Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New website for UT Advertising

Change has come after eight years. Check it out.

Vote for Anu

This is Anu's entry for a traveling contest. There are 10 days to get as many views, comments and positive ratings as possible so check it out!

On a related note, Assaf has posted a top ten list for social traveling.

Social traveling is focused on PEOPLE, not so much on PLACES. Sure, I get to see a lot of cool places along the way, but much more important, I get to share amazing experiences with amazing people, make a ton of new friends all over the world, save a lot of money on things I could care less about, like expensive hotels or restaurants, and most important, shape the way I see the world and keep on learning and becoming.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Speaking of public transportation

Letter to college students from a mom

Sonja at Ft. Worth mom blog has written a very insightful post chock full of advice for college students.

1. College students are special. Not everybody can complete a four year degree. Don’t act like it’s not something to be grateful for, to be in a school, even if it’s not Harvard.

2. If you’re in college, someone is investing in you. They want something for the future. They want an educated you.

3. The reason they want an educated you is for our family, our country, and our world. You will have the opportunity to give back when you’re older, and not just by paying off your student loans, though we expect that as well. When you pariticpate in our society, whether by being a doctor or a teacher, a parent or a volunteer, and you do your duty, you will be making the world a better place. The expectation that you’re going to do this is why we send you to that ivory tower on this hill with the wide green lawns and big lecture halls.

4. If you’re a college student, you’ve received a double gift. First, from the universe, in terms of ability to study. Second, from your countrymen, the actual resources to be educated. It’s up to you to decide what to do with your gifts.

5. At the UT, the fight song is “The Eyes of Texas are Upon You.” I want to say that that is true not just in Austin – the eyes of America are on all our college students. We have sacrificed so that you can study today. Don’t take it lightly. This is your job and our patrimony, our joint heritage, your college degree. We’re doing this for you and for America. So be grateful, and don’t mess it up.

Balls, Paint, Play-doh, and Foam

Here's a wonderful recap of the Sony Bravia "" campaign. It looks like all the youtube videos have been taken down so here's the obligatory wikipedia entry.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Let them eat cake

In this time of junk bonds greed, corporate fraud, and mismanagement of government bailout funds, Cessna-one of the major private-jet manufacturers- has launched a proactive campaign to combat the criticism of CEOs flying in their products while their companies are laying off thousands of workers.

Via Cliff Kuang at Fast Company.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Recession is caving in. Now what?

This is from Amr. His portfolio can be seen on the portfolio section in the right sidebar.

In The Beginning, There Was Panic

The economic inferno is here. Recession is no longer a word i hear over the news.
I, who strived for a year to get a job, who redid his portfolio four times, who slept on people's floors and yet managed to work for big names like Crispin and AKQA, have just been laid off. So much for bragging now.

Remember Jack from Lost? Yeah, that dude had a cool tip he gave Kate on the first or second episode. When fear knocks on your door, let it in, for a moment, and then kick it out and don't let it near you again. You know what? It actually worked. I crawled up and felt sorry for myself for about an hour. I made sure to feel as miserable as I could. Then I dried my tears and dusted off my pants, put my air on, and went for a good meal, with good company. I set out to see "the blessing in disguise."

Yeah, yeah. It's that same old granny's phrase. It does stand true though.
You see, getting laid off has just given me the time to rethink what I'm here for, what I have to offer, and how i should really be selling myself.
Panic is unproductive. It's a waste of energy. Time to play Recession.

Playing Recession

To beat Recession, you have to be well prepared. And in order to do so, this whole scenario should be approached much like a business problem, like risk management.

So I stepped outside myself for a second and started going over "Who is Amr?", as though I were talking about a brand.
In other words, when I looked at the matter objectively, I realised that I have to write a freakin' brief about myself!

What is the most relevant and differentiating idea that will surprise creatives or challenge their current thinking about me as a newbee?

What is the psychological or social tension associated with my job application?

How can I turn the disadvantage of being a new comer into an advantage?

Talk Value.
What are my core skills? What do I kick ass at? What assets can I work with?
What factors are against me?
What about my class and/or within my popular culture in general?
It could be the little things that I identify with.

I caught myself reshuffling my priorities. Is it art direction or design? Is it art direction or film? is it art direction or concept generation?
Shall I keep trying at Amsterdam, or should i pack and leave?
Is this the time to go to film school? To volunteer? To see the world? To make money?

A thick notebook came in handy as I wrote away drafts of ideas about new products, about film scripts, most importantly, about how I see myself.
i opted to take one last crack at this job market before switching gears to filmmaking.
I will give it my best shot.

Boot Camp

At this point, you, like me, should make your job search and application as aggressive as you possible. No one is hiring. And you will need something to work with. The money is important, especially now, but so are the skills you don't learn at school. What really doesn't matter all that much is your geographic location. It's global baby.

If you're in a good situation financially and can afford taking internships, keep taking them. Good internships, that don't involve fetching food for others, are the best junctions to learn on the job. The industry is not very forgiving and not very patient. When you're a full-timer, there are high expectations all over the place, expectations that you can do a multitude of things, and that you're amazing at every single one of them. It's unrealistic, but it is the case.

So why don't you take the time to practice in the lion's den?

I don't care what you're passionate about, just go for it. if it were up to me, I'd go and intern at a production house, work with filmmakers, concept designers and directors. Or maybe an experiential agency, since it's all about that now.

What matters is not to let recession be a reason for stagnation.

If you have any spare time, practice imitation. Yes, mimic other people's styles, just copy designs once or twice, and then break them down and fuck them up and watch your own style evolve. There is no time to do that on the job, future art directors! The same goes for writers. Long copy or short copy is an obsolete question. It's irrelevant. You should be doing everything from a radio script, to calls to action. You should be writing stand-up comedies and Shakespearean-isque drama, until you figure out what you're best at. Till then, keep disecting other people's work.

Very intriguing what you can get as an art director when you take a piece of copy and convert it into visual into your head, or as a writer when you make a story out of an image. Keep shuffling.

It's also 2009, which means everyone should be reading blogs and watching youtubes, and lots of them. This is your much-needed voyeaur time to examine what people talk about. Also, read the autobiographies of thinkers and watch some . Amd when in doubt about something, just do yourself a favor and google it or wikipedia. Stay in the loop.

With all of the above in mind, set one hour a day for exposure, and one hour for practice, next to your job. it's almost like being an athlete getting ready for the olympics. Put in more time when you can. Malcolm Gladwell is absolutely right about the ten thousand hours rule. The earlier you start putting the hours, the sooner you will be ready to hit the ground running.

What Agencies Want

Creatives are looking for campaigns that are simple, single-minded, and that can trigger a social movement.

Words like "social currency" and "community platform" recur a lot, especially in digital and experiential agencies.
That's why they love facebook, blogs, twitter, and above all, Youtube. Any cool viral is king.

How to test your work-- Ask yourself the question:
If my target market sees the work, would they go "Oh, fuck! That's cool" and then forward it to their friends with a "Hey, check this out"?
Is it something that they will talk about a year from now? A few months from now?

Examples: youtube any of these
Nike: "Take it to the next level"
Nike: "supersonic"
Nike: "Put it where you want it"
Nike: "midnight madness:
Office Max: Elf Yourself
Burger King: Whopper Freakout
The Truth Campaign

Agencies are not in love with typical print or tv ads anymore.

As yourself another question:

If a piece of work gets people talking or participating, is it making them participate in a way consistent with the brand philosophy?
Will the brand leave a social mark, or just a gimmick?

One important thing creative directors keep asking about: what's the story that you're telling me?
If you can narrate the social action as it propagates from stimulus (your ad) to action (consumer response) then great.
If you can expand the campaign to make it live through further stages, even better.

so for a typical campaign in your book or your website, it needn't be the good ol' three pieces.

You'll get reactions like "this book looks like everyone else's".

This is more like it:

1. The Social Tension: a blurb about the brief. that's your build-up
2. A Resolution: a bumper that summarizes your big idea. perhaps it's a logo in the middle of a black sheet, with a clear, single-minded statement of this campaign's proposition
3. Core Execution: your hero piece, or a strong visual to explain the event, etc.
4. Other executions across various media: be specific to what you know is impactful, and be ready to justify it.
5. Community: how your campaign lives as a social currency. how it propagates. should flow effortlessly from your concept, like pieces of dominos
6. Expansion: how it lives beyond this year... other ways you can take the idea farther. how you would partner with other brands, or hijack relevant calendar events.

Most agency presentations are delievered now through powerpoint and PDF decks.

I imagine a creative director would be ecstatic to see a website which is essentially a series of those Bumpers, in the form of thumbnails. when you click on one, it opens a PDF deck that takes him from A to Z with through a single campaign. If you mouse over the Bumper thumbnail, you read something that sparks some curiosity, like, i don't know... "Supersonic: How Nike Made London Run to a Different Beat."

A Final Note

Recession is a great opportunity to see the world for less money. You're at an advantage point because your dollar, however weak it is, still beats a lot of currencies around the world. If you want to be culturally rich, go somewhere where the dollar can make a difference, like Peru or Indonesia. Use your savings to teach yourself. Some great design schools and firms are in Brasil for example. At this stage of your career, I would stay away from Dubai unless you just wanna make money, or have an amazing business proposition that needs investors. Their creative level there is subpar, revolves about award-winning rather than striking a social chord. Meaning, there is only a shallow learning curve out there.

Finally, never under-estimate the value of cultural immersion, watching street artists, or monitoring creatives of no particular disciplines. Their work is the stuff agencies daydream about.

Some Resources
These resources and more can be found by scrolling down in the sidebar topics on the right.

Get Good :)


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Be the change

The Austin Ad Fed has helped start a website connecting creative professionals and non-profits in the name of public service.

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LEGAL STUFF: The views expressed on The Ranch are not officially representative of the The University of Texas at Austin. © 2008. All rights reserved. Founded by David Wen, with Silver Cuellar's help, on a lonely February 14, 2006 in Austin, TX for the benefit of all.