The 11th edition of Portfolio Night in Mumbai went off with the air smelling of enthusiasm and nervousness. Organised by JWT (for the first time), it began in the evening and saw a whopping presence of 90 participants from not only the host city but also from Pune, Bhopal, Bengaluru and even Delhi. Incidentally, Delhi simultaneously hosted its first Portfolio Night too, which was put together by Leo Burnett. As for the judges, while the initial tally was 30, Ravi Deshpande, former chairman and creative chief, Contract (who left the agency recently) was absent. However, JWT's former chief creative officer and managing partner Bobby Pawar showed up at the event as an invitee judge.
For Mukesh Gaikwad, a designer and visualiser at a niche Mumbai-based ad agency called The Core, the evening provided a chance to meet the creative stalwarts of the ad industry and get technical suggestions from them. "In a way, we are all raw but if we get an opportunity to polish our skills, then we will also shine," said Gaikwad, who attended the event for the first time. With his friend Avidha Mitra, who is a copywriter at another agency called Thought Trends, the duo created a customised book of works titled 'Mind Art' to showcase their art/illustration and copywriting talents.
"I would be privileged to meet any one of the judges and show them my concepts and ideas. That's enough for me," said Mitra.
Meanwhile, Rupesh Patkar, a visualiser with four years' experience with the ad agency Eggfirst, said the experience was mind blowing. "I am very happy to have met Paddy (Santhosh Padhi). Carlton (D'souza) said two of my campaigns were potential award winning campaigns at international level and gave his visiting card. They also told me to work on the execution and craft," said a jubilant Patkar, who got five horns. Each judge was given a bus horn, which they could press to indicate that they have loved a piece of work.
For Mithun Rajam, a student of Raheja School of Arts and currently interning with Lowe Lintas, the evening turned out to be great. He said Senthil Kumar, NCD, JWT, asked him to get in touch with him and mail his portfolio. "Even Piyush Pandey (executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy & Mather India) gave one honk. It was great! I enjoyed quite a lot. However, he also said many of my works seemed to have been made for a creative director than the public," he added.
Dabral said the event was a great opportunity to find variety as people from diverse places and backgrounds, and diverse levels of privileges come with their work. "It's really inspiring, especially since I am from Agra and advertising was not a field I knew anything about. Besides, I always loved teaching and Portfolio Night gives me a chance to give my words of wisdom for whatever they are worth," he added smilingly.
Dabral's advice to youngsters was "don't lose heart, knock on as many doors as possible and keep the passion alive even when you reach your target".
BBDO's chairman and national creative director Josy Paul, who has attended all the four Portfolio Nights in India, says there seems to be greater nervousness among participants than in the earlier years. "Perhaps this is because of the hype created around Portfolio Nights," he said.
Recalling a participant who stood out, Paul said that although the participant's portfolio was nothing to speak about, being from a theatre background, he stood up and started speaking about the stories he had written. "I told him you are a speech writer, a storyteller. Don't worry about the medium," he said.
Santosh Padhi, co-founder and chief creative officer, Taproot, felt there was a need to pre-judge the work so that the right candidates receive the judges' time. "A system of filter has to be there as it will help not only the kids but also us," said Padhi, who advised experimentation.
As for Satbir Singh, managing partner and chief creative officer, Havas Worldwide, one portfolio that stood out was the one with extensive online work. "Today's kids are adapting and adopting to the digital medium. But surprisingly, I am not seeing a lot of online work. While they use the medium, they are not working to understand it," Singh rued.
Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT, South Asia, said that the head of talent felt they did an initiative which showcased emerging talent. And, what better way to do that than to host Portfolio Night. "The buzz is great. There is a great sense of bonhomie even among ourselves. Creative honchos, who are at the top of their games, are now giving back to the people who are starting their career. So, you have two opposite sides of a spectrum," he explained.
Speaking about the behind-the-scene work, Harris said that every invitation and caricature put up at the judging bay was customised. A dedicated team of 35 volunteers from the JWT Mumbai office began working on the event from March, with the last one and a half months being "really crazy". Asked if JWT would organise the event again, Harris said, "It's too early to say anything but we may do it again."
Some of the other judges present at the event included Ashish Khazanchi, Arun Iyer, Manish Bhatt, Malvika Mehra, Amit Akali, Carlton D'Silva, Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, Sam Ahmed, Komal Bedi Sohal, Raj Nair, Swati Bhattacharya and Tista Sen.. And, what better way to do that than to host Portfolio Night. "The buzz is great. There is a great sense of bonhomie even among ourselves. Creative honchos, who are at the top of their games, are now giving back to the people who are starting their career. So, you have two opposite sides of a spectrum," he explained.