Monday, July 6, 2009

The Fat Lady Is On The Premises

In a similar vein to my friend and former roommate, Jesse Bowen, I am no longer posting on this blog. Like his, it was created as a resource for potential Brandcenter students, documenting much of my life, thoughts and experiences in ad school. I made it because it was something I wished I had when I was thinking about attending.

Although the blog is done, I'd be happy to answer any questions from prospective students, employers, or anyone else.

Jake Dubs

All the best, and good luck.

dubs. out.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The 11 Most Important Things I Learned in Ad School

Top-10’s are for pansies.

11’s the key number.

1. It’s what you think that counts. This is probably the most cliché thing on this list, but it’s also the most important. Being a subjective business, it takes an incredible amount of ability to judge your own work to compile only the best. Shopping my book around I got 20 different responses from 20 different people. In the end, it wasn’t as if I could listen to any one of those opinions. I was forced to trust myself.

2. Stay humble. The people who think they’re the shit usually aren’t. And the ones who don’t think they’re the shit usually are. Unless they’re not.

3. Compete only with yourself. Some other guy in your class did a sick campaign? Awesome. Some other guy in your class did a shitty campaign? Awesome. Who cares? What did you do? Are you proud of what you’re presenting, regardless of whether it’s the best or worst in the class? For more times than I care to remember I felt the evil pangs of jealousy and the even more evil pangs of gloating rise up inside me depending on what others showed. If I could do it all over again, I’d have made more of an effort to keep my head down, my blinders on.

4. Love the process. This is a Fenske original. When you’re enjoying doing your work, it not only doesn’t feel like work, it makes whatever you do better. It’s been said before, but your enjoyment shines through. People can see it. It's weird.

5. See everything as an opportunity, not an assignment. In 2 years, I worked on more than 100 brands/products/projects. 90% of them didn't end up in my book. But I approached every single one with the intention that it would, no matter how bad the product, partner, or circumstances. Looking back now, I think that made a big difference.

6. Learn more from your peers than your professors. The professors are brilliant. The professors are rich. The professors are successful. The professors are old. This is not a bad thing, it is merely an undisputed truth. With few exceptions (Charles Hall), it’s hard for them to be tapped into the modern culture of the 20-somethings whom you are often advertising/communicating to. Your 20-something peers are. And so are you.

7. Care. When you care about your work, when you want to do well, when you take pride in what you do, the work is forced to be the best it can be. It has no choice. It’s when you’re tired and your brain taps out at mediocre that you stop caring. And it shows in the work.

8. Don't create ads. Create culture.
This is straight from Charles Hall, and it's evident in most of the real-world work most of us deem as "great." Great work doesn't piggyback off the latest catchphrase or that year's cool kid lingo. It makes its own.

9. To be inspired to make ads, don’t look at ads. I've learned that when you’re stumped and need to seek inspiration, you shouldn't look at the awards books. You should listen to pitchfork. Look at ffffound. Look at computerluv. Look at The Dieline. Shit, read The Onion.

10. Listen to yourself. This was really hard for me for the first year and a half of school. Still is, actually. I am a shy and uncertain person by nature (why else would I have a blog), and it’s hard for me to let loose and believe in what I’m saying. I often feel like I am the only person on earth who feels this way, but more often than not, the exact opposite is true. If you’re a living, breathing, thinking human being, then what you have to say, from the deepest depths of you, will always be valid to other living, breathing, thinking human beings. From two professors’ suggestions on separate occasions, I’ve read Self Reliance by Emerson. It wasn't recommended twice for no reason.

11. Work hard.
I hate to say it, but it has to be said. The harder you work, the better your work. That old Fenskeism, “Hard work is a waste of time if your idea sucks” is valid, but to counteract it, hard work is never a waste of time if you get a good idea out of it.

I’ve learned about a thousand times what’s on this list, but this is, in my view, the top pinnacle of that enlightenment. Apologies if you found any of these trite or cliché. That's only because they're true.

dubs. out.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quote of The Week, Vonk - 5/10/09

Be honest. It may be painful in the moment, but in the long run there’s no downside.

-Nancy Vonk, Co-CCO Ogilvy, Toronto

A friend and I were discussing the idea of honesty this afternoon, and the recent lack of it we've both seen amongst people we know. In advertising, before we're honest with our messaging, we should first be honest with each other.

dubs. out.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quote of The Week, Orzino - 5/3/09

There are two kinds of creatives. There's the creative person who has a Rolodex of ads they've memorized and they're students of advertising. And then there’s people who are genuine creatives, who have to somehow express themselves. But within that is the ability to express themselves in a way where they enjoy getting a reaction from people. That's the person I'm looking for. They make better collaborators. They make better nurturers. They make better listeners. And they make better advertising, because they're more attuned to what other people—namely the consumer—is going through. I don't want to just hire someone with a great book. I want to hire someone with a great book who's—as pompous as this sounds—highly evolved as a human being.

-Marty Orzio, CCO, Gotham Inc. NYC

Supposedly Marty just became the new CCO of Gotham in New York, after a steallar job at Energy BBDO in Chicago. For anyone who has gone to Gotham's website, you'll see that there's not much there yet to be awed by. But I think it's a good move to keep eyes on this place.

It may yield some interesting things in the near future.

dubs. out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Holly and I are going.

Pretty dope.

dubs. out.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Quote of The Week, Goodby - 4/26/09

I think the best thing about the advertising industry is that it should be very afraid that it could disappear in its current form. And that’s a good thing. It’s forcing everybody to ask themselves, ‘what am I doing? Am I really lending any value to anything? Am I doing anything anybody cares about? Am I doing anything relevant? Could I wake up tomorrow and be totally irrelevant?’... These are good questions for advertising people these days… It forces us to think far and wide about what we’re really doing here and why.

-Jeff Goodby

Sometimes when I'm slumming through an assignment I'm not enjoying, I feel a slight twinge. It feels like God is reaching down and flicking the back of my neck, annoyingly. It's this vague feeling that tells me I'm making the kind of work that pollutes the world with more clutter. The kind that makes "normal" people hate advertising.

I hate this feeling.

dubs. out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quote of The Week, Costner - 4/19/09

Don't fuck with a winning streak.

-Kevin Costner, Bull Durham

This is the second Kevin Costner Bull Durham quote I've put up in the last several months. Probably 2 more than I should have for a site devoted mainly to advertising. But the dude knew what he was talking about in that movie. He had a lot of wisdom to share.

Costner's Crash Davis is part of a small list of what I consider to be "the almost perfect male character" club.

No one is perfect in real life. No one has the looks, the brains, the balls, the ethics, the mad skills we all want to have, where everything they do, no matter how outrageous or controversial, is the cool/right thing to do.

But a handful come close in movies:

Mel Gibson, Braveheart
Sean Connery/Pierce Brosman, the James Bond series
Vince Vaughn, Swingers
Robert Redford, The Natural
Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption
Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Harrison Ford, Clear & Present Danger
Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke
Marlon Brando/Robert DeNiro, The Godfather I & II

dubs. out.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Some Cold-Blooded Gangsta Shit

When we were in LA last month, we drove past the billboard on the left. Everyone in the car remarked about how they thought BMW would respond.

It's like Coz used to say: "If you're gonna do competitive advertising, you don't nick a testicle. You cut their fucking balls off."

dubs. out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This May or May Not Be True

But it's funny regardless.

dubs. out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Last Lap

As Winter turns to Spring and the rains come and, depending on the day, I have the back-and-forth struggle between using my car's air-conditioner and the heater, I find myself in the final death throes of my education.

When all is said and done, at least I have this to take pride in: Public school, born and raised, the whole way through, baby.

This makes me happy.

It's been an arduous, often frustrating, 24-year trip. But it's also been a safe trip, always having had the arms of school around me, cushioning me from the harsh reality of a life without Spring or Summer or Winter or Thanksgiving breaks.

I've always been a fan of those.

It's a scary and humbling thing to realize that in 1 month, whether I'm prepared for it or not, real life will officially start.

dubs. out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quote of The Week, Warsop - 4/12/09

It comes as no surprise when prospective clients reveal their favorite ads are amongst the most creative and distinctive in a category. It’s quite helpful to remind them of this just before presenting the creative.

-Graham Warsop, Chairman, The Jupiter Drawing Room, South Africa

I see a lot of crap on TV. And in magazines. And online. And on the side of highways, blown up to gigantic proportions.

I can't help but wonder sometimes about what Warsop says. If regular people connect to work that is smart and interesting and different-- and clients are regular people, too-- then why is 95% of what most clients inject into the world dumb and boring and like everything else?

dubs. out

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Words Escape Me

Childish? Maybe.

But you can't tell me that cat at the beginning isn't hilarious.

dubs. out.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quote of The Week, Boyko - 4/6/09

Words are a powerful way to convey an image. The auditory quality of the spoken word adds the dimension of sound, evoking an even higher level of engagement, especially when it's delivered in the right environment. In radio, what is said, how it's said and where it's said are equally important.

-Rick Boyko, VCU Brandcenter

Tony Granger recently judged the ANDY's and had this to say: "This year's ANDY submissions are inspirational stuff. With one exception. Radio. Not one winner. Not even a finalist. That's really sad actually. Where are the beautifully written spots that use theater of the mind to make you laugh or cry? Anyone wanting to go for easy pickings next year. Radio."

I've heard through the grapevine that the Brandcenter is going to be offering a course in radio writing taught by Fenske. This both excites and annoys me.

It excites me because I think radio would be a cool class to take.

It annoys me because I can't take it.

dubs. out.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Modern Beer Ad That's Actually Good

Believe it.

Americans take note: Exaggerating a unique product benefit in a novel way works. Stop making up bullshit words.

Unless they're cool.

dubs. out.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quote of The Week, Schunker - 3/29/09

It really starts with knowing that the agency understands the brand and the kind of work we want to do for the brand, rather than the agency trying to impose their brand on our brand. It’s critical to have partners within the agency that truly understand the business issue. That’s really where the success and trust builds from. And I think key for the agency is knowing that the client is there to be their champion.

-Pio Schunker, Senior VP/Director of Advertising, Coca-Cola North America

The Brandcenter has a track called Creative Brand Management.

It is full of approximately 25 future account directors and, God-willing, future clients. Many are fantastic, those being the preservers, the guardians, the "yes" people, the ones who contribute more than just a strong vision and a substantial budget. In my two years here I've worked with a handful of these CBMs whom I think are just as good, if not better than, a lot of creatives out there.

Myself included.

I dislike how we get caught up in titles in this business. I don't like the name-calling. The "you're a suit, you're a creative" bullshit. Everyone is creative. Sure, it's a cliche, but it's only a cliche because it's true.

My CBM roommate, Jordan, (one of the exceptions to the rule) has an interesting take on the subject.

"I have made it a point over the two years at our institution," he writes. "To constantly and at times, inappropriately point out the title of “Creative” as antiquated nomenclature and an inappropriate attempt to concoct a proper noun."

It's good to know there are people like this out there who call bullshit on the boundaries. That they will not only be on our side now and will be on our side later, they will be fighting/thinking alongside us the entire time.

Because we trust one another.

This last project, our team has decided to try a novel idea along these lines: No silos. No titles. Everyone does equal work, equal research, equal brand vision, equal insights, equal strategy, equal creative, equal writing, equal art direction, equal thinking.

I have a feeling interesting things will happen when the walls come down.

dubs. out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Tiny Portable Thumbtack iPod Microphones

They're a mouthful.


Count it.

dubs. out.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Quote of The Week, Goldberg - 3/22/09

What great writers actually pass on is not so much their work, but they hand on their breath at their moments of inspiration.

-Natalie Goldberg

I'm currently reading Goldberg's book. (It was recommended by Coz at the beginning of last year and I'm just now getting to it). I can see why he told us to read it.

It was a mistake to wait this long.

dubs. out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Do. Things. Differently.

I hate airports. I hate planes. I hate flight attendants. I hate flying.

I like this.

dubs. out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Return of the Money Tag

Feels like it's been a while.

Stouffer’s: Let’s fix dinner.

Brinks Home Security: What do you have to lose?

New Balance: Love running more. Your calling is calling.

Johnnie Walker: Keep walking.

Reese's: Perfect.

Natty Light: Now we're talkin'.

Pam: Helps you pull it off.

Feel better, Tylenol

dubs. out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Quote of The Week, Christensen- 3/15/09

If you really love advertising, it will show. If you have a thirst for creativity, it will shine through. If you know your destiny is to have amazingly cool ideas and put them on paper, TV, the web, and into the stratosphere, you'll stand out. If anything, tough times weed out the people who weren't really interested in working in advertising anyway.

-Greg Christensen, Y&R, Adcenter grad ‘00

On a recent partner's suggestion, I've been reading Greg's blog the past couple weeks. It's great. It's addictive. It's daunting in its number of long, interesting and relevant posts for ad students.

Where the hell was this last year?

dubs. out.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Quote of The Week, McElligott - 3/9/09

Don’t be distracted by anything. The work is what counts. There are a lot of things that can get in your way, that take up your time and your emotional and intellectual energy; none of them account for anything. They mean nothing. The only thing, in the final analysis, at this stage of the game, that really counts, is the work. The work is everything.

-Tom McElligott

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if the above picture is Tom McElligott. I am, however, entirely sure the above quote is badass.

dubs. out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Lebron Witness Campaign

For his limited edition 6 sneakers.

Campaign done by Hort, out of Berlin. To see the full campaign video, click here.

dubs. out.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Quote of the Week, Tarty - 3/1/09

Maturity comes in at a point where you realize you don’t know anything.

-Feh Tarty, CD, Wieden + Kennedy London

It's a difficult realization to have. But I think when you have it, you quickly realize ego shouldn't exist. Neither should hard-headedness or machismo.

With every passing day of school, a comforting notion keeps getting further hammered into my head: no one has any clue what the fuck the world is all about, why we're here, what art is, what good writing is, what a truly good idea is, what constitutes "truly good," or any answers to an infinite number of questions or ways of doing things.

dubs. out.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


The best ideas always are.

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Amsterdam
Executive Creative Directors: Jeff Kling, John Norman
Creative Directors: Mark Bernath, Eric Quennoy
ACD/Copywriter: Betsy Decker
Art Directors: Anders Stake, Ayse Altinok

dubs. out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Now That's How You Write Copy

We worked on the X-Games brand last year. Very cool assignment. Very tough assignment.

Before we got started, the Martin Agency showed us some past X-Games work. One of the campaigns they showed (from 2006, out of the LA-based shop, Ground Zero) stood above all the others, and was the all-too-familiar dual punch of being both intimidating and inspiring.

Not just beautifully put together, shot and animated, but surprisingly, beautifully written. (ACD/CW Kristina Slade, ACD/AD: Rodrigo Butori)

COPY: Would the world look different if you had the eyes of Paul Rodriguez? Would ledges and rails that have faded in the background secretly reveal themselves to you? Would you have the vision to liberate them from the architect's intentions? And if you did, would this view of the world change you? …Or would it change the world?

COPY: You can see it in a smile like Rob Machado’s. Just look at the man and you know you’ll never see anyone so happy to go to work. He’s got that inborn style that only happens when true talent is motivated by sincere pleasure. You can see it between him and the wave, how he surfs in harmony. And those long, soulful lines he carves are the love letters he leaves behind.

COPY: He may not look like the nicest guy, but Brian Deegan’s got heart. The kind that gets on a motorcycle and tries to make it fly. The kind that believes physics can be tamed. That you can soar upside down with a motorcycle above you and the ground closing in. The kind that knows that only the desire to win can overcome the fear of consequence. Brian Deegan’s got that kind of heart.

COPY: If you could pick any superhuman power, it should be Dave Mirra’s focus. With it you could fly. You could leap tall buildings in a single bound. You could win more X Games medals than anyone in history. And you could be in last place, with only one chance of redemption, and walk away with a gold medal around your neck and a stadium full of hanging jaws. You could, if you had Dave Mirra’s focus.

I suppose great copy is made greater by the peerless voice of Alec Baldwin.

dubs. out.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quote of The Week, Barrett - 2/22/09

I've always thought optimism in the face of pessimism was a great response. As long as an advertiser has something to be optimistic about, of course. People are hearing from enough places that times are tough. For advertisers it's a chance to be a positive antidote.

-Jamie Barrett, CD, Goodby

When everyone else zigs, now more than ever is the time to zag.

People are looking for something solid to believe in and hold onto. Maybe a product as trivial as a can of Pepsi can be made into that something.

dubs. out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Notes From Chris

Our speaker today was Todd Lamb, a 2000 graduate of the Adcenter. After working at Weiden, Goodby and then Mother, he's now a freelance writer/director/maker.

Todd's speech was entitled, "The Importance of Making Shit," in which he showed us around two dozen random things he has created in the last decade. One thing he showed was a series of crude posters known as "Notes From Chris," in which a fictional man writes public, asinine notes to New Yorkers. It is, without question, one of the wackiest and most pointless--yet smartest and funniest--things most of the audience had ever seen.

To check out more of Todd's work (including some awesome Cane 10 Rum spots), click here. To check out his blog, click here.

dubs. out.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This Is Fantastic

From the author/illustrator/designer Christoph Neimann:

Click here to see the rest.

dubs. out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's Funny

The gigantic project is over.

We have entered into this tiny window known as "the longest point from when our next batch of craziness happens all over again." We have at least a week to let our past efforts sink in. Enough time to take off and not worry (or, at the very least, worry only nonchalantly) about upcoming assignments.

Enough time to relax.

And yet, for the ambitious ones, this tiny window is an opportunity to drive forward at even faster speeds. For those who don't know how to stop, now is when the work begins.

dubs. out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quote of The Week, Sarkissian- 2/15/09

Advertising is a tax levied on unremarkable products.

-Patrick Sarkissian, SarkissianMason

Patrick Sarkissian spoke to our school last week, and while he had a lot of great things to say, this one sentence stuck out to me.

When you really think about it, many of the best brands and products in the world don't advertise. They rely on PR, on making their products the best they can be, and on the words coming out of people's mouths saying how great these products are.

The best products shouldn't need to advertise. Consumers will do it for them.

dubs. out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What's The Lesson Here?

Don't do weight-loss competitions with roommates.

dubs. out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Johnnie Walker - Android

I know this is a couple years old, but I rediscovered it a few nights ago and felt compelled to show it. Great script. Brilliant execution. Stirring message (all from an alcohol brand).

This spot and others like it is my argument against anyone who says all ads are indispensable. I could watch this thing for years.

dubs. out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Quote of The Week, Costner - 2/8/09

You gotta play this game with fear and arrogance.

-Kevin Costner, Bull Durham

I'm pretty sure Costner was talking about baseball. But I think it can apply to the business of advertising/branding/design/communication as well.

Life, too.

dubs. out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Google Latitude

Lets mobile phone users share their location (either exact, or citywide) with close contacts like significant others, friends and family.

Why it's a good idea:

dubs. out.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Scary Big

and only getting bigger.

Click here, then hit refresh a couple times and notice the change.

A dozen babies are being born every second.

dubs. out.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Quote of The Week, Fitzloff - 2/1/09

Ads can be about the brand itself rather than borrowing from culture or being about independence or freedom or some other aspirational thing. Coke can be about Coke. It can be about the sound or the bottle… An iconic brand is when you accept who you are, and people will love you for that sort of honesty.

-Mark Fitzloff, ECD, Wieden + Kennedy Portland

Why doesn't anyone make ads about the product anymore? It's always about something deeper, less tangible. I suppose it's this way because over time, people have run out of things to say about a particular brand, but that doesn't mean there isn't something yet untapped.

dubs. out.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Joy of 12 Minutes of Not Being Sold Anything

No Nokia logo. No T-Mobile logo. No eharmony logo. No problem.

I think this is brilliant.

dubs. out.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quote of The Week, Lois - 1/25/09

Show me a great campaign and I’ll show you people who care about their work and their fellow man.

-George Lois

I think it's usually pretty easy to tell which campaigns out there are the ones made by people who aren't just injecting their thoughts and biases onto humanity, but actually care about it.

dubs. out.

Friday, January 23, 2009

54 Kick Ass Logos

Logos are one of the reasons I'm so interested in design. A good one is worth more than any good ad ever will be.

Thought there was some good stuff here.

Click here to see the other 53.

dubs. out.