Internship SMACKDOWN!: Week 2 - The Firing Squad

Jesus, these lights are hot.

I’m standing in front of my class, getting ready to bear my creative soul. I think that my idea is sound, but you have no control over it once it’s out there. And when you spend so much time and energy cultivating your idea, you want it to be received well. So the presentation is everything.

So I pause, take a deep breath, and let it go…

I used to freak out at the idea of standing in front of a big group of people. It’s part of the reason I started working for Underdog. I knew I needed to be comfortable talking in front of groups of people. And, honestly, I grew to like it. And I found that the confidence I gained from Underdog carried over into other facets of my life; I started speaking up in areas where I would have stayed quiet. 

Which brings us back to ad class.

A few of us from class met up for brunch on Sunday to help each other with our assignments. I knew that I was struggling with the assignment, and I guessed i wasn’t the only one. But it also turns out, I wasn’t the only one frustrated with the tone and intensity of the first class. We talked about it at length, and i think we all came to the conclusion that the internship needs to take a backseat to the learning.

I think the class was greatly improved as a result. Everyone was more loose, and more people chimed in and contributed to the conversation. Kurt and Mike led a discussion-not a lecture-about the roles of art director and copywriters in the modern ad agency. When does a writer art direct, and when does an art director write? It was a significant improvement over last week. Nobody was trying to one-up one another, and people were helping each other flesh out their ideas.

Not that we didn’t want to succeed. I’m only speaking for myself here obviously, but when it came time to present our homework assignments, I really wanted to impress. It was the first time since Wexley that i would get feedback on my ideas from actual ad guys. I wanted it to be perfect. For our assignment, we were to take an existing ad campaign and extend it into an online campaign. The problem, as one classmate astutely pointed out, the Internet is a horrible place to find campaigns that aren’t online. 

I decided to tackle North Peak Brewing Company, a small brewer located in (ugh) Ann Arbor, Michigan. They had a small outdoor campaign, one of which won a Silver Pin in Ad Fed Minnesota’s The Show. 

For its online component, I decided to create a Up North Bartender that provided earnest Up North advice. Here’s the grand idea:

Up North Wisdom from an Up North Brewer. 

Midwestern folks have their own unique values and opinions. Far from being overly folksy, their advice is often abrupt, blunt, and earnest. When you deal with sub-zero weather nine months out of the year, polite niceties go out the window. For those who can’t experience Up North wisdom in their local bar, North Park brings Up North Wisdom directly to you. 

When visiting the microsite, you are greeted by a Midwestern Gentleman quietly tending to the bar. He is confident, educated, and most importantly, pulls little punches. Underneath the bar, is a simple text entry box, where you can ask him any question, from “What is the weather like outside?” to “How do I deal with my cheating girlfriend?”. Using fancy logarithms and complicated Google-Fu, our bartender answers your question with remarkable sincerity, accuracy, and Up North wisdom, all while offering you a cold North Peak beer straight from the tap. 

I finish my pitch. I close my eyes, and wait for the bullets to start firing.

Mike says the idea is good, but I have to give the bartender a voice, otherwise the whole thing falls apart. I have to write answers for the questions I posed in the pitch, because that’s the meat of the idea. (Actually, he quoted Office Space, a quote which I have spent the last twenty minutes trying to find with no luck.) I know Kurt said something, but at that point, I was so relieved at not getting completely shot down that I’m sure I partially blacked out. 

I’m sure this presenting thing gets better, right?

NEXT TIME: I return from Las Vegas with my millions of dollars in winnings and quit the ad business because fuck ya’ll I’m rich bitch. Also, my extensive experience in downloading several gigs of iPhone apps come in handy as I develop an app for a hair salon. This totally means I can write all those purchases off on my taxes, right? Right.


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