Over the years I’ve always had classes of students come into the agency in the evenings.

Sometimes it might be for just one or two sessions, sometimes for ten.

It depends how many of the creative department are interested in taking a class.

Each class consists of about 15-20 students.

You set them a brief the week before, then on the night they bring their work along for a crit.

I always encourage everyone in the creative department to teach at least one  class.

I believe while our copywriters and art directors are  training the students, they’re being trained themselves.

To be creative directors.

You see each class is a crash course in running a creative department.

Writers and art directors have just a couple of hours to look at up to 20 campaigns.

In that time they have to work out what’s right or wrong about the research, the strategy, the media choice, the creative idea, the copywriting, and the art direction of each campaign.

And they have to be able to explain what to do about it in a clear, simple way.

Great training in fast, powerful, clear thinking.

And, if the students question or argue it’s a test of how good that thinking is.

So while they’re teaching the students, the students are teaching them.

And everyone developes their own style of teaching.

Personally, I just give students the name of the product and nothing else.

They have to do their own brief, their own research, and their own media.

Before they start writing ads.

Then everyone in the class sticks all their ads on the walls together, so we can refer back and forth during the crit.

Gordon Smith doesn’t do this, he’s an art director so he’s more considered.

He likes the campaigns presented one at a time.

But there’s one terrific thing he does.

He doesn’t let the person who did the work present it.

He picks a different person to present it.

This works well because it’s the first time the presenter has seen the work.

And if the idea isn’t clear the presenter gets confused.

Just as the public would.

The person who did the ads can see they didn’t communicate.

They may have understood what they did, but no one else does.

This makes the point that you don’t get to sell what’s in your head.

The ad either works on the page or it doesn’t.

Very clear demonstration.

Anna and Elaine are a team that don’t do either of these ways.

They like to do a fast strategy session.

So they don’t brief anyone to do any ads for their class.

During the day, Anna and Elaine fill a cardboard box with a dozen or so different things lying around their office.

A packet of crisps, a toy, cleaning product, trainers, pen, iPod, biscuits.

Then they go into the class and everyone takes one product.

Then the students go off to different offices.

They get half hour to come up with a strategy and campaign thought for their product.

Then they bring them back and stick them on the wall alongside everyone else’s.

Everyone can see who’s done some exciting strategic thinking, and who hasn’t.

This is great for teaching students that real creativity starts with the strategy.

Not just the pictures and words.

It’s also great to teach them not just to rely on planners to write the brief.

And of course, every time Anna and Elaine crit someone’s strategic thinking, they learn more about running a department themselves.

Everyone gets trained.

And that’s what’s in it for me.

Both in training students and encouraging my department to train students.

For me that’s how I’ve progressed through the system.

First I learned to do it.

Then I learned how to teach other people to do it.

Now I’m learning how to teach other people, to teach other people to do it.

It’s the same rule for life.

If you set the game up right, everybody wins.