Portfolio review: Michael Yang

Michael Yang Portfolio



Brook here. I wanted to give you a thorough review so I broke it up by sections.
I wanted to thank you first for submitting your book for review, it is not an easy thing to do and I applaud you for your eagerness and advise you to never lose that!

This review is my opinion only. I want you to think about my feedback and take what works for you. I hope this helps. Here we go.


What do you mean by creative/art director? By your book it seems like you’re a copywriter, I suggest you change your name your title to just “copywriter”—if that’s what you want to be.

I love your description, it really showcases who you are, which is great! Since you’re asking for your first gig, I suggest you add a line or two about that, in your writing style of course.

This is something you and every junior out there should know and remember. “Creative Direction” or “Creative Director” is a senior title and as a junior starting out, you can’t be a “Creative Director”. For now, you are either a copywriter, an art director, a designer etc. Of course you want to eventually become a CD but for now, don’t make the mistake of saying you are one, until you actually are, 7-10 years from now. Under “skills” you should put all the things you know i.e advertising, conceptions, copywriting, idea generation, digital, photoshop, animation etc (actual technical skills).


This is awesome!!! I wish this is what I saw on the first page when I get to your portfolio site. I like the colors, the fist and the story. Things like this show your personality and as a Junior, your personality and your potential is what’s going to get you hired, make sure it comes through consistently.
You should move your portfolio to an actual website with a customized domain name. I shouldn’t be too hard, you already have the work. Having a site that you can say you made is very impressive I think, and I don’t mean go build a site from scratch, just use a platform like cargo collective, behance prosite or something like that. It’s super easy to build and customize.


The work:
This comment applies to all the work: the project description should be at the top. I first got really confused about your ideas, but when I finally read the description, it made sense but think about all the CDs and recruiters who might not have the time to get to the bottom… Give them a little setup, don’t explain your idea, just explain the insights, the process, the strategy—basically get them interested in it so they keep reading. And feel free to add more to your description.

Zierhol beer:
I like your idea, it’s funny and has legs, this idea come through clearly even with the sketches (nice sketching by the way!) and I would say, sketches for a copywriter are totally okay. Try to expand more on your idea, add more tactics; think interactive/experiential. How do you engage your audience?


Salvation Army:
Good cause. I was really excited to see what’s coming, but I wondered where the Salvation Army (the client) fits in your idea.
I like the idea but I feel like you didn’t bring it to life completely—yet. You need to think of your idea as a story. Now, how do you tell that story? 2 executions didn’t do it justice, expand on it even if it’s with sketches and make sure the main focus is your client, which in this case is SA.

Are you saying picnic bar is ugly? I think what could help is a closing statement or tag line about the product. For example, if your headline is: your taste buds don’t know beautiful maybe your closing statement could be: but they know delicious.
Not saying you should use that, but think of what your main message is and make sure it comes through clearly in all the executions.


That’s a really cool use of space that hasn’t been explored before. I like your keyhole treatment, it’s very smart.
I wonder what else you could do with the channel space? Maybe it can become its own form of medium you know? Think about what else you could do with it, and that might be a completely new idea… And that’s okay.

Award school: Congratulations on getting 3rd place! I think it’s great to show the work that got you there, but here some thoughts:

Google plus spot: I think this one is a bit confusing because I’m not sure what you’re saying about Google +. Always think about what you’re trying to communicate and do it in the simplest way possible. On another note, I think this spot can be very funny but is now kinda stereotypical and could be offensive to some people. Trust me, you do not want to be stereotypical in advertising. I’m confident you can find a better and funnier way to communicate your message if you decide to improve this spot.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 4.02.47 PM

North face:
The north face app is really cool, I like that idea and would like to see more of it. Expand on this one too. Remember: a good creative is one who takes his or her ideas to the next level and always improves on them, never settle for 1 or 2 executions, you don’t want to be perceived as a lazy creative. And if you’re having a hard time expanding on your idea, that means your idea is not that “big” and is probably just an execution, always find a big idea to tie all your executions together.

Cool ambient idea. I personally always try to expand on my ideas, just write scribble down and see where they take you. This isn’t an easy thing to do and you will learn more once on the job but I would suggest trying to think campaigns right now, it’ll put you way ahead of other juniors.

I like this idea a lot, you should move it to the top. I like the insights in this idea like the girlfriend at the bar—good ideas are always based on good insights. Someone wise once told me to always start you portfolio with your strongest campaign and finish with the second strongest. Of course, all your campaigns should be strong, but put the ones you love the most at the top and end.

Hilarious idea! Love it! This one should be moved to the top for example. This reminds me a little bit of the old spice guy. I’m sure you know it already and if for some weird reason you don’t, look it up, it was done by Wieden Kennedy

This is another great idea. Unlike some other ones, this one does tell a story, you could expand of this one too, it has legs. And then you can move it to the top or close with it.

Cool idea too. If you had an art director, they can really help you bring it his to life because I can already see where it can go and I’m liking the direction.

So Michael, you ask me to be harsh and I was a little.
I think you have a lot of potential and you definitely got the advertising bug!
You should definitely not give up on a job in advertising. It won’t be easy, but nothing great ever is. If you work harder than anyone you know and never give up, you will not only stand out but you will go far. Half the game is in persistence, you gotta persist until you’re the last one standing.

Try to find an art director to help you craft your ideas and expand on them. Any ADs reading right now interested? Give Michael a call.

Another thing to remember is to edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Right now, you have 10 projects on your book, that’s okay but borderline too much, especially if more than half still need some work. Try to narrow it down to your absolute favorites and expand on those. Less is more. Aim for quality and not quantity.

There are many ways to break in the industry—you should read “breakin in” and “pick me” books by the way—and you should definitely get second and third opinions, but I wanted to give you some specific direction so you can start moving forward now.
I know this is a lot of feedback so please take what you want and leave the rest, but I wanted to be thorough. People will tell you different things, I recommend asking “why” to their comments and use what makes sense to you without forgetting that you are a junior and have a lot more to learn, always keep an open mind—even if your a super senior for that matter.

I hope this helped! I believe you will become a great copywriter soon if you put yourself out there and work your butt off. Keep us updated on your progress, we’d love to feature you again once you feel comfortable showing your book again.


Creatives, if you’re ballsy enough like Michael and want one (or all of us) to review your portfolio, contact us, or submit it here. Bring it ON. 


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