|Original articles from Tom Roarty.|
|A Damn Good Lecture From Advertising Great George Lois|
One of the biggest upsides to working for a large company are the everyday perks people in a small company do not usually get. There have been just a few places I’ve worked that have had the ability to bring in outside guest speakers to keep motivation levels up, and luckily my current employer is one of those places. In a surprise announcement that had been sent via email late Thursday morning, I had been invited to see a speech by advertising great George Lois.
The lecture promoting Lois’ book “Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!)” took place in a theater-type setting in the basement where many functions like this have taken place over the years.
|Staying Calm Through Deadlines|
Any deadline can make for a stressful situation, but for creatives, it is a little different. Unlike other office jobs, where most of the work is presented and has to be dealt with in a manner to complete a particular project, a creative usually has to rely on their imagination to get them through. And, as all creatives know, the mind does not necessarily deliver what we want it to and when we need it to.
Knowing this does not make the process any easier, and one of the biggest obstacles a creative can face is the self-manifested pressure of a looming deadline, which is compounded by the thought of, “How am I going to get through this?” It is this thought alone that can assure a deadline...
|Managing the Project|
Being happy in your work goes a long way in being happy in your life, and I am now open to the fact that there is a seed to a positive work environment. Although in the past I have primarily been against project managers, I am willing to admit that the right person for the job can make all the difference in the world. However, until recently, I have only ever worked with one project manager that knew their job well enough to keep the work moving smoothly. That was so long ago that I had just about lost all of my faith in the position. What I have found to be true over the years is that titles are a great incentive to get people on board for one task while making them think they are something completely different.
|Five Steps to Staying Creatively Relevant|
Trying to stay creative after being any place long enough is not always easy. Let’s face it; we all have a style, and when designing for a specific company or brand over the years, there is a cycle that will repeat itself over time. However, there are ways to combat that repetitiveness and at least prolong the restart of the inevitable cycle, which could help in expanding your creative longevity. These are five tips that I have found helpful to stay fresh and relevant within a brand setting. 1) Research. We are at a point where there is pretty much no stone left unturned. No matter what new or existing product you get assigned, chances are it exists in that exact form or at least in some variation.
|Halloween Horrors for Costume Buyers|
Let’s face it: Halloween without dressing up is just Oct. 31. The costume is a big part of the holiday, and most people know that costume shopping can be a time-consuming and usually pricy outing. Depending on where you shop, Halloween displays are like visual candy for kids of all ages. This year, I went to Ricky’s, a beauty chain here in New York, to pick up my daughter’s costume, and this is where my dark tale of retail horror begins.
Ricky’s has always had a pretty decent costume selection and great sales on its merchandise the day after Halloween, but the time leading up to the holiday can get…choppy. Finding the costume I was looking for was easy, and it was clearly marked $29.99...
|Sir Paul the Car Salesman|
Sure, all car owners have decent arguments on why their vehicles are cool, but in case there was any question as to how cool, Open Road VW/Audi dealership at 802 11th Ave. in New York found a way to set the bar with the help of none other than Paul McCartney. As part of Sir Paul’s promotion for his latest album, “New,” the New York-based car dealership worked out a unique cross-promotion with rock royalty.
Imagine sitting in a new car, windows rolled down, listening to Paul McCartney on the radio. For seasoned McCartney fans such as myself, listening to MACCA in this fashion was once the most popular way to crank his music, but with changing times, listening to FM radio is not as hip...
|Creative Coworkers: Your Other Family|
If you are a professional creative, you know that there are many factors that can contribute to your success. Like everything in life, it is through a strong support group that helps determine our success. But unlike other fields, the creative industry is all too often a dysfunctional world that leads us to rely on our extended family members a little more than most career paths.
It is not that we creatives cannot be independent individuals in our craft, but to be truly successful in the creative world, especially in advertising, the best executions are team-built. In the midst of a campaign pitch through launch, chances are you will be spending more time with copywriters, art directors, creative directors...
|Creative Presentations: Quantity vs. Quality|
You can learn a lot as a creative freelancer. The work can be as diverse as the daily operations of the clients you are contracting for. It is those little differences between companies that open up the discussion about which methods of creative flow are effective and which are not.
Recently I have had the opportunity to work with a client whom I cannot get enough of. My direct report is a creative who believes that design is as important as the money that it generates. There are no cut corners, and what is expected is top-quality work over quantity of concepts. This is very different from what I have experienced in recent months, where the goal was to blitz the client with a large amount of designs...
|Why You Should Always Reapply|
We have all read the perfect job description and thought upon hitting the send key. “I have to get a call back for this job!” From the list of software no one may know better than you to the niche client experience you have been a slave to since the technology had been invented, the job has to be yours…or does it? All too often that excitement turns to concern and, finally, to depression as time goes on until you realize that someone else now occupies your perfect job. Unfortunately this is more often the norm that not, but what is even more frustrating is seeing the same job posting pop up a few months later. With some companies, this seems to be a ritual.
|Can LinkedIn Endorsements Hurt Your Career as a Creative?|
Before I even get started, I feel it is important to state that I am a fan of LinkedIn. I believe there is a huge upside to being able to meet other professionals in one’s area of expertise. However, there are certain aspects of the professional network that could be considered a hindrance to one’s career. Now that some time has passed, and the dust has settled a bit in regards to LinkedIn's recommendations feature, I thought now would be a good time to revisit the feature and assess whether it is a viable career advantage. Although the creative industry is more of a “show me” world, usually a recommendation is never a bad thing...or is it? What LinkedIn did was find a way to invite a member’s contacts...
|When and How to Use WordPress for Your Business Needs|
There was a time when HTML reigned supreme. If you wanted a corporate presence on the web, there was no other alternative. As time went on and building sites became easier for the masses through the use of WYSIWYG editors, businesses started to become more aware of what went into making a site. Sure, non-programmers/designers could figure out the now-easy interface available to them, but in many cases, it was just enough to get them in trouble. It does not matter what size business you are creating for; people will always want to know what goes on behind the curtain and know that they can do it themselves. Today, WordPress gives those people the ability...
|New York Public Schools Prep Tomorrow’s Advertising Creatives|
Through the years, New York has been a magnet for some of the world’s greatest creative talent. It could be because of its multi-cultural diversity, the amount of revenue that could be obtained on the island, or the fact that art inspires art, and there is plenty of it here. There are few places that you could go in Manhattan without coming across a wide range of creative works in open forums, spanning Picasso to Warhol, but among all of the famous works that can be found, there are also glimpses into tomorrow’s creatives. On the quiet tree-lined block between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues on 84th Street, you will pass by Public School 9.
|The Evolution of Today’s Telemarketing|
There was a time not too long ago when you could not escape dinnertime telemarketing calls offering some of the most mundane services. Somehow, they knew just when the whole family sat down to eat before reaching out to their now-captive audience. Thankfully, caller ID, answering machines, and the beloved National Do Not Call list arrived and made it a lot easier to ignore/eliminate these calls. So the sales-generating industry went underground to reinvent itself, emerging as a cleverly disguised, more-acceptable sales form. Last week while celebrating my father’s birthday, I was at my parents' house when the phone rang. Not recognizing the number, they let it go to the machine.
|A Strong Design Foundation Can Outlast Time and Media|
Every profession has a foundation, and photography is no different. Although there are different styles, techniques, and equipment, the basics — lighting and composition — are universal traits whether you are using film or digital. As with any media, you can learn to use new technology, but it is the foundation of the basics that will define your success. I was reminded of just how much one's fundamental skill set can help aid someone who has been away from a specific design discipline this past week when I was asked to photograph a live event, something I have not done in almost four years.
|Creatives vs. Time|
Today it is almost impossible to keep up with all of the creative agencies opening and closing in pretty much every market. Just when you think you figured out which shops are starting to pull away from the pack and make a name for themselves, they mysteriously disappear. That leads to the question: What makes a company’s longevity possible? Unfortunately, there is no one answer or solution that can guarantee success for any business, but there are clear qualities for those who have stood the test of time. Success starts with people. Is it the most talented people that secure a company’s longevity? Not really. Creative medias are constantly changing.
|Selling vs. Solving|
One of the best things any business can do is train their employees about their products and services. Not just the salespeople on the front lines, but all of their employees. By doing so, a business can expand its possibility for a potential sale through even the most unexpected channels. Although sales is the lifeblood of any business, if a company wants to arm its employees with the power to sell, it should also train them on appropriate times to do so.
The topic for this submission came to mind this week after dealing with my local cable company after my Internet went down. Some back history about my relationship with my provider: I had cable and Internet both from the same company.
|Successful Grassroots Advertising In Its Most Simplistic Form|
With all the technology available to advertisers these days, the only media worth investing in is the one that works. It is a concept that agencies and their clients learn right away if they are to succeed, but this ideology works on all levels. This week’s article was inspired by events far “Beyond Madison Avenue” in Eastern Long Island, where a family took to a grassroots campaign to find their missing puppy. What was to follow would be considered a success in any circle in the creative world.
It started with a simple question, “Did they ever find that dog?” I saw the posters a few weeks ago in my parents’ neighborhood while visiting them, and as I was driving, a poster on a telephone pole caught my eye.
|Five Tips For Creative Managers Returning From a Long Weekend|
From an employee perspective, long weekends are the best, but from employer standards, they can be difficult, especially when you run a busy shop. It can be a tricky situation giving your workers the time off they both deserve and need and then asking them to jump in to a high level of creativity upon returning from a vacation, but it can be done. Here are some tricks that I have picked up and even implemented myself over the years to get all cylinders firing — right after grabbing that first cup of office coffee. When vacation comes, it comes for all of us, but as a manager, your vacation will partly consist of worrying about the workload waiting for you.
It is strange when we get to the point where we have the ability to start a sentence with “when I was younger,” but over time it happens to all of us. My “when-I-was-younger” moment happened to me this weekend while preparing my daughter to transfer to an art high school. To see the things that she tends to struggle with have, in fact, been the exact opposite of things I have struggled with in my early design career.
We came upon this conclusion when outlining her portfolio. We wanted to show a variety of media since we are not sure exactly what the schools will be looking for. In her portfolio she’ll have photography, digital banner ads, postcards, CD cover designs, pottery, and drawings, both realistic and cartoon.
|A Promotion Fit For the Seven Kingdoms?|
This week ended the Game of Cones promotion from HBO and Foursquare, which involved people checking into ice-cream shops in New York and San Francisco to find out who would win the Iron Cone. Whichever shop got the most check-ins got to give away free samples alongside the throne from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” at the South Street Seaport in New York City. Big Gay Ice Cream was the victor for New York with nearly 700 more votes than runner-up Milk Bar. Although HBO has traveled a “Game of Thrones” exhibit in the past, this set up was oddly similar to Netflix’s “Arrested Development” promotion, with one exception: The turnout. Back when “Arrested Development” launched its traveling campaign...
|5 Tips For Grads Entering the Creative Field |
The middle to end of June has always been a crazy month for the creative world. It is that time of year when recent college grads start to settle down and recent high school grads start prepping for their college and/or career. In other words, the creative job market becomes flooded with talent, and job seeking becomes that much harder. Hopefully, through some common sense, skill, and these tips, finding your job in the creative field will be a little less painful. Design Your Resume:
If you're looking to be a designer, the first thing a potential employer should see from you is a designed resume. This is not to say you need graphics, but layout formatting will go a long way in separating you from your competition.
|AMC Loews: Changing the Way People Go to the Movies|
I have always been a fan of the movies. However, in recent years, the theater experience has changed, and not all that much for the better. No matter how many pre-feature announcements are made calling for a quiet, cellphone-free zone, people just tend to ignore them as they talk, text and, my all-time favorite, kick seats...
|Did Time Warner Cable’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Ad Pay Off?|
You know the commercial for Time Warner that has been playing for the past few months featuring Daenerys Targaryen’s baby dragon from “Game of Thrones?” The cross promotion took one of HBO’s most-watched shows and used its assets to help promote Time Warner Cable. As I am currently working on a cross-promotion myself, I started to wonder who benefits most from a cross-promotion, and are both parties usually satisfied with the outcome? Using the Time Warner Cable promotion as an example, I have to state up front that I am not a fan of the cable company. For the past year, I have lived on Apple TV and Netflix, but as a creative, I was drawn to the promotion immediately.
|Two Paths of Creative Careers With the Same Endpoint|
One of the greatest things about having a long weekend is getting a chance to catch up with friends and family. This past three-day mini-vacation, I was lucky enough to catch up with one of my best and most talented art director friends I have while visiting my old stomping grounds. Paul, who has been specializing in direct marketing for healthcare companies, has been a professional designer for more than 20 years. In talking with him, I realized that being a “specialist” isn’t always as good as it might sound.
Throughout my career, I have always wanted to try new things, and in going from print to web to animation and everywhere in between, I believed that knowing a variety of medias...
|Advertising Lessons From The Bluths: There’s Money in the Banana Stand|
One of the biggest perks about living in New York City as a creative is the exposure to some of the world’s greatest advertising promotions. Such is the case with last week’s perfectly orchestrated campaign by Netflix for the newest season of “Arrested Development.” In an effort to promote the return of the award-winning cult classic, one of the show’s most memorable symbols, the Bluth banana stand, was erected in Midtown.
Having been a fan of the show since its inception in 2003, I, like many others, was crushed when the program was removed from the Fox lineup in 2006. “Arrested Development” was somehow lost in the cracks...
|Is Klout’s Social Measuring Relevant Now That It Has Copied Quora?|
As mentioned in a previous article for Talent Zoo, I believed that Klout was once headed in the right direction to help separate those who could be prospective social media experts from those who are social media hobbyists. However, after an article released by Wired.com this past week, I no longer have the same faith in the app that I once did.
According to Steven Levy, the article’s author, Klout wants to break away from just the scorekeeping aspect of its business to become more of a social network. The premise is that if you have a question, you can now ask a “Klout Expert” who will eventually, in real time as the service catches on, be able to answer your question. The premise sounds good, but is it good for Klout?
|Billboards: Digital vs. Print|
Drive on enough highways throughout the United States, and you will undoubtedly come across some great outdoor advertising. The art of outdoor advertising has been around since around 1840, and although the basic model of the billboard is the same, the deployment method has changed a lot.
It wasn’t all that long ago that new technology caught up to the old formula and the birth of the digital billboard was conceived, bringing a whole new dimension and conflict to the advertising vessel. With digital, there is no more waiting for weather, printers, or installers. All you have to do is save your JPEG, TIF, or movie file, upload it to a server, and you are live, rain or shine.
|Knowing When to Cut Your Campaign Loose|
I recently met with an old colleague who is currently at a major agency, and although we had promised not to discuss work beforehand, we eventually couldn’t help ourselves. Apparently, there is something in an advertising creative’s DNA that does not allow us to break away from our area of expertise when we get together, and by now, we should probably just accept that fact. I assume this is because, unlike most professions, ours is always around us with no chance for escape. So there we were, at a local establishment when a new commercial for an old product came on. It was at this point that our conversation went from family to advertising.
|How Failing Can Teach You To Succeed|
After starting off my career as a designer for various magazines covering mostly music, fashion, and entertainment, I felt it would be a good idea to venture off on my own. I had the designers, printers, editorial, and distribution staff all in place. The one thing that I did not count on was the human factor that goes into running a business.
At the time, I had no money to really speak of, but luckily these were the days of what seemed to be endless credit. I applied for and received enough credit to buy a few Macs, a printer, office space, and office furniture and have enough left over to cover the printing costs of the first nine issues of the publication. All that was needed now was to produce the magazine.
|Five Keys To Creative Freelancing|
As mentioned in last week's article, this week is all about the things that I have found to be helpful when entering the freelance world. Does this mean that the following list is all you will need to be successful? No, but it is a good starting point.
One of the ways you can find freelance work is through an agent, but how do you know if the person representing you is a good fit for your career? Time will tell, but the sign of good representation is consistency. Do they contact you when you inquire about positions they post? Are you finding your positions within your comfort zone? Do you trust that they understand all of your capabilities? Always be available for your agent...
Many years ago, I gave corporate freelancing a try. I was just a few years out of school and wanted to break away from the magazine work I was doing for a while. At the time, I was fairly confident in my abilities because at my previous, and only full-time, gig, I had everything under control on a daily basis. It wouldn’t take long to find out that my new business direction would be much different.
The first client I worked for was a Top 10 financial company. Coming from a music magazine, I had quite a few questions for my placement agent. After the gig was over, I had even more questions. The reason for all of the questions...
|A Lack of Confidence in Instagram|
An old freelance client recently approached me for help with some of their social networking needs. Although this client had not done social marketing in the past, we had talked about it and this year, they were finally ready to take the leap. The thing about this particular client is that it would be a prime candidate for an Instagram account. A year ago, I would have done all I could to talk them into one, but in our most recent meeting, I spent the majority of time talking them out of it. To give you a little background on the client, they are a major annual festival. Having always been a fan of Instagram, it was the absolute first service I thought of when brainstorming ideas...
|When Negotiating, Consider Salary Over Bonuses|
Advertising is an ever-changing industry with a wide variety of variables that will help determine an agency’s success. From the types of services it offers today to what technological advancements it can offer tomorrow, the whole process starts with people. It is the vision and talents of a creative department that help to assure its future success, but how do agencies lure in top talent?
In the past, I have made mention of a lot of creative ways agencies will recruit for the candidates they want. From social environments to flexible schedules, little comes across as enticing to someone entering the job market in this industry as the thought of a bonus.
|Creative Organizing for Success|
If you are a designer, in time you will eventually, if you are lucky, amass a large amount of work that will represent your abilities. It is pretty wild to look through your portfolio even when you are not actively looking for a job, to see the progression of your career. But as an employer, it is not always easy to sort through the visual journey, which may make you a great candidate for a position. So how do you make sure you keep the attention of a hiring manager? Organization. For years, I have had a habit of adding any design work I have been happy with to my portfolio, which currently resides on an iPad. I have a master section, which consists of all 87 pieces spanning print, digital, and animation.
|The Power of Music in Advertising|
There are so many elements of an ad campaign that can stick in one's head; that is the idea, after all. Coming from the design end of the field, I would like to think that visual stimulation is king. My copywriter colleagues would put up a good argument for their craft as well, but of all of the components, one of the most underrated could be the jingle.
One of the most progressive elements in traditional advertising development has been the evolution of the jingle. What was once a simplistic catchy melody has now grown into a mini soundtrack. One of my favorite commercial scores was created for Heineken. As the broadcast campaign unfolded, the music did as well, all while keeping the integrity of the spots.
|Robin Williams Misses the Sweet Spot for Snickers|
What is a great formula for success? Is it milk chocolate, nougat, caramel, and peanuts, or product promotions by Joe Pesci, Aretha Franklin, Betty White, and Rosanne Barr? Well, for those who cannot decide, you don’t have to thanks to Snickers, who combined the two with one of my favorite campaigns. The personalities captured both the mood and target audience in a fun, cohesive way, but in the campaign’s latest installment, the message and the fun falls short of the mark.
It seems like it always happens; you see a commercial, it goes away for a while, and than no matter what channel you are watching, there it is playing over and over, to the point where you never want to see it again.
|The Pros and Cons of Creative Startups|
I was recently presented with the opportunity to work with a print and new media startup. I have worked in startup situations in the past, and although some may be leery to put trust in an unproven product, there are some definite advantages to working for a new business as opposed to an established company.
The thing main difference between these two working environments is habit. As a business evolves, it finds out what works and what doesn’t. In many instances, the things that work are regarded as process. Although this makes total sense because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to stick with what works? Repetitiveness eventually becomes the repressor of creativity.
|‘The Job’ From the View of a Contestant|
A few weeks ago, I read a tweet that said, “America used to have a show called ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ now it has ‘The Job.’” Not long after that, as “The Job” hit the airwaves, a very mixed reaction hit social media, a lot of it echoing that first tweet I saw on the project. Now, after only two episodes, the show is gone. I personally did not watch either of the first two episodes; for me it was a difficult reminder of what we would do to reach our dreams, as I was contestant No. 5 on one of the first two pilot episodes shot.
The episode I was taping for happened this time last year. My literal dream gig at the very first agency I ever visited while in college. The agency that made me want to become an advertising creative...
|Vine: The Next Big Thing in Advertising?|
As with any technology, if it’s deemed worthy, it is only a matter of time before people find a way to promote their products and services with it. Lately I have found myself drawn to Twitter, and I feel as if it has helped me a lot in developing promotional-driven messages in a fast and timely manner. So it is only an evolutionary expectation that Vine takes social-network advertising to the next level.
First of all, I realize that online video is not a new idea. YouTube has done very well developing the media, and advertisers have come to embrace it, but not wholeheartedly like they have done with other social-networking platforms such as Twitter. First of all, I realize that online video is not a new idea.
|A Rebirth of Auto Advertising with Hyundai Leading the Way|
It has been almost a year since I wrote my first article for Talent Zoo on how the auto industry has some of the most formulaic, vanilla-style advertising techniques of any industry. At the time, apart from a few bright spots, it was true. However, this year's auto Super Bowl submissions have stepped it up, and I feel the need to acknowledge that after my first article.
Now, the last thing want to do is make this about Super Bowl advertising. I am sure that by the time this post goes live, that subject will have be beaten to death with everyone talking about the latest GoDaddy spot, but I would like to focus more on how far the industry has come, especially Hyundai.
|Home Sweet Office|
Most people in advertising, no matter what sector of the field we may be in, at some point face a stint where we are in the office more than we are at home. Even for people who love their careers, this stint usually takes its toll on them. Seeing this as an eventual morale breaker, agencies have expanded their creativity to cover those possible pitfalls and find ways to keep their employees happy and productive through those tumultuous times.
One of the fastest trends is free lunches/dinners. This is not a new idea by any means, but keepers of a creative staff have found this small token of appreciation helps not only them, but their employees as well. The process of design is a momentum-building one.
|Where Does Negativity in the Workplace Come From?|
The advertising world can be brutal. In an industry such creativity and beauty can spawn from, the calm is usually only surface calm, though, as a turbulent underside is frequently present. But why is it that in so many creative environments there is always a call for drama?
There was a place I worked at a few years ago that was driven on negative emotions. It was then I started to ask myself, "Why?" It wasn’t a rhetorical question, but one I truly wanted to find a meaning for. I have worked for a wide variety of clients in my career, and it seems that many of the places I was at had this problem, but I never questioned it in depth until I reached that particular job.
|Finding Inspiration In Contrasts|
As a creative, one of the hardest tasks is to find inspiration on a daily basis. It is not that we do not seek out inspiration, but more of the way we harness it. As most people will get pleasure passing the same icons on a daily basis, people who are creative for a living will find a way to mine that inspiration and seek out the next emotion-invoking vision we can draw from, like a scrap-metal collector in a junkyard. However, there are times that that we come across things that move us in such a profound way that it changes our way of thinking. At least until we grow numb to the vision and start seeking out our next creative fix.
|The Speed of Change: A Personal Account|
There was a time when I felt that I could take on pretty much any creative challenge and complete it in a timely manner. That time was when the hardest part about executing a design problem was coming up with the idea. My, how times have changed, and for those that did not keep up as best they should have, such as myself, there are quite a few challenges to face.
I will start off by saying that it is not easy to go from a comfortable pocket in your career where there is a feeling of safety to the harsh reality of what things have become. The fact of the matter is that technology is ever evolving, and although it is impossible for any one person to keep up with it all, it is imperative that we try.
|An Obscure Holiday Advertising Element|
The stresses of the holidays affect everyone from merchants to consumers.
What to get, and where to get it, has become a part of the process for most of us, and what was once a spiritual time of year is now a commerce-driven event. It is a time when advertisers tell you about the product you need to have in some of the most creative presentations ever. However, there are ways businesses are luring in consumers without the help of any traditional or digital campaigns.
Across the street from the southwestern corner of Central Park in New York City is the Time Warner Center, is an upscale mall home to such high-end luxury shops as A|X Armani Exchange, Coach, and Bose, to name a few.
|Ticketmaster Chooses Ad Dollars Over Fans|
With the rising price of tickets, concerts are already a luxury item, but with added service charges and fees, live events are becoming closer and closer to being priced out of their intended audience's means. However, for those who follow their favorite artists and save the funds needed to cover all the costs associated for their tickets, are these people really getting a fair shake when it comes to actually obtaining tickets? The short answer is no, and for those that need to blame someone for this, Ticketmaster is a good place to start. At inception, the idea of Ticketmaster was a good one. A one-stop service that would help calculate, promote, and sell tickets for a variety events through phone, web, or over the counter...
|Don’t Let Time Misrepresent Your Abilities|
I have always found it surprising how what should be common sense can so often be overlooked by business owners. I’m not referring to marketing strategies taught through the world’s great marketing programs, but simple, easy-to-spot red flags that could be the difference between a successful business and the focal point of ridicule.
When I lived in Pennsylvania, I always had to pass a certain house, but this was no ordinary house; it was also a business. The business was for a construction and home-improvement company. The thing that made this company stand out was not the fact that the house was huge, but rather how it was unfinished.
|Tips For Working Through The Holiday Season|
As a creative professional or any member of the working class, there are going to be times that it seems that the rest of the world can take a break, but you have to keep going. As the holiday season approaches, those who have to work through it sometimes tend to wallow in a pool of negative emotions, and although it is a natural reaction to knowing that you cannot be with family and friends, there are ways that I have found over the years to combat those feelings.
Chances are that if your business is operational over the holidays, there is most likely a profitability factor involved. In today's economy, generated revenue is what is keeping your position secure.
|The Two Paths of Dealing With Deadlines|
When I used to work in the publication-design field as an Art Director, I faced a weekly deadline that could not be missed. As part of the process, I had to work with editorial staff, freelancers, photographers, and printers. My predecessor, who had a nervous breakdown while at work due to the pressure, which ultimately lead to my promotion, always planned things as if they were grid-based. Monday would be spent sitting with editorial and sales teams to determine a page count. Tuesday would be spent with the creative team to translate the direction. Wednesday would be laying out the rough copy and approving ads. Thursday we would put the book together, and Friday would be spent on the press.
|Confidence is Half the Sell|
One of the worst tasks for any designer comes when it is actually time for them to make money off of their work. The idea of trying to sell someone on a design that we obviously love — otherwise, why would we have presented it to you in the first place? — the idea of this makes the majority of us creative cringe. We all know people are usually going to love or hate our work. Non-emotion evoking design should fall in the category of hate, by the way, but to put a price on it is not an easy task for us to do. Yet, it is necessity if we want to make this our profession and be considered successful at it.
Although talent may get you in the door, getting paid is what keeps our lights on.
|The Rain of Creative Responsibility|
Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, and I am sure many people are tired of hearing about it. Even as a person who calls New York home, I, too, am just tired of reading about the devastation that has taken over my city. What is more impressive than the destruction of the storm is the way in which professionalism was upheld through this disaster.
The fact that we were hit with one of the largest hurricanes in recorded history would have been a viable excuse for so many people to just stray from their previous obligations, but that did not seem to happen in the creative world. Surely the ability to do the work was not as seamless as it usually is on a day-to-day basis, but we pressed on.
|The Importance of Pre-Kick-Off Meetings to A Small Agency Designer|
There are not a lot of creatives that like to attend meetings; actually, there are not a lot of people that I know in any industry that enjoy going to meetings. But if there were one meeting I find most beneficial, it would be the pre-kick-off meeting. I know a lot of people are probably thinking, "What, a meeting before the meeting?" I know, it just seems like more killed time, but for a designer working at a smaller-sized agency, it is probably one of the most vital meetings you may have access to.
The pre-kick-off meeting is usually an organized internal potluck-style gathering. In the company I work for, all three designers, the traffic coordinator, and our president sit in on this ritual.
|The Mental Pitfalls of a Creative|
Earlier this week a study was released by Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, stating that creativity is “closely entwined with mental illness.” Although many creatives will probably find a dark humor to this revelation (because what creative hasn’t felt they were losing their mind at one point or another?), the study, led by Dr. Simon Kyaga, reached out to more than a million people and concluded that creative professionals were more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders than other people. Although many of these disorders can be treated with the help of a professional, what is the cost to the creative whose ideas come from their “illness?”
|JetBlue's Victorious Campaign!|
It seems as if every major event is covered by the advertising industry these days. The ability to be topical, thought provoking, and engaging is, after all, just one of the keys to a campaign's success. So it only makes sense that as we gear up for the presidential election in November, we will start to see more campaigns based on the event. This election's crop of campaign-themed ads have started surfacing, and if JetBlue's initiative is any indication of what's to come, we have a lot to look forward to.
On my way to work, I am lucky enough to be able to take mass transit. For people who are not in the New York City area or have not been to the city, when commuting via the subway system, agencies will tend to use the top part of the train cars to advertise.
|Maximizing Creative Staff and Supporting Roles|
No matter how big your agency is, there is always an eagerness to make it feel bigger to the clients that you interact with. The ability to sell the idea of “we have you covered at every angle” is a welcomed one, especially when it comes to costly services in the advertising genre. From the agency's perspective, however, what is the cost of what you need vs. what you want?
Sometimes being creative can be an easy process; other times, not so much. The ability designers have to receive information can surely help in the process of developing ideas. It is a combination of strong communication skills and the ability to listen for clients' needs that contribute to a creative success.
|Avocado to Pumpkin and Little Between|
With the change of each season comes the latest and greatest trend bandwagon that so many companies seem to jump on. A few weeks ago, you couldn't get to far without seeing promotions for something made with avocado. Now, as the weather is getting cooler, pumpkin is the trend. As logical as a trend that this is given the time of year, it doesn't take long for these once-unique treats to become part of an oversaturated sales pitch, not unlike street vendors all hollering, "Hot dogs!" from pretty much every corner of the city. All this does is show that trending products in your business model are there more for keeping up, as opposed to standing out.
|Can Difficult Clients Be Helpful?|
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between a problem client and a thorough client. The fact of the matter is, they can both be considered difficult, but exceptions can be made for the client who is educated enough to look after the best interest of his or her business. How does one distinguish between the two case scenarios, though? The answer is in the details.
The idea for this week’s topic came to me after I had dealings with two similar clients, asking like-minded questions about the design of their web sites for very different reasons. Let's start off with the questions they were asking, which included: What made you pick this color scheme?
|The New Employee Barter System for Creatives|
One thing that many people who have not been in the creative industry (or any other industry for that matter), might not know about is the new employee barter system. Although an unwritten rule, it is one that will make your transition at your new job a much smoother one. It is a simple gesture that can make your first and most impressionable days a set-up for success. So, it's your first day of work at the new gig. The stress and anxiety of this day has been mounting since you accepted the offer. Waiting for you at your new place of employment is a group of people that have taken a gamble on the fact that you are going to be able to deliver what they need.
|Where You Fit Just Might Surprise You|
There was a time when my ambition was focused on the corporate side of the creative mind. College had instilled the idea that working for a top-ranked creative department should be the ambition of all designers. Although it has been some years since I graduated, I still hold on to many of the principles I have learned. However, the idea that working for a massive agency has suddenly become less appealing as I start to look back at my past accomplishments and realize I would rather help contribute on many levels to a company's success then to just have a supporting role in a non-progressive environment. Quite recently I started my new position as a creative for digital and print.
|The Ad Industry Job Search|
Since I started writing for Talent Zoo seven months ago, I have been looking for my next position in the advertising industry. In fact, it was during my search that I came across this great resource, and knew I wanted to become a part of it. It was probably because of my job search that many of my posts here were related to the employment side of finding a position in the creative field. However, I suspect that will change since I have found new employment in a creatively conducive environment. So for those people on Talent Zoo who are here for the same reasons I was, I thought it’d be beneficial to share my story in hopes that it may help someone else in the same situation.
|What Makes You the Expert?|
In pretty much any field, there always seems to be an outcry for “experts.” Coming from a creative background, this also holds true, especially when it comes to designing for emerging technologies. In the past year, however, I have heard the word "expert" used more than any other time before, which leads one to ask, "What constitutes expert stature in the design world?"
As basic as the question is, there really does not seem to be anyone who actually knows the answer. Some define expert as someone with “X” amount of years experience, some base it on a portfolio comprising only one discipline, and some define it as a person's knowledge of a specific subject.
|Trust in Creativity|
These days, all industries are faced with financial uncertainty, but what happens when you are selling an idea as opposed to a tangible product? This is an issue that creatives face on a daily basis. Whether you are trying to pitch a design to your senior management or a client directly, it is sometimes not easy to sell an idea without the most important ingredient: trust.
It is not necessarily the trust that you are going to create an effective design to relay the client’s message. If a client chose you for a design project, chances are they are familiar with your work and believe you can adhere to that task. The trust most clients look for these days is more reliant on if you will be able to deliver.
|Street Marketing: That's the Ticket at TKTS|
If you have never been to New York City before, you may not understand the gravity of the Times Square area. It comprises some of the best food, entertainment, and advertising in the world, all condensed to less than two acres of land. With all the advertising there is to see to entice visitors of the area to spend what they can and then some, it is still word-of-mouth that gets those wallets open faster than anything.
Right in the center of the area is a TKTS booth. It is at this booth that anyone with money and a few hours to spare on high-traffic days can get some really great deals on play tickets.
|Reputation: The Foundation of Prosperity|
Of all the key factors that go into the making of a successful advertising agency, maybe the most important ingredient is reputation. At the top of the game, advertising careers are based on reputations. It is one's reputation for success that will dictate how the remainder of their career will ride out. If you don’t think people remember what you do, think again. With the amount of dedication and sacrifice required to make it in the advertising world, both hard work, and the lack thereof, are always remembered.
From the client perspective, it is the reputation of an agency that will get you in the door. Beyond what your track record is or how many awards you have won...
|All Businesses Need an Identity|
In today’s business world, there is little doubt that logos are one of the most important elements to a brand’s identity. There are, however, some businesses that still do not have a graphical representation for their company, but what would make a business decide not to have a logo design? The No. 1 reason is cost, but how much is too much to invest in your company’s future? If you are in the beginning stages of developing a logo for your business, would you know what to look for when presented with designs?
Global competition has made it so that people will look beyond just the name of a company to the point of analyzing its logo to decide if it wants to invest in it.
|5 Ways to Find Creative Inspiration|
It is no secret that being a creative in the advertising industry is not always the easiest of jobs. There is a certain pressure that we thrive on in order to assure that the quality of work that we produce is up to our standards as well as our clients'. Sometimes the creative process comes to us easier than other times, but once in a while we hit a wall, and in those times everything seems to be a struggle. Luckily in today’s digital age, combined with traditional methods, there is help all around us. We just need to train ourselves as to where to look. Sites such as Instagram and Tumblr are a great source for graphic inspiration.
|How Much Should Be Riding On Your Klout?|
With the accessibility of mobile applications, social media marketing has never been stronger. With this fast-growing industry come new opportunities for both businesses and job seekers ready to make an impact. Although it is true that there is no guaranteed successful formula for social media marketing campaigns, companies like Klout and PeerIndex are positioning themselves as an accurate way to track successful social media influencers. But are they? Turning a social application into a marketing tool is not a new concept, and since the first time it was done there’s no doubt someone who was there to measure its success so they could put an actual value on it. Most people invent for the sake of profit as opposed to pleasure.
|When Presenting, There is a Place For Jeans: Home.|
The season finales for "Mad Man" and "The Pitch" have finally come and gone on AMC this past Sunday, and while fans are eagerly awaiting the return of "The Walking Dead," the advertising world has time to reflect on the two contrasting visions of agency life being depicted by these two shows.
What the back-to-back programming does from a subliminal standpoint is show how the world of advertising has deteriorated from a classy industry of high finance and fashion to what it is today. What’s that you say, fashion? Yes, it sounds kind of ridiculous, but as the non-reality show "Mad Men" portrays, a lot of what is being missed for today’s creatives:
|Twitter: The Copywriter's Gym|
In advertising, speed is an important factor, not just in the execution of a campaign but in the deliverance and understanding of the message you are trying to convey. From a graphics perspective, we can dissect what we see in print and digital media to better understand what was done and potentially the reasons why. By doing this, you are not only training your mind on the development process, but you are also creating a cerebral bank of ideas that you can draw from as well. However, one downfall of this is it is not always easy to share your creations with a wide audience to get feedback on what we do without some planning or an extra click if our work is being shown on the web.
|Your Job Just Might Be The Next Summer Blockbuster!|
When most people go to a movie, the thing they tend to buzz about most is the previews. Consisting of the best part of a film, the commercial aspect of a movie trailer is usually the most interesting 60 seconds put into one montage to bedazzle and captivate audiences for future revenue. With all the prestige of working for an ad agency, one industry not often thought about by up-and-coming advertising creatives is the movie industry. Generating more than $10 billion a year in U.S. profits alone, not only is there a budget for creating awareness, but potential for worldwide exposure as well. There is also the perk of not working in traditional guidelines, as in, how cool would it be to work on action/adventure or sci-fi?
|Auto Industry’s Snooze Campaigns Are Getting Tiring|
If you are a creative, no matter what industry you design for, it is your obligation to develop inspiring, thought-provoking, informative, and aesthetically pleasing campaigns for your clients. This is a common-sense rule and not one that needs to be spelled out. By offering more to your clients, not only do they look good, but you do as well, thus in turn helping your reputation and business grow. However, for some reason, the same rules do not seem to apply in the auto industry. It is no secret that car manufactures have been hit hard by the collapse of the economy in recent years. If they were unable to develop new commercials, it would be totally understandable.
|Battle of the Ages: How Youth Trumps Experience|
Have you met the 22-year-old Art Director? No, this is not the start of a joke, but maybe the punch line of what was one of the creative industry’s most-sought after careers. There was a time when designers aspired to become Art Directors and the prospect of that coveted position fueled creative, forward-thinking work. These days, the title has lost some if its luster due to the ease at which the title is so easily obtained.
The above statement is in no way an attack on any designer’s work. Most dedicated design programs are producing high-quality creatives, and the thing about a good designer is, if you can create for one media, you can usually create for many.
|The Little Realizations That Equal Success|
How many products do you suppose there are in the world? Well, since new ones are being introduced daily, one could argue that the number would be limitless. However, out of all the products hitting the store shelves, how many are actually “new?” You can get the point pretty quickly by just walking down any toothpaste aisle in any super store, in any town. As of today, if you type in “Types of Toothpaste” at Walmart.com, you will get 32 product pages displaying 947 results with an average of more than 80 in-store items at any given time! So how, as a consumer, do you know which toothpaste to purchase? That’s where advertising comes in — it tells you which product you “need.”
|Black and Pearls: The Timeless Art of Advertising|
As part of Pratt Institute's graphic design program, a book called “How To Advertise” by Kenneth Roman and Jane Maas was at one point required reading for all first-year students. From an advertising standpoint, it may be one of the most useful pieces of literature on the market. Aside from covering what works for all traditional advertising media, it also explains in detail, "why?" Although there is a plethora of useful information within the 263-page paperback, one of the most important lessons that can be taken from the book, though it is only mentioned once, is the “Black and Pearls” theory. Its success is literally in its simplicity, and the technique transcends all media.
|Staying Sharp During the Dull Times|
These days too many high-level creatives are out of work, but in a time when layoffs are still high in the advertising industry, how do designers keep their edge and stay marketable? Well, the fact of the matter is different methods work better for some than for others. The important thing is to keep moving forward by finding the method that works best for you! Below is list of possible creative outlets, which could help you stay sane while waiting for the next great gig. Sketching is a great escape; not only will it build your illustration skills, but it will also straighten your layout and composition abilities as well.
|Show and Tell for Creative Newbies|
Every designer has at some point early on in their careers run into the same dilemma: “What can I, or cant I, show in my portfolio”? It is a hot topic amongst Junior Designers and seasoned Art Directors, but there are some guidelines you can follow that could help build your portfolio and make your managers look good in the process.
So you get an awesome assignment that you can totally connect with and, as the details are being given you, are already developing concepts on the fly. After talking to the Account Manager, Art Director, and possibly the client, you roll up your sleeves and dive in. It feels like a perfectly cohesive mix of ideas and execution.
|Looking For Red Flags To Avoid White Flags|
Chances are, if you get an offer for a creative position, the hiring manager believes in your skills. What is more important is if you believe in what they are offering. There are some things that you need to know BEFORE accepting a position, which may not always be fully explained. Such as: What is the actual pay? How much time off is being offered? What are the opportunities to actually use that time off? Are you replacing a person, or is this a new position? Is there room for advancement? And, of course, who will you be reporting to? Sure, these seem like common questions, but in the heat of the moment, some, if not all, of those points usually get overlooked.
What is actual pay as opposed to offered pay?
|Yet Another Case of How Powerful Advertising Is… |
If there was ever a question as to how powerful advertising is in regards to making or breaking one's acting career, presently there is no need to look any further than Charlie Sheen for a positive case study. Much like the 1996–2001 version of Robert Downey Jr., Mr. Sheen was thrust into mainstream social media more for his actions off the screen than his actions on it.
After spiraling out of control last year, people who were not even familiar with his top-rated show Two and a Half Men became aware of him. It was Mr. Sheen’s willingness to play along with the media that led some to speculate that the actor was partaking in the role of his life, but at what cost?
|Creative Hurdles: Jump Over or Go Around|
The advertising world is as unforgiving as it is unpredictable. So when you do everything right and to the best of your abilities, it should be no surprise that it may not be enough to satisfy your client, or perspective employer. But how does one deal with continual rejection and the disappointment of being on the wrong end of one of the world’s most subjective professions? Truth be told, no two people handle disappointment the same way and although friends and family may say they understand what you are going through, the translation to that is “I sympathize with you,” because no one can really grasp how you feel after something you have created has been rejected.
|Be Heard or Be Gone |
When you are a child, the thought of talking to strangers is a frightening one. Visions of rusty, windowless vans with shag-carpet insides, driven by old, unshaven perverts armed with a pocket full of stale candy and bad intentions sting our inner senses as innocent passersby just want to greet us with a warm hello. Although in almost all situations it is better to be safe than sorry, this does not usually make for a strong quality growing up, and especially not in the advertising world!
The world of advertising is bold and sometimes obnoxious. It takes shy people and chews them up before spitting them out to a life doomed to middle management. This is nothing any creative wants to be.
|Sorry, Your Perfect Job Doesn't Exist|
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and think to yourself, “How did this person find such a great job in today's market”? No, the person might not be rich in the monetary sense, but from a creative perspective, they might be doing everything you want to be doing on a daily basis. Although no one would disagree that money is important, for a creative, it is not what success is based on. Designers thrive on variety, trust, and challenge. However, most jobs over time become monotonous. But they don’t have to. You see, all too often, designers get what the acting world tends to call “typecast."
|Creative 'Help Wanted' Ads: Be Less 'Creative'|
Anyone who has been working in the creative industry for any amount of time could tell you that the perfect job does not exist; well, at least not on paper. “Creative Guru,” “Master of All,” and “Design God” are all titles that are popping up in order to help make an employer’s plea for creative talent stand out from their competitors'. However, from a designer’s perspective, reading headlines like this automatically raises a red flag. Usually after landing one of these outlandishly presented gigs, it’s not long before the lack of job satisfaction grips its claws around your creative jugular and starts to squeeze tight, slowly draining the inspirational life from you.
|Selling Through Story|
These days it seems as if traditional campaign design has, in many cases, been replaced by branding standards. Although branding is an intricate part of a company’s product focus, it seems as if creatives are using branding strategies as a crutch, and in doing so, have been abandoning campaigns.
In its most effective form, a campaign will work cohesively with branding to tell a compelling story. It is a visual journey that people look forward to seeing. Whether it be Dos Equis’ “most interesting man,” “Mayhem” from Allstate or “Flo” from Progressive, they all have a story to tell as you follow them on their 30-second pitch. There is no mistaking the products being represented.
|Duck, Luck, Goose|
For years you worked hard developing a style and name for yourself in the design industry. Be it traditional or digital media, you have become so comfortable adapting your work, you show no signs of fear when you hear the words “special project.” However, even the most seasoned design guru is shaken by the thought of unemployment. So after waking up practically every day with a place to go, what do you do when you find yourself no longer needed?
Finding a job today has become a full-time job in itself. The days where a talented designer could send out 10 resumes and land eight interviews are long gone.