Monday, January 31, 2011

Advertising is Alive and Wall in Knoxville • 22/365 •

I had the privilege of judging both the Knoxville and Chattanooga, TN ADDY competitions this past weekend. It was a long and tough judging weekend because there was a lot of good work. Here in Florida (AAF District 4), ADDY entries have been down, reflecting the economy in general. Up there in AAF District 7, though, they are up! I was encouraged to see that, as well as inspired by the work I saw. I'll be happy to share about some of the highlights once the official announcements are made. In the meantime, there was another observation about advertising that I made. The art of "wall advertising" - which I rarely see where I roam - is alive and well in historic Knoxville. Many old signs and murals are still there, and some of the newer ones look like the old ones, only fresher. A sign is more than just a locator, it's an ad. I almost wonder what the city looked like back then. Sort of like Tokyo without the lights?

I had a couple of hours before my flight on Sunday morning, so I took a wall-advertising-photo-tour. Here are some highlights:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

b [is for baby butt] • alphabet exploration • 21/365 •

Why the world is worth saving, one letter at a time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An Ode to the Overwhelmed • 20/365 •

I got this in my e-inbox the other day from Dyana Valentine. It's by Samantha Bennett. I don't know why I find it remarkable that I'm not alone in the world, that there are people who go through the same thing day after day, but I do. When it comes to our struggles, we all feel like the only one in the world feeling our own special pain. I don't know if it's comforting that thousands of someone elses are living my life, or if it's scary because overwhelm has become an epidemic. 

Last October I painted a monster and titled it "Overwhelm" and at some time, somewhere, someone I've never met wrote an ode to me:

An Ode to the Overwhelmed

And as you stand there
Late again
Because you forgot to allow time to park
And the elevator was slow
And you left 10 minutes late to begin with

With your shoes that pinch
And your pants that are a little too small
Since you started eating white bread again

And as you paw through your bag
Looking for the suite number
That you're not sure you wrote down to begin with

Let us now praise you

You, the untidy
You, the careless
You, the easily distracted by sparkly things

The money you spend on late fees alone
Could feed a family in Africa - Which reminds you that you meant to send in the kids' Unicef money and

And that despite your best efforts
You rarely eat a square meal
You almost never get enough sleep
And exercise seems like a word that magazines have developed
Just to make you feel bad about yourself

But you are good and brave

You, flying by the seat of your pants
Making it work
Putting out fires
Saying your prayers
And dancing your dance of now and later and maybe and

As innocent as each morning's sunrise
You are a fount of good intentions
Your good humor is as graceful as a baby giraffe
Even if that joke you were trying to make to the hotel clerk fell flat
And your toast at the wedding came out sounding a little...funny

But you have gifts that no one knows about
You have the strength to bend in the wind
You have the joyful spirit that loves a good belly laugh
You have the wisdom to understand that everything will all come out all right in the end and
You have the faith to light a candle rather than curse the darkness

That is, if you could find the book of matches from that romantic restaurant that you went to for your anniversary but since you didn't have a reservation they made you wait at the bar for half an hour during which you had two apple-tinis and the rest of the night is a bit of a blur
So much for the overpriced lingerie

You are beautiful

You are beautiful

Frazzled and overworked and underpaid

You are the one who forgot your wallet
And forgot your receipt for the dry cleaners
And forgot your keys which you just set down five seconds ago, so where could they possibly have gone?

But you never forget to say, "I love you"
And you never forget to give a big smile to that nice parking guy
And you never fail to show endless patience when the
Too-tightly wrapped and overly-conscientious start to offer their
Oh-so-helpful suggestions about how you might feel better if you would just learn to alphabetize your spice rack

You are beautiful

So, wear the lingerie on Monday for no reason
And why not just refuse to participate in the bake sale this year?
And give yourself a compliment for something you did well today
Because you are the most beautiful person I've ever known

© 2009 Samantha Bennett

a [is for arbor] • alphabet exploration • 19/365 •

Why the world is worth saving, one letter at a time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Watch where you're going! : New [to me] Media Sunday • 18/365 •

When you walk, where are you looking? Do you watch the ground, kick pebbles and avoid stepping on cracks? Do you look all around and take in the scenery? Is your gaze in the clouds, trees or building tops, so you almost bump into light posts? Or are you texting into your phone and missing all of it?

At some point in my childhood someone must have told me that I was wasting life by looking down as I walked. Some kind of "stop and smell the flowers" advice that has stuck with me enough to make me wonder whether I should be looking up or down when strolling along. It's a dilema. 

Take the beach for example. The scenery is beautiful, but there are treasures in the sand, too. Imagine all the shells that would never be found if everyone was only looking up. I took this picture on Daytona Beach today. There were bazillions of these washed-up jelly fish. There's no way I was going to be texting while I walked around there, or even looking up and around, because I might step on one of those slimy suckers!

Necessity is the mother of invention. This weekend I learned about an app that eases the burden of deciding one over the other, texting or talking. Now you can text into your phone while seeing where you're walking all at once. I downloaded "At Once" and tried it. Kind of funny. Worth the free download to try it out. You can tweet, Facebook, email, LinkedIn and Google Buzz, all while seeing where you are going. 

It doesn't offer any solution for if you are chewing gum at the same time, though. If you download and play with it, let me know what you think? Is it really useful, or just a funny gimmick? 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Internet didn't kill the video star, it made video a star • 17/365 •

Evolution is here. Advertising as we once knew it is dead and we are now at the point where even the old school mad men are hip to the new ways. Two-way conversations are in, one-way ads are out. While print is suffering in this time of change, video is blossoming! Traditional broadcast might be in trouble, but video is king of the world on the internet! 

No longer do you have to try to explain something on a page. You're not limited to type and photographs, illustrations and paper. Print's boundaries are gone, and so are even the boundaries of one-way TV commercials. Need to say more than a brochure or business card can? Website. Need to say even more without having people read for an hour? Video on your website. Need to draw people in? INTERACTIVE video on your website. Fantastic!

Enjoy one of my favorite examples of interactive video advertising:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

When did kids start buying auto insurance? • 16/365 •

Did I miss where kids started buying auto insurance plans? Are they whining and asking their parents to go with the "cool" insurance agency? Just how much say do children have in the insurance buying process? None that I know of. Auto insurance is a serious business, pretty boring and mandated by law. I asked my kids which company they preferred once, and I actually got an answer. They had definite opinions. Isn't it remarkable that they even know the names of insurance companies? It's the advertising. It seems to target children and teenagers more than adults. It entertains more than it informs. Personally, I find it impossible to make a buying decision based on the advertising, fun as it is.

Have fun with these commercials from three of the top auto insurance companies. I'm waiting for them to come out with the "auto insurance happy meal deal" where they give a free toy with every purchase, and maybe a lollypop or a sticker just for getting a quote. Just don't make the free toy something distracting to Mom or Dad while they're driving, okay insurance peeps?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So, Comic Sans walks into a bar ... • 15/365 •

Comic Sans walks into a bar, bartender says, “We don’t serve your type.”

Comic Sans is so hated, it gets more press than other typefaces. Comic Sans is so annoying, I wouldn't use it in this blog about it. 

But then again...

51 reasons why typographic rules are BS

Get a Dream • 14/365 •

We celebrate the lives of great men that went before us with holidays. Hopefully we each take at least a moment during the time off (or even if we are working) to remember the bravery and intelligence, the revolutionary acts and words, the sacrifices made by these people which touch our lives today. 

Humility strikes me when I think about the fact that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his very life, as did so many men and women before him, to create positive change. What are our troubles today? Politics, corruption, greed and corporations frustrate me to no end, but for the most part we bow our heads and keep our nose to the grindstone. We don't have a cause like Martin Luther King, Jr. did – and for that we should be grateful. 

On the other hand, we don't stand up with a whole lot of strength and passion for things we know should be changed. I for one keep my mouth shut a lot because of my professional reputation. While that might be a sign of maturity, sometimes I think it's a sign of weakness. 

It makes my heart heavy to admit how much of his "I have a dream" speech that I identify with, even if not for the exact same reasons. The "American Dream" has let me down. Still, I refuse to believe it is gone. Below is a portion of the famous speech. As you read through, you could substitute a word here or there and relate to it totally, couldn't you? 

"In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.""
Me, I have a dream that I will follow in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s footsteps and win the Nobel Peace Prize – and live to a ripe old age enjoying the good that was done in order to deserve it. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New [to me] Media Sunday: Measuring Influence • 13/365 •

There are a handful of companies that help measure your social media influence. They work pretty well using Twitter and Facebook as the main gauges, then blogs, flickr, LinkedIn, etc. I don't think they are a complete measure, but it's a darned good start. If you were hiring someone who is a social media expert, for example, I would definitely look them up on 

My Klout score is 35. That's today. It has been as high as 41 when I'm looking, it changes day to day. They call me an "explorer" - and have this to say about that level: You're exploring the ecosystem and making it work for you. Your level of activity and engagement shows that you "get it", we predict you'll be moving up. It's not as high as it could be, but I've looked up some experts that are lower. It's a matter of practicing what we preach. It's also not the only true indicator of a social media expert's worth, it's only numbers after all, not personal. 

Peer Index is a little more business-like than Klout. They bring LinkedIn into the equation. 

Empire Avenue brings a gaming twist to the topic. You can buy and sell stock in people, thereby raising or lowering their worth, which is based on a real-life score that includes more input locations than the other Klout or Peer Index. Looks fun to me, I've only just signed up and none of my friends are there. That will definitely affect its success as far as I'm concerned. If people don't join, it's not very social, is it? Still, great concept. Come buy a piece of me! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pro white space and proud • 12/365 •

5 Non-traditional Valentine's Day gift ideas for creative people and geeks • 11/365 •

What does Valentine's Day mean to us now days? What exactly are we celebrating? Truth is, it isn't really relevant - and it's not even just about romance any more either. Kids are pressured into buying cards for their classmates in elementary school (too early for romance) and they come home filled with unfairly-traded chocolate and tooth-rotting sugar. 

I say it's not necessary. If Valentine's Day doesn't mean something to you personally, skip it. Still, romance is lovely. So if you just feel like being romantic (or if your sweetheart will deduct major points for non-participation), then try something besides the usual chocolates. Here are a few ideas that creatives and cool geeks wouldn't expect, and will love to receive, with or without flowers.

Alex Bogusky's new venture, Fearless, has a shop, the shop has t-shirts. What could be a better message than "Fear less love more"? 

Mimoco - designer usb flash drives. Because they are cool, creative, original... and useful. Romance in the digital age.

Veer is always great. Give a message of "unity" with these ampersand cuff links. To me, the ampersand is a symbol of unity, love, oneness. It's inclusive. With "and" there is no separation.

Obey isn't the most romantic word in marriage vows, but it's quite fabulous when on something Shepard Fairey created. Give an artistic piece of history - on a business card holder.

A URL. It's more practical than buying and naming a star, and more affordable! Buy "" (or whatever their name is) and put a special message up there for your loved one to see. Be romantic all year ... change up the message and send your love links every few weeks!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Cool Infographic" is not an oxymoron • 10/365 •

"You might be a geek if ... " 

"...If you get excited when new infographics come out."

"...If you really wonder what Yoda would say about it."

I don't know how I ended up talking about analytics and infographics. I especially don't know how I ended up liking them! Alas, what could be more interesting to an analytical, visually creative person, than to breathe life into mountains of dry data by giving it color, form, even motion?

Infographics are da bomb. I'm going to start making some. Next week, maybe. For now, here are two of my favorite sources ... just in case you wanted to get smart and look at coolness at the same time:

Since issue one, they have featured "Transparency," where not only do they shed light on important topics, make them digestible eye-candy, but they invite a guest designer to create them every month. Sigh. I love you, Good Magazine.

Just like Fast Company, Fast CoDesign never fails to be entertaining, informative and hip. If loving them is wrong then I don't want to be right.

On a final cautionary note, as with everything in our universe, there is a dark side to infographics as well. Please don't believe everything you see/hear/read. Consider the source. A lesson can be learned from this one Sarah Palin's "target map" infographic removed from her site right after the tragedy in Arizona today. 

Yuck. Bad timing. What would Yoda say?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New (to me) Media Sunday • 9/365 •

Sometimes I play games for work. Really, for work! New technology, new trends, news and events – are all twists and turns along the professional and personal roads we navigate. I can't be an expert in everything, but It is my job to be aware. 

Beginning today and henceforth, on Sundays, I'll share a new (at least to me) thing or two that I'm dipping my toes into. I would love your feedback if you're using these. How are they affecting you, how do you see them affecting the world?

Social media has brought us all together. Facebook is King right now, and as I mentioned in "Nostalgia at the speed of technology," we are becoming less expressive because of how close together we are. It's kind of like the population in general – once upon a time we lived far apart in farms or houses or shacks. We would visit our neighbors and we knew all about them. Then as population exploded and we moved into apartment buildings, sharing the same walls, we stopped even speaking to our neighbors much less getting to know them. 

That kind of separation is against our nature, though. We are social creatures. So the next logical step after the great migration to Facebook is segmentation. We'll see more and more subcultures crop up again, where people feel safe to express themselves in a certain way. 

This Sunday's two medias are a product of that segmentation. 

Path is an iPhone app. It's a social network that runs only on pictures. You are only allowed 50 friends, so they will most likely actually be your friends, and you are only allowed to post pictures, so they will see what you're up to. You tell your story with pictures. Fun! Drawback is your friends all have to have iPhones, too. Because of that, I haven't used it enough to judge it well. 

Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.
It's a wiki for q+a. Where it gets segmented is that you "follow" questions and categorize them and each question can become a story. You'll see questions ranging from, "What are the best running snowshoes?" and "Do the majority of founders of tech start-ups come from wealthy families?" to "If I'm not happy with life, should I commit suicide?" 

Quora makes it easy for you to follow your friends from other places, so right away you're in a group that you recognize. Jury is still out for me as to how useful it is, or whether it's just a very interesting way to spend time.

Are you using either of these? If so, what are your thoughts?

Honorary Masked Crusader: Benjamin Franklin • 8/365 •

Masked crusaders have existed throughout time, championing their causes and changing the world. I like to remember and pay tribute to my heroes, whom I wish I lived amongst today. They inspire me from their resting places.

For example, we can learn a lot about Benjamin Franklin and how relevant he still is today from some of his quotations:

"Would you persuade, speak of interest, not of reason."
He was in advertising.

"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man."
He was an optimist.

"All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones."
He was an activist for peace.

"Games lubricate the body and the mind."
He was a gamer.

"All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move."
He was an observant mover and shaker.

"Honesty is the best policy.
He was in social media.

New Year's Cards • 7/365 •

Little Black Mask sent out these cards to celebrate the New Year. The flipside is black, of course. You can see some of the masks that are being posted (click here), it's fun to see everyone's different take on a classic theme. If you haven't gotten one, and want one, pop me a note and I'll mail you one!

I have another round of cards to go out still, after everyone has a chance to post theirs, I'll show them off here, too.

Happy New Year!! May 2011 bring new successes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Social [Media] Statement Haiku • 6/365 •

Last night Blogspot broke.

Helplessly I realized,

Google made me mute.

Brilliant Undiscovered Idea (in no particular order) #2 • 5/365 •

Necessity is the mother of invention. So am I. I'm always coming up with brilliant ideas. Trouble is, however valuable a brilliant idea is, the real gold lies in the execution. And let's face it, I don't really want to do every thing I think of. So I'm sharing some of these ideas so that you can take them and get rich!  In no order of importance or best-ness, here is number 2 (you can read #1, It's Nacho Restaurant, here).

"The Chinese Delivery Hub"

Calling for Chinese delivery scares me. Not in a horror-film way, but I'm always insecure about my order. It never really seems as if we understand each other, the Chinese person on the other end of the line and I. I don't mean understand each other intimately, like who we are as people, I just mean what my order is, how much it will cost me, and whether it will be delivered to my house. Funny as the conversations can be, I'd rather know that I'm getting what I want. 

Actually, I'm highly impressed that they generally do get things right. Whichever the restaurant in where ever the town, they pretty much always charge my card the right amount and come to the right address with the right order, plus some bonus crab rangoon. 

Still, it's scary.

The solution: Open a "Chinese Delivery Hub." I don't know if it's you who's going to do it, but it needs doing. Get clear-speaking people to answer a phone line and take down customer's orders, charge customer's credit/debit cards, and pass the order straight through to the Chinese restaurant of the customer's choosing (or closest to them). The Chinese restaurant then has an order in writing, clear (maybe even translated if necessary).  They might not ever even open up a merchant account to accept cards! The Delivery Hub will handle that... and customers will be worry-free. 

Let me know if you do it, I'd love to do your branding! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The lighter side of marketing • 4/365 •

After yesterday's emergency blog, I thought I would lighten things up a bit. It was fun coming up with these ... please share yours if you have some good ones!

How many graphic designers does it take to change a lightbulb?
White space signifies a working lightbulb best, so how about just the word "change" in 14 pt Helvetica Light Compressed, just right of center? 
How many social media experts does it take to change a lightbulb?
You can't expect the lightbulb to change just because you're there, you've got to have a conversation with it and develop a relationship. Then change can be allowed to happen organically.

How many Facebook users does it take to change a lightbulb?
That depends if you're talking about a lightbulb on the wall of a "fan" page, a "profile" page, or a "business" page, and you may or may not know it even needs changing, depending on your notification settings and number of friends.

How many creatives does it take to change a lightbulb?
Why does it have to be a lightbulb?

How many artists does it take to change a lightbulb?
Ooh, it's all smokey! Wait, don't change it, that's really cool. Let me photograph/paint/draw it first! 

How many art historians does it take to change a lightbulb?
Eleven: One to change the lightbulb,
five to show earlier versions that influenced it, 
and five to say the changing was actually done by the changers' apprentice.

How many SEO experts does it take to change a lightbulb?
First you have to fix the directions. They aren't labeled, tagged, coded and prioritized properly. A burned-out lightbulb in the dark will never be found otherwise.

How many PR reps does it take to change a lightbulb?
The "Sparkle in the Dark" event will be sponsored by a dozen businesses who donate their time and tools to the effort, and part of the proceeds from recycling the old bulb go to charity.