Prior to claiming the coveted national AWARD School prize–packing his bags and jetting off to meet acclaimed ad man, David Droga, in bustling New York City, Tom Lawrence was busy working in video production and documentary making. His communications campaign Proudly Pokies Free which he started with his sister was ticking over and keeping him busy but there was a niggling ambition creeping in that he might like to try advertising.  The Comms Council ‘took five’ with Tom ahead of his boarding the plane to Manhattan and asked him what exactly motivated him to enter AWARD and what lessons he learned through the arduous process?

TCC: What made you apply to AWARD School?
TL: I had always thought about doing advertising and my dad had done it. I’d done a bunch of stuff – media, directing and producing and I’d actually thought I wanted to do strategy so I contacted a friend at The Monkeys and she told me about an information night and I looked it up and it was actually on that night, so I headed along and discovered submissions were due in two weeks. So I figured I might as well give it a crack and I did it and got in and I was like– “well, here I am.” It all happened very quickly. But I guess I’d always had in the back of my mind that I might try advertising I guess this gave me a push in the right direction.

TCC: What did you learn coming through the AWARD School process?
TL: AWARD School was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I did four years at uni but I did nothing, but this was really hard. Uni is kind of like an extension of school, it was something I had to do, whereas I really wanted to do this. It was really rewarding but definitely the hardest thing I’ve done. I think I learned the process, but I think you learn a lot more about yourself, than the industry. Rather it’s about how you work and how you come up with creative ideas but I guess it also gave me a taste as to what advertising is like.

TCC: You mentioned you nearly gave up? What kept you going?
TL: I really wanted to, but I don’t think I ever would have, but I really wanted to because I wasn’t enjoying it at certain points because I found it so hard and because I was spending so much time on it that I got into these rabbit holes of ideas, terrible ideas and some OK ones and working out which is which especially when working by yourself. Mostly my tutors from BWM and Leo Burnett just kind of kept me going and said: “you can’t give up, you’ve been so annoying, you got to see the end of it.”