Creative Directors' Speakers Series: #2 It Takes All Types To Do The Job

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 11:30pm to Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - 1:30am

Does one size of (AD GRAD) fit all?

Creative Directors from Public Relations, Digital, traditional Ad agency, experiential and branding firms come and share their work, perspective and insights:

Our panel:

Joel Arbez – Executive Creative Director , Grey Canada
Jon Toews – former Executive Creative Director, Critical Mass
Andrew Simon – Executive Creative Director, Edelman Canada
Jonathan Smith – Executive Creative Director, Pigeon Branding
Graham Lee – T1 Agency, Chief Creative Officer, CD at T1 Motion

Q & A to follow.

Brought to you by the Advertising Program, OCADU.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul Street, Room 190 (Auditorium)
Creative Director Speakers Series

How to get a job in advertising

What do advertising creative directors look for when hiring new graduates? Here are some answers to questions that all new advertising creatives have.


What is the top quality you look for in junior creatives?

NANCY VONK (co-founder, Swim; former co-creative director, Ogilvy & Mather)

“Passion like, ‘I’m on fire to do this, and it’s 100 per cent what I want to do.’ I think you’d find over and over again, most leaders would say that, strangely enough, talent is not at the top of the list. It really is mindset. It’s a tough industry; if you don’t have real passion for it, you’re not going to make it over all the hurdles. You don’t want somebody who is only part-way in. You want someone that’s all in. And that’s really evident when you interview people. It really comes out quickly.”

DEREK BLAIS (associate creative director, BBDO Toronto)

“Passion. If you’re passionate about cooking, and 90 per cent of the interview is about cooking, that’s amazing. I just want to see that passion towards being creative.”


Work by OCAD U advertising alum Neha Patel Work by OCAD U advertising alum Neha Patel

What do you look for in books (portfolios)?

JANE MURRAY (freelance creative director; former executive creative director, Lowe Roche)

“A breadth of ideas. You’ll have to work on a whole bunch of things, so if someone is just super into cars or apps, or apps for cars, that’s great they’re super focused. But, you might have to sell flowers or a bank. So a voice that can change properly for whatever the task is at hand is important.”

“Simplicity. You want to solve a difficult problem in a very simple way. I’ve had students come in and they’re like, ‘so there’s this video and then it takes you to the microsite’ and so on, and I’m like, ‘I would never do any of this.’ I would never get that far because you haven’t hooked me in with the idea yet. It’s impressive that you can work out how all the technology works, but there’s nothing there.”

NANCY VONK (co-founder, Swim; former co-creative director, Ogilvy & Mather)

“In a really good book, the work would actually solve the client’s problem. So many students will say ‘well, I’m just a student, so I can just show how creative I am.’ The creativity without solving the problem is worth nothing. I think there was a time when people let student books off easier. Now we want someone who is already there and in this business to solve problems. If it is not evident they solved a real problem, then I’m only so impressed by something that made me smile or laugh.

“Another feature of a really good book is that it’s media-neutral. It’s not about how many surfaces or screens you can get it on. The more the thinking shows that it would have transcended any medium and traveled into any space, the more you’ve got a home run. Something that’s never changed from when I started in the business to today is that the idea is king.”

Work by OCAD U advertising alum Anton Mwewa Work by OCAD U advertising alum Anton Mwewa


What is a good way to get your foot in the door?

DEREK BLAIS (associate creative director, BBDO Toronto)

“Get Marketing Magazine or Strategy Magazine and look at specific people that are working at different shops. If you see a campaign that resonates with you, look for that person’s name on LinkedIn and message them there. For me, personally, if I get someone reaching out to me directly, citing a campaign I’ve done, that starts a bit of a dialogue. I think LinkedIn is a great tool to meet people directly, instead of going to the website and emailing HR.”


ALLEN OKE (creative director, Zulu Alpha Kilo)

“Portfolio shows are great. I usually do about three of them. They’re a really great place to meet people. As for your book, be compelling and be yourself.”

Katie Liang
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