Teaching Tomorrow's Creatives

Former Arnold CD David Register Wants to Open Ad School in Northeast

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When David Register stepped down as creative director at Arnold Worldwide, Boston, last month, it was to take on a new role -- at the head of the class.
David Register
David Register

In the new year, Mr. Register plans to launch New England's first creative advertising school in the hopes of filling an educational void in his part of the country.

"What I'm seeing is a lack of good job training for creatives coming out of this region," Mr. Register said. "Around here, for all of the colleges, you're not seeing great portfolios."

Boston-based Option R will offer two eight-week seminars designed to give recent undergrads and new professionals creative training for the ad industry. "The reason why I'm calling this Option R is because now you have an option, said Mr. Register. (The R is for his last name.)

Less-expensive alternative
Instead of spending $30,000 for four years on a degree to figure out if you've got the knack to be a creative in the ad industry, why not take a seminar for eight weeks for $950 to gauge if this is what you truly want to do -- not to mention if you're any good at it, Mr. Register said.

"The truth is, in advertising, you don't need a college degree," said Mr. Register, but "you have to work hard in this business to be a creative."

Mr. Register, an award-winning creative, knows a thing or two about hard work. Prior to Arnold he worked at Ogilvy & Mather, Los Angeles; McCann-Erickson, Seattle; and Mullen, Wenham, Mass., doing work for big marketers including Honda and Nextel.

Mr. Register doesn't have any teaching experience, but neither does he think that's important. The key in helping young creatives, he said, is having been in their shoes before and having made the journey to becoming a creative director.

With classes no larger than a dozen students, Option R will function sort of like an ad agency, with students as the "junior copywriters" and Mr. Register as their "CD/Teacher."

From idea generation to portfolio creation
The first series, Concept 1, will teach basic "idea generation," while Concept 2 will focus on advancing skills and portfolio creation.

To further give students a taste of what it's like to work in the biz, heads of local companies will assign students a campaign to create. For the first installment of classes, nonprofit Earthwatch Institute -- which has its global headquarters in Maynard, Mass. -- has agreed to participate and to run the best ads created by students. "There could be real opportunities here; not just 'spec work,'" Mr. Register said.

The students might learn another valuable lesson from him, too, about how to leave a job on the best of terms.

When he told Arnold about a month ago that he would be quitting, the agency gave its blessing and offered up its offices to house Option R. "I quit in a way that I think didn't offend or burn any bridges, and I'd given them four really good years," Mr. Register said.

A talent pool for Arnold
Of course, if all goes well, Arnold could also benefit; instead of searching far and wide for fresh creative talent as other agencies do, a stable job pool might soon be in the shop's backyard.

With Option R, you could say that Mr. Register is now "paying it forward."

The Malibu, Calif.-raised and New Jersey prep school-educated Mr. Register had been writing screenplays in the early 1990s when he had the opportunity to take courses at the Book Shop in Los Angeles. The portfolio he created as a result of those classes landed him his first job at Ogilvy and helped propel his career.

"I'm a firm believer in always working on your book," he said.

And he has every intention to keep updating his. This new educational venture won't take him out of the industry; Mr. Register still plans to freelance (and is currently doing so at Mullen) while remaining committed to teaching two courses in the spring and fall each year.

"It's starting small, but in the future it could get bigger," Mr. Register said of Option R.
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