Friday, 23 August 2013

On Biscuits to Briefs: My Week with TBWA

This piece originally appeared on on 23/08/2013

I know a lot of people who’ve undertaken work experience, but I don’t know many people that use a week of annual leave from a role they’re already in in order to immerse themselves in their ideal industry. My family laughed at first. ‘You’re taking a week holiday from work… to go and work somewhere else?’

They say a change is as good as a rest though, and even though the beautiful TBWA offices in Manchester don’t have a beach (they do have table football though, amongst other toys), I feel perfectly content here. There’s such a complimentary vibe; by which I mean everything just seems to flow perfectly. All the processes and communications between the teams appear to be seamless, and that’s because this is an agency that knows what to do. It’s easy to see how clients feel reassured by the service TBWA provide.

I was told on my first day that I was going to be challenged. In addition to adapting to a completely new environment (I’ve never experienced agency life before), I explored how briefs work and how to write one of my own. A lot of my time was spent learning how internal communications work, and what different teams need to know, as well as learning how to understand client requests to translate the information they provide into a satisfactory brief.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect though was being able to keep track of what exactly was going on a lot of the time. My own career history covers environments ruled by strict guidelines and with clear cut conclusions, and considering the work ethic here as an outsider, at TBWA there seems to be an almost effortless fluidity to how work progresses. It (sometimes deceptively!) comes across as a stress free environment, but this is testament to the ease of the relationships between the teams.

Learning how much effort goes into perfecting different projects really added to how mentally invested I’ve become in the clients I’ve been introduced to. I’ve found myself calling into shops I wouldn’t normally go in, and purposefully looking out for products TBWA worked on when I’m shopping, just see how the final products look to the rest of the world. Do people realise how much thought goes into the placement of a logo on packaging?

From half hour discussions about custard creams to learning which programs are used for creating artwork (something I’m admittedly a complete novice about), my time here has been a completely new experience for me. I’ve loved every minute.

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