Judge creative like an emo-hipster

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11.11.09 :: I am not so ignorant as to think all of my readers know what constitutes an ‘emo-hipster’. Quite simply, they are young, melodramatic trend seekers. (Listen to a few Bright Eyes‘ songs or go to your nearest Urban Outfitters and buy The Hipster’s Handbook if you want to get into it a bit more.)

Now, why are they shining examples of creative critics? For the same reason we can’t create a stable economy- they’re emotionally rational. This stereotype has a feeling about an experience and then is able to explain it in a 3 min 56 sec song with complex vocabulary and estranged metaphors to the point where you clearly understand what they’re feeling and why they’re feeling it. Because of this understanding, they can get like minded people to follow them and others to admire them. Simply put, they are good communicators and conduits of emotion.

Today, a lot of emphasis is placed on rational analysis and sometimes we forget each action that results from our communication is, at first, emotional. It might be a thrill created from a deal, the thought of fitting in, or the simple pleasure of being entertained by a talking gecko. Whatever the case, it’s emo. Now, this is no big surprise to anyone who has been around the conference table a couple times or watched enough Mad Men.

However, if you learned how to look at creative the same way an emo-hipster evaluates a experience (by feeling first), you can make short work of any piece. The key is being able to correctly identify how your audience feels and then being able explain why that is. As business people, (whos’ job it is to be rational in order to increase efficiency), we tend to be reductionist and forget the overall impact emotion created through this empathy. So, learning to speak of emo has its’ benefits, even if it requires putting yourself in the shoes of someone who insists on wearing skinny jeans.

Can condiments have causes?

9.24.09:: I am all for brand banner statements. I find these professions of faith empowering. However, I get a little uneasy when it has to deal with a condiment. Take in exhibit A:

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This proclamation speaks to the product feature and ties in the audience. Day 1 stuff of any creative assignment, really. Now, may I present Exhibit B:

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Same thing, right? Nope. Ask yourself what is more believable– the condiment with attitude or a movement of Americans who wear the standard in rebel fashion? Obviously, the latter. And this is just for one reason: Levi’s has a brand that can do this. They can actually have people take up their banner. Take a visit to both their campaign websites (Go Forth and Zinger) and this messaging becomes more apparent. Levi’s communication is something that people can join. They not only ask for photo submissions, but actually have visitors engage in ‘expeditions’ and writing assignments about the brand and its’ mantra. Miracle Whip’s messaging is merely entertainment, as they just ask you to ‘zing’ the web.

Please don’t think I am claiming that Miracle Whip and Kraft have no idea what they are doing. They are simply living the limitation of their product, and doing the best job they can at it. However, when you create a piece of communication that proclaims the beliefs of your brand and its’ fans, remember an authentic message people can join in on will always be more successful. If you don’t believe me, here’s the number of Facebook friends each effort has:

Levi’s: 146,000
Miracle Whip: 18,607

And that’s the skinny.

There’s Such a Thing as Free Ideas

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9.18.09:: Sources are telling us the recession is receding (faster that Ben Bernanke’s hairline, in fact). So, let’s take stock. Print media is ailing, catfights about the promises social media continue and we have a few new search engines. Other than that, it’s the business of recession as usual. Agencies have downsized the designer coffee, increased new biz efforts and the freelancers have made camp in that middle manager’s office whose name everyone forgot.

So, when I read this article about providing not only good ideas, but ideas that build business to clients during this time, I was inspired. Client/agency relationships have a tendency fall into a rut, where we only concern ourselves with ‘filling the space’ and not taking chances. Add a recession to the mix and we produce only what is tried and true. However, in a time when structure is waning and the rules seem almost non-existent, isn’t it time to shine? Nothing cures the nightly news blues like a good idea. And, after this blows over, wouldn’t you like to be the one sitting with the next big idea in your lap?

So, after colluding with my compatriots, we decided we wanted to arm our clients with ideas that help them take a leap. And, in full embrace of Google-osophy, we are going to do this free. Well, almost.

For the next 6 months, any new piece of business from a current or new client will receive an additional set of 3 ideas to help build their business (here’s the details).

We’re calling it The Moniker 3I’s. That’s 3 ideas that build your business and make sure that you don’t end up with a The Jelly of the Month Club membership for a holiday bonus.

Would you like a hand?

9.3.09:: Our new business cards have arrived; along with endless possibilities for placement. If you have suggestions, let us know.

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Sticky Social Media, Literally

8.05.09 :: These days social media is bigger than MJ’s funeral coverage, and rightly so. A brand can actually participate in a two way conversation with it’s fans easily. All it has to do is find people that have a reason to talk and nurture that relationship. This is usually done by soliciting feedback, providing a forum or topic to discuss. But what do you do when your audience was born way before the age of the status update? The same thing. Take a look at one of our current direct mail pieces for Walker Place, a 55+ community in Minneapolis.
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Working along with the team at Walker Place, we established the idea that their residents were active and their ‘retirement was not tired’. We knew we had to create a piece that would allow resident prospects to embrace retirement and share this thought with others. So, we created a simple 6×9″ sheet of stickers with quippy sayings seniors could use to show their and Walker Place’s vibrancy. (My personal favorite is “I don’t feed pigeons.”) What resulted was a piece that allowed a community to rally around a cause (active retirement) and share this thought with others (with stickers). This mailer outperformed all our expectations drastically (some people even showed up to their tours wearing stickers), so needless to say the team at Walker Place was pleased.

But, what does this mean? Well, it still means an original idea, with the right medium and a great client can make an impact. It also means you don’t have to be online to be a brand people talk about (though it does help). You simply have to have the right message executed well.  Too often this simple truth is neglected when we are constantly bombarded with million dollar marketing buzz words, bloated creative and, dare we say it….sameness. So, before all else, embrace simplicity.