When I’m sitting with someone and they want to show me their portfolio – I always have the same request “show me your favorite campaign.” And I’m surprised how few people know the answer to this question. Some say, “I like everything in my portfolio,” which you and I both know is not true. Everyone should have a favorite campaign. A campaign that you loved when you created it. A campaign that you still love.
And if you don’t have a campaign that you love, here is the easiest way to create one — I call it a passion project. Create a campaign for something that you are incredibly passionate about. Maybe you were a ballet dancer as a child and still love dance. Maybe you have a passion for Ultimate Frisbee. Perhaps you always loved to travel and spent 3 weeks in Prague. Do that campaign.
There are two reasons to create a passion campaign. First of all — it won’t be in everyone else’s portfolio. Every year there are advertising college competitions. And every year I see hundreds of campaigns for the same product. One year it was KFC. I can’t tell you how many KFC campaigns I saw. And I would always ask the same question — “did you win the competition?” And everyone says, “no.” (BTW – if you enter a student competition – don’t put the work in your portfolio if you didn’t win.) The second reason (and the most important) is when you present a passion project; you present it with more passion. You know the subject matter inside and out. Your face lights up. And as a viewer, I can feel your excitement.
A former student of mine created my favorite passion project. On her resume, in the about me section, was a line about the Girl Scouts of America. She told me that she loved being a Girl Scout. So she created a campaign to try and persuade tween girls to stay in scouting longer. She told me a story about how Girl Scouts actually gets better as you get older. That you get to do more meaningful community service. That you get to make a difference. I loved the campaign before I even saw it. Because I loved her explanation.
From that moment forward, I have always encouraged students to create passion project campaigns. Every time I see one, I’m happy to see how much heart and soul go into those projects. The projects are always about something very personal. The arts. Dance. Theater. Hiking. Travel. Someone even create a campaign about their favorite biker bar.
No matter how ‘finished’ your portfolio, you can make it even better by creating a passion project campaign. Trust me on this one. It will become your favorite campaign. It will be the first one your present in an interview. And it will be better than anything you create for KFC.