Breaking In

Over 100 Advertising Insiders Reveal How to Build a Portfolio that Will Get You Hired

Interviews by William Burks Spencer

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Interview Excerpt: Peter Gatley, Creative Director, Fallon, London

If you missed it, check out some great work from Peter Gatley.

WS: What do you look for in a student book? And what impresses you?

PG: Stating the obvious, your book needs to stand out and be remembered. This is, after all, what our clients want us to do for them. When I look at a book, I’m open to being surprised. And I’m hoping to see that you’re smart. This is your chance to show me. What impresses me most is a book that shouts, “I’m smart” and belongs to someone who has enough humility to not be too sure.

WS: Are sketches okay if the ideas are good enough?

PG: Anything is okay if it fits a brief of being able to surprise me and convince me you’re smart. Don’t spoil good ideas by producing them badly. The smart thing to do is show a good idea some respect. Sketches are fine as long as the sketches couldn’t be done much better.

WS: In terms of writing, do you think it’s important for a writer to show that they can write, either with a long-copy ad or some other piece of long writing?

PG: Play to your strengths. If writing long copy is your thing, do that. As long as I’m left feeling you’re smart, it doesn’t matter. It could be that someone called me on the same day and asked me if I’ve come across anyone who can write good long copy for a project or position. Who knows? Be the best you can be and see what happens. If writing long copy isn’t you, don’t do it. Write some short copy that makes me smile. Or show me you’re smart in another way—your way.

[ ... ]

WS: What do you think about putting things into a book that aren’t ads at all?

PG: All the better. Perhaps you’ve made an absolutely charming two-minute film—you might look more well rounded and perhaps more in touch with humanity than someone with a book that simply has one ad after another. I would rather look at a book full of good ideas than a book full of ads. How can variety be a bad thing?

WS: So you said you want to see that they’re smart. Do you also want to see their personality come through?

PG: Enthusiasm is infectious. That would be good. And humility more often than not belongs to people who always want to learn and do better.

WS: And do you have any advice for someone who’s just starting to put together a book?

PG: You might only get one shot at a person, or a place. Don’t cut corners. Don’t write ads until you have a really good strategy. And then write dozens of ads. Try and get to a place where being totally obsessive about your book feels healthy and not weird. Don’t make a film until you’ve worked out all the details first, so it’s a perfect film. Your book has to be the best it can be, so keep going until it is.

Read the full interview in BREAKING IN: Learn more about the book or Buy it on Amazon

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