Tag Archives: writing poetry

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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I’m happiest just being a fish

As I continue finalizing my plans to move to Albuquerque, it’s interesting to hear some of the comments of fellow creatives and/or recruiters. Most don’t understand why I would even consider thinking about leaving SoCal.

Sure, I’ve had the pleasure of working on not just national, but international brands. I’ve had work recognized not just for creative excellence, but also for effective communication and measurable results.

But nothing has sent me giggling like a school girl than seeing outdoor boards I worked on this summer lining the streets and highways of Albuquerque. And the back-to-back print ads that appear in the “Best of” issue of Albuquerque magazine. I only wish I had seen one of the TV spots, or heard a radio spot while we were driving all over town looking at the vastly diverse neighborhoods.

Sure, there is some appeal to working on national messaging. And already this week, I’ve received 2 calls from recruiters for positions with companies here in LA. But, right here, right now, I much more excited about the prospect of working on regional — even local — ads. There just something satisfying about not only seeing the work around your neighborhood, but also seeing a business that is hopefully thriving in this current market because of it. (It doesn’t hurt that the agency I’ve been working with is comprised of a group of amazing people with no ego, just the desire to do great work that is best for their clients’ needs.)

With this desire to go more regional, does this make me think of myself as a big fish in a small pond? Absolutely not. I know I’m just a guy who uses the power of words to help market a wide variety of products and services. And as long as I get to continue producing work like this…

I’ll keep swimming along, content and happy in my lil bowl called Albuquerque.

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colorful language

“Almost all words do have color, and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone’s eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her, too.” (Gladys Taber)

Back in my post grads day at the Ad School in Atlanta, I had a copywriting mentor (the actual head of the writing department at the school) who did a lot to challenge my writing style. My first few quarters there were all about settling in and embracing the process. But, as she reminded me on a few occasions, writing is about a conversation. Not a lecture.

Or as she used to say to me…. “Stop being so preachy!”

She was the one who introduced me to the writings of Tom Robbins. Still Life With Woodpecker was the first of his novels that I consumed. And there have been plenty more since. Doreen (the mentor) encouraged me to loosen up (I was heavy into preppy clothing, and she chided me one time during an end-of-semester review that the ads and copy I was showing for the final “looked like they came from someone wearing suspenders and a bow tie”). She quipped that I needed to “fill your bed with Jell-O and roll around in it nekkid.” For a kid from West Texas, this was just too….wild. (But boy has that, well, boy changed a lot over the last 20 years.)

She was also the one on the other end of the phone line that would remind me that “I had a quirky writing style that not everyone was going to get….let alone like. The secret to my job searching success would be finding the right place with people who DO appreciate my writing.”

But over the years, I have encountered some polarity to my writing. I guess I’ve had to face it through every interview I’ve been in. Or every time I’ve shared my portfolio with possible agencies.

The best thing, though, is when I HAVE found those connections. Having clients/employers/partners who totally get what I’m saying through my word choices.

So, as I’m sitting here thinking about the possibilities that 2010 will bring, I’m reminded by not only the words of Doreen, the grad school mentor. But also the quote from Gladys Taber.

Gravitate toward those who gravitate toward me. Those who don’t just see “pink” but actually feel pink when they see the word.

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And I thought it was just writer’s block



As shared by an art director friend….

Granted, my “bees” are usually my sister Cairn Terriers, who love to distract me with adorable looks, requests to play ball, or advance warnings of impending intruders.

Or, is it that the mailman is here? Or their “boyfriend” the Scottie has dropped by for an afternoon visit? Or, for Cody, that another ice cube has dropped into the tray?

Ah, the joys of being an independent contractor working at home. Taxing at times (and I don’t even want to think about the whole tax mess coming up), but I have certainly relished the opportunity to do my own thang.

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Pre-tweet. And repeat.

Who needs 140 characters? For the past couple of months, I’ve been lucky to be included in a weekly Haiku exercise. It’s great to see how the people in this Tuesday group see the world through the simple pattern of 5-7-5.

It’s not like the addiction that is tweeting and Facebook. I mean, really, how much do I really need to know about the small details of people’s days? I don’t even want to share my own. But hey, we all get to choose how we want to share, with whom, and which gory details.

I guess I like that it’s the rules of this particular engagement. It’s weekly. It’s Haiku. And that’s about it. There’s no limit to the maximum number you can submit. One is super. More is good, too.

Just goes to show that using the power of language, with restrictions, can still provide an impactful message. Sure, I get paid to write. But that doesn’t mean I’ll always want to use a bunch of words. Quite the contrary. I believe less can be more when that’s the best/right solution for the communication. But I also don’t believe in the “a picture is worth a thousand words” mentality that some art-directors-who-will-go-nameless want to use.

It’s amazing how much I start thinking of responses in the 5-7-5 rule. Especially as Tuesday approaches and I know I’ll start seeing the weekly contributions from the group. And know that I have my own to share.

Tweet if you want to,
But I’d rather share my world
Through 5-7-5.

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getting in the “mood”

adschoolmeWhen I was at ad school in Atlanta, my mentor in the copywriting program made a great suggestion to help my writing style. Her tip: before starting the ad copy, write a quick letter to a friend. It helps put you in a conversational tone. And I found that it was usually pretty effective.(I’ll even admit, I wrote good letter. Even made myself LOL, only that was WAY before we even had LOL.)

Of course, the natural progression was to evolve from snail mail to e-mail. So as my career progressed, it was easy to fire off a quick electronic note to someone to help put me in the mood.

Next came IM, and the constant connection with people in the next office, or across the pond. It still remains a great conversation starter, and does help keep my tone casual.

Sure, it’s not always appropriate to be casual. And adapting to that style isn’t too difficult.

Today, we have status updates for Facebook and Linkedin, tweets, SMSs, plus the continuation of e-mail and IM. With all this electronic communication, and more time spent “connected” to people you know, and even people you actually know personally (and not just electronically), I find that it becomes more distraction, less motivation for the projects I have going. Almost to the point of quitting all communication programs (e-mail, IM, even the web) just to have a little peace and quiet.

It’s time to go old school. You know, using a writing instrument and (gasp) paper.

My new motivational process, well at least something I’ve done once this week with great results (IMO), was inspired by my dear editorial friend up in Seattle. She suggested a blank piece of paper, a writing utensil, and some actual quiet alone time. The intent is to be in the moment, and find inspiration in my immediate surroundings. Watch, listen, feel, and then capture whatever thoughts bubble up from wherever thoughts come from, and then jot them down in one of the four quadrants I’d drawn on the blank page. There is really no specific purpose of the writing, other than to just be present. But as my brain can do at times, it took it a step farther.

I think this extra curricular brain activity stems from my new desire to write poetry. I’ve been told my ad writing can (at times) be poetic, and seemed like a natural extension. So, once I had captured the four strongest thoughts of the moment, after a little tweaking, I actually turned it into 4 poetic tidbits. It’s still rough. Still a work in progress. But I’m pretty pleased with the overall results.

4 Views of a Fall Afternoon

Wind blows, chimes sing.

Lower tones swaying in the breeze,

High notes answer with another gust.

Reverberation drifts as the calm envelopes.

Silence, broken only by shifts in the atmosphere.

Stirred by the wings of a dove, or perhaps a butterfly.

Born half a continent, or a world away.

Creating mood, creating music.


The dark, dark beauty of longing eyes.

Looking for trust. Assurance. Love.

Big dark pools that reflect joy followed by uncertainty.

From what depths does the fear stem?

Not when, but if it will ever abate.

Find solace reflected in my gaze.

Feel joy from my heart.

Safety is yours for the asking.


Long, luscious green blades

Gently bending, giving way,

But not giving ground.

Flitter. Flutter. Swaying to what music

Is found in the power of Mother Earth.

Warm under the rays of the sun.

Water splashes, giving life.

As hope continues to flow—and grow.


The drone of a single engine.

Where has it been, where is it going?

In the now, does it really matter?

Chase the blue! Dance with the clouds.

So light. So free.

The drone grows louder in the moment,

Then softly slips beyond the horizon,

Leaving nothing but memory in my ear.

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