Last year, when I travelled to Singapore for relaxation and exploration, I had an opportunity to visit Publicis, a multinational advertising and public relations company.

I’ve visited a number of agencies overseas before for training and collaborative projects when I was working in advertising agencies, but Publicis Singapore impressed me greatly with its inspiring and imaginative atmosphere around the open-office design. When I arrived at the office, a giant signage at the entrance saying “Lead the change or the change will lead you” caught my eyes. I talked to the Talent Director, Miss Lynda Ong who introduced me to the agency’s background.

"‘Lead the Change’ is the basic philosophy of Publicis and that’s why we can do something unique and different from other agencies in Singapore,” Lynda said with confidence. She shared some award-winning works with me. “The agency provides strategic creative and digital ideas to help clients and tailor-make their own marketing solutions to build a successful business”, she added. The award-winning agency encourages multinational talents with hybrid cultures to foster creative work. The agency even runs international summer internship programmes for students from countries across Asia and Europe.

Starting your career in an advertising agency after graduation is the most challenging task, especially if you have your eyes set on the creative department. A formal application letter will definitely be ignored and may even be tossed out. It is important to stand out from the crowd and produce a “surprise” to impress the Creative Director so that he/she would arrange an interview for you. I would like to share two examples here to show how students’ talents can be explored and appreciated in the digital world. 

In an attempt to secure a job in an advertising agency, two Danish graduates came up with a novel idea for their job application. As most of us know, Lürzer's Archive is a well-known magazine in the advertising industry dedicated to presenting the best advertising campaigns around the world. The two young men borrowed interest from the magazine and created a “Fake Archive” for directed circulation which features the target creative directors’ work on the front cover, and on the inside pages interviews about themselves and their creative works. The idea converged with new media through the use of QR codes to review their latest creative updates. Impressed by this “Disguised Portfolio”, many creative directors from different agencies called them for interviews and in the end they accepted the posts offered by an advertising agency in Copenhagen, Denmark. One of the ways to get started with a career in an agency is to show your outstanding talent in the most creative way through a direct mail and convince the Creative Director how you can help them overcome a client’s brief.

In fact, showing your talent is not limited to a creative application letter. Film students Daniel and Dorian from Germany’s Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg created a 90-second spot entitled Dear Brother making reference to the whisky brand Johnnie Walker. It went viral on YouTube and garnered over one million views in just three weeks. Filmed in Scotland, the emotional storytelling combined with beautiful scenery fantastically captured on screen explores the bond between two brothers. One couldn’t guess the ending until the turning point near the end of the commercial. It’s not just the pictures or the storylines that move the viewer, the copywriting in the television commercial is able to transmit a positive, unique message of Johnnie Walker’s “Keep Walking” tag line to the audience. This is not the official TV commercial released by Johnnie Walker, but proactively created by two film students. 

What these two cases teach us is that to work in the creative industry one needs to be passionate and proactive. Social media provides an open platform with unlimited possibilities for us to reach all corners of the world with our work.  Once your work makes the cut and your talent is appreciated, you could be a winner overnight.

Click to view these videos:

The Disguised Portfolio

Johnnie Walker – Dear Brother 2015