Rachel McEwen's Diary

Rachel McEwen  

Agency: Clemenger BBDO
Age: 22
Degree/education: Bachelor of Design in Visual Communications
University/college: University of Technology, Sydney

Diary Entry 7 (September 2015)

Amongst many other things this month I attended the NSW Youngbloods’ event WTF: Content. Going to industry event like this is not only massively eduational and thought provoking, but also a great opportunity to meet people and socialise with other young people in the industry. Since I thought this was a great event and the theme was particularly topical for the industry, I thought I’d share some of my observations from the evening.

The first speaker was Alex Light from Vice. Alex’s presentation centred around the nation that in order to be effective, content needs to stand alone as entertainment. This is more important than ever considering that these days we are savvy and know when we’re being marketed to. Alex also raised the notion of a change in process, as we used to begin with a proposition but now we need to start with identifying the audience’s interests, as this is what should drive and dictate our content creation. Alex showed a case study of Mazda Rebels which demonstrated the entertaining and cultural relevance of good content.

Next to present was Roden Vuong from Twitter. Roden opened by explaining how the era of advertising as a broadcast medium is dead, and the power is now in the hands of the consumer. Roden shared two great statistics – That the average used unlocks their phone 150 times a day (guilty!) and that the human attention span is now 8 seconds on average! Roden also shared the importance of platforms like Twitter in providing an audience to everyday content creators. Examples of this include Cameron Power’s (@camp0w) wryly observant tweet about mobile phone usage which spread around the world and Zach King’s Vines.

The final speaker was Rob Stott from the News department at Buzzfeed. Rob spoke about the importance of serving up content which aligns with people’s identity, whether that be politics, gender or indigenous affairs. He also spoke about BuzzFeed’s recent journey in building its reputation as a reputable news source, and the belief that it is possible for high brow news to sit next to more trivial content online and still be given the attention it deserves. BuzzFeed also has some great tools which provide metrics around headline success, clicks, time spent on page, complete article reads and more. This allows them to continually refine their craft and content.

Overall this talk was a great event, with so much to take away about content and what it means for advertisers and audiences. One of the main messages which I took away was the importance of content striking a chord with the audience, because when someone sees something which aligns with their passions or identity, they will advocate and share it.

Diary Entry 6 (July 2015)

July was a month of change for us as we rotated once more and commenced our final rotations. For the final three months of my graduate program I will be working on Visa, which is a great account and a big change from both of my previous rotations.
This month we also had Andrew Robertson, CEO of BBDO worldwide, visiting Sydney. All of Clemenger Sydney gathered at the iconic MCA for a talk from our Chairman Robert Morgan as well as Andrew Robertson, which was a really informative and great event. As well as sharing some great recent work, Andrew spoke about the changing face of our business and the key changes we will face moving forward. In particular, he highlighted the importance of targeting, context, messaging and creativity in advertising. Being able to access the right people at the right time with the right message and in the right way is key to the effectiveness of advertising, and tapping into this effectively is a challenge for the future. Andrew also spoke about the recent studies into psychology, neuroscience and advertising, and the effectiveness of ads that release dopamine in the brains of the audience.

This month we also had our agency Trivioke party (yes, it’s a combination of trivia and karaoke in one amazing night), which was an excellent evening. Sadly, our team didn’t win the trivia (and therefore missed out on the massive meat tray prize) but if there were winners in karaoke I’m sure we would have been up there!

Diary Entry 5 (June 2015)

So another month has gone by unexpectedly quickly which could have to do with the time of year, the freezing Sydney temperatures or just the fact that we’re all settling into the ins and outs of busy agency life by now and time is flying. The month began with our Finance department as well as Test Drive and Channel 5 moving up to join us on Level 7, which of course meant that we needed a housewarming party. “Christmas in June-ly” was the result, and it was a great party featuring unique costumes, a cracking playlist, delicious scotch eggs and a highly competitive game of Scrabble/Cluedo/Jenga/Pictionary all combined into one. Team Clubs was robbed by cheating team Diamonds, still a highly contentious issue in the office.

In the past month we’ve wrapped up a few projects, and I’ve completed a project which I managed myself from start to finish, which was a great experience. It was great to understand all the elements which go into a project, starting with initial briefings, budgets and forecasts and finishing with the final output and a happy client! We also hosted a big event for Samsung’s White Glove program, which involved hosting 50 high net worth individuals for a day of golfing and lunch at The Australian Golf Club. Everything went off without a hitch and the final result was a highly premium event which all the guests loved. Working on the event was a great experience (and a great insight into the daily life of a high net worth individual, which I hope to experience one day).

We’ve also had another grad talk from Den who heads up the TV production department, which was a really interesting insight into the world of production and content. It also made me realise how much of this department I had been exposed to during my short time here – having worked on the Red Rock Deli and Smith’s For All Fans campaigns, I have gained such good experience in lots of the elements which go into making a strong TV campaign.

Today is my final day at Traffik (an occasion which will be marked with a small amount of alcohol tonight) and then I’m heading back to BBDO to start on the VISA team the week after next. As always at the end of a rotation it is interesting to take the time out to consider all the things which you have achieved during your three month stint, and to be reviewed by your mentor across a range of criteria. I’m really excited to head back to BBDO on a different team, and based on my experience I’m sure it will be different to both of my other rotations. Tragically this also means the end of my stint caring for Jay-Z, Beyonce and their school of fishy kids, so hopefully they are in good hands with the new Traffik Grad, Jess.

Diary Entry 4 (May 2015)

The month of May was busy and exciting from the start with The Glenfiddich Original media launch at The Lord Dudley, assisting at a shoot in Wetherill Park and my fish having seven babies all within the first week.

We also had a dinner where all the grads were asked to invite a plus one from within the agency. The brief was to choose someone who you found intriguing so naturally the resulting dinner and drinks was a crazy and really interesting affair, and a good opportunity to meet new people within the agency, especially people who work in other businesses which the grads rotate around to.

Our internal training has also continued with three great talks from planning, creative and finance departments. Our Planning talk was delivered by Jill, a strategic planner who started at Clemenger as a grad. As part of the training we had the opportunity to write up our own briefs for any product and have them critiqued, a great introduction to the role of a planner in the agency and the different things which need to be considered when working as a planner. We also had the creative talk from Ben and Brendan, two of the Deputy Creative Directors at Clemenger who took us to the pub to get us into the creative frame of mind. Hearing the tips and tricks for briefing first hand from the creatives was a really valuable experience and all of the advice that they offered was practical and easy to integrate into our everyday role. Our finance talk was delivered by JR who is the Finance Director, and really gave us an insight into lots of the financial processes that keep the agency going that we don’t know about day-to-day…and reminded us of the importance of completing our timesheets!

The agency also celebrated some big wins this month, with the Campbell Arnott’s and Bacardi accounts. The latter was especially exciting as it meant an afternoon of free mojitos all round.

But perhaps the biggest news of all is the birth of seven babies to my new desk fish Jay-Z and Beyonce, and the sad passing of old fish Mike. All good in the tank for now. Until next month…

Diary Entry 3 (April 2015)

April has seen a big change for me as I rotated out of Clemenger and into Traffik – a digital and experiential marketing agency (and a move up from the 4th floor to the 7th!). In between rotations we get a week off – so I also had a great mini-vacation before being thrown back into work in a totally new environment.

So far my second rotation has been really different from my first, which I think is one of the best things about the Clemenger BBDO grad program. I was thrown straight into it during my first week with a road trip to a fireworks factory, a shoot and a challenge to keep a fish alive for the next three months. Starting a new rotation is always a bit of a challenge (especially when it’s in a completely different part of the business, not just a new team), because just when you feel like you’re settled into a team, environment and process you are uprooted and have to start learning all over again! But it is also great to have the opportunity to meet and work with a whole new team of people who have different skill sets and experience in the industry.

In terms of events, along with the other grads I attended the Comms Council’s Work Behind the Work event at the end of March. I really enjoyed the event as the three pieces of work which were presented were all ones which I had seen and really enjoyed – Whybin\TBWA’s Red Bull 5 in 1, The Monkeys’ Australia Day Lamb and UM’s Coke Colour Your Summer. It was really interesting to hear the different experiences and challenges which the teams faced when creating the work as I hadn’t considered the variety of unique situations which could have presented themselves. Some of these were ones which I have experienced myself – such as quick turnaround times and tight budgets – but others were more particular such as encouraging Richie Benaud to stick to the script, and teenage bloggers not to say the c word. It is always great to have the opportunity to meet up with other grads and have the opportunity to meet new people from the industry, as well as gaining invaluable insights into a variety of successful campaigns.

I’ve only had a week at Traffik so not too much to report at this stage – but there’s definitely lots more to get involved in during the weeks to come with shoots, events and much more. In the works.

Diary Entry 2 (March 2015)

The last month at work has continued to be busy and exciting. A few weeks back we attended a Comms Council event, Biggsy's Public Exit Interview. Once my 18 year old self moved past the excitement of returning to The Golden Sheaf on a Wednesday night, I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear the experiences of a legend in the industry in a personal environment. It was also great to be able to get together with other grads and hear updates on their time in their agencies. Biggsy's talk was fascinating and offered great tips which were relevant to everyone – but especially good things to hear when starting out in the industry. One of the main things I took away from it was the importance he placed on the relationships he built during his time and the different ways in which building strong relationships put you in good stead both within your agency and in the broader context of clients and their business.

Since I started one of the main things I have enjoyed is the exposure to a massive range of projects and that continued this month – working on a variety of briefs including TV, press, digital, OOH and social. The unexpected side of agency life has continued as well – this month I built a synthetic grass rugby pitch, discussed at length the type of wig that would best suit a Pomeranian, failed Barista training and had a trip to a pet store to obtain a range of cat toys. I have also enjoyed continuing to build on relationships both externally (with media and publishers) and internally with the other grads and the awesome teams of people I work with.

A couple of weeks ago we also attended the IPA Inspirational Foundations course over two days. The course brought together grads from a variety of agencies and a range of speakers from different areas to share their views on creativity and the industry as a whole. I particularly enjoyed the wide variety of perspectives which were shared as we got to hear from planners, account managers, creatives and the specific experiences which informed and shaped their opinions. At the end of the two days we presented group projects which we had developed in response to a brief. It was really great to be able to work with a team of other grads (we all got to show our competitive sides!) and in the end our group (The Bupa Troopers) triumphed to victory (in matching outfits) for our analysis of Bupa's 'Find a Healthier You' campaign HERE.

Rachel McEwen

This month we also sat the Foundations Certificate Exam. Having not sat an exam since the HSC (and generally being a person who doesn't find exams an enjoyable part of life) this was a definitely a bit of a daunting prospect for me. My background also meant that (unlike most of the grads) I hadn't been exposed to any advertising and marketing theory beforehand, so it was an interesting experience for me to read and understand all the content. I also liked the fact that the content related well to my experience so far in the agency and provided me with more helpful information moving forward. My personal study tip is go to bed early and wake up early to study before work – but this definitely doesn't work for everyone as some of the other grads were pretty disgusted at the idea of my 5am study alarms.

We have also had some more training within our agency including an introduction to the studio and its processes and a presentation on tips from a senior member of our account management team. As we are approaching the end of our first rotation here, I have had a few performance review and reflection meetings within the agency as well. These have been a really great experience as it's always valuable to hear not only the areas you need to build on in the future but also the things you have been doing well, as well as having the opportunity to check in with your superiors outside of the work environment.

Diary Entry 1 (February 2015)

What am I doing here?
After I finished uni I knew I wanted to work in a creative and fast-paced industry full of cool people and interesting challenges, but I wasn’t super clear on the specific position or route to take. A Grad Program felt like the ideal way to be exposed to all aspects of the industry as well as learning from the best.

The application process required some serious time and thought, but overall I thought it was mostly about just being yourself and conveying a sense of your personality rather than about academic achievements. However, I was conscious of trying to convey my strengths and what I could bring to the role throughout the video and answers to the questions

I also realised that you don’t have to be (or hire) a professional producer and director to make a great application video [1]. My thoughts around the video were basically “If I had to watch hundreds of prospective grads videos…what would I like to see?” So I tried to make something a bit different. I’d say this is true for most (if not all) of the successful grads – our approaches to this stage were so different but all were memorable. For me, they key was to consider how I could best communicate my strengths and personality.

When it came to the answers to the questions, I found it hugely beneficial to reach out to people I knew to talk through my ideas – anyone with industry knowledge or experience will have some great insights into the process and these discussions not only help to clarify your own ideas but are also great preparation for the interview stage.

By the interview stage, I still didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect – for example I tried to be across all the company and industry news but somehow spent my whole interview talking about LEGOLAND and Meercats, and it still went OK.

Thinking of applying?
If you’re looking to apply, I’d say the most important thing to remember is that the industry is more about good vibes and cool people doing great work than who you are on paper and what marks you got at uni. Put yourself out there and you may be surprised. Also, some of the things that make you weird and wonderful are the best - don’t forget to mention that you have eaten pigeon, battled a live snake or that your hobby is creating intricate ice sculptures. [2]

My first month has mainly consisted of eating Hungry Jack’s, Smith’s chips and M&Ms, hand crafting bunting out of the Wallabies World Cup squad’s heads, discussing the SuperBowl ads, learning how to use Outlook calendars and plenty of e-mail banter.

Apart from all that I have spent the time learning about the clients and their industries, sitting in on client meetings, discussing planning, campaigns, production and shoots, preparing competitor review presentations, pre-production meetings, briefs, debriefs and more.

The main thing I have taken away is that if you’re efficient, organised, helpful and willing to learn then this job and industry can be a lot of fun.

My main challenges have been learning to use a PC (massive challenge for a lifelong Mac user), resisting all the free snacks, not having time to keep up with important things such as Lena Dunham and Brown

Cardigan on Instagram [3]
The best things so far have been the great people, great vibes, and fast-paced environment. So far no two days having been the same and I’ve been exposed to so many aspects of the industry by working on different teams and different campaigns at different stages.

The IPA Foundation Certificate is part of our program this year, and so far the opportunity to meet and work with grads from a variety of agencies and hear about their experiences has been great. It’s also amazing to be able to learn from some of the best people in each agency on topics like Account Management, Production, Finance and Work Life Balance. The opportunity to gain an internationally recognized qualification while working is exciting and I have no doubt it will be a huge advantage moving forward.

[1] The music I used on my video was ripped straight from an M&S food ad and I couldn’t remove the sound effects. I’m still hoping that the sounds of knife chops and cracking eggs added another layer to my character.
[2] Unfortunately none of these are my own experiences.
[3] First world challenges. Overall it’s great!