Top Creatives Review Young Talent at Portfolio Night

Global Event's China Debut Reveals Gaps in Local Advertising Education

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BEIJING (AdAgeChina.com) -- China's ad market is catching up with the world's biggest economies in billings, but creative quality lags far behind. Chinese haven't grown up with brands and advertising like their western counterparts, and marketing and advertising courses at local universities in China are woefully outdated.

To nurture young, raw talent, 16 of the top creative directors in Beijing took part in the first Portfolio Night review in mainland China. Annual Portfolio Night events are held in other cities including Singapore, Sao Paulo, Melbourne, Tunis, Beirut and Dubai, organized by Canada-based Ihaveanidea, and its global partner, Ogilvy & Mather.

The event resembles speed-dating, said Doug Schiff, exec creative director for China at OgilvyOne in Beijing, one of the hosts of the event's China debut on June 11, 2009.

But the 47 students and recent graduates who took part are looking for job tips and possibly employment rather than romance. Their portfolios were critiqued by professionals from agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, JWT and McCann Erickson, in 15-minute time slots.

The event drew an astonishing variety of would-be artists, Mr. Schiff said, including a young woman who designed plates and a young man who prepared nothing for the event, preferring to do off-the-cuff drawings.

The lack of formal creative training in China was evident in the presentation skills of many of the students, "so we offered advice about how to improve their portfolios, which were quite different from what you'd see from a student in the U.S., where the best advertising schools essentially help students polish their portfolios for job interviews."

Doug Schiff, exec creative director, OgilvyOne, Beijing, meets with a young creative
Doug Schiff, exec creative director, OgilvyOne, Beijing, meets with a young creative

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