Undergraduates Jac Morton and Christopher Cryer (above) have just got back to the UK after a month long stay at the Mortierbrigade Hotel, a unique internship concept by Brussels ad agency Mortierbrigade…
The ‘hotel’ is an internship scheme that incorporates accomodation provided in a house next to the agency that has three suites for interns to stay in. The first creatives from the UK to bag themselves a room and thus an internship, Cryer and Morton (who are both studying Creative Advertising at Leeds College of Art) told us about the experience:
Creative Review: Tell us about the Mortierbrigade hotel and how you booked yourself in?
Chris Cryer: We heard about the hotel through Twitter, several ad blogs, and members of the advertising community were talking about it. As soon-to-be graduates we keep our ears to the ground for any potential internships and work experiences. And of course the hotel concept is a bit different to your average internship so we applied straight away.
To book a room, you send in your book. We sent a link to our portfolio and the mastermind behind the sceme and agency, Jens Mortier, contacted us. We spoke over a few e-mails and three weeks later we found ourselves on the other side of the Channel in Brussels.
CR: There’s an ‘earn your accomodation’ concept, how does that work?
CC: We were the third ‘booking’ in the hotel – there was a Dutch team and also a French art director already there. We started off on the ground floor, sleeping in the Tent Level (shown above). The idea is that you start here, work hard at the agency and earn a move to the next level in the hotel (there are three in total) which is more luxurious than the one below. The good thing about this is that it means the agency gives you the opportunity to work on briefs you can really prove yourself on rather than just tea-making duties.
It was fairly cosy, as you can imagine, and it was a unique feeling waking up to feel astro turf between your toes. We quickly worked out that the dining compartment of the tent can be turned into another sleeping area, which was good to know. A down side to tbeing on the ground floor was the morning trek to the shower which is located at the top of the building for the convenience of the Royal Suite occupants, great for cardio!
Above: The middle level of the Mortierbrigade Hotel is known as the Cabin In The Woods
CR: So what did the agency get you working on?
CC: We were kindly given our own big desk to work on near to the other creative teams and as soon as we arrived we were briefed for an integrated campaign for a radio station that revolved around a big live event. The agency were at early stages with it and so we researched the brand, came up with concepts for the live event and mocked up print ads.
We also worked on that holy grail of briefs…a beer brand brief. And, even better, they wanted a guerilla campaign so again this involved coming up with concepts for an unexpected stunt that would get a serious amount of attention.
We also had a chance at working on a script. One of the briefs was for a TV spot that mimicked a popular Belgian TV show and so a lot of research involving watching television was required. Then working with another copywriter at the agency we came up with scenarios and assisted on writing some of the script.
And a final project involved creating slogans for T-Shirts for a brand’s summer party. As it was for an in-house company party, we could take the usual censorship restraints off and go far out with it. The aim was to get people laughing and having a good time.
CR: Besides your accommodation, did the agency cover any other costs as part of the internship?
CC: We did have an endless supply of coffee, coca-cola and bottled water, but food wise we had to fend for ourselves. Everyday travel wasn’t an issue as the ‘hotel’ is literally next door to the agency. For our accomodation we worked a normal five day week. Actually when we arrived on our first day the office manager, Lati, told us that they start work at 6.30am everyday. We were pretty relieved to find out she was joking!
CR: And language wasn’t a barrier working in a different country?
CC: Thankfully most of the Mortierbrigade team are pretty fluent in English so our lack of Flemish or French wasn’t an issue.
CR: So, did you progress through the rooms of the hotel?
CC: Yes, we did end up in the top floor, Royal Suite (above). We worked hard but to be honest we had a lucky break. The Dutch team that were in the Royal Suite, finished their time a week after we arrived. And the French intern in the 2nd floor Cabin In The Woods suite (above) was kind enough to let us have dibs on the Royal Suite as we were staying for a shorter period than her.
In the top room you can expect to find a personal balcony and Hawaiian style bar so we were pretty chuffed to make the move straight there from the Tent level! There were also the essential comforts of proper mattresses, golf clubs and a surf board.
However, there was always the tent waiting for us downstairs in case we let it get to our heads and started slacking. And, as you will see on the site, the dreaded basement (shown above) is there incase you mess up really bad – thankfully we didn’t!
All this, of course, is great fun and an interesting twist on an internship, however the thing that struck us as so important about the hotel is that it is more than a mere gimmick. Work experience is key for creative students. And having interns from different cultures who offer different perspective is valuable to agencies. Having agency-owned accommodation is a great idea and maybe a necessary one in an ever more internationally connected industry.
Find out more about the Mortierbrigade Hotel at mortierbrigadehotel.com
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