Portfolio Night All-Stars a sweeping success

When Portfolio Night was conceived more than eleven years ago, I don’t think any of us could have imagined where it would end up. Huddled inside a coffee shop in Toronto, we set out to create the kind of portfolio review event we wanted to attend. With the standard set high, IHAVEANIDEA went on to create what would become the world’s largest simultaneous portfolio review and recruitment event.

A decade later, we set out to one-up ourselves. Over ten years Portfolio Night had touched the lives of more than 13,000 of young creatives all over the world. Year after year careers are started, accelerated or redirected at the international event. Recognizing the power of the Portfolio Night platform, we challenged ourselves to take something amazing and make it amazing-er with the program extension that is Portfolio Night All-Stars.

Much like Portfolio Night, Portfolio Night All-Stars was conceived while we were huddled around a table littered with coffee cups. However, this time around we were in New York, and instead of a coffee shop we were at the Art Directors Club. In the spring of 2012, Portfolio Night founder Ignacio Oreamuno was asked to take the reigns at ADC. He accepted the role and brought Portfolio Night, IHAVEANIDEA and the Tomorrow Awards into the ADC family. With the firepower of the premier organization for leaders in visual communication behind it, Portfolio Night All-Stars was destined for greatness.

On May 24, 2013, Portfolio Night took place in twenty-four cities all over the world from Paris to Mumbai, Montreal to Johannesburg and just about everything in between. The format of the event was similar to the previous ten years, but with a twist. In addition to the portfolio reviews and networking that would normally happen, Creative Directors were asked to identify the best-of-the-best young creative in attendance with the ultimate goal of selecting an All-Star who would go on to represent their city at Portfolio Night All-Stars.

After much debate, the follow All-Stars were selected:

  • Athens: Kostas Kaparos, 25, Technical Educational Institute of Athens
  • Austin: Daniel Miller, 26, University of Texas
  • Beijing: Chao Quan, 29, Dalian Nationalities University
  • Boston: Ariel Simon, 22, Syracuse University
  • Budapest: Zoltán Kolozvari, 25, College of Dunaújváros
  • Chicago: Sean Collander, 27, Chicago Portfolio School
  • Costa Rica: Laura Méndez, 25, Universidad de las Ciencias y el Arte
  • Dallas: Paul Curry, 21, Southern Methodist University
  • Detroit: Andrew Stencil, 21, College Creative Studies
  • Johannesburg: Lize-Marie Dreyer, 21, The Open Window School of Visual Communication
  • Kansas City: Mars Denton, 22, University of Kansas
  • Los Angeles: Jeremy Eichebbaum, 30, Art Center College of Design
  • Montreal: Melissa Charland, 25, University of Sherbrooke
  • Mumbai: Chaitanya Joshi, 25, Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad
  • New Delhi: Vaibhav Pandey, 25, Delhi University
  • New York: Keri Tan, 28, Miami Ad School
  • Paris: Saurabh Kejriwal, 30, Miami Ad School
  • Philadelphia: Rebecca Williams, 24, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
  • Sao Paulo: Heloisa Ribeiro, 23, Miami Ad School
  • Shanghai: Arthur Gui, 24, Central Academy of Fine Arts
  • Singapore: Zara Kok, 25, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
  • Stockholm: Isabelle Österlund, 21, Berghs School of Communication
  • Tokyo: Shogo Kuwabara, 22, Chuo University
  • Toronto: Arrabelle Stavroff, 32, Seneca College

Portfolio Night All-Stars took place in New York from August 5-9, 2013. The idea was simple: get the best-of-the-best young creatives together in New York and give them a weeklong creative challenge.

To ensure a level playing field, the All-Stars were not responsible for their travel or accommodation costs. An event of this magnitude, especially in its first year, requires partners who can see the big picture. Portfolio Night All-Stars needed partners with a passion for creativity who are trailblazers themselves, and we found that in the Ford Motor Company and Adobe.

Ford provided the creative challenge that the All-Stars were tasked with. From the Fusion Project with Jalopnik to Explorer Live, Ford together with their agency Team Detroit has demonstrated an interest and ability to produce innovative and thought provoking advertising. Portfolio Night All-Stars provided the platform and the opportunity to continue that trend in a very non-traditional manner.

Adobe, the industry leader in creative software, would play an integral role in the development of the work produced during All-Stars week as everyone was equipped with a laptop outfitted with the latest and greatest from Adobe.

Monday, August 5 found the All-Stars gathering at the Art Directors Club along with sponsors, supporters and industry partners for the opening ceremony. DDB Worldwide Chief Creative Officer Amir Kassaei was on hand to offer up a keynote speech before the podium was handed over to Team Detroit to present the Creative Brief. Executive Creative Director Curtis Melville and Team Detroit VP + Planning Director Andrew Martin took the stage and tasked the All-Stars with reinvigorating the Ford Focus. The compact car is built on a global platform, it was explained, so it was suited very well for such an international group to focus on. No pun intended.

After having only spent but a few hours together the All-Stars were assembled into teams and let loose to crack the brief. For the remainder of the week the young creatives set up camp everyday at the Art Directors Club in search of the winning idea. However, to get the creative juices flowing, each day was kicked off with a different guest speaker. A special thanks goes out to Natalie Lam, ECD, McCann Erickson; Benjamin Palmer, CEO/CCO, The Barbarian Group (and President of the ADC Board of Directors), Rei Inamoto, CCO, AKQA (and ADC Board Member) and Corinna Falusi, ECD, Ogilvy & Mather for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their words of wisdom over the course of All-Stars week.

Four short days later, the All-Stars were gathered once again, however this time around the stage was theirs. It was presentation day. The creative challenge was no small task – and completing it with team members who were strangers just a week prior didn’t make things any easier. However, presentation after presentation proved just why these young creatives were named All-Stars. Not only did each one of them rise to the occasion, they exceed all expectations.

Curtis Melville, who had been on hand all week guiding the creative process, was front row center for the creative presentations. He along with Wendy King, Car Communications Manager at Ford were tasked with judging the presentations and selecting a winner.

“It was an honor to represent Ford at the inaugural Portfolio Night All-Stars competition,” Wendy commented. “It was refreshing to be in a room full of young, talented people providing fresh perspectives on how to market a car. The creative ideas were big and well thought-out and the overall delivery of the presentations was outstanding. It is astounding that these teams started out as a group of strangers and over the course of 5 days were able to produce amazing content. Identifying a winning team was no small feat and congratulations to all who participated.”

“I was really amazed at the level of thinking I saw from the All-Stars,” Curtis mentioned. “We have a tendency to think that people new to advertising need to be brought along and taught the ropes, but this experience emphasized to me how creative and innovative these folks are right now, before they have been steeped in what we think of as "the business."

While the initial goal of Portfolio Night All-Stars was to have the winning campaign considered for production, all six campaigns will be tabled for consideration at an upcoming meeting of Ford’s creative agencies.

The winning idea, which was not only highly creative, but also disruptive, was conceived by Team Maverick, comprised of: Saurabh Kejriwal – representing Portfolio Night Paris, Arthur Gui – representing Portfolio Night Shanghai, Isabelle Österlund, Berghs – representing Portfolio Night Stockholm and Arrabelle Stavroff, Seneca College – representing Portfolio Night Toronto. Each member of the winning team will receive a one-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Without Ford and Adobe, Portfolio Night All-Stars would not be possible. It was a huge undertaking and both organizations were integral in making it happen. However, there were a number of additional organizations who champion brilliant creative work and wanted to ensure that the talented young creatives received the All-Star treatment. Each competitor was sent home with an All-Star prize pack that included treasures from:

  • iStock, who provided free image credits
  • Luerzer’s Archive, who provided copies of Archive Magazine
  • Pantone, who provided 2013 Color of the Year Mugs (Emerald)
  • Lynda.com, who provided one-year memberships
  • Wacom, who provided Bamboo Stylus Duos
  • Ultimate Ears, who provided wireless Bluetooth speakers (UE BOOM)
  • American Icon, who provided limited edition Portfolio Night All-Star shirts