Thursday, November 26, 2009

Manic Friday

Dear Wieden + Kennedy,
Thank you for the reminder of all the reasons why I won't be venturing into Target this Black Friday. Since being trampled by crazed, sleep-deprived hausfraus isn't on my Christmas list, I'll be sure to spend my day at home with the leftover turkey and get that external hard drive I need next week from Best Buy. Or, you know, Walmart.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Drink Responsibly

I recently visited Starbucks, and noticed that they no longer automatically give you the cardboard sleeves... a step away from gratuitous waste that I was happy to see. But the Betacup project is taking the idea much further: they have created a virtual space where aspiring designers can submit ideas for a sustainable alternatives to the disposable paper cup. The prize is funded by the community at the moment (currently $2,842) and the site functions as a platform for constructive criticism and feedback that the designers can access and incorporate into ongoing modifications in their designs. The project seems like a win-win: a sustainable goal achieved through independent/grassroots creativity, funded by social philanthropy and facilitated through a community-building application of social media. I am looking forward to the day that the cup will no longer be a Betacup but a Starbucks cup, an office kitchen cup, a summer snow cone cup. Thanks Denuology for the tip!

P.S. For an example of a sustainable cup in action, visit the Fair Bean Coffee shop in Austin TX and sip some of their Red Espresso™ from a cup made of corn!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Awww, ouch! Awwww.

1. This commercial gave me the warm and fuzzies.
2. Then I thought the bird was dead, and was infuriated by the emotional betrayal.
3. At the end I got the warm and fuzzies again, with a laugh for no extra charge!

Unemployment Blues

There was a period over the summer when I began reading the blogs and visiting the sites of people in the ad industry who are unemployed as a result of the economic downturn. My fascination makes no sense, because I was employed at the time (and am currently, despite being a full-time student). Anyway, reading about the woes of the advertising unemployed made me anxious and depressed for awhile! That's what made me so happy to discover The Sack: a video blog about the activities of a copywriter and art director who are, shall we say, living a life of leisure. I find the site somewhat incomprehensible, but entertaining...and perhaps the best part is that the two have joined talents to accomplish a project and fill their time with something productive and creative. Cheers, Dawson and Birchall.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Slightly Dumber than a Dog

So Catherine Zeta-Jones is back in new T-Mobile ads, but I can't derive even the dubious enjoyment from them that I did before, because they perpetuate the suddenly prevalent cliche of the stupid husband. As Sarah Haskins pointed out in a Target:Women episode dedicated to the subject, women apparently "do it all without a shred of help from those lumbering man-beast known as 'husbands'". Indeed, according to pop culture as reimagined through the eyes of unimaginative TV spots. So for the crime of furthering an unrealistic, unfunny stereotype, I'm going to label this a T-Mobile fail.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Walkin' Round the World

Johnnie Walker is a brand whose advertising has caught my attention before, and the newest effort by BBH London caught it and held it (for 6:28 minutes, to be precise). I've never tasted Johnny Walker whiskey, but I might make the effort after seeing this mini-movie: narrated by Robert Carlyle, whose craggy face and rolling brogue match the stark Inverlochlarig landscape featured as the canvas on which the single continuous take paints its story. In addition to this brand history given legs, I also enjoyed watching the credits and seeing how many heads and hands were needed to make this spot (even an animal handler for the cow!).
I have included one of my favorite older Johnnie Walker ads...the one that first piqued my interest in the brand, all those months ago.
Keep walking, Johnnie.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hey, it's almost Friday!

In honor of that fact, here is an ad series that made me laugh (continuously, helplessly, publicly). Perhaps my sense of humor leaves something to be desired, but I found these ingenious and enjoyable. Created by Ogilvy Brazil, found on AdFreak.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dour Recession-Era Fashion Ads

I recently discovered these ads for Tim Hamilton's debut women's collection on the independent style hub Refinery 29. The refinery ladies admit to swooning over the upcoming colection, and describe the threads as "dark, mysterious, and gorgeously reminiscent of the sharp tailoring and bold approach the designer has infused in his menswear". I agree that this is an apt decsription for the collection as presented on Hamilton's website (in fact, the collection is an arresting tour de force: bold shapes and fearless tailoring, with delightful Sphinx-wink touches of the ludicrous). More's the pity that the choice of model, lighting and styling for the above ensures that these ads are dull, oppressive and immature. Black fabric is notoriously difficult to photograph, and the monotone background does nothing to engage the audience visually. These neither showcase the product nor do justice to Hamilton's skill in design and execution. The result is merely a sullen, uninspiring cliché.

Monday, July 20, 2009

First Outdoor Graffiti Museum

Public Relations was recognized for the first time at Cannes this year, and for those who lapse into thinking that the sole functions of PR are to draft press releases and field phone calls, this should be a wake-up call. I'm a bit late to the party, but luckily AdRants archived a few of the best efforts submitted at Cannes. A particular favorite of mine is the Museu Efemero. This unconventional, open-air museum is composed of various streets of a Lisbon arts district, Bairro Alto. The Pampero Fundación heard that the area was going to be repurposed and the walls painted over with no discrimination between vandalism and art. The Fundación converted the area into the Museu Efemero, in which visitors walk between specifically catalogued examples of street-art accompanied by a map and free audio guide (download at The effort was launched in conjunction with Pampero rum, and has generated widespread brand awareness and attracted interest in the rum, the Fundación, and the value of street art. Who knew PR could do so much? Video below chronicles the process.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wanted: Hand Model

This terrifying ad is pasted on a billboard beside north-bound I35 in Austin. Evey time I see it I wonder where in the world the ad people found that yeti, and why they shaved its hand, painted its nails and photographed it groping a pineapple. Or it's some awful Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario: a real hand reproduced horribly wrong.
The limping execution aside, I am also unsure WHYY they thought the inclusion of a hand was appropriate in the first place. Even if the hand was, I don't know, proportionate and realistic, I would still be put off by the idea that someone had had their hand all over the pineapple used to make my drink.

Just sayin', SKYY.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Sizzlin' Summer Scorcher

These ads are succinct, evocative and clever. It is forcasted to reach 104 F here in the Dallas area and this ad was instantly appealing because of the subject matter.
Incidentally, Ads of the World is also a a great site for those interested in seeing marketing efforts from around the world.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I Could Be Next

Always lowest on the totem pole, the position of intern can be a nerve-wracking one. Witness this: Crispin, Porter + Bogusky is selling the services of their interns on eBay! Advertising Age gives more details to satisfy your morbid curiosity:

It seems a bit counterintuitive to farm out your own talent, but Mr. Bogusky said he doesn't really see it that way. Each year, the interns work for Crispin clients, but a portion of their time is carved out to work on special assignments that are typically pro bono. Now they'll just work on this instead. "It would be great if the high bidder is a cause-related thing," Mr. Bogusky said.
Who isn't welcome? The likes of Pizza Hut and Philip Morris. The fine print on the online auction page states that Crispin, which works for Domino's, "reserves the right to decline services in the event of a conflict with any of our existing clients or for any other reason (like if you sell cigarettes) in our sole discretion."

On second thought, I really like the idea. Publicity for CP+B, potentially interesting work for the interns and an interesting experiment that will show what interns should be paid (Although if the $5,400 is going to be divided between the 28 interns, I'm getting paid more than they are at the moment!).

Baby Boom

The world has been infected by extreme precious-ness, judging by the success of the E*Trade babies and efforts like the shamelessly adorable (I check it regularly) Now Evian is jumping on the wagon with a commercial featuring roller-skating, computer-animated babies. See for yourself.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Somebody Finally Said It

Wow, somebody finally articulated very clearly and engagingly my opinion regarding social media.

"Facebook is the 21st century malt shop. It's where people go to hang out. And the last thing they want is some salesperson trying to have a "conversation" with them while they're figuring out what movie they're going to see. They don't want to talk to you. They want to talk to their friends.
The whole appeal of social media sites is their independence from advertising. People like the fact that they can say whatever they want to other people without becoming targets. Yes, they'll tolerate banner ads or search ads on the page, the same way that in the malt shop they tolerated place mats with ads on them or a Coke sign on the soda machine: That sort of advertising is innocuous and quickly becomes part of the general scenery."

Good on you, Alan Wolk.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Emperor Has No Clothes

There is a interesting article over on AdAge about the fact that Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc. operate without any sort of plan to generate revenue. With all the adulation directed toward these social media behemoths, it never occurred to me that their reigns might be very short-lived indeed. I am curious to investigate this subject a bit more, as I would be very sorry if Facebook decided to shut its virtual doors (where could I store and display all my photos so effectively?) or YouTube went off the air (where would I watch David After Dentist?). In any event, I enjoyed the joke purportedly made by a Facebook exec to an ad exec, "Didn't you know we're a nonprofit?" It's apparently all too true.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Feel Good

In honor of the last day before the weekend, I am posting this heartwarming contribution by, um, the world.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Baby Steps

The infant business student organization at the University of Dallas entitled MARKETshare has taken its first steps toward maturitythis week with the launch of its Facebook group! The club will not be officially launched until the fall, but I am hopeful that we can really get something started and get people interested. The only thing is, it might already have too much of a marketing slant (I can't help but post commercials and talk about agencies). Anyway, viva la MARKETshare and wish us luck! Maybe you'll see us around DFW in the fall. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Creative Frustration

As a native of Austin, TX I was interested to stumble on the story of the controversy surrounding the recent GSD&M spot for Popeye's over on AgencySpy. Apparently GSD&M exec Roy Spence brought in a freelancer over the head of ECD Mark Taylor to do work on this commercial, titled "Annie the Chicken Queen". The result cannot be characterized as anything other than a blatant racial caricaturization to a degree that is astonishing in an age when we have an African-American president! The hokey music, trite chatter of the actress and the clumsy, backward concept collaborate to make this spot an epic failure that has to be seen to be believed. While bloggers and the ad community expressed outrage over the commercial, it has been clarified that Mark Taylor and the creative team at GSD&M fought against the ad to the end and refuse to take credit for its debacle. A source within GSD&M (quoted on AgencySpy) says:

"As an employee there, let me be very CLEAR when I say that he [Taylor] as well as all other creative directors, and pretty much the entire creative Dept. [sic] actually fought this campaign to the bitter end. In fact, as you wrote in an article a few weeks ago, The [sic] higher ups in the agency actually went behind the creative department's back and hired a freelancer to do this. He is rumored to be pretty ethnically insensitive (but from the looks of his latest campaign that's obvious). Overall, Mark Taylor and most of the agency agrees with your post, that the campaign is offensive and stereotypical, but that's not what's being implied in the article. That's why I hope you do a follow up article to get the TRUTH out - That Mark Taylor and the creative department had nothing to do with this ( in fact, it's that freelancer who's producing it because the creative dept. wont be associated with it.)"

Of course, this begs the questions what Roy Spence thought he was doing, slapping around his creative team, and why the work of a freelancer is being featured nationwide as the mainstay of the campaign with GSD&M's name on it. Hopefully Mark Taylor and his creatives don't suffer too much negative backlash for their supposed responsibility for this embarrassment. Kudos to AgencySpy for doing a follow-up post to clear their reputations.

I have recently been a victim of being forced to take responsibility for something embarrassing myself. I was recently convinced participate in a project which has subsequently transformed into something ineffectual, embarrassing and worse of all, entirely beyond my control. I sympathize greatly with the embattled GSD&M employees because there are few things I dislike more than being required to sustain the fallout of someone else's idiocy. The fact that I am technically the project's target market, but my advice has been thoroughly ignored is perhaps the most infuriating aspect of the situation. I imagine this is how the outraged focus groups of the "Chicken Queen" spot felt when they saw it on cable.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Out and About in D-Town

For all of you out there looking for something to do on (uh) Thursday night, check out TM Advertising's blog for info about a cool event going on at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas: the legendary spot director Joe Sedelmaier will be in town at a showing of Point of View followed by Q&A. Cocktails after at Margarita Ranch!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Social Media: Shut It

I'm beginning to lose my temper with all those who are harping on the unconditional, effortless benefits of social media. It's my opinion that those in the ad world who believe that social media is the advertising holy grail (of young, captive opinion leaders brimming with discretionary income) are delusional and worse, old. Those who disregard the perils of social media don't fully understand the mechanics of social media and don't understand the state of social media users. Therefore, it was encouraging to hear Facebook's Sheryl Sanderg talking about what companies can do to be less obnoxious on social media. I like the idea of a "stream" in which the ad must blend seamlessly to be effective. Companies must tailor themselves to appeal on this new frontier. Social media is a different channel than anything that has been developed before, and marketers must keep up and create ads as organic and innovative as the means of communication.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nerdiness to the Nth Degree

So, the Periodic Table is a bit like the Ten Commandments of nerdiness in its original incarnation, which makes this take even more awesome. Add the arty factor and the education component of the thing, and we have ourselves a winner. I want this hanging in my office. Brought to you by 100 Best Fonts of All Time and others listed at the base of the table.

Follow the Air Force on Twitter!

Yes, folks, it's happened: Magic 8's favorite branch of the armed forces has joined the social media throng. The Air Force now has a Twitter account and an official blog which is mildly interesting, if a bit surreal with posts like "Starve the Trash Can; Feed the Recycling Box" and "2009 GI Film Festival". I did see a good post on the usefulness of Twitter for public military purposes. Twitter and social networks in general are great at disseminating information, and I thinnk that the Air Force can use all the fast, convenient communication it can get. It does seem a bit emasculating to read that Air Force Materiel Command "will tweet the Annual AFMC Enlisted Awards live as they are announced", etc. But I suppose now that the Commander in Chief is on Twitter (et al.), no one wants to be left behind.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cover Caper

Above is Esquire's inventive effort to get consumers engaged: a flip-book cover comprised of the the facial features of Barack Obama, Justin Timberlake and George Clooney. Nice, I say. It's about time magazine covers stopped being static and repetitive. Anna Wintour, are you watching?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wild thing, you make my heart sing!

The first trailer for the much anticipated Where the Wild Things Are movie by Spike Jonze. The trailer looks mighty incoherent, but does it really matter? If I remember the book rightly from my misty childhood days, it was mighty incoherent too!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Family

There is a community at Mugglenet. I advise all those corporate bigwigs who are so interested in bending social media to serve their nefarious purposes to visit Mugglenet for a lesson in what a thriving, content online community looks like. Mugglenet brings together Harry Potter fans, freaks and aficionados for news and forums. Mugglenet's primary purpose is not to sell anything, true, but they are masters at generating interest and inspiring loyalty... something every company should be interested in. How does Mugglenet do it? By fulfilling a need. By creating a place where fans can interact and seek information. Would it be so difficult to replicate the magic (*snicker*) for other companies who don't cater to a pre-fabricated audience?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Love, Actually.

An interesting idea has surfaced over at LA-based agency Ground Zero for the Sound Advice Project. Ground Zero has crafted an interesting bit of marketing wizardry to accompany the witty name. In an effort to facilitate communication between concerned parents and teens susceptible to drug use, The Sound Advice Project offers a custom-made bracelets that are actually three-dimensional conversions of parents' words of love and advice. The audio is recorded on The Sounds Advice Project's website, visualized as a sound wave and then recreated with colored beads strung on a cord. Messages recommended to teens by the site include "You have a gift. Don't waste it on drugs" and "We are more proud of you than you will ever know". In this way the child can always have the supportive words of the parent actually, physically with them. However, I had ave resrvations. An inventive, heartfelt way to express your support for your teenager or a passive aggressive, innefective gimmick?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Ex-Fat Kids and Bullies" Alike

Ah, the revival of a classic! No, I'm not talking about the new Coco Avec Chanel, but would like to direct your attention to a comical, congenial, not-remotely-PC video featured on in the section dedicated to Wild Frontiers of Sport. I constantly and thoroughly enjoyed playing dodgeball during my childhood (even through highschool!) so the games at McCarren Park Pool look like good fun. Much appreciated is the Olympic apparel (just watch it) and... shirtless Tom. The "historical" segments that begin the video are handled with typical deftness by the editors at Good, and the video effortlessly and humorously conveys the counter-culture, fun 'n sun atmosphere of this Brooklyn renaissance. As this post's title reminds us, dodgeball is enjoyed by, um, everyone!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Do. (More).

Laura Agostini of offers some good advice regarding the steps anyone can take to bolster their career even in these uncertain time. Below is her assessment of what people in my age group should (and shouldn't) be doing to maximize their effectiveness at work.

Junior (1-5 years in the workplace)

This is likely the first time you have faced an economic crisis. The uncertainty of it all and watching your colleagues lose their jobs can be overwhelming. Use this time to rededicate yourself to your career aspirations and, in turn, your position.

Do Less ... Chatting with friends on Facebook Procrastinating Worrying about whether you will have a job tomorrow, next week or next month

Do more ... Focusing on the now and what you can to become a valuable asset Finding a mentor to advise you and check your work Researching and reading up on your client, your industry, your competition

For advice for other age groups, check out the
article at

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cokeheads features a story on the recent adventures of Coca Cola and its attempt to increase market share of Vault (the Coke-made pretender to the Mountain Dew throne). Coke is offering a free sample of Vault to anyone who purchases a Mountain Dew. Interesting strategy, but now I'll just go out and Do the Dew so I can have both... I guess Coke will provide the incentive to support Pepsi, in my case. Maybe Coke's dreams will come true and I'll love Vault so much that I will miraculously find the taste of soft drinks appealing. Hey, the Coke behemoth can do anything, right? Of course right.

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful... Ellen?

Ellen Degeneres is the new face of Covergirl. I was surprised when I heard the news... Ellen isn't exactly what comes to mind when you think "cosmetic spokewoman". As a co-worker put it, she's a got the uh, goober thing going on. On the other hand, she looks radiant and comfortable in the ad, so maybe it won't matter to consumers that she routinely looks as though she scorns makeup (and raided the menswear department)? My opinion of her suitability as a "face" has nothing to do with her sexual orientation. I think Portia Di Rossi would be an effective and intuitive choice.

When y
ou contrast Degeneres with other cosmetic leading ladies, the difference is obvious. Consider the (still) stunning Cindy Crawford in this Revlon ad. Glamor, distilled. Is Degeneres really what the average Covergirl purchaser aspires to look like? Is the new anti-makeup makeup ad something that will stick around? Personally, I'd rather see Halle Berry or Drew Barrymore in the cosmetics aisle. Where do you draw the line on the issue of a celebrity who who simply isn't suited to sell a product? The incongruity of Ellen fronting Covergirl makes me twitch.

I'm just sayi

Friday, March 6, 2009

Advertising Literature (an oxymoron?)

After seeing a couple of "Great Ad Books" lists on sites around town I decided to make my own, but with a twist. These are not books I have read, but rather recommendations that I have collected which look good enough to crack open this summer when I'll only be working 40 hours/week. The list of anticipated ad/design books as it stands now:
  • Where the Suckers Moon by Randall Rothenberg. The excerpt I read on Amazon was biting and informative.
  • Underdog Advertising by Paul Flowers because it is written by a Dallas ad-man! It's all in the family.
  • Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. A friend of mine and fellow marketing student raved about this)
  • All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin because it's about time I gave Godin some money for all the free advice I get from his blog)
  • The Happy Soul Industry by Steffan Postaer. The cover is cute as pie. YES, I judge books by their covers. Sometimes.
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins. A classic on everyone's shelf.
  • Blink: the power of thinking without thinking by Malcom Gladwell. I would like to be able to consciously influence people subconsciously. I hope that's what this book is about.
  • E by Matt Beaumont because it's a novel! About advertising! What I mean is, if I can be entertained while learning I'll come back every time. Teachers of the world, take note.
What are your favorite ad books? What are the books on any subject that changed you?

To be continued....

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

I'd like to bring to your attention two ads that I recently discovered (although neither of them were recently created) and which I think exemplify some of the best and worst of what marketing can be and do. The bad news first: this, which manages to offend on quite a few levels. The ad (hailing from Singapore) is apparently selling skin-whitening tablets. Aside from the, well, blatant sexism of the tagline, I find the obsession with skin-whitening very off-putting. Has this always existed, and it's just another of my blessed blind-spots? Anyway, this is an example of What Not To Do--market a bad product with worse copy.
Riding like a white knight to rescue advertising's reputation is the recent campaign by Ogilvy New York for Fage Total. You can read the New York Times' description of the situation here. Ogilvy has enlisted the help of some luxurious co-conspirators to make very effective ads: on one side of the magazine is a traditional ad featuring jewelry or a watch and the facing page is printed to give the impression that there is an impression made in yogurt! Simple, visceral, intriguing. Thank goodness someone is doing such work in a time where people are daily using the poor economic situation to justify lazy/cowardly creative. Bravissimo, Ogilvy.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Texas Monthly Talks

"...There are people who say, 'in a bad economy, that's the best time to build.'"
Check out Texas Monthly's interview with native Texas ad-man Roy Spence of GSD&M. Spence makes some good points, most notably distilling any business down to its raison d'etre: to fulfill a need.

Friday, February 27, 2009

EA Adapts Great!Lit for the Gaming Screen

It certainly took them long enough. Can EA really be the first to have the idea of turning the Divine Comedy into a video game? Nine circles of Hell with Satan as the final adversary? Three-headed dogs, zombies and religious symbolism? It practically begs to be adapted! And EA seems to have done a creative job. The literature student in me cheered when the announcement trailer began with the first lines of Dante's Inferno, but the pseudo-female Virgil was a departure from the text ( I suppose they felt it was not that much a change to insert a guardian angel in the place of one of the greatest classical poets?) and Cerberus looks bizarrely cartoon-ish. The trailer progresses with what looks like a rollicking good time. The ad has great visuals--they owe quite a bit to the pioneering visual style of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I guess everyone does these days)--but I wonder how they interpret some of the more, shall we say, contested sins? I can imagine quite a dinner-table conversation sparked by little Johnnie inquiring why the homosexuals are doomed to wander a burning desert in the seventh circle of Hell for all eternity. Anyway, it looks like agency G-Net has done right by EA, at least in terms of eye-popping presentation. Maybe Dante's Inferno will one day rate a sequel, but I'm not holding my breath for a game staged in the nine circles of the Paradiso.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

...and now for something Completely Different.

Two differing opinions of advertising.

"Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill pail." Thank you, George Orwell (for more of this sentiment go here.)

"Advertising is a career for the strong of mind and spirit, and for those who think winning should occur swiftly and without great ceremony."
That's from Jo Muse, courtesy of

Cadbury FTW

In 2007 Fallon London attracted attention with their creation of a Cadbury chocolates ad that featured a gorilla drumming to Phil Collins' "Air Tonight", and which left some people scratching their heads. What, audiences asked, does a primate rocking out on a drum-set have to do with chocolate? I think the ad is unarguably striking and really more effective than one might initially think. The purple walls behind the gorilla exactly match the purple of Cadbury's packaging, and the entire feeling of the spot (the music, gorilla's expression) definitely correspond to the final tagline "A glass and a half full of joy". The commercial was undoubtedly successful, spawning spoofs and a Facebook page as well as winning awards and upping chocolate sales. All was right with the world.

Fallon has done it again with their new ad for Cadbury, posted above. The ad world is all a-twitter (in every sense of the world) with speculation as to whether this one will prove as popular as the ubiquitous gorilla. Fallon definitely seems to have mastered the genre of ads that are effective entertainment but do not necessarily relate to the product except in the most abstract way. I am a definite fan of the new spot (even if the kids' performance lacks some of the gorilla's spontaneity) and will be interested to see what Fallon's Juan Cabral tries his hand at next.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Diversity Marketing

I recently discovered an interesting article by Jo Muse (posted on titled "How to Win the Diversity Battle". I was pleased at the refreshing perspective the article presented: Muse structured his advice on the importance of recruiting effective minorities and the ways in which CEOs can incorporate diversity into their companies every day. Too often I think employers recruit minorities out of guilt or obligation, so it was pleasant to hear the author denounce this practice.
"The quest for qualified talent is not about race, ethnicity or being a minority. It's about talent, pure and simple. Not only are qualified people of color out there, they are available and looking for opportunities to excel in the advertising business."
Hiring minorities doesn't have to come at the expense of the company, but very often I hear the view expressed that a difference in skin color will magically bring something innovative and necessary to the table. I agree with Muse that in an ad agency (and in any company/industry where competition is an influence) talent should be king. Company leaders are doing no one any favors by hiring unqualified minorities to the detriment of the company and its product, when there are so many qualified, diverse candidates in the market searching for opportunities. It just takes a little bit of courage and energy to find them!
In other new, I recently discovered CreativityOnline, a great resource for the Frustrated Creative in You. I am a particular fan of their "Top 5" feature, in which they compile a list of the top five creative things that have occurred in the last week. Top 5 introduced me to David
Fincher, who directed the fabulous Nike spot "Fate" (and was nominated for an Oscar for his direction of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), as well as the digital magic of Ray Tintorini. Check it out!

Friday, February 6, 2009


Seth Godin recently posted an article on his blog entitled "What would a professional do?". I was particularly struck by Seth's point that so many people merely pretend to be professionals--at the cost of everyone else.
Coincidentally, "who is a professional?" was the question explored in a recent Business Ethics class. So I pose the question: what makes a professional? Does it mean you are a member of a society that has dues and a biannual journal? Must you have a certificate of authenticity? Additionally, what constitutes professionalism? Does it merely refer to the state of being a professional? Perhaps we are back where we started.

The painting featured above is "Lineman" by the incomparable Norman Rockwell.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The GOOD Life

Today I revisited a site I always turn to when in need of some educational entertainment. That sounds horrible, but is anything but bad. The video section in particular is endlessly entertaining; recent updates include an interview with RuPaul "the world's greatest drag queen" (currently promoting his reality show RuPaul's Drag Race), a video documenting unusual--and hilarious--recession indicators and a review of the new movie with Liam Neeson, Taken. Their videos also make constant and good use of kinetic typography, which I have blogged about previously and which is now being used ad nauseum by mainstream marketing.
There is little in this world that I find more exciting than well-designed and visually stimulating packaging. I recently discovered a fabulous little site dedicated to collecting examples of just this thing: features examples of innovative packaging created around the world. The site even indexes them by subject (recreation, sports etc.) so if you are curious about what confectionery packaging they have deemed particularly note-worthy, for example, you can browse with maximum efficiency.
Above I have included a photograph of the svelte Mamont Vodka bottle designed by STRANGER AND STRANGER. Check out their website; they do some fabulous work ...

Monday, February 2, 2009

43rd Game

This year the Superbowl commercials and half-time show were largely mediocre (while the game was surprisingly interesting). A few commercials were worth remembering, however. The commercial was particularly entertaining. I have noticed that the most entertaining commercials have running punch-lines, rather than a single one at the very end: featured a long, building sequence of examples of unacceptable employment situations that provoked a laugh at every stage. Coca-Cola also employed this technique in a non-humorous way in their "Bug's Life" commercial. The ad featured (filmed in a haze of yellow summer light) a sleepy picnic-goer whose Coke is stolen through the combined efforts of ingenious insects. Doesn't sound like much? You should have heard the audience's exclamations of delight when a tower of butterflies masquerading as the missing Coke shattered before the sleeper's groping hand, or the audience's speculation on how the bugs might open the bottle. The ad kept the roomful of college students riveted to the TV with constant stimulation and a progression of development.


There was a segment aired recently on Austin's local public radio station about a new photography exhibition of the work of depression-era photographer John Vachon (you can listen to the audio here). The above photograph that KUT showcases is very well done. Photography is not my area of expertise, but even I can see that Vachon has captured an exceptional range of tones, from very white at the bottom right hand corner to very black on the trunk of the tree. Foreground, middle-ground and background are well-represented ... I think this photograph shows an unusual depth of field. There is eye-catching texture, and the child provides a very nice focal point, balanced as he is between the building on the right and left. Even if the technical composition of the piece is disregarded, the photograph is an undeniably poignant historical document. Bravo, Vachon.

Carpe Diem

I have recently been given a great opportunity: it is my responsibility to compile an integrated marketing campaign for one of the business for which I work in the Dallas area! The initiatives that I determine are necessary to insure the increased success of the company should keep assorted freelancers and myself busy for the next three months. I have already redone the a large amount of the company's print promotional material (business card, stationary, etc.) and am in the process of overhauling the website. Where do I go from here? I would really love to showcase some of the product in retail location around the Metroplex, in addition to being featured in local magazines. I also hope to gain management experience by delegating to freelance designers. In any event, it is an opportunity for growth.

Friday, January 30, 2009

$3 Million for 30 Seconds

Well, "Marketing's Big Game" --as has dubbed it--happens the day after tomorrow, and although I can't tell you with any certainty who will actually be fighting it out on the field (the Steelers versus ... somebody) I am definitely interested in who will be jockeying for our attention during the commercial breaks. Interestingly, one of these $100,000-per-second ads has been created by the Dallas-based The Richards Group for Bridgestone. I expect they'll bring their A-game for something with this much money and exposure involved, so we'll be seeing the very best they can do. I also noticed that some of the companies had elected to do their commercials in-house, which is understandable when it's Paramount Pictures or Sony Pictures, but GoDaddy? I hope they know what they're doing.