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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Portfolio Night 5: Toronto

Portfolio Night 5: Toronto

Posted on May 14, 2007 and read 2,036 times

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Five years already.

It seems like only a short while ago that ihaveanidea held the first ‘Portfolio Night In Canada’ Toronto event over at Pirate Radio & Television. I have no idea what the attendance was on that evening, but whenever I visit Pirate, I always think to myself “how did we manage to fit all those people in here?” Of course that’s coming from someone who has seen Portfolio Night grow from a three-city all Canadian affair to a globe-spanning spectacle in 2007.

Again, five years already.

ihaveanidea’s Portfolio Night might be a worldwide event these days, but it still has its roots here in Toronto, and that’s where I found myself, preparing for one of the larger turnouts of all of the cities involved. This year, the venue was the swanky, spacious and appropriately named Schmooze in the city’s entertainment district. When we arrived that afternoon, we had already received word that Auckland, Australia and Asia were big successes, and the European locales were in full swing. So the pressure was on to make sure that maintained its title of Portfolio Night’s crown jewel.

5:00 PM arrived, and after helping with the preparations for the past few hours I stepped outside to see how the line-up was looking before we opened the doors. There I was treated to the sight of dozens and dozens of creative hopefuls, all anticipating a potentially life changing evening. Some were in jeans and sneakers, others were in shirts and ties, some laughed and joked with friends, others stared quietly at the pavement. Everybody had their portfolios in their hands, eager to get the evening started (or over with, whichever the case might be.)

As the creative directors arrived, we came to learn the importance of overbooking such events. A creative director’s day can be unpredictable, and there were a handful of last minute cancellations and no-shows. Nevertheless, the Toronto advertising community was well represented, with creative directors and top talent from agencies such as DDB, Downtown Partners, Anderson DDB, Taxi (both 1 & 2), doug, Publicis, Bensimon Byrne, ACLC, Ogilvy & Mather, AMW, Cundari, Grip, Dentsu, Bos, GJP, JWT, Y&R, BBDO, Leo Burnett, Lowe Roche, John St., TBWA\Toronto and Critical Mass. Every CD seemed to be happy to be there, particularly Gary Westgate, who made his desires known by wearing a custom T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Writer Wanted.”

With slightly fewer CDs than we anticipated, plus an influx of eleventh-hour ticket sales, a bit of schedule rearranging was necessary, namely the addition of a fourth period before overtime (appropriate we went from three periods to four quarters, with the Maple Leafs on the golf course while the Raptors were still around.) This meant we were going to be in for a long, yet exciting night.

Tattoo’s Tommy Zee, who is also the man behind adbeats and the real life producer of Burn Back, hosted the evening alongside Jay Thompson and myself. After thanking everyone for arriving and explaining the rules and schedule changes, we played the video that announced the bad news: Burn Back would not be playing at Portfolio Night, in Toronto or any other city. And with all the formalities out of the way, I slipped into my referee shirt, blew the whistle, and the first round began.

Whoever said that herding cats was a tricky task has obviously not had the opportunity to preside over a portfolio review. Some CDs can get through a portfolio and dispense advice in a very short span of time, while others would sit with young creatives and their books well beyond the fifteen minutes allotted, especially if they liked what they saw. Some creatives were adamant about who they wanted to see, and were willing to give up two of their three assigned meetings if it meant getting face time with the likes of a Nancy Vonk, a Lance Martin or a Glen Hunt. Many CDs even opted out of the scheduled break periods. With drinks provided by gold sponsors Corbis at hand, they chose to meet and speak with additional young creatives throughout the evening. And of course you had the students who would try to slip past and see four or five CDs before others had seen their first. Nevertheless, we did our best to keep things moving.

Because of the additional period, the scheduled festivities stretched longer than usual. Young creatives were treated to frosty beverages in Tribal DDB’s Interactive Lounge while they waited for the popular overtime round. Finally, sometime after 10:00 PM, period four finished up and overtime commenced, allowing students to approach any CD who was willing to stay behind. This was done to the delightful sounds of The Parkdale Hookers who in the absence of Burn Back, rocked out with their very own version of “Make The Logo Bigger.” Believe me, hearing them perform their cover felt like a proud grandfather seeing his baby grandchild for the first time!

So what were some of the thoughts on this year’s Portfolio Night? “Portfolio night seemed to be a success,” says Gary Westgate, the aforementioned CD with the ‘Writer Wanted’ T-shirt. “I reviewed seventeen books and hired a writer from that night they very next day. I’m going to give the kid my T-shirt when he starts this Monday.”

Heidi Ehlers, President of gold sponsor Black Bag was even more gracious in her praise. “With a global war for talent raging, anything that we, as an industry can do to continue to populate it with fresh, young, enthusiastic talent is a worthy undertaking. Portfolio Night 5 proved –once again– that there are still, in fact, people who are passionate about, and inspired by, the communications industry, and ensured that our talent supply continues to be plentiful. Thank you, from all of us who love the feeling of young creatives nipping at our heels!”

Thanks to everybody who participated in this year’s Portfolio Night 5. But don’t get too comfortable; Portfolio Night 6 is only a year away!

Brett McKenzie
Chief Writer/SBN2




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