Junior Ad Men Drop Off Portfolios In Bathrooms And Get Jobs
In most cases, designers don't want job recruiters to associate their portfolio with going to the bathroom. But for a pair of aspiring admen, it was their entire strategy. And it worked. After dropping off their "Toilet Book," Akos Papp and Laszlo Szloboda, both 24, Wednesday landed coveted jobs as a junior art director and a copywriter at the BBDO advertising agency in New York.
It all started last winter, when the two students at Miami Ad School in New York began job-hunting and were brainstorming ways to get their portfolios seen. "We heard [agencies] receive hundred of thousands of books. So maybe their desks shouldn't be the place where they see our book," says Papp in an interview with AOL Jobs. "So we thought about the toilet."
So earlier this month the duo quietly raided nine top New York ad agencies, leaving "The Toilet Book" -- a portion of their portfolio -- in bathrooms stalls. They got in by asking the agencies' security guards if they could use the bathroom or pretending that they were there to see people whose names they knew from prior internships. (BBDO was one of the agencies the duo interned with.)
Anyone who opened their 16-page book was greeted with this: "To break into advertising, we need five minutes from your busy schedule to look at our work. Well, you have five minutes now, and let's face it, you're dying to read just about anything.... Let's get this shit started."
Papp and Szloboda were contacted and interviewed by six of the nine agencies. And several others reached out after hearing about "The Toilet Book" through Twitter and other online sites.
"There was no negative response at all. All the directors were laughing, and they were happy that we understood one of their problems, which was looking through all the portfolios," says Papp. "We both have done a couple of internships, and we knew the really big guys use the same bathrooms as everyone else."
(Their manager at BBDO was out of the office and couldn't be reached for comment.)
Of course, getting the creative directors' attention was only half the battle. Turning the page after the welcome message, the reader is shown a campaign that the two worked on while at advertising school. Assigned to design an ad campaign for the Penguin Group, the two created posters featuring stark land- and cityscapes accompanied by one-word taglines like, "Invasion," "Seige" and "Resurrection."
"We wanted to remind people how fun reading is," says Szloboda. "Our strategy was to compare them to movies. and we wanted to show how a book is like having a movie in your hands." The movie-poster-style ads were followed by a selection of game board-like displays, including a bingo card featuring the Pantone color scheme used in the manufacturing of fabrics.
"We wanted it to be a tease to our portfolio site," Szloboda tells AOL Jobs.
"The book illustrates their type of humor," says Mihai Botarel, their instructor from the Miami Ad School and also a copywriter at Tribal DDB in New York. "This self-ironic approach shows they've got to be able to take a joke if you put their work in a toilet. They made their portfolio into a portfolio piece."
Should other job-hunters consider adopting the scatological strategy? Not necessarily, says Penelope Trunk, the founder of Brazen Careerist. "This kind of thing only works for entry level," she says. "You risk looking like an idiot, but it does show you have guts for wanting the job that badly. You don't want to be in a position where you have nothing to lose for too long."
The Hungarian-born Papp and Szloboda will have their chance once they both iron out their visas before starting work.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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