How on earth do you advertise a company that specialises in hair restoration? Go on, take a minute to think about it…
This was the brief that started everything for me. It was January 2016 and I was a few months into a History & Politics degree at The University of Birmingham. I didn’t know a thing about advertising. All I knew was that the £100 prize would make excellent beer money.
So I entered. My first OMB was a rather hastily written bit of long-ish copy composed on my iPhone’s Notes app. It got a couple of likes over the afternoon before I more-or-less forgot about it and headed to the pub.
I was rather surprised to see my entry announced in the shortlist on Saturday morning alongside a host of rather more qualified people than me. If that had been the end, I’d have been a happy man.
But it wasn’t the end. I won, and took the hundred quid prize. Along with it, I’d caught the OMB bug. For the next six months I entered as often as I could. I won a couple, but more importantly learnt an absolute ton from the Ombles, who embraced me as a member of the community very quickly.
Of course, so far I didn’t have any faces to go with the Twitter handles. All this changed at OMBLive3, my first chance to meet the Ombles.
It was here that I met Adam Britton, co-host of OMBLive. He took a chance on me and gave me my first placement at Big Brand Ideas, Macclesfield. This first taste of agency life cemented that this was what I wanted to do.
My next university reading week, in February 2017, wasn’t spent in the library. Instead, I headed up to Manchester to work for Nick Entwistle, the founder of the Bank of Creativity himself.
All through this time I was still entering OMB, and still improving every day. It’s true that nothing makes you better than practice.
Over Easter I spent two weeks in the Birmingham office of Spark44, the company I now work for full-time. Working on a variety of projects for their clients Jaguar and Land Rover, it certainly helped sharpen my skills.
I returned to Spark for three months in the Summer between my second and third years at Brum. To make my life even easier, I also took up the challenge of being Editor-in-Chief of Redbrick, the university’s newspaper, over the final year of my course.
By the Autumn of 2017 I certainly felt a bit more established as an Omble. I’d done four big placements, had won my fair share of OMBs and worked out what I wanted to do post-graduation.
And that was when Nick thought I was ready for my next big challenge – making a One Minute Talk to a rather big room full of rather important ad-people.
Armed with only my skint-student-spec handwritten business cards and a couple of fortifying cans of lager, I travelled down to London for OMBLive4. Somehow, the speech went down okay, and I had an absolute blast with the always-party-ready Ombles.
With my confidence high, I decided that Christmas to enter J.Walter Thompson’s YES Awards scheme. With a roughly mocked up OMB entry advertising Bin Bags, I didn’t have a great deal of hope about winning the placement.
Yet my OMB luck continued, and I managed to bag myself six weeks at one of London’s oldest and biggest agencies. Teaming up with fellow Omble Joe Clark, working at JWT was a cracking experience.
Not only did we get to work on big brands such as Kit Kat, we also got to watch the World Cup from the comfort of their Knightsbridge terrace. The agency’s summer party also coincided with my 21st birthday, culminating in me learning another valuable lesson about the industry; how to work with a ferocious hangover.
Then, in September last year I took the big decision to uproot my life and move over to Frankfurt, Germany, to work in the lead European office of Spark44. With about three quid in my bank account and not speaking a word of German, it was certainly a bold move.
Working on brands like Jaguar and Land Rover has been an amazing experience. The highlight for me has to be writing my first big TVC, promoting the new Jaguar F-PACE SVR. Seeing my ideas come to life is something I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of.
Looking back, it seems mad to think so much has happened in what feels like no time at all. If you’d asked me three years ago, I definitely wouldn’t have thought I’d end up working nearly 1000km away on two of the world’s most prestigious brands.
From writing ads on my Notes app, to writing ads for Jaguars, I think it just goes to show where the OMB and BOC community can take you.
Follow William on Twitter.