Nov 29, 2011

24. Things We Learned

The finish line is quickly approaching for us, Deb Morrison's Creative Strategist students. Projects, blogs, papers, and tests are throwing us into a triple-shot-coffee-instead-of-sleep zombie like state. Anyone would be hard pressed to walk through the University of Oregon's campus and find even one pair of eyes without luggage under them (I say luggage because bags don't cut it, I'm talkin' your headed to Paris for Fashion Week and bring any fashionable item you've ever owned luggage).

So lets take a moment to recap the learning and generosity moments. Here we go, in no particular order:

1. Brands are the metaphysical construct, while products are tangible things.

2. An example of building brands to do better: Haagen Dazs - Save the Honeybees.

3. Scott Bedbury rocks our world and tells us about how he rebranded Starbucks and Nike, among others, and for this he deserves a small sub folder.
     a. "When it is as good as it gets when it can't get any better, what does it look like?"
     b. Any function in a business is a mix of art and science.
     c. The dangers of pre-testing ads, can lead to the perfectly unremarkable. Instead, ask people you trust and find out their problem with it.
     d. When we are genuinely interested and curious, we don't miss much, so be present.

4. Watching Jon Steel tell the world that we must bring out the best in other people, be useful, create simple solutions, feel comfortable with ourselves and our ideas, and constantly work to build our real world broad frame of reference.

5. Maria Scileppi tells us to add 5 interesting things/facts about ourselves at the bottom of our résumé that will provoke a story or question. Best advice. Thank you.

6. "I want to dig your chili."

7. Make sure to have an 'other life' outside of advertising (or at least 'other' hobbies) if you want to be interesting. Being interesting = job.

8. Tracy Wong visits (at 12:06. Oh ma Gohd.) wearing a baller watch and fuckin' hot shoes and lays out a 6 point plan for success. The first point being; 'your big fat fucking ego can hijack your career,' followed by DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE. The sixth point being, 'love your client like you love your dog.'

9. Kathy Hepinstall visits. Deb gets verklempt. Kathy tells us that creativity is an exchange of energy. If we can understand this, it will help us be better creatives, husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers. Also, kindness is an artistic medium. Be somebody good news in a creative way. Tells a funny story about setting up a tent at WK NY, which awarded her a tentwarming gift. I want to set up tents in random places.

10. Dave Allen visits. I take two pages of notes and draw a picture of his shoes and pants that says "everything from here up s grey, from pants to hair" (I think it's funny). He was the first person to talk with us about profits and the business side of advertising. The account people were happy. So was I. Explains that there has to be more than brand engagement to get the sale, besides, engagement is a fluffy word. Instead, strive for participation. The new 3P's: pique, provoke, participation. 

23. University of Oregon's Brand Story Changed

Today I was presented with a list of the 7 Things We Should Know. The 'we' in question, refers to the advertising students in University of Oregon's Creative Strategist class, taught by Deborah Morrison (akin to our God). We spent the majority of our two hour class talking about the first point, not necessarily because it was the best or the most important, but because it is the most relevant to our school's current situation; the firing of our President, Richard Lariviere.

1. Brand thinking is relationships, actions, purpose, living in the world, good business + growing opportunity.
Scott Bedbury, "A brand is a story that is always being told."

The University of Oregon is a brand, as much as some faculty and students may deny it. President Lariviere was selected two and a half years ago to come to the University as a change agent. The school wanted someone who would help break the old pattern of doing things and someone who would help the school grow in all senses. When the President began changing the long standing system of rules by giving raises to some professors and lobbying for independent funding and governing of the University, Oregon's governor, John Kitzhaber, lost confidence in him.

What does this say about our school's brand story? What does this say about our true willingness to change? As our professor expressed her frustration with the decision, she began to cry (and she's not a crier). Deb explained, clearly emotionally exhausted, that it doesn't make sense for Oregon's seven different schools, located in seven separate and very distinct towns, to be operated under the same government. Every university would function better with individual governments. From a branding perspective, this would allow schools to have control of their own brand statement, control of who they want to be, what they want to identify with, and who their target audience is.

A great brand is constantly evolving; adapting to its cultural environment and its consumers' needs. It is impossible to grow seven university brands, located in different environments and targeted at different consumers, using the same strategy for each. 

Until today, I had never cried in a classroom, but listening to Deb talk with such passion and conviction drove me to tears. Deb is herself a change agent and worked hard to build Texas Creative at UT Austin, one of the best university-based portfolio programs in the country. Since then, she has moved to the University of Oregon to help build a similar model around advertising. She has inspired thousands us to be better then we ever thought we could be and to work harder, not for the grade, but for ourselves. Lariviere was one of our only presidents that worked towards that same goal.

22. Patagonia Owns Transparency

(This post was also published on Scott Goodson's (CEO of StrawberryFrog), Uprising Movements blog) 

Brand reputations are built or lost on social media platforms, where people are empowered to express their opinion about a product. This process encourages an honesty moment, for a brand to acknowledge that they could do better and then start moving toward their promise. During a visit to our class, Scott Bedbury asked our generation to "bring honesty back to corporations," and I think we can. We are a generation that has learned to value transparency through the mistakes we've witnessed with brands like big banks and the Government. More valuable, we've learned how transparency can positively affect a brand's ability to gain consumer trust, build company culture, and improve social responsibility.

In a real honesty moment, Patagonia has developed an incredible tool, The Footprint Chronicles, that has allowed total transparency into their entire process. Simon Mainwaring, CEO of We First social branding consultancy and ex creative for Nike and W+K, spoke with Rick Ridgeway, the VP of environmental initiatives at Patagonia, about the brand’s new tool. The Footprint Chronicles was developed to help show customers the company’s sustainability efforts. By entering a code from their apparel, consumers can see exactly how and where the product was made, including how the designers develop clothes in California, to the factory workers in China. 

Ridgeway explained how the consumers “can see slideshows, videos and interviews of the people behind the product. But more importantly, these slides, videos and interviews discuss what is good about the product and what sucks.” Customers are wholeheartedly invited into the conversation about how to make the product better and ‘less traveled’ before it reaches the consumers’ hands. The brand thinking here, similar to the thinking behind the famous one-time-only Apple ad from 1984, is “Hey, look! We have an experience we want you to be a part of.” 

The genius lies in the brand’s complete honesty with the consumer about their product and the industry they are in. Patagonia states that the production process is harmful to the environment but the brand will alway push to do better. Ridgeway is frank about what’s great and what ‘sucks,’ “We’ll be able to tell you that when it’s all worn out you can bring it back for us to recycle. We’ll tell you how it suck to make this thing in China and ship it clear across the ocean. That’s not so cool.” Patagonia is building its brand to do better for the environment by constantly reinventing their products to be more eco-friendly. This in turn, will help the brand gain customers while winning trust points. Good job.

Nov 28, 2011

21. Are You F*cking Kidding Me?

I mean, really? Are you kidding me? Really? I found this video on The Village Voice which is smartly called; "99% interviews 1%" and shows two L.A. business men watching an Occupy L.A. rally from atop their downtown business tower. One of the men proudly boasts that he is a part of America's 1 percent. But here's the real bone crusher: he proceeds to ask if we have ever heard of anybody great that has come out of the 99 percent? 


When the interviewer, obviously following a similar thought pattern to mine, announces, "The Beatles," the suit holds up four fingers and reluctantly agrees, "There's four."

This could go one of two ways for the business man. 
1. This video could be followed by an awkward breakfast the next morning where his boss is forced to fire him for being so blatantly rude and unapologetic on camera in an attempt to clear any PR problems.
2. He receives a high-five from his boss and a few share holders, everyone orders a steak and life moves on. 

Below the video, someone comments:

How about Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Saint Francis of Assissi, Saint Bernard, Paul Newman, Alexander Hamilton, Robert Heinlein, Alvin York, Eddie Rickenbacker, Charles Lindbergh, Charles M. Russell, Admiral Chester Nimitz, Daniel Boone, President Andrew Jackson, Davie Crockett, Ambrose Bierce, Kirk Douglas, Danny Kaye, Jackie Gleason, Humphrey Bogart, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Crazy Horse, Geronimo, Hernando Cortez, Judah the Maccabee, Dr. Ignatius Semmelweiss, Thomas Edison, Rudyard Kipling, Daniel Webster, Golda Meir, David Ben Gurion, The Three Stooges, Halle Berry, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Robert E. Howard, Ella Fitzgerald, Mother Teresa, Larry Ellison, J. K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Robert Goddard, Werner von Braun, Harry Truman, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Napoleon Bonaparte...

Shall I go on?"

Well said. 

Nov 27, 2011

20. Who I Find

I love finding people. I especially love finding people on the street, but a grocery store or a vintage shop works too. I use the word 'find' because I'm always looking. Sometimes I'm armed with a camera and can record their faces or tell part of their story through my lens. Something about me lets people feel like they can tell me their secrets and stories. When I 'find' these people who want to tell me about their life, I want to hold on to them and soak up every detail before they leave. I've learned more then you'd believe from simply asking and listening. Really listening, not fake listening where it looks like I'm listening but I'm really thinking about what groceries I need to get, but rather proving that I'm interested by asking a provoking and insightful follow-up question.

That is my passion.

I talk to people on the street who I don't know and will probably never meet again. Being trapped on a bus makes it easier to connect, but the key to finding inspiration and a wonderful story is keeping your ears and eyes open. Literally. I rarely listen to my iPod while traveling or walking down the street and I'm constantly watching people and how they interact.

These are some of the people I've met:

Can you guess their stories?

19. What Turns Me On

My latest project focuses on the 'other' that inspires people in the ad community, an 'other' being any interest/job/hobby that isn't related to advertising. This project was born on my natural interest in people's 'other,' no matter their job title. Now, I've been thinking about what turns me on, what inspires me.

As a clear indicator, we can review my bookmarks:

1. Adweek: This isn't my most looked at bookmark, though some may argue it should be, but it is my most recently added, which is why it's first on this list. I visit for the latest in weird ads and interesting thoughts on branding.

2. Interview Magazine: Good for procrastination and edgy photos/interviews of celebrities by celebrities. The magazine, started by Andy Warhol, isn't afraid of showing some nipple or shooting in black and white. Their photos are perfectly edgy and their art, film and music sections boast the latest in beautiful stuff.

3. mb! Magazine: I've blogged about how wonderful and youthful this marketing-scheme-pretending-to-be-magazine is. It's the creation of Mercedes-Benz and targets the youthful and hipster-ish yet semi-wealthy community. The online mag is a source of inspiration and reflects on culture, art, music, travel, and of course, cars.

4. FoodNetwork: Goes well with cooking. Food is one of my true loves and I strive to try new recipes. Food* can easily inspire creativity.
*Really amazing succulent food

5. THE DEPARTMENT STORE: The site explains:"The Department Store is a modern take on the traditional department store experience... where one can experience the very best from the worlds of design, beauty, fashion, interiors." Well said. The store is run out of Auckland, New Zealand and inspires a new and more interesting way to dress.

6. Netflix: Because movies lead to ideas. Especially movies by Woody Allen.

7. The Selby: My slight obsession with this site and the photographer, Todd Selby, should be clear by now, as many of my posts mention The Selby or have been inspired by one of his posts. He travels the world to photograph the interiors of houses and their owners. Many of the houses are inhabited by the creative people that we dream of meeting and (at least if you're me) rummaging through their belongings (only the good stuff: art, music, jewelry, clothes, antiques). I'm not creepy. I'm curious.

8. W+K: I shouldn't have to explain this one.

9. Urban Blog: Urban Outfitters' blog has daily posts about cool fashion, people, music and art, even giving away free music every Monday. Yet again, it's another great example of participation and awareness among the company's target audience. Good job.

Things that aren't bookmarked, but play a big part in my life:

1. Homemade cookies: mostly chocolate chip or any with cream cheese frosting on top (the special heart attack inducing kind)
2. Dogs, cats, and turtles: turtles, the kind that swim in water and are illegal to own in most states, are awesome but smell horrible.
3. Mom+Dad: an example of an amazing relationship that has lasted over 25 years. Keep going you guys.
4. Boyfriend: an example of an amazing relationship that has lasted over 2 years. Keep going us.
5. The Greek Islands: they are the most amazing places I've visited with great food and interesting people.


Nov 26, 2011

18. Zara on Art and Fashion

(This post was also posted on Scott Goodson's blog, Uprising Movements, who is the founder of StrawberryFrog)

The Selby produced another beautiful video, this time for Zara, one of the largest international fashion companies, featuring Lucy Chadwick who runs a contemporary art gallery in NYC. She lives with her companion and lover, Duffy, who is a hairstylist and according to Lucy, "a general all around wonder-boy." She discusses how her experience with art has influenced her life as well as her work. The couple recently purchased an expansive barn in Upstate New York to use as an escape from the city and to get their hands dirty building something. Their goal was to tear down and rebuild the barn from the ground up.


The video pays homage to Zara's innovative work in the fashion industry, which stems from its focus on friendly stores, fabrics, transportation, employee eco-training, and even reaches the farms where animal products are only purchased from food farms, where animals are fully used after death. 

Aside from their extensive environmental policy, the company is also very culturally aware and artist environmentally ically present. Under events on their homepage, we can find galleries of photos and movies from around the globe that represent Zara's store presence in a new country. Their online gallery, Dear, America, is comprised of 50 photos from 50 states, celebrates Zara's US opening of their online shop.

The company has reached its current status because of its engagement with the art world, outside of clothing, and its rigorous environmental policy. This involvement helps gain brand respect and build brand awareness among the hip twenty-somethings around the world. Brands that integrate themselves into the young art culture, like Mercedes-Benz did with mb! magazine and Absolut Vodka with initiatives that support artists, are bound to grow faster while increasing earnings.

After creating awareness, Zara seals the deal by encouraging their (potential) consumers to engage with the brand through their project: PEOPLE! Through this tool, the company allows their consumers to create a profile and upload photos of themselves wearing an outfit comprised of at least two articles of Zara clothes from their most recent line. PEOPLE! then chooses their favorite outfits and posts them to their site every week and the published photographers receive 300 Euros for participating. They started a successful interactive social movement around a company. Well done, Zara.

Here are some of my favorite published PEOPLE! outfits:

Nov 22, 2011

17. The People and Stuff of Alex Stoltze

My recent trip to Wieden and Kennedy and North inspired me to share a bit about what inspires me. My group and I spent hours asking people we barely knew about what inspires them and how those things inspire their work. This question was usually met with, "Wow. Let's see. That's a loaded question," a deep sigh, and finally an answer. I have about a million things that inspire me that are and aren't related to advertising, so I can understand their initial reaction. 

Most of the things that inspire me and explain what makes me are found around my creative work space, my desk.

To some, the space may appear cluttered,  but I'd prefer to call it ordered chaos. Everything has a place, even if it's on top of something else. I like to be completely surrounded by creative energy.

I'm inspired by photography, especially analogue (the stuff of film), and study photography, which should be evident looking around my space. 

A few business cards I've collected + beautiful teeth bookmarks that David Sedaris (amazing author, please read him, it will make us both happy) gave me.

I collect piggy banks (I have more) when I travel, the one on the right is from a trip to Costa Rica. The rocks and shell are from a trip with my lover to Wisconsin. And by lover I mean boyfriend.

A mask that I purchased for my grandma while traveling in Spain. I later reclaimed it.

Grace Coddington, the Creative Director for Vogue Magazine, signed the September issue when I briefly met her in NYC during Fashion's Night Out. I like to consider us close friends. As for the dog: who doesn't love Andy Warhol?

I took this photo of an old woman on a deserted street of Mexico.

I wish I could steal every old photo of my parents when they were my age.

Creepy children, cool frame?

A collection of photos from the 60s and 70s that I purchased from a thrift store. The photo below is one of my favorites. The third photo in from the left was taken in Vietnam during the war.

Yet again, something I took from my grandma's house but the cow hide rug is old and beautiful and represents their California-Ranch-meets-Nordstrom's style.

The take-away: everything has a story. When you surround yourself with them, they will inspire you. Also, Grandma's are a great source of stories, love, and cool old things.

Nov 20, 2011

16. The People and Stuff of Wieden+Kennedy and North.

Friday's schedule. 11.18.11

6:30a: attempt to wake up
6:47a: actually wake up
6:48-8:10a: eat eggs, drink coffee, try to dress casually hip with appropriate accessories
8:11a: depart Eugene with two class mates to produce a documentary
8:19a: realize that I forgot cookies I made the night before for participants. Shit. Can't turn around.
9:55: stop at grocery store to buy cookies to give participants
10:30a: arrive at North early, first time I've ever arrived early to anything ever. Well done. Proceed to wait for 15 minutes for Dave Allen, director of insights and digital media, to get out of meeting. Arrived too early. Looked at books.
10:45-11:20a: tour of North, led by Dave. Screwed around with camera and sound system of video devices.

11:21-2p: filmed interviews with the interesting people of North and learned about what inspired them. Tried to bribe with cookies. Were willing to work for no cookies. Played with dogs. Kept asking Mark Ray, chief creative, to be filmed (not knowing it was Mark Ray), consistently denied, sorry Mark.
2:01-2:10p: did a happy dance about amazing people we met at North. Packed up camera gear. Drove to Wieden and Kennedy.
2:10p: met Darcie Burrell, copy writer, and Nicole Karalekas, non traditional creative, in lobby next to a giant wooden Beaver (the animal, not the other kind)
2:21-2:p: took in the people and dogs of WK and screwed around with camera equipment again

2:01-4p: talked to the folks of WK about what inspired them, looked at more dogs
4:01-9:30p: packed up, wished we didn't have to leave, procrastinated leaving, walked around Portland, actually left
9:31p: arrived back in Eugene, wished we lived in Portland

The goal of this trip was to find out what ad folks' 'other' is and how it affected how/if they got their job. Someone's 'other' is anything, job/hobby/interest, that is not related to advertising. Wow, did we get some fabulously exotic answers! The end result will be a short documentary that we will share with you and hope that you will share with your closest 1,000 friends on twitter, facebook, youtube, blogs, really whatever you want, as long as it truly inspired you. The film will be released on December 6th. Get ready!

Nov 12, 2011

15. David Ewald # 1.

My usual pre-interview research about my latest victim, David Ewald, lead to total confusion rather than clarification. LinkedIn showed that David Ewald is a creative director (with a focus in design) at Uncorked Studios in Portland while another David Ewald on LinkedIn is a freelance creative and art director and Design Director at Fiction in Portland. They both work for PDX advertising agencies and both have a strong knowledge about design but attended different colleges. Uncorked Dave has a fun photo while Fiction Dave has no photo but much more of his profile completed. My first thought being; this guy really needs to get his LinkedIn accounts synced up.

When I eventually chatted with David and asked him about his experience at Carnegie Mellon University, I was met with laughter and an explanation that there are in fact two David Ewalds living in Portland working in the ad industry. Apparently I wasn't the first person to get them confused, there was even an Ignite Portland presentation given by the author, humorist and musician, Hugh Gallagher, entitled Night of Dave Ewalds:

With that said, I spoke with Dave Ewald number 1 (aka: Uncorked Dave).
My new goal: Talk to David Ewald #2. If anyone knows this David Ewald and can help me get in touch with him for a possible chat for my blog, I'll buy you lunch and/or send you a thank you card!

He began at a small Minneapolis firm with a name I love: Ham in the Fridge, on their Target account (though he truly got his start designing for his high school yearbook). During his time there he designed the Target History Museum. What? First of all, I had no idea that was even a thing. Who's visiting this museum? According to Dave, it's actually very cool and contains amazing relics of products that Target carried during its beginnings in 1902 under the name Dayton Dry Goods Company. The architecture company that Target had originally hired wasn't quite bringing the 'wow factor' to the table. After reviewing the digital websites Ham in the Fridge built, and how smoothly the sites flowed and their easy navigation, they had to hire the design firm. Dave ended up heading the project and loved designing a real interactive space.

Eventually, after landing in Portland, he started his own music label; Motorcoat which was successful for a small time among his musician friends. The experience allowed him to blend his loves of music and design.
"It was the dumbest financial move and the greatest life move." -Dave
So far, his life seems amazingly fun and completely random, which only made him more interesting to talk with.

To break up all this writing, might I share my two favorite photos that Dave has tweeted (accompanied by his Twitter comments):

"Lady walking her cat through airport on leash. I think this could be the start of an interesting week."

"Another reminder of why I should always carry a real camera with me. Pure class."

Okay, now we can carry on.
It only get more random from here: David was also an intern for the cooperate offices of Regis Hair Salon, where he created Flash animations (one of his favorite things to do) for the giant TV monitors that lived in the display windows of the salons. What a bazaar thing to have on a resume (especially for someone who eventually spent time within the walls of Wieden and Kennedy).

Eventually, he landed at Nemo in Portland and then spent a short time at Wieden where he worked as a Senior Digital Designer on the Nike Golf account. He was able to practice one of his favorite hobbies, photography, on the set of a Nike Golf shoot featuring Tiger Woods. (He told me Tiger was very nice.) He initially took the photos for his own enjoyment, but once they landed in the hands of the producer and director, a few of his shots landed in the final campaign spread. 
These are some of my favorites (the rest can be found on his site):

Though he loves photography, and is clearly talented, he told me that it is too competitive of a career for him. Of being on the set, he explained that, "If you look like you belong there, then you belong there." He wasn't initially supposed to be on set, but he decided that it would be best for the designer to be present (and he is probably right).

"I don't have the gift of people liking," he said, but he does have the ability to pop in and out of places that he wants without being noticed while simultaneously looking likes he belongs there.

His advice: "Adapt to whatever tools are in place. Things change and if you're not willing to change too, you won't go far." + "If you plan everything and you're not willing to adapt, then you won't go far." Very true. We millennials would know that better than anyone.

His fear: Technology is moving so fast that once you've learned it, it's no longer relevant.

Dave likes:
Poke (where Ian Tait, Global Interactive Executive Creative Director for W+K came from)

Thanks David Ewald #1!