This summer, 25 young design students spent the day at Jack Morton’s New York City office learning about the company’s philosophy, working hand-in-hand with its creative directors and project managers—and flexing their creative muscles in group exercises that gave them a taste of what life at the agency is all about.
Welcome to JACK Live!, which the agency hosts each year to give up-and-comer design students a taste of Jack’s world while providing its own creative team a chance to see how the next generation of creatives is thinking.
“Talent in this space is hard to find, so we see the day as an important investment in creative talent and energy. We’re making that investment now, and it gives us a chance to interview and talk to people, and get the word out about why they should all want to come work with us, as well,” says Jack Morton head of creative services Cori Weiss.
This is the third year Jack Morton’s New York office has hosted the event. It initially started out as a ‘brand camp’ event and evolved over the years into JACK Live! It helps put the agency’s name out there, as well as its point of view about brands and brand experiences.
“We’re looking for those just exiting college or getting their Masters. There are a few schools we look to where we have found great talent before, but we love just putting it out there through social media. We’re always really amazed at who comes to us,” Weiss says.
While the event usually focuses on students from the Northeast, this year participants traveled from as far as California to take part in the event. “We offer it as a day for working alongside people at a creative agency and that’s really what it is. We don’t just talk at them—it’s an ongoing dialog and conversation about brands and experiences. We want to get them excited about what we do,” Weiss says.
Many design students come into JACK Live! not knowing 100-percent what the agency does clients.“We spend the morning talking about our point of view, exterior brands that do it well, and the work that we do. In the afternoon we break into smaller groups with a lot of our talent here to solve for a specific brand,” Weiss says.
The event is about Jack’s work and how the agency thinks, but it’s also about its culture and the people who make up Jack Morton’s creative team.“I’m amazed at how excited they get with what we actually do. A lot of schools don’t go into brand experience design; here, they see the integration of creative, strategy and production, and how all three of those things can come together to form something really amazing,” Weiss says.
When students were invited to participate, they received blank Kidrobot Munny figurines in the mail to decorate as they chose. Their unique creations were then used as an icebreaker to introduce themselves to the group.
The group was then broken down into smaller teams of five and teamed up with creative directors, strategists and producers to address a challenge: Come up with a brand experience solution for an airline looking to increase market share.
The groups were charged with creating a plan to launch new products and services, engage with the brand’s communities, align with their employees and build stronger experiences. The results of these blue-sky sessions varied widely, with each team coming up with interesting and sometimes unorthodox solutions to the problem. In the end, all of the solutions brought something to the table, and made the students and Jack Morton designers think big.
Steve Mooney, managing director of Morton’s Boston office, says the brand camp provides a boost of energy for his team, as well as the students who participate. Jack’s Boston location has been hosting a brand camp event for the past five years, and welcomed two groups of students in last year.
“We get energy from having 35 people in here who are incredibly curious about brand experience and it raises everybody’s interest in the business because we see so many people interested in us. They are curious and they bring a whole new way of thinking, because they are first-generation digital natives,” Mooney says.
The students really respond to the interactivity, and inviting them to roll up their sleeves to work on a hypothetical project for a client.
“In that assignment you do get their perspective on what’s happening. They’re always thinking forward about what’s possible. They’re not constrained by budget, politics or what’s been done—they come to you with new ideas,” Mooney says.
The event is held with an eye on the horizon, as Jack Morton is always looking to add quality young designers to its creative team.
“This is our future. They are our future, and we will want to hire them. What they think about the space is the future, and how they interact with the world and brands around them, and the passion that someone that age brings to it is critical to being successful. So even though it takes a month to get ready, I guarantee the people on the front lines who deliver this at our agency will come away saying it was worth it,” Mooney says.