Spotting Advertising Talent In The Wild A Lot Tougher Than It Looks

Creative people in advertising are not normal. Things like meetings and time sheets are real crimps in their machinery. So, imagine how hard it can be for a non-conformist artist or writer to package himself in a way that appeals to corporate America’s jester service.

Despite the difficulty, it’s a popular pursuit for people not wanting to work in insurance or on an oil rig. People like John Boone, a co-founder of BooneOakley in Charlotte, NC.

On Thursday, Boone wrote an interesting note on his Facebook page about his path to success.

Today I’m thankful for Tom Cordner, who gave me a chance early in my advertising career. I started my career in Atlanta and loved every minute of it. But I’d always dreamed of working in LA. At the time, my portfolio was really …what’s the word? …bad. But somehow, Tom saw through the bad and saw the potential for something better. I can tell you from experience, it’s incredibly difficult to do. Most creative directors typically want to bring in proven talent. Talent that’s done amazing, buzz-generating, award-winning work. It’s similar to an NBA team wanting to hire a marquis player who’s won championships. But I was a no-name player in the D-league.‬

I can tell you from experience that the best in the business often can’t see past the glare of last season’s Lions. Which is a real shame, because original ideas come in all shapes and sizes, not just in neat portfolio school-like packages.

I am grateful for Boone’s story and pleased that his talent was discovered by someone who could give him the chance to perform on a large stage. Had Tom Cordner failed to recognize Boone’s talent, we would not now be looking at this quality NBA advertising:

BOBCATS – Fan Appreciation from BooneOakley on Vimeo.

Where did you find your break in this business, and how has it impacted the arc of your ad career? Inquiring ad minds want to know…

Previously on AdPulp: Agency Sites That Merely Showcase Credentials Are Done



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.