I Get By With A Little Help From…The Web

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I’m thankful for so much — especially this year. But I thought I’d take this time to talk about how amazing the internet is, and how helpful the advertising community has been.

A week or two ago, I posted a discussion on a LinkedIn group about entry-level strategy & planning positions. Not expecting much, I was amazed at the number of responses I received —both from other aspiring planners and established industry execs.

Sumit Roy, founder of UnivBrands and formerly of Ogilvy & Mather, volunteered to help seven of us “grow our own brands” in an effort to better prepare us to start a career in planning. Remarkable on its own, its made even more so by the fact that this is truly a global group.

We’re from the States, Sydney via London, London via Paris, Milan, and India! And we video chat at the same time. Just think about that — the number of time zones it entails — amazing.

I’m already learning a great deal about how to present my own brand to agencies, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Not to mention, it’s great to have a group of likeminded “newbies” to bounce ideas, share information, and really, just grow with! It will be great to see where we all end up in the future…and I can tell you now: look out world!

Though it launched in April 2011, I just discovered this platform and it’s awesome. A self-proclaimed “global marketplace for classes [where you can] learn real-world skills from anyone, anywhere.” Not only is it a great educational tool, but it’s great for networking too.

In the next three weeks I’ll be taking mini-classes on graphic design, social media, building an audience, and storytelling. And they’re not taught by just any old schmuck: I’ll be learning from Julian Cole and Amber Horsburgh, as well as Noah Rosenberg, Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Narratively.

Before the classes have even begun, I’ve been able to connect with people from all over. I’ve even received some great feedback and advice from Julian Cole (Digital Strategy Director, BBH) about my next topic.

I’m on a learning kick as of late (clearly) — and one of my tasks is to teach myself how to code. At least the very-basics. Codecademy, as its founder told CNN, isn’t just a platform for getting coding lessons — it’s a way to stay relevant in a changing world.

While you may not agree that all students should learn coding alongside math and reading, I’m certain you’ll agree that its a useful skill to understand — even if you don’t practice in action.

I’m well on my way, and hope to be able to code my own little project to add to my portfolio in the future. I’ll keep you updated!

Several months ago, I couldn’t have told you I’d be a blogger. But now I realize doing this has been such a blessing. It’s made me a voracious reader and learner, it’s allowed me to build connections, and it’s really enhanced my confidence — both in my portfolio and in general. Not to mention, it’s led to the greatest opportunity, as I mentioned before: blogging for the Advertising Week Social Club as a student contributor!

The internet is awesome. And if you use it correctly, there are people out there who are so willing to help you learn and grow as a person and a professional.

So I’m thankful for you today, Internet: you rock.

I know, I’m on a Beatles kick. But that’s never a bad thing.


Air France Hits the Skies in a Whole New Way

Let me preface this post by sharing this gem of a live recording of one of my favorite songs, because the topic hereafter brought it to mind:

Are you playing it? It’s pretty awesome, huh? Anyways, with Lucy as a soundtrack, let’s talk about Air France. They just launched an app with Paris-based agency BETC Worldwide which turns your phone into “song-seeking radar.”

This is interactive at its best. Just point your phone to the sky – where handpicked tunes have been scattered across the globe. Aim at a song to unlock it and add it to a playlist; the songs change in every country, so if you’re a globetrotter, you can build up quite a nice collection.

The airline has had its own music service since 2010, allowing passengers to create custom playlists of new and unreleased (admittedly, Indie-leaning) songs. With artists like M83, Cults, and The Roots scattered across the sky, the trend continues.

As an added perk, there’s even a hidden game component. Play the game and win prizes…as long as you catch it first!


This is one of the best applications of digital I’ve seen. If you read my blog, you know I love Heineken, and this follows suit. The interactive nature of the app, along with killer music partnerships, is a treat for consumers and drives serious (and valuable) engagement with the brand.

An Awesome PSA…Oxymoron? I Think Not.

The Melbourne Metro train system tasked McCann Australia with creating a train safety PSA. Pretty boring topic, right? Well, the outcome was anything but. And really, barring Smokey the Bear (and Nancy Reagan? I’m not sure, these are before my time), when was the last time a PSA stopped you in your tracks (no pun intended)?  Featuring adorable cartoons and hilarious lyrics, McCann created a Feistian (like Faustian? I suppose I shouldn’t have to explain my wordplay..I digress) jingle that translated perfectly to a “dumb ways to die” Tumblr page. So without further ado, “don’t do any of these OK? especially the train ones.”

In other exciting news, I’m going to be blogging for the Advertising Week Social Club! Keep an eye out for future #AWSC posts, and be sure to check out the AWSC website (and their social media pages) for great insights from professionals and students alike!

Tricks of the Trade: Planning & Research

From Digital Strategists Julian Cole (BBH – Axe, Johnnie Walker, Baileys) and Amber Horsburgh (MTV) comes “17 of the best free online tools for Digital Strategists to help cultivate killer insights on consumers, competitors and the industry.” It’s a really well-done deck with concrete client examples and tools to help conduct Consumer Research, Category Research, Discourse Analysis and Environmental Analysis. As I start to work on my thesis, this couldn’t come at a more perfect time – and it’s definitely worth a look if you’re interested in planning!

Rose-Colored Glasses for Chicago’s Hometown Hero

Derrick Rose is still sidelined with that nasty ACL tear, and he may continue to be for the next few months. But that doesn’t mean we’re forgetting about him until the time comes.

A few months ago, I posted about Adidas’ first D-Rose spot of the season. In that short from 180LA, Adidas began to thaw the city that froze when Rose went down in an ad that celebrated the city, its favorite team, and its hometown hero.

Since then, Rose has continued his ubiquitous placement on the minds of basketball fans everywhere. Forget the fact that he might be warming the bench through Christmas and beyond, Derrick Rose is staying nearly as top-of-mind as he was when he was on the court.

Obviously this is the case in Chicago, as the Bulls struggle to win games without him; but I’m talking about the national stage. While the TV commercials for Adidas’ D Rose collection shoe playing on TVs across the country, Rose is also prominently featured in the latest NBA 2K video game alongside fellow NBA stars Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin.

And if you needed more reason to love him, Chicago, he just bought a stake in Giordano’s – and is being featured in the chain’s local spots.

Maybe I’m a little homesick, but this picture
seemed necessary.

My former internship bosses at IEG told Ad Age that Rose brought in about $18 million from endorsements this year, making him the third-highest endorsement earner in the NBA (trailing only LBJ and Kobe at $33M and $28M respectively).

Jim Andrews, in-house journalistic genius at IEG (also known as Senior V.P., Content Stategy), noted that #thereturn is remarkable, and not something that could be done with every athlete: “Injury is a sensitive area. Some [athletes] wouldn’t want to be seen in pain and struggling.”

With partnerships ranging from Wilson to Skullcandy to Powerade, Rose’s unassuming star power has positioned him well in the minds of consumers. According to the Marketing Arm, 37% of U.S. consumers are aware of Rose, and of those, 88% say they like him to some degree.

For the year ending in April 2012, Rose had the No. 1-selling jersey in the NBA, an unexpected feat when one considers stars like James and Bryant. And for the time being, that star power doesn’t seem to be waning in wake of the injury. Chicagoans yearn for his return, and consumers across the country can’t help but feel a similar sense of anticipation.

I, for one, can’t wait for #thereturn; but in the meantime, I’ll revel in Adidas’ hype – and homesick-causing commercials – until I can get me a slice of Giordano’s (thank God for Thanksgiving!) and await Rose’s return to Da (much-in-need) Bulls.

Let’s Get Presidential

In honor of the imminent Election Day, here’s a few presidential bits to get you in the mood:

Lena Dunham talks about her first time in this tongue-in-cheek spot for the Obama campaign:

In a campaign I couldn’t agree with more, non-partisan effort “Real Complainers Vote” urges young people to get engaged in the political process. As the saying goes, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. Along with the video below, view a few of the campaigns best posters here, here, and here.

And in the coolest of presidential-related branding efforts, Detroit-based designer Meg Jannott has decided to create visual brands for each and every one of our presidents. Thus far, she’s made it up through Reagan. Sure, there are a few misses, but this is a pretty big task (as big as William Howard Taft, I might say) – and there are more than a few hits. Here’s a few of my favorites (view the rest at the link above):


Three (well, 5) Cheers for Creativity!

I would never call myself a creative. That being said, I appreciate great creative work. That’s probably an understatement: I’m in awe of amazing creative and I can’t wait to be in a situation – whether that’s at an agency or in a grad program – where I can surround myself with “creative types” and even have input, as the essence of what I want to do — account planning — is writing the creative briefs that drive the direction of a given campaign.

So, this post celebrates crazy/awesome/ridiculous/engaging work that I’ve come across on the interwebz lately.

1. Burt’s Bees put a fresh face on billboards last week with the promotion of its new Intense Hydration line. They placed an interactive billboard on a busy street in Minneapolis and invited passersby to “peel away” the flakes of dry skin, which were actually coupons. The before-and-after is seen in this awesome time-lapse video,  which now has over 70,000 hits on YouTube and sends viewers to the Burt’s Facebook page where they can get their own coupons.

Agency: Baldwin&, Raleigh, NC

2. Forget Windows and their intense new ads for the Surface and Windows 8, Apple (with the assistance of a VCU Brandcenter 2010 CT alum! — aaaand this is why I want to go there) went old school, hitting at the hearts of most Americans with an iPad/iPad Mini duet of Heart & Soul. Adorable, I believe, would be the right word; and perfect in its simplicity, quite typically Apple.

Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

For reference, here’s Microsoft’s spot introducing the Surface:

3. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of whimsy once in a while, and this ad from John St. and War Child Canada fits the bill. Fantastical as guns shooting crayons and grenades launching bubbles may be, the commercial certainly plays with your expectations and, hopefully, moves you to action.

Agency: John St., Toronto

4. In an absolutely terrifying ad, (well, at least if you’re a 5-year-old at heart like me) from German teddy-bear company Steiff, a little boy must be rescued from the dangers of an ambiguous gorilla-like creature by his most loyal protector, his Steiff teddy bear.

Production Company: Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg
Director: Denis Parchow

5. BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski tweeted a picture last night that I’d seen before but forgotten about. It’s a bus ad from 2009 for the Copenhagen Zoo. Promise, this wasn’t photoshopped:

Agency: Bates Y&R, Copenhagen, Denmark

So, you see, the best creative work isn’t always “high art,” there isn’t one magic pill that brings an ad from ‘meh’ to good to great. What makes great creative work for me is its ability to make me think, to drive me to action, to draw me in to what’s being sold. These are just five examples; maybe I’m just an ad nerd, but if you pay attention, I promise you’ll find what draws you in, too.