Edgy graphics, striking models, clever placement. Advertisers have relied on these common ingredients for years. But what makes a "good" commercial”one that consumers will connect with and remember? Douglas Blanchard, associate creative director at Campbell-Ewald in Warren, has proven that the answer may be quite simple.
"Advertising is really just storytelling," said Blanchard. "I'm a big fan of graphic novels, and TV commercials really fascinate me - they're sort of a thirty-second version of multi-panel cartoons."
Blanchard was hired at Campbell-Ewald three years ago by way of BBDO. No stranger to the industry, he has also worked at FCB, Bozell, JWT and spent 11 years at Doner in Southfield. Together with his creative director partner, Jon Stewart, Blanchard plays a lead role on the Michelin account and new business work. He is involved with the creative development of campaigns and individual communications while working alongside a talented team of other art directors and writers.
"Occasionally Jon and I pitch in with concepts, but our priority is to create an environment where work is being judged and sold strictly on merit," explained Blanchard. "Creative direction sits somewhere between the creative and business ends of advertising, and it can be fun to bridge the two and really make a great piece of communication.
"It's important for creatives to have something tangible to show for all the hours they put in - producing work and building a portfolio is essential to a career in this business. Nothing is more frustrating than looking back on a year and wondering what you have to show for it. So we try to give everyone opportunities. Today's junior teams are tomorrow's award winners."
As a freshman at CCS, Blanchard planned to major in illustration. However, by the end of his second year he discovered he enjoyed the challenge of conceptualizing ideas from scratch as much as executing them. As a result of encouragement from instructors Larry Fleming and Tony Nelson, he decided to pursue advertising design.
"CCS was a great introduction into the world of graphic design. My years at the College were very important ones for me. To this day, many of my closest friends were students with me.
Although Blanchard has no doubts about pursuing a career in the advertising industry, he never gave up his first artistic pleasure - illustration.
"I have quite a few sketchbooks from over the years," said Blanchard. "Lately I've been drawing commonplace scenes like strip malls and fast food restaurants juxtaposed with more abstract collage elements. I'm fascinated with the more mundane aspects of the environment we've created for ourselves. If someone says one of my drawings is boring, I take it as the ultimate compliment."