Archive for the ‘Standing Out’ Category

The world’s best promo bar none! Well… maybe a couple of bars.

December 10, 2009

You can be the world’s most talented _________ (fill in the blank). But if nobody knows about you, then you might as well consider yourself the world’s worst. Because no one is using you, so it makes no difference.

Take Kurt Hahn for example, probably one of the world’s most talented musicians / composers around. The guy could play a piece on the piano that would bring a tear to Liberace’s eye and a flutter to Anne Murray’s heart.

Now all Kurt wanted to do was to score music for television commercials. He tried the conventional route of picking up the phone and sending emails and… he got nothing. Not a stitch of work. See, no one knew who he was and in many industries, especially advertising, no one’s really gonna give someone they’ve never heard of a chance.

That is until the day he put out a demo created by a couple of crafty Ad men, that put his name on the tips of the tongues of everyone in the Advertising business.

Have a listen:

The result: Did it work? Of course it worked! I shouldn’t even have to type that.


No news is…

December 3, 2009

Getting no response from a potential employer can be really tough. Even tougher perhaps is getting no response from someone you’ve freelanced for before. Especially when you feel you’ve done good work for them and have established a great rapport. You end up being left with a lot of questions and doubt.

This happened recently to me. I had been trying to contact a Creative Director that I had previously done some campaign work for and was getting no response. I emailed, then a week later, politely emailed again. Then I placed a phone call. David (we’ll call him) picked up, said he was busy and asked me to phone back to which I got his answering machine. I left a message simply saying “Just checking to see if you need any help around the agency…” and again, no reply.

By now I was definitely feeling dissed. And where most people would surmise that it’d be best to leave it alone, and wonder quietly what the reason for the non-reply is… I decided that I’d try something different.

Here’s what I did. A new and improved email:

Subject: No news is..

Hi David,

Hope things are pleasantly busy over there.

Just wanted to write you and say that I’m a big believer in the saying “No News Is Good News.”

And since I haven’t heard from you in a while, I’m guessing that means it’s really great news!

So with that said… when do I start?


—  Jeremy

Ya… it’s ballsy. But it worked because David called me back.

Now it didn’t land me a job right away, but what David ended up telling me is that they had won some new business and that there may be some opportunities in the coming months so I should check back then.

So next time someone is putting you on ignore, you may prefer to leave it alone. And if the thought of  “Why aren’t they calling back? Or, What did I do wrong?” doesn’t nag away at you. You can just write off that potential future opportunity.

But if you are determined not only for answers, but desire to stay top-of-mind in a non-aggressive / humorous way, then you may want to try something like the above.

How I got into Animation.

November 11, 2009

For those of you who have been following this blog, you’ll notice that I’ve had to be creative and come up with unconventional methods to win every job I ever got.

Well, my first job in the animation biz was no different.

One day I came across this 3D animation magazine and was struck by its cover. It had this really well built, well-rendered animated character that had me in awe. Thinking it was the coolest thing I had ever seen, I felt compelled to find out who its creator was and contact them. Living in Ottawa Canada at the time, it ended up that this image I was so drawn to was created by a commercial animation studio in Toronto called Red Rover.

I sent out an email immediately to tell them how it would be a dream to work for their company, and asked if they needed anyone. They replied back asking to see my portfolio and when I sent it over, they responded saying they were a little doubtful about my skills being up to snuff.

In my heart, I knew this to be true. But believing in the impossible, I answered back telling them that I’m aware of the current level of my work, but that I feel that it’s not the greatest representation of my true skill. I then went on to propose a challenge. (Yup, you read right… a challenge).

With balls of steel and guts of glory, here’s the tail end of an email exchange between the head animation supervisor and myself:


Email between Kyle Levey @ Red Rover and me:

You wrote…

<I had a thought… since I have nothing else animation wise to show you… maybe you could send me a model of something you’ve made…tell me what you want it to do, and I’ll send it back to you animated… even tell me how fast you want it done.

I figure this is a better idea, than me telling you I’m a better animator than what I have to show for.>



I’m Kyle Levy, Animation Supervisor here at Rover. I have been looking for an animator to help me complete our upcoming spots. The superman test I saw was descent but not enough info to tell if you are up to the challenge that would be involved with this job.

So… I have attached an audio clip for you. Take it and do your thing. If it’s good, you’re in.

Use your superman character. Make it waist up shot and show me good ACTING and LIP SYNC. Send me something before Friday at 3pm Toronto time. Dont wory about pretty renders, a preview is fine. All I care about is acting.

This “test” is optional of course. But you have a unique opportunity here.

Good luck!

Kyle Levy


And here’s the spot that won me the job:

How I got into Advertising.

November 6, 2009

I never went to Advertising school. The day I decided to get into Advertising, I was working as an animator and thought to myself while working on a commercial, “Hmmm, I think I can come up with a better idea than this.” And off I went trying to apply as a creative person.

At first, I attempted the tried and true method of sending out resumes in emails with a link to my portfolio. Got zippo from that, which reaffirmed my instincts to create something that’ll stand out.

What I ended up doing was creating something that stood up instead. I created a life-sized cardboard cut out of myself holding a sign asking for work, with a voice bubble coming out the side saying “Thanks for letting me in. It’s awfully cold out there!” A nice little double entendre there because it was the middle of February and freezing out, as well, it’s a cold harsh business.

I hand delivered 3 of these. One to Saatchi and Saatchi. One to Ogilvy and Mather. And the other to Publicis. Here’s what they got:


Sign Copy:

Will Work For Work (cover letter)

Hello Ogilvy, my name is Jeremy Salzman and I would love to work for your company. For starters, I am an Illustrator, Animator (both 2D and 3D) and a Graphic Designer. I have spent 8 years in college developing my technical skills, and 3 years professionally.

Now I know you guys are an Advertising agency, but here’s the good news… my greatest strength is my creativity. I love to problem solve and I constantly strive to make things better. At a number of my previous jobs, I have found that it has been my creative abilities that have lead to the success of my projects. Proof of this would be that you are staring at a cardboard cut out of me. I know how to grab attention and push the right buttons. All of which is what advertising is all about.

Joining your team as a junior Art Director would be a dream. However, I’m not too proud to be the office coffee getter, if that’s what’s going to get me in the door.

Included with this shameless self-promo, is a copy of my media demo reel. Take a look… throw it in the office DVD player… watch it with your colleagues, it’s yours to keep.

— Jeremy Salzman

P.S. If I happened to have ended up in the wrong office or department, would you be so kind as to carry me to the right location.

The result. A well-known Creative Director by the name of Neil McOstrich gave me a call from Publicis and asked me to come in for a meeting. The rest is history.

And for the moral of this story… Find a way to stand out.

Promos are always being created that show that someone is smarter than everyone else, more talented, determined and more passionate than everyone else, and sometimes… just being bigger than everyone else works too.

How I threatened JWT to give me a job.

November 6, 2009

Not too long ago I sent my portfolio to J. Walter Thompson in a simple email. The creative coordinator (Pam) responded saying that the creative director likes my work, and that there may be something opening up but that she’ll have to get back to me. Great, I broke through the good old traditional way.

Then weeks, even months went by. Nothing. Occasionally I’d check in, only to receive in return “Nothing yet.”

Then one night in chatting with my dear old mom on the phone, she started to nag at me “What’s going on with JWT? Why haven’t they hired you yet? What’s happening?”

Now she had asked this way too many times before, but what she asked next really rattled my head. She asked, “Do you want me to phone them and find out?” At first I thought my next call was going to be to a retirement home for very senile people, but then… an idea hit me. And here it is…

I immediately sent Pam a new email only this time, I loaded it with creativity:

To Pam from the OutOfWorkAdGuy:

Hello Pam,

Hope things are pleasantly busy over there at JWT.

I am writing you today because I’m in a bit of a pickle. I was talking with my mother today – like I do everyday – and ever since I told her that JWT had shown some interest, she keeps assaulting me with the same question… what’s happening with JWT? What’s happening with JWT?

My reply is, as always, I don’t know. But today for some reason, “I don’t know” wasn’t good enough for her, and she threatened to call you guys on my behalf. Now perhaps it’s all the video games I am playing in her basement, or maybe it’s because I refuse to leave the house at 4pm to watch Oprah. But I tell you my mother is hell-bent on calling you guys to find out why I haven’t been hired yet.

To spare us both the embarrassment, Pam, what should I tell my mom?

Why haven’t I been hired yet?


— Jeremy

The Reply  from Pam:

Your mother raised a charming boy.

I’m at home sick and only have my blackberry and cannot access your portfolio.

Can you please write back with a list of the kind of stuff you’ve been working on? And where you’ve worked. Do you have a lot of tv experience? Have you gone through a lot of research on your ads?

And what are you looking for in terms of salary again?

And- theoretically speaking, how quickly could you start if I asked you to start?

Don’t tell lies. I’ll tell your mom.

Give me a call if you’d rather chat.


(I phoned her right away and 5 hours after we chatted, she sent this.)


Ok Jeremy.

You win.

(I’m a tough cookie….I think you caught me while I was feeling weak with this flu….)

We’d like to bring you on for a short-term contract to see how everything goes.

If things go well, we might extend your time with us but I cannot guarantee anything at this time.

Start date: Xxx, Xxx XX.

End date: have to figure that out but, it looks like it will be end of Xxx or mid-Xxx. I will confirm that for you in the next couple of days.

Money: I can offer you a contract based on XXK per year.

Send me your phone number- I’ll give you a ring tomorrow or Monday.


(Make sure to give your mom a goodnight kiss….she earned it)


PS- I don’t know how many people you emailed this “Mom” email to but, as luck would have it, you sent it to me…a person with an older brother who used to hitch-hike home to the GTA from Queen’s U by using a sign that said “Going home to Mom”.

You’re a lucky duck, Jeremy.