2023’s Portfolio Night organised by The One Club took place on June 9 in Mumbai. Co-hosted by BBDO India, DDB Mudra Group and TBWA\India for the second consecutive year, the event brought together young creative individuals from all over the country for a chance to showcase their talent and portfolios.
Portfolio Night is an event where youngsters with skills such as writing, design, animation and motion graphics, and UI/UX enter into a competition and get a chance to network with and display their creative portfolios to the who’s who of the advertising industry, in a bid to win a spot on the All-Star team and fly to New York or sometimes even land a job by the end of the night.
The global event is a platform for young creatives to not only show their work to advertising stalwarts but also get valuable facetime with them and garner important tips, tricks and knowledge. It is also a chance for top advertising professionals to scope out the talent and see what the future generations hold in store.
Pallavi from Miami Ad School, Mumbai was crowned the winner at Portfolio Night Mumbai. Ilu Shilpakar of Miami Ad School, Madrid won the virtual all-India Portfolio Night.
Portfolio Night is today a global event. It truly has come a long way since its inception. Russell Barrett, chief creative experience officer, TBWA/India, said, “I genuinely thought that this year’s candidates for me had renewed energy. The interesting thing I was telling someone else is in the ratings or rankings that we get, I was not able to give anybody less than 8 on attitude. The attitude was so amazingly refreshing, so energising, and such a lot of positivity.”
“There was one girl whose laptop had died. She was trying to show her portfolio on her phone which was not loading. I would have crumbled if this had happened in a client presentation. But she managed to keep her energy. I thought that was a remarkable thing in today’s portfolio review,” Barrett added.
At each event, a new group of hungry and talented individuals take part, bringing a fresh attitude, an open mind and the willingness and keenness to learn. This year was no different. “Every year, some pieces of work are amazing, some kids are amazing. People will hate me for saying this but talent is overrated. Hunger matters the most. That is what I saw. At the end of the day, one or two people will win but seeing a bunch of 10-20 people who are hungry, and be a part of the industry really matters. There are hungry people out there who will change the industry. It is a matter of some people coming down and making things happen,” said Rajdeepak Das, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett.
Jury members too felt that this year’s crowd was talented for sure but what genuinely stood out was the hunger to achieve something, the hunger to learn more.
“There are some good talented people with hunger and that is a lethal weapon you can have. That is what we saw. Some really amazing talented people with amazing hunger. I asked a lot of people, ‘Why do you want to be here?’ Their answer was, ‘Sir, I love to do what I get to do every morning.’ I asked them, ‘Show me the piece of work that made you smile. That is what I want to see,’ ” said Das. We’re often reminded of Steve Jobs’ quote, ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish.’
According to Barrett, the other major quality that stood out this year was the attitude. Everyone was energetic, eager and genuine. “Napoleon Bonaparte said, ‘An army moves on its stomach.’ It means a well-fed army. Keep your army well-fed. Here, I believe that advertising agencies move forward with their youngest generation of creative folks. The energy that I saw here today could easily carry the agencies forward,” he added.
There was much talk about showcasing a great portfolio. But what exactly is a great portfolio? What is the secret sauce? What takes a portfolio from good to amazing? Both Barrett and Das had some great perspectives on this.
Das believes that the most important thing to create a great portfolio is love your art. “Love the work that you do. People don’t hire you based on your portfolio. People hire you based on your energy. I don’t think there was a business plan for Google, business plan for Ola, or a business plan for Airbnb. Are you hungry to change the industry? That is the portfolio we want,” he said.
Barrett said, “Quality over quantity, the simplicity of the idea, and put all of your energy into the craft. The idea needs to be simple. The way you put it is how you package it, and that should be great.”
Overall, Portfolio Night ended on a high with both young creatives as well as ad execs leaving happy, inspired and satisfied. The energy was infectious and full of positivity. Barrett had one final thing to add about his experience at the event. “British adman John Bartle (co-founder of BBH) had said, ‘The enemies of creativity are 3 other ‘C’ words: complacency, cynicism and conservatism.’ Today, I saw all of the opposites. I saw people with brave ideas, high energy and curiosity, and I saw people willing to shake things up.”