It’s a mild Tuesday afternoon and a young man is having a panic attack in an neglected office stairwell. His breath comes in short sharp gasps as if a great weight is upon him. He grabs the banister for support, but the crushing feeling increases - it’s getting worse. Sweat is dripping off his nose steadily, and a sweaty puddle behinds to form. To any onlooker it looks bad. ‘Phone an ambulance right now’ bad. His hands are shaking, and it takes a force of will just to stand.
But we’ll come back to him later.
I’m writing this piece because my good friend Nick has asked me to say a few words about what being an OMBLE means to me. And I’ve got some in mind.
When you lose a pitch you feel devastated, don’t you? People walk around frowning, worrying about the security of their jobs. Weeks of work feel wasted. You froth with anger, burn with frustration and say every curse word under the sun. Then you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and do it all again. Perhaps you’ll win the next one and it’ll be a big juicy six figure account. Perhaps not. But that’s the nature of this business. You put aside your resentments and feelings and you sit down to work, to create - afresh, anew, better.
After over 5 years of being an OMBLE it only recently occurred to me that that’s the most enduring and powerful benefit of this community. Every single day you get the opportunity to pitch your ideas and receive feedback. Like clockwork, unflinchingly, you can put your ideas out there in whatever form they come in - a scrawl on a post-it note, a Photoshop mock-up, an origami crane, and anything in between. This lets you learn fast. Three years of creative advertising becomes condensed into one year of daily challenges. Easy. Job done.
That’s only half the truth though. Because there’s another side.
In a pitch, you only ever see the work you made. The one single person who sees all the work is the client. You get a small facet of the story - a slither of truth. What if you could see all the creative work that was presented? What if you could compare yourself to others but not through the prism of resentment but that of understanding - learning what makes their ideas good.
One Minute Briefs gives you the opportunity to do just this, 5 times a week, 52 weeks a year (occasionally with a week off at Critmas). You get to pull back the curtain and compare your thinking with dozens of other successful and aspiring creatives. What made their entry so clever? Was it an inventive visual pun? A brilliant twist of language? An original insight shining out like a diamond in the rough?
That’s why I truly believe OMB is the best ad school out there. And the more that it grows, the more people who are welcomed with open arms - the better the experience of comparing, contrasting and learning from others becomes. Where else could you get real briefs from worthy charities, fast food brands and abstract objects in the same week? It’s an education. It’s formative.
And that doesn’t even touch in the community spirit of togetherness that shines through, as people encourage, collaborate and try to help each other crack the tough nut that is ads.
OMB doesn’t cost money to enter.
You don’t need to go through a gruelling series of challenges. Just jump in and get involved. Whenever you can. And no worries if you’re too busy, or you went on holiday or you just can’t be arsed that day. There will be an OMB waiting tomorrow. No pressure.
Now - who’s forgotten about the guy at the beginning, seemingly dying in the stairwell? Let’s revisit him, or me - I should say. Yep, that was me having the extreme panic attack - one that came out of nowhere and shook me up for several hours… and it was only last month. I’m mentioning it, not because I have some innate desire to show my vulnerable side, or to engender your pity, but because I want you to understand that OMB is a community that will rally to support you no matter what. Whether you’ve got health problems. Mental illness. Bereavement. Joblessness. Homelessness. There’s no one right way to answer a brief, and there’s no one right way to be an OMBLE.
In all my years of advertising, I’ve rarely found as supportive or consistently helpful bunch of people as I have here. But I’ve also discovered there’s an ugly side of advertising - one fraught with creatives battling against every woe in the book from chronic conditions to depression, anxiety, even suicidal thoughts - who receive little help.
There’s a dirty tribalism in our “Adland” where we only look out for “the people like us”. For some that means the ones who went to the same ad school as you and got the same lessons, producing a new batch of cookie-cutter creatives. For others it’s the tribalism of race, of gender, of wanting the person who is ‘the right fit’ in a world where we know difference and originality works. We need to fight against these impulses, not to champion one school, or even one gender, but to celebrate and champion everyone - that’s what it means to be inclusive.
Industry navel gazing is rife. Conferences of like-minded people talking to more like-minded people, while all around us the world contracts, and advertising becomes more insular. More difficult to break in.
One Minute Briefs bucks this trend in a way I see rarely recognised and even less rewarded. But that doesn’t matter. They’re not in it for the awards.
One rule. One minute. Create an ad.
To quote M&C Saatchi’s often quite useful tagline, if that isn’t “brutal simplicity”, then I don’t know what is.
David Felton is a Creative Copywriter at Kindred Agency in Westminster where he produces work for brands, charities and - unsurprisingly - the government.
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