Tag Archives: creative inspiration

out of thin air

There are times that I’m proud to be part of the advertising industry. Especially when I see out-of-the-box thinking that actually does something good. Like creating drinking water out of the air utilizing some amazing engineering and imagination to utilize what many view as an eyesore.

My current largest client in NM is also the largest advertiser in outdoor for the ABQ Metro area. We try to create visually appealing boards that help raise awareness, communicate benefits, and promote specific service lines. But none quite deliver this kind of benefit to the community. But there’s still hope.

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the devil is in the details….or is it?

Part of the challenge of being a creative writer is the overwhelming urge to share, and share everything. But sometimes you gotta show some restraint. It’s about the tease. Or just letting the brain complete the picture.

Here are a couple of new teaser ads that do just that. We don’t spell out the whole story. We let the viewer draw their own conclusion.

These are part of a campaign to help promote a new kid-friendly ER at one of our client hospitals. In addition to TV, these spots are also being shown on theater screens here in ABQ. Rich media web banners and outdoor bulletins are also in play.

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when all else fails…jump!

50thThere’s something about hitting certain milestones that can set the hamster in the wheel of my brain to running. For me recently, it’s stepping delicately into a new decade in my life that has given me lots of reasons to pause and ponder.

Am I where I imagined I would be at this age? Did I ever really give much thought to that question in the first place? What is becoming obvious is…no, I didn’t. I just assumed that I would be where I was supposed to be….wherever that might be.

Ten years ago I would not have imagined that I would be living in NM, working as a hybrid AE/writer for a small, well-respected regional ad agency. Ten years ago I was in the middle of a 5-year stint working on the Nissan brand and living near the beach in SoCal. A job change, two layoffs, and a long stint of freelancing opened up a lot of possibilities. Several trips to Seattle, Portland, and ABQ began what would eventually mean a move to a new home. During this transitional time, I’ve worked on a variety of other brands (and for those who thought I could only “get” automotive….I guess I proved otherwise) including Allergan, Microsoft, Kaiser Permanente, as well as smaller local and regional brands in all areas of healthcare, technology, the arts, and nonprofit.

With each new day of this new year, I find myself stopping and asking myself questions. Do I want to look back in 10 years and wonder what I was thinking – or not thinking – about my purpose on this planet? Am I fulfilling my role? What is my role? I venture back into a land that consistently inspires me and come across this. Seeing this post & clip reminds me that it’s never too late.

I’m happy in my life as it is. But am I fulfilled? Do I live with passion? I know it’s there…but perhaps it’s time to relight the pilot, stoke the fire, and just take that leap.

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power play

Sure, I believe some of the stuff I’ve written over the years has played a role in a purchase decision or two. But I never imagined I could have this much power. (cue wringing hands and sinister laugh)

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the difference between marketing in US and other markets

There’s no question that, when it comes to advertising, the US market is much more…prudish.

Take a look at this M&M’s campaign Down Under…..

The sly innuendos. The fact that we’re watching “nude” M&M candies interact, including mixed company. (You never know what to expect when you mix crispy, peanut and plain. Whoa!)

But no matter how great the animation, as a writer, it gets very distracting to see typos.

Or maybe I just need to “confont” my own demons…..stripping away at my shell and face that even I’ve made typographical errors when writing copy. It is easy to “read” into what has been written and overlook very obvious errors.

Live and learn….

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the “duh!” heard all over the ad world

According to another article from BusinessWeek online….

A survey from IBM’s Institute for Business Value shows that CEOs value one leadership competency above all others. Can you guess what it is? (Wait for it…..wait for it….)

Da-daaa-dummmmm! Survey says!

CREATIVITY!!!!??!?!

Really! I know what you’re thinking. That’s what most of us in the ad biz do every day — come up with creative solutions to meet the needs of clients for their products and/or services. And as it is for me, it’s deep within my core. That “what is that USP and how can we use it to compel people to buy/click/call” drive that isn’t fueled by Red Bull or other caffeinated beverages. It just is.

But I suppose there is a unique process for those in the biz world who play in different sandboxes. (Although I read a very interesting take on the current state of the ad world a couple of days ago that mentioned how the influx of big corporate conglomerates has given more power to the finance people than the creative department, but that’s a whole different story.)

Until now creativity has generally been viewed as fuel for the engines of research or product development, not the essential leadership asset that must permeate an enterprise.

In face-to-face interviews with our consultants, they said creative leaders do the following:

Disrupt the Status Quo. Every company has legacy products that are both cash—and sacred—cows. Often the need to perpetuate the success of these products restricts innovation within the enterprise, creating a window for competitors to advance competing innovations. As CEOs tell us that fully one-fifth of revenues will have to come from new sources, they are recognizing the requirement to break with existing assumptions, methods, and best practices.

Disrupt Existing Business Models. CEOs who select creativity as a leading competency are far more likely to pursue innovation through business model change. In keeping with their view of accelerating complexity, they are breaking with traditional strategy-planning cycles in favor of continuous, rapid-fire shifts and adjustments to their business models.

Disrupt Organizational Paralysis. Creative leaders fight the institutional urge to wait for completeness, clarity, and stability before making decisions. To do this takes a combination of deeply held values, vision, and conviction—combined with the application of such tools as analytics to the historic explosion of information. These drive decisionmaking that is faster, more precise, and even more predictable.

So, I guess I’ll continue to think “creative disruption” (as opposed to disruptive creative….which can get annoying really fast if not abso-freaking brilliant in concept and execution). It’s how I roll.

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signs, signs, everywhere a sign

It’s almost election time here in the ABQ. And we all know what that means….

They’re all over town, on practically every corner where they’re allowed. And it makes me wonder…..do these colorful rectangles of cardboard really work?

I know it’s an inexpensive way to get your name seen by the masses. But does it really say anything? I mean, I’ve seen at least 8 or 9 different names of people running for sheriff. But just because I see their name on a sign, does that mean I should vote for ’em? What am I supposed to do? Vote for one candidate because I happen to prefer the color blue?

I know this is akin to browsing down any big box/grocery/drugstore aisle. We all know it takes more than just being present to build brand loyalty. So do these hopeful politicos really think that having their supporters put signs up in yards/on street corners will really help people at the polls?

Besides, we all know it’s really those few candidates that raise enough money (or in the case of one governor hopeful here, having deep enough personal pockets) to get on the air. A recent poll showed the top 2 Republican candidates just happen to also be the only ones who are currently running TV spots. Coincidence? Naw…they must have more signs up.

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a’far

Things are starting to heat up here in the High Desert. And with this warm up — and dryer conditions — comes greater risk of wildfires.

Having moved from SoCal where fires have done significant damage, I tend to notice when the sign at the Petroglyph National Monument says “severe fire warning” in bright red.

I have also noticed several “Get your Smokey On” billboards around town.

I remember when this campaign broke almost 2 years ago. I was working for the agency who produced ’em. While clever in execution, I never “got” the line. And apparently I wasn’t the only one.

I read several comments online that the line sounded more like an invitation to light up one of your merry-ja-wanna cigs. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some sort of truth to that. (Or if it was the “source” of inspiration.)

But back to the line, it’s meant to remind people that we are the cause of most forest fires. And that’s not just blowing smoke.

“Research shows that many Americans believe that lightning starts most wildfires. In fact, more than 88 percent of wildfires nationwide are started by humans and the majority of these fires are accidental. The principle causes are campfires left unattended, trash burning on windy days, careless discarding of smoking materials, BBQ coals and operating equipment without spark arrestors. As such, the number of misinformed is quite alarming and threatens to become a contributing factor that will impact our environment.”

I know, for me, that every time I see a cigarette butt go flying out a car window, I really want to grab it and throw it back in the car’s window. I don’t like the world around me being used as an ashtray. (It’s the same with all the dog crap in the arroyo behind our rental here in ABQ. I always pick up after my dogs, even in these big, open wild spaces. I treat it just as I would by own backyard. But, based on what I see over some of the fences in the ‘hood, I guess these people ARE treating the arroyo like their backyard. Disgusting!)

I know that advertising, by its very nature, is meant to get people talking. And if the line (that sounds vaguely like an invitation to fire up the 420) gets people to think about their actions….to think before they flick….then I guess it works.

Then again, I guess that’s just my thoughts on a fire….from afar.

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i believe i can fly…

At this week’s NM Ad Federation monthly luncheon, the group brought in a couple of CDs from KC to dish about the “Creative Departments Dirty Little Secrets.”

One of the “secrets” they discussed was time lines. Their take is that every project, no matter the size or complexity, needs 2 weeks. Of course, this 14-day period is for concepting only, and not necessarily to deliver a production-ready ad.

The thought of a deadline can sometimes stop me dead in my tracks. I think part of that is I’ve always thought of myself as someone who “flies by the seat of my pants” and someone who does things “on the fly.” I can be quick with ideas. I can turn on a dime. But sometimes you just need a chance to let things incubate. You have to step away from the keyboard and just take some time to breathe, soak in the views, people watch, slip away to neverneverland.

It’s during these times of processing that I have to remember one very important thing: FLY. Set the brain free and see where the current takes you. Jump. Run like the wind. (Ok, that last one doesn’t happen as often now that I’m inching toward the mid-century mark.)

More than anything, trust my instinct. Does a brown pelican think about gliding just above a breaking wave? Hell no! It just does. Nothing wrecks good creative like over-thinking. It’s like trying to fly with 20-lb bowling balls strapped to each ankle. This is especially true during the concept phase. That’s when it’s time to just let loose, and know that among all the shit being strewn about, something magical is there.

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i guess advertising really does suck

As pop culture goes, so goes some advertising I suppose.

It all started back in the summer when I was concepting new brand spots for a state electric company. One of the messages we wanted to get out was about “energy vampires” (aka phantom energy). We even did a radio spot, with accompanying print ad and billboard, that helped get the word out about all they wasted energy people are paying for just by leaving things plugged in when not in use.

It’s only once these started hitting the market did I began to notice a similar theme in other advertising. (It’s probably like, once I have my eye on a new car that has my interest that I start to notice them all over the place.)

Here’s one print ad I recently came across in Wired magazine.

Even Microsoft is taking a bite outta the hype that is Twilight.

All told, I can’t be too surprised by all the different advertising messages using similar (if not the same) themes. But I am grateful that I didn’t have to sell my soul to continue working in a biz I really like….but not ready to die for.

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