Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top Ten From '08

There was a lot of good work this year. Too many good spots to name. So I’ve narrowed it down to my ten favorites in no particular order.

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland

Agency: DDB London

Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day NY

Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Boulder

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland

Couldn't find the translated version. Click here to see it on Creativity.
Agency: Madre, Argentina

Agency: 72andsunny, LA

Agency: Grey NY

Agency: BBDO NY

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland

Agency: 72andsunny, LA

Agency: Campbell Ewald, Detroit

dubs. out.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quote of The Week, Maeda - 12/28/08

Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.

-John Maeda, President, RISD

One of the ironic things to me about technology is that it's supposed to make our lives easier, simpler, better. And yet with all the computers and the software and the internet, with all the cell phones and the PDA's and the iPods-- among dozens of other technological breakthroughs of the past 2 decades-- our lives are made more congested, confusing, complicated.

Because each day is dominated by these things.

Because we are constantly connected, allowed access to a larger plethora of information than any human being can process in one lifetime, we feel like we constantly must be connected.

I think John Maeda is one of the good guys, doing everything in his power to cut away all the excess, but even when all the crap is cut away, the information will still be there. It's up to us to be the ones to say, 'enough.'

dubs. out.

Monday, December 22, 2008

One More Makes a Dollar

There are 368 miles between where I'm sitting in Chappaqua, NY, my childhood home, and my house in Richmond, VA, the place where I’ve spent the last year and a half of my life molding and shaping myself into an ad man.

Three semesters of Brandcenter have come and gone, and in about 1 month we’ll return for our last one. One more semester before my 80-odd classmates and I are unleashed into the advertising world like a swarm of bees, some to sting, others to make honey.

Interpret those metaphors as you will.

Like the first 2 semesters in this place known as ad school, here's my take on the third:

Kelly O'Keeke's Culture & Communications- Kelly’s class was interesting, to say the least: We went to Monticello, saw an Italian Opera, sat with a chapel-full of old Jesus freaks, spent an evening at a motor speedway in McCain country, attended a lecture by NY Times writer Frank Rich, learned how to salsa dance, spoke with Georgian painters at the James River waterfront, listened to Alan Crawford discuss his book on Thomas Jefferson, learned everything there is to know about Muhammad Ali, visited a folk festival and went on a Friday evening art walk in the pouring rain. It was a great class. And despite the ironic and unreasonable fact that we had just as much work in it than our actual branding and portfolio classes, at least I got a book piece out of it.

Charles Hall's Portfolio Development- It’s been said before by previous classes and it will be said again by subsequent classes, but you give Charles two more years, and he will undoubtedly be the best professor at the Brandcenter. That he continuously learns how to be a better teacher from his students as much as we learn how to be better mass communicators from him is something I don’t doubt for a second. A lot of people dislike Charles’ way of teaching. They dislike his comments and his criticisms, his intense passion and his ardent conviction, his political correctness and his way of what many feel is him projecting his own thoughts. But I try to embrace all of it. Charles is one of those guys that, when giving criticism, will often rub you the wrong way. It’s happened to me numerous times this semester. But each time, as I listen to what he says to my classmates and I, I can’t help but realize two things:

1. He’s usually right.

2. He’s always, always looking out for our best interests.

Cabell Harris' Brand Campaigns- As a Cabell-second-timer, I've gotta say that I got a lot more out of this class than the first time around. The semester before this was a dozen projects, one week each, piled on top of each other in an endless barrage of what felt like suffocating crap. Amidst all our other classes, there was no time to fix anything, hone our crafts, or even put enough thought into something to make it worthwhile.

This semester was different.

Cabell is, in many ways, the opposite of a Charles Hall or a Coz in terms of his teaching style. Where Charles and Coz are passionately hands-on, Cabell prefers a more laid-back, laissez-faire approach. Where it often feels like other teachers push you on their behalf, with Cabell, you’re forced to push yourself on your own. And you’re forced to work with the freedom to do so. I enjoyed this freedom, as I got two of my favorite campaigns done at this school in his class. What Cabell lacks in intensity and pressure he makes up for in support and good-naturedness. These traits, in my eyes, are just as valuable. And are a welcome balance.

Peter Coughter's Presentation Skills- As someone who got a C in his last undergrad public speaking class, I entered this one with a strong sense of purpose. I was determined to make myself a better presenter, which, as Coughter himself says, is the difference between making it in this business and not. Whether I became a better presenter or not is something to be seen, but out of all the classes I’ve taken at this school, at least I enjoyed this one most. I think that comes from laughing harder than I ever have. Peter's not only a great teacher and a great guy, he's funny as hell.

The real world is 20 weeks away from today.

dubs. out.

Quote of The Week, Ally - 12/21/08

The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. He never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six years down the road. But the creative person has faith that it will happen.

-Carl Ally

And when you see something interesting (or think it), there's always this to mark it down in to hold onto for those 6 years.

dubs. out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quote of The Week, Della Femina - 12/14/08

Creative people start out hungry. They’re off the street; they know how people think. And their work is great. Then they get successful. They make more and more money, spend their time in restaurants they never dreamed of, fly back and forth between New York and Los Angeles. Pretty soon, the real world isn’t people. It’s just a bunch of lights off the right side of the plane. You have to stay in touch if you’re going to write advertising that works. Ride a subway. Stand up on a bus. Buy a hot dog on the corner. Stay in touch.

-Jerry Della Femina

I was told to read Jerry's book a few years ago when I first started getting interested in advertising.

Although written almost 40 years ago, the principles and insights inside are some that will never be out of use.

dubs. out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Popping The Whopper Cherry

Was checking my email today and saw the following message from my mother:

Having worked at Crispin this summer and having seen the amount of publicity generated and Whoppers sold due to stunts like Whopper Freakout, I am obviously biased about the Whopper Virgins campaign.

I like it.

I like the bigness of it, the originality of it, the novelty of taking an ancient idea like blind taste-testing and putting a new, 21st Century, Third World, literal spin on the entire thing.

Say what you want about how this video mocks impoverished people, strange diets and foreign cultures, but I don't believe it does. Despite what people around the industry and around the country are saying, I think most people are overlooking how interesting the campaign is, and instead feel it's their duty to point out false prejudices.

The very fact that people are talking about it in the first place is something that CPB strives for with almost every single thing they do. But this leads to an intriguing question:

Is all publicity, even negative, a good thing?

Needless to say, I satisfied one of my two-Whopper-indulgences-per-year directly after viewing it the other night.

Much better than seal meat.

dubs. out.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Quote of The Week, Marco - 12/7/08

I'm the son of a workaholic perfectionist. I don't know how not to care. But I've learned that not everybody is cut from the same cloth or does their best work staying up all night and working weekends. A burned out creative is not going to create brilliance. Nor is a bitter one, or one who feels uninspired.

-Harvey Marco, CCO, JWT

I've said it once and I'll say it again (even if the only person who reads this is my mother):


That's it.

Care about your work, care about the details, care about doing what you think is right. I don't know much, but I know that.


dubs. out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quote of The Week, Henri- 11/30/08

Genius is not a possession of the limited few, but exists to some degree in everyone.

-Robert Henri

Sometimes I feel like I'm the smartest guy in the world, and everyone else is stupid and crazy. But more often than that, I feel like I'm the dumbest guy in the world, and everyone else is talented and a genius, privy to the joke that is the universe.

For some sick reason, both scenarios are equally funny to me.

dubs. out.

Friday, November 28, 2008

In The Literal Sense, I Suppose They Are

I have always hated the word “loser.” I think it’s one thrown around by mean-spirited middle schoolers with no regard for its true connotations of animosity and evil.

But I saw this on ffffound today and couldn’t help mysssself.

dubs. out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Damn you Wieden...

and your crazy, brilliant, superbly-written, perfectly-acted Nike branded content.

Ironically, my partner, Matt and I are working on Starbury, the $15-shoe brand that goes against literally everything Nike, Adidas and Jordan (and their array of well-compensated endorsers) stand for.

dubs. out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quote of The Week, Hall - 11/23/08

A writer is someone who thinks he’s right.

-Charles Hall, VCU Brandcenter

I have a lot of esteem issues with my writing. I often feel that what I have to say is something either people don't agree with or is something they don't want to hear. I usually have to force myself to write it. Especially on this blog.

So it was nice to hear Charles give me this little nugget of wisdom earlier this week in our one-on-one meeting. He told me that all great writers--from the professors at this school to beyond--believe this, whether they know it or not. It's not arrogance. It's just injecting what you believe into the world.

If you're wrong, no one gives a shit. If you're right, it's the greatest thing there is. There is nothing to lose by saying what you think is right.

Here's some words from a guy who had a similar view.

I think there are few better words for a writer to live by than Charles'. And I think they're something I'll carry around with me for a long time.

dubs. out.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Magic of Perception

Stumbled on this site from Digg.

It shows 20-year-old model Eniko Mihalik photographed as if she were at 6 different decades of her life.

Very cool.

dubs. out.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Somewhere, a Local Media Buyer is Crying

This is a picture of the billboard across the street from the Brandcenter. It’s not photoshopped and there’s nothing missing from it.

I couldn’t make this shit up.

Sometimes the stupidity and/or carelessness of the things that go on in advertising makes me shameful for trying so hard to be a part of it.

I've seen ads with typos in ad annuals before.

This picture demonstrates why I often feel this way and makes me want to find whoever approved this and give them a good, hard smack across the face for being part of the problem.

dubs. out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quote of The Week, McLuhan- 11/16/08

Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century . . . Historians and archaeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful reflections that any society ever made of its entire range of activities.

-Marshall McLuhan

Every now and then, when I'm working hard and immersed in some bitch of an ad campaign, the worst thing I can do to break focus is stop and think, ‘What am I working so hard for? Fuck it. It’s only advertising.’

Instead I should imagine, as McLuhan does, what my print ad for Little Debbie cakes might look like to an archeologist in the year 3214 picking up a crumpled magazine from some dusty patch of dirt in Milwaukee.

What will she think about the society in which we all lived based on that?

dubs. out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Idea Block Blocker

This thing, from The Director's Bureau Special Projects, a creative consultancy firm, may just be what we need when our heads are hurting and our thoughts refuse to move another inch.

To play around with it or download the widget, visit here. Maybe, somehow, a revolutionary morphing hotel will be the answer you're seeking for that new smoothie client.

Special props to Husayn Raza for the find.

dubs. out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Words Microsoft Word Continues To Underline, Despite My Protests


dubs. out.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Quote of The Week, Hegarty – /11/9/08

You get paid a large amount of money to sit in a very nice office to have lots of crazy, wacky ideas. Then those ideas are sold to a client, who pays a large amount of money to take those ideas. And then spends an absolute fortune on telling everybody about your idea. Now isn't that the biggest ego trip in the world?

-John Hegarty, BBH

Sometimes it's hard to keep your eye on the ball that is your career whilst in the middle of the storm that is ad school. So it's always refreshing to get an outside perspective. In the case of last Monday, ours came from one of--if not the greatest--ad men in the history of the business. Not only did John Hegarty speak to our school, but my roommate, Jesse and I were privileged enough to pick him up from the airport.

I was even able to meet with him one-on-one to look at some of my book.

If you had asked me 2 years ago if I ever thought I would get to show John Hegarty my portfolio, I would have laughed. Yet it wasn't until halfway through that meeting where it finally hit me, and I remember at one point being in awe of not the man, but the moment itself.

The verdict: He thought my work was "interesting," albeit a bit too far for people to go in terms of advertising. He told me I complicated things, and that I would improve once I learned to truly simplify, referencing the simple brilliance of The Economist headlines. I don't need a second opinion on that. He also told me to take out my Miss Yu ads, citing most local ads as "parochial." Needless to say, it was an awkward few seconds as I explained the meaning of the first one to him.

I make no exaggeration when I say that Mr. Hegarty was the best speaker I've seen at this school-- and we've had many good ones. I say that not just because he has a reputation unsurpassed by few living people, or because he's built one of the most famous and successful agency networks on the planet, or because he has made some of the greatest commercials of the last 25 years, or because he was knighted by the Queen. I say it because he is, very simply, a tremendously nice guy.

I have often heard that many of the greatest ad people have stepped over people and clawed their way to the top, with horror stories from those who have worked under them along the way. But I cannot possibly see anyone not wanting to work for this man, as he struck me as one of those incredibly rare people who actually cares about those around him more than he does himself.

I'll always remember throughout my career, the day a 60-year-old man, more busy and more successful and more intelligent than most of us will ever hope to become, took time out of his schedule to personally meet with a dozen ad kids, and in the process, learned the meaning of the word "milf."

dubs. out.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Perspective on a Whole New Level

This is Carl Sagan reading an excerpt from his audio book, "Pale Blue Dot."

Imagine if everyone watched this video once a week. If so, the world would have no choice but to be a better place.

Imagine if just the world's leaders did.

dubs. out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Impossible Really Is Nothing

"That is what happened Tuesday night and that is why we awake this morning to a different country. The struggle for equal rights is far from over, but we start afresh now from a whole new baseline. Let every child and every citizen and every new immigrant know that from this day forward everything really is possible in America...... Obama will always be our first black president. But can he be one of our few great presidents? He is going to have his chance because our greatest presidents are those who assumed the office at some of our darkest hours and at the bottom of some of our deepest holes...... None of this will be easy. But my gut tells me that of all the changes that will be ushered in by an Obama presidency, breaking with our racial past may turn out to be the least of them. There is just so much work to be done. The Civil War is over. Let reconstruction begin."

-Thomas Friedman, NYT Op-Ed, Finishing Our Work

dubs. out.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Quote of The Week, Deutsch- 11/2/08

The biggest winners in the world are the people who somehow, right or wrong, are able to use their own universe as a grading system. They don’t need anybody else’s boundaries; they don’t play in anybody else’s sandbox.

-Donny Deutsch, Deutsch USA

I’m currently reading Donny’s book, Often Wrong, Never in Doubt, alternating nightly with Augusten Burroughs and Charles Bukowski in my “fill your head with simultaneous bits from different worlds” reading program.

I started reading it on a roommate’s suggestion, and to be honest, I hated it at first. To begin with, I don’t particularly like the way he writes, which is often poorly-punctuated, usually not grammatically correct, and almost always sounds like it's written by an arrogant, suburban Long Island kid still stuck in 1974. On top of this, the examples of “good work” he cited from his agency are, in my idiot student opinion, not good at all.

But when I started getting into it I realized something: The reason I didn't like him was because he was different. He wrote differently, spoke differently, thought differently. Where every other ad writer wrote humbly and downplayed his or her accomplishments, this guy just tells it like it is. He's smart and successful and he lets everyone know that he knows it.

More than anything, dude's honest.

So instead of resisting his poor grammar and annoying Long Island slang, I soon found these things refreshing. A strange, more down-to-earth way of saying something thousands before him have all said in the same, well-mannered way.

He’s got good things to say, and an interesting perspective from which to say them. He looks at the world the way I suppose all ambitious young people should. With a “do what you think is right” attitude and a “why not me” philosophy.

Why not me write brilliant ads? Why not me win lots of awards? Why not me make a shit ton of money? Why not me get promoted? Why not me get promoted again? Why not me open up my own shop? Why not me be the next big thing in advertising? Why not me be the next big thing in anything other than advertising? Why not me marry a supermodel?

Why the fuck not me?

When you live your life like that, when you arm yourself with this lack of thinking about all the boundaries and all the politics and all the things holding you down, the walls fall and the whole world opens up to you. When you think like that, your mind is free to see beyond what you think you will be and onward to what you could be.

The hard part is having the courage to think like that.

dubs. out.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oh, Dwight.

I just received a call on my cellphone. The number said “630 Calling...”

What the hell does that mean?

I answer it. A man’s recorded voice comes on and states in exactly 30 seconds why Dwight Jones is the only mayor Richmond can trust. Then it hangs up on me.

I may actually vote for this guy simply for having the balls to do such a thing.

dubs. out.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

They're... Tooooo Old

In our first semester of Brandcenter, our copywriting professor, Coz used to say we needed to take facts and--creatively--make them our bitch (not in those words).

These do that well.

From JWT New York, Ty Montague and Harvey Marco, they're the best (read: truthful, funny, distinctive) youth voting awareness ads I think I've ever seen.



JWT has been rocking it lately.

dubs. out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Help Momma Vote Right

There are still millions of undecideds out there. Statistically-speaking, most of them are 40 to 60-year-old mothers. Who better to convince them to vote Obama than their own babies?

To make this idea a reality, a few girls from my class (Julie, Kelly & Raquel) created this site along with Mike Lear and some others from the Martin Agency.

It's awesome.

So far the site has gotten 10,000 hits and has received press on Adrants, Digg and Current, which said: "This is a site created by some brilliant college students at Virginia Commonwealth University to help new voters reach out to their mothers about the importance of this election and why they are supporting Senator Obama. It's inspiring to see students with this kind of initiative and creating something so positive. Check it out and please spread the word."

I'm incredibly impressed and immensely jealous they were able to actually do what they said they would, instead of just talking about it like most of us do.

dubs. out.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quote of The Week, Krouse Rosenthal – 10/26/08

Think about how refreshing it is to see a movie you can’t stop playing over in your mind. Or read a cartoon that makes you rip it out and tape it to your wall. Or you’re 3 cents short and a stranger just hands it to you. Or you see a commercial that assumes you have a brain.

-Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author

There is nothing in the world more amazing than seeing or experiencing the few things in it that are truly works of genius. Things you are forced to enjoy as you suspend your jealousy and realize that you never could have done them yourself.

I don't believe we should ever be forced to dumb down our work for anyone-- no partners, no creative directors, no agencies, no clients, no public. They deserve to see the best we've got, and they deserve to be challenged and inspired.

dubs. out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wassup 2008

They said this joke was dead a decade ago.

They were dead wrong.

PUN. Count it.

dubs. out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In Warm Blood

The cigarette bounces in my trembling hand
And the city stays still below
The third floor deck I’m grasping
With the free one

It’s one of those perfect cloudy days
That gets its perfection from those clouds
Thick and ashen and neverending and beautiful

And we go back together

To a moment before
One of those horrible ones that make you
Sad with the way things happen and
Angry at the way things have to be

A warm squirrel is hugging cold pavement
Slowly inching its way in no particular direction
Half his body victim to a remorseless front right tire

Praying for any other than this exact moment of his life

Misery may love company
But when company’s not an option
Misery panics
Misery wants a way out

Bike skids to a stop
Backpack drops
Girl watches scene unfold

Now misery loves release

Helplessness overpowers me
Overpowers her
Overpowers him
Overpowers us

No cars to flag down for our dirty work
No police to call
No parents to make everything alright

It's just us here

A blue shoe raises
The air parts
A leg muscle holds steady
And releases

Then again
And once more
And the puddle grows

And it lives still

Girl's car is the last option
And my heart heaves
When another tire finishes
What the first didn’t have the guts to do

You want a cigarette, girl commands
And doesn’t ask
As she reaches into a gold purse

I don’t smoke

Only when the beers allow it
Or when the jangled nerves allow it
Or when the innocent squirrels allow it
So yes

Back on the deck
A nicotine-riddled mind reflects on
The only thing in the world worse than death

And sometimes killing is the only moral thing to do.

dubs. out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quote of The Week, Lubars– 10/19/08

(When you’re looking for a Cannes Grand Prix winner) you're looking for the first time you get kissed. The first time you walk into a baseball stadium holding your dad's hand when you're 7. The first time you use an iPod. The first time you drive by yourself. The first time you have ice cream. The first time you dive off a board. The first time you plug in a guitar. The first time you watch Goodfellas. The first time you hear Miles. The first time you look at a Magritte. Something like that.

-David Lubars, Chairman/CCO, BBDO North America

I wouldn't mind working for this guy someday. And by that, I mean I'd kill to work for this guy someday.

dubs. out.