It is week two and the intensity of the boot camp is building as we begin to analyze our first briefs and develop relevant creative campaigns with our teams. How long do we have for each campaign? We have about 10 days as we cycle through the client brief to brainstorm, research and get insight, come up with the brief, and brief the creative team, to giving them time to work their magic and develop a presentation for the Tuesday night pitch class. The pitch class has long been considered “The Most Important Class of the Week” by boot camp alumni.
So just who is running the show for such a critical class? Tricia Russo, EVP, Chief Strategy Officer @ BBDO Atlanta. While some would describe her energy as explosive, the creatives in our class instead coined the term “murderous zen,” because good copy goes a long way (duh).
The pitch class is critical because it serves two purposes—teaching planners how to translate insight into inspiration for the creatives, as well as teaching creatives how to morph research and insights into art; it all boils down to a masterclass in the translation of data into emotion. The most valuable takeaways come from Tricia’s thorough, live, slide-by-slide critiques.
Let me go ahead and toss in here that I am tired (yes, already). Not just because of the increased workload, but because the challenges of one’s personal life don’t stop just because you start a 12-week intensive boot camp. But when I step outside of my own pity party and look around at my classmates, I recognize that we are all dealing with something—the girl from NYC who was scammed out of money and an apartment. Or the art director from the British Virgin Islands who’s dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane that devastated her family’s home. We’re all handling something messy while simultaneously trying to change the trajectory of our lives. Grace is a necessity, for each and every one of us.
Our second weekend instructor was Christopher Owens, Brand Planning Group Head @ The Richards Group, and 1999 Miami Ad School Strategic Planning Boot Camp alum. One part “Strategy Savant” and two parts “Planning Big Brother,” Christopher was as committed to simply being present for us as he was in teaching us the basics of planning. He abandoned the schedule and taught us for as long as we had questions. And when our group was hungry (which is all the time … this is Georgia, of course), we’d carry the conversation on to a breakfast or lunch or dinner date.
One night at dinner, we went around the table sharing stories of our international travels. Christopher recalled a bar in Japan where the servers pour refills that spill over the sides and through grated tables onto the patron’s shoes. This gesture, this ritual of abundant generosity, perfectly describes Christopher, Tricia and all of the Miami Ad School instructors. Their availability via text for random questions or insight, one-on-one critiques (thanks again, Chris), or to even connect on LinkedIn or Facebook weeks ahead of their assigned weekend.
There’s an air of investment in the classrooms at Miami Ad School—the students all know exactly where we want to go. And, the staff, instructors and alumni know that their involvement and this boot camp will take us directly there.
Danielle McKinley is a student at the Miami Ad School @ Portfolio Center Strategic Planning Boot Camp. She comes to the program with diverse collection of experiences including marketing, content strategy and development, education, and motivational speaking. You can read her previous post here.
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