Advertising Week: The Island of Misfit Toys

The VCU Brandcenter is a bit like the Island of Misfit Toys – but then, so is advertising, right?

This summer, I had the good fortune to work in the same office as now-full-time artist, Mike Shine, who whether he knew it or not, offered me a new perspective on what makes an ‘ad man’ – and no, it’s not Don Draper.

So who are these misfits? Find out after the jump to Advertising Week!


What 5 Crazy Months Have Taught Me About Life and Advertising

The VCU Brandcenter is the most hectic, awe-inspiring, sometimes depressing but more often exhilarating experience I’ve ever had – and while not an excuse, the biggest reason you haven’t heard from me in quite some time.

As the holidays approach and we all start to wind down, I thought I’d share my 10 most salient learnings (a few of which come directly from the sage wisdom of professors and alumni) from the last 5 months:

  1. Have a backbone. Believe in yourself and your work. Take criticism when it’s warranted and constructive.
  2. As much as it might feel like it, you’re not yet a junior. This is the time to screw up and not “get on the list.”
  3. Good work doesn’t have to be on brief to be on strategy; and great work is a rarity. When you see it, you’ll know it. Appreciate it, and find a way to work with those who create it.
  4. Team meetings shouldn’t last 12 hours. They probably shouldn’t even last 3. If they do, you’re doing something wrong.
  5. Working in teams is (nearly) as much about luck as it is cooperation. But you’re not always going to luck out in the real world, so now is the time to figure it out.
  6. Keep some of your cards hidden; not everyone deserves or appreciates your help. But at the same time, find those people that are deserving; help them, and build fiercely loyal relationships.
  7. No one really understands what a strategist is or what a creative technologist should do; and that’s ok – define that role for yourself.
  8. Be a sponge. Everything is a learning opportunity. Be curious. Ask naive questions. Connect the dots. Have fun.
  9. Hard work is a waste of time if your idea sucks.
  10. Believe in magic.

10 ½. If you’re going to break your elbow, do it while you’re young and when you’re soon to have a break. At least then you’ll have time to update your blog ;).



CS 2014-15

Quoted: A Lesson In Brevity

Consider this: The Lord’s Prayer contains 56 words; the Gettysburg Address, 266; the Ten Commandments, 297; the Declaration of Independence, 300; and a recent U.S. government order setting the price of cabbage, 26,911

Positioning: A Battle For Your Mind

Don’t be the cabbage law, keep it brief.

I know I’ve neglected this guy over the summer and since I started at the Brandcenter, but I promise to be back soon. This blog tends to keep me sane, so you can imagine how crazy the last few months have been. I’ll have Brandcenter tidbits and wisdom to share shortly, and be sure to keep an eye out for my thoughts on this year’s Advertising Week in New York!

Advertising Week: The Evolution of Storytelling, One Tweet at a Time

Texting is killing language. Twitter is killing journalism. Technology is killing the way we socialize (OK, maybe this one’s a little true). Too often, people lament these changes rather than recognizing the opportunities that come with them.

For Ted-talker John McWhorter, such changes don’t represent death, but rather, new life. Texting, specifically, with its baggy structure and lack of concern with rules, shouldn’t be thought of as a ‘decline’, but rather, as a kind of emerging complexity through which we are constantly creating new linguistic markers (like the transitional word “slash” or “lol” as a mere marker of empathy).

We’re creating entire new constructions, but still, we think something is “wrong.” And this is nothing new.

What does this have to do with Twitter? And what does it mean for brands?
Read more after the jump to Advertising Week!

Cool for Useful’s Sake

It’s Monday of my second week on the job — and let me tell you — I LOVE IT.

Love, love, love it.

BSSP is an amazing (and so much fun) environment to learn and grow in, and from day one I was so confident that I’d chosen the right career path.

Oh, and remember how I told you I’m living on a boat? Well, it’s a pretty sweet setup; despite the fact that for the first time this weekend, we fell asleep knowing we were on a boat. It was a bit like if someone was gently rocking you to sleep, if said rocking was the slightest bit terrifying.

My roommates are great, and we’ve gotten to do some pretty cool stuff (like the Chipotle Cultive Festival and wandering around Haight Ashbury). We might be bums during the week, but I intend to make the absolute most out of every weekend we’re here.

Spent time in the Bay Area? I’m open to any and all recommendations!

Anyways, my job (planning) involves lots of reading. From Adweek and PSFK to Trendspotting and the most obscure of blogs. What’s great is that, in essence, it’s a lot like what I do for this blog and for AWSC. Only more intensive.

It’s awesome to see all of the cool executions that come out of markets other than the US. Last week, I found two that really stood out.

So many cool things come out of Brazil (like this clever use of Vine from @heinekenbr or this ad for Peugeot).

This is just the latest:

Award fodder or not, the execution is pretty amazing. Sure, it’s tangentially related to the product (Nivea’s new sun protection line); but still, the idea of an ad that harnesses the power of the sun to charge your phone? That’s insane. Difficult to execute, but extremely well-done.

And who wouldn’t want that surprise in their beach read? I certainly would. How useful! And memorable.

The second execution that stood out to me comes out of Paris, where Scrabble (no, not Words With Friends, we’re talking the classic) took it upon itself to provide Wi-Fi to the masses — so long as they were able to spell.

In places where there wasn’t any WiFi, Scrabble armed vans with a portable Wi-Fi connections and then challenged people to join the ‘Scrabble Wi-Fi Network’ to win their free minutes by turning Scrabble words into passwords.

What I love about both of these is probably something I’ve said before. They weren’t just ‘cool for cool’s sake’ — they actually had a purpose, and a useful one at that. By doing so, both brands gave consumers something tangible to remember them by (and likely laid the groundwork for awards season, too).

Quality v. Quantity

After day two of my internship, I’m utterly exhausted. I forgot how tiring a full-time job can be! (Promise, I’ll update all of you soon, but I can barely stay awake for my Blackhawks right now.) But in the research I was doing for work today, I came across this quote from Volvo’s CMO in Digiday. It’s a pretty succinct summary of — I think — many of the points I continually try to make, so I just had to share:

Q: If you had all of the brand managers from the world’s largest brands in one room and you could give them one piece of advice pertaining to social media, what would it be?

A: I would say impressions aren’t everything. The quality of the impact, the story you’re telling, and how impactful it is deserves more attention than the impressions. Think about quality first and then determine how you want to get that story out. Too often, marketers are putting less emphasis on the quality of the story.

Advertising Week: Perspective is Everything

I love a good Ted Talk. And I love a good British accent. So when I found my first Rory Sutherland talk, I was instantly hooked.

That first talk, “Life Lessons from An Ad Man,” is well worth the watch (and of a similar nature); but for the purposes of this post, I direct you to a longer talk from TedxAthens: “Perspective is Everything.”

Read more after the jump to Advertising Week!