Portfolio Night 9: A surge of adrenaline for ad-land's young and restless

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 27, 2011
In all, 81 participants were judged by 27 creative heads.

The ninth edition of the world's advertising portfolio review-cum-recruitment event, Portfolio Night 9, was hosted by Ogilvy Mumbai at Westin, Goregaon, on May 26.

Initiated in 2002 by ihaveanidea, Portfolio Night is one of the largest communities of the international advertising industry. It is an annual event where top creative talents in advertising come together to review the portfolios of students, juniors and creative aspirants. While it helps youngsters gain feedback and guidance on their skill sets, top notch creative directors get to spot potential talent.

This was the second time that India was host to the event. Last year, too, Ogilvy was the host.

The total number of participants this time was a whopping 81 (as against 67 participants in 2010). In all, 27 creative heads (as compared to 23 in 2010) from different agencies judged the work. The participants hailed from 13 Indian cities, including host city Mumbai.

The judging process was exactly the same as last year's. The aspirants were divided into three batches and every aspirant had his/her portfolio reviewed by three creative directors.
afaqs! hovered around to tap the pulse of what the evening meant for the young participants.

Gitika Hastak, visualiser at Rediffusion Wunderman, received mixed reactions for her art work. While her ideation and concepts were appreciated, she learnt that she needs to work on the execution.

"All my judges encouraged me to take more risks with my work and be more bold in my art," she shared with afaqs!, adding, "They unanimously called my portfolio 'mild' in terms of its visuals and asked me to stop playing safe."

Hastak's work was judged by Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer and co-founder, Taproot India, Manish Bhatt, founder director, Scarecrow Communications, and Arun Iyer, national creative director, Lowe Lintas, thanks to whose inputs Hastak's art will never bear "obvious visuals" ever again.

While Portfolio Night 9 taught Hastak to go the extra mile with her art, it helped 30-year-old Pratiksha Dinesh More switch fields from accountancy to copywriting! "My family was against me working in advertising. They felt it was too glamorous a profession for me. However, I participated at Portfolio Night last year and busted this myth."

In 2010, Sajan Raj Kurup, founder and creative chairperson, Creativeland Asia, R Balki, chairperson and chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas India, and Josy Paul, chairperson and national creative director, BBDO India, told More that her lines were too 'strong', and that her ads needed to be more image-heavy. This year, she crafted her portfolio, keeping these pointers in mind. "This year, I've written in a manner that is easy for rural folk to comprehend, unlike last year," she enthused. What has this event done for More? "It's ensured that she "will not die an accountant," she adds.

While 80 of the 81 participants were bursting with youth energy, 46-year-old freelance creative professional Sanjiv Choudhary was bursting with confidence. afaqs! asked him whether competing with a bunch of enthusiastic youngsters made him nervous. "Not at all," Choudhary fielded, "Advertising is not a physical job; it's a mental job. I am here to get myself evaluated, meet Piyush Pandey, and land a job at an agency." Evidently, for this gentleman, age is just a number.

Echoing the participants' confidence, K V Sridhar, national creative director confided right after the first round, "Of the three kids I've met so far, I've already offered one a job."

Rajiv Rao, national creative director, Ogilvy India, concurs, "These youngsters know their basics, but need a lot of guidance. They need to work in the right places with the right people, but the basic potential is there." He added that while some freshers had nice, raw ideas, they lacked in execution.

Other creative heads who judged the work at the event included Amit Akali and Malvika Mehra, national creative directors, Grey, Satbir Singh, chief creative officer and managing partner, Euro RSCG, Ramanuj Shastri, national creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ashish Khazanchi, national creative director and vice-chairperson, Publicis Ambience, Piyush Pandey, executive chairperson and creative director, Ogilvy India, and Prasoon Pandey of Corcoise Films, amongst several others.

Since its inception, Portfolio Night has always been held on the same evening, simultaneously, across cities.

This time, while Ogilvy hosted the Indian rendition of Portfolio Night, the other cities that did so included Amsterdam (AKQA), Athens (Ogilvy), Austin (LatinWorks), Budapest (Kirowski & Umbrella), Chicago (Leo Burnett), Dublin (Ogilvy), Helsinki (Skandaali), Istanbul (RV Foundation of Advertising), Los Angeles (David&Goliath), Madrid (Leo Burnett), Milan (ADCI), Montreal (Bos), Paris (Digitas), Philadelphia (Philly Ad Club), San Francisco (Y&R), Sao Paulo (Ogilvy), Singapore (JWT, Bates 141 and Y&R), Stockholm (Swedish Association of Communication Agencies), Toronto (Y&R) and New York (Pirate).

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