The Interview Series // 20


Ben Birchall and Shane Dawson had it all: A job at The Campaign Palace (http://thecampaignpalace in Melbourne, money to buy food, and great haircuts. They evidently spent a lot of time on all of the above for they were model advertising citizens, making funny campaigns and acting like dags for money and fame. Until one fateful day, not too long ago, they were politely asked to ‘leave the agency’. Also known as getting ‘The Sack (http://thesack NULL.tumblr‘. Instead of ‘losing their shit’, they decided to document their ‘sacking’, while trying to get their respective ‘sacks in the door’ somewhere bigger and better than before. The resulting video diary (http://thesack NULL.tumblr is a great lesson in ‘getting your shit together and looking for a job’. Something every junior needs to learn. We were impressed and felt it was a great opportunity to talk about ‘gimmicky’ ideas, losing your job, getting a job, and working on your folio.

Junior: At what stage in the job-losing process did ‘The Sack (http://thesack NULL.tumblr‘ idea come about?

The Sack Lads: Straight away really. We initially posted photos on Facebook and people really liked them, then we had the idea to film the process because it might be interesting to watch later. Blogging it daily led from there, and it meant that we had a deadline and the motivation to actually do it.

Jr: Tell us a bit about how you got into the industry? Did you originally get your job at Campaign Palace in a similar way?

TSL: Hell no. We got into the Palace the old-fashioned way – working for free for a few months. We were out of Award school and we got paired up to do a placement at the Palace. We were supposed to get paid for every bit of work we got up, but after two months it was cheaper to hire us.

Jr: Emma Hill once told us, “If your idea is a bit gimmicky, you come across as a gimmicky creative. Rather than a genuine, intelligent one.” Obviously there are plenty of kids out there who’ll want to do something similar hoping to get a job. How do you suggest they straddle the line between gimmick and intelligent stunt?

TSL: It just has to be good. If it’s good, it’s an interesting piece of work in itself and hopefully shows a potential CD that you’ve got something that the fifty other teams that have contacted them that week haven’t. And then you need the work to back it up. There’s no point getting in the door to see a CD if you don’t have a decent book.

Jr: When a lot of people lose their jobs, they freak out and take any old job they can get. Is this you guys freaking out or are you looking to make a big jump in your career?

TSL: It’s probably a bit of both. It was initially something to keep us busy, particularly in that first week when you go from working eleven hour days to sitting around the house. But the end result is that hopefully our next job will be better than our last job. That probably wouldn’t have been possible without The Sack.

Jr: Google loves The Sack, you’ve got posts on Campaign Brief (http://www NULL.campaignbrief NULL.html), Mumbrella (http://mumbrella and over 2,000 hits on your first video on youtube (http://www That’s great and all, but what has the reaction been like offline and in the interview room?

TSL: It’s been really positive. We’ve been able to see people who would never have seen us without The Sack. And they already know who we are, what we’re about and what our work is like. Which means that rather than going through your book, you can just have a chat about where you want to go and where the agency is headed. It’s a far more productive way to spend their time and yours.

Jr: We’re big fans of how quickly you guys got your shit together. We have plenty of friends who are still ‘working on their folio’. What would you say is the 5 steps to getting a job in advertising?

TSL: Here’s the list!

1. Keep your book current. Things happen very quickly in advertising, so even if you feel safe and cosy, plan for The Sack.

2. Show your book to people you respect. Even if they can’t give you a job. It’s good to practice presenting, and it’s good to get different perspectives on the work.

3. Do a heap of different stuff. Don’t have a book that’s full of pale imitations of D&AD finalists from 1998. Dream up a product, create a brand, include some digital or viral stuff. You have to show you can do more than write a headline or lay out a strip ad.

4. Work for free if you have to. It sucks, and there’s a line you have to draw before you start seeming sad, but the CD you’re trying to see probably did it, and their CD before them. It’s a grand old advertising tradition, like sexual harassment and cocaine.

5. You have to pay for tip 5. We accept paypal and all major credit cards.

Jr: And finally, losing your job sucks. What advice do you have for any kids who lose their job or have lost their job recently?

TSL: Our old CD, Tony Leishman told us that you have to treat advertising like you work for yourself. Jobs will come and go. You can’t control that. What you can control is keeping your book sharp, doing cool stuff and staying busy and creative. And that doesn’t necessarily mean working on advertising briefs. Start a website, write a script, take some photos, design a font, dream up a product. Whatever it is you do, do it. Don’t stop because you’re not getting paid. In fact, do it more and do it harder.

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 01/10/2009