Wednesday, December 31, 2008

9 Premonitions For '09

Now that I have a blog it will be much easier to see if any of these come through. Happy New Year everyone. 


9) Barack Obama will continue to innovate government communications with integrated branding and new media ideas, but will fail to appoint me to his cabinet as Secretary of Branding after several of my repeated requests.

8) Sometime after Spring Break '09, the brand managers at Pepsi will stop mixing whiskey in their drinks and realize what they've done to their identity. It's going to be a hell of a hangover.  

7) wii and twitter form a partnership titled twiittiiwt.

6) Blagojevich will declare Illinois' independence from the union. 

5) Brand managers will finally recognize the print campaign they developed in '08 didn't shift their customers beliefs. 

4) The Blackhawks event at Wrigley will be the largest single sporting event uploaded to flickr in '09. 

3) Ideas will become bigger as teams get smaller. 

2) I will tweet early and often.

1) Google will evolve their brand identity. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Keeping It Simple

This is a great piece of motion graphics work + music that I came through my twitter stream. If you have a minute or two to load go to:


Audio/The American Dollar

Director/Kasper Verweij

Design & Animation/Menno Fokma, Harm van Zon, Reinier Fleas, Heerko Groefsema, Kasper Verweij, Rogier Hendriks

Post/Rogier Hendriks


Friday, December 26, 2008

Social Distortion

After browsing through a handful of agency blogs and reading the year end reviews it's pretty clear that almost every shop is trying to figure out how to leverage social media for their clients. I was more heavily involved with social media a couple of years ago and there was an underlying tension between agencies and clients because nobody couldn't really agree on how to use it. Not only was it literally changing by the day, most agencies were still figuring out how to integrate online and offline initiatives. But as I sit here with my iPhone downloading apps to make my mobile life more fluid you can feel the shift that social media is making into everyday communication and (brand) relationships. 

These three trends from the OgilvyPR blog ( connect the social media engagement into tangible results.

- In crowdsourcing, My Starbucks Idea reported receiving over 75,000 suggestions since its inception in early 2008; the company has implemented several of those including complimentary wi-fi at stores

- In microblogging, Dell Outlet reported selling over $500,000 in refurbished items through Twitter promotions

- In applications, Acuvue reported greater brand awareness and an 18% sales lift in the quarter following the introduction of a creative corporate Facebook application: Acuvue Wink

Even the local deli is getting into the social media game and I particularly enjoyed Dan Shust's blog entry about Twittering Pastrami.

A spin on the 4P's that I thought was relevant for social media I came across on Mark Stinson's blog ( Mark suggests extending the "4P's" idea into Personal support. This is one area I think social media can play a huge role in connecting with customers beyond the typical (and reactive) customer service call center. 

If everything in social media is happening too fast for you Big Spaceship does a great job of taking a step back and looking at the big picture: "Way back when, email was scary too. Maybe in the near future, social media will be thought of as just another office tool." Read the full entry at:

Until then you can follow me at

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Whopper Virgins Mirror

It's a taste test but who cares about the winner in this contest. The Whopper Virgins idea is the most authentic piece of advertising I've seen in awhile and by far the most interesting idea ever to come out of burger culture.  

There's been a lot of negative comments about this campaign ranging from "Those poor people. I bet their stomachs exploded soon after eating those things and woke up the next day craving hamburgers. Thumbs down for CP+B."  to "Why don’t they bring along a little smallpox while they’re at it…"

This campaign isn't about taking advantage of third world cultures or some bizarre global expansion strategy. It's not even about taste! It's about 1 thing: Making Burger King relevant again by getting people talking about it. In this they have succeeded based on all of the noise in the media about it. 

But for me, the real genius of this is how it introduces the idea of discovery and understanding through authentic cultural exchange. Not only did BK take our culture to other parts of the world, they are allowing us peek into cultures many of us aren't familiar with even though it's just a commercial. American society is so preoccupied with itself that we're oblivious to just about every other culture on the planet. We often believe that everyone is just like us. And why not? We're the greatest aren't we?

For better or worse this piece forces us to look at ourselves and take stock in what kind of culture we've created and/or forced onto other parts of the world. It forces us to think about how other people may view our culture and just how foreign we can appear in a different context. It forced me to think where the hell is that guy going to put that wrapper we just gave him? Will it end up in the ocean? Where have I been putting wrappers all of these years? 

These individuals should look curious and confused just like we would be if we were eating seal meat for the first time. I don't think it's designed to exploit them, rather to hold up a different mirror to our own culture. But the underlying point is we need to be aware and open others so that we can have a better understanding of our neighbors whether they live next door or live on another continent. It's everything Obama's been saying! 

Part of this "exchange idea" comes through during the Thailand scene when they show the Americans dining on the other cultures food. They even give you a nice close up of the dish that would typically be reserved for the burger "product as hero" sequence of a typical commercial. Everybody is sharing and it's a two way street. I especially like the last interview and the gentleman revealing he "likes seal meat better." It's a great ending and more importantly it's real. 

So thumbs up to Crispin Porter + Bogusky for letting us have it our way and bringing some other ways to us. 


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sol Sender

An interview with Sol Sender. Much more insight to the work and the phenomenon than the New Yorker post from the other week. 



The List

Other bloggers seem to have lists all about them. As I was thinking about it, I realized, if I were to put a list together, some of my closest friends paid pals might learn something new. Let alone all my millions my three other blog reading friends. Since I'm 35 years old, this is my list of 35 things about me that you may or may not know (or want to know).

1. I was born on the south side of Chicago. As a kid, I lived in Orland Park. The White Sox are the baseball team I cheer for.

2. I have a very typical nuclear family: 2 parents, 1 younger brother. Growing up, we didn't have a dog, but we did have a white shit brown picket fence. My parents have been married for 40 years.

3. I lived for 3 1/2 years in Columbus, Ohio. I learned a lot there. Maybe too much.

4. I bought a guitar when I was 14 against my parents orders. I wanted to play like Eddie Van Halen. I met Eddie once. I still can't play like Eddie.

5. The first time I got drunk... never mind. 

6. I still am in contact with several childhood friends.

7. I had two reoccurring anxiety driven dreams as a child. The first was being abducted by the Incredible Hulk. The second was riding my big wheel off a cliff.

8. My father was an engineer and my mother a counselor. I'm an art director + designer in the branding industry. Go figure.

9. My grandmother is 86 and has smoked for 70+ years. I don't smoke but I'm considering starting. 

10. After high school I had no direction in my life whatsoever so I went to Illinois State University because some of my friends were going there. Luckily I fell in love with Graphic Design and it all worked out. 

11. An ex-girlfriend once told me that I'll bend over backwards for a perfect stranger but I abandon the people I'm closest too. I hated to admit it, but at the time she was right. I try to bend over backwards for everyone now.

12. One of my favorites movie lines is from Caddy Shack: Thank you very little.

13. I'm addicted to tomatoes and tomato based products.

14. When I saw E.T. for the first time I cried at the end.

15. I know one person from China. I met him in Ohio. He's probably the most incredibly gifted artist I'll ever know. I've had the privilege of regularly drinking beer with another successful artist in Ohio who I secretly idolize. I know another artist from Ohio who still owes me money. I met a lot of very talented artists in Ohio.

16. I'm 5'11. 

17. I don't have any stupid human tricks that would get me on Letterman. However, I once was able to change a tire in under 30 seconds when I was a tire tech. 

18. I've lived without a TV for the last 5 years.

19. I went to Rome by myself after college to see the art that I learned about first hand. Some people think it's weird that I went there by myself. I think it's weird that people don't do the things they want to do.

20. I've dated a wide variety of women in my life but women with cats are deal breakers. Even smart, rich, beautiful women with cats. I tried. 

21. I started taking violin lessons when I was 7. I stuck with it through 11 and I quit because I was the last boy left in Orchestra. One day, when I have more time, I'd like play it again. While I'm at it I'd like to learn the piano too.

22. I've never been to New York to see The Apple drop at midnight. I have been to Clinton, Ohio on New Year's Eve to see the Muskie drop at midnight. 

23. At 12 years old I realized that my childhood was officially over after entering Disney Land with my parents. Even though I was far from home I didn't want anyone to see me with them.

24. I'm lefty. I once was told that there's something attractive about the way I protectively cradle a pen in my hand. I've also been told there's something wrong with me because I'm lefty.

25. I have never completed a triathlon or marathon. I did run the quarter mile consistently in high school in under 60 seconds and a mile in college consistently under 5 minutes. I will do a marathon at some point in my life. 

26. I hate being in a car.

27. During my high school years, I remember having a tortureous jalapeno pepper eating contest with some friends. It was one of the most amazing events I've ever witnessed.

28. I'm have no formal training in architecture and urban planning but I'm fascinated with both subjects.

29. I don't wear glasses. 

30. I once lived in a house for 2 years without a kitchen. I was too busy with my career to care.

31. I'm not sure what role religion plays in my life. I'm discovering that it probably should play a role.

32. At 35 I'm finally realizing that I'm not in my 20's anymore.

33. It makes me crazy when people confuse activity for progress. 

34. One of my favorite memories in life so far has been driving down PCH 1.

35. I hope I can write a list that goes to 100 someday. 

Friday, December 19, 2008


SlideShare is a networking service that allows users to share presentations across the web. Below is a sample presentation that I created as a test to layer into other web applications.

Killer Copy

I've always enjoyed reading through branding agencies materials to see how they sell themselves. It also gives you a view into their belief system. This copy sample from Sandstrom is one of the better examples I've seen of describing what they do and how they do it:

"Sometimes a client will come to us with an extremely well-established identity in need of reevaluation and/or refreshing. Sometimes they'll come to us with an idea for a new brand–like, say, flushable diapers. In either case, we approach a brand's corporate identity from a holistic, systematic and idea-centric perspective. Everything emanates from the one overarching idea that drives the brand–the reason for its existence in the first place. We generally try to get agreement on that before we explore specific marks or typography or color. Everything should exist for a reason, not just because the CFO's wife likes teal. Don't get us wrong, we love a good teal now and then and we're sure Muffy has exquisite taste. But if logic and aesthetics got into a fight, we think logic would kick aesthetic's aesthetic."

Copy like this makes me want to go out and kick some serious aesthetics. 

See more at:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Ambirams

An appropriate creative idea for the holidays from Nikita. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Personal Branding

I had the opportunity to work on David Armano's team for a brief period of time. I was amazed at his clear insight into very complex situations and his ability to illustrate solutions into concepts that entire teams could act on. The presentation below is an example of David's clear perspective on new media and brands.