Pitches. They energize an agency. They drain billable hours.
They’re a part of doing business, yet controversial in our industry. Nonetheless, when you take the stage,
when the spotlight’s on you, pitches are as good as it gets. Why? Competition. Intensity. Teamwork. Performance. When it all comes together, it’s a total rush.
Unfortunately, brilliant pitches (even the ones that garner applause) fall victim to extenuating circumstances. Not our
loss. The loss of a potential partner. One, that we would still love … LOVE …
to partner with.
Having said that, this campaign delivered. Not just for the
pitch, but for how we think about tourism. We vectored in on what’s real. And
in the process, jumped the gun on the wave of field-to-fork / farm-to-table tourism. Go
figure. We were just being authentic. Before it became a trend.
INSIGHT: Locally grown, farm-to-table, not a fad, a serious means of decision for travel and tourism.
IDEA: Own the natural bounty that Virginia has to offer. Let its true characters tell the story. Build a site that encourages participation from Virginia-based businesses: locally-sourced restaurants, breweries, farms, wineries, hotels, B&Bs, etc. Provide a trip-planning tool for visitors. Develop a mobile experiences that encompasses all of these benefits, plus the social bounty of sharing your experience, your itinerary, and more.
A picture says a thousand words. Video says about a million. Our long-running, and very successful TV campaign for Luray Caverns shed some light on the digital experience. Not only did we want to integrate the spits into the site experience, we wanted to bring the viewer into the caverns with an initial video experience … of the caverns. This 3.0 version is just the first step. Up next: 360-degree video content. Our friends at National Geographic have been shooting 360 content. We’ll be shooting more. The highly successful brand platform of, “What will you discover?” will truly be coming to your tablet/desktop/mobile in the very near future.
For now, however, LurayCaverns.com 3.0 takes advantage of highly visual assets, stellar video content, flexible responsive design, and copy that captures the essence of Luray.
Washington DC American Advertising Awards - GOLD
CD: Matt Walker
AD: Brian Bowman
Editorial: Robert Cowling
Development: Mike “The King” Haberle
The following is a video preview of an early iteration of the site. For the actual experience, take a trip to luraycaverns.com.
The first day was a trip. An absolute trip. Out-of-body kind
of trip. Think about it. The creative process is pretty damn fragile in the
early stages. It just is. Even for seasoned veterans. So you show up to this project, get clipped with
lavalieres, have lenses on you, booms overhead, meet your creative partner minutes
before the briefing. Crazy, right. But damn, it was fun. Almost like being
back in college. No jobs to worry about. New business to land. Just unfiltered
passion for the brand and a desire to solve a problem. Every creatives dream
assignment. Pressure? But a new kind of pressure. Best way to handle that? Treat it like an adventure.
Now, every dream assignment is best paired with a dream
team. Holy shit was I lucky to be paired with Alejandro. Phenomenal designer. Energetic thinker. But, like
me, a great listener. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back for that one, but without intent listen listening, there is no purposeful doing.
Alejandro has open ears and a brilliant mind. Great combo, right?
Ok, another great combo: Gus & Lo. Really. Not trying to
gush here, but they know their shit, they know what works, they respect a
difference of opinion, and goddamn, they deliver. Reviewed their portfolio with
a microscope. Chatted with them at every turn. Kept them close to the strategic
and creative evolution of our thinking.Makes a world of difference when
you approach any project/every project holistically as a team. That will always
be a difference-maker. Bring people in. Listen to them. Open new doors based on
their input. Go from there. You’ll only go forward.
Also, from what I’ve seen in this first video, don’t jump
into execution. Start with strategy. Begin with an understanding. Define a challenge
and go from there.
Walk. Then run.
Lucky for me, Alejandro knew how to sprint and run long
distance. I know, crappy metaphor, but hey, you have to race to win. And we
were definitely in a race.
So, who won? Tune in to find out. And please, get social. I
think one of the best things creatives can do, other than producing brilliant
work, is talking about their work and sharing it at the stage of infancy. Just
open up. And throw ideas out. Open as many doors as you can. Eventually, you’ll
walk through the right one.
Check out the first installment. Follow the rest. Make a
leap of your own.
Not too long ago, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Charles Mann. And wow … what an A+, class act, stellar human being. Really. I’m not just saying that because I’ve been a Redskins fan since I was a fetus. Not only was he a total pro to work with, but his dedication as a father rang true, and his desire to help others couldn’t be more genuine.
This project came about via one of our favorite clients, Strayer University. Turns out, 32 years after the Redskins drafted him, he was ready to earn his degree. He did so at Strayer. And as a result, he has quite the inspiring story to tell.
Recently, I finished reading Ed
Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. Here’s a little snippet from Amazon about the book:
Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation
Studios, the Academy Award–winning studio behindInside OutandToy Story,comes an incisive book about
creativity in business—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters,
and Chip and Dan Heath.Fast
Companyraves thatCreativity, Inc.“just might be the most thoughtful
management book ever.”
was a fascinating read. And I’m sure it will be re-read. If you’re in a
creative field, or you work with creative organizations, read the book and take
it to heart. One prevalent theme throughout the book that I’ve taken to heart
(and have for many years now) is doing whatever it takes to remove the element
of fear from your creative teams. Let me rephrase that, because a bit of fear
will always exist in the life of a creative: Remove external forces of fear and
learn to work through internal aspects of fear. For as many processes as any
creative organization may have in place, there’s no roadmap to the
extraordinary. Getting there means you have to venture through uncharted
territory. Sometimes that landscape will freak you out. And the only way to get
through it is to work, work, and work your way to the light at the end of the
reading about this in Ed’s book reassured me that I wasn’t alone on this
journey. And, really not trying to compare myself to Mr. Catmull here, but, it
reminded me of a commencement address I’d given to the Art Institute of
Washington’s 2014 graduating class.
follows is a portion of that address broken into two parts:
1 – PARENT AND CREATIVE
2 – EMBRACING FEAR
this will help to guide and encourage those breaking into the field, find a few
heads nodding for those already in the field, and serve as an insight for those
working with creative individuals and/or organizations.
Looking towards the stage before the ceremony at Constitution Hall.
PART 1 – PARENT AND
The craft of being a creative professional is HARD WORK. So hard, in
fact, that I liken it to the most important and challenging job I’ve ever had
and ever will have … being a father. A parent.
a parent – you will make a baby.
a creative professional – you will think and think and think and think …
you’ll think faster, and faster, and faster, then you’ll think slower …
slower … sloooower … then you’ll think faster, faster, faster, faster,
think some more, think some more, maybe go to sleep, get up the next morning,
jump in the shower and … AHA!!! There it is. You’ve just given birth to a
precious, fragile, beautiful baby idea. Congratulations.
a parent – you will lose sleep.
a creative professional – just forget about sleep. You’ll toss, you’ll turn,
you’ll spin ideas around in your mind. You’ll rehearse pitches, see entire
edits play out in your mind, see every ingredient coming together in your mind
… and then … your alarm clock will go off. So much for sleep.
a parent – you WILL get pooped on. Trust me on this one. Bring a shield.
a creative professional – There’s always someone … who will shit on your
work. And I’m not talking about constructive criticism or intelligent
professional feedback, I’m talking about the junior executive so-and-so who
eagerly raises their hand to say, “Oooooh, can I say what’s wrong with it? Can
I? Can I shoot it down???” Simply because they don’t know any better yet, and
that’s all they can contribute. It’s unfortunate. But it happens.
as a parent – you’ll want to protect your children with determined ferocity.
a creative professional – you’ll want to defend your work. And you should. Not
with the ferocity of an emotional parent … but with the calm demeanor,
intelligence, and understanding of a true
a parent – you will constantly marvel at the vast and effortless imagination
your children possess.
a creative professional – don’t ever
lose that. Stay light-hearted. Dream. Laugh loudly. It all helps to keep your
imagination splendidly child-like. After all, that pure imagination is where
the real magic comes from.
for both parents and creative professionals alike, eventually, you’re gonna
have to let that child … your idea … go.
You’re going to send your baby out into the harsh realities of the daily
grind. So be sure to prepare it well. Lose sleep obsessing over ways to make it
stronger. Let people shit on it, because that will only help it stand taller.
And invite others to encourage it, further it, and impart their wisdom upon it.
in the end, after all of that, it will shine brightly.
only … only … if you put in the
here’s the thing, it’s soooooooooooooo worth it.
in my own totally biased opinion, it’s so damn important.
Looking out from the stage before the ceremony at Constitution Hall.
PART 2 – EMBRACING FEAR
… ok … there are other professions that do important things. Brain
surgeons. Heart surgeons. Educators. Engineers. Their work is important.
for most professions not in the creative fields, I’d say that while a surprise
may arise from time to time, they typically deal with fairly expected outcomes.
Or at the very least, they deal with and work with expected circumstances and
that’s why YOU, you as creative professionals, that’s why your job is so
important. Because you have to deliver … theunexpected.
fusion of ingredients that seemingly would never work and then your customer
takes a bite and suddenly they’re having an orgasmic mouth party, or the campaign
that doesn’t just make a profit for your client it makes people laugh so hard
they pee just a little bit.
it is, an important part of your job as a creative professional will be to take
people on unexpected journeys. To make them feel things that they weren’t
expecting to feel at that given moment. Now granted, it won’t always pan out
that way. Things don’t always go as planned. The good news is, unlike our
friend the heart surgeon, when things don’t go the way you intended … no
one’s going to die. But when everything comes together just the way you’d
envisioned, and you get to see people delight in your work, you’ll be firmly
reminded of how important your job is.
delivering unexpected delight to the masses is crucial and joyful. Working
within the unexpected, however, can at times be stressful and terrifying.
giving this speech, I popped open my browser and checked out several
commencement addresses all given by people who are much smarter, wealthier, and
better looking than me. Such is life.
did this because – always do your homework – and again, because I was terrified of royally screwing this
up. Having said that, I came across a common theme … screwing up. Or rather: It’s ok to fail. Embrace failure. Don’t be
afraid of failure.
have a slightly different take.
it’s absolutely ok to fail. Chances are, if you DON’T fail from time-to-time,
then you’re not trying hard enough, you’re not pushing the envelope, you’re not
being … original … says the guy talking about not fearing failure during a
look, the fact is, not every job or assignment you come across will provide you
the opportunity to truly push things in the direction you want. But when those
opportunities DO come along, and you’ll know it because your pulse will
quicken, your mind will race, ideas will just flow … when those opportunities
come … seize them and pour everything you have into them.
would say … embrace fear.
one of the most vital and enjoyable parts of being a creative professional is
delivering that unexpected moment. But that also means you won’t always have
the comfort of terra firma that other professions enjoy. And that can be scary:
The deadline’s coming up. I
don’t have an idea. Nothing original. Where is it? What is it? Can’t do that
it’s already been done. What if they hate it? What if it doesn’t work? What am
I going to do???
Take a couple deep breaths. Go on a walk.
Simply acknowledge the fact that you’re afraid of not knowing what’s
next. And that it’s totally understandable. When you take the time to really
acknowledge it, to just accept it, you’ll be much better prepared to move past
finally, don’t be afraid of failure, but
do everything you can to avoid it. Why? Because it’s no fun. And for
passionate, driven creative like you … it stings. It stings like that third
degree sunburn kind of sting when you have to take your first torturous sunburn
shower and when you go to turn on the water, hornets come streaming out of the
Failure stings. Yes, it can teach us
profound things about our resiliency and our craft, but let’s be honest, success
feels much better.
when you come across that opportunity to push the envelope – be prepared. Do
your homework. Know your audience. Understand your client. Answer the
subjective with the rational. The point is, when you aim to push that envelope,
when you go out on a limb and you want others to follow, really know why you’re
going out there in the first place … then just explain it clearly and
when things don’t work out the way you wanted, it is having the ability, and
taking the time to accept that things didn’t work … and then to understand
why. That part’s not easy. But it is that acceptance and understanding that
ultimately shapes us, strengthens us, and can transform us in surprising and
BONUS PART 3 – WORDS OF
know, I said two parts. But that was just for the commencement address. And
hey, all journeys have unexpected twists. Even simple blog posts. Regardless, I
opened by talking about a book. Thought I should close with a few words from it.
Words from Mr. Ed Catmull. Words to live by.
“While the allure of safety and predictability is strong, achieving true
balance means engaging in activities whose outcomes and payoffs are not yet
apparent. The most creative people are willing to work in the shadow of
“I believe that managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them.
They must accept risk; they must trust the people they work with and strive to
clear the path for them; and always, they must pay attention to and engage with
anything that creates fear.”
“Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an
inevitable consequence of doing something new”
Well, looks like my good friends George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson are fairing pretty well at some industry award shows. So far this integrated little campaign has racked up:
5 Addys (silver/gold - tbd)
1 Obie (silver/gold - tbd)
1 Silver Adrian Award (HSMAI)
3 Gold Adrian Awards (HSMAI)
1 Platinum Adrian Award (HSMAI)
And it took home the BEST OF SHOW for interactive, beating out agencies mcgarrybowen and Edleman. That was a first in the 50 year history of our agency.
In all, I’m really happy with the work. I’m utterly impressed with the effort that our creative team poured into this. It was a scramble to get it together under a tight deadline and a tiny budget. Folks like Woody Boss, Robert Cowling, and Brian Bowman went above and beyond. Thanks.
And I’m proud … PROUD … to have a client that pushed us and let us push them. We had to fight to make this one happen. And when I say “we,” I mean the agency and our amazing client, Visit Fairfax. They took a leap with us. They fought for the campaign. They were rewarded. So were we.
For me, that’s how the client/agency relationship should work. You’re in it together. You go to bat for each other. And in the end, you kick some serious ass and reap the rewards. Together.
John Zeratsky gives pointers on the importance of crafting those little bits of text in the UI design of software products.
COLLABORATE OR PERISH.
It’s not a new idea. But sometimes it sounds like it is: I shared this story twitter earlier this morning. Makes all the sense in the world. But it took a little while (sometimes I’m slow) for me to realize that this is nothing new. It was new when Bill Bernbach invented the creative team - sticking a copywriter and an art director together to come up with conceptual advertising. We’re at the same place all over again. Google’s ART-COPY-CODE captures the essence of this new collaboration perfectly. And that’s the key, right? Collaborate or perish.
Gonna have to watch this later today. In an industry where fear ripples through like a cold draft in a warm room…finding bravery is a must. Fear is just part of the creative turf. Embrace it. What’s my next idea? Where will it come from? Will it be as good as my last? All part of the turf. Just acknowledge that fear’s gonna be your co-pilot on this journey. The sooner you do that, the sooner you control it.
Chicago’s Garvey Food Court has a McDonald’s a Dunkin Donuts and a vending machine that sells kale.
I’ve recently been getting freaked out by processed foods. Reading more and more labels, finding more and more words…that I can’t pronounce. Don’t know why this realization kicked in recently, but it did. Better late than never, right?
Actually, I wan on an all-natural diet when I was a kid. Way ahed of the curve. The “Fiengold Diet.” No preservatives (BHA, BHT), no artificial food color, thinks like that. It was all in the name of preventing ADHD. Way ahead of the curve there, too.
Anyhow, the general thinking was that all of the crap in processed foods kinda crossed the wires in the brain. While I’m not so sure that the ADHD/processed foods correlation totally pans out, I am (in my older age) beginning to understand how so much of what we put in our mouth can effect so much more…SO MUCH MORE…than just our girth.
So, I love seeing well-designed, thoroughly thought-through products like this. And I’m really a fan of the vending machine for product delivery. They can be used for much more than sodas and crappy snacks.
Outside of the retail food courts…I’d love to see these in public schools, too.
Find the emotion. Make it human. Tell the story. Google does this so well. So authentically. Apple connected the first dots between humanity and technology. That evolved into lifestyle. Now it feels like they’re rounding back to human connections with the new 5C work - For the colorful. But man, Google has really taken that torch all the way to the mountaintop.
Chip Kelly. Former head coach of the Oregon (my alma mater) Ducks. Current head coach of the Philadelphia (my least favorite city) Eagles. Ok, so I really have nothing against Philly, just the Eagles. But I digress.
Coach Kelly left Oregon for the NFL. And in so doing, left an indelible mark on the game of college football – SPEED. If you’ve seen the Oregon Ducks play in the past few years, then you know, they’re fast, fast, fast. I once saw the team walking out of a hotel lobby, they even did that fast. They get to the line fast. They call their play fast. They execute their plays fast. Opposing teams would fake injury just to slow them down. As a result, at least partially, Oregon would brag about their team’s stellar conditioning. How the use of speed was all designed to basically wear down the other team. We’re faster than they are. We wear them down. We in the game. Well, that’s a small part of it. I tend to think that most elite college football teams are pretty well conditioned. So here’s the bigger part: It was all about playing the odds. The faster you are, the more plays you can get off. The more plays you can get off, the more chances you have to score. That’s it. That’s the power of speed.
So, how does that apply to ideas? To coming up with the all-powerful concept? The one that’s never been seen, never been done, kills ‘em in the conference room, and drives home a huge win? Again…SPEED. Stacking the odds in your favor early in the conceptual process. Here’s why and how:
Ideas. You need to generate a lot of them ( A LOT OF THEM) to get to one great one. The more ideas you generate (most of them will probably suck), the greater the odds are that you’ll eventually stumble into a gem. Ideas open doors to new ideas. One leads to another idea and so forth and so on. They all build off of each other. That’s why we need to come up with a lot of ideas.
Here’s why we need to come up with them quickly:
Use the tactic of speed to shut off your own internal judgment. If you’re focused on the next idea, and the next idea, and the next idea, and the next idea…you don’t give that little voice in your mind the opportunity to say, “That idea is awful. That will never work. You’re never going to come up with a great idea.” You need to silence that little bugger. If you start thinking negatively about your ability to come up with great ideas, you’ll never come up with any of them.
Conversely, if that little voice starts telling you that you just came up with a pretty darn good idea…well then…cool, mission accomplished, you don’t need to think any more, you just came up with a pretty good idea. But is it great? You’ll never know because you stopped coming up with ideas.
Help yourself out. When your job is coming up with ideas, start the process early by coming up with a lot of them, and quickly. Set a goal. 20 ideas in 10 minutes. 100 ideas in 30 minutes. Whatever. Just set a goal. Then, set your timer. Grab some note cards or some post-it notes and go. One idea per card/note. One after the other after the other after the other after…until your time’s up. Don’t stop. Don’t judge. Just think, write, on to the next.
Once your time is up, then and only then, is it ok to let the little voice of judgment have his or her say. Go through that fat stack of thinking, pull out your top 5 ideas, evaluate them, build on them, combine them. Or give it a rest, walk away, let your subconscious chew them over, and come back to them later. If there’s something that’s worth working on…work on it. If not, start over. Go for 200 ideas. And go Ducks!
Got busy. Neglected the blog. Shame on me. Here are a few more insights (and my thoughts) from Whipple.
Big ideas transcend strategy.
If your idea is BIG but it’s off brief, that’s ok. Big ideas are like nuclear bombs. They don’t have to be perfectly on target to work.
And chances are, everyone else in the room (AEs, planners, clients, people who have their name on the door) will recognize a big idea and the impact it can have. Don’t be afraid to go off brief and into uncharted waters. If the idea is big enough, it’ll sell itself.
5 rules for effective speech writing from Winston Churchill:
2.Have ONE theme
3.Use simple language
4.Leave a picture in the listener’s mind
VIDEO CONTENT (TV) PRODUCTION:
It takes just as much time to produce a crappy concept as it does a great one.
It’s your time, your agency’s time, your client’s time. Use it wisely.
Insist on knowing your production budget before you begin concepting. Usually around 10% of total TV media buy. INSIST ON THE ACTUAL BUDGET.
Somebody somewhere has an idea of what they have to spend. Make absolutely certain you know what that figure is. It affects the ideas you come up with in a big way. If you come up with ideas you can’t afford to produce, you’re wasting agency time and your client’s time. If your lead AE on the account can’t get you a budget, talk to an agency principal about providing some support. Or, encourage your account team to let you talk to the client and explain why you need this budget upfront to ensure you’re not wasting their valuable time.
Make sure your production $$$ is used to enhance a kick-ass concept. Not add some sizzle to a so-so idea.
$$$ can turn a great idea into a truly outstanding commercial. Or $$$ can polish a turd. And you’re left with a really shiny turd that a lot of people will see.
Try this: If you can make the first 2 seconds of your spot visually unusual, do it.
Can the sound design help? Yes it can.
We used audio and video to this affect in a spot we produced over the summer (The Comeback). The very disorienting audio really grabs the attention of people who may not have their eyes immediately on the screen. Visually, we had a business man coming to his senses in the middle of a boxing ring. Why was a guy in a jacket and tie face down on the mat? Your brain just naturally wants to connect the dots. When we see something that doesn’t make immediate sense, we want to make sense of it. It’s just how we’re wired.
Had the rare opportunity to do some reading over the brief winter break. Since my new books hadn’t arrived on time (I’m lookin’ at you Amazon), I re-read the third edition of Luke Sullivan’s timeless ad guide: Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. Read the first edition in college. About…ohhh…12 years ago. Totally different lens to read it through now. But damn, such wonderful advice every creative needs to keep front and center at any stage of their career. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom to keep firmly planted in your mind-brain. I’ll post more soon. I’ll even expand on a few as they pertain to my “12-years-in-the-business” filter.
BRAND = ADJECTIVE /// SIMPLE = GREAT
Strip your brand down to the bone. People don’t have time to figure out what your brand stands for.Make your brand stand for ONE THING. Pair it with one adjective.
In the world of automotive:
Jeep = Tough
Porsche = Fast
BMW = Performance
Volvo = Safe
Nothing overly complicated. No marketing bullshit. Just simple, liberating, honesty. Claim your brand adjective. It can’t be remotely close to a competing brand. It must be unique. Own it.
INSIST ON A TIGHT STRATEGY
Vague strategies inhibit. Precise strategies liberate. When you have it just right, the strategy should be evident in the campaign but the campaign should not be evident in the strategy.
For creatives: If the campaign is merely a regurgitation of the brief, there has been no creative leap, and the campaign lacks executional force.
Push as hard as you can for a simple, tight strategy.
WHAT YOU SAY HAS TO MATTER
WIFFM. What’s in it for me. If the consumer doesn’t get something that matters to them, does something for them, they won’t give a shit.
TEST STRATEGIES…NOT EXECUTIONS
Sit down with client, planners, AEs. Explore all possible strategies. Select 5-6. Create “benefit boards.” Very simple ad-looking things. A picture and a simple headline that plainly spells out the strategy you want to test.
Say the product is aspirin:
Two aspirin on a table…or…someone nursing a headache…simple.
The fastest acting. Easy on the stomach. Smaller, easier to swallow.
They’re not really headlines. They’re not ads. They’re benefits. Show 10 or so of these boards to a focus group and you’ll get a good idea of which message resonates.
Dullness won’t sell your product. But neither will irrelevant brilliance.
The best ideas are discovered. Not created. Find the long-neglected truth in a product and give it a hug. Discover the universal human truth of a category.
Always express the benefit of the benefit. The human benefit. People don’t buy ¼ inch drill bits. They buy ¼ inch holes.
It’s sad to see Washington Capitals Head Coach, Bruce Boudreau, lose hold of his team. He was fired over the weekend. Sounds like he lost the locker room long before that. He turned the Caps around not too long ago. Won the Southeast Division. Got bounced too early in the playoffs. He’ll land another gig in another town in a short amount of time. They’ll be lucky to have him.
I was lucky enough to work with Bruce on a couple spots for our friends at Mercedes. As mentioned in the Post article, the Bird Calls spot really lets his personality shine. He was a naturally funny guy. And he was a pro. He wanted to do a great job. Weather it was coaching. Or shooting a comercial. He went all out.
Sad to see him go. His work will forever live on.
Our new campaign for Mercedes-Benz is a beautiful thing.
We recently produced a brand new campaign for our friends at Mercedes-Benz of Alexandria and Mercedes-Benz of Arlington. The new work is a radical departure from our recent branding efforts feating Coach Bruce Boudreau, of the Washington Capitals, and Ryan Zimmerman, of the Washington Nationals.
Both of the locations have undergone major renovations this summer. Not an easy thing to do when you’re trying to sell cars. And one of the locations changed it’s name. For nearly 75 years, the corner of Glebe Road and Randolph Street in Arlington, VA has been home to American Service Center. It still is. Only with a new name. With increasing competition in the luxury car market, and residing in a transient town like Washington DC, the name American Service Center had become a stumbling block. It didn’t telegraph the product. It was confusing to the consumer. So, we recommended that after 70-some years, it was time to change it. Hence, Mercedes-Benz of Arlington now calls Glebe and Randolph home.
With the new name and the stunning new showrooms, it was time for a new campaign. Our goal was to launch the name change, promote the enhanced buying experience, and capitalize on some very tangible support points that our client could own—longevity, selection & price, being family owned and operated.
Working with a modest production budget, we had to maximize the footage, focus each spot on a single support point, and make them all beautiful. Check, check, and check.
The spots begin airing over the Thanksgiving holiday. They were shot by the very talented Clark Vandergrift. Check them out below:
Our first spot in this new campaign is all about launching our client’s new name. But we also had to reinforce that while the name has changed, and she showroom is brand new, the ownership is just the same as it was 75 years ago. Same legendary service. Same dedication to customers. Brand new name.
The second spot focuses on a slightly more retail message. It just can’t sound too retail. No screaming at the top of our lungs. No proclamations of being the best. Just a beautiful showroom, beautiful cars, and a refined way of letting people know the selection and price is also quite beautiful.
Our third video focuses on the beauty of being family owned and operated. Values that come from a family-run business truly do impact the way customers are treated. They’re not numbers. Not a sales quota. They’re people. Treat them like family.
While I don’t necessarily advocate for having a “house style,” when clients see a piece of work produced for your agency and say, “I wan’t one!” who are we to say no? Such is the case with this online launch video for Harrison College. When we showed them a case study video we’d produced in-house, they immediately thought it fit their needs for an upcoming product launch. Initially, we had several different ideas for the project. But short on time, and working with a relatively modest budget, we determined that some of what we’d done for our agency case study vid would work quite well for this launch. And so far…it’s been a solid win. Delivered on time, under budget, and to rave reviews from our client.
I’m just gonna say it. I miss this client. Touchstone Energy (the branding arm of the NRECA) goes way up there on my top client list. Great group of people to work with. They’re passionate about their work. They believe in what they do. They genuinely make it their business to help people. Not customers…people. Sadly, we parted ways. Hopefully our paths will cross in the future.
During our time together, we got to create some really nice work. We were ahead of the curve with some of our messaging. Showing kids as the lead in pushing parents toward adopting energy-saving technology. Promoting electric vehicles as a definitive trend in the future long before the Volt hit the road. Bringing the national energy conversation to American homes. We realized this conversation was going to boom over the coming years. So we put it front and center.
We shot with the very talented Brett Froomer from @radical. He actually got us onto the WB back lot to shoot during the writer’s strike.
This vid was presented a few years ago at the NRECA Connect Conference in Portland, Oregon (my all-time favorite city).
Awards are always nice. Results are what really matter. Hey, we got ‘em both! Our in-house editor, Robert Cowling, produced a phenomenal case study. He handled the cut and all the motion graphics. Thanks to our good friends at Clean Cuts for donating time on the mix. And yeah, that’s me rockin’ out the VO. Can you dig it?
Behind-the-scenes footage of a TV spot for Luray Caverns in Luray,Virginia. The video intercuts scenes between the steadicam footage used in the spot, the steadicam operator, and the creative team. (The 15 sec spot precedes the video.)
Shot with DC film icon, Gary Grieg at Engine Pictures. Engine and Gary are a killer team to work with. They always bring A LOT to the project. This shot was all Gary’s idea. We loved it so much, I completely altered the initial concept to work better with the footage and produce a much tighter commercial.
Shot some great spots in Indy for our good friends at Harrison College this summer. Worked with the very talented Lionel Coleman. Great director. Great guy. And his son plays football at Oregon. Just can’t beat that. Anyhow, on some rare downtime, I took a little side trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Not really a huge race fan. But man, they had some sweet sheet metal on display. Loved the decals and numbering. snapped a few pics with the DROID. Yup. Still no iPhone. But for now, the DROID does.
Here’s a little sampler of our work from a few years back. Had to throw together a reel for our DC AdWeek sponsorship. Tight deadline No time. Late night. Par for course on these things. Having said that, our reel stood out quite nicely. Robert Cowling was behind the wheel on this. I rode shotgun.
Captivating Photojournalism: Henri Cartier-Bresson
A long, long time ago (still in college long time ago) I was ever-so-close to pursuing photojournalism as a curriculum and potential career path. The storytelling. The travels. A romantic journey filled with moments of horror and insight.
However, one particularly brilliant professor turned me onto the advertising program at my fine alma mater, the University of Oregon. I got into the program. I clicked with advertising. Advertising clicked with me. And I’ve now enjoyed a young career (10 years) in the creative field of advertising…also filled with moments of horror and insight.
Anyhow, I came across a show at the MoMA. The works of Henri Cartier Bresson, entitled The Modern Century, focuses on the master’s most productive decades, the 1930s through 1960s.
“Henri Cartier-Bresson began traveling in 1930, at the age of twenty-two. For nearly half a century he was on the road most of the time, and the geographical range of his work is notoriously wide. Its historical range is just as broad—from ancient patterns of preindustrial life to our contemporary era of ceaseless technological change. In the realm of photography Cartier-Bresson’s work presents a uniquely rich, far-reaching, and challenging account of the modern century.”
While I certainly didn’t embark on a journey of this nature…that’s the wonderful thing about Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work (the work of any great photojournalist, for that matter) you don’t see the photograph, you live vicariously through the photographer’s eyes.
So, long post short, I need a train ticket to NYC. Maybe you do, too.
Video follow-up to Puma’s Clever Little Bag. Surprised at all the clever, little, haters who responded negatively to this on YouTube. We need more thinking like this applied to every facet of industry. Smarter design. Better world.
Marketing and Advertising | Washington D.C. Metro Area, US
Experienced Creative Director/Copywriter for small and mid-sized agencies that think big.
Strategically-minded creative: Firmly believes simple strategies work best. They provide focus and liberate the creative process.
Creatively-minded creative: Even with an air-tight strategy, the creative execution is, more often than not, the only way to really distance yourself from the competition. Get people thinking. Get people talking. Get people buying.
Budget-conscious creative: Fallon said it best, "Don't outspend your competition. Outthink them."
2010 - Present
Creative Director/Copywriter / White+Partners
Creative direction = Strategic development. Conceptual development. Creative execution. Broadcast production. Copywriting. Client presentations. New business pitches. Armchair psychologist. Rabble rouser.
Washington DC Addys - GOLD
Washington DC Addys - SILVER
District Two Addys - SILVER
National Addys - GOLD
Tellys - GOLD
Tellys - SILVER
HSMAI Adrian Awards - Best of Show Digital
HSMAI Adrian Awards - PLATINUM
HSMAI Adrian Awards - GOLD
HSMAI Adrian Awards - SILVER
Judge - St. Louis Addy Awards