Creative Cocktail: The workshop

At Hera Hub, the co-working space I've been working out of for the past two years, they have weekly roundtable discussions call Business Boosters. This week I led a workshop called Creative Cocktail at each of the three Hera Hub locations in Mission Valley, Sorrento Valley and Carlsbad.The premise: a creative copywriter asks is it really like Mad Men where you drink 3 martinis and then write great ads? In this class I led an exercise how to think visually and how to mix hooks for creativity.

Of course, I made a promo video.

Every Call To Action Is a Winding Road: How not to integrate social media into print.

Real Simple magazine is one of two print publications I still subscribe to. (The other being Communication Arts.) Real Simple is nicely art directed and is full of tips for the not-so-domestic-goddess that I am.

Over the last few months, the advertisers have been going crazy with QR codes. This ad from Toms’s of Maine Simply White Toothpaste was no exception. But what, exactly do they want me to do?

If It Makes You Happy

First of all, if I like Tom’s of Maine  on Facebook, I’ll get a free download of a Sheryl Crow song. (Yes, the singer fits with the magazine’s demographics.)

Next below, I see a QR code. The call to action reads, “To find out what natural beauty means to Sheryl Crow, scan the mobile barcode with your smart phone.” Then it includes instructions on how to download a QR code reader app, including a url.

Wow, anyone who is so dedicated that they would download an app to read a QR code must be a passionate customer.

Then finally, in smaller print, the reader is invited to find out more about Tom’s on Facebook by clicking on the Sheryl Crow and Simply White tab on the Facebook page.

A Change Would Do You Good.

Threes call to action. That’s an awful lot going on. Just because you include a QR code doesn’t mean you should. A song from Sheryl. Sheryl’s thoughts on natural beauty. Shiny white teeth. What does Tom’s of Maine want me to remember? Social media gives us many options to have conversations with customers, but if we don't limit our options, the conversations just become a bunch of noise.

A dashing collection of holiday billboards.

As a freelance interactive copywriter, I still always welcome the challenge of a billboard. You have only seven words and half a second to get your message across. (How many times have I slowed down just to read a too long message.) The holidays are an especially fun time with plenty of holiday carols, motifs and traditions to play off of.

This billboard by the San Diego Zoo is a visual pun on the sleigh pulled by Santa’s reindeer. This billboard ran last year as well, proving that some holiday traditions are worth repeating.

One of my favorite holiday billboards is this one by Wells Fargo which first ran I believe in 2007. It plays off the iconic stagecoach, with the nose of the lead lighting up red at night. Simple, clean and clever without being cutesy. It ran for numerous years and then last year was replaced by the billboard below which runs more on the cutesy side.

Luerzer's Archive and the Death of Advertising

Years ago as a young copywriter, I used to subscribe to Luerzer’s Archive, a great magazine filled with the latest uber cool ads from Amsterdam, Latin American and even upon occasion, the United States. I stopped subscribing after something called the Internet was invented. Why look at pictures of a broadcast spots when you can actually watch the actual clips on the Internet.

A few days a go, a big, beautiful, fat 24-page direct mail piece came in the mail, urging me to subscribe once again.

The cover read: A glimpse into the future of advertising.

Then I look at the tagline under the masthead: Ads, TV and Posters worldwide.

Ads, TV and posters? Is that really the future?

Luerzer's does have every print campaign since 1984 and every broadcast spot since 1985 in their online archives.

Get a free one-day test of Lurzer's Archive Online Service. Enter this code: LAFOL

May the Force be with You

I proudly tell my Star Wars-obsessed children that this is my client. (And one of the funnest campaigns I ever had the joy to be even remotely part of.) The response: "When are you working on" This is a great example of a viral video, over 2,000,000 views on the Darth Vader video. A good Was supported via email, facebook and email as well as site.

The 7 word rule.

As a copywriter simply love billboards. They're one of my favorite forms of media because you have to pare your idea down to the simplest concept – which is harder than it seems. (And as much as I love being an interactive copywriter, I am always SO excited when I get to do outdoor. Or radio.)  The classic rule of thumb is that if you're going to gain the attention of motorists whizzing by at 65 miles an hour (our customers drive the speed limit of course), that a billboard can have no more than 7 words.

Chipotle, purveyor of oversize burritos,  ran a great billboard campaign for years, usually featuring a shot of one of their huge burritos and a short, pithy line. Well, recently they took their advertising in-house and the gist of the campaign is that they don't need an ad agency. It's quite cute.

Which brings us to this billboard. Yes, I love the copy on it. But I almost got hit slowing down trying to read it. It's long and hard to read but I was rewarded with a chuckle for my efforts.

What do they expect? People to stop by the side of the road, take a picture and post it on their website?

Of dragons.

Last week my family spent some time at a cousin’s ranch in New Mexico. We stayed in a 1860s adobe, saw the inner workings of a cattle ranch, explored ruins of a fort from the 1860s and saw Indian artifacts littered on the ground. For me, it was an eye-opening and educational time.

At the end of the week, I asked my six-year-old son what he liked best: “Playing with my dragon in the rock pile.”

A pile of gravel in the driveway, but to him that equals excitement.

It was just another reminder to me how different people can have different perceptions of the same thing. Working as an interactive copywriter, I have to constantly work at getting into the minds of the people I'm trying to appeal to – that's people – not users, consumers or customers.

Deck the Billboards

It's the holiday time of year (and it has been since Halloween) when our favorite brands spread yuletide cheer with seasonal billboards. With a rich source of carols, stories and traditions to play off of, it can make for some interesting concepts. Here are some of my favorites around town. (I never realized that you can take your life into your hands when shooting a billboard.)

San Diego Zoo has a tradition of doing great billboards. I love the simple visual pun here.

Another favorite billboard that ran for a couple of holiday seasons was by Wells Fargo Bank. It was a simple classic shot of their stagecoach pulled by a team of horses. At night, the nose of the lead horse was lit up red. But this year they went for cookie cutter horses pulling a stage coach which was sort of cutesy.

Patron Great copywriting as always: "Eliminate regifting." Visit their site for more wonderful words.

This is a three dimensional billboard by IKEA where furniture spells out joy. The headline "Decorate for the holidays" refers to more than just putting up a tree and lights for the holidays. I would just hate to be standing below this billboard during an earthquake.

Windows 7: A Time Sucker

[youtube=] Hey, if Ford can create excitement for cars via Tuberware parties, so can Microsoft. Here, they have every demographic covered in this HGTV-style show on how to host a launch party. But time must really drag because the clock behind the cast starts out at 2:00ish, between seconds :46 and :48, the hours pass instantly from 3:30 to 4:10 and the whole video ends at 5:20 pm. Maybe that's how much time it takes to get your Windows 7 working.