Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What Every Student of Advertising vs. Advertising Student Should Read.

I am forever looking for the best "reading" opportunities for my students that will benefit their long-term planning.

Part of my teaching approach is to re-tool their approach or change the way they view what they are actually doing. The change starts by looking at becoming "Students of Advertising" versus the way they have been learning to date, being a "fill in the blank... student". There is a significant difference once this is understood.

On the Advertising Age website section dedicated to the next generation of AdLanders, called "Gen>Next", there are two peices caught my eye during this Christmas Break period and I wanted to share them with as many of my students and others out their who often ask themselves how can the "pay it forward" to Gen>Next".

First came the piece form posted by Alex Kniess titled, "The 5 Most Valuable Things I Did in College to Help My Career".

This is an excellent post detailing how Alex made the most of every opportunity presented to him. Everything he did during his time at the University of Oregon was used to build his confidence, knowledge and most important skills that would lead to securing his first job. Most things were not always related to getting a job or actually seeking a job. He breaks it down to 5 five things that all contribute to getting a job... 

He explains how five simple things you can do to get what you are seeking, they are:
Got Involved early.
Accepted Every Challenge.
Make Friends With Your Professors.
Worked at the Student Agency.
Have fun.
Not everyone finds getting involved easy when entering college. You need to be eager and hungry. Get involved right away. Just like in the real world, opportunities in college tend to build off one another. So take advantage. The sooner you start building your skills, the better equipped you will be to capitalize on opportunities as they come up.

You may feel under-qualified for everything at first, but you need have willingness to accept challenges and push myself outside my comfort zone. If you're not learning something new then you're not growing. And if you're not growing, then you're dying. This was something my early mentor Ken Coleman taught me and my first Creative Director Doug Williams at Creative Associates in Calgary instilled as a daily mantra.

I try to make all my lectures interesting and hope deliver something new each time. But get to know us, we will be committed to as you as you are committed to yourself. I often am asked about favoritism, yup... guilty! I have my favorites and hold no shame in that, but it is simple, "show me you want it and there isn't anything that I won't do for you. I throw the lesson plan out the window, challenge my students to better students of not just advertising, but of life. I may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I am not here to be popular or for your entertainment. I love advertising and I want you to love it also.

Not every school offers the experience of working with real money and real clients on real campaigns but if they do take every step you can be involved, it is the best prep experience you can have.
If you don't enjoy what you doing while in school, then you're missing the point. And if you're not having fun preparing for your career, then maybe it's not the career for you. I remember the words of Alex Bogusky when I hosted him for lunch with my students here in Toronto. He put it so simple to my future AdLanders; "Find something you love and enjoy, and you'll never work a day in your life". Okay, Alex didn't originate the quote but hearing it from someone so humble and inspiring it makes you wonder... has Alex ever really worked a day in his life?. Seems like he is having a lot fun.

The second piece posted by Adrienne Waldo titled, "Don't Wait for Your Sensei to Come to You" is an interesting read on finding what there is true shortage of "The Mentor".

There is no exact value of a mentor when starting in this business. Having that someone to give you career advice, show you the ropes and be sounding board for all those questions, but you need to know mentors aren't going to show your doorstep, you gotta go and find one. Sure, some schools and companies have programs in place that match you with a mentor, but is the fit going to be exactly what you want or expect?

Here are some questions that Adrienne thinks you must ask yourself when seeking out that mentor or personal guru:
Is this person doing what I hope to be doing one day?
Do I look up to this person and respect his or her work?
Will this person help me get to the next level?
You want to find someone who will give you advice, respect you enough to give you challenging work, push you to be better but most important, they need to be honest with you,.. and you need to be honest with them.

Make sure your mentor embodies those values. There is no "perfect mentor", goodness knows once i found mine, it was magic... but it wasn't love at first sight.

Scott Goodson of StrawberryFrog post a great piece on "Mentoring" on his blog earlier this year. I recommend you read it. He has been a great inspiration to me since I first heard him speak several years ago on his agency and its principal of creating "Cultural Movements". He is "game changer", and he created a change in the way I approached teaching and the direction I have taken my program.

I strongly recommend if you haven't read my other posting on what you need to succeed in this crazy business, take a minute.

What Every Advertising Student Should Watch - Advertising Portfolio 101 with Alex Bogusky & Tiffany Kosel of CP+B

MIA. Nope Just Been Busy... Student Industry Invasion. Chuck Porter. End of the Semester!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

RPA. File Them Under Fu@king Creative Brilliance. Honda 2010 CroosTour Spots and Musical Road by RPA

Well one of things that always excites me is great innovation in advertising.

Animation is always at the top of many of the recent "File Under Fu@king Brilliant" pieces... but these two spots are just the beginning of what I hope will introduce you to one of "game changer" agencies out there. RPA of Santa Monica, California.
These two spots for the the 2010 Honda CrossTour do an amazing job of bringing together a wonderful soundtrack and brilliant and an innovative animation style.

The Boxes Spot:

Creative Director: Pat Mendelson
Writer: Seth Prandini
Art Director: Chuck Blackwell
Director: Andy Hall

Instruments Spots:

Creative Director: Pat Mendelson
Art Director: Chuck Blackwell
Copywriter: Seth Prandini
Director: Andy Hall

Both spots were created by RPA of Santa Monica, California. RPA is a full-service, independently-owned advertising agency founded in 1986 by Gerry Rubin and Larry Postaer.
RPA has flown under my radar, but they won't be for much longer. Their work is nothing short brilliant.

They currently employs approximately 500 associates. RPA based in Santa Monica, it also has offices in Portland, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and Moorestown, NJ and in 2007 they billed in excess of $1 billion dollars ranking fifth in revenue among U.S. independent advertising agencies.

RPA recently created a brilliant "engagement" ambiant piece that I am still has me shaking my head. Sure, earlier this fall the YouTube video that caught everyone's attention was the VW Musical Stairs "Fun Theory" from Sweden. I see that as brilliant... I recall one of my favorite LP titles (remember them... long before the CD) as a youth was from REO Speedwagon, "You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish". Well, damned if this piece of creative brilliance doesn't ask the question, "You Can Tune A Set of Stairs, but How Do You Tune A Road?"

The piece simply put is a game changer. What more can be said.

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Honda "Grooves" TV spot. Part 1 of a series of 5 available on YouTube.

The Civic has always been about connecting drivers to the road. They sure know their 1 + 1 = 3

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five:

BTW... a must visit is their website, it's pretty awesome too!

UPDATE!!! Thinking of Drinking and Driving? Deflate the Elephant!


I posted a piece on December 27th regarding the recent LCBO "Deflate the Elephant" campaign and I believe now that intent and context was not as clear as I intened. So I am posting today an apology and clarification. 

I wish to extend a full sincere and deep apology for any misunderstanding my blogpot has caused DueNorth and the LCBO. Truly, I had no intent to claim or represent any "misdoings". 

My posting had only great and kind intentions, but can be viewed as not very transparent or clear of the goals or intent of the piece which was to praise DueNorth on a brilliant campaign, and thank them for their relationship that we have built over the years to assist the development of "intelligent" and "creative" future AdLanders coming out of my program.

The posting was also to praise the hard work of my students and the level of the work done by them. As first semester students their thinking was smart and simple. The students took the strategy, established a concept using a "metaphor" that was going to start a conversation on taking the whole D&D issue back to the audience and how uncomfortable the dialog can be. I had no intention of making any claim or implying that the student work was the "foundation" or "basis" of the campaign created by or depth of the work done by DueNorth.

The DueNorth campaign is brilliant, it offers detailed "conversation starters" and very clear message on a topic that often makes the public uncomfortable, a subject so important to us all yet ignored. You can't ignore the "Elephant in the Room".

I value the relationship between the program and what DueNorth has offered the students over the years and trust that this was truly an error in the style I wrote the piece, It was written with no intent to defame or tarnish the reputation of DueNorth, or the creative talents of Dave Pigeon and Mike Jones under guidance of one of the best nurturers of young talent Karen Howe (whom I respect deeply).

I still feel this is an incredible campaign and is worthy of the exposure I intended to give it.

Please accept my apologies for ANY and ALL inconveniences this has caused and I hope that DueNorth will trust this from my heart and professional integrity.

In addition, I made an error when I pointed out that the creative team of Mike Jones and Dave Pigeon (a Seneca College Creative Advertising Grad) having won the Young Lions Cannes "Interactiv"e competition in Canada, this is an error. Mike and Dave actually won the National Advertising Competition in the "Integrated Category". The actual winners of "Interactive Category" were Lily Tse of HendersonBas and Adrian Gunadi of Taxi while the "Young Creatives" was won by Brian Quittenton of MacLaren McCann Vancouver and Seneca Creative Advertising Grad Dan Bache of Taxi Vancouver. All winners did receive the opportunity to attend the Cannes Festival.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thinking of Drinking and Driving? Deflate the Elephant!

Recently launched by the LCBO (Liquor Licensing Board of Ontario) the message is pretty clear.

If you are thinking of drinking and driving it's like the elephant in the room... or the 500lb gorilla or you name the object you feel most uncomfortable with and we all want to ignore.

I spend most of my time trying to teach the brilliance of a great concept. This concept is as solid as it gets. Teaching the idea of understanding your audience, your client and the message that connects them is never easy.

One of the things I am most proud of bringing to my advertising program was partnerships with industry agencies and the future AdLanders in our classes. Many of these partners have brought "live" briefs to our students as case studies for "experiential" and incredibly valuable learning opportunities. 

Two years ago DueNorth Communications brought to our freshman class one of their clients, the LCBO and the Social Responsibility Campaign. The brief was to create a full integrated campaign that would address the issue that are concern all of society, "Responsible Drinking" without using the same old themes that have become immune to most of the audience. 

Its aim is to help people feel more comfortable about intervening when friends and family are at risk of driving drunk. 

Audience Insight: We need to become more involved in the responsibility of our drinking patterns, those of our friends and those who can be effected by ones drinking. "We know it's wrong to over consume and drive", but... (insert own conclusion).

Client Insight: We are the only legal retailer/distributor of wine, spirits and beer in the province of Ontario. In addition we are the agency responsible for all licensing of establishments, events and celebrations in the province. The LCBO is the root of all sales and are simple a service.

Concept: Bring the conversation back to the audience, if you see someone over consume make the conversation start itself... enter the metaphor: "It's the elephant/gorilla in the room", you know it's there, you want to ignore it, but it won't go away unless there is an intervention.

The great part of this story is the that freshman class was right on the "sweet spot". Simple, yet smart... not on the scale and depth of what DueNorth created for their client the LCBO that launched in early December with a full scale integrated advertising campaign with in-store, traditional media and ambient executions. The video below is from the campaign launch of the $1.6-million campaign that will see ads airing on TV and running in magazines until the new year. 

Obviously there is no direct connection to the simplistic idea conceived by a group of first semester students and the fully detailed integrated campaign "Deflate the Elephant" LCBO campaign, that was ultimately the original creative done by Mike Jones and Dave Pigeon of DueNorth under Creative Director Karen Howe. The campaign offers many innovative ideas such as the website that has also been launched,, where people can learn tips and strategies for being a responsible host. The ads a very clear and very simple... the message is not lost. I take my hat of DueNorth.

In addition, I must note proudly that Dave Pigeon is also Seneca College Creative Advertising Grad from 2002 long before the program had these tremendous opportunities granted to us by various agencies.

Ahhhh, the future is truly bright when opportunity are presented to young AdLanders. Proof, they are young, they are smart and can think like they belong... even as early as their first semester.

I again remain very thankful to DueNorth and the many other agencies that bring "real world" learning opportunities to these freash young AdLanders. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can We Get A Recount. AdWeek Media - A (Vote and) Decade to Remember

(Note: My father told me opinions are like assholes... we all have one... most of them stink... except your own)
Well the votes are in and the results are posted... and the AdWeek has spoken.
Alex Bogusky made you angry. Irwin Gotlieb made you jealous. Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein made you smile. Google, Honda and Coke raised the bar. R/GA, SMG and Butler, Shine, Stern raised the stakes. Our picks, and yours, for the top marketing, media and agency performances of the 2000s. Selections in 33 categories spanning 10 years.
It's true, the readers choices counted... but for what? A simple exercise. Oh it is easy to have an opinion, but this will all make for great, Twitter and blogger conversation for the next few days.

I am not 100% sure how Alex Bogusky made us angry... or how Irwin Gotlieb made us jealous, but one thing for certain the readers choices and the AdWeek staff seem to be at odds. Seems almost every category the readers had a different choice then the staff. Okay, Alex Bogusky was the clearly the Creative Director or the Decade on both columns, but agency of the decade and executive(s) of the decade were significantly out of whack.

Of the 10,049 votes cast for Agency of the Decade, CP+B posted a leading 18% of the votes yet Goodby, Silverstein & Partners were named the top dog (note: GS&P wasn't in the top three). Long known as a creative powerhouse for culture-penetrating TV and print work, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners best work included Super Bowl spots for Budweiser, E*Trade's "Dancing Monkey". But the ground breaking work for  "Got Milk?" easily made them a "gold standard" of creative.  All the while, it was transforming itself from "ad maker" to "content provider", producing "art that serves capitalism," as Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein call it, in whatever form that's required. Hard to understand, the work is great but CP+B spent the most of the decade reinventing itself and its clients for "digital future" and speaking of "culture-penetratin", did they see the work done for Burger King (Subservient Chicken or Whopper Freakout), Volkswagen, Microsoft, Old Navy and recently the GAP... please. Okay, I got to give some disclosure here, I am big fan of CP+B. They have been defining the creative standards and clearly have dominated the award shows throughout the decade.

Oh and were or were is Weiden + Kennedy in this agency of the decade conversation... Nike, Honda etal.

One of the innovators and industry leaders that brought a small south Florida agency to the national and worldwide advertising spotlight, Chuck Porter was a clear leader in the readers votes. He carried 22% of the 4,915 votes ahead of the David Jones (20%), Chief Executive Officer of Euro RSCG Worldwide and the third place (14%) Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein, co-chairmen and creative directors of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. AdWeek named the GS&P duo their executives of the decade. Sorry, but what Chuck and CP+B has done over the last 10 years will the basis of case study in success and creativity. His leadership extends into the business, but also the a holding company and an agency can live in harmony. Oh wait, then again, did AdWeek forget Lee Clow?

As for Creative Director of the decade, Alex Bogusky was the easiest choice for both readers and the AdWeek staffers. Alex took 30% of 4,304 votes ahead of the brilliant David Droga who took 12%. Under the leadership of Alex, CP+B has dominated the award shows and has drawn some of the greatest creative talents to both the Miami and Boulder offices. The young "AdLanders" I have the privileged of working with in my classes are all drawn to the work and desire to work for CP+B. The past 10 years and the future has been bright and will be brigther because of his talent and personality. David Droga is a case study in "doing right". Droga5 has design brilliant creative thinking for its clients, but also taugh clients that you can "pay forward" and still lead your category. Droga5 has created amazing work for UNICEF with the Tap Project and New York Department of Education "Millions" project, and the very funny Sarah Silverman "The Great Schlep" campaign for the Obama Presidential run.

Oh, did I mention the biggest oversight... Scott Goodson and StrawberryFrog. Look it up... "Cultural Movements". Hmmmmmmm... a real game changer.

Well, like I started this rant... check the results, read the insights, view the work... truly a healthy conversation will be had.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

MIA. Nope Just Been Busy... Student Industry Invasion. Chuck Porter. End of the Semester!


There is always the need to update the blog. Keep regular and relevant. I seem to have a busy "period".
So what has kept me from my "updates" and "views"... well my young "AdLanders", the future of the industry... they have been keeping me busy.

It's been a very busy past few weeks, putting the wraps on the end of another semester. Senior students busy getting their portfolios ready fro review this week before they make their way into the final semester. Advice is limitless, coming from every direction.

Part of my career class this fall required the students to do "informational" interviews with industry personal in the area of their career direction. They invaded almost every agency whether big or small. It is amazing once again how effortless, easy and how quickly the kindness of the industry took to hosting these young "AdLanders".

My thanks is endless to you all that gave your time to answer their questions and lend advice as they get ready. Paying forward is the greatest lesson learned. Many returned noting that they will give back the same way in the future. These informational interviews lay the foundations for further career planning, portfolio building and the internships they will all be seeking in the new year.

On Monday November 30th, I had the privilege to host Chuck Porter of CP+B here in Toronto at the MDC Corporate offices and a groups of 18 of my seniors.

Chuck and the entire CP+B family has been nothing short of amazing whenever I ask for anything. Katie Kempner arranged for this unique meet and greet while Chuck was in town for the nextMedia Conference where he was a keynote speaker. I will post a complete review of the day as he offered his unique and humorous perspective on the current and future state of the business. He answered the students many questions, his views on how to prepare for theirs careers, what the digital world will mean to their future and even was kind enough to present me with a framed poster of the early days of CP+B creative department (shown on the right - Check the young Alex Bogusky front and center).

Chuck has left a very positive impression and feeling of hope on my students, "the next 18-24 months may be the most exciting and new opportunities for juniors the industry ahs ever seen'. One question that was on the minds of my students is the future of "crowdsourcing",  Chuck dispelled some of the myths and spoke of the realities it will have in the future. "Crowdsourcing may be the biggest thing since radio, imagine the possibilities for brand/product development, creative insights and audience involvement". Of course the "crowdsourcing" debate will only grow for years to come and will have a great impact on our industry and the employment opportunities for the young "AdLanders".

This turned out to be another great highlight for the students this semester and was also a great opportunity for Chuck to "dry run" part of his presentation he gave the next day at nextMedia.
Once again, many thanks to CP+B for their continued support of my efforts and the growth of our program as the leader in advertising education in Canada.

nextMedia Conference
I got to spend Day Two of the conference held at the DesignXChange in Toronto courtesy of Achilles Media. They were kind enough to hire a small army of my students as volunteers. The Tuesday was an amazing experience, highlighted by Chuck Porter presenting his thoughts on the future of digital advertising. Titled "“Digital Darwinism – Survival of the Smartest”, he offered countless CP+B client experiences that has been innovating and groundbreaking. During the Q&A, someone asked about "Darwinism" and how could he compare the work to such a serious topic... "next question".

Tony Chapman of Capital C wants to know what log you’re bringing to the social media campfire. In other words, if you’re going to be a part of the social media world, do you have a reason to contribute and belong? Complicated questions, but we hold the answers. Paying "attention is the oxygen of marketing". But before you get anyone's attention, you need to move from shouting loud to listening generously. He noted "be as transparent and honest as possible, because if you’re not, you will be found out".

I had the pleasure of adding some "new thinking" that will be taken back to my lectures courtesy of Tara Hunt, author of The Whuffie Factor who presented that instead of having a personal brand, you develop a "personality". Dare to be imperfect, admit your mistakes, expose your passions, challenge yourself to try something new when you start to feel pidgeon-holed or stagnant, and most importantly, read, listen and open your mind to people who think different than you. She added, "Instead of having a message, have a purpose, and know the difference between the two". Believe me when I say Tara is a brilliant and fresh new thinker... and her boots, total fashionista. Her full presentation is available here.

A great day. Gotta add a personal note, one of my alumni the very talented Lava Nosenkis of Cundari Toronto and her own blog AdGirlandTechNerd introduced me to another amazing lady Trina Boos who created an amazing advertising web community called AdLounge. Had dinner with these two amazing ladies, and clearly the future is very bright.

Just a quick note on the weekly webcast on FearlessQA hosted by Alex Bogusky. Each week my career class tutorial session starts with the viewing of FearlessQA and we have been submitting a stream of questions, many of which get answered. One of the highlights was a few weeks back when the show featured Colin Drummond, VP, Director of Culture and Business Insights on the topic of "Being a Student of Culture". This turned out to be a great learning experience and exposure to "strategic thinking". Being a "student of advertising" is the cornerstone of my teaching philosophy, being a "student of culture" is way beyond just "trendspotting"... the webcast was eye opening and overall a great learning experience. I want to say thanks all my students for your awesome questions, many that were answered on air and others answered via email later by Colin. I strongly encourage you to watch the broadcast (linked here).

That's it for now. Back to marking of personal branding/marketing plans, final assignments and portfolios.
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