School of Thought: The Final Standings

Back in March of this year, OTB Agency teamed up with 11 other Leeds based advertising and marketing agencies, lending their collective industry expertise to School of Thought and its latest cohort of budding creatives.

School of Thought is an intensive 12 week programme that challenges a mixture of final year students, graduates and those in the infancy of their careers to tackle a new brief each week using a different discipline of advertising. Each agency sets their brief on Monday and contestants take three days to hone their idea, before presenting back to the agency on Thursday.

As if mere professional pride wasn’t enough of an incentive, the crowned winner would also claim an all expenses paid trip to Cannes Lions Festival of Advertising. Not bad, eh?

From billboard advertising and brand response TV to integrated and non-traditional media, the SoT contestants flexed their muscles and showed some old dogs some new tricks, for both household names and fictional clients.

Unfortunately, this year’s creatives would spend much of their time presenting over Zoom, but this did little to dampen their enthusiasm or the quality of their ideas.

Amy, a Graphic Designer at OTB, was lucky enough to take part (narrowly missing out on the title in second place) and had this to say about her SoT experience:

SoT for me has been the chance to step away from a design focus and dig deeper into what brands and their audiences want. I started to ask myself ‘what story am I trying to tell?’ and ‘how can I present that story in an interesting and unique way?’ I’ve learnt the value of adding personality to my presentations, especially when communicating over Zoom. We’re all craving a bit of connection at the moment and SoT pushed me to think about how I can do that when I’m not in the same room as my audience.

After 12 long weeks of slogging it out on Zoom – with the promise of a cold pint at Belgrave Music Hall for the final show keeping many going – contestants had to once more bow to restrictions and settle for one last Zoom presentation. The undisputed winner of School of Thought Leeds 2020 was Alison McGann, who impressed judges with her consistency and truly innovative responses to briefs set.

2020 marked SoT’s inaugural programme in Leeds and it was the first time OTB have been involved, but it certainly won’t be the last.

Check out the final submissions from the School of Thought Leeds 2020 class here.

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