OCADU Design Disclosures: Advertising

OCADU Design Disclosures: Advertising

On Monday October 20th, OCADU students had the pleasure of watching three Advertising creative professionals present and had the opportunity of asking them any questions they had. The three presenters were:
Lance Martin Executive Creative Director and Partner at UNION
Alan Madill Executive Creative Director and Partner at Juniper Park
Liam Johnstone Art Director at Red Urban 

Lance graduated from the Communication and Design program at OCAD in 1994. Over the past 22 years, he has built one of the strongest creative resumés in the country, with Lions, Pencils and Clios proving he is a global force to be reckoned with. And though he’s all about the work, Lance has a keen business sense that has helped him develop strong client relationships and foster an environment of collaboration and innovation.

Alan as well graduated from OCAD through the Communication and Design program. Alan is a partner and Executive Creative Director at Juniper Park, and has won every creative award worth winning.

Liam Johnstone graduated from OCADU in 2008 with a degree in Graphic Design. Liam has received honours and awards from ADCC’s, Applied Arts, Effie Awards, Atomic Awards, Canadian Marketing Awards, The Bessies, and Marketing Awards, just to name a few.

Here is a recap of what was talked about and the advice given during the presentations!

Lance Martin 

  • connect with the consumer
    • you want them to find it memorable
  • find a new story
  • treat everything as a big opportunity
  • think about and beyond

Things I didn’t learnWhere to go next – how to hire a photographer, how to pick which one? How to pick which picture to use?

Fight for what you believe in, but respect what others believe in so that you can stay on their good side and don’t ruin any opportunities to work with them.



Alan Madill

  • You need to learn.

Hard Work

  • You learn 10% in school, the rest you’ll learn while working
  • Alan’s portfolio got completely ripped apart – so he went to Europe. He says “Don’t be attached to things”.
  • Alan started his book over once he got home from Europe, feeling inspired. “You have to work hard, and deal with criticism”.

Know your audience

  • interviews
    • know who you’re talking to and when you get feedback, listen.
    • if they suggest changes, do it, and come back to show them (follow up). It shows that you value their opinion and their time wasn’t wasted.
  • don’t try to act cool

* A lot of people Alan has hired have average books, but great personalities.


  • getting a job may not happen right away
  • if you really want it to happen, it will happen, eventually
  • once you start coin good work, you’ll be getting phone calls from other places
    • *In your first few years, as long as you’re at a great place and you’re doing great work, don’t worry about the money. As long as you’re growing, thats what is important.
  • Scaring yourself is GOOD.
  • Be comfortable, but also push yourself.

A little bit of luck

  • Sometime sits just the right place at the right time.
  • Know your stuff, know who you want to talk to and who you are talking to. Know about their company.


Liam Johnstone

  • Biggest advice is to always say “yes, and…”
    • Take the opportunity and add to it.
  • Do more than you are asked to do.
  • Liam has presented more than he was comfortable presenting and it majorly worked out.
  • Always add more.
  • Be nice to people, always.


Questions & Answers

Q: What are the pros and cons between an adversing or design boutique and an agency?

A: You’re thrown into lots very quickly in a boutique. It could be a panics because someones away and you get that opportunity.

For a boutique, you’ll have to work a bit harder to get into it. Seek them out yourself.

Don’t just think you have to go to the Executive Creative Director. Show art directors first, they may help you. The more exposure the better. They may even show the ECD themselves.

You also get good practice.

Q: Do you have to go in with a definite Art Director/Copywriter decision?


  • You may know the strength you have.
  • You can always switch once you’re in – if you’re feeling copywriting more that art direction talk to your boss and say hey you know what I think i’d be better at this or I think i’d like to try this out.
  • If you’re good at both, your a double threat. But no one is hiring an “I’m not sure”. If you don’t know what your strength is, show some people and see what they think you’re stronger at.

Q: Do you have any advice for starting your own business?


  • Get into business with people who are better than you are.
  • Align yourself with successful people.
  • Try freelancing, its a lot like having your own business.

Q: What were some of your most interesting ways to get work? Creative ways to get an interview, freelance work, attention, etc.


  • Its hard – you can send promos, and it can go great, but it can also go horrible.
  • I’ve taken a campaign and made it my own, but it was very risky. Luckily it worked out.
  • I once wrote a bunch of personal letters (personal is much better. KNOW. YOUR. STUFF. Many times Lance Martin has been address as just “Martin” because the person thought that was his first name.)
  • Make sure you follow up right away. Make sure that person cows that you’re eager.
  • If you get advice in an interview, make the changes before you follow up. Do not go back with the exact same book.

Q: When you look at books, do you expect to only see campaigns, or designs, or both?


  • I like seeing stuff thats way out there, differentiate yourself from others.
  • See what you’re applying for, and include work for that.
  • Learn from your mistakes and always be presentable.

Q: Do you feel there are certain skills that undergrads lack?

A: A lot of people still have a traditional portfolio. There are so many things you can do. We want to see that!

Q: How do you speak to yourself without boasting?

A: Be yourself, don’t oversell. If you’re overselling, we can tell.

Q: Have you ever made any big mistakes that looking back now you thing “Wow, I should not have done that”?


  • I got discouraged with clients. I started making fun of other clients and it turned out that my team and I sat there just ripping on clients. Don’t get caught up with your ego. If they are annoying you, overcome it.
  • I’ve created ads but wasn’t able to sell them. Make sure you’re organized. Prep before pitching!
  • Production mistakes: make sure you look over EVERYTHING.
  • I’ve lost in touch with people…my advice is don’t. Always keep in touch.


Thank you to everyone who attended this event!