Surf's Up for Creatives

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AdCritic.com is not the only place creatives should be visiting regularly on the web. Sure, the bare-bones simplicity of the site and its focus on the work is often enough to keep abreast of what's out there, but many other resources offer updates on industry goings-on, provide creative inspiration, or just plain get your name out there.

For the latest in ad news, there are excellent industry sites like Adage.com. There's also BrandEra (brand-era.com/brandnews), which compiles advertising news from various publications and web sources and divvies it up into three digests: Advertising, Marketing and Creative. Not only does BrandEra provide the links to the articles online, but it also boils them down into key points for easy digestion. Moreover, the site fleshes out the issues even further with its own POV on the story. The site's a godsend for anyone who doesn't want to click through pages of text to get the gist of a story. Another notable is Adland (ad-rag.com), which offers "All the adnews not fit to print." Run by a mysterious Swedish creative who goes by the name Dabitch, this digest includes not just straight news but gossipy tidbits from the global ad community. There's also the infamous Badland section, which does a double-take on recent advertising or concepts that have seem to have appeared elsewhere before. This could be just the place for outing idea thieves.

Adforum.com, anotherinternational hub, is the place to go for basic info on worldwide advertising. It offers some global news, but its most prominent feature is its large agency and ad databases. The site features contact info for 16,000 shops in about 140 countries and more than 10,000 ads (print, online and broadcast). Accolades are a big deal as well; the site contains an international awards show database that offers online viewing of winners from shows like the Addys, AdTech, the Euro Effies, and Cannes.

Agencycompile.com is a useful directory that focuses on U.S. agencies. A search engine allows a visitor to track down basic info on more than 3,000 shops through such fields as client, location, and billings. Agencies can also post their own creative portfolios on the site. The basic portfolio is free of charge and lists a company overview, personnel and clients. It can be updated at any time. Expanded portfolios (available at either $999 or $5,000 yearly, depending on the size and scope) include an opening splash page, a link to the agency site and an unlimited work sample page, where companies can put up print, video and Flash samples of work. Agencycompile.com, launched in 1999 by Boston review consultants Pile & Co., also offers daily updates of accounts in review and accounts won.

Have any questions about who did what? Sites like Creativeplanet.com and Ecreativesearch.com offer a stable of online resources for commercial production. Creativeplanet.com features a link to affiliate The Source Maythenyi (sourcetv.com), which includes the Source Creatives database. Source Creatives contains extensive info on agency creatives and account/product category information. Subscription fees for the database are $200 a month, or $2,000 for an entire year. Ecreativesearch.com also houses a huge resource database, composed of Directorsearch, Spotsearch, and Resourcesearch. Also a subscription site, it contains information on more than 4,000 directors, 15,000 spots and 12,000 production-related companies. The fee for agencies is based on a sliding scale according to the size of the company. For directors and production companies, cost depends on the amount of material posted online. Resources on the service can be searched by director's name, agency, style or any keyword relating to the subject of a spot. Pulling up a spot will yield related info on at least the director and agency, but may also automatically retrieve other resources involved, like postproduction, music or animation. Members can also contact an Ecreativesearch rep for any information not available on the site, and they'll get an answer within two hours. The site has a "short list" shopping cart feature, which allows members to gather pages they like in one folder. Links to the pages can also be e-mailed to other subscribers.

Need a more cost-effective way of getting production-related answers? Join Wheresspot.com, an industry listserve. The free service currently plays host to about 2,500 members, who can post production-related questions and get responses via e-mail. E-mail digests with questions and answers arrive in mailboxes several times a day. Although it's up to the goodness of other users to respond to a posted question, founder Perry Schaffer (of Slavin/Schaffer and Schaffer & Co.) vouches for the service's reliability. "This is how we've done business for years," says Schaffer. "As a producer, I'd get calls everyday from somebody - `Hey I need a grip or a gaffer' or `Do you know this person at this production company?' That's how business got done, but it was a little bit slower. Now you get the information in 10 minutes." You also don't have to worry about getting annoying sales pitches from the service, he says. New members undergo a fairly rigorous screening process by him or partner Michael Porte, co-founder of Mad River Post and Crush Digital Video. Any hucksters who gratuitously post to promote themselves get the boot.

For freelancers or small creative shops who want to show off their work, surf into Portfolios.com, an affiliate of Brandera.com. The free Vinyl portfolio posts up to five images; at $12.95 a month, the Leather variety provides room for 20 pieces; and at $29.95, Titanium posts 20 images in a multifolio format, which can be altered with various templates provided by the site. It also offers a free "electronic leave-behind" service that bundles up the creative's work in a printer-friendly format that can be sent via e-mail to up to 10 people at a time. Complete with thumbnail images, the e-mail also leads a reader back to the creative's space on the Portfolios.com website. The site is highly searchable as well, with the interface planned according to the needs of clients. "To make this truly valuable to the exhibitors, you have to make it valuable to the art buyer." explains founder Michel Neray. Miguel Hernandez, a Miami Ad School grad who won a Gold Student Clio last year, has posted his portfolio on the site (portfolios.com/mynameismiguel). He admits he hasn't gotten heaps of freelance work from it, but it's still a time- and money-saver. "It's the easiest, cheapest way to quickly show someone my book," he says. "If I got a call from rural China, they could see my work in seconds. I can also call someone in Boston and say, `Hey, check me out online. If you like it, I'll send you a book.' That beats paying FedEx 20-plus bucks upfront."

Bullhorn.com is another place to get the word out on your creative. The global site serves as a virtual hookup spot for creatives and small to mid-sized companies that don't require year-round agency services. Companies can post job requests online for free, and creatives can also display their portfolios at no cost. Artists who find projects through the site pay Bullhorn a 10 percent fee. About 1,200 assignments have been arranged on the site since its inception in 1999.

Think some of your old creative still has legs? Check out Admine.com, where you just may be able to resurrect those ideas in a completely different context. Submit your old creative or pitch work to the site's Creative Review Board, and they'll see if it can be repurposed for another client. Once the board decides your work is worthy of a second life, they'll ready it for licensing and post it on the site, where it can be viewed by clients who can purchase the work at prices way below agency retail. The folks at Admine (see Creativity, July 2000, p.32) oversee the whole process, from clarifying the talent and copyright issues of the original artwork to tailoring the licensed piece to the needs of the new client. Creatives or sellers of the original work split net revenues with Admine.

And for admakers who are just plain sick of it all, a stop into humor site Adweak.com (see February, p.10) might offer some cathartic laughs. The satirical news source provides refreshingly biting stories about the ad business, with briefs like, "Creatives patiently wait for hip new office space to rub off on work." The articles are all bogus, of course, but in their own way they present some eye-opening industry truths.

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