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Industry / The importance of #TheFail

October 22, 2011

Our industry is so focused on success, that we rarely see how important it is to fail. Failure allows us to take a wider view on what is generating success, it allows us to identify the weaker links in the chain, and it creates an opportunity for us to learn from our mistakes.

In a large, global agency environment there are so many moving parts, and for years this  ecosystem has masked failure on the individual level, deep inside redundant “systems“. These large “systems” of redundancy provide cover for individual performance. The blame then gets attributed to the system itself, rather than the individual. This removes any direct action, or re-action to the failure.

The self cleaning oven was a great invention, and in someways large agencies have this function built in. The sheer mass of staff allows agencies to quickly call in support staff to step up as relief pitchers in the late innings of the game for the save. The problem here is that all that is remembered going forward, was that the work got done, and the only downside was that the project went over budget. At the end of the day, the weak links still hold on to elevated positions, they are not penalized, nor are they ever identified as a detriment to the agency. They have been saved by “systems“.

Failure should be embraced and used as a means of pruning staff rather than something that is swept under the agency’s rug.


Industry / The Banner Brief

October 10, 2011

Banners are a necessary evil in our industry. We all know that they are quite restrictive when it comes to being creative, but that does not mean that it is impossible to pull of something awesome. Rather take this as a challenge. Here are a few things to keep in mind on your pathway to success.

Highly interactive banners increase brand awareness by over 60%. Be sure to employ appropriate levels of interactivity within your creative. Keep in mind where your banner will live and devise compelling uses of animation and sound to distinguish yourself from the rest of the host’s page.

Use of space
By use of space, I mean use of “white-space”. The page your banner will be served on already has a ton of information on it. Create an oasis. Think about how you will separate your message from the content on the page, and make your work stand out.

Compelling Images
Steer clear of stock photos. Time and time again, I can spot the same straw cabana sitting on a dock, near the crystal blue water. Typography and branding work just as hard as that overused image

Creative Message
Short, clever copy that draws the user in and leads them down the path to action is what you want. This is the first step in generating a click through.

Call to Action
“Click here” was a great line in 1997, simply because users were all about clicking and exploring. The web was still new to them. That ship has since sailed, think of what you are offering and tie it into the call to action. Make is fun, mysterious, or thought provoking.

Intelligent Branding
Consistency is the key. Make sure the “carpets match the drapes”. Brand retention and brand awareness is just as critical a measure as a click through. Make sure your brand look and sound the same in your banner as it does on your brand’s website, television spots, and print media.

Bold Headlines
Let’s face it. Banners are small, and people hardly have enough time to read the content of the page your banner is sitting on. Distill your message to be concise, sharp and actionable .

Be Funny (if you can)
Humor is engaging and memorable, especially on a platform like the web. When you can take a lighter more playful approach to you brand communication. Light-hearted comedy plays well on the Internet, use that to your advantage.

Need some inspiration?
Try poking around the good old Internet. Bannerblog is a good place to start. Another great tool for scanning the online advertising landscape is Moat which is a clever new search engine for banners.

Work / Parks Unleashed

September 11, 2011

A custom Youtube brand channel, talking dogs, Queen Latifah, and over two hundred Samsung Galaxy Tabs to give away? WTF???? Keep in mind this was all orchestrated and launched for an OTC / Pharma brand… there in lies the true innovation.

Our client was looking for a new way to engage with their audience, as well as to become top of mind with allergy sufferers during the fall allergy season, that may not already be Zyrtec users.  As creative briefs go, this one was actually pretty clear, do something buzz-worthy, that would be picked up by word of mouth, and become a PR story. The idea I had was simple… bring the notion of being free to explore the outside world, inside. Parks Unleashed is a contemporary take on a choose your own adventure book, brought to life on a Youtube Brand Channel.

One of the most innovative aspects of this project was how we as an agency worked. Gone are the days of the traditional Art & Copy teams. This project was conceived by myself, and brought to life by partnering up with a game designer, a user experience director, an interactive producer, a creative technologist, and a copywriter.

The list of “firsts” continued as we began to work alongside teams at Google and Youtube to to develop how the project would come to life. Never before has a level of game-play been seen on Youtube so a tight integration of work-streams was our path to success. From concept to launch the entire process was completed in an astounding two and a half months. For an agency as large as ours, and with a client like McNeil, this is never before seen feat.

All the content was captured during a two day shoot outside of Los Angeles, excluding the additional footage of Queen Latifah, which we shot weeks later here in Brooklyn. The narrative adds up to approximately 45 minutes of story and includes eight to ten mini games developed in Flash that are sprinkled throughout the story, and play off the people you meet along the way.

Our story invites our visitors to explore our park, filled with quirky characters, talking dogs, Queen Latifah, and a series of mini-games that lead them along paths to prizes including; Amazon Gift codes, and over 200 Samsung Galaxy Tabs. The channel launched on September 5th, and within the first 48 hours, Parks Unleashed  received over 1,200,000 channel views, with only two key media buys active. The channel will continue to roll out in stages over the next few weeks, wrapping up early in October. Queen Latifah enters the park in stage three, and upon completion of the entire park, every user gets to create a custom piece of sharable video that can be shared around the web on all social platforms. See what Adweek said about it or the 1,000s of blog postings around it

Final Thought: None of this would have been possible without a truly amazing team effort by all. Many many thanks go out to my team at JWT New York, Google, Youtube, and our production partner HAUS in LA.

2012 Webby Honoree /Ineractive Advertising

Work / Groupee

August 3, 2011

I designed this flash based application with Justin Crawford at JWT. The application makes connections via social media platform APIs like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and online event registration databases. Groupee then relates the people in the room in a fun and visual way. The idea of creating products between client projects is something that has always sparked my interest. When the opportunity arose to jump into this one, I took it. The plan is to license the technology and provide the platfoprm to events worldwide. There is a pretty good chance Groupee will be traveling to Germany later this year.

Industry / Bring the Magic Back

May 6, 2011

Now more than ever advertising needs to bring the magic back to our craft. The opportunities that technology has opened up to us as creative thinkers has opened up an endless array of doors. Storytelling has never had so many possibilities, and consumers have never been more available. Technology is not a gimmick, and the existence of a new technology should not be the solitary reason to use it.

Technology is another arrow in the quiver. It is another paintbrush. The 21st Century creative team must learn how to present “craft” using these amazing mew platforms. Magicians often worked for years to create a grand illusion that would define their careers, and pen their names in the history books. They invested the necessary time to constantly be learning, and to stay one step ahead of their audience. They were thinkers, performers, scientists, and illusionists.  They were able to take the mechanics of a trick and translate that through showmanship into a performance that would delight and amaze. Nowadays, new technologies in mobile, second screens, and wireless location based data afford us the opportunity delight and amaze consumers. Let’s step it up.

It is high time that the advertising world recognize this dedication to craft and showmanship once again. It is time we practice our craft with dedication to the performance, and return the prestige to our work.


April 1, 2011

Client: #Pitchmode Studio: Universalscene

Well after one full day consisting of thousands of page-views there has definitely been a wide range of press, chatter, tweeting, and conversation about #PITCHMODE. Agency rags, Media Blogs, and Tech sites all chimed in, as well as a few hundred people on twitter. There has been so much talk about it and everyone seems to shed a different light and attitude towards it. The fact that so much discussion arose really interests me considering how quickly it was conceived, designed and developed, not to mention how truly simple of an idea it really was. The Egoist Network has also followed along and have been collecting the best of the best.

It began yesterday afternoon, when I was a few hours shy of completing a ten day pitch consisting of the typical late nights, and a furious delivery schedules. Sometime around lunch I fired off a tweet with one of my more popular hashtags, #PITCHMODE. Later that evening once all the files were approved, delivered, and prepped for a morning presentation I though back over the day, and while skimming tweets, I thought about how many of us in the industry all knows exactly what #PITCHMODE means.

#PITCHMODE is a call to arms, it’s a rally cry, and a quick and concise way of alerting our friends that we are “in the zone” and are doing what we are all here to do, sell great ideas. Whether you are a writer, art director, creative director, project manager, or producer, it is universal piece of language familiar to all of us.

As I began building the twitter search tools against the API, I quickly saw that the word was being used everywhere around the world. It really began to feel like a good idea to pursue creating a simple, solitary purpose site that could act as a simple aggregate platform to house these conversations. After it was up and running I saw that people actually took comfort in knowing that even if the were alone at the agency cranking, they were not alone. Somewhere, someone was working right long side of them in #PITCHMODE. Truth be told it was also an excuse to mess with some new publishing technology I was itching to use.

The Idea:
Design, program, and launch a single function Web application to support creative solidarity before sunrise.

Technology Platform:
#PITCHMODE Beta runs off of the Twitter API, puling in all content using the PITCHMODE handle and hashtag. Automated responses based on time, weather, and the content of tweets are generated by using triggers within the IFTT toolset. ( Once #PITCHMODE was up and running in beta the site became completely autonomous.

Uniform Resource Locator:
You are not alone.

*Another Universalscene Thing.

Work / JWT BBQ Truck

March 17, 2011

JWT wanted to satisfy sxsw attendees cravings for saucy cow and pig flesh at SXSW Interactive this year. To do so, the agency hauled tangy, basted animal carcasses (from Texas favorite Salt Lick) all around Austin in two special trucks—and showering free barbecued meat on the masses. You could even requisition the trucks for a special delivery by appealing to @jwtbbq on Twitter. The Web site,, has a “Truck Finder” Bing map to locate the trucks and a “Threat Meat-er” that lets you know when they’re running low on BBQ. To get your mouth watering, watch the ultraviolent animation here and here, in which pigs and cows slice and dice each other in inventive ways, all for your gustatory pleasure.

My role as Creative Director on this project was to get the two animations that would be projected on walls in a guerrilla style to an awesome place, as well as define the visual language of the collateral branding including the wrapping of the trucks, stickers, and napkins which in a very clever turn of events contained our disclaimer, as well as some brand messaging. Once again a small crack unit inside JWT put in an amazing effort to turn out a tasty project in a very shout amount of time.