Flash Your Flash

“Sweet reel, but where’s your web work?” queried the creative director, dismayed by the candidate’s lack of a digital clue.
According to Ad Age, the above line of questioning is not fantasy, but a pressing credentials/personnel issue faced by agencies today.

(speaking at ad:tech) Bob Moore, chief creative officer at Publicis USA, said the agency doesn’t hire people without digital in their portfolio, the hoped-for net effect being not two classes of creative but one. The challenge is getting people to think about it as a blank slate, he said, and “the irony that creative people are the slowest to recognize this is grating on me. Terribly.”

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. “Sweet reel, but where’s your web work?”
    To which my dream response would be, “Sweet question. Where’s your ability to recognize ideas over execution, and to realize that a good creative can say the same thing in many tongues?”
    I understand the importance of digital fluency in today’s ad market. It is more than important, it is vital. What I don’t get is why we suddenly assume everyone is tabula rasa when it comes to working in the medium.
    It used to be we would hire a great writer based on his radio reel, the assumption being that if he could master something as difficult as radio, he could adapt to TV.
    Or you’d take a chance based on a writer’s witty cover letter, even if his ads didn’t show the same spark.
    It is not as if online is a creature unto itself, any more than radio or guerilla or letter writing. Not if you believe we are in the business of ideas and persuasion.
    Is it different? Yes. It is interactive, it is dialogue, it rewards action.
    But it is not some alien language.
    I am on the ‘net 8+ hours a day, as both a creative and a consumer. Very little of what I see –- good, bad and great; blog, ad and microsite –- couldn’t have come from the pen of many a writer / thinker / art director I know.
    Most of whom have various levels of web work in their portfolios, from much to none. Are those talented folks in the “none” category dinosaurs in how they present themselves? Perhaps. But they are fantastic thinkers, and I would hate to see them fall victim to the bias of hirer who can’t see past the current media vehicle.
    … Granted, I do like being able to hand someone a memory stick instead of toting around a portfolio. So there is that.

  2. Duval, I was thinking quite along those same lines when I read this post yesterday. You expressed it perfectly.

  3. It’s really no different than interviewing at an agency that does a ton of TV, and you come in with no reel, or one or two spec spots and they quickly send you packing. I’ve been there, and I’ve wanted to make your argument Duval, but the dismissers had been given marching orders to find creatives with a great reel, not great ideas. So it goes.