignment: Begin work on Assignment #3 with your partner. Read chapter nine, "Print"

The Audience. Our guest, Chris Brokaw, will cover how his music as a singer/songwriter/lead guitarist/bandleader/film composer over 20 years (Come, Codeine, Steve Wynn, Evan Dando, The New Year, Consonant, CB Rock Band, feature films "I Was Born, But..." and "Road") are promoted through the Internet and other online media. Commercial licensing is discussed. Teams can Q&A Chris on their developing work.

Assignment: Continue work on Assignment #3 with your partner. Read chapter ten, "Out-of-Home"

The Brand. Assignment #3 is due at this session. Assignment #4 (on package goods) is yours. We devote this session to a review of the branding process and out-of-home media, the fastest-growing corner of the media marketplace. Guerilla/stealth marketing are considered with current examples from the NYC cityscape. An overview of the changing package goods marketplace, and the key role of the agency account planner is discussed. AICP campaign award winners are screened.

Assignment: Begin work on Assignment #4 with your partner. Read chapter six, "Campaigns"

The Writer. Our guest, Doris Burke, is a veteran copywriter and creative supervisor on major package goods accounts at Grey, Foote,Cone & Belding (now part of Draft), and Ally & Gargano. She'll bring her expertise on conceptualizing and executing for across-the-board media as well as insights on reaching and building brand loyalty with women at various stages of their lives. Teams can Q&A Ms Burke on developing concepts/executions of this assignment.

Assignment: Continue work on Assignment #4 with your partner. Read chapter fifteen, "Promotions & Point of Purchase"

The Art Director. Our guest, Arhur Korant, is Co-Founder and Creative Director of Double Platinum, the leading agency specializing in marketing/advertising initiatives for the gay/lesbian market. Like Doris, he was also a VP/Creative Supervisor at Grey, and designed numerous campaigns for Procter & Gamble brands. He'll share his expertise on creating for many different consumer groups. Teams can Q&A Korant on developing concepts/executions of this assignment.

Assignment: Continue working on Assignment #4 with your partner. Read chapter eight, "Body Copy"

The Exploratory. Doris Burke returns and will view/listen to creative exploratories and work-in-progress by class teams. This session will serve to guide and direct teams in finalizing on the core direction of the work flow. Teams will have class time to work together and with Ms. Burke in styling and honing the direction of their messages in televison as well as support media. An intercept research exercise is distributed.

Assignment: Continue working on Assignment #4 with your partner. Conduct outside intercept research on your campaign

The Research. Each team will report on the results of its informal intercept research among students/teachers/consumers of the campaign in its developmental stage. Refinements, suggestions, knowledge gained will be shared. Limitations of research--one exposure, unfinished execu- tions. be-positive biases, the consumer-as-critic--are critically analysed.

Assignment: Continue working on Assignment #4 with your partner. Read "The Art Of Writing Advertising: Conversations. With Masters of the Craft" (Handout)

The Details. Our focus in this final preparation session is two-fold: to consider the contributions of some of the greatest practitioners of the art and craft of advertising--Bill Bernbach, Mary Wells, David Ogilvy, Lee Clow, George Lois, Helmet Krone, Caroline Jones, Nina DeSesa, Ralph Ammirati, Emil Gargano, Ed McCabe, Linda Kaplan Thayer, David Lubars, Helene Spivak--as well as to finalize your campaign preparation.

Assignment: Complete Assignment #4 with your partner. Read chapter seventeen, "Selling It"

The Sell. Our 15th and final class is given over to team presentations of individual campaigns. Each team will be given an equal amount of time--to be determined entirely by the number of teams presenting over 110 minutes--and all work should be turned in at this meeting. (Campaigns after grading will be returned to their creators.)


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