Category Archives: advertising

Fuel Your Thinking By Knowing Your Dominant Creative Style

I’ve been lucky to work alongside a lot of great creative people in my career. And for the record, yes, we are all creative but have different creative personalities. I recently was speaking at the AAF Birmingham and AAF Lexington ad clubs and shared my point of Imageview on the Four Types of Creative Styles. Everyone exercises a little of each but usually we have one dominant style. Let’s review and see which one best fits you.

The Dumper

The Dumper vomits ideas by the dozens. They speak first and often. They believe the best ideas happen as a result of volume; therefore, they do not hold back in throwing out anything that hits their mind. Good ideas. Bad ideas. Silly ideas. Squirrel? If you need someone to break the awkward silence at the beginning of a brainstorm, a Dumper, is the one to get things going. Beware, a dumper can polarize the rest of the group and they are not controlled. A dumper is great for generating lots of ideas quickly.

Examples of Dumpers are the “mad scientist” types. Think Tasmanian Devil.

The Processor

A Processor takes their time. They understand and embrace the subconscious. They believe that a great idea happens when you feed the brain and let it percolate. First, they hate brainstorm meetings (it requires spontaneity) and they detest Dumpers. They probably think Dumpers are not “real creative” and are unsophisticated in their process. Do not be fooled by the quietness of a Processor. They may not speak often but when they do great things follow. Their ideas are also fewer in numbers but more thought through. Ideas from Processors often are already thought through to the level of implementation.

Examples of Processors are the “Yodas” of the workplace. Quiet but wise.

The Thespian

Drama. Everything. The ideas are dramatic. The presentation of the idea is equally large. No one has ever heard of such as great idea as the one that is about to be heard from a Thespian. In brainstorms Thespians will sit back and wait for others to get their petty ideas out of the way. Then, at just the right time, they will seize the room (standing no doubt) to tell you the best idea you’ve ever heard. Truth is, they do bring great ideas. Sure, they’re pompous but they deliver.

Examples of Thespians are the stereotypical Creative Director from a big ad agency.

The Rip-Off Artist (also known as the Elbow Guy)

The Rip-Off Artist has never seen an idea that they couldn’t use for themselves. They have no problems borrowing from others. “Got Ideas?”. “Just Think It”. “I don’t usually steal other people’s ideas, but when I do they’re from the Dos Eqquis commercials”. Get it? These people are also nice to have at brainstorm meetings because they will throw the most obvious thing onto the table, freeing your minds to fresh thinking. Just laugh at their cheesy version of the trendy tagline and then move on.

One great thing about the Rip-Off Artist is they are great at jumping on the ideas of others. They are great collaborators and team players.

Examples of Rip-Off Artists are most local radio commercials, roadside retailers (car lots) and home-based business signs.

So which one are you? Be honest. Yes, I am a Dumper with a hint of Thespian. A dramatic mad scientist? Yes I am.

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One Easy Tip for Evaluating Super Bowl Commercials

The Super Bowl. So many eyeballs. So many expectations.

The single biggest sporting event of the year is upon us. That’s right. Super Bowl advertising viewing. Masked as “commercial breaks” throughout the little football game, Super Bowl advertising is an event in and of itself. Even better, I love it. I’m an ad geek. I chose it as a profession. I love branding. I love big ideas. Basically, the Super Bowl is one of my favorite days of the year.

So as you watch the big game, this is my one BIG tip for measuring the effectiveness of the commercials. Remember, the Super Bowl is watched in a manner unlike any other day of the year. It’s a result of the “on the edge of your seat” attention we give the commercials and the crazy hype that precedes the event. So here’s the question to ask yourself after viewing each spot.

Do you feel rewarded?

Do you connect the punchline or payoff with a real need? Do you smile without thinking? Do you want to cry? Do you say out loud, “awwwww” or “that is awesome”? Basically, do you feel like a little bitty bit of you is better because you saw the commercial? Is that a strong thing to ask of one commercial? Ordinarily yes, but for this stage, not at all.

Nashville-based Bridgestone North America will be airing a Super Bowl commercial again. In fact, they are major corporate sponsors that seem to have figured it out (since this is their 5th year in a row for being a major player in the Super Bowl I think they have determined it is well worth it). Check out the news piece below on what they are doing.

Story on Super Bowl Commmercials by John Dwyer at WKRN

For more viewing fun, here are some things to look for in case you are interested in playing Super Bowl commercial bingo:

Celebrities – This year’s biggest trend may be the renewed effort to include celebrities. But are they cheap attention? Look for lots of B-listers, has-beens and retired athletes.

Animals (especially dogs)  – By the way dogs outperform celebrities in past year’s ad success. Monkey, chimps and elephants always seem to show up too. Sometimes they even talk. That’s worth double points.

Sex – Sex still sells. GoDaddy exploits this more than anyone.

Mild injuries – Everyone loves a good groin shot (except the recipient). People getting injured is popular.

Babies – The Super Bowl has always had a strong use of talking babies.

Have fun on super Sunday. Be sure to check out USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter. I will be watching like the ad geek I am. Big screen. Computer open so I can make notes on each commercial. iPad on Twitter. That’s right. That’s the way I roll.

Who’s Your Brooke Boling? Building Your Creative Tool Chest.

You may not know Brooke Boling (although you should). Brooke is a once ad agency art director and record label creative director. Today she is out on her own and doing some great work http://brookeboling.com/ and http://firecrackerstudios.com/.  She’s my lifestyle photography gal. Truth is, there’s a Brooke Boling in all areas of creative marketing development. Photography. Design. Website development. Apps. Today the best creative talent does not necessarily reside in an ad agency. Welcome to 2012 folks.

Do you have a Brooke Boling? What I mean is, do you have a designer? A Facebook custom tab guy? A search marketing queen? A big printer? A small printer? A go-to person for what marketing and creative solution is needed. I do. It’s how I believe marketing creative services works best in today’s economy. Surround yourself with creative specialists not creative generalists. No boundaries. No overhead. No limitations.

When you assemble a network of creative specialists it empowers you with a tool chest of talent. Here are some go-to peeps for creative services that I highly recommend:

For web design that requires an eye for design – www.pixelflyte.com

iPhone app developers – www.sitemason.com

Facebook tab development – www.transparentsocialmedia.com

Content development specialists – www.creekcontent.com

Search marketing performance and analytics – www.crescentinteractive.com or www.metamarketer.com

Advertising and graphic design – www.thrivecreativegroup.com or www.dnacreative.com

Photography and photo art direction – www.brookeboling.com

Creative Director and writer – www.kevinendrescd.com

Tablet media apps – www.lifeviewresources.com

Truth is, I work with dozens of talented creative peeps in all of these areas of marketing services. My creative tool chest is deeper and wider than its ever been.  There is no need to settle for a one-size-fits-all creative solution. Like the rest of the world, the customers can get what they want, when they want and how they want it.

So who is your Brooke Boling? Or Dori Nicholson? Or Cary Kelly?

Build your creative network and do great work.

This Is Not Your Grandfather’s Ad Agency – Be the Agency of the Future Now

This past week I was privileged to speak at the Lexington Ad Club on the topic of the agency of the future. Being a career ad agency brat, I have witnessed the transformation of the ad industry. The business was once the hot bed for young creative talent that gave agencies the reputation for being idea factories. Life was sexy in the world of 30-second TV spots. Today, idea is still king but it is not always found through broadcast and traditional media. Those days are gone. The digital media revolution has been fast and curious and the agency world has had its share of casualties. As the smoke clears, a  new world of marketing agency is emerging. And you know what? I like it. It makes sense. I shared my list of 10 Things to Become the Agency of the Future – Now. Here they are. Are you ready?

1. Walk the walk if you are going to be a marketer.

I walked out of the traditional agency world and realized I didn’t know Jack-squat (official marketing term) about digital marketing. How could I call myself a marketing professional? So I took on the challenge of getting a digital make-over. Sure it was awkward at first, but at least I traded in my Blackberry for an iPhone.

2. Know when to scale up or down.

Clients want to see you don’t always have the same solution for all creative services. Some talent warrants a larger price tag than others. When you employ one web designer, guess who you re going to tell your client is the best person? Having a network of talent at different levels allows you to pull the right one for the gig.

3. Identify your specialists – networking matters.

We are in an age of specialists when it comes to creative design and production. We need great designers. Great developers. Great app developers. Great film makers. Great storytellers.

4. Try something different & uncomfortable with your clients.

Agencies of yesterday were guilty of going to the same solutions over and over again. Today there are so many media channels, clients need to see we are constantly looking for new ways to engage with their customers. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you do, say “that sucked” and move on.

5. Be frugal but clearly make a profit.

The days of scheduling elaborate photo shoots at Shutters in Santa Monica are over. Show clients you are carefully watching their dollars but also be clear on what you are making. By the way, I do not believe in commissions! There I said it. Charge your time but not a handling fee.

6. Blog. 

Blogging continues to grow and research shows that CEO’s and CMO’s read them regularly. It shows them you have an opinion and reveals your marketing insight capability (or not I guess).

7. Peel back the curtain. Collaborate with others and clients.

Agencies were always guilty of acting like there was some big magic show going on when no one else was around. Wanna hear the truth? They worked on other clients business and came up with the ideas at the last-minute. The secret was organized chaos. And that’s a beautiful creative train wreck to watch. I love it. Bring your client into this mess and have some fun. Today’s clients see those hidden meetings as a waste of time. Bring them in so they see the magic. Don’t be surprised if they come up with some cool ideas.

8. Fish where the fish are will always be a smart media-channel strategy.

This is a really simple marketing principle if we stay disciplined enough to follow it.

9. Ideas matter. Always have always will.

Big ideas do not have to be expensive. If we release ourselves from the 30-second TV spot we’ll be free to think about al the other solutions out there. The ideas will get bigger.

10. Build real stories and create conversations. Remember WWBRD?

Today’s consumers have the power. Broadcasting is not an effective marketing strategy (here’s a hilarious example of typical broadcasting-style of marketing). Today’s marketing must focus on engagement. My rule for this is easy – What would Bonnie Raitt do? She’d give them something to talk about of course. Do that in your marketing and you will win.

Brainstorming Tips For Releasing Your Creative Genius

For many of us in the advertising and marketing business, this is the time of year where work is celebrated through awards such as the American Advertising Federation Addy Awards, the One Show, and many others. Ask anyone who creates such award-winning work why it was so good, and they will point to one central reason – the idea. Ideas are the foundation of not only great messages, they fuel all great new products.

So how do great ideas happen? If I really knew I would bottle it up and sell it (now there’s an idea). Ideas are a process but definitely not a formula. A few months back I participated in a panel discussion on the topic of brainstorming lead by Werkshop Marketing. The conversation captured some nice pearls of wisdom worth sharing. Maybe it will help you create idea greatness. In typical digital media fashion, during the panel discussion we received some nice input from my Twitterverse. Thanks to audio branding hotshots IV Group and Creative Guru (branding, art director, painter) Gregg Boling for some nice brainstorming nuggets.

So in no particular order here are some stimulants for successful brainstorming:

  • Organized chaos. There is an objective in mind. Everyone should be aware of it. But the more people are allowed to “embrace crazy” the bigger ideas you will have.
  • Get outside your comfort zone. Go off-site for your meeting. A different environment will help you and your team think different.
  • Publish the objectives of your brainstorm prior to the meeting. The most effective “on the clock” comes when everyone receives the information at least 48 hours ahead of time (not the night before). The mind is a wonderful thing. It will start brainstorming whether its an active process or not. Request all participants write down at least 10 ideas before they walk into the meeting. This weeds out all the bs and allows you to get to the good stuff.
  • Write every single idea you can think of around the focus. Then think of more. Don’t stop until you get to 100.
  • Theodore’s “10 ideas in 10 minutes” – write 1 or more ideas every minute for 10 minutes – every idea counts – no judgement.
  • Get the obvious over with. Often there are obvious “ideas” because its, well, too easy. Some say to spend five minutes focusing on the most obvious ideas. Trust me, they won’t be the best ideas, but it gets them out of your system.

Looking for more on how to develop great ideas. Here are a few books on my shelf I’ve used help you ignite your creative genius.

There are more. Many more. In fact, we could brainstorm how to brainstorm. What do you use to create a great idea?

Martin Agency Reveals the DNA of a Great Client

Chris Mumford, SVP Group Account Director from the Martin Agency, visited Nashville this week to chat with the gang from AAF Nashville. For those that are not familiar with the Martin Agency, they’ve been quite successful. The claimed the spotlight many years ago by creating the “Virginia’s For Lovers” ad campaign.

Today they claim client relationshps with Wal-Mart, Discover, Pizza Hut, and GEICO.  Chris was in town sharing the GEICO ad campaign success secrets. Of course he showed some behind-the-scenes footage of the famous ad clips and how they were created. Good stuff. Naturally everyone wanted to know how Martin creates such great work over and over. Interestingly, the one thing he said trumps everything is having a great client. What makes a gerat client in the eyes of last year’s Adweek Ad Agency fo the Year? Chris revealed the key factors according to the Martin Agency.

A great client does the following:

Understands his/her business and the role marketing plays in it.

Has a seat at the table – This is big. It makes the difference in an agency’s ability to sell to the very top without countless rounds of revisions.

Values long term partnerships – GEICO has been a client of Martin for 16 years. Their PR agency is a 17 year partner.

Ain’t afraid to take a risk – If you’ve seen the GEICO spots you understand this point.

Doesn’t sweat the small stuff – if you spend too much time worrying about all the litle details 9whcih is what you pay others to do) then you’ll lose site of the big picture and what you’re really trying to accomplish. GEICO has moved from #10 in insurance to #3 in the past 10-15 years. I think they get it.

Likes to have fun –  Cavemen. Kash the stack of dollar bills. A gecko for a spokesperson.

Good stuff all around. Thanks Chris Mumford and Martin Agency for sharing.

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The Nashville Creative Scene Rocks

Nashville. Music City. No doubt known for its amazing music industry talents. But are you aware how much this same creative vibe penetrates the local marketing & commercial design scene?  I was hanging at an annual AAF Nashville awards event recently and looked around the room at the various suspects that have created some pretty stellar advertising and marketing success stories.  Here’s a random list of cool stuff that has come from the creative juices of Music City –

1. The sound design of the Budweiser frogs. Yep. Bud. Wise. Errrrr…. came from here.

2. The Cracker Barrel logo was designed by Bill Holley of The Buntin Group. That mark has become simply Iconic.

3. This year’s Silver medalist recipient was Thomas Ferrell, co-creator of the comedic character Ernest P. Worrell and his sidekick Vern.  After thousands of commercials, the actor & his character went on to do several Ernest movies (know whatta mean Vern?).

4. Hatch Show print, one of America’s oldest working letterpress shops and creator of the famous posters people have seen all over the world for such legendary artists as Elvis, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.

5. The AAF Student Addy Awards is America’s largest creative showcase of aspiring student ad dudes and dudettes. More national winners came out of Nashville than anywhere else in the country. Too cool. We’re #1. Yeah baby.

6. Super Bowl advertising is as big as it gets. Not only did the Bud Frogs launch with the Super Bowl, but recent big winners have been Bridgestone tires. Yep, they’re based right here in Nashville. Score.

7. The Flood. The Nashville creative community came out in full-force to do their share in the efforts of cleaning up and rasing money for recovery. Series of posters from artists all over Nashville were created in impressive numbers.  Check it out- Advocate Marketing & Print

There are more. Local agencies are continuing to bring in talent from national shops. Headquarters of major marketers such as Nissan are starting to flock to Nashville. Why? We ooze creative talent. After all, isn’t advertising and marketing just telling a story. And no one tells stories better than Music City.

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