Monthly Archives: September 2009

Creativity, Anyone?


“I’m not creative.” I get it all the time and I say get over it. You are, I am, the whole world is, or at least it would be if we didn’t beat it out of ourselves by age 18 . The scariest part is I find the divide worse off in the places where it should be furthest from existence: advertising agencies. By the very fact that there is a “creative department” we run into an exclusionary issue. What seems like a harmless label to describe the work of one department thereby tells other departments they do not deserve that label. In other words, “this department is creative and yours isn’t, so there.” *sticks out tongue*

Call it psycho babble, but I think this has a profound effect on the motivation and quality of thinking in the work place. Do I have study results showing direct correlation? Nope, but the gut feeling is there and remains whenever I interview for a position. I don’t just want to work in a creative department, I want to work in a creative agency–the type of environment that fosters creativity through all levels and department positions. Let the ideas lead and let them generate from everywhere and anyone. Few agencies put enough emphasis on this prospect although some are getting there.

CPB Group has it listed directly within their employee handbook on page 7 under “Your Sensei.” It is said that you are assigned a mentor called a sensei and “most importantly, your sensei will be in a different department than you. We have found that departments are necessary to get the work done, but we have also found that the more people ignore departmental boundaries, the better it is for the work. That is why it is always a good idea when media people come up with creative ideas, and creatives come up with planning solutions, and production people come up with media ideas, and so on and so forth. For this cross-pollination to happen, you will have to become comfortable in the other departments and what they do.”

R/GA is another example which has created their own model to address their focus on digital services. Taken from the July/Aug 2009 issue of Communication Arts, “the agency has been set up so that groups work in multi-disciplined teams–technologists partner with copywriters, designers, researchers and planners. The teams collaborate on projects from start to finish, instead of handing off ideas to separate departments or outside suppliers.” Because the ideas can flow easily between copywriter, producer, et al, the end result does not become disjointed, nor does it require longer turn-around time due to volleys of e-mails just to stay on the same page. If isolation is an issue with departments, what do you about multiple agency locations? Employee growth has caused R/GA to take its commitment a step further with a newly-minted program series called R/GA University; creating open thought provision across disciplines and departments within their entire network–that is putting your size to use. The message is clear; if your departments (or agency locations) are isolated, then your work might as well be outsourced.

As for those tiny creative hot shops that you hear about? Thanks to their smaller size it usually allows greater ease of communication and project awareness between all the staff.

The result: Love’em or hate’em, these agencies have produced consistently successful work at all levels. All three examples allow ease of communication between department levels and a shared sense of effort toward the common goal of improving the client. It’s no longer every department for herself, it’s every agency for her client.

Though I haven’t yet worked at these agencies, I can attest to their models. When I worked on the National Student Advertising Competition at Emerson College in 2008, we adopted a similar approach. Every day started and ended with a live update from each department presented to the rest of our team. We always knew what everyone else was doing and it was made clear that anyone could drop by a department to contribute their thoughts even if they weren’t officially within that department. In effect, this led to better thinking across the board and allowed us to hone some initially far-flung concepts into leaner, pitch-ready executions.

And yet, only a small percentage of company cultures embrace these progressive models. In an age where companies can thrive solely from the power of an open source model, it’s amazing how many still fail to trust the untapped creativity beyond the walls of their creative department.

Imagine that impact on the business. A creative idea in research might mean doing something non-traditional. Maybe focus groups and surveys aren’t the answer this time. Perhaps if you fostered creativity in that department they would feel inclined to go the innovative route for gathering qualitative data. Creativity in media planning is just as important. Where is it being placed? When are things top of mind for your audience? If your media team is willing to be as creative as the messaging it is given, it will work hard to both imagine and execute on the best ways to reach your audience. Or, even better, the media team will have a great idea that lives outside its department while other departments provide great ideas that live within media.

In point, every department should be a creative department.



Filed under Ideas, Marketing/Advertising

Big Ad Gig (Final Update)

I just received the final notice this morning. I was not chosen among the final eight.

I already said it in my prior post, “Win or lose, the most valuable take-away from this contest is knowing that I’m not alone in my belief that I can do this.” 

I still hold that statement true and it’s thanks to all of you. There is nothing more any of you could have done. Your time and energy were well spent, and likely, are what propelled me as far as I went in the competition.

Any failing here is of my own.

It’s a failing I’ll remedy the only way I know how, by continuing forward, working as hard as I have up to this point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some robot programmed to exhibit graciousness. This definitely sucks big time. And yes, it would’ve been a nice chance to have, but I know it won’t be my last one.

Those of you who haven’t received your illustrations or poems/raps. They are coming soon. I’ve been catching up with my work on my one client and will have those to you all likely by the end of today.

I’ve still been given an invite to the live event so I can watch the top eight compete in the battle for the job. My only word of advice to the finalists is to, please, blow us all away. Don’t take this opportunity lightly. Show the 41 others who didn’t make it that we couldn’t have even touched you on stage. Show the crowd the judges made the absolute right decision. This is your chance to take control of your career, and, if you don’t, someone else up there will take control for you. I’m looking forward to some great ideas and even greater presentation. Don’t let me down.


Filed under Contests

Big Ad Gig Update

I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the turn out for my entry video. As of this posting, the video has reached 789 views, 85 unique text comments, and six video responses (apparently a lot of people are camera shy).

Of all the messages I’ve received the most exciting may have been the e-mail which said I had officially moved into the top 18. The e-mail continued to say the judges would be narrowing it down the final eight over the next couple days, which, of course, has been my goal from the beginning.

I don’t know if the scale and positivity of these comments mean anything to the judges, but they certainly mattered to me. Win or lose, the most valuable take-away from this contest is knowing that I’m not alone in my belief that I can do this. I can only hope that I’m given the chance to prove everyone right for supporting me.

The way I spread word-of-mouth was through a facebook event with a tactical twist. I knew some people would be willing to take the time to comment out of the kindness of their hearts, but, to go beyond that and tell their friends, family, and colleagues? Generosity has its limits. So, as a means to show my gratitude while incentivizing promotion beyond the event’s original attendees, I made the only offer I could:

Anyone who commented and then spread the word by, a) telling another friend, b) making the video their FB status, c) Tweeting it, or, d) all of the above, would receive an original illustration or short poem/rap with topic of their choosing crafted by yours truly. These images were then tagged as a photo of the contributing person, showing all those on Facebook that this was dedicated to them for going the extra mile.

Hey, it’s the most I could offer them to show my appreciation for going beyond themselves. I questioned how successful leveraging my drawing style and rhyming ability would be, but they seem to have been a hit. Below is a collection of just a few of the specially created illustrations, and, a requested rap about one man’s love for ketchup. Why not?

Coming Along

Cute Doesnt


We all have


Ketchu Rap

PS–Those who haven’t seen the video can check it out here. Feel free to comment whether you think I deserve it based on my portfolio, resume, and blog. And, of course, if you share it with others, tell me about your good deed. You’re owed one of these illustrations or poems/raps upon request.

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Filed under Contests, Feature Creature, Ideas, Shameless Self Promo

Download Shout Out

People are willing to pay few mental tolls in order to download something they really want. If you make it too difficult by requesting too much of their personal information, or worse, their friend’s personal information, you’re usually out of luck. Usually. Here’s a great example of what I believe will become an innovative quid pro quo for downloading.

As you see on the site, the only way you can watch the exclusive trailer is by allowing them to post a message on your facebook or twitter saying you downloaded it from this site.

It works. I only found out about this site because a friend of mine did exactly that. Think of it as an automated word-of-mouth which maintains the genuine nature of the traditional form. I say it remains genuine because my friend wouldn’t have downloaded it unless she was truly interested in the music/trailer and wanted to share that fact. That said, this shout out becomes the equivalent of any political ad we’ve seen, “this message approved by your friend.”

We all have our online reputations to uphold and we would never cross the line into becoming hucksters at the risk of losing the genuine connections we’ve formed. This idea generates conversation in a traditional way through non-traditional means. I like it.
More Than a Game

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Filed under Marketing/Advertising

When America SCORES, We All Do

America ScoresFor every month of the six that I own a Fiesta there is a different theme. This past month was Social Activism month. Seeing how the big apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (the tree being NJ), I decided to bring awareness to America SCORES NY. America SCORES is a national organization which creates compelling after-school programming for children in underprivileged communities. They have programs serving 14 cities, including NYC, which provide soccer, writing, creative expression, and service-learning. In other words, they’re doing a truly kick ass service for the young’ns.

You might be thinking, “So what?” And I understand. A lot of us just grew up with the privilege of having recreational sports and clubs after school, so it’s harder to appreciate. Let me help you with that. You see, when you grow up in an underprivileged situation, your after-school environment is filled with negative alternatives. The absolute last thing you want is for easily impressionable kids to have free time in this type of environment. But this program provides more than an alternative to the negatives of their environment, it’s boosting their confidence and giving kids the power to improve it.

The writing and creative expression have made the children better communicators and students. Service-learning projects, where they tackle issues like local homelessness, turn the children into improvement leaders for the community. Moreover, the sports segment of the program helps combat America’s overwhelming struggle with childhood obesity. As I said, they’re doing a truly kick ass service for the young’ns, or at least they were. 

In 2008, the NY branch was forced to shut down due to financial issues. Now it’s 2009 and with the help of the National Office and generous donors, America SCORES NY is going through its relaunch phase to raise an initial 64,000. So far their fundraising efforts have been successful, leaving them about $5,000 within their goal. After my visit they were brought $500 closer thanks to a donation from Ford in support of the month’s theme. Each $1,000 represents one child in the program. At $4,500 that means there are still 5 children left unfunded.

We are usually a product of our environment. This is our chance to help these children become the product of a positive one. I urge anyone reading to contribute what they can to the organization at You can watch my mission video below for an in-depth look at my visit to the NY chapter.

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Filed under Ford Fiesta

The Big Ad Gig

Open Arms


Most people despise those who advertise. They snort their nose at our supposed lies. And claw away at their invention of our deceptive guise.

Entertainment blends with endorsement like a necessary accoutrement.

Mass media became a channel which we swim even harder upstream. Devoted to the consumerist nightmare which lives in an American dream.

But I take pride in our side of the communication, turning once wandering minds into prized finds of our persuasion.

Advertisers don’t prey on hearts, rather pray they will listen, for 30 second spots bear a hefty price of admission. As for admission of guilt I have none to admit, it’s a feeling I plan to remain long after I quit.

You see, I prefer opening minds over washing brains and believe in the art of the great campaigns. They can handle the truth as long as we handle with care, maintaining the message without losing its flair.

I look forward to the day I’ll become a big wig, but in order for that to happen, first, I need a big ad gig.

My good ole rhyme-of-a-time from above is inspired by a recent opportunity to win my dream job. It’s called The Big Ad Gig. I love the set up for the contest. To enter, users must submit their portfolio site, resume, and “film a YouTube video where you declare these words in a public space: ‘I deserve a Big Ad Gig.'”

Then the thought occurred to me; what place could be any more public than the internet? That’s why my video (which you can watch below) isn’t addressed to the lunch-time rush at a restaurant or a busy city street, but the online community. In the spirit of this contest I want all my readers to look at my work and tell me whether you think I deserve a big ad gig.

From those criteria the judges will narrow the field to eight finalists. Here’s where it gets really cool. The top eight get access to all the panel discussions and parties at Advertising Week. There, they are also handed a creative brief from The Ad Council. The finale allows 4-minutes for each of the eight to present their concepts to a live audience and a panel of judges. The winning concept gets a full-time, 30 day paid gig with one of the sponsoring agencies. While the money definitely sweetens the deal, it doesn’t make it. More than anything, I’m just absolutely floored at the prospect of showing what I can do, not only on stage at Ad Week, but within one of these agencies for 30 days.

If you want to help then watch the video below. It will tell you everything you need to know in order to get me to the next phase. The one thing the video doesn’t ask is that you spread the word. Cheer me or boo me, either way, you should share my video with others, so they can share in your verdict.

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Filed under Contests, Poetry, Shameless Self Promo

How To Enter A Video Contest

HOW TO YOU DOA few weeks ago held its first-ever video contest. Based on popular vote by the viewing public, only the top 10 entries would be eligible for judging. At the risk of aiding our competition my friends and I created, “How To Enter A Video Contest.” Admittedly, it was more humorous than helpful.

Unfortunately, we did not get enough votes to appear within the top 10, ultimately ranking 45 out of 148 submissions. Looking at the chosen elite, I don’t feel cheated in any way. In fact, it kind of made me want to learn how to become more knowledgeable about filming and editing (which I’m sure is a video on their main site). In any case, feel free to click the earlier link to view our submission. It’s definitely worth a few laughs–upon rough estimate, I’d say three-and-one-half laughs.

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Filed under Contests