After the D&AD Advertising Concepts Workshops had been going for a few years, they were getting really popular.

There were several classes each week at several different agencies.

D&AD thought it was growing too big to handle.

They said that, in order to reduce the numbers, they were going to vet the student’s portfolios.

And only let the best on the course.

I thought this was elitist.

It was totally against the spirit of the classes.

Which was to give everybody a chance.

But D&AD were determined to weed out the applicants.

So I asked them if I could have the names of the ones they thought  weren’t good enough.

Then we got those people into our agency.

There were about 30 or 40.

We didn’t have enough chairs, so they sat on the floor.

I said, “This is The “Advertising Rejects” Course. The experts at D&AD don’t think you’re good enough to get into advertising. But if you keep your mouth shut and do what we say, we’ll make sure you get more jobs than the people on the main course.”

Everyone loved it, it was like “The Dirty Dozen”.

A fighting unit made up of misfits, rebels, outsiders, and rejects.

My creative department taught them everything they could.

We made sure these kids knew they couldn’t beat the main course on brains or talent.

So they had to beat them on energy.

And it worked.

In fact it worked so well that the next year we found some of the people applying for the Rejects Course who weren’t really rejects at all.

They were pretending to be rejects, even though they’d actually been accepted onto the main course.

But the best part for me was at The D&AD Awards a few years back.

Some of the best young creative directors in town came up to me to shake my hand.

They’d been on that Advertising Rejects course.

They’d been told by the experts that they weren’t good enough to work in advertising.

And there they were at D&AD that night, picking up awards.



Lesson 3:   Set it up so you’re the underdog. That way you can’t lose.