• The Astonishing Rise and Rise of The Harlem Shake.

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    Collectively these videos may end up dwarfing Gangnam Style. At one stage last month new versions were being uploaded at a rate of 4000 per day. There’s every niche and sub-niche covered. You want walruses and sealions? You got ‘em.

    We’ve seen the Norwegian Army get involved, Wieden’s in Portland, Channel 4 and even my in-laws were persuaded to bogle with traffic cones on their heads in a charity shop while the manager’s back was turned.

    It all started in Queensland, Australia with 5 teenagers in morph suits. And it has blown up beyond all comprehension. They may get some fame – even some girls – but it’ll be interesting to see if they can monetize this monster. Could they ever repeat it? The odds say No.


    Ironically it exploded at the same time another short-form video format launched – Vine. Unfortunately Vine seems too inflexible to carry this type of execution so it’s been bypassed. Shame – what a way to launch yourself – with a pop culture phenomenon that will no doubt feature in everyone’s end of year round-up of 2013.

    The mutating meme

    What’s interesting is that this meme is evolving. The rules are gradually changing and right now these are the ingredients one needs to make your own Harlem Shake:

    • one lone shaker with optional but preferred helmet on
    • several bystanders who look unaware or uninterested in the activities of the lone shaker
    • when the bass drops there’s a hard cut right on the beat and the locked off shot switches to the same same scene but with everyone in fancy dress going batshit crazy
    • optional: a lone person standing still in the midst of all the lunacy
    • the last second switches to slow motion to match the low time-stretched lion roar in the song

    There’s even a site that will turn any other site into a living breathing Harlem Shake:

    Try your own at http://hsmaker.com

    Inevitably the early-adopters are already disowning this phenomenon now the squares have caught onto it. And no doubt it’s jumped the shark when mainstream TV stations do their own versions.

    Douglas Rushkoff, author of “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now” says, “Something like this stands in for the centralized broadcast spectacle. It’s interactive, in that people actually *make* one of these things. And being in one, or knowing people who are in one, or even just knowing this phenomenon exists *when it’s happening* is a form of connection. In some ways, the brevity of the fad makes it all the more tempting to participate in. It’s going to be over so soon that you want to get in on it before it’s not cool any more.”

    If you didn’t make your own within a fortnight of the first you missed the credibility boat – unless you bring an Earth-shattering twist to the format.

    Goodby Silverstein + Partners have released their own gentle backlash video – a charming swipe at other agencies that jumped on the bandwagon. Their message: we’re in the business of creating cultural phenomena, not straight-up mimicry.

    However, you have to wonder how it blew up so big so fast? And could a brand ever pull it off? Cadbury’s have perhaps come the closest with “Gorilla” and “Eyebrows”. Consumers are no mugs, which is why they’ll resist any prompting from us to spread overt brand messaging on our behalves.

    5 factors that made Harlem Shake go BOOM!

    1. Here’s the thing. It’s not even a great song. Released for free in the summer last year it’s highly repetitive and doesn’t really go anywhere. It does however work very well in this 15 + 15 second UGC format. The crescendo building to the bass drop just underlines that sense of anticipation, waiting for all hell to break loose.
    2. It’s stupidly easy to make your own. People are uploading their own versions at an astonishing rate. And is it any wonder? You need a cameraphone, 2 shots, enough people willing to make idiots of themselves (seemingly no shortage) and the track. You can even put this together on YouTube when you upload it – no need for any editing software. I managed using my phone and nothing else.
    3. The joy of it comes from the anticipation and the explosion of unfettered WTF anarchy when the bass drops. You could watch each one over and over and see something new to LOL at every time. There’s a man in a bra standing completely still, there’s the account guy for Nike on a trike, there’s my sister-in-law with a lampshade on her head.
    4. With so many versions out there, it reaches a critical mass where mainstream media gets hold of it and adds more fuel to the fire, so even the luddites get to hear about it.
    5. It’s funny and there’s a constant supply with something for everyone. Not in an intellectual or cerebral way. It’s an outlet for puerile, infantile stupidity that connects with our inner 10 year-old. A pleasure that gets more guilty as we get older.

    Gay abandon finally found an acceptable outlet. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

    So you can sing along at home, here are the lyrics in full:


    Con los terroristas

    (Do the Harlem Shake)

    Con los terroristas







    Con los terroristas


    Con los terroristas



    This post originally appeared on the DLKW Lowe blog

  • So, Only 3% of Ad Agency Creative Directors are Women. Is That The Real Problem?

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    On Thursday, February 28th, a bunch of talented people from our industry got together to discuss the shocking fact that only 3% of the nation’s advertising creative directors are female. That was put out there with the other big, bold fact… 80% of all household purchases are determined by women.

    When you look at that on the surface, it’s an obvious paradox. Surely, with 80% of the purchasing power in the hands of females, we should have more females controlling the output from the advertising agencies that are trying to influence those women? And that would result in better, less condescending advertising, right?


    Well, not so fast, my partners in crime.

    I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there are many truly talented women in this field, and in the complementing fields of design, PR and marketing. The fact that there aren’t more female creative directors is a real fucking tragedy. Seriously. I’ve written a whole article on the subject. I’m a believer.

    But we need to concentrate on the facts being presented to us right now. Yes, only 3% of creative directors are women. There is a greater percentage of women in creative roles within agencies, but again, it’s not equitable. Not even close.

    Stats from a comprehensive study done in 2009 (best one I could find, sorry it’s a few years old) show that only 19.1% of creatives in ad agencies are women. And although 46.7% of employees are women, only 16% are in the top roles. Still, it’s all a little better than the paltry 3% that are creative directors. The figures are not good.

    And yet, as I analyze all of this, there seems to be an enormous elephant in the room that most people are choosing to overlook. And being the unpopular prick that I am, it seems reasonable that I should point it out.

    Question: Who Works with the Ad Agencies?

    Corporate America is not quite the same as it was in the 50s. Women make up a sizable chunk of the workforce now, and there are some stats I’d like to share in that regard. You’ve seen the negative figures. But there are positive ones. For instance, the Department of Labor shows that 60% of PR managers are women. And better yet, 61.1% of advertising and promotions managers are women. Andy Dougan, group account director of KLP, said back in 2009 that “there is a 60/40 split of women to men. We’re seeing more and more women come into the marketing industry and they are climbing the ranks too.”

    Anyone here think that in the last three years, women suddenly left the marketing and advertising workforce in droves?

    From personal experience, most of the meetings I’m in, with various clients spanning many different industries, are dominated by women.

    As a creative, draw upon your own experiences. How many client meeting have you been in that were made up of just men? I can’t remember one. I can remember thinking “wow, why are most of the creatives men, but most of the clients women?”

    I don't have the answer. I’m not claiming to know why. But here’s what this is leading up to.

    The BIG Question: Who’s Buying the Ads Aimed at Women?

    Answer: It’s NOT the creative directors. It’s the client.

    And most clients employ more women than men.

    Let’s backtrack a little.

    When I started my career at the tender age of 21, there were two female teams in the agency. There were two teams that were mixed. And there were seven all male teams. I suspect that was a better batting average than most agencies at that time.

    The female teams were put on female accounts, because it was felt that they knew the products better, would have an affinity with the client, and would be more comfortable on the accounts.

    I saw great campaign after great campaign get rejected. The male teams had a crack. Same story. The female clients in charge of these accounts were not out to do radical work, redefining the industry. They wanted the same old shit. And they got it.

    The male creative director pushed for the most interesting work. The work that resonated most with the women in our own agency and, dare I say it, with focus groups. It was killed. Seriously beaten to death.

    After months of reworking, the end result was bland, vanilla vomit. The sort of manure that includes women parachuting when they’re on their periods, and female friends discussing life over a pot of fucking yogurt.

    Fast-forward to today, and it’s still going on. Ads aimed at women, created by women, bought by women, are just as crap as ads aimed at women, done by men and bought by men.

    Remember the failed TV show The Pitch? (Well, it should have failed.) There was an all female agency on that one – Womenkind. Female creative director, female creatives, female account teams. They knew just how to market to women. They were inside women’s heads. They did better work than DIGO, their male competitors, for C Wonder.

    They lost the pitch.

    Now, in all fairness the head of C Wonder was a man. A complete douchebag of the first order, although his executive marketing team was a mix of men and women.

    But this is the real problem.

    Clients, by and large, are afraid of change, they don’t like to rock the boat, and they don’t want something that hasn’t been done before.

    If we reversed the 3% tomorrow, and 97% of creative directors in this country were female, do you think we would see a vast shift in the way we advertise to women?


    Clients buy more shit work than good. They ask for more mediocre campaigns than breakthrough ideas.

    Always have. Always will.

    At the end of the day, ad agencies will always bow to the whims of the clients, to keep the account.

    No amount of women in the creative department will ever change that.

  • The 3% Conference Makes the Business Case for More Donna Drapers

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    It’s fairly mind blowing. Eighty-percent of all household purchases are determined by women, while only three-percent of our nation’s advertising creative directors are women. (And let’s be honest, women probably practice veto power over the other twenty-percent of purchase decisions anyway.)

    But, in a study where female consumers were asked if brands understood them, ninety-percent said no.

    So there it is. As advertisers, we’re tasked with marketing to women for much more than the stereotypical lady brands. You know, the spots featuring freshness-challenged women running through flower fields, dancing with mops, or sniffing scent illusions.

    In fact, much of our challenge lies in coming to terms with bigger misperceptions.

    Believe it or not, women currently out-use men in all social media channels except for LinkedIn. Statistically, they’re also bigger gamers and they watch more television. Women demonstrate more technology usage and more social influence.

    Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference said, “It’s not about equal rights, it’s about serving our clients better.” And women are notoriously bad in focus groups. They’ll tell half-lies because they self edit. However, when they’re on the other side of the agency table, they bring unfiltered intuition to the mix.

    Let’s rethink how we market to women.

    The key is to have people on your team that are not all like you. That’s how you find the uncharted truths. Fear not, marketing with women in mind does not have to alienate men. When positioning a brand – make it human, think collectively, don't sanitize, show diversity, and practice storytelling.

    There are inherent differences between how men and women think, and divergent perspective is a good thing.

    It shows up in childhood play. Boys enjoy reigning over their toys, and when they destroy things, it’s merely an act of fun and power. Girls empathetically imagine themselves as the toys and become part of the make-believe worlds. So, if a boy comes along and takes out the meticulously arranged princess castle, the girl is devastated. And the boy has no idea why.

    So, what is it that’s making it so difficult for women to advance to ACD, CD, or beyond?

    Times are changing. This is by no means a pity party for creative industry women. It’s about supporting talent. At all levels, advertising industry women are negotiating for the same salaries as their male counterparts. The biggest difference is that women are unlikely to ask for raises. It’s largely a matter of teaching women to be assertive and confident.

    As a creative builds career momentum, this often coincides with family growth. The industry demands full commitment for advancement, and those with young families require more schedule predictability and flexibility. Many struggle with the challenge of work/life balance.

    Mentoring enables advancement.

    After Gordon’s keynote, the audience enjoyed mentorship from a truly stellar regional panel consisting of Dave Schiff, Partner/Chief Creative Officer of Made Movement; Charlotte Isoline, Executive Creative Director of Karsh Hagan; Jonathan Shoenberg, Executive Creative Director/Partner of TDA Boulder, Rachael Donaldson, Client Services Director of Made Movement; and Dani Coplen, Vice President/Creative of The Integer Group. Our excellent host Serena Wolf, Founder of Wolf Creative Company, moderated the panel.

    "Women have to help other women. The greatest mentors I've had have been a combination of nurturing and badass." – Rachael Donaldson

    "It's not about if you're male or female, it's just about who's good." – Dave Schiff. He also hilariously thanked his many mentors that may or may not have been state-appointed. And, he’s convinced that rock star ladies will inevitably phase him out.

    Jonathan Shoenberg told us how he rose through the ranks, which involved a former employer liking his “country-ness.” Apparently, he had a great deal of farm experience on his resume back in the day.

    Charlotte Isoline advised us to not be the genius in the room, but to maximize the collective genius.

    Dani Coplen encouraged women to avoid invisibility. Say what you want to say.

    Some of the advice from the panel that really resonated with me was the emphasis on mentoring. It’s crucial for career advancement. And in my mentoring experience, I’ve learned a great deal from those I’ve mentored. Always take time to help the driven ones; it’ll come back to you. The event was a full house, men and women. Everyone left inspired and excited about how they were going to move this knowledge forward. So, let’s empower some future Donna Drapers and keep this moving forward, shall we?

    Jennifer Hohn is an advertising enthusiast, idea-driven creative, relentless pursuer of insight and an Associate Creative Director at Vladimir Jones.

  • How to Spend $275 Million in 48 Minutes: Three Super Bowl Ad Trends for 2013

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    Want to watch $275 Million get spent in 48 minutes? Just tune into CBS at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday to see one of America's greatest primetime displays of violence, debauchery and poor impulse control. And I'm not talking about the Super Bowl…

    I'm talking about the Super Bowl ads.

    In all seriousness, these days it's no surprise that independent research year after year continues to show that over half of U.S adult viewers plan to watch the Super Bowl as much, or more, for the ads than for the game itself. In fact, social listening measurement findings suggested that in 2012 64% of respondents said that half or more of their conversations online with respect to the Super Bowl were about the commercials themselves.

    With the average investment of $4 Million on the line for a 30-second spot, it's no wonder why the CMOs of many of these advertisers are looking to squeeze their investment for every penny.

    There are three standout trends that have continued to proliferate the Super Bowl ad space for the last several years (and by all accounts will continue even more in 2013).

    01. Online Ad Preview and Teasers

    Online Ad Previews and Teasers are becoming more of the norm. VW made the most famous splash last year with its Star Wars parodies that received over 56 Million hits after allwas said and done, largely in part to the pre-release of the spotson YouTube.

    This year's early winner goes to the Kate Upton Mercedes spot, which in one week gained over 5 Million views (and counting).

    Humbling news as, by this author's account, this is one of the more ridiculously off-brand spots I've ever seen. Given the fact that the CLA won't even be available for the next 7 months, the brand needs lasting impression and awareness. Regardless of the substance, it's clear that Mercedes knows the value of online traction and will do whatever it takes, no matter how low-brow, to get an early lead among its rivals.

    Regarding the idea of Super Bowl teasers, the concept is simple,but the debate still rages on about whether or not the big reveal should be saved for the big game. While we don't promote a "one size fits all" approach to advertising, and I'm sure there are errors to the rule, it's hard to argue with the facts. Mashable reports, "According to YouTube's research, ads that ran online before the Super Bowl last year got 9 Million views, on average. Those that waited? 1.3 Million." With, on average, three times as many views online over broadcast, many could argue that the real winner in all of this is actually YouTube.

    02. Ads for Social Democracy

    Ads by social democracy are becoming more common in 2013. While Doritos pioneered the concept with their user-generated ads in the past few years, this year we are seeing a greater variety of the concept. For instance, one of the biggest brands in the world, Budweiser, has finally launched a Twitter account in its name. The brand, which had a little more than 600 followers Monday morning, is using the account to promote its upcoming Super Bowl ad, which will feature a Clydesdale foal via their Twitter hashtag campaign. Pepsi is also using their site and Twitterto recruit some of their fans to strike a pose with their can before their half-time show.

    But, the big pre-game winners in 2013 seem to be the "choose your own adventure" style ads from Audi and Coke. In what Audi says is a Super Bowl first, they recorded separate endings for their "Prom Night"commercial, and are compiling social votes where the audience chooses the ending. Coke created cokechase.comto tease their spots by highlighting three different sets of teams who are all racing to win a giant coke in the desert. The team with the most votes online will get their spot aired right after the game.


    03. Second Screen

    This year, more viewers than ever will be watching on a second screen. Now in real-time, technology allows brands to engage with the viewing public on their mobile phone or tablet during the event. For instance, Yahoo's Into_Now pioneered app technology that augments the second screen experience by using the unique audio digital signature in a television show topickup, and serve up, content directly related to that show. CBS estimates ad revenue alone from their second screen engagement to be between $10-$12 Million. Being able to interact with stats,player bios, team formations, highlights and social aspects is an essential part of any second screen approach for the sports enthusiast.

    Regardless of all of the hype, a few certainties remain. The Super Bowl represents one of the highest risk: reward ratios in advertising. Because of this, marketers are getting smarter by using not only the right tools, but also the right content to get the consumer's attention. Disintermediation is taking effect and the consumer is finally starting to see large-scale control of and connection with their favorite brands. As our society gets more social and mobile, so does the advertising.

    Needless to say, as an advertiser, I am thankful for the Super Bowl. If not for any other time during the year - the Super Bowl gives us an annual magnified window into the progress of advertising. With so much attention to the commercials, it almost makes me feel sorry for the guys on the field.


    Originally posted on the Rodgers Townsend blog.

  • 12 Must-Have iPhone Apps For Creatives

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    Apps, apps, apps. Everywhere you look, they're there. Almost de riguer on digital briefs these days, like banners and MPUs were in the 'old' days.

    It's estimated that over 400,000 new apps will be released this year - as there clearly aren't enough already...

    So which of the current crop are actually useful to an iPhone-toting creative looking to boost their productivity or just find inspiration?

    We only have iPhones at Ego Towers. The good news is that many of those listed below are available on other platforms too. Here goes...

    1. Dropbox

    You'll know this already, no doubt. Google has Google Drive, Microsoft has SkyDrive. They all do essentially the same thing with a few minor differences - online storage 'in the cloud'.

    Store your files where you can access them any time you have internet access.

    Dropbox lets you define which folders are public and you can share specific files with specific people.

    Saves bloating everyone's email with vast attachments and makes everything easier to file and find.

    Dropbox has great integration with other apps making it easy to create files in other apps and save them straight into your Dropbox.

    Download Dropbox >

    2. Evernote

    This is the power behind The London Egotist. With day jobs to attend to and families waiting at home, the commute is where a lot of the legwork is done - and it's done in Evernote.

    It's a relatively simple text editor that syncs with every browser you can think of (even Opera). Write your note and as if by magic, it'll be waiting for you on your desktop machine.

    Formatting tools are simple and comprehensive and the autocorrect is mercifully accurate.

    You can add voice and photos to your notes too if you're that way inclined.

    You can add tags to make files easier to find and it automatically geo-tag your notes so if all you can remember is where you wrote your note, Evernote will help you find it.

    Download Evernote >

    3. Tiny Scan

    Expenses. The eternal tension between admin and getting your own money back from Accounts.

    We've never found it easy, doing it in batches months apart so we forget the whole process in the meantime.

    What this app does us convert a photo if your receipt into a PDF that you can email yourself or save into your Dropbox.

    Then you just attach the PDF to your online claim and your money's on its way (slowly).

    Download TinyScan for iPhone (paid)

    4. Clipboard

    We resisted Pinterest but Clipboard does a similar thing with less of the 'look everyone, I'm curating!' vibe.

    It's good for scrap-booking if you're researching a brief, pulling together reference or you can showcase all the different places your lovely integrated campaign appeared in.

    Download Clipboard for iPhone >

    5. Great-Ads

    This is really just a web-app/shortcut on your phone pointing to great-ads.blogspot.com

    They pull together the latest and greatest ads from all over the world, so it's a handy window onto how the rest of the planet is selling toilet bleach.

    Download the Great Ads web app > (go here via your mobile)

    6. TED

    "TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology. Entertainment. Design."

    If you don't have this already, you need it - unless you're that Steve Jobs - and we're pretty sure no one is these days.

    This is inspiration for creativity and technology with valuable lessons for humanity and sometimes marketing. Each video is downloadable, so you can benefit from the wisdom of Stephen Hawking and Sir Ken Robinson wherever you are.

    You will feel surprisingly worldly and uplifted after every single one.

    Download TED for iPhone >

    7. Fathm

    Timesheets have always vexed us, so anything that helps is more than welcome on our smartphone.

    This is the prettiest apps of the bunch - though setting it up's a tiny bit fiddly.

    Once you've got past that, it's just a question of remembering to let Fathm know what you're up to so it can keep track of the hours for you.

    Download Fathm for iPhone >

    8. Snapseed

    Exercise your inner re-toucher - and you know, Instagram filters are for amateurs. Snapseed is one if the best, most feature-packed of the many mobile photo editing apps out there.

    For example, Selective Adjust lets to make subtle changes to a selected area of your photo, while Tune Image gives you control over the white balance and other ambient colour effects.

    Download Snapseed for iPhone >

    9. Pocket

    Pocket lets you save web pages to your iPhone so you can browse them offline when you're underground or somewhere you can't guarantee a good connection to the web. It can preserve the web page layout or you can choose a reader-friendly 'Article View' if you prefer.

    It's as simple as bookmarking a page, syncing while you still have a data signal then you're set. Plus you can bookmark pages on your desktop to save them to your phone. Smart.

    Download Pocket for iPhone >

    10. Image To Text

    A simple yet clever character recognition app. Take a photo of some text on a page and it'll send the editable text to your email.

    A bit geeky but very handy if you don't fancy typing out paragraphs needlessly.

    Overlooked and underrated.

    Download Image To Text for iPhone >

    11. Pocket Lists

    There are lots and lots of To-Do apps and this is one of them. What sets this apart is the ability to set reminders by time and or location.

    Need to remember to call that production company back as soon as you get into the office? Easy. Just enter the reminder and your office postcode and you won't forget.

    It syncs with all your existing work and Google calendars so those reminders will find you wherever you are.

    Download Pocket Lists for iPhone >

    12. Snapguide

    This is actually an app designed to help people share their step-by-step how-to guides using a sequence of annotated photos.

    However, there's no reason why you couldn't use it to map out a TV storyboard on the move or an online user journey on the train home.

    Download Snapguide for iPhone >

    So that's our top 12. What have we missed? Tell us in the Comments below or email us london@theegotist.com

  • Don’t Kid Yourself. You Are Expendable.

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    Anyone here like Office Space?

    Dumb question.

    Anyway, there’s a part in the movie that has always rang true to me more than any other, although most of it is biting. It’s the conversation Michael Bolton and Samir have with Peter. And it goes something like this:

    Lumbergh's gonna have me work on Saturday, I can tell already. And I’m gonna do it because I'm a big pussy. Which is why I work at Initech to begin with.

    Uh, I work at Initech and I don't consider myself a pussy, ok?

    Yes, I am also not a pussy.

    And they’re gonna find out the hard way that I'm not a pussy if they don't start treating us software people better.

    That's right.

    They don't understand. I could come up with a program that could rip that place off big time…big time.


    Later in the movie Michael and Samir get shitcanned. No warning. Just dumped. And all that fuck you bravado went straight out the window.

    That boasting and self-assurance is something I have heard throughout my entire advertising career. A bunch of fevered egos strutting around thinking they’re untouchable. They’re rock stars. They kill it. They basically do everything important, do nothing wrong, and if you don’t agree you can go fuck yourself.

    They bitch about how poorly they’re treated. They whine and complain about the long hours, the crappy pay, the shit benefits, the awful clients, the dogshit briefs, the lousy account managers, the rotten creatives and the fact that the agency is going down the crapper. But they are the oasis in this desert of mediocrity. They shine. And without them, the whole damned company would be nothing.

    I guarantee, you will hear this raving braggadocio conversations in your agency sometime this week. Probably sometime today if you tee up a conversation with “how are things going?” or “what’s going on with client X?”

    You may even, dare I say it, be one of the people who believes they are, in fact, the most important cog in the machine.

    Think about it.

    Do you think “this place would be fucked without me” at least once a week? Do you wonder how half the people around you get a paycheck? Do you have to bite your fist to stop yourself saying “how the fuck are you still employed?” to your boss?

    Well, this is your wake-up call.

    I don’t care if you’re the boy who gets the mail, the blonde bombshell account exec, the award-winning writer or art director, or the shit-hot creative director.

    When push comes to shove, and other suitable clichés, you are not bulletproof. The sad fact is, there are meetings happening all the time about the state of the business. If you’re part of a large corporation, there’s a meeting like that happening right now.

    They talk about profit margins. Trimming the dead wood. Streamlining. Hiring a younger team. Bringing in new experience. Fresh blood. Or just “that smartass who never stops complaining.”

    If you're a crack creative team with 20 years’ experience, that means you (hopefully) do fabulous work. It also means you get paid more than most, and have the attitude that goes with it. There are younger, better looking, hungrier teams out there willing to do your job for half the price. And they won’t spend all day bitching about the shitty clients and awful briefs, they’ll just be happy to be in work. They’re in, you’re out.

    That’s when you sit up one morning, and realize you didn’t have it so fucking bad after all. And shit, where do I go from here?

    I know people like this. It sucks for them, and it’s scary for me because I come close to being that arrogant, whiny little bitch on a daily basis. Sometimes, I fit into the role like it was made just for me.

    When you find yourself thinking you are unbeatable, unfireable (it’s not a word, but it works) and irreplaceable, remember you are none of the above. You may be great, perhaps even the best at what you do, but it doesn’t give you immunity form the axe. All it takes is for one big client to leave, one important person to hate your guts, or one stinking bad attitude, and you're out on your ear.

    And as I finish this, I should also add…spending time doing something other than what you’re paid to do is also something that can put you on the hot list.

    But shit, at least I look busy to passersby.

    Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you're ranting, no other word will do. In his spare time, he does not torture small animals. He's been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.

  • You Birth It, You Raise It

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    Anyone who reads my posts knows a few things about me. First, and foremost, I’m an annoying cunt (and I don’t use that word lightly) who has his fair share of lovers and haters. Mostly haters, but as regular readers also know, I don’t really give a shit.

    Second, I have this tendency to swear too much. God knows I’m trying to hold back these days, but sometimes only a fuck will do. Third, I am extremely passionate about a lot of subjects related to advertising (and some that aren’t…guns, for instance). And fourth, I am (for the most part) a copywriter by trade.

    So, now that’s all out of the way, what’s this about?

    Well, it all comes down to something that has grown from a small problem into an epidemic. It happens when money is tight, but that’s generally not much of an excuse. It also happens when certain people within agencies are shortsighted, which is way more prevalent. And it usually happens when those with power abuse it for their own gain.

    As I elucidate, copywriters will no doubt be nodding their heads along with this most of the time. Art directors and designers, hopefully you’re nodding in solidarity. Everyone else, who the hell knows.

    What I’m talking about is a simple premise. Those who create the ideas, or give birth to them, should be instrumental in their development. Or, to put it another way, the copywriters have just as much right to develop their ideas as the art directors and designers do.

    Easy enough to grasp, I think. But it doesn’t happen as often as it should.

    The problem is one of perception and reality. A lot of people wrongly think that copywriters do the words and art directors do the pretty pictures. That’s a complete fallacy, as you savvy Egotist readers already know. In fact, it often happens in reverse.

    Usually it's a collaborative effort of some kind. Sometimes the writer takes it from inception to sketches to presentation, without the help of an art director or designer. I know. I do it often.

    Copywriters, in my humble experience, dig a little deeper when researching most projects — and with good reason. If you’re about to write an ad about investment funds, or a TV or radio script about the benefits of a certain medicine, you’d better know your shit.

    I remember sitting in the office at 11pm one night writing copy for a 48-page brochure on savings accounts. The art director had left at 5pm to get drunk. But it all balanced out when he disappeared on a four-day shoot across the country for the brochure, and I got to sit in the office and write radio scripts until midnight. Awesome.

    If this had only happened to me, it would be a case of pissy sour grapes. And I’m sure some of you will point that out. But I have many copywriter friends, in many countries, and they all have the same stories. When it’s time to think, writers are flavor of the month. Everyone depends on them and their ideas. When it’s time to execute the ideas, writers get the big veiny shaft.

    Now, if a copywriter works his or her ass off on a TV script, should that writer be at the shoot to ensure their vision comes to fruition? I would say so. Look at the number of screenwriters who are right there alongside the directors making sure the scene is just what they had planned. And there are business reasons and advantages in having a writer on set. Any last minute changes can be penned on the spot, instead of going back and forth through emails (and faxes…yes, faxes) and phone calls.

    If the agency can trust the copywriters to create these ideas, why can’t it trust them to be there when it’s time to execute them? Does a copywriter know as much about production as an art director? Maybe. Maybe not. But the biggest catch-22 every copywriter faces is this one:

    You can’t go on the shoot because you don’t have enough experience.
    You can’t get good experience until you go on the goddamned shoot.

    This one is a real mindfuck for most of us.

    “Hey, my workload’s not too bad today. I’d love to come along and help direct the shoot that’s for my (fucking) idea.”

    “Yeah, sorry, we really can’t spend extra money sending you there, especially as you have so little experience on shoots. Why not stay here and rattle off this shit brief for the client everyone hates working on? We’ll be unreachable after four unless you call the local titty bar. See ya, buttmunch.”

    See, going on shoots is not just about gaining work experience, it’s a perk of the job. All creatives got into advertising to create. To sketch an idea and see it come to life. And that exciting part – the part that goes from sketch to reality – happens outside of the office on sets, locations, model making workshops and recording studios. We, ask copywriters, have every right to be there. And yet we account managers and their fucking fiancés will get an invite before we do.

    Am I pissed off? Yep. Do I have a right? I think so, you may not. But here’s the truth of the matter. The agency will not grow if you don’t let the employees grow. Keeping some of them chained to the desk day and night will only help them grow more and more annoyed about a system that rewards only a select few.

    Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you're ranting, no other word will do. In his spare time, he does not torture small animals. He's been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #23: Andrew McGuire

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    Every Brand is a Content Network

    It was the day after Christmas last year when the movers arrived. After seven years in LA, I was taking my wife, twin two-year-old girls, and my dreams to Colorado.

    I've been a hybrid talent before it was trendy, which means I was somewhat out of place in the mega agency world. I've always been about making media-neutral content that tickles brand strategists and audiences alike. So I jumped at the opportunity to return to my beloved Colorado with a hybrid shop trying to do things differently.

    I liked that they were called Impossible (not Impossible Pictures, that was so 1990s) because that's pretty much what they're asked to do every day mostly for television networks cranking out award-winning rebrands, promos, commercials and motion design. The new job was going to give me a nice change of pace from the ad world. So I thought.

    I soon learned, that the ad/brand world and production/network world are in fact not all that different. They both are facing seismic change with the explosion of social media, new technologies, shrinking budgets, and an infinitely segmented market. Above all, they're both now in the "content marketing" business.

    You may have seen the term "content marketing" trending on the conference scene and filling up every "what's gonna be hot in 2013" blog post. Some call it the next big thing in the post-ad world. Reality is, it's nothing new. It's been around for years in many forms and under many different names – from soap operas to BMW films to, recently, Red Bull's Stratos. While I have a great disdain for any "marketing" term, I believe it isn't just another fad. Thanks to social media, content is now the conversation currency of our time.

    Today, every brand is now a content publisher and network. At least they ought to be. Relevant content (unlike interrupting ads) gives brands new relevance and a unique voice in a sea of sameness, ineffective ads, and cynical audiences. In short, content is a BFD. Some brands have learned this lesson. Red Bull, Coca-Cola, American Express, Kraft and GE are themselves turning into niche content networks.

    Of course, television networks are still players in the content hungry world, they just no longer rule it. For them, they're hope for survival lies in making the pivot from content destinations to content curators across all screens.

    Like social media strategy, a clear content strategy (and production platform) needs to be fully integrated into every business model from the inside out. Brands will be creating content labs (much like news rooms) and social command centers to crank out a constant flow and stock of content for their customers to engage with and share.

    So whether you do words, images or moving images, this is an exciting time for content producers and marketers. The need for quality and quantity of content is only rivaled by the need for good storytelling and clear brand voice.

    So I'm glad I made the jump to Colorado and Impossible. I'm living the dream in the cross section of brand and content. For Impossible, we continue to be specialists in branding television networks but are now poised to conquer all content networks.

    Get ready. 2013 is the year of content. And like it or not, we're all in the content marketing business now.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #22: Josh Wills

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    No. 1 : Lucky Number 13

    People change. Learn to love them for who they are just as much as you loved them for who they were. My wife and I are celebrating thirteen years of marriage this New Year. Four children and a few knife fights later we have both changed a lot. I’ve enjoyed the great pleasure of falling in love with the same lady a few times over. She has and continues to change my life.

    No. 2 : Work Harder Than Everyone Else

    A strong work ethic will take you a long way. A wee bit of talent, hard work and perseverance mixed together is an unstoppable force.

    No. 3 : Be Uncomfortable

    Seek out experiences that offer opportunities to learn/do something new.

    No. 4 : Learn The Bidness Side of Design

    I’ve had the great pleasure of working with an account director who knows our clients business / industry inside and out. This has proven to be invaluable. Trust works both ways… clients have to be able to trust that any creative ideas, strategies, etc. presented are for the greater good of the brand and their business.

    No. 5 : Chase Rainbows

    Create, champion, and defend work that you believe in all the way through to the end. See No. 4.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What We Learned This Year #21: Ink Lounge Creative (Stu & Nicky Alden)

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    To make things happen you gotta boon your doggle – Every 6 months or so we find a coffee shop and hash out where our company is and where it is going. This often leads to drinks at a nearby bar as our discussion and excitement cannot be quenched by coffee alone. In our January boon (or doggle) we realized that having two companies, Idaho Stew AND Ink Lounge, was a fragmented brand and that we would scold each and every one of our clients if they approached us to communicate/brand a business model like this. We are many things, but hypocrites is a label we did not want to wear. So we decided to say some lovely words about Idaho Stew and respectfully lay it to rest, with maybe a 21 gun salute, and welcome Ink Lounge Creative. And it made sense, because overall we are a creative company who has built great relationships with our clients, who really don’t care what our name is as long as we serve them well, and with the community who has gotten to know us as Ink Lounge. And did we screenprint our sign and our website? Yes, yes we did.

    Mother Nature is a bitch – we had heard that you can expose a screen by using the sun and eagerly tried it out, discovering that it takes mere seconds outside to do what it takes us 6-7 minutes inside using our exposure unit. We even exposed one on a cloudy day during a rain shower – fantastic! We were doing a workshop at the University of Wyoming and this was so much fun we figured we should have the students use the sun to expose screens there. Except that Laramie is a higher elevation, the clouds kept creeping over and their setup wasn’t exactly like ours. The first group was kinda hit and miss so we quickly pulled out lights and went to plan B, which worked great but by then we were stressed and just overall disappointed that Mother Nature was not cooperating, although the students had a great time and were not fazed much at all. Ok, so what we really learned is to have a stellar plan B, and if Mother Nature is part of any equation you better test your process in other parts of the country. In the end we had lots of smiling faces and that’s ALL that matters: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14868235@N02/sets/72157629831181327/

    Your head will explode if you don’t say “no” – We have a tendency at Ink Lounge to say “yes” to almost everything that comes our way. Craft fairs, workshops, new clients, speaking events, portfolio reviews, student tours, you name it, you ask it, we do it. And we don’t do it half-assed, we stay up all night, we get up early, we work weekends. Why? Because we love what we do and are super excited to share it with the world. That is until this year when our heads literally almost exploded, and then we understood that if we don’t say “no” occasionally we don’t get to actually enjoy what we do. We want to always love it, and people understand you can’t do it all. It’s not a new lesson, it’ just that sometimes it takes getting knocked in the head by a truck to bring it to the surface.

    Cross the pond to pull a sicky – we love to travel and we love design and we love to screenprint and if you can combine all of that into one British ball of amazing, by all means do it. When our friends moved to England for the year and offered up a spare bed to crash, we realized that all that time we spent searching the web for workshops overseas has finally paid off. We sent off our fee to pull a sicky (I swear that’s what they call it) at Print Club London, bought plane tickets and spent 2 weeks learning how the Brits screenprint, design, eat, drink, travel and celebrate the Olympics, plus got a taste of Belgium too. Getting out of the country once a year puts our life into perspective, feeds our creativity and opens our eyes to the world. And even though we already know how to screenprint the Ink Lounge way, there is always more to learn. Wa-lah!

    Dudes are crafty too – Technically we did our first Holiday Mancraft in December 2011, but it was a bit of an experiment to see if we gathered a bunch of guys in one place to show what they were made of, if anyone would come to check it out. And they did. So, in 2012 we put even more guys in a place that serves food and makes whiskey, to show what kind of awesome crafts they can man-up and make, and do you know what happened? Even more people come to check it out. And they buy stuff too. Maybe the lesson here is talented guys + manly craft + good food & whiskey + festive holiday shoppers = an awesome time by all http://www.flickr.com/photos/14868235@N02/sets/72157632215558144/

    Cheers to 2013!

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

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