Snoopy in Concrete

Creativity knows no bounds. Nor, it seems, does an artist’s or cartoonist’s palette. Take, for instance, a recent, uh, exhibit at the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA.

Talk about a lasting impression! If you’ve ever put your hands or feet into wet cement, you know what I’m talking about. When I came upon this photo entry by Jean Schulz, yes, that Schulz, I had to share it via my own creativity blog. All of us can relate to having impressions in concrete. Then, again, if you’re a world-famous beagle, your impressions are as varied as your moods.

In her latest blog post, “Leaving a Lasting Impression,” Jean Schulz shares the simple joy of leaving your mark in wet cement.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

Creativity vs Strategy

Creativity depends on strategy to be effective and successful. And vice versa. Do they need to live in harmony together? From the United Kingdom, the British agency Five by Five’s strategy director Catherine McPherson and creative director Ravi Beeharry discuss the secret to an effective relationship between creativity, strategy and craft.

Strategy, creativity, or craft – which is more important to a successful ad? And how should they work together?

“It used to be like a relay race, with each department handing the baton to another along the production line,” says Five by Five’s strategy director Catherine McPherson. “But today rather than strategy handing over a brief and washing its hands, we’re now running alongside the creatives and cheering them on.”

To an extent, the secret to effective advertising has always been found in the relationship between strategy, creativity, and craft. Too much strategy can leave a campaign feeling more like a PowerPoint presentation, whilst unrestrained creativity risks derailing a brand’s messaging. Get the balance right, however, and you land on the kind of genius which works miracles in the marketplace.

“While there is a balance to be struck, there isn’t a simple formula,” notes creative director Ravi Beeharry. “You have to look at it on a case-by-case basis. Take the iconic Meerkat from Compare the Market, for example.

You might look at that and consider it to be an example of creativity which went a bit out of control. What is a meerkat saying about that brand? But in practice it was enormously effective because the balance was right in that instance”.

Knowing which element should take prominence, the pair agree, comes down to your definition of success. 

“Does success mean winning at Cannes, or does it mean driving sales in the short-term? Or is it brand recognition? It might sound obvious, but being intentional about the end result is the first step to getting the balance right”, says Catherine.

“Something we’ll reference quite often at Five by Five is Peter Field’s research into the recent decline in creative effectiveness, and one takeaway from that has been that we don’t look for compromise between strategy and creativity but rather look for harmony. They should feed into one another”. 

“The best creativity bounces off strategy like it’s a springboard”, notes Ravi. “And craft is the execution – actually, let me rephrase that. Craft is good execution. Knowing the precise balance between those elements will ultimately come down to judgement and context. It all adds up to having strong ideas, clearly communicated”.

‘Strong ideas, clearly communicated’ is Five by Five’s strategic approach to briefs. It’s what ensures their clients’ brands get noticed, processed and recalled – and it’s ultimately what delivers effective campaigns. 

And as Ravi notes, when it comes to measuring a successful campaign, context will always be king. However, in recent years a fracturing media environment has made identifying that context all the more challenging. 

The Ever-Growing Crowd

One reality of the modern industry is that an idea can no longer realistically be designed to live in one place. The seemingly endless proliferation of channels and platforms which occurred in the last decade has created a marketing landscape with more nuance than at any point in the industry’s history. But, according to Catherine and Ravi, there are still ways of finding the right balance between strategy, creativity, and craft. 

“Something which we’ve lost sight of, I feel, is precisely what we should be using these different platforms for. They don’t need to be additional challenges, they should be seen as additional tools.

“If you’re going to take one single idea and contort it to fit a TV screen as well as a mobile phone, then I’ve no doubt that storytelling and quality will suffer as a result. But if you work out how to take a central idea and present it in a bespoke way for different formats, then you’re far more likely to have an impactful campaign”, she says. 

For Ravi, there’s an opportunity for brands to become more memorable by elevating creativity and craft across multiple platforms. “It’s probably true to say that there’s a focus on promotion over entertainment at the moment”, he says. “And perhaps much of the culture and capabilities of social platforms, for example, lend themselves to promotion.”

“But look at what Nike put out just recently after Nadal won the Grand Slam. There wasn’t a single pair of trainers or shorts advertised, just a celebration of a sporting achievement which played into Nike’s brand in such an obvious way it doesn’t need underlining.

I came across that video on Twitter, so that’s a great example of using a social platform to drive results through entertainment. It’s a great execution of strategy, creativity, and craft”. 

In the words of both Catherine and Ravi, these kinds of pitch-perfect ideas are the cumulative result of a long-term approach to each of strategy, creativity, and craft.

“McDonalds is another example of a brand that gets this consistently right”, says Catherine. “They run a lot of product-focused ads on the high street but they also consistently come out with beautifully-told stories based on human truths, designed for TV.”

“It’s creativity, strategy, and craft working in perfect harmony over the course of many years. And it’s because they’ve nailed their brand-building that the shorter-term promotions work so well”. 

That long-term approach, then, is perhaps as close to a ‘winning formula’ as a brand is likely to get. But, as Ravi points out, the best insights are invariably based on a kind of magic which can’t be bottled. 

“At Five by Five we have an unprecedented number of tools and analytics available to us”, he says, “but those genius ideas which link strategy, creativity and craft together can’t come out of a formula. If they could, it wouldn’t really be genius”.

 

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Turning Gobbledygook Into Useful Garbage

Stumped. Writer’s Block. Stymied. Confused. It’s all a jumble of nothingness.

What Do You Write When You Don’t Know What to Write About?

So, how do you turn nothingness into somethingness? Start writing! Anything.

The words will come, thoughts will flow and, eventually, creativity will blossom.

You can’t force it, however. It must evolve naturally, at your own pace. Usually, if a creative suggestion doesn’t appear in your thoughts within about 20 minutes or so, abort the process and go on to something else. Then come back to it hours later or the following day.

Some writers think before they write. Some think as they write. Some writers don’t think at all; they just write a bunch of gobbledygook. That’s fine, as long as you go back and turn the gobbledygook into useful garbage.

Turning that garbage into something quite palpable and enticing will take a process of editing and refinement but when you’re at this stage, you’ve got it made.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

 

Empowering the Women of Advertising – Today

Today is the day of AAF Northeast Arkansas’ panel discussion on Empowering the Women of Advertising. I’m proud to be a participant on their panel so I have a vested interest in the event’s success.

Increasing diverse participation in advertising and marketing is a business issue, and we need everyone involved. To that end, AAF Northeast Arkansas is today raising awareness about ways to involve more men in creating inclusive work environments and how women can claim their strength within the advertising realm. 

By coincidence, a British publication interviewed several key women in advertising about the current status of their gender within their industry. The timing of this report is appropriate with the timing of the Arkansas AAF panel today.

Think about the people who make the buying decisions for their households. It’s extremely likely that the majority of them are women. And they’re probably more likely to be older than younger. Now think about agency creative departments that you know of – do those teams reflect the people who are likely most efficient to market to? Probably not.

In a recent interview with LBB, a British publication, Sue Higgs, joint ECD at dentsuMB in the UK, had this advice: “I find that it’s someone else’s problem, ageism”. The stage in life Sue’s at now is a huge asset to her as a creative leader. “The great thing about being in your mid-life or wherever we are is that it’s quite liberating,” she said. “It’s quite liberating, I think, to find your strength, and your power, and your voice.”

And that liberated voice is exactly what creatives need to flourish. One thing Sue said she’s learned from her experience is that: “As you get older you learn that people lose their jobs for a trillion reasons and none of them is actually speaking your mind. There’s nothing more fulfilling to say to a young female than: ‘Just tell them. Just say it, your biggest weapon is your point of view. That’s why you’re here. Please use it.’

Continue reading

A Tip of the Hat to the Cat in the Hat! (and his creator)

Happy Belated Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

As you may have gathered by now, this post is an out-of-the-ordinary-one. It celebrates one of our nation’s top word sleuths, a master of reduced vocabulary and a penchant for a feline sporting a floppy chapeau.

His birthday was yesterday but his creativity, particularly with and for children, certainly merits more than just a mention in this creativity blog. He is, of course, Dr. Seuss, and with that brief introduction comes some background that some of you may not know.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American children’s author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker. He is known for his work writing and illustrating more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. His work includes many of the most popular children’s books of all time, selling over 600 million copies and being translated into more than 20 languages by the time of his death.

Geisel adopted the name “Dr. Seuss” as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College and as a graduate student at Lincoln College, Oxford. He left Oxford in 1927 to begin his career as an illustrator and cartoonist for Vanity Fair, Life, and various other publications. He also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, most notably for FLIT and Standard Oil, and as a political cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM.

He published his first children’s book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1937. During World War II, he took a brief hiatus from children’s literature to illustrate political cartoons, and he also worked in the animation and film department of the United States Army where he wrote, produced or animated many productions including Design for Death, which later won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

After the war, Geisel returned to writing children’s books, writing classics like If I Ran the Zoo (1950), Horton Hears a Who! (1955), The Cat in the Hat (1957), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960), The Sneetches (1961), The Lorax (1971), The Butter Battle Book (1981), and Oh, the Places You’ll Go (1990). He published over 60 books during his career, which have spawned numerous adaptations, including 11 television specials, five feature films, a Broadway musical, and four television series.

Geisel won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 for Horton Hatches the Egg and again in 1961 for And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Geisel’s birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.

He also received two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Children’s Special for Halloween is Grinch Night (1978) and Outstanding Animated Program for The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (1982).

Geisel’s most famous pen name is regularly pronounced /suːs/, an anglicized pronunciation inconsistent with his German surname. He himself noted that it rhymed with “voice”. Alexander Laing, one of his collaborators on the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, wrote of it:

You’re wrong as the deuce
And you shouldn’t rejoice
If you’re calling him Seuss.
He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice)

Geisel switched to the anglicized pronunciation because it “evoked a figure advantageous for an author of children’s books to be associated with—Mother Goose” and because most people used this pronunciation. He added the “Doctor (abbreviated Dr.)” to his pen name because his father had always wanted him to practice medicine.

So whether or not you heard Horton’s Who or salivate over his breakfast suggestion of Green Eggs and Ham, take a moment and say Thank You to the one main character to whom millions of kids have related to for years, Dr. Seuss.

Have a Happy Holiday Season, Anyway!

Whether you be . . .

And I Regret Nothing! (SVG Land)

 

Or on the Nice List . . .

By Wily Alien

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog,Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Seth Godin on Creativity

“To count, it needs to ship,” Seth Godin.

Whatever you end up creating, for it to count, it needs to ship. Ship in the sense that it needs to be published, displayed, lectured, drawn, invented, etc. Whatever you create needs exposure.

If you’re not that familiar with Seth or his myriad of work, go explore Seth’s site. You’ll be glad you did.

I’ve been following Seth’s podcast, Akimbo, for several years now and find it quite nourishing. I also subscribe to his emails. How he does this 365 days of the year, I’ll never know.

But, I’m glad he does.

So take a listen below to Seth’s take on Creativity if you haven’t already. Once done, choose to create something.

Then ship it!

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Campaign From Gillette Venus Features Singing Pubic Hair

My my, what will they think of next? I learned something . . . that, evidently, a pubic hair can sing! I did not realize that. What else did I not realize, Gillette?

Now, I know what you must be thinking: “What in the hell kind of blog post is this?!” It’s, uh, well, different.

This blog sets out each week to present thoughts and ideas about various aspects of creativity; those that touch directly on advertising and those that do not. This is one that does.

According to AdAge, marketers increasingly have dared to defy traditional taboos when it comes to personal care, as we’ve seen in more pushes around menstruationbreastfeeding and grooming. In the case of the latter, brands such as Billie razors and Veet razors have given the thumbs up to having hair wherever you want it, while EOS recently celebrated a TikTok creator who has been teaching her fans the best way to shave their lady parts. Now, Gillette Venus is jumping into the bikini line fray by encouraging consumers to “say pubic.”

The centerpiece of the campaign from Grey is an animated film starring a singing pubic hair. Yes, you heard me right.

“Hi, I’m a pube!” she announces before breaking into a Broadway-style tune, singing of her plight as a lowly, gnarly curl, hoping to be treated like her colleagues who spring forth from other parts of the body.  As the tune ramps up, she’s joined by other pubettes in a Busby Berkeley-style routine. 

For those of you unable to log into the AdAge site to view the animation, here are the lyrics to Gillette’s latest.

I’m just a pube, and it’s not fair.
All I ever wished to be was just another hair
But when they got one look at me
The ruling from society was “Ewww”
“Not you!”
Oh what’s a curl to do
It seems like all the ads are showing perfect skin and shiny hair
But what about this other world inside your underwear?
It’s ok to say our name
You really can say pubic
No need to be ashamed
It’s even kind of therapeutic
Why the mass hysteria about the pubic area?
There’s nothing diabolical about this little follicle
So take care of us, your pubic hair
If you trim, or you shave or you’re bare down there
Whichever way’s your way
It’s all okayyyyyyyyy
Yes, it’s okay!

Another push encouraging consumers to be at ease with body parts and bodily functions

The campaign aims to normalize conversation around body parts like the pubic area to make women feel more comfortable about grooming there. “Because pubic is not a dirty word, and your pubic hair and skin deserve its own care,” the brand said in a statement.

Gillette Venus had conducted a female consumer survey about the use of anatomical terms such as “pubic.” It found that nearly half of them believed it feels more accurate to use such terms yet only 18% are actually using them. More than half, 56%, said they wished there were more accurate imagery and descriptions in media of women grooming in the pubic region.

The campaign playfully addresses the issue, while the Gillette Venus site promoting the products also features imagery of a diverse range of women shaving their bikini lines. The packaging too, features the words “pubic hair.” Along with the video, the effort includes a TikTok component inviting others to sing “The Pube Song.”

“With over two decades of research and scientific development in women’s hair and skin under our belt, literally, we know that grooming means something different to every woman,” said MyAnh Nghiem, Gillette Venus communications director in the statement. “Our new collection not only offers women more options for pubic grooming than we ever have before, but starts a new conversation about using language that accurately and respectfully represents the female body.”

Okay, okay, some of you may already be saying, “Enough is enough!” You gotta admit, though, advertising ain’t boring (well, alright, some of it is; some of it is even dreadful). This spot tries to be educational, informative, and entertaining, I guess, if not a little quirky. Frankly, if you didn’t realize the animated curl was in fact a pubic hair, I’m not sure that you’d figure it out based solely on looks.

What will they think of next? Uh, I’d really rather not think about it.

International Creativity Week Begins and AAF-Houston is Part of it.

World Creativity & Innovation Week, April 15-21, is a worldwide community dedicated to celebrating all forms of creativity.

Creativity is what makes the world go ’round. Don’t just take my word for it – look around you: Everything is a product of creative minds thinking differently, challenging the norm, taking risks and learning from trial and error. Everything you do can be a creative act.

Since not all creative acts are deemed equal, their variety suggests a plethora of creativity exists globally. We’re here this next week to celebrate global creativity in all its forms via the WCIW web site and its partners.

WCIW inspires and enables people around the world to celebrate creativity in their own way, and share it with others through our international community and brand presence. 

WCIW’s mission is to encourage people to use new ideas, make new decisions, and take new steps towards making the world, and your place in it, better through creativity.

World Creativity & Innovation Day April 21 (WCID) was founded by Marci Segal on May 25, 2001 in Toronto, Canada. Observed six days after Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday and one day before International Mother Earth Day, #WCID is well positioned to encourage creative multidisciplinary thinking to help us achieve a sustainable future.

AAF Houston Special Webinar: Art of Rebranding, April 21, Noon, CST

Creating a brand from scratch and rebranding an existing one are two very different challenges. Rebranding can be life-changing for a business and this why it needs to be done right!

Join Trace Hallowell, Managing Partner at Tactical Magic as she shares with us the magic art of rebranding.

With Special Guest Steve Pacheco, President & CEO of the American Advertising Federation.

Adjusting for Today’s Content Demands?

CreativeContentDemands

Saying that we’re living in challenging times is a vast understatement. Trying to keep pace with changing content demands can rattle anyone. This special AdAge webinar, now viewable on demand, will help you maneuver down a rather tumultuous road with your marketing strategy.

As brands have had to hit the pause button on planned marketing activities like events and OOH, digital creative content demands are unprecedented. Creative teams are now tasked with revising planned campaigns, coming up with new concepts, and updating messaging in existing creative. How do you do that at scale?

It’s time to rise to the occasion: Explore options for stress-free delivery of the content volume you need to carry your brand at this time.

Now for the rebroadcast, sponsored by Celtra.

Speakers:

Eli Chapman

Eli Chapman
SVP of Strategy, Celtra

 

 

View webcast on demand.

 

 

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