Failures wanted in creative advertising
A view from Tony Cullingham

Failures wanted in creative advertising

Don't worry if you didn't get the GCSE results you wanted. This crazy business called advertising doesn't care about what you did or didn't do at school.

You failed your maths. 

You failed your chemistry. 

You failed your biology.

You even failed geography.

And everyone said geography was easy.

Or, maybe you didn't fail. 

You just got poor grades.

Your parents are worried. 

They look at you and ask, "What are you gonna do with your life?"

You tell them this.

The educational establishment can't grade energy.

They can't mark intuition either.  

And they certainly can't give you a diploma in instinct. 

There's no degree in attitude.

No GCSE in fun.

No certificate in thinking on your feet, talking your way out of a tight spot, or making people laugh in the pub on a Sunday afternoon.

If you are not right for university you might be able to get the best qualification out there: a degree in life. 

So here's what you do: you work, you travel, you meet people, you have fun.

Hand out club flyers in Prague.

Or bottled water to refugees in Lesbos.

Scrub down the decks of yachts in Sydney Harbour.

Talk to Peruvian farmers.

Get lost in the Atacama.

Busk in Paris.

Play cricket with the locals in Mumbai.

Serve cocktails in New York, ribs in Dublin and coffee in Naples.

Wash cars in Vancouver.

Dig irrigation ditches in Djibouti. 

Paint a school in Uganda.

Then come back to the UK, make a cup of tea and apply for the Watford Creative Ad School.

This crazy business called advertising doesn't care about what you did or didn't do at school. 

It cares about what you do and who you are.

Ad agencies value your personality. 

A personality that has been formed by your worldly wisdom and your emotional insights. 

They want your taste in Ethiopian music, Armenian pottery and Ecuadorian art.  

And they want your desire and your passion in problem solving.

If you are an academic failure, that could be an advantage.

And you should think seriously about a career in advertising. 

The creative industry needs you.

And so do I.

Apply to the Watford Creative Ad School. 

Not now, of course.

After you have lived a bit and learned a lot.

(The average age of people on the course is 24.)

The more you fail on my course the more successful you'll be as a creative.

Tony Cullingham is programme leader of Watford Advertising