Monday, March 31, 2008

My First Internship Minibook

All these posts about what other people have said and done, I think it's time for me to embrace the embarrassment.

First book, pretty basic stuff, nothing crazy, nothing but print, to my chagrin. And I don't use the word 'chagrin' lightly. The next one will be better, I promise.

For now, be gentle. Please.

dubs. out.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quote of The Week, Bedbury – 3/30/08

In the future, advertising will have to be more intelligent, more entertaining, and more rewarding than it is today. I suggest that all major advertisers contemplate this: Imagine that in the future television viewers can get free TV but have to allow advertising from fifty brands. If they could pick from thousands of brands’ advertising, would your brand be on the short list? How welcome are you?

-Scott Bedbury, A New Brand World

To celebrate finishing Bedbury’s book, I figured the least I could do is honor him with this addition.

I copied down a lot of what he said, but this particular sentiment at the end stuck out to me, because it got me thinking ‘what if?’

And now, with the true advent and explosion of the internet, with DVRs, YouTube, Facebook, clickers, and ever-shortening attention spans, his ‘what if?’ is more like 'what now?'.

dubs. out.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The List

I believe there's two ways to tell almost everything you need to know about a person: Inspect their bedroom or see what their ten favorite books are.

I know what you're asking.

Who the hell is this kid and what does he know about books and why should I give a shit?

I can't really answer any of that, except to say that at the very least you may notice something you might want to read one day. You can't see it, but I'm shrugging as I write this.

In no particular order:

If there has ever been a better storyteller than John Irving, I'd like to know who that person is.

At the Brandcenter, one of the running jokes is that Scott, our 50-year-old Visual Storytelling professor who doesn't look a day over 25, is rotting away in a picture somewhere. It's probably not true.

There are few books that display what real passion looks like written out on a page. This is one of them.

If I were to be left alone on a deserted island with one book, this is the one I'd grab. The ability to take a simple piece or moment of life and reflect on it insightfully is the most amazing gift in the world. To read Collins is to see everything more clearly; it's to see things the way you always saw them but could never articulate.

Before The Godfather was one of the best movies of all time, it was one of the best books of all time. Puzo owns the English language. It's his.

I've read it twice, and when I finish the massive shelf of unread material that is the product of my addiction, I'm going for a third. The guy is truly insane. There's an entire chapter written about which was the best Genesis album. Enough said.

Funny, inciteful, fantastical, and superbly-written. Barnes has a way of writing prose like only a Brit can. And I mean that in a complementary way, James.

My junior year of high school we went to States. Got to go to Syracuse, play in the Carrier Dome, and experience what losing feels like in the purest sense of the word. Bissinger nails it.

Life at a London ad agency written entirely in e-mails. The funniest book I've ever read. Hands down.

In 1922 F. Scott Fitzgerald told the world that he wanted to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." He over-delivered.

On deck for this summer, God-willing: The Fountainhead, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Chuck Klosterman IV, The World is Flat, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, and This Side of Paradise.

Now you don't have to snoop around my bedroom.

dubs. out.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Quote of The Week, Flaubert - 3/23/08

Be quiet and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.

-Gustave Flaubert

Always liked this one.

I don't think there's anything cooler than seeing a mild-mannered, quiet, even boring person standing beside a piece of work that is absolutely fucking crazy and brilliant.

Case in point:

dubs. out.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thirsty For Change

I'm proud of our country. I'm proud of our industry. I'm proud of our school.

I'm proud of our second years.

Charged with putting together a completely integrated campaign for this year's local Tap Project, the VCU Brandcenter is the only school in the United States taking on an entire city. The 13 others were all done by local agencies.

To see the efforts of our second year students, go here, and marvel at what they've accomplished amidst seasoned professionals. In some cases, they've fared better.

If you're unfamiliar with the Tap Project, it's an initiative started last year for UNICEF by New York agency Droga5, in which, for one week, patrons of restaurants donate a minumim of $1 for the tap water at their table, something they normally get for free.

This year, starting on Sunday, March 16 through next Saturday, March 22, restaurants across the United States will take on this cause. And for every dollar raised, a child will have clean drinking water for 40 days.

Drink up.

And sorry for all the puns.

dubs. out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Israeli Uphill Subway System, Haifa

Found this article on Deputy Dog, but I think the pictures and video speak for themselves.

Pretty cool stuff going on in the rest of the world. In case we forgot.

dubs. out.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Quote of The Week, Fowler – 3/16/08

You will look very smart if you take a deadly project and make it great. You will look very foolish if you take a peach of a project and blow it. The advantage of riding the dark horse is that nobody expects much. If you over-deliver on it, you’ll be a star.

-David Fowler, Ogilvy

Most of the summer internship minibooks are due tomorrow. A week (or more pertinently, 7 months) of work has been spent leading up to this moment. If I were to mention the words “hard work,” it wouldn’t seem like an understatement. It would just seem un-encompassing.

Hard work doesn’t take into account nerves, relying on someone else, screwed-up printers, lack of confidence in yourself and your pieces, and an overall lack of knowledge about where to even begin binding your own book.

I’m a wannabe writer. Not a wannabe Johannes freaking Gutenberg.

The above quote has also contributed to my ill feelings at the moment. While I'm real happy with how it turned out, there's still a feeling I can't shake.

Piecing through my book, I've found that not only do I have nothing beyond traditional print ads, but nothing I feel went above and beyond what I think could have been done. Each of my products—Toastmasters Public Speaking Groups, Dell Easy Crosswords,, Sylvia’s Soul Food and Jack Daniel’s mini bottles—were “peaches of projects,” and while I didn’t bomb any of them, I didn’t do what could have been done.

And until I figure out a way to over-deliver, that notion will haunt me.

dubs. out.

A Day of Firsts

Ad students are always bitching about changing their world and doing something to better their fellow man.

Yesterday was their big chance.

It was the first ever Create-a-Thon on Campus, a 24-hour non-stop advertising free-for-all in which team members come up with campaigns and creative for non profits in exactly 1 day. For the past 6 years the task has been taken on by agencies looking to boost their portfolios and get their creatives' hands dirty (or clean) with humanity-based work rather than corporate shilling.

Along with the Brandcenter and a great undergrad mass comm program, VCU had the honor of being the first and only university invited to participate.


It was sort of like one of those classic elementary school sleepovers, except this time there were girls, computers, no prank phone calls, no sleep, lots of thinking, designing and hard work, and a 3AM dance party.

Also, we drove ourselves to the building instead of having our moms drop us off.

I had the pleasure of working with a wonderful 2nd year Brandcenter strategy student and two extremely talented undergrad creatives, all of whom I didn't mind looking at for 24 long hours, and all of whom taught me the value of good collaboration, team chemistry, and how much you can get done when you really like who you're working with.

I also had the pleasure of working for and pitching to my first "real" client,, an online hub where "community leaders, volunteers and citizens converge" for various causes. They asked us to drive young, idealistic Richmonders to the site, and who better to do that than young, idealistic Richmonders?

When pitching at 9AM after sleeping 4 of the last 48 hours (I had a rough Wednesday night), it is exceedingly difficult to present passionately even when you have passion for what you're presenting.

But somehow, we managed to pull it off. To our shock and delight, they bought what we sold. Even the notion that they should revamp their brand new, horrible, newly-revamped website.

Even when you can hardly keep your eyes open, it's possible to feel a rush of satisfaction and accomplishment that, for even just an hour, opens them right up.

The experience taught me that it's possible to pull off some pretty amazing shit when your back's against a wall. It was among the most rewarding of my life, and depending on my job situaton next year, I'll happilly forgo another Spring Break for the chance to do it all again.

dubs. out.

Monday, March 10, 2008

How Do They Come Up With This Shit

The newest Skittles spot "Pinata," from Chiat NY. Not as good as Touch, but just as crazy, weird and hilarious.

And perfectly cast.

It's a crying shame that the Gerry Graf-Ian Reichenthal-Scott Vitrone team split up, but I suppose spreading the talent around isn't a bad thing. Also, it's safe to say that no one directs comedy like Tom Kuntz. He is brilliant.

You know those times when you and your friends come up with something or make a video you think is hysterical but no one else outside your circle would even smile at? That's probably what it must have been like for those guys when they all sat around the editing room floor together watching the finished product. Like that, on steroids.

Because it was actually funny.

Pay close attention to campaigns like these. What some call irreverent ridiculousness is really the future of smart selling.

dubs. out.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Quote of The Week, Hoff - 3/5/08

The truly exceptional creative people—the great ones—all share four things:

1. They are compulsive observers of human condition.
2. They enjoy building a case.
3. They see things a bit differently than other people.
4. At the end of the creative process, they have a need to hold up their work to the light of day and say, ‘See world, I did it. Bet you thought I couldn’t do it. But I did. And it’s mine. All mine.’

-Ron Hoff, former Creative Director

The days of coming up with something really great are few and far between. I once read that the seconds spent in your career walking up to the podium to collect your awards will be somewhere around 0.000000001% in comparison to the years of hard work and frustration it takes to make it there in the first place.

And I'm okay with that. Even if I never end up winning anything.

But when you do manage to make, write or create something that you just can't wait to show people, something that people dig and understand and get touched by, there's no greater feeling in the world.

dubs. out.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Live Up To The Hype

I’m feeling pretty good right now.

And for absolutely no reason of my own making.

I have an entire minibook to put together, 2 concepts for 2 products that are basically going nowhere, the One Show Client Pitch looming, and an entire integrated campaign for X Games on the verge of staring me in the face. But still, I'm feeling alright.

Last night the Brandcenter officially had its grand opening of the brand (pun intended) new building. It coincided with the Spring Board of Directors Meeting, with some of the heaviest hitters in the industry making their way to Richmond for the weekend.

The guys from were also in attendence, and documented the event with a live news feed, interviews, videos and pictures all posted to their site. It was like Cannes, States style.

One of the things that amazes me every time I see the Board members (and all the other big names that came for the event, including a performance by the Neville Brothers…… Yea, those Neville Brothers) is how incredibly humble they all are. They’re just such nice guys. If I didn’t hate exclamation points so much, that last sentence would warrant one. They just seem to really care about the students and about the industry they helped elevate. They were genuinely interested in talking with us, listening to us, adivising us, drinking with us.

Before we got to rub elbows with them in a more intimate setting in groups of 20 or so students (Ty Montague, Paul Lavoie and Nick Law are pretty much my new heroes now), each Boardmember introduced themselves to the student body and gave a 30-second spiel about how each can get a job in their company, and in advertising in general.

Kevin Proudfoot, ECD of Wieden NY, and the first and only member of the Board that is an Adcenter graduate, gave us an interesting piece of advice when the mic came around to him.

“Live up to the hype of this school,” he said, in an almost challenging sort of way.

Saying that implied that this school is not a rite of passage. You make your own rite of passage. This school helps pave the way for you. It gives you the keys to the car, and where you drive is up to you.

It summed up the chance that each of us have. It basically said, you all have the opportunity to make it just as big, if not bigger, than anyone on this stage. No one on that stage had the benefit of coming from the No. 1 ad school in the country, of learning from the greats, of studying in such a creatively-inducing place. No one on that stage had the emails and phone numbers of every person in advertising at their fingertips.

Him saying this got me thinking. While the chances are slim, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that some day, many, many years from now, the Brandcenter's Board of Directors can be staffed by a good amount of its own graduates.

Is it out of the realm of possibility then, that with the right luck and hard work, I could be one of those?


But, as cliche as it sounds, you can’t make it big if you don’t first think you can make it big.

After the last 2 days, the expectations I have for myself and for those at this school couldn't possibly be any higher. And they shouldn't be any lower.

dubs. out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tears From Thailand

They say that everyone needs a good cry every once in a while. It's good for your overall well-being, it disposes of toxic substances, and it allows you to open yourself to feelings from within.

Aristotle wrote that it “cleanses the mind.” There's a Jewish saying that, “What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.” In Japan they have crying lounges, where businessmen unwind after work by watching weepy films, sidestepping the bar and the karaoke club.

As students we deal with a lot of rejection and frustration, ups and downs, good days and terrible. But very rarely do we let it get to us to the point where we’ll benefit from a good cry.

If you’re like me and you need a little extra stimulus, try this life insurance ad from Thailand (researching for Allstate clearly yields interesting things).

The translation is a little rough, and at times it feels like you're watching a sappy movie trailer, but by God does it gets the job done.

dubs. out.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Quote of The Week, Monahan - 3/2/08

The best baseball players, guys with batting averages of 300, still fail 7 out of 10 times. The best scientists fail more than average scientists. The best films have miles of outtakes on the editing room floor. Get over this desire for perfection. It can’t be achieved.

-Tom Monahan

Sort of a trite piece of advice, but one that is too-easily brushed aside.

I hate failing. Absolutely fucking loathe it.

Funny thing is, I haven't really failed yet, at least not in the fall-flat-on-your-face, embarassingly-horrible, God-shoot-me-now sort of way. I think. But I haven't hit anything out of the park. Everything I've done this semester has been on the borderline between good and ordinary. And that's not good enough.

And "good enough" isn't even enough when you want to be straight nasty at what you do (to amend Jay Chiat's famous words).

Basically I've been coasting. I've been doing alright to get by, nothing to get yelled at, nothing to get really excited over. In fact, I haven't had that excited, I-can't-wait-to-show-this-to-the-next-person-I-see feeling in about 6 months. And the last time I had that feeling, what I ended up showing got killed.

You need to have a tough skin in this business for a reason.

I just feel deflated, like I'm not doing anything worthwhile. Like every time I sit down to write an ad I've forgotten how to do it, as if there really is a way. I keep forgetting that there is no way. And I'm frustrated.

Had a meeting with Coz a couple weeks ago and pretty much told him the same thing. He told me that no one hits homeruns every time, that the best you can do is try to and hope that you do. Pretty comforting actually, coming from a man who normally makes you want to crawl into a hole and cover your head with your hands when you present work.

Moral of the story: I don't want nor will I ever get perfection.

I want book pieces.

dubs. out.