Tag Archives: Advertising

This Creative Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

9 Oct

I remember learning about the creative revolution when I was at Brandcenter. I always wondered what it must have been like to have lived through it. And lately, I find myself thinking about people  like Bill Bernbach, Phyllis Robinson and all the other ad legends who helped shape the creative revolution. Were they nervous about the unknown? Excited about the possibilities? Frustrated with people who were in denial of the change that was happening?

Now that we’re in a creative revolution, I feel what they probably felt. And that is a little of everything, but mostly pure exhilaration. Being in the beginning of a creative revolution and working in advertising is pretty amazing these days.  From mobile apps, augmented reality, social media and the amazing breakthroughs in technology, the world and the way information is delivered  is changing every day. And the possibilities, well, we’re just scratching the surface.

As the world evolves with the exploding development of social technology, a few things have become clear to me:

1. Evolve or die. Any agency who refuses to do this will perish. It is not the 80’s. It is 2009. And a print campaign cannot solve everything anymore. Audiences are segmented and you must be willing to consider mediums and platforms that you are not familiar with and be okay with it. Open your mind and be creative.

2. Fuck so-called experts. We’re in a creative revolution and we’re all learning. Claiming to be an expert means you’re closing your mind to more possibilities and you believe you’ve achieved the highest level of understanding. You may know a lot. But no one in the revolution is an expert; we’re all students.

3. Everyone has a voice. Your customers. Your employees. Your family. Nowadays if you piss anyone off, your brand or agency or name is fair game. It can and probably will get slaughtered publicly on forums, comment posts on blogs and social networks. Don’t assume it’s like the good old days when people just talked shit behind your back. Today, people talk shit about other people publicly to the entire world wide web. Which reminds me, it’s probably good to have a crisis management plan for when the shit hits the fan.

4. Promote collaboration. We live in a time when it’s no longer cool to be a one-man show. Ideas require collaboration to bring them to life. From developers, QA, information architects, art directors, copywriters, producers, designers, illustrators… there are a shit load of people who must work together and often, in different offices or remotely. Do yourself a favor, promote collaboration and strong teamwork. Don’t be a tool and treat developers like monkeys or nobody’s. Same goes for anyone on your team. You want respect? You gotta dish it to receive it. And if you don’t believe me, just know that these other members of your team who you take for granted who hate your fucking arrogant guts.

5. Love the process. Mark Fenske used to say this. And it’s true more than ever. Today, the process creates headaches, fights, computer related eye strain, carpel tunnel syndrome, beta testing, wire frames, etc. It can be complicated and frustrating. But that’s because every project is a learning curve.  So you gotta love the process in order to get the idea to not only come to life, but blow users’ minds.

Eric Proulx’s “Lemonade”

7 Aug

Everybody is getting laid off in advertising these days. And there are no signs, the layoffs will stop any time soon.

Eric Proulx was a copywriter/ACD at the Arnold Worldwide headquarters in Boston. He was laid off in October and started a blog called Please Feed The Animals. His blog gives advice to newly laid off advertising victims and lets them guest blog. His blog has had a shit load of success and because of all of the support, he wanted to do more.

One thing became clear to him. The people who were laid off changed. Not for the worse, but for the better. They were doing things that would never have been possible if they were still working in advertising. Even changing their sex. This phenomenon got him to create a documentary called “Lemonade” about what’s happening and what happened to all of our fallen comrades.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Check out the “Lemonade” website to learn about more this incredible journey and movie.

Listen to Dan Wieden Talk About Minorities and Advertising

29 May

“Look in this room. How many black faces do you see?” -Dan Wieden

“Like it or not, in this business I essentially hire a bunch of white, middle-class kids, pay them enormous, enormous sums of money to do what? To create messages to the inner-city kids who create the culture the white kids are trying like hell to emulate. But if you go into the inner city, odds are these kids aren’t even going to see advertising as a possibility, as an opportunity for them. Now that’s fucked up.” -Dan Wieden

Listen to Dan Wieden’s speech yesterday at the AAAA convention. Recently, the AAAA came under fire about the industry’s lack of minorities. I’m really glad that he chose this topic and I appreciate his honesty. It’s refreshing. And I believe he is on the right path. I am so glad someone as famous and as influential as Dan Wieden is reaching out to young kids when there is an opportunity to influence them in a positive way.

Dan Wieden speaks at the AAAA conference

Dan Wieden speaks at the AAAA conference

This topic is a very important one. While some agencies are making efforts–including Arnold’s AMEN program and Wieden + Kennedy’s many partnerships–there is still much to be done.

Everyone always talks about how nice it would be if there were more minorities and how it’s a good thing to do for the industry. I feel like the awareness of this issue has been raised. But if you really want to get more minorities in the industry, the industry as a whole needs to advertise itself as a viable career option.

I remember when I was at Brandcenter years ago, Mark Fenske once said if you end up in advertising, it’s by luck. I think this is still true.

Every once in awhile, I talk to young minority kids in high school who enjoy art and design or English. Whenever I tell them about being an art director or copywriter, they have no idea what it is. And as soon as I explain what it is and what advertising is about, it’s like this light bulb goes off.

As a predominantly white industry, many white students have friends or family members who are in or were once in the industry so they have an inkling of an idea about what advertising is about. For many minorities, this isn’t the case. And this is especially true among Asians.

I think the industry needs to reach out to students way before they reach college. They need to advertise to high school students. By doing so, kids that would otherwise major in fine art or English could then begin considering advertising as a major.

On a personal note, while I would like to see more faces of color in the workplace, I struggle with this, because I don’t see enough minorities in senior or management positions. While I don’t want to go there–and yes, I can see your eyes rolling–it concerns me that yes, we can get minorities in. But then what? Tell them to fend for themselves? How will they get through the glass ceiling?

As a copywriter that happens to be mixed, I try my best to mentor other young minorities. While I don’t think I’m the best person for the job–I’ve been at Arnold Worldwide for almost 5 years and I am still a copywriter, although I have about 8-9 years of copywriting experience–so it’s hard for me to say yes, work your butt off and you will move through the ranks.

Advertising is still traditional. It’s old school trying to become new school–especially now that social media is taking off. And while getting minorities into the industry is important–if you’re a minority reading this–do not expect the color of your skin to give you any unfair advantages. You will have to work hard to prove yourself. Yes, you must show them you have what it takes.

And when the room looks at you like a fucking moron for not knowing some famous American proverb–we can’t see the forest through the trees for example–don’t blame your Korean mother for not teaching you. Do not feel inferior. Do not let anyone make you feel like shit. Take a deep breath and let it go.

And when an ad agency asks you to work on an ad targeting blacks and Hispanics, because you’re a “minority” and then declares you a “minority expert” because you have naturally tan skin, do not get angry. If you seriously feel uncomfortable, tell someone. The same goes for working on a cigarette account. If you feel comfortable, do your job and show them that you’re talented enough and you’re up for the challenge. But make sure you stand up for yourself. Protect your reputation. It is you most valuable asset. Do not march into the client meeting pretending to be a “minority expert.”

After my father died when I was four, my mom always told me, “now you have to work twice as hard.” As I try to move forward in my advertising career, this is still true.

One day, I truly hope to personally know at least 15 Asians in advertising. And one day, I also hope to have a senior-level Asian creative female as a mentor. (I know you’re out there somewhere.)

Is your big idea worthy of a press release?

13 Apr
Crispin's Burger King Cologne

Crispin's Burger King Cologne

It’s an interesting approach and it seems to be working for CP+B. It seems like this is a lesson straight out of this book I discovered while at Brandcenter. It’s called “How To Be More Creative” and it was printed in the 70’s and the only place I’ve ever found it is in the gift shop at the Hirshorne Museum in DC. One of the lesson is about how we stop too soon. I remember Jerry Torchia used to say this all of the time. We stop way before we’ve come up with the really big idea. And I guess this press release idea is one way to make sure you push yourself further and don’t stop too soon.

“One thing we do as we begin a creative project, instead of working on specific media, we write press releases about our ideas. For example, a press release for the Whopper Freakout campaign would say, “Burger King announced today they would be removing the Whopper from their restaurants.” It would go on to talk about consumer outrage. It’s a good way to determine whether you have a rich idea or not. If an idea is good enough for someone to write about, it’s probably good enough for someone to talk about.

We don’t want to find some trend and then do advertising that basically lies about the product to attach it to the trend in the hope that it will sell. If it’s Burger King, and we want to help guys who are being inundated with the notion of metrosexuality, understand that it’s OK to have a killer burger — that’s a great path.”


So how do you write a press release? Learn some basic PR rules here.

AKQA Lars Bastholm

9 Jun

Every person who works in advertising should watch this.

It’s long and it was filmed a year ago. Even so, it’s still a fantastic interview with AKQA’s LarsBastholm.

Now that people are spending more time online, how come agencies don’t allocate their budgets more to interactive? Why do agencies spend $1,000,000 producing a television commercial and just $100,000 on a microsite? If the commercial is supposed to drive traffic online, shouldn’t the budget be distributed better?

Some ad people embrace interactive. Others, not so much. It’s these others that concern me. Today, users are shaping our culture and affecting what we do as advertisers. Users are smart, creative, friendly, interesting, funny, talkative, and powerful. To not embrace the medium is to turn your back on users. And when you do that, you might as well call it a day.

This is a great example of telling a story to drive people to the web.