As 50 participants presented and showcased their work portfolios, stalwarts of the advertising industry sat down to listen to them, analyse, judge and choose the best among the best. That’s how the 14th Portfolio Night culminated in Mumbai on May 23 and an All Star was chosen.
Arshi Sayed, aged 21, studying at école intuit.lab university, won the competition and bagged a ticket to New York where she will work on a live project with other All Stars from around the globe. 19 cities held Portfolio Night simultaneously on May 23.
The evening saw the presence of Josy Paul, Chairman, BBDO India; KV Sridhar (Pops), Founder and Chief Creative Officer, HyperCollective; Sonal Dabral, Group Chief Creative Officer and Vice-Chairman, Ogilvy India; Raj Kamble, Founder and CCO, Famous Innovations; Raj Kurup, Founder and Managing Director, CreativeLand Asia; Satbir Singh, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Thinkstr; Prasoon Joshi, Chairman, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific and many other renowned names from the marketing and communications industry.
Playing the perfect hosts were Ravi Deshpande, Founder and Chairman, Whyness and ecole intuit.lab and Kevin Swanepoel, Chief Executive Officer, The One Club. Whyness Worldwide had hosted the event, in association with The One Club in Mumbai.
Speaking about the talent and the challenges in the advertising and creative world, Joshi said, “It is becoming tough to build portfolios in today's day and age. One is not looking for art or copy or any specific craft today. We are looking for solutions provider. The clients look at that and so do agencies. These platforms help in making a dialogue with the students. Though a specialist will always look for the nuances in his craft, for example, if you ask me to analyse, I will see it from copy perspective, while someone else will see it from design perspective. But that's not how it works anymore. Today ad content is competing with everything that's there on the internet. Nobody can be just an art person, just an illustrator, just a copywriter. One has to have the mindset of providing marketing and brand solutions.”
While a lot of people keep saying that finding talent is a universal problem, Paul and Pops think otherwise. They feel that there is enough talent, but one has to nurture and shape the talent in order to be able to put it to use.
Pops said, “There's never dearth of talent. Where there are good leaders, there's good talent. People don't want to nurture talent. Those who say there's no good talent, lack good leaders to guide and teach and train.”
On the other hand, Namchu brought about a perspective in terms of having and creating a balance between the art and copy skilled people. He explained, “I think art is stronger than copy, here. We need a balance between the two. Delhi has stronger copy, but more skew on Hindi side. Nonetheless, this platform helps since talent is a universal issue these days. Also, I think they could have advertised more about this and got more students to participate. A lot of senior level jury is here and it would have been much better to have more number of students who could have taken advantage of such a platform.”
Swanepoel gave a perspective putting India on the global map of talent. He said, “The talent was great and that’s why we had to bring seven people in the final round, instead of five because the scores were so close. For me, what is really impressive is the number of young women who are coming up as great designers. In fact, five out of the top seven participants were women, which is fantastic. That shows quite a good progress for India. Plus, there wasn’t just craft, but there was great thinking too. There was conceptual though behind the works produced by them and craft is something that takes many years to perfect. If the thinking is good, the craft can always catch up and become better. Though the craft was also very good, but powerful thinking is very important.”
“The portfolio that came in second was by a man who really tried to rename ‘depression’ in one of his works. Now, that is a very powerful thought and concept, even the execution was very good.”
Speaking about how India fares on the global map, he said, “Young talent from India could put themselves on the global stage if they just participated. We have the Young Guns awards and there were just three participants from an ad school here. But after seeing the work tonight, I am convinced that if more participation comes from India, they would be seen on a global stage much better. If you don’t compete on global stage, then you would only be seen regionally. That’s what we help you to change through our platforms.”
Explaining how Portfolio Night fits in the perfect balance for Whyness Worldwide India, Deshpande said, “In any competition, you get good talent and not so good talent. Looking at the overall number of portfolios, you could have some which are not very good. But the good news is that we had seven really brilliant pieces of work and that was worth everything. Whyness Worldwide, its partnership with ecole.intuit lab and the fact that it is in the same campus, shows our focus on nurturing talent and hence, it was very organic and natural to us. We are producing talent that gets stimulated in the industry. This is something that I am doing for the last six years and it is extremely satisfying to be doing this. We were more than happy to take this up and were also confident that we will be able to execute this quite well, because of the experience on the school and agency, both.”
When asked about lesser number of entries at the event, he added, “We would have ideally loved to have about 60-70 entries, but we got 50 of them. I won’t call it less though. During summers, a lot of students are out of station, some are on vacation. There are countries where Portfolio Nights is happening with mere 20 participants, while some other places, it is happening with 100 entries.”
Finally, the winner speaks. An overwhelmed Sayed looked confident in her skin, when she answered how her journey had been. She said, “It has been like a tough terrain, but I love to be on tough terrains. What worked for me was really standing for what you believe in and having the sense of yourself extending your personality into your art. An extension of yourself into your design, and then, nobody can take your work away. I have been into design for four years now.”