Boutique Ad Agency INK Runs Talent Contest


Contests to find creative students with the potential to blossom into top talent are typically driven by search engines such as Google, and mega ad agencies like McCann Erickson. The tactic has also been used by celebrities such as Charlie Sheen to look for a social media intern. Now INK, a Southern California boutique ad agency, is giving it a try.

Building a department that supports social media, INK launched a campaign this summer to find a creative intern. A contest would make finding that person less about work in a portfolio and more about showing the agency what the candidate could do. Those vying for the position had to redesign INK's logo, also known as the Doodle.

"There's no photocopying here for interns," said Jason Simon, INK creative director. "We want them to engage with clients and get fully into the creative."

Simon said universities are doing a better job of preparing students to work at agencies. Some schools tend to focus more on concept, while others are well-rounded. They not only teach great design, but also production support -- so they come in as a junior creative hitting the ground with a good foundation.

Twitter tweets and notices at local universities directed potential candidates to INK's Facebook post promoting the internship. The contest, to recreate a hand-drawn or computer-generated doodle of INK's logo, generated 26 entries from a variety of schools, including Cal State Long Beach and the Laguna Beach design school, which qualified. INK received many more resumes that were not entered into the contest. It ran for four weeks, with the internship beginning in July.

Charlene Chand won INK's "Show Us Your Doodle" intern contest. Chand submitted a video using household objects to form the INK logo. Her video wraps up with her sketch of logo design. The video submission highlights her creativity, investment in the project and the ability to take an idea and run with it, according to Caroline Hanley, INK office manager overseeing the internship contest.

INK clients include Cisco, Golden Spoon, Cox Communication, Quest Software, and Chapman University, INK's Hanley said. About 20% of the company's business supports search engine marketing, but the majority of work focuses on branding campaigns and social media, she said.


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