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Portfolio Night 2012: Anxiety, aspirations and advice

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 24, 2012
The 10th edition of the world's advertising portfolio review-cum-recruitment event, Portfolio Night 10, was hosted by Lowe Lintas & Partners at Four Seasons, Mumbai on May 23.

Getting guidance from industry stalwarts is what the anxious and nervous minds awaited at the beginning of the evening. The 10th edition of the world's advertising portfolio review-cum-recruitment event, Portfolio Night 10, was hosted by Lowe Lintas & Partners at Four Seasons, Mumbai on May 23.

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 third time that India was host to the event. In 2010 and 2011, Ogilvy was the host. This was a first for the host Lowe Lintas & Partners in India, just as it was for many of the participants like Lakhshyya Meh. A graphic designer from Robolt Entertainment, Meh had come to get her portfolio checked and was keen to meet Priti Nair, R Balki and Prasoon Joshi. She was on the waiting list till four days before the actual night!

There were about 84 entries from 18 cities, including cities such as Agra, Kanpur and Bhubaneswar. Interestingly, this year, the participants were made to select a tag for their portfolio, before they actually got inside to meet the judges. They could tag their portfolio as a 'Sleazy Portfolio', 'Lazy Portfolio', 'Confused Portfolio' or others.

Shyamakanta Pradhan, who self tagged his portfolio as a 'Lazy Portfolio', is a student of Visual Arts from Bhubaneswar.

The creative directors who went through the portfolios included R Balki, chairman and chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas & Partners; Arun Iyer, national creative director, Lowe Lintas & Partners, Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, national creative director, Bates India; Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India' Ramki D Ramkrishna, owner, Cartwheel Creative Consultancy; Sajan Raj Kurup, founder and creative chairman, Creativeland Asia; Vikram Gaikwad, partner and executive creative director, Creativeland Asia; Priti Nair, director, Curry-Nation; Sonal Dabral, chairman and chief creative officer, DDB Mudra Group; Amit Akali, national creative director, Grey India; Nitesh Tiwari, executive creative director, Leo Burnett India; Prasoon Joshi, executive chairperson, McCann Worldgroup India and regional creative director, McCann Asia Pacific; Ashish Chakravarty, creative chief, North, McCann Erickson; Rajiv Rao, national creative director, Ogilvy India; Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director, Ogilvy India; N Padmakumar, national creative director, Rediffusion-Y&R; Manish Bhatt, director, Scarecrow Communications; Raghu Bhatt, director, Scarecrow Communications; Agnello Dias, chairman and co-founder, Taproot India; Rahul Sengupta, national creative director, TBWA India; and Vinod Mulacherry, director, White Canvas.

Twenty one year old Tanmayi Kamat got sound advice from Ajay Gahlaut. "He said that my ideation was very good, but I need to improve my execution skills," said Kamat. A student of Raheja College, she now works for Sychronicity.com. Another aspirant of the same age, Rahul Pai, was the only one carrying his portfolio on an iPad and not in the physical form. "Ramki asked me to work more on my ideas," said Pai.

There were also those who have not studied or worked on any creative in the past.

Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar mentioned an interesting case of a girl who was in the insurance business, who came for Portfolio Night. "It is not only for the youngsters. I liked this girl for her determination. Suddenly, you start remembering your own days when you were struggling for the right guidance," said Mahabaleshwarkar.

Forty seven year old freelance creative director Sanjeev Choudhary, who was also present for the event last year, visited it this year as well.

Many such as Chax, Preeti Nair and Sajan Raj Kurup agreed to make an offer to some of those whose portfolios they liked. In fact, Kurup has already invited two of the participants to his agency for an interview.

Recalling his own days of struggle, Nitesh Tiwari said that he was selected because he wrote a poem. "My copy test, in my first interview, was not that good." He added that the advice that he gives to aspirants is to become good at advertising. On hiring someone as an employee, Tiwari recounted an incidence when someone came with a portfolio that had an 'L' (Learner) sign on it. "I am still looking for a portfolio which is as intriguing as that," he said.

R Balki said he would hire a portfolio which has a 'No Clue' portfolio tag. Speaking about the portfolio tagging, Iyer said, "They all get a feedback about various things, but it is interesting to see how they self-tag themselves."

Sajan Raj Kurup mentioned a girl who called herself a writer. "She is a girl from Kolkata, who loved writing and indeed had a flare for writing. I advised her to pursue writing than to pursue advertising," said Kurup.

Joseph George, CEO, Lowe Lintas & Partners said that it took almost a month of preparation for the host agency to organise this event. "But, at the end of it, I hope that we kick-started several careers. I hope that through this platform, the creative directors will choose talent that will fit into their agency vision."

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