The Chicago Portfolio School


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What’s in my Office Thursday: Courtney Schiffres

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum Courtney Schiffres, Copywriter at VSA Partners Inc.

Check out her advice below:

While in CPS
When it comes to school and building your portfolio do your homework, and not just the ones assigned. Keep up with the industry and study what’s been done before. Spend way more time researching and nailing down a strong concept than you think is necessary. It’ll make writing for it a thousand times easier. Push yourself – both your work and your work ethic. And don’t take your time at CPS for granted. It was one of the best times of my life so enjoy every god damn minute of it.

The Almighty Job Search
Network your a$$ off. Study the land and organize yourself. Also, I found there are a lot more agencies out there that are suited for you than you think. My advice is to keep your options open. Really figure out what it is about an agency you like, don’t just chase an agency because of its name. This is a hard process; don’t get discouraged. Things have a weird way of working out. You’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.

The Aftermath
Once you land your first gig, get noticed. Do more work than is asked of you. Jump in on every project you can get your hands on and help out as much as possible. There have been plenty of times that I did work for other teams and even times I helped out other departments. People notice when you are a team player and I’ve actually landed new work because of it. Be confident. Just because you are an intern doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact.

And lastly, believe in yourself. Self-doubt is the killer of dreams and interviews. You got this.

Check out Courtney’s talented portfolio here:

By heather : September 24, 2015

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Courtney Coha

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum Courtney Coha, Junior Art Director at mcgarrybowen.

Check out her advice below:

“My advice for current students is to not lose your enthusiasm. There will be tough days. But, when you can, get really excited about your work. It makes it so much more fun to create, and it will inevitably end up being a great piece in the end. Overall, in school and in the workplace, be nice to everyone and be pleasant to be around. Everyone wants to work with someone who is enjoyable to be around, even during those late nights and early mornings. A good attitude will go a long way.

Check out her talented portfolio here:

By heather : September 17, 2015

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Jason Cohen & Sarah Berkley

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet recent CPS alumni Jason Cohen and Sarah Berkley, Copywriter & Art Director Duo at DDB.

Check out their advice below:

“When it comes to internships, you have to be ruthless.  Risk annoying your Creative Directors and other co-workers. Ask them if they need help.  Help them even if they don’t ask you to. Write scripts for that Super Bowl spot, even if you have no idea what a F*#$%@ TV script looks like. Be the first one at work. Everything is a learning experience. Good ol’ fashioned hard work will get you a long way.”

“Yes, a lot of what happens while working at an agency has to do with timing, but we believe in making your own luck.  If you truly “want it” and show it, people will start to notice and things will start to roll in the right direction.”

“Say hey to everyone at your agency, even the mail guy and the secretary.  The more people that know who you are, the more people will fight for you when it’s time to get hired. Get face time with your ECD’s, GCD’s, all of your whatever-CD’s (aka the important people).  They’re not as scary as you think.  They’re humans with families and actual interests.  You’ll probably end up talking about Miley smokin’ weed at the VMA’s or their favorite new dinner spot in the West Loop.”

“Oh yeah and ad peeps love free food.  Bagels for days.”

Take a look at their awesome books:

By heather : September 10, 2015

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Molly Ryan

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum Molly Ryan, Junior Art Director at Leo Burnett.

Check out her advice below:

Believe in your work!
Don’t let a difficult partner keep you from making something great. Just because they aren’t interested in a campaign doesn’t mean you can’t make it into something awesome. It’s important to work to help your partners, but you shouldn’t put something in your book you don’t believe in. That being said, if you don’t want something in your book, you should still help your partner out if they are depending on it.

Don’t be a jerk, Karma is a B!tch
You aren’t going to be the smartest person in every group you work in.  If you think you are, then you’re probably being a jerk. Be nice and people will want to help you. If you can’t get help don’t whine about it, write your own copy or design your own layouts.

Find a mentor
I was lucky enough to have Jimmy Zimmerman (AD at DDB Chicago) as my Cohort. Being a creative, it is easy to get lost in everyone’s suggestions for your campaigns. Find someone you trust to really tell you how it is and help you bring your campaigns to their fullest. Also, this is a great person to talk to when you start getting offers. (Thanks Jimmy!)

When it rains, it pours
Don’t get hung up on others around you getting offers. Just because someone gets a fancy internship and you don’t, doesn’t mean you suck or they are better than you. For every Creative Director that likes your work, there will be five that think you aren’t right for the gig.  Don’t give up, because inevitably, when one opportunity arises more will follow.

Take a look at Molly’s beautiful book:

By heather : August 27, 2015

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Sarah Gatling’s Advice for a Killer Headline

“Since April the word ‘headline’ has taken on way too many forms for my brain to comprehend. The problem is, there’s infinite ways they can play out. Should the line be funny, serious, one word, a metaphor…I just didn’t know. Luckily, my flawless cohort Sarah Gatling (Copywriter, Energy BBDO) gave the term ‘headline’ a peaceful direction for our class to run with.”

“Let’s begin with the scary part of writing the first headline. I’m talking about the big, blank, endless white page we all stare at while simultaneously wondering when it’s going to swallow us whole. Fortunately, Sarah has the answer on how to conquer this frustrating fear. ‘Write anything down on the page, like hot dog. Now you know anything you write down will be better than hot dog.’ Why couldn’t I come up with that? We then dabbled in the preference of headline style. Sarah believes that no matter if a headline is serious or funny, her favorite types are those that fall under the anesis category. Anesis is a figure of addition that occurs when a concluding sentence, clause, or phrase is added to a statement, which purposely diminishes the effect of what has been previously stated. Sarah’s favorite example of this was a Jim Beam ad that reads, ‘Civil War soldiers getting their leg sawed off weren’t given a vodka cranberry.’ You always want to make sure your headlines aren’t falling flat. Give them a twist, a punch at the end, something they won’t see coming”.

“The moral of this blog is that in order to get good headlines, ‘what you really have to do is WRITE. Write all the time. Write on the train. Write when you’re waiting for the bus. Every 5 minutes is a chance to jot down thoughts and lines.’  We moan and groan about writing 100 headlines, but news flash, that’s the real world! Write more to write better.”

Written by: 2nd Quarter CW & CPS Blogger, Jessi Pelzel

Check out Sarah’s book:

By heather : August 26, 2015

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Kevin Tosi

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum Kevin Tosi, Junior Copywriter at HY Connect.

Check out his advice below:

“Find the people you can work with and learn from. Learn how to work with the people you hate.”

“Don’t skip class because you think your teacher is ‘stupid’, dummy. Treat every class as the great opportunity that it is. Advertising is primarily a business of selling to stupid people. So get better at it.”

“If you don’t get a great job right away, relax. You have plenty of time to go to the agency of your dreams and create award winning work that people outside of advertising will never care about or find funny.”

“Create a great book in school because then you won’t spend all of your time at your first job worrying about not getting that cool, new book piece. Use your first job to network and learn how an agency really works.”

“Remind yourself constantly that you’re thankful you don’t have to use Excel ever again or make cold calls all day.”

“Oh. And use your boss’s office when he’s out of town on vacation so people think you have an actual office for What’s in my Office Thursday.”

Check out Kevin’s talented portfolio here:

By heather : August 20, 2015

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Advertising in the World of Streaming (i.e. Binging)

An easy way for me to make a lazy Sunday even lazier is the introduction of a streaming service like Netflix, Amazon Prime or the service formerly known as Hulu Plus. What could be a day entirely dedicated to completing vague goals in a vague manner transforms into a day of complete and total slovenly wastefulness, all thanks to the phenomenon known as binge- watching. However, for a week or so last month, it seemed like our collective binging bliss would be coming to an end.

On June 1st of this year, there were reports of Netflix testing the idea of running pre-roll from advertisers before and after programs. This lead the internet & social media into a frenzy, because it’s the internet & social media. Answers were demanded and we received them, relatively quickly at that. Word came down that while pre-roll advertisements were indeed being tested, they were ads that were created internally, meant to promote Netflix’s original programming. The internet let out a collective sigh of relief.

Reed Hastings doubled down on the fact that he is adamant about not featuring spots by advertisers on his service. With that in mind, lets take a look at the last few years for Netflix. In July of 2011, Netflix took the cost of a 1 DVD-at-a-time and streaming subscription from $9.99 a month to $14.99, causing nationwide riots that this country had never seen before or since. This caused the company to take a hit to both it’s stock price and it’s perception in customer’s eyes. In May 2014, prices increased again to $8.99. Their stock and perception took yet another hit.

In February of this year, they borrowed one billion dollars in an effort to sustain the 320 hours of original content they planned to roll out this year and beyond. At some point Netflix is going to run out of sources of revenue, but not run out of customer and audience demand. And this is where I think advertisers become inevitable and where I get worried.

As someone who also subscribes to Hulu (baller right?) I’ve seen the effects of implementing advertising into a streaming service such as Netflix. Hulu has ads not only for their own content, but also pre-roll of advertisers. These ads are timed at roughly similar intervals as a show that’s televised, however it’s the variety that’s lacking. Any given program will have 2 or 3 ads played per ad block, and these are typically no different than any pre-roll seen on YouTube.

All in all, I don’t find advertisements to be devastating to a service like Netflix. However, they do prove to be legitimately distracting during the binge-watch experience, and causes one to consider their waste of a day. And that, truly, would be the the most devastating thing of all.

Written by Rick Bongorno, 3rd Quarter Copywriter & CPS Blogger.

By heather : August 17, 2015

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Ian Todd

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet recent CPS Alum Ian Todd, Art Director Intern at 180LA…in LA.

Check out his advice below:

“Work hard. It’s easy to skip class or half-ass your comps when you’re in a bit of a bind, but you’re only hurting yourself. Take full advantage of your instructors, they’re there to help YOU.”

“Keep pushing and keep revising, don’t abandon a project just because it’s not clicking right away. It’s good practice for the real world. Write down 50 different ideas and then write down 50 more. Pick a couple you like and then repeat. Push your ideas to the point that you know no one will come in with any idea like yours. Think differently.”

“Most of all, enjoy the city and make time for fun, things only get busier. Oh, and Einstein’s has pretty good Wi-Fi.”

Take a look at Ian’s book here:

By heather : August 06, 2015

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Meet Fran Palmer: CPS User Experience Instructor & Art Director at FCB

“Meet the gorgeous and talented Fran Palmer, an Art Director at FCB who likes her coffee Americano and her day’s light hearted. Fran studied graphic design in college and immediately tackled countless freelance projects through the Creative Circle. She built up an impressive amount of “ad world” connections during this time, which paved the way to FCB. I asked Fran what her first day at FCB was like and her response was simply, “easy”. She went on to explain how her buddy from Sapient Nitro sent her an edible arrangement on her first day so she was immediately pinned as “that girl”. Needless to say, the embarrassing “congratulations” made for a memorable first day and a running joke in the office.”

“Fran fell in love with FCB because it challenges her every day. Her job entails a lot of critical thinking with a heavy dose of humor. Fran believes that you have to be silly before you can get serious! She is constantly working along side of UX designers to create better solutions based on human resource interactions. Fran explains, ‘I make sure that not only my work is aligned to the style guide of the client, but also help other people on my team make sure they’re doing so as well’.”

“We both agreed that out of all the brainstorming tactics, the number one way to break through your creative block is by sipping on a cold, tall beer and possibly using oversized sticky notes to cover the walls you stand in. Some of the best ideas come from the strangest insights or triggers. Fran talked about the craziest idea she had ever heard in the ad world and it turned out to be a Cannes Lion winner. This was the Inactivity Tracker, which was a digital campaign! All in all, remember these three words and you’ll do just fine. Late. Night. Beer.”

Written by: Jessi Pelzel, 2nd Quarter CW & CPS Blogger

Take a look at Fran’s talented portfolio:

By heather : August 03, 2015

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Amanda Burger

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet recent CPS alum Amanda Burger, Freelance Copywriter at Leo Burnett.

Check out her advice below:

“Well let’s see here. First off, you really gotta make school your THING for the year. I’m not just talking about working hard—I’m talking about nerding out over advertising as a whole. Immerse yourself in the industry—keep up with Adweek, Cannes, etc. Oh—and make Modern Copywriter your bible (or torah, LOLZ.) Looking at student ads helped me so, so much as far as figuring out what a good student book should look like.”

“Also—for all you writers out there, never underestimate the beauty of a good headline. LEARN TO WRITE THEM. Even though today’s world is about digital, a banner ad is basically just a glorified print ad. Which means headlines.”

“Speaking of digital, put that in your book.”

“And last but not least, be resourceful. CPS is a bucket of talent, and it’s up to you to make the most of that. Did your AD back out? Ask a designer to help! Figure out what people are good at and get them to help you. After all, them helping you = them helping themselves. Oh, and be nice—because ain’t nobody gonna help you unless you nice.”

Check out her ah-mazing portfolio here:

By heather : July 30, 2015

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