• Advertising How To... Part 1

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    Behold! On yonder keyboard doth type thy fingers of Sensitive Writer, thy newest blessing fallen upon thoust Denver Egotist, brimming with thy most tender feelings and joyful observations of thine advertising profession. Cup thy mouth and open thine ears for thy frickin’ truth.

    How to know if advertising’s the right job for you.

    Recently, my 14-year-old nephew took a personality test at school to determine what careers would suit him well. And as fate would have it, he comes out with recommendations to become a) a comedian, b) an artist or, you guessed it, c) work in advertising. Which kind of got me thinking. If “You’re suited to a job in advertising!” is the answer, what the hell is the question? I mean, are they really asking 14-year-olds questions like:

    1. Is your footwear of choice flip-flops?
    2. Are you often wildly inappropriate?
    3. Would you prefer to sleep ‘til noon?
    4. Is your motto “Well, it’s 5:30 somewhere!”
    5. Do you have no other marketable skills?

    Clearly, we’ve completely lost sight of what we do.

    It’s always amazed me that they now teach advertising at colleges, because it seems to me it’s one of the few businesses you can only prepare for by actually doing it. Sure, someone can teach you what a concept is, what you should look for in a great headline and read you pithy quotes from dead Madison Avenue industry greats but the core of this business boils down one simple thing I’m not certain they can teach: Problem solving.

    My firmly held belief has always been that either you’s a problem solver or ya ain’t. And no college, art school, ad school or online course is going to make you into one if you didn’t develop that skill early on. Sure, you need to know basic grammar or InDesign if you want to keep your job, but 90% of your daily tasks will revolve around solving problems.

    Case in point:

    * The client has a shitty product but wants to do cool ads.
    * You sold a $500,000 TV idea but account service has only given you $64,000 to produce it.
    * You’ve been assigned a long copy piece about jejunums.
    * Your Creative Director wants everyone to wear monkey suits to the new business pitch at 2 PM.

    This business is all about solving problems. Some are solved with ideas. Some are solved with cleverness. Some are solved with Google. Some are solved with words. Some are solved with money. Many are solved with sheer, dumb luck. But nearly everything that comes across your desk is in need of a solution. And it’s up to you to find it.

    All too often we get caught up in hiring young kids with great books from well-know ad centers and forget to ask them that one essential question.

    Forget “Do you like talking in front of a crowd?” “Do people say you’re good with words?” and “Are you a visual learner?” The one question we need to ask potential creatives (and they need to ask themselves if they’re thinking of getting into advertising) is “How well can you solve a problem?”

    Or, better yet, can you solve it while telling an off-color joke, wearing flip-flops and holding a beer in one hand after rolling into the office at 11:30?

    In which case, hoooooo baby, do we have a career for you.

  • Creative Crackdown, Boston Market Catering Effort

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    The seventh submission in our running series is up for your honest critique. Once again, our friends from Tequila TBWA\Chiat\Day’s in-house interactive shop, will be joining us to give their take on the work. We also have a team from Merkley + Partners in NY peeking in. Here’s the set-up for this Boston Marketing catering effort from Cameron Christopher Thomas Advertising.

    Sometimes in advertising your target audience really speaks to you. And in some cases, they keep speaking and speaking and just will not shut up until you’ve written spots about them. That’s when they become really annoying. But it’s also when you know you’ve created some universal truism your audience can relate to. So when we found out that the people who ordered catering for meetings were typically procrastinators, worriers and wanted something easy, we created three personas to speak to them: Tom the Procrastinator, Wanda the Worrier, and Big Jim Easy. These viral videos were sent to office managers and meeting coordinators in hopes they might see a bit of themselves in these little scenes. They then were directed to a website where they could order catering for their next meeting from Boston Market. The result? No procrastinating. No worries. And easy as Sunday morning.

    Here’s Procrastinator Tom’s website.

    Here’s Wanda The Worrier’s website.

    Here’s Big Jim Easy’s website.

    Agency Credits:
    Cameron Bridges, Creative Director
    Lawrence Leung, Art Director
    Anne Macomber, Writer
    Kathyrn Colbert, Broadcast Producer
    Patricia Welch, Account Executive

    Production Company:
    GreenDot Los Angeles, Ca.
    Richard Sears, Director

    Cosmo Street Editorial Los Angeles, Ca.
    Christjan Jordan, Editor

    Boston Market:
    Trey Hall, Chief Brand Officer
    Michelle Glander, Sr. Director of Marketing

  • October 19

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    ADCD Student Show Exhibition

    The ADCD Annual Student Show will showcase the best and brightest of Colorado’s student design work. Come mix & mingle with Denver’s creative community and soon-to-be designers and the faculty of their schools. This event is open to the public and free, including food, refreshments and vendor showcase.

    When: Friday, October 19, 6 PM
    Where: Brian Mark Photo Studio – 1550 S Acoma St Denver, CO 80223
    Info: ADCD

  • Get Your Gossip Here

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    Another idea floated in from the ether from one of our legendary readers, and we thought we’d give it a whirl. Instead of having to go out for drinks with everyone in town to get the dirt, you can just stop in here for the latest in Denver-metro agency gossip. Drop off a rumor or pick one up. Who wants to start us off?

  • Wearing Freelance Pants #3, By Eric Kiker

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    To me, this site, warts and all, is about the creation, critique and ultimately, celebration of local work. But ladies and gentlemen, amidst all the highbrow, feather ruffling, raising the bar zigging, I’m going to zag by presenting to you, quite possibly the finest, save your ass acronym ever. An abbreviation more determined than MADD, smarter than NASA, simpler than KISS. And 180 degrees from anything breakthrough, conceptual or award winning, FYI.

    It’s JDIAGTM. Say “jid-ee-ag-tum.”

    Just Do It And Get The Money.

    The man who invented the phrase, then turned it into a silly, silly acronym ran Jim Mitchell Advertising, one of the first agencies for which I freelanced. Jim was a good guy, and no professional slouch either. From his office just off Main Street in what many would call God-forsaken, and for damn sure Alex-Bogusky-forsaken town of Longmont, Colorado, Jim handled a variety of national accounts – Descente, Head, Tecnica – he had the Steamboat account. His walls were lined with work I’d wished I’d done.

    And then one day as I was whining about some client killing some headline, he sat down, smiled as though he were Mr. Rogers, and with an excruciating level of mild-mannered calmness said:

    “Eric, JDIAGTM. Just Do It And Get The Money.”

    “What say thee? Foul BLASPHEMY?” (Bastards Loathing Advertising’s Sensitive Practitioners Heroically Embracing Mankind’s Yearnings)

    I’m paraphrasing what came next, but essentially, Jim laid it out: You do the best you possibly can, you sell as hard as you are able, but despite all that, sometimes the client says, “Look, you simpleton, I want the offer in the headline, the logo the size of a Christmas ham and you out of here.”

    Then you bite your tongue, hard, and say to yourself, inaudibly, whilst leaving, “JDIAGTM.”

    And why not, after all, regardless of how artistic you may be, if you’re in the business of making ads, collateral pieces, guerrilla marketing, websites or a dozen other similar things, you’re not an artist. You’re a capitalist. You persuade, cajole, yes, sometimes you “HALF-OFF, LIMITED TIME OFFER, HURRY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.” Of course, you could try to make it look good, with a pleasing, and please, well-kerned, typeface.

    You get people to do things, go places and buy stuff. That’s it.

    And what’s the number one rule of capitalism? Don’t leave money on the table. If you for some reason don’t agree with that, then get yourself straight over to Neiman’s (Nordstrom’s just opened as well), Design Within Reach, your favorite skate/snowboard shop, or Halo 3 reseller, do some serious retail drooling and get your religion back.

    On the other hand, if you have either a “Live simply so that others may simply live” or “If you’re not outraged you’re missing the point” bumper sticker on your rusted out Ford Focus, well, you’re in the wrong damn business.

    In closing, regardless of how proudly and high you carry the banner of creativity, remember, next time someone craps all over your best work, go ahead; think of him or her as an SOB if you need to, but at the end of the day, JDIAGTM.

  • Speedball's Letter To Customer Service

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    Recently, our cohort Speedball had trouble with his super expensive washer and dryer purchased from Best Buy. Here’s the letter he wrote to customer service – a warning to all corporate monsters not to get on his bad side.

    Dear Best Buy,

    I’m not going to invest any more time in explaining the circumstances surrounding my excruciating frustration with your company. If after reading this you are compelled to find out what I’m agitated about, I implore you to look up my account history. However, if my experience with the rest of your company is any indication, I’m sure that the system my account is stored on will be out of service for the next 4-10 days or nobody who works in the Account-lookup department will know how to look up accounts. Don’t bother to ask for a manager though, they’re worse than the rest of the staff.

    From your store managers, to your phone support, to your delivery people, the incompetence at your company is staggering. You have built a monument to inefficiency so precise in its destruction of customer loyalty that in 1,000 years archaeologists will look at the ruins of your company and assume it was built to ritualistically sacrifice consumers.

    To date, I have spoken to your main customer service department who could only offer to escalate my problems if I wait 21 days (I guess the first 7 months don’t count). I have spoken with your repair department who has told me my issue would be resolved sometime between 4 and 20 days (or 2-3, or 30, depending on who you talk to). I have spoken to your store managers who said they could do nothing to fulfill the agreement they made with me when I purchased your products – they even sent us a polite handwritten note explaining what a mess they’d created, but they could not help me resolve it. I have spoken to your Rewardszone department and they could not help me, in fact they could not help me over and over and over again as I restarted the process with them every 10 days just like I was instructed.

    I have wasted more time being tortured mercilessly by the various diabolic fragments of disjointed departments within your organization than I care to think about. I have been made promises that were evidently complete fabrications, I’ve been hung up on, transferred to erroneous phone numbers, and talked to some of the least helpful, most rude, and most condescending customer service people I have ever dealt with at any company.

    To date, not a single complaint I’ve ever had with Best Buy has been handled to my satisfaction.

    The thought that I’m going to have to endure another seven years of this nightmare while my service plan is still in effect makes me want to shoot myself in the head. The only hope I have is that you’ll screw up and erase the extended warranty I paid for so I have an excuse to throw these worthless appliances into your parking lot and replace them with a set that actually works, from a company that actually cares if their customers are sickened by the thought of ever doing business with them again.

    If I am ever foolish enough to set foot in one of your stores again, I hope a television falls on my head and kills me so my family can sue you and live off the blood money you have hoarded by extracting the finances and very souls of the hard working people in the community.


  • October 15

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    AIGA Presents – Helvetica, The Movie

    See the film and meet the director of Helvetica, the acclaimed documentary by Gary Hustwit, screening twice Monday Oct. 15. Since the film premiered at South By Southwest in March, Helvetica has been selling out to audiences around the world. The movie interviews the world’s top designers. They discuss the proliferation of one typeface as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives.

    When: Monday, October 15, 7 & 9 PM (Two screenings)
    Where: Mayan Theater, 110 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203
    Info: AIGA

  • What The Hell Were They Thinking, #2

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    In this new running series, called “What The Hell Were They Thinking,” we’ll randomly pull a piece of work from one of the agencies in town, post it and then allow you to attempt to dissect the thinking that went into its creation.

    Our second selection is this print ad promoting the Butterfly Pavilion.

  • Creative Crackdown, Reed Hill Book Cover

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    The sixth submission in our running series is up for your honest critique. Once again, our friends from Tequila TBWA\Chiat\Day’s in-house interactive shop, will be joining us to give their take on the work. We also welcome a team from Merkley + Partners in NY to get in on the actino. Here’s the set-up for this book cover from Reed Hill.

    The book, “Searching For The New Normal,” was never supposed to be a book. It was the personal journal of a woman in pain, spawned by the suicide of her son. There is no thought, feeling or emotion that wasn’t penned during the three-year span covered in the book’s pages.

    Near the end of the journal entries, hope and a new happiness returns through small gifts—peculiar yellow butterflies that appear in the most unsuspected times and places—a sublime reminder that her son is still a part of her life and her decisions. This cover is meant to illustrate the complete and utter sorrow the author has borne, with the subtle reference that one can find a new normal life again after tragedy.

  • October 12

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    Illustrator John Fellows – Opening at JoyEngine

    John’s work will be on display here at the Engine for your viewing pleasure on Friday. The show is titled “Smoke Em If You Got Em.” Stop by Friday night, Scion is sponsoring the event with all sorts of product giveaways, DJ Summetry with be on the ones and twos, there’s gonna be all sorts of super fresh new work from John, and a good time should be had by all. Anything could happen.

    When: Friday, October 12, 7 PM – 11 PM
    Where: JoyEngine, 2037 13th Street, Boulder
    Info: JoyEngine

    NDAC Brand Strategy Pod Meeting – Research Resource Roundtable at Johnson & Wales University

    This will be a breakfast meeting from 8am – 9:15 am. Non-Traditional research methods will be the focus. Clients will be included to discuss what & how they utilize research. Various research resources will be explored.

    When: Friday, October 12, 8 am – 9:15 am
    Info: NDAC

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