The Top 5 Lesser Known SXSWi Sessions to be Excited About


This is my second year attending SXSW and my first year attending as a speaker. So my headspace is a bit different when planning out which sessions I want to attend.

For most first-timers the inclination is to try to attend the big keynotes and featured sessions with the celebrities and big gurus in the tech world. The real-world realization once you are there is that you rarely get into those keynote/featured sessions, and if you do, you likely waited in line for three hours. Meanwhile, your colleagues went to three unknown sessions and walked away with some usable knowledge or case studies.

Not this year. I’m speaking at one of those “unknown” panels, and I’m supporting us lesser-known folks talking about interesting topics. If you’re inclined to join me at these sessions or wonder what you have to look forward to reading about on Wunderman Reports, I give you…

The Top 5 Lesser-Known SXSWi Sessions to be Excited About.

#1  Big Data Inverted: The Best Candy from Strangers? (Friday, March 7th – 12:30 – 1:30)

What I like about this panel is it’s answering a small part of the Big Data issues we all face. Why we get the same annoying friends updates, news content and adverts pushed to us constantly by these so-called “smart algorithms,” when in reality we want something different. Something better.  Presented by Chris Colborn, EVP, Global Chief Experience Officer for R/GA, and Dinkar Jain, Product Manager at Google and Maria Bezaitis, Principal Engineer at Intel, this should be an intriguing session not only about technology but about social issues that arise due to the “barricading” nature of these algorithms.

#2  The Secret Sauce of Real Time StoryTelling  (Friday, March 7th – 3:30 – 4:30)


Who remembers that amazing ad campaign for Melbourne Tourism where you could Tweet or message what you wanted a real person walking around Melbourne to do? “Try a weird fruit. OK. Dance by that fountain. No problem.” The guys at Tool are at SXSW to talk about that project—how it worked and why people crave that blend of social media and real-world storytelling.  If you’re a creative director or CMO looking for great ideas on the future of social engagement, go to this session.

#3  In Defense of Inventors: Yes, We Make Shit (Saturday, March 8th – 3:30 – 4:30)

If you work at an agency, this Core Conversation is for you. Ed Brojerdi and Matt Powell of KBS+P are finally sitting down to have a discussion about an issue of perception to the outward facing world (i.e. your client), namely that we can’t innovate. Most would say, “Invention is for the small tech start ups, not your big ad agencies.” I’m on Ed and Matt’s side that agencies are full of inventors. That we can go from concept to market and make shit really happen. Hurrah! Can’t wait.

#4  Instagramming the News (Sunday, March 9th – 5:00 – 6:00


You may have heard of this thing called Instagram: it’s changing the way we consume media and how magazines are using photography to influence the social sharing of news. With representatives from Instagram and TIME magazine on the panel, I’m excited to hear case studies and stories of how photography is changing for the news media, and what’s next for the media in regard to using social platforms. And yes, I’ll be sure to Instagram the Instagram session. Look for my hashtag #Metagram.

#5  Search Is Dead:  The Secret Sauce Behind Discovery  (Monday, March 10th – 12:30 – 1:30)

Whoa! Search is dead?! Sweet, now let’s talk about the next generation of recommendations. A world where experiences are personalized and curated. Then let’s talk about how much that impacts my purchase decisions and why those who adapt to this new future will come out on top. Let’s be honest, who do you trust more; a sushi restaurant recommendation from your coworker or a Google review from a tourist who doesn’t normally eat fish? That’s rhetorical, BTW. Good news is this panel is going to blow my mind and probably yours as well.

You can follow my write ups from these sessions on Wunderman Reports or in real time on Twitter (@drewlewis). See you in Austin!




Coffee Shops Band Together to Make Disloyalty Program

Washington D.C.'s Peregrine Espresso coffee shop wants their customers to go somewhere else -- in fact, they want them to visit 5 other places. When the mega-coffee chains are taking over, how do small independent coffee shops attract customers? Washington D.C.'s Peregrine Espresso coffee shop wants their customers to go somewhere else -- in fact, they want them to visit 5 other places. Workers there have instituted what they call a Disloyalty Program that encourages coffee drinkers to visit several independent cafes in the D.C. area. Participants are given a card with the names of 6 shops. After enjoying a beverage at each, customers are given a free drink at the one of their choice. They're also invited to upload pictures and videos of their journey to the program's Tumblr page. Said one of the program's creators, "I hope the card is a fun way for D.C. coffee lovers to sort of explore different shops and engage with the people making coffee." In addition to Peregrine, Filter Coffeehouse, Chinatown Coffee Co., Blind Dog Cafe, The Coffee Bar and La Mano are involved. The first run of cards was limited to 500, and each business was given the freedom to dispense them as they saw fit. Not only are the creators of the Disloyalty Program planning to print more, they're looking to expand into both Maryland and Virginia.



Wunderman Nets Two Coveted Sessions at South by Southwest Interactive Conference

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--December 09, 2013-- 

Wunderman and Blast Radius were awarded two speaking assignments at next March's South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference, in Austin, TX. Sessions are determined by both judging panels and a public voting process that pits the best ideas head on.

"Our two winning teams were rewarded for their innovative thinking and willingness to be bold in both their selection of topics and approaches to creating content," said Kass Sells, president of Wunderman North America.

Crowdsourced experiment

For what might be the first-ever crowd sourced session at SXSW, Drew Lewis and Joshua Forstot (Wunderman Irvine) are inviting attendees to build content around brand loyalty prior to SXSW. "We want brand and agency marketers to give us their best thinking, so when we arrive in Austin the audience is already engaged in a vibrant discussion about the concept of brand loyalty and how marketers need to evolve to stay relevant to consumers," said Lewis. "People can join the discussion at, where we'll host a debate to determine what gets presented in Austin."

User experience in the adult entertainment industry

It's not just cat videos that are being viewed on the Internet--a new adults-only video is being produced in the US every 39 minutes. Though its estimated revenue ranges between 5 and 15 billion dollars in the US alone, the adult-entertainment industry and the thousands of websites that generate all that revenue are seldom discussed in polite company. Sites that specialize in adult entertainment were among the first to clear many of the technological and user-experience hurdles faced by developers of mainstream sites--and brand marketers have much to learn.

"We'll discuss the ways adult websites have addressed challenges related to search, content management, social activation, multi-device compatibility, and accessibility," said Sharon Bautista, a senior user experience designer at Blast Radius, part of Wunderman's Brand Experience division. "From how they deal with user-generated content to privacy issues and keeping adult content away from kids, there's a lot we can learn from innovations being led in the online world of adult entertainment." More info here.

About Wunderman

Advertising Age ranks Wunderman as the #1 global digital agency network. Wunderman is a member of WPP and part of Young & Rubicam Group. For more information:

SOURCE: Wunderman 
Copyright Business Wire 2013 


The Cannes Inspiration


The Cannes Inspiration


I've never been to Cannes. Nor have I won the illusive and illustrious Cannes Lion award in advertising. I'm still relatively young in my advertising career, so I still believe the day will come (sooner than later I hope). But even though I can't afford to attend (yet), I still find my self inspired by all the great work the advertising and media world do every single year.

It's this time of year I find my self really seeing what's possible with the right client and the right idea.... and the right account team, leadership, agency, vendors, media buy, time of year, time of day, what you eat, etc... Basically it seems, at times, the stars and gods must line up 'just right' for those incredible ideas to come forward and become Cannes Lion Winners.

Throughout the year great ideas get killed by either the client or an ECD or even ones own frustration towards a project. Then after awhile one gets the advertising blues. That feeling like there hasn't been much good for the ol' portfolio in ages.  For me that hits every 3 months sometimes more depending on the workload. And it takes finding a bit of inspiration again to get me on track again...and again. The last week I got that well needed inspiration by viewing all the great creative and case studies from Cannes. I have my mojo again.

I'm ready to take ownership of my work. To strive for the best work possible. To keep trying my hardest to make sure I end up on the beaches of South France on summer holding a Gold Lion. One day the stars will line up... till then enjoy the same inspiration I have through the links below. 

Each link below goes to one of my favorite sites on the interwebs They did an incredible job of compiling all the Print, TV, Online and Case Study videos showcasing the winners in each category. 





Sports Illustrated's Olympic App Saved Me From NBC's Obismal Coverage.

The Olympics are over but I still wanted to call out a bright moment in the coverage of this years games. I know NBC has been getting a lot of somewhat well deserved flak from the interwebs about their delayed coverage. As well as their unwillingness to let anyone view the games without having to purchase a cable package. I won't go on a tirade about how I believe the Olympic games should be free to everyone around the world to view in real time or playback. It's the one event that the entire world participates in and nothing at the moment does a better job of connecting us with those around the globe than experiencing a Olympic event in real time and cheering for your country. It's glorious. It's inspiring. It should be free to everyone everywhere. I digress. That's all I'm going to say about that... I think.

...I believe the Olympic games should be free to everyone around the world to view in real time or playback.

One of the many covers to the daily downloadable issues.

Sure most Americans likely viewed the Olympics on their TV's at home or at work. But I would like to think that there was a growing need for online content for this Olympics more so than any other. I for one am one of those wierdos who doesn't own a TV and does all my viewing through my computer, ipad, iphone. I find it nice not having the TV as the center of attention when I'm home. But that's besides the point. The point being that I, like many other's I'm sure, had a hard time getting good content about the Olympics onllne. It seemed NBC had everything on lock down. And yes NBC did have an app as well as an online portal to view the Olympics on, but it was borderline useless unless you had a cable TV subscription. Which I do not. So on ward I look. I see that there is an official Olympics app. Download. Open. Meh... this is a glorified excel spreadsheet with a medal count and icons with every sport in the games where it would tell me when a specific event was starting. I guess this is helpful... but I want to read about who won events in detail. I want to hear how Michael Phelps barely edged out Locke to win his 19th gold medal. I want to see action shots of our Olympic hero's as well as sad shots of those that just missed thier dream. Where was this!? Where is the content? Maybe ESPN? They have a great video app. I quickly opened the app in excitment that I may have found the loop hole around NBC... aaaannnd disappointment. A few vebal recaps on our dominate Basketball team. Nothing worth getting excited about. So determined, I looked onward. I opened that app store again to hopefully find a BBC app or an app that links to Jamaica or something where content is not on lock down from our NBC overlords.

iPad App Icon

Like He-Man riding into battle on his Battle Cat, Sport Illustrated took a great opportunity as a leader in sports content and said “Here’s how we would cover the Olympics!

Behold. Sports Illustrated comes through! Like He-Man riding into battle on his Battle Cat, Sport Illustrated took a great opportunity as a leader in sports content and said "Here's how we would cover the Olympics!"  Granted there are some short comings with their App. The biggest being that it's only an App. Meaning there is no web based portal for your computer to reach this content (I believe). But setting that aside this app is glorious Olympic coverage porn. First off the app is free (hark back to my first paragraph as to why this makes me happy). Secondly they currated the content in daily downloadable magazines. Let me segway and say that the optimal experience for this is on the iPad 3 (retina display). Each issue corresponds to a day of the Olympics. Inside each issue are glorous actions photos of your Olympic heros. There photos are almost better than footage. They sometimes capture more. The resolve in Usane Bolts eyes as he runs to win the 200meter race. The underwater screams as Phelps lunges to touch the wall to edge out his teammate and win gold. You really see what makes these guys tick at the moment they are giving it all. Each issue gives you about 20 or so of these photos. Just enough to sink your teeth into, but not so much that you are overwhelmed. ESPN didn't stop there. They knew you wanted more... it's the Olympics for heavens sake. Every other issue they did a composite photo. Where they picked an arena or venue at the games and took over 300+ high res photos and composited them into a super high res image. This image loads on your iPad and your able to pinch and zoom into incredible detailed shots of people in the stands and even Athletes in mid stride. You can see nuances like the Olympic staff not looking seemly bored after seeing 100 different swim meets or even that ridiculous American tourist who is in mid explanation of what the butterfly stroke is while his wife looks on unimpressed. It's amazing technology and somehow I end up spending 5 or more mins on those composite photos lost in the people watching. It's like I'm there in London.

The blog also had nice indepth write up’s on the graffiti artwork around the London games as well as highlist of the different arenas and more. It was great reading as it felt like I was getting something that NBC would never have covered.

It doesn't stop there. Sports Illustrated knows a little something about real time content too. They have pages that take advantage of your internet connection and load up up to date Olympic Medal counts as well as the TV schedule if you so disire. But the gem of this feature was the blog of one of the journalist on site. His updates and quibs on the local London papers were amazing too see and read. If you like me you love british snobery and the headlines of their local news is a prime example of that. One headline stated "Historic bronze for our brilliant gymnasts but please, can we just have one gold. Any sport. We're not bothered. As Soon as possible. Please." Even in victory the British see distaster. It's good stuff. The blog also had nice indepth write up's on the graffiti artwork around the London games as well as highlist of the different arenas and more. It was great reading as it felt like I was getting something that NBC would never have covered. But don't worry Sports Illustrated knows we love our biops on our American Olympians. We want to hear their stories of downfall and rising back again against all odds. And they delivered. Each issue had a 5 or 6 page write up about on of our favorite Olympians. I didn't get a chance to read them all. But the few I did were well done. Lacking in the camp that you get with the TV versions...more true to the athlete at hand.

The nice layout to easily and freely download the latest issue of Olympic coverage.

Each daily magazine ends with a video where Sports Illustrated looks ahead to the next day as they talk candidly about who we expect to medal in the big events. It's a nice touch to the end of the magazine as it give you something to look forward to the next day when you open the app and see the next issue available to download and dive into their amazing photos and great story telling. The Olympics are over, but for some reason I don't want to delete my Sports Illustrated app. I feel like I missed some content in each issue and one night before bed I'm going to go back and read those aritcles I didn't get to. I'd almost wish Sports Illustrated did weekly issues after the Olympics that did follow ups on our favorite stars. Maybe even spotlights on the next batch of upcoming Olmpians who will go to Rio to compete in 2016. I'd keep reading. I've been converted to a loyalist. Regardless of wheather or not this app continues to provide content. I know I'll be looking for it in 2016 again, because no doubt NBC will screw us all again by locking down everything unless you pay for it somehow.




SxSW RFP Discussion: Wanted a Battle, Got Insight Instead.

As a creative I understand and appreciate the need for a good RFP. And how rare a ‘great’ RFP is. When I saw that there was a panel called “OMG YOUR RFP IS KILLING ME!” I immediately started running to Hall B to see what insight the panel has. Right away I liked the diversity of the panel. Someone from both the agency side and client side. I’m thinking, man will this panel be a back and forth of the good and bad of RFP development. Perhaps a heated debate where the agency is pushing for more information from the client and a stronger position. While the client is battling for more strategic thinking and more alignment with their brand messaging. So I hunkered down. Hoping for the battle to begin. And I waited. And waited. Soon I realized this wasn’t going how I’d hoped.

It was a bulleted powerpoint presentation on breakdowns of time and cost of RFP’s and what the return is or could be based on your RFP efficiency. Their bland white slide with black type Power Point deck was meant to be a call out to how bland RFP decks typically are. If your agency is doing this type of slide formatting you may be lost. Didn’t resonate  for me. As I continued to watch the slides and discussion, I soon got over my disappointment of not seeing the Agency vs Client battle ground. The information I was being fed was still relevant.

The case study they provided was insightful as they talked about the RFP being not only project requirements but cultural snapshots of the target audience. I’m glad they pointed this out. For me as a creative I may not be the target audience. The  RFP should help give me some insight into that audience. It’s necessary and will lead you to having not just a good RFP but a great one. I would be willing to bet the agency’s your sending that RFP out to will give you better ideas and better strategy. Which should make it easier to choose who you will assign the job to.
The more I soaked up the information the better the payoff. Some other great insights include

“Limit presentations to 4 agencies vs. 6″  - This to me is so true. Nothing’s worse from an agency perspective that knowing your going up against a large number of agencies. The smaller to pool, the more likely you’ll be able to differentiate yourself.

“No spec work!”  -  It was nice that they pointed this out..If you mention the word creative in the RFP. I can tell you the agency is going big on the creative work. That means near close to final spec work in the presentation.

“Be open: Ask if it’s really worth your time to respond. Are vendors with existing relationships under consideration?” – This is an interesting point. I like the gusto of being forward and realizing that it may not be the best fit client. And asking them why they came to your agency is a good way to understand if you are really in the running or just on the list to fill a certain number.

In closing it’s a good reminder of how I should approach SxSW. It walked in with a clear preconception of what I wanted to see on a panel and came out pleasantly surprised and informed. I have a feeling this is going to happen a lot in Austin over the next 7 days. I need to be a sponge not a brick. I’m truly excited to take this insight back to my agency and our New Business pitches and how to better understand the RFP and give us a better chance of success. I’ll post some of the slides below from the panel and hopefully you can get some insight from them as I have.

“A personal relationship at the end of the day is better than a paper one.”



Confession from a SxSW Rookie

There are only a matter of days until SxSW 2012, and as a first timer, I’m waning between incredibly excited and beyond terrified. So I thought I would share a few points on why I’m both excited and terrified, and then hopefully get some feedback from the SxSW veterans out there.
Reason’s I’m incredibly excited for SxSW (from a rookie perspective):

1.  It’s in Austin, TX.

Most mega conferences are in LA, San Diego, Vegas, New York. Big mega cities with big mega attitude. It seems that Austin has all of the great city atmosphere…none of the attitude. I can’t wait wonder the city and find great places and meet great people.

2.  Three birds, one stone.

Ok, that’s vague. But, SxSW is unique in that in the span of 10 days you get the best in Interactive, Film and Music. Three great artistic platforms overlapping to give you a group of very different but similar creative minded people. It’s like a giant party where only people like myself are invited. Win.

3.  Smart talented people everywhere!

This may be the reason I’m most excited. There is a good chance throughout the conference that I’ll be standing next to the future Mark Zuckerberg. Not to mention the best and brightest in advertising. Be a sponge. Be a sponge. Be a sponge.

Now, reason’s why I’m beyond terrified (from a rookie perspective):

1.  Over 5,000+ events to choose from.

When making my schedule for Day 1, I realized I had marked four events/panels that all started at 2pm. I then looked at my 3pm schedule and noticed I had marked three events/panels. There isn’t an hour on any day where there isn’t multiple great panels starting at the same time. Unless I manage to clone my self in the next few days I’m going to have to miss some great talks and stellar parties, because there just is too many great topics to choose from. From a SxSW conference standpoint this is not a bad problem to have. From a personal decision making standpoint… I’m overwhelmed.

2.  Not on the list.

I’m fairly positive that I signed up for just about every panel/screening/party that I potentially want to attend at SxSW. I seriously doubt I’ll make half of them as most tend to overlap. But I’m worried that the one invite only panel/party I do try to attend…I’m some how not on the list. Not only will it be embarrassing but a buzz kill to beat. So if you are reading this and throwing an special event, double check that Drew Lewis is on the VIP list. K thanks!

3.  Smart talented people everywhere!

Yes this is the same point as above for reasons why I’m excited to go to SxSW. But you have to understand that as an Advertising creative you are expected to have a somewhat inflated ego, as we’re challenged to come up with amazing ideas everyday. Sometimes every hour. So my ego is scared that everywhere I turn, I’m going to see another talented marketer with an idea that reaches rockstar status. And all I’ll be able to think about is why didn’t I come up with that idea?! This is when I proceed to drown my ego in beer. I hear they have some of that in Austin. Beer that is.

I’m sure both my fears and my excitement will come to fruition in a matter of days. Feel free to comment and add any advice that could help. Or if your a SxSW rookie like me, feel free to add to my list.




CES is Kind of a Big Deal

“The Greatest Show on Earth” may be the tagline for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, but for technology brands, marketing bigwigs and the hungry entrepreneur, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is truly a show not to miss. For a show this monolithic, Las Vegas is the only location worthy of entertaining the 140,000 or so industry professionals who attend every year. Plus we all know Vegas throws the best parties.

I’m a tech nerd mixed with a creative mind sprinkled with a decent amount of marketing knowledge. So this post may feel all over the place as I talk about the things I took away from it. Also, if you need more background on CES, feel free to get the Wikipedia download.

"...I probably couldn’t throw a microprocessor without hitting a social media guru."

The words “Consumer Electronics Show” may confuse you...hell, they confused me. This show doesn’t allow any consumers to attend. Industry only. Obviously, the word “industry” gets pretty broad, as I probably couldn’t throw a microprocessor without hitting a social media guru. But there are also plenty of investors, analysts and media that clog the halls. Behind closed doors lots of deals are being made for new technology products. Meanwhile, throughout the conference, some of the great minds in today’s business world are giving keynotes and panels on the future of technology and its effects on the consumer and, most importantly, how advertising fits in. ’Cause we all know that’s how the world makes money...selling ads.

This is where I segue shamelessly into the reason why I attended CES this year. Basically, I lucked out. Wunderman’s very own chairman and CEO, Daniel Morel, couldn’t attend a panel he was supposed to speak on. So clearly, I’m was the next in line to speak in place of Mr. Morel (insert sarcastic tone). I’m not quite there yet. But luckily I’ve been fortunate enough to speak at quite a few events in the past and, since I work at the Wunderman West office in Irvine, California, which is only a hop/skip/jump away from Las Vegas, it was an easy choice for Andrew Sexton, our VP, director of North American media relations, to give me the nod. Lucky, yes. Chairman and CEO, I’m not... Yet.

So I get to Vegas Wednesday morning and find the Digital Hollywood check-in. For those unfamiliar, Digital Hollywood is a long-time committee that organizes great conferences in LA and NYC, focusing on creating together panels of influential people talking about the future of content and opportunities in the entertainment space. They are clearly a great fit for CES. The panel I was speaking on was entitled “The Future of Enhanced Advertising: Addressing Brands, Message, Technology, Media and Entertainment.” And I was surrounded on the panel by some great minds, like Rick Song, general manager of Eastern U.S. sales for Microsoft Advertising; Chet Fenster, managing partner for MEC (WPP); Davina Kent, VP Comcast Media; David Kang, creative director for content extensions, Hearst Magazines; and the moderator, Xavier Kochhar, managing partner for MediaLink LLC.

"Because now we know who you are, better than ever before. It’s scary."

Quickly summing up the panel: We all pretty much agreed that the growth of technology, especially in tablets and smart TVs, is only going to help us to target our advertising better. Since everyone is so connected, we as advertisers and buyers can make more strategic media buys. To really understand who is willing to listen, engage and then give them the opportunity to engage easily without stress or inconvenience…basically, instead of wasting huge media buys that blast to millions of people, of whom only .003 percent are in the mindset to be sold on such a product. We now know exactly if YOU are the demographic right for the brands we are advertising for. This also spawns from the amount of screens reaching consumers now. TVs, phones, tablets, laptops, desktop PCs, cars with screens. Hell, even your fridge now has a screen or it will soon. This means everyone is more connected now. For example, your car plugs into your house and wirelessly tells the smart meter on your home that you consumed X amount of energy and sends you a text. Meanwhile, your fridge knows you’re low on milk and frozen pizza, and so it pushes coupons to your tablet for the next time you go grocery shopping, which it scheduled on your phone’s calendar and the fastest route is mapped on your car’s GPS. All the while, you’re watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, getting an ad for DiGiornio frozen pizza, the competitor of what you normally buy. Why? Because now we know who you are, better than ever before. It’s scary. But it’s kind of great at the same time. Because sending me an ad for low-fat ice cream wouldn’t have been relevant to my needs. And this sort of misinformed marketing is clearly what we are used to getting blasted with. It’s irrelevant.

"Clearly, those late-night arguments with my ECD on the future of marketing are paying off."

The panel ended in applause from the packed room. In the end I was relieved to know that the other respected colleagues on the panel are on the same page I am. Clearly, those late-night arguments with my ECD on the future of marketing are paying off. I guess I owe him a bourbon.

The rest of the day, I just tried to take in the CES showroom floors. It’s a bit overwhelming: giant 3-D TV walls where soccer balls fly at your face, music blaring from all directions, cameras flashing, and large groups of people standing and waiting their turn to touch the next great thing. There’s clearly something for every geek. Personally, I was happy to get a chance to play with the new RED Scarlett camera (thanks @CarolynRuiz) and see the future of interactive TV via Panasonic and LG. And some amazing 3-D from Sony. Even the automotive presence was intriguing. Mercedes was showing off their radically new in-vehicle user interface. Your hand gestures activate different displays in the dashboard and on the window. The windows even display restaurant names as you drive by them in real time. Quite amazing. The car displays themselves were also a sight to see. Audi could have won an award for brightest and most futuristic display. The low ceiling is actually five rows of grid-like LED lights with a mirror behind all of that. You can figuratively get lost in space looking up. The cars looked spectacular under the lighting as well.

"Health tech is clearly going to be big this coming year and next."

The other big push from the big brands revolved around health and comfort. From LG’s new refrigerators that keep you on your diet by suggesting items to eat, to Toshiba’s creating a network hub for your home’s appliances that regulates power in peak hours and keeps your home comfortable and efficient year-round. Of course everyone and their mother has a new device and app that tracks your steps or monitors your sleep patterns. Health tech is clearly going to be big this coming year and next. I for one can’t wait to plug in and give in to the future of health and weight loss.

"...more screens means more ways to reach the consumer with (hopefully) great, compelling, emotional advertising."

Where does marketing fit in to all this tech? It’s not real clear yet. We do know that there are more screens in our homes than ever before. From your fridge, to your bathroom mirrors, to tablets, tables, and the three or more TVs you will own, more screens means more ways to reach the consumer with (hopefully) great, compelling, emotional advertising. Right, agencies?!

I’ll briefly mention the side of CES that everyone really goes for...the after-parties. My adventure down the rabbit hole started at Wired Cafe, which was located at the swanky Surrender Nightclub at the Encore hotel. Wired always does a stellar job hosting events (their Comic-Con setup is the sole reason I keep going). Besides the free cocktails, their Gadget Lab was set up for us to play with some of the cool tech featured at CES, a nice touch. The space girls they had dancing around didn’t hurt either.

"We arrive at the Pinball Museum and waiting for us are about 50 pizzas, cases of ice-cold beer and a jar full of quarters. Play on, they said."

My next trip landed me somewhere I’d never been in Vegas before and would probably never want to be. But for this night, it was the greatest treat ever: the Pinball Museum. When you jump on a random limo bus, you assume you’re going to Ghost Bar or the Foundation Room. Nope. This is CES, and geeks love games. I’m clearly at home with these people. We arrive at the Pinball Museum and waiting for us are about 50 pizzas, cases of ice-cold beer and a jar full of quarters. Play on, they said. For two hours I played pinball games from my favorite movies like Jurassic Park and Star Wars, and games from the early 1900s that included a hand-drawn automated flip-book of an old boxing match. On the limo bus back, I sat next to @ijustine (de facto sexy CES queen) and we recapped our favorite games. All the while I was thinking "shouldn't you be at some celebrities private party?" She then pulled out her Nintendo 3DS and plays for a few minutes before we got to the hotel. Yes, twitterverse, she’s that geeky and cute as we all had hoped. To end the night, I met up with my good friend Makers Mark and his buddy Black Jack, who then proceeded to take $300 of my lunch money. You’re welcome, Vegas.

In closing…CES is a must-go-to event if you’re in advertising. I feel like I have such a head start on knowing how consumers want to interact with their devices and how those devices are changing the way consumers interact with the world. Knowing this gives us Creatives a huge leg up in the fight for attention from brand to brand. I personally can’t wait to use some of this knowledge for a brand I’m working on. In this day and age, you need every edge you can get. Thanks, CES, for 24 hours of awesome.




1 Comment

Monkey See. Monkey Do.

It's got to be a evolutionary flaw. We are copiers. Followers. Preverbal sheep as it were. Sure we copy how others dress or how others speak, but it seems we do so in order to fit in. To be less ridiculed. Perhaps saying it's a flaw is a bit strong, but it can be frustrating when you strive to be different in a world that accepts more of the same. But nothing is more deeply apparent of this than the "monkey see monkey do" attitude in marketing.

Raise your hand if your tired of people using Apple as the end all be all of marketing case studies? Yes we all know Apple did a great job marketing a great product. Does it mean we should copy exactly what they did in order to replicate their success? No. Is your product groud breaking as the iPhone? Probably not. Do you have a visionary leading your brand like Steve Jobs? Going to go out on a limb and say that's it's unlikely. So why do we think we can replicate a maketing platform that's tough to beat on any level. We are sheep.

"Raise your hand if your tired of people using Apple as the end all be all of marketing case studies?"

I have wondered for a minute forever why do we do this. Why are we so likely to copy each other? The only reason I can come up with that has any logical sense is that... it's real damn hard to be original. We copy because it's easy to do so. Then we hide behind the idea that we are paying respect to the great idea/execution we just ripped off.  And then original artist/brand states something like "the biggest form of flattery is imitation" so they don't look like jerks to the media. It's almost a sad dance of public relations just to feel better for being sheep. But don't worry, it gets better, because everyone is a follower. We have to be. You see, in order to learn from the best we have to replicate the best and understand it in order to make something better. So that's it. We have to be sheep in order to stand out. Now I'm confused. Let's just keep pressing.

"'s real damn hard to be original."

So it's ok to copy an idea? Why do I still feel dirty when I sell in an idea that Ikea did 6 years ago? Sure it's different...soooorta. It seems that my subconscious is a crafty and ego driven fool.  It wants to be liked and welcomed in with open arms and given kittens. So Mr. Subconscious tends to ride the course of most... as a follower.

"(Mr Subconscious) wants to be liked and welcomed in with open arms and given kittens."

My point here, if I still have one, is that it's ok to politely copy another idea. As long as you tried in great detail to be orignal where it apply's. I think you'll find that it may be easier to sleep at night. I wish it was easy... but if it was easy to be original their would be more Lester Wunderman's and David Ogilvy's. Instead there are just more people like me, doing their best to make it long enough to one day be the leader not the follower. Till then, monkey do do do.



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Comic-Con Dazzles with Marketing

Nerdpocalypse, aka Comic-Con, is the biggest pop culture convention in North America and perhaps the world. And it descends upon San Diego every year taking over hotels, cafes and bars, quite literally turning them into giant marketing icons. One would think that, unless you’re a huge “dress up like your favorite character from the Justice League” kind of person, you would steer clear of this event. I'm here to tell you that while the Con certainly is for those folks, there is a whole other side that would be considered the cat’s pajamas for entertainment and marketing nerds like myself.

The Con is four days (five if you get the preview night pass) of about 200,000 people piled into about a one-mile radius. Not just any 200,000 people. 200,000 members of the premium target audience. 18-35. Oh yes, the golden #'s that most marketers of a large commercial brand need/want. So who's going all out to market to this golden herd of people? Mostly the entertainment studios, but brands are present and reaching out in unique ways. While there are plenty of great uses of marketing from Twitter to giant banners on buildings, there were a select few that made me as giddy as a schoolgirl. 

One of the more popular things to do during Comic-Con is to take over a current bar or restaurant and rebrand it as your own. This was done brilliantly last year and again this year by SyFy as they took over a local coffee shop and turned it into the fictional local hotspot called Cafe Diem, as seen in their hit show Eureka. Everything from the main entrance to the menu was changed to fit the bill of the actual place in the show. This year, you could also see other brands following suit. CNET took over Lou & Mickey's, directly across from the convention center, and made it a “Base Station,” with drink specials, food, free Wi-Fi, and chances to win prizes. There were even great areas to plug in and get your blog or tweet on. Also, as they have for the last several years, Wired Magazine sponsored one of the best offsite getaways, taking over the pool area of the Omni hotel. Fairly exclusive, it's only meant for industry or celebrity types as a chance to escape the wild frenzy of people. Besides the exclusivity, there were free cocktails made with HBO's True Blood mix, and Budwiser was handing out buckets of beer promoting their new "Grab Some Buds" promotion, a contest where you and two friends complete tasks in order to win. I opted for a Bloody Mary instead as it was before noon.

Comic-Con isn't just for the big brands to play in. The little guys are there, too. In fact, I came across Adam, the owner of a one-man business who decided to take advantage of the high-tech, affluent demo that would likely attend the Con. Adam is the founder a company called JackBacks. He creates custom wood iPhone4 backs that replace the glass back of your iPhone4 with high-quality, polished wood. Adam had his small table set up with some examples laid out for us curious enough to wander over. If you strike up a conversation with him he lets you in on a little secret that if you tweet about @lumberjackback and hashtag #jbsweeps you will be entered to win a free back of your choice. So I tweet graciously, as most of us would since it costs us Tweeters nothing to tweet and it helps get the name out (marketing 101). Several hours later I get @ replied that I had won! The next day I swing back over and poor Adam was working his ass off. Seems he was selling more than he could produce on the spot...which is a great place to be. Personally I take credit for the boom in business...obviously it was my tweet that set the biz ablaze.

Thanks for my mahogany wood back Adam! Well done, and good luck!

Perhaps the most genius form of marketing at Comic-Con every year is the swag bags you pick up when you register for your badge. These giant bags (imagine a 46-inch tv...not kidding) are designed deep and wide to hold any array of goodies you decide to purchase or pick up while browsing the show floor of the convention center. The genius part comes when you see that the bags are printed with a poster or logo of a TV show or movie, full-size front and back. There were easily 150,000 people walking around like giant billboards for Fringe or Dexter. I was almost wiped out a few times by a Doctor Who bag filled to the brim and being worn like a hiking pack on a guy’s shoulders. It's hard to forget the dashing Eleventh Doctor after you've had a bag with his face shoved ever so gently into your own. Next year I wouldn't be surprised to see a Hyundai bag or a Microsoft Windows 7 bag. Did I mention you see people walking throughout San Diego with the swag bags on their backs? Yeah, there's no escape. Brilliant.

Even though the better marketing ideas would only be relevant at a venue like Comic-Con, it does open my eyes to the rich possibilities out there to engage a very willing audience at the right time and place. Basically we should all take note and emulate if we want to create advocates for our brands. Because nothing screams advocacy like the people at Comic-Con running crazy all over San Diego looking for gold bricks with tickets inside to the premiere of Cowboys Vs Aliens. This is where I will say on a personal note that if you want inside scoops on what's going on during the Con you have to be on Twitter. Follow a few hashtags and you'll know instantly how long the lines are, when the celebs are signing, where the exclusive parties are, and even how to sneak in. My friends and I would actually sit and read all the great comments on Twitter from the Con during the day and plan/improvise accordingly. Twitter is truly powerful for events such as this. Brands, please take note.

Comic-Con is a wonderful event. And dare I say there is something for everyone there. If you’re not into comics, you may be into a hit TV show, or maybe dazzled by all the different types of people walking the streets. For me it's about experiencing great events surrounding the Con and seeing what brilliant ways brands and studios are reaching that premium audience of 18 - 35 year-olds. It's also fun running into some of my favorite celebs like Andy Serkis, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong, and David Zayas. I plan on going every year as long as it's in San Diego. The gorgeous city on the water with the old Gaslamp Quarter full of bars and restaurants surrounding the convention center is by far the best possible place for Comic-Con and opens up the possibilities for brands to be innovative with how they reach people. 

See you next year, Nerdpocalypse!


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Post Gravity iPad App - Best Experience On Any Screen



This is my first simi-suedo ipad app review. Actually it's more of a commentary on what I hope the future holds in terms of digital content consumption mixed in with an app review. I know not everyone is fortunate enough to own an iPad, but I imagine like the smart phone, it's only a matter of time before most people have a tablet device as powerful as the iPad. So I was excited blown away when I downloaded the Post Gravity app for my iPad2 because for the first time I see the potential and I'm really excited.


First off I don't do much more on my iPad than play on Twitter and Facebook and read/listen to the occasional NPR article on their pretty stellar app. So I'm fairly easy to impress. Actually, the coolest app I've previously downloaded was the Evernote Peek app. Which I'll probably never use, but the idea of using the 'Smart Cover' in a cleaver way was just plain brilliant. If you haven't checked it out yet, you should.


The Post Gravity app found me on a lazy sunday. I occasionally browse the app store to see if anybody created any apps that are similar to any of my shower induced genius app ideas. I don't know why I clicked on the Post app. Perhaps the nice retro blue icon? I quickly read the short and somewhat nerdy description of the app. Words like "interactive 3D fashion story powered by infra-red technology" is a bit wordy even more the likes of my geeky self. Alas I bit. Mainly because this image of a girl in a big ass space helmut with the cosmos reflecting off her rounded visor. My science spider sense went off and had to have it. How much does it cost? $2.99... done. Then next 10 mins I sat staring at the icon and the download bar. 737 Megabytes isn't small. In fact it's giant. So I past the time with Chess With Friends (obsessed). Then the time finally came... I launched this interative 3D thingymajig app and my jaw dropped and my mind exploded.


My science spider sense went off and had to have it.


Before I go further, I should describe that POST is a culture magazine produced exclusively for the iPad without print or web-based supplement. This issue, Gravity, is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gargarin's space walk and so most of the content inside is space-themed. If your not a science nerd like me, don't let that discourage you from getting this app. The content inside is just as much about experience as education. Which is why I'm going to claim right here that this is the best example of the future of content consumption on a mobile device or maybe on any screen.


I'm going to claim right here that this is the best example of the future of content consumption on a mobile device or maybe on any screen.


The moment you open the app your greeted to a beautiful image of model Iselin Steiro in a visual stunning getup. The interactivity starts early. You touch the screen and a highly detailed wireframe overlays ontop of Steiro and the transition is seemless as she dances on screen. Your finger controls the perspective as the colors change from electric blues to reds. It's simply awesome. You swipe left and you enter the next page of this magazine. It lets you know here, early, that if you have headphones, wear them, cause this is going to be an experience. So sit back and prepare to become entangled.


I'm going to go into detail on the areas where my heart started to flutter. When diving into this app I quickly reached the adverts. Like any magazine you have ads that need their placement. And since I work in Advertising, it's no surprise that I notice and critique. The first ad I come upon is for Gucci. At first is looks like a typical still photo shot hyper real with beautiful color. As I look closer I notice the clouds in the background moving. Whoa (Keanu Reeves style). The next ad that caught my fancy was a Nike short film.  This was a collaboration with POST and features the British Sprinter Joey Duck. It's a gorgeously shot piece that resembles less of an ad and more of a art piece. The Y-3 ad that I come upon next. Is literally a mood video showcasing gorgeous models in a dark hallway and ominous music. Careful the ad repeats... although you may find yourself watching these interactive ads a few times anyways. The next innovative thing I noticed was a periodic table laid out with tiny products. Accessories for Summer 2011 it tells me. The products are spinning furiously, taunting me to click them. I do of course. I click touch the Eiffel Tower in the first box. A window expands and a detail of the model comes up. I can rotate the image left and right. As I do a startling and yet satisfying sound emanates and resonates. I do it again. Giggle. Looking at over prices items has never been this fun in my hands. Don't even get me started on how awesome the Rolex ad is. You'll just have to experience it yourself. And these are the ads? All of a sudden TV spots and print ads seem trivial and unimportant. Why bother. I don't need to see metrics on these visceral interactive ads on POST Gravity. I know they are off the charts. Online banner ads you can take your .03 percent click through and shove it. Where do I sign up for more?



I've only tapped the surface of the curated content in the magazine. But the few pieces I've experienced are out of this world. Literally. From artful video content about Yuri Gargarin's spacewalk to interactive images of girls in space suits to sounds bites that are answers to questions that you interact with. One of the best shot pieces is called "The Man Who Fell To Earth". The teaser video of what you will experience in the app lives on Vimeo.  What it won't show you is that you can actually purchase the clothes this falling man is wearing. It's truly something that I never expected and more.


I can't stress enough how groundbreaking this content is. It's totally worth the $2.99. It's easily hours of content and if anything else you can blow your friends and co-workers minds with any of the features this app holds. So go download this app. I want to see more of this genius. So lets support content that is finally reaching the potential that we all hoped for with this amazing technology. Bravo POST. Bravo.







Get Ta Work!

 "This is a message to those who think they can coast through life and work."

I'll be blunt. YOU CAN'T. In fact, odds are if you are trying to do this, there is somebody you work with that wants to punch you in the face. True story. There is only one way to not be that guy. Work and more work. Work at life and work at work. Sound depressing? Too bad. Because if you don't work hard you will be unsatisfied, and worse... unworthy.

I started working when I was 15 at a small fruits and vegetables shack called 'Joseph Kelly's'. It was run by a large man with a larger mullet who despite his ability to be lude and ridiculous in his work, he was my first boss and for that will hold a special place in the far left back corner of my memories. And if there is one thing that was permanently ingrained into my innocent youthful mind it was that every job after the last job is and always will be easier and less ridiculous. For example, in my current job I do NOT have to jump into a trash large trash bin and push down the trash so we could fit another days worth of nasty rotten fruit because boss-man was too cheap to pay for an extra trash pickup. How often did I do this you ask. Often enough that we had a name for it on the to-do list... "Dumpster Dance".

"If there is one thing that was permanently ingrained into my innocent youthful mind it was that every job after the last job is and always will be easier and less ridiculous."

I also had the wonderful opportunity to work for a college performing arts center at my alma matter University of Kentucky (Go CATS!). I was lucky enough to be given the title Light and Sound Manager. Sounds pretty stellar, but alas it really just meant that I got to spend looooong sweaty hours up in the rafters 30 feet in the air clamping lights that in a matter of mins reach temperatures that light arm air on fire in close proximity. Oh yes. Epic suck. Don't get me wrong, it also had great perks. Like running a 32 channel sound board for a live jazz show in an auditorium of 1200 people who are in a musical euphoric state of awesomeness. Like any job though, there are periods of suck hopefully followed by periods of 'I'll tell my kids about that'. But I can remember thinking...

"Glad I'm not jumping into a dumpster right now."

I'll spare you any more of my life work history. I'm sort of getting to a point. And that is the harder and longer you work hard at something, the more you will appreciate the work you're doing now. I like to put things in perspective. Do I hate when my Creative Director kills my genius ideas? Um, yes. Is it still better than jumping up and down on top of rotten fruit and vegetables in a dumpster? Most definitely. Now if I had never had those difficult experiences early on... I'd probably be that lame ass coasting along in his job waiting till 5pm to clock out. Instead, I work for toward something great. Try to impress my self every now and then. Maybe even impress others...

"The harder and longer you work hard at something, you will find that the more you appreciate the work you're doing now."

In closing, I think starting to gain work ethic early on makes a big difference. So if your reading this and old enough to carry something. You should get a job.  And thank you Joseph Kelly's and all my past, present and future bosses that will make my life hell. You taught me one thing; that at the very least, nickname the shitty chores. "Dumpster Dance!"

(note - that is not me, but the act was quite similar)




Form Real Relationships with Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers

I wrote this awhile back and was recently published online at Target Marketing Magazine, but I wanted to share this on my blog as well as it's relevant and perhaps insightful. Thanks to @2FirstNamesPR and @HeatherReporter for making it happen!


Direct marketers and social media adventurists, both in large companies and as individuals, are often trying to find the value in Twitter followersOpens in a new window and Facebook friendsOpens in a new window. There is marketing outreach to extend your brand message, which requires a different type of connection with your audience. But can you replace the value of a real, personal connection digitally? If so, how far can we take a digital relationship before losing the personal connection altogether?

A handshake, business card, wave, high five, fist bump, conversation over coffee—these are all some of the truest forms of personal connection. A form of connecting that can't be duplicated. Social media tries, but it can't replicate the feeling of meeting someone face-to-face for the first time, one-on-one, mano-a-mano. You're curious and unsure of what to expect, and it's just a meeting over potential business. Do you get butterflies in your stomach when you follow someone new on Twitter or accept a friend request from Facebook? If you do, it's probably something you ate.

Most of us can agree that a personal relationship is stronger than a digital relationship. We share snapshots of our lives on Facebook and relevant links and videos on Twitter. That's pretty much the beginning of a friendship based on commonality. But most people feel very little emotion when they lose a follower on Twitter or are down a "like" on Facebook, which suggests that the real connection is missing in social media. Have we diminished the importance of the personal connection? Or have we just dragged our digital relationships in the mud for so long that they don't resonate anymore? Most likely, a little bit of both.

This is the challenge to marketers building digital relationships everywhere: Whether you are the largest brand or simply doing some personal branding, it's time to do a gut check. How well do you know the followers and friends you try to connect with every day? Get to know your social media followers beyond their Twitter profiles and Facebook information pages. Of course, this is much easier for the average person with a couple hundred followers and not as easy for a huge brand with thousands of followers and friends (now, that's a lot of coffee meet-ups!), but there are key steps that both can take toward connecting in a real way:

1. Start by taking a look at your followers as an audience. Are they from certain subsets of life? Maybe there are a number of bloggers or industry professionals? Within those groups, are there any who are key influential followers who you can build a beneficial relationship with outside of the digital world? If so, engage them!

2. Google their names. Read their Blog. Who are they? What do they do? Are they connected to an activity you share? Are they associated with an organization that you feel strongly about? Do they live nearby?

3. If they're local, ask them to meet for coffee. If they're not, ask them join you in a video chat (keep your pants on... or don't).

4. This isn't the moment for a sales pitch! Take the time to really get to know them as people, both personally and professionally. Talk about your mutual projects and interests. See where there's a cross section and potential areas for collaboration. Remember the age-old saying, "Scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours"—there's a reason it's still relevant. Is there anything you can help them with to start to build a real trust in this new relationship?

Are you starting to see what value you can get from a real-life connection? Hopefully, the answer is "yes." So the next time you find yourself a few followers or "likes" down, you'll realize the potential connections you may have lost.




Are You Not Entertained?!

I'm not in marketing anymore...I'm in the business of entertainment. I can't remember the last time I thought of an idea for an ad and didn't ask myself; "Is that entertaining to view/click/play?" Not that I shouldn't be asking that question as I wouldn't be asking myself that question if I didn't think the client would be thinking the same when viewing the ideas.  Does it have to entertain? Can't it just be? I used to think that the concept was most important if not at least the first thing I ask. I seem to be constantly challenging myself with holding on to some shred of artistic integrity by striving for that concept or at least the hope that the ad can evoke an emotional response. Alas, I give up. It not about art. Nope. It's about Entertainment.

I'm not in marketing anymore... I'm in the business of entertainment.

Could it be entertainment that drives us? That evokes us to click on something or dive deeper into a brand. I mean I hope it looks good. It helps when the typical person says "Way to-go designer person for making this entertaining thing I'm viewing not look stupid." Maybe all we care about is if it wastes are time brilliantly. Take for example the swarm of viral and flash mob ads that brands are doing. A day doesn't go by where I don't see a video of some singing/dancing bums on a subway in Chicago promoting Subway sandwiches or a video of some kid blowing up a cell phone in a microwave for Ericsson. And while I feel sad as the artistic nature of these ads seems to fall by the wayside, I am yet entertained enough to sit and watch and laugh or cry or just be appreciative that it kept me from doing real work for 3 mins. Damn you dancing babies! I wish we could change the question. Instead of "Does the ad entertain you?" it can be "Does the ad change you?"

Maybe all we care about is if it wastes are time brilliantly.

Some ads reach a level of awesome. Even those done in the viral space that seem to keep my hope alive for humanity. I think BMW was the first to do "viral with style" videos with the The Driver series. Followed by the recently genius of Old Spice and even the Skittles creative has been nothing short of amazing. But that perfection is difficult to achieve. The ability to Entertain and still keep you creative integrity. Is it possible for the client to understand this? Does the consumer care? Shit I hope so. Otherwise I'm ditching advertising and going straight over to Entertertaiment branding. As I'm pretty sure Sony Pictures and Fox gave up on the idea of creative a long time ago to soley focus on weather or not it entertains. Which is fine if your selling tickets to a movie that has a shelf life of 2 weeks and hoping enough idiots see it opening weekend (raising my idiot hand).

Instead of "Does the ad entertain you?" it can be "Does the ad change you?"

Brands should be more elevated. Walk with your head high. Demand art. Not shiitake mushrooms. If there was a moment in film that sums up the folly of consumer entertaiment nicely... I go straight to the Ridley Scott classic "Gladitor".





The Get-a-way

Work gets crazy. Hell, life gets crazy. Which makes me a bit crazy. It's a viscous cycle. Non-the-less its enevitable. Things will spiral a bit out of your comfort zone and even the most stress adapt person will crack. I consider myself a master of stress. I typically own that shit. I frequently look stress in the eyes and call it my bitch. Pressure. Same deal. Bring it. Last few weeks though stress hit me with a blind donkey punch to the back of the head. What. Just. Happened. I'm looking at my self in the mirror. Why would the world shit on my week? I needed to spring into action. Drop kick that monster pressuring me to make bad decisions, worse creative, and a terrible attitude. Enter the Get-a-way.

"Drop kick that monster pressuring me to make bad decisions, worse creative, and a terrible attitude."

New business pitch. House being fumigated. Mac Pro ate shit. Space shuttle Discovery's last launch. Haven't worked out in 2 weeks. I got 99 problems (Jay-Z style). But wait...what's this... a giant winter storm is coming. Grrreeeaaat (sarcastic tone). Then it hit me, like a sack of bricks on my nuts face. Time to book a cabin in the woods and get the hell away from the bad shenanigans. Bear Mountain is only 2 hours away. Giant snowstorm coming. Snowboard dialed in. Cabin Booked. Later world.

Bailing early on Friday and driving away with a specific finger pointed toward the building I work at, I head up to the mountain for the weekend. Dodging the knuckleheads in civics and scions with no chains on I finally get to my cabin getaway. The snow is dumping. I start a giant fire. Pour a glass of bourbon. Turn on some Sufjan Stevens and relax. It's awesome.

"Pour a glass of bourbon. Turn on some Sufjan Stevens and relax. It's awesome."

The next few days are filled with some epic snowboarding in 3 feet of freshies. Hit the slopes early. Bail at lunch. Rest. Then strap the board back on for some night runs. Note to self... back country at night is not smart. But a little danger is why we do it. Some great friends come visit and stay for a night of laughing and drinks. Back on the slopes early Sunday. It's amazing out. Blue skies that go forever. Pristine snow. It's like heaven. Best part... no work. No worries. No problems.

The next best part. I'm staying Sunday night too. One more night of serenity. One more night of paradise in the woods. I wake up to the fire still smoldering. Make a pot of coffee and pretend for a hour that I don't need to drive back to reality. Then I realize something awesome. Reality doesn't suck. I work in the great field of advertising. Live in the beautiful Laguna Beach. Just last weekend I was out sailing in 80 degree weather. This weekend snowboarding. Who does this? I do. Huzzah!

"Reality doesn't suck."

I'm back. Confidence is charged. Stress is my bitch. Deadlines are about to get pwnd. All I needed was to get a way or maybe a Getaway. Both work.




Place of Zen

Most of us in a creative field have one. It's that place you go to, to solve those problems you can't by sitting in front of your computer. An area that lets you clear your head of distraction and just think.... creatively. Let's call it the "Place of Zen" or even could be a "Chair of Awesome Thoughts".

I'm going to share my Place of Zen. Although I'm a little timid to do so, as I fear once I share this magic place every asshole in the area will start going there and it will no longer become my place of zen but den of douchebags. But alas, this blog is sort of dependent of my experiences... so brace yourself.

Once a week. Sometimes more. I manage to clear my morning of stupid meetings and walk from my humble abode in Laguna Beach to a somewhat hidden gem cafe. Madison Square Garden Cafe. It's nestled off PCH in what I like to call the art gallery row in North Laguna. What makes this a hidden gem is the fact that it looks like your grandma's house in the country with antique decorations hanging all over the place and in the garden. From the front you don't even realize it's a cafe, so the average tourist will just walk on by to the greasy spoon Cottage next door.

The best part is the garden out back. It's secluded from the world. It's giant trees and large fence block out all the sound from all the assholes driving the loud ass muscle cars and Harley's down PCH. In this garden are trinkets and weird objects and statues hanging and placed in unique places throughout. It's like being in a not scary Tim Burton garden. Bascially it's food for the creative brain to have so many interesting things to stare at...some even stare back.

My routine starts with ordering a coffee or Cappacino and the bagel with lox. I find my little nook in the garden and sit down with a good people watching view. I bust out the moleskine (yes, I'm hipster like that) and prepare for the ideas to flow. Some days the ideas are brilliant, most days they are just ideas on paper. But the only distractions are the ones in my mind. No computer, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instant messaging, perhaps the occasional email read... but few compulsive distractions. I'm in my Place of Zen.

Now not everyone is lucky enough to live in 75 degree and sunny weather next to a garden paradise cafe. But your place of zen doesn't have to be fancy. I recently read an article on about finding your creative armchair. They say to get up out of your office chair and find your armchair to do your creative thinking. I love that idea. Every office should have a great lounge areas for people to go and unplug. If you have a minute check click over. It's a great read. Better written and has similar points to what you just read here.

Now that I've shared by Place of Zen, I hope you fools will stay away from it. Although I encourage everyone to find there own place where you can get away and just think.

A few tips:

1. Make sure it's close. You don't want to have to make too much of an effort to go.

2. Don't go too often. You want it to feel special everytime you go. So don't wear it out like your favorite T-shirt.

3. Don't bring the laptop. Bring the notebook. Writing things down makes it real and an idea your more likely to keep thinking about.

4. Avoid the smart phone withdrawals. The longer you can go with out checking your phone the better. I think I went 15 minutes once... started to feel nauseous. Until I checked Facebook.

So interwebs... what's your Place of Zen or special Armchair?




Life in Pause - Epiphany!?!

The holidays are over… most of us are back to the grind. No more eggnog and Bourbon at 11 am. No more catching up with old friends and cradling the newborn additions to the family. Was it a good week off? Yes. And not just from work either, but also perhaps a break from our digital life. Rarely did I look at Twitter or Facebook. Even fewer times did I read my daily Blogs and nerd sites. Hell, I didn’t even watch Hulu! It was as if my entire digital life was on pause.

What’s strange is that I didn’t even miss it. Or rather I didn’t need it. All of my time was spent re-building old relationships. Then before long, I found myself back at work catching up with my digital relationships on Twitter and Facebook and it made me wonder…How far can we take a digital relationship before loosing the personal connection?

As direct marketers we are often using social media to get someone to click on a link, share content, and hopefully go where we want them too. So it’s not a stretch to say that social media is the truest; or rather the closest form of personal relationships in the digital realm. For, in personal relationships we also share tidbits that we think are relevant. Yet somehow it seems more personal. Why? Is there a point where we will need to re-build digital relationships like we do real ones? I think so.

The things that drive digital followers away probably aren’t the same as those that drive our real friends away. Not agreeing on Obama’s Health Care initiative for example isn’t a friendship ender for your personal friends, but it might be for your digital friends (I’m neutral). There are instances where we can push the limits of our digital content - really see what people put up with and what will drive them to follow you, or your brand. This is not un-like a real friend. We’ve all experienced conflict in our personal relationships. For better or worse, those usually end up having a stronger bond for it.

So, I dare say to my fellow digital marketers and social media adventurists: re-build your digital relationships. Then make them personal, and push the limits of your content. Sure, you might loose a few, but I guarantee you gain a more relevant new friends and even evangelists.

Don't believe me? Well Stefana Broadbent is smarter than me and she agrees in this TED Talk on How the Internet Enables Intimacy (below).




Innovation is Key - Behold A New Green File Format!

Here's my quick rant on innovation. Personally I think innovation for any brand/company is what will rise those to the top of their competitors. I could go on and talk about Apple and how much they spend on R&D and how no one can seem to catch up to their products in under 3 years. I could even talk about Victors & Spoils who is changing the way agencies are run. But I'm going to assume your smart and realize what I'm saying makes sense. If your confused as to what I mean by smart, please read this before reading any further here.

Now on to the great idea that warranted me throwing up words on a website. WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) is a global environmental conservation organization. Basically its something like 5 million people globally trying to make a dent in the raping and pillaging of natural resources that the rest of us do. Don't worry I bundle myself in the raping and pillaging group. After all I drive a gas guzzling 2002 Range Rover. I'm pretty much sticking a middle finger up at the ozone everytime I drive that beast. But that doesn't diminish how much I respect the hard work the people at WWF do to stop jerks like me. Which leads me to the innovative way WWF finally got me to care... which was by creating a new digital file format called .wwf that is simply a PDF that cannot be printed out on those evil tree killing printers.

Did your head just explode? Cause mine kinda did just typing it. Seriously why didn't this come up sooner?! It's simple. It works. It's a way to avoid unnecessary printing. You can download the software save your document as a WWF below and try it for yourself. Which you should do now!

 It works. I tried it already by sending it to every account person in my office. No doubt pissing off everyone. Success.

 Now there are no doubt some of you thinking... "Dude, that's stupid. Sometimes I want to print things out and read it!" or "Man, no one will use that because it doesn't work on my iphone or ipad or Crackberry!" There are lots of good arguments out there that hold wait as to why this doesn't quite work on a large scale. But I'd agrue that the point isn't really for people to use it on a daily basis, but to get enough people use it so they may think twice before printing when they do get a normal PDF. Perhaps one day soon this idea does get legs and somehow gets enough people behind it to decide that their should be iphone apps that will read the new .wwf format. Or maybe it will just educate enough people to save a few billion tree's that week. That's one more year of oxygen in the life span of Earth. Huzzah!

Wether or not your pro environment or drive a Ozone death car like me. You have to appreciate the great and simple innovation of creating a new file format that prevents printing. Check out the video below for a quick rundown of how the software works. Then go download it and send it off if only to piss off the account whinnies. 

Hell yes! WWF you are killing it.