A (Confidence) Shot in the Arm

It’s amazing how little it takes to make me feel like I’m not totally destroying everything I touch. It’s even more amazing how much I can handle while I wait for the uptick that is inevitably, hopefully, coming.

For the past 3 quarters, that’s about 9 months in people terms, I have been treading water. It’s like I somehow found myself in the middle of a water polo game with the Monstars from Space Jam. Partly because I kept aging myself with references like that. I wasn’t sinking, necessarily, but I wasn’t really getting anywhere either. After 4 quarters of exponential growth, I felt I had plateaued. I had honed my skill to the point where they just couldn’t get any sharper and I was just going through the motions, trying not to drown.

At the Circus, the first year is a whirlwind of new experiences. You learn so much so quickly: how to write a headline that doesn’t suck, how to research a product you know nothing about, how to discover interesting insights, how to write body copy that doesn’t suck, how to write tag lines that don’t suck, okay so it’s a lot of learning to write things that don’t suck. And working in teams, learning how to listen and build and create something out of nothing, together. It’s exhilarating to look back at your work from first quarter and really truly believe that you are a different kind of writer. A better writer. A copywriter. 

And then the dark cloud of 5th quarter closes in on you. It wraps you up in what feels like a warm blanket of familiar activity until you realize it’s a straight jacket and now you’re trapped in sameness. It’s like you learned how to ride a bike around the block without training wheels and were then told that’s the only route you can ride on your bike. Ever. Of course there are little glimmers of newness, of hope. Maybe someone moves in across the street and they have an adorable dog so that brightens your day, but left turn after left turn wears you down to the point that you’re not even sure if you ever learned to ride a bike at all.

If you didn’t come with me on that metaphoric simile mess, 5-7th quarter at the Creative Circus is a lot of the same. It’s teams class after teams class, it’s branding and then more branding, it’s another strategy class, another copy class, and it felt to me like I was making zero progress.

My feelings were wrong.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, it’s not like Jeff Goodby called to personally congratulate me for singlehandedly changing the ad industry forever or anything, but I did present a few campaigns to a few choice teachers and students. And I didn’t cry. Not even once. It helped that 80% of my stuff was very well received, but it was more than that.

It was the weight of it all, the weight of pushing and pushing and getting seemingly nowhere, being lifted. It was the sense of accomplishment I felt reading my work to a captive audience with an understanding that this wasn’t the start of something, this was the end (almost). In that moment I saw how far I had come. From single print campaigns that were hardly more than a strategy statement to a fully-integrated campaign for a brand new cologne to benefit the National Parks. Turns out I wasn’t treading water, I was swimming. Just slowly, through a giant lake of molasses.

I guess what I’m really saying, what everyone says, what I’ve said before but never really meant or understood until this moment is: trust the process. Apparently you’re getting better even if you don’t think you are. And if you’re ever feeling like you’re going nowhere and learning nothing, pull out your favorite campaign from the beginning of your career, or your 1st quarter at the Creative Circus, and have a good laugh at that naive little owlet that has since grown into a wise and resilient owl. Or at least some kind of teenage owl, whatever the term for that is. Owldolescent? Forget it.

Peace, Love & Self-Administered Confidence Shots.

DIY: Portfolio School

Let me first say, this isn't an "anti portfolio school" post. Personally, running away to the Circus was the right move for me, for a lot of reasons. For one, I like school and deadlines. I knew I would get everything done faster if I just went to school and made it my number one priority instead of trying to put my book together while also working retail full time. For two, the partnerships and networking opportunities are unreal. Not only peer-to-peer, but teachers and recruiters and forum speakers. I met Jeff Goodby for Pete's sake. For three, and this is the most important, I was financially able to attend. I had the support from my family to not only help me get here, but help me stay here, and therein lies the problem.

If the advertising industry is pushing this diversity agenda, which they 100% should and I'm thrilled about, shouldn't getting in to the industry be, well, easier? I know there are conferences and resources for ad students, but what about the kids who don't even think advertising is a career option for them? What about the ones that can't just pack up and move across the country for school, let alone drop more than a couple grand to be taught? Well, I have no idea how this blog post is going to get to those kids, but if miraculously it does, here's my two cents --

At the Circus, like any portfolio school, you're ultimately paying for 3 things: A dope book, killer connections, and job placement support. The last two can be picked up for free through LinkedIn and creative recruiting agencies (it involves a lot more hustle, but it's doable), so lets just focus on the elusive book. To make a decent book, you need to be dedicated. To make a good book, you need to be dedicated and talented. To make a great book, you need a dedicated and talented team.

Step One: Get a Partner

Ask around, go on craigslist, exhaust all your social media channels. Find someone in the same boat with opposite skills. ie: you're a writer looking for an art director. Have coffee with them, see if you vibe, and then, take the plunge and commit to each other. Bring in a third if you want to spice things up, but two works perfectly fine. You can build your entire books together, or work on a few campaigns and then move on, whatever is best for both of you but make sure you're on the same page.

Step Two: Find a Mentor

Look for juniors in your city. Of course, it would be great to get a Creative Director's eyes on your work, but that comes later. Look for someone who is closer to understanding what you're going through and where you're at. If you can find one that went to portfolio school, which is highly likely, that's ideal because they can help you set deadlines and create structure and give you advice that's still fresh in their minds from their mentors. Most importantly, look at their work. If you don't like it, you won't like them as a mentor. Pick someone you respect and is doing the kind of work you want to be doing.

Step Three: Get After It

After you've secured a partner or two and a mentor, it's time to get to work. Set up and stick to a schedule. This is not only important for getting your book done in a realistic amount of time, but it's beneficial to your mentor and your partner(s). Work with your team to create attainable goals and benchmarks. Work with your mentor to build a timeline that works for everyone, and use their resources in your search for more mentors, so you can balance your work. Ideally you'll have one mentor for two or three campaigns (about 2 months), and then you'll use your connections to find a new mentor. This is helpful so you get a variety feedback/teaching styles and can build a wider range of work.

Obviously this is a basic overview of what a DIY Portfolio School project would look like, but truthfully, if portfolio school just isn't an option there are other ways to make your book happen. And to the working creatives out there, keep an ear to the ground for up-and-comers and pay it forward. Perhaps start a mentorship program at your agency? Perhaps organize and visit high schools in your area? Perhaps lets all join forces and create a non-profit portfolio school that combines in person meetings with a social media type digital component where mentors and students can connect and build relationships? Perhaps.

Peace, Love & DIY

 

Bleach is for serial killers

At the circus, there's a certain pressure to create work that would never fly in the real world. The phrase, "the client would never buy that," has become something of a badge of honor amongst us freaks, a badge of honor which I haven't had the pleasure of fastening to my plaid shirt, until now. It started several months ago, when I was just a wee 3rd quarter, looking to do a tongue-in-cheek campaign for Shout fabric cleaner a la Some E-Cards: sarcastic lines about how nothing feels as good as getting a stain out set against stock photos of dead inside 1950's housewives. Great, right? I thought so. My teacher did not. So there it died. Or so it seemed.

At the beginning of this, my 6th, quarter, I was asked to produce another campaign for a household item but this time, I was short an art director. So, being the resourceful lady that I am, I decided to revive my old Shout campaign and see if I couldn't give it a little advertising make over. Long story short, the idea went over much better this time around and after a swift brand switch, ended up snowballing into something that surely would never sell: Clorox Bleach for Serial Killers.

The strategy was simple enough: Clorox gets the tough stains out, but the concept took a dark turn: Official Sponsor of the American Serial Killer Etiquette Association. Think Dexter meets June Cleaver. Basically Clorox is saying "listen, we understand that you have a dark hobby, but that doesn't mean you can't live an all-American, cookie-cutter lifestyle. Let us help you keep up appearances."

So there I was, a lone copywriter with a wild idea and zero executional direction save a few slap-dash headlines and a working tag. Enter my muse, my gurl, my big idea queen, my Megan. From day one, she was onboard with making this the weirdest, creepiest, darkest campaign ever while still maintaining a simple and smart strategy that truly did sell the benefits of the product. It was a marriage made in advertising heaven. Through the endless concepting brunches, ideation margaritas, Goodwill shopping trips, copy editing and buckets of white paint I finally understood why creating a campaign that would never sell in the real world is massively important while you're in school.

Oh, you want me to explain why? Okay, fine.

  1. It makes you think smarter. Not only are you trying to create something bizarre and different, you're also trying to create something effective. Shock for shock's sake won't fly. You're simultaneously thinking in a big, open, sunny field and a teeny-tiny, dark box.
  2. You have to build everything from scratch. And it's awesome. Photoshopping found pics together is only marginally effective. Sure, there are some occasions where it's preferable, but in most cases original photography/videography is key to conveying a powerful visual voice. If you're heavily involved in this process, which you should be, it's a crash course in on set styling and gives unteachable insight into the whole process. The cherry on top is seeing the images in your head finally come to fruition.
  3. It's a seamless way to inject personality into your book. Because it's something that will never sell and you're not abiding by anyone else's brief, anyone looking at your book will get a true sense of your own personal style. In my case, it's my dark sense of humor.

I'll leave you with that. And a huge thanks to Megan and our badass photographer, Tyler.

Peace, Love & Bleach.

To see the delightfully creepy campaign, click here.

 

Lady Gaga & Tiffany's: Legendary Style

For the past week or so we've all be talking about the Super Bowl. The surprising comeback by the Patriots being secondary in my circle. We talked at length about the variety of immigration spots by Anheuser-Busch & Lumber84, and the poignant equal pay pledge from Audi. We argued about whether the live spot from Snickers was really live and whether the Avocados from Mexico bit was funnier than last year (it wasn't). Surprisingly, the one ad that we didn't talk about was the seemingly out of place :60 spot for Tiffany & Co. staring none other than our mother monster and half-time goddess, Lady Gaga. Immediately after the spot aired, my dad and I were texting furiously. I'll admit, at first I was on the fence about it. My general reaction was the spot was boastful and inauthentic, but perhaps that was only because we had just seen her kill it in a solo halftime show. And I mean, really kill it. It's dead. The halftime show is dead. Beyonce put it on life support last year (Coldplay kinda ruined everything), and Gaga finished the job. But I digress.

The point is, the more I talked about the Tiffany's spot with people and with myself (mostly with myself), the more I realized that it is kind of perfect. If you haven't seen it, or need a refresher, here it is. Okay so the harmonica opening was a little forced, but just hear me out.

First, let's squash the idea that a Tiffany's spot at the Super Bowl doesn't really make a lot of sense. Tiffany & Co. has designed and crafted the Vince Lombardi Trophy (given to the winning team) since the inception of the game itself. So, yeah. Also, they haven't aired a TV commercial in 20 years, so doing it on the biggest ad day of the year? Bold. Bold and badass. They're not fuckin around.

Next, choosing Lady Gaga as the new face of their Legendary Style campaign is absolutely brilliant. She wore a dress made out of meat for Christ's sake! If that's not legendary style, then I have no idea what is. Combine with that the fact that Tiffany & Co. is an avid supporter (albeit quiet supporter) or marriage equality, (Don't believe me? Here you go.) having Lady Gaga, the woman who openly and proudly sang Trans-positive lyrics to a national audience, is a huge statement for the brand and will only further their equality agenda. Smart.

Now, the script. Let us address the arrogance of the script. Aside from the fact that if this were a guy, say Mick Jagger talking about his thoughts on creativity and his process, it would feel raw and honest, but since it's a woman speaking it's seen as pretentious and arrogant. I could talk about that angle for years. So aside from that: The script is in fact not a script at all. It's a beautifully edited thought stream straight from the Gaga.

It's pretentious to talk about how creative you are. I don't feel that way at all, I think it's empowering and important. And I'm coming for you.

Yas. Yas Kween. It's important to be bold, to be powerful, to be unapologetic about our creativity, our talent, our drive, our rebellion. Not only as women, but as people. It's important to feel that we are valuable, that we can talk about our assets without being seen as arrogant. It's important to be bold and brave and relentless. Especially now. And Tiffany is making this statement beautifully. Not only with Gaga's words, but the execution of the spot and the jewelry itself.

What Tiffany & Co. did was inject the resistance, the rebellion, the bold youth, back into their brand. They were always something more, something special, something luxurious. But now, more than ever, it feels that they have a more acute purpose. They stand for something. Which is all I ever want from a brand.

Peace, Love & Breakfast (at Tiffany's. Get it? eh? Whatever...)

 

 

 

 

Run Toward the Fire

Yesterday, around 1:30pm, in the theatre of the Creative Circus, something brilliant happened. Something that simultaneously reinforced everything I want to believe about the industry I so dearly love, and opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about advertising and creativity in general. Yesterday, in a room of students hanging on his every word and teachers trying to pretend they weren't starstruck, a giant walked among us. Yesterday, Jeff Goodby* spoke. And I peed a little. If you don't know who Jeff Goodby is, let me quickly refresh your memory: Got Milk. Great, now we're all caught up. (Obviously we're not all caught up. He's done, is still doing and will continue to do incredible work, much of which can't even be categorized. He is not just an advertising god, he's a creative institution. But I needed to keep this post under 1,000 words.)

The first slide Goodby put up had all of us on the edge of our seats. It said, "How Vandalism Will Save Advertising." You may have seen or heard about it through various advertising outlets, apparently it's a presentation he's been working on for a bit and given great thought to, and it shows. The premise is simple: to save advertising, if indeed it is something to be saved, we need to run toward the fire.

We need to shake things up, be crazy. To unleash something on the world that it doesn't expect. Do what they're telling you not to. Be a vandal with a purpose. A rebel with a cause. We need to embrace our social responsibility. We need to make it bigger. Make it better. Make a statement. Make a change. Check out the work GS&P is doing now and you'll see exactly what I mean.

This is not a new idea, per se. It's not groundbreaking or earth shattering or mind blowing. In fact, it's the reason I got into this business in the first place: to effect social change. But lately, I've been feeling creatively suffocated. I've been told my work is "too cause based" my feminist voice is "too angry," and if I could just tone it down it would be a lot easier for me to get a job. So imagine my delight when not only is one of my idols speaking not 10 feet from my face, but he's telling me that what I believe in, the way I work, my desperate desire to inject social justice into every little thing I do, is not only good, it's necessary.

"Take a brand and figure out how to make them do good."

It's the simplicity of this idea that speaks to me so much. It's not about only writing for non-profits or brands with a social message, it's about changing the perception of a brand, it's about taking brands with no message, with no agenda, and giving them one. Make them matter. Make them stand for something. Because vandalism without a purpose is just destruction.

Of course this is only a sliver of his presentation. The sliver that resonated most with this little rabble-rouser. There were so many other perfect pearls of wisdom I couldn't begin to write about all of them, but I'm going to try. For you. You're welcome.

Jeff Goodby's pearly wisdom nuggets

  • This is lucky. You are lucky to be in this industry and to be creating silly and sometimes powerful stuff all day.
  • Use your own life, don't try to be something different. And if you want to be something different, change your life.
  • Amateurism is the purest form of creation because it is done out of love.
  • Study jokes
  • Write things down
  • Be in a constant state of readiness.

What a guy, man. What. A. Guy. I couldn't be more pleased to have shaken his hand. My sincerest thanks.

Peace, Love & Goodby

True Life: I Was a Copywriting Intern

Happy belated New Year, party people! In the spirit of reflecting, recapping and re-anything honestly, because it's January and all I can think of is change, I'd like to share the teeny, tiny bits of wisdom I acquired working at a real, live creative agency. But first, there are a few things you need to know about said agency:

  • Blue Sky is an itsy-bitsy boutique agency in Atlanta specializing in regional work.
  • I worked as a copywriting intern for 8 months.
  • I never once had to get coffee. Though I did bring coffee from the kitchen to one of the account ladies once, cause I was getting myself some.

Now here's the good stuff:

agency life is way easier than school

At The Creative Circus, we're basically living in an idea incubator. It can get really hot, uncomfortable and sometimes sticky. There's a lot of pressure on us freaks to constantly churn out new ideas. Not only new ideas, but never-before-seen, un-student-y, fully formed, book-worthy campaigns. In an agency, a lot of the hard work is done for you. For the most part, your job (especially as an intern or junior) is to come in on a client they already own and continue working on a campaign they've already sold. Literally your only requirement is to not totally screw it up. Look at the work that's come before you, and make more of it. Kind of like that assignment in English class where you had to write a poem in the style of someone else, (I always chose Sylvia Plath, but that's irrelevant) it requires little to no creative ingenuity. Which brings me to my next point...

agency life is way harder than school

Working day in and day out on the same 4 clients can be exhausting. It can feel suffocating, monotonous, and just plain boring. It can interfere with other creative projects you're working on because it takes a lot of energy. It is not, I repeat, not, as glamorous as all our circus teachers would have us believe. But...

money is awesome

I mean, do I need to explain that? Getting a paycheck, even a small, intern-sized paycheck, is totally worth it. It allows you to stress less about how you're going to pay rent and focus your energy on that novel you're working on, or planning that trip to Iceland. But it's not just money that keeps you coming back everyday. It's the thrill of the elusive new client, because in any agency...

you live for the pitch

Amidst the daily grind, there is always something to look forward to, the inevitable new client pitch. I was fortunate enough to be included on a few new client briefs, and that, my friends, is when the big dogs come out to play. It was a beautiful thing to watch my fellow creatives, the ones who only the day before had been helping me make the latest Christmas HoneyBaked Ham email not suck, come alive. Even more beautiful was sharing my own ideas and being included as an equal. I was part of something bigger than the cogs in the agency machine. I was part of a reinvention, a discovery. Not gonna lie, it's a rush. And the best part of it is sharing it with your co-workers. It's a bonding experience, which is very important, especially in a small shop. After all...

agency is family

You succeed together and you fail together. You get lunch together and you get accidentally drunk at happy hour together. Through the ups and downs, the monotony and the new pitch madness, your agency peeps are your everything. Be nice to them, get to know them, try to like them. It really helps if you can do all three, but two will work. And I'm not just talking about fellow creatives here. Contrary to popular belief...

account people are not idiots

Yes, they can be infuriating because they have to speak for the client, but ultimately, if they are doing their job well, they are looking to produce work that is both creatively stimulating and client approved. Who cares if your work is groundbreaking if the client ain't gonna buy it? Maybe I was #blessed to have amazing women to work with on the account team, and maybe in some agencies the account folks are stupid, but I think they are just smart in a different way. As long as there is a mutual respect between account and creative, you will do great work. Until the client gets involved and ruins everything. Let's be real, you can...

always blame the client

The client is a good scapegoat because you don't have to see them everyday, they'll 99.9% of the time never hear what you say about them and a common enemy brings people together. To be clear, you shouldn't make it a habit to shit talk about anyone, but if you're up against a crazy deadline, its much better to vent about an ambiguous entity than the lovely account manager sitting directly below you. Especially when the second floor is a loft.

Well there you have it, folks. For those students wondering if you should get an internship, I say "ya! go for it!" For those of you who don't really want an internship I say "focus on school, smart move!" It's really a personal choice. For me, I was fortunate enough to have this opportunity kinda fall into my lap and I'm really glad it did. Invaluable experience that I am super-duper grateful for.

Peace, Love & Client-blaming

 

 

 

That's a Wrap

2016 has indeed been a strange year. We've all changed in ways we never thought we would. I've always been an opinionated feminist, but I went dark there for a while. So dark in fact that I stopped writing. Just sealed it up like it was some kind of limited resource; a BREAK PEN CAP IN CASE OF EMERGENCY kinda thing.

Well that's enough of that.

In keeping with the holiday tradition of reminiscing and inadvertently purging everything from the pervious year, I took mental inventory. And it was way better than Facebook's dismal display. I definitely did more than like things and take selfies. Not much more, but still. I learned things. Things about me, about the world, about life. And even though you didn't ask me to, I'm going to share them with you now:

  1. Long Distance Relationships Suck Balls. But if it's the right person, then it's totally worth it. I could write 1,000 words on this subject alone, but I think that sums it up pretty nicely. Maybe later.
  2. Good Bosses are like Good Parents. They don't coddle you or sugar coat anything. They're always around when you need them. They only want you to succeed and they take pleasure in helping you grow as a person. They genuinely care about your wellbeing. Blue Sky Agency is full of good bosses and I am beyond grateful for my experience there this year.
  3. Real Friends Never Falter. Friendships change and grow and multiply and dimmish with hardly any warning at all. But the real ones, the strong ones, the ones with roots, well those surpass all obstacles. They blossom without light, they stay green through the winter, they still call you and text you even if you haven't seen them in years. It's hard to remember that sometimes, especially as we get older. The needless and frivolous fall away, and you feel like you're loosing people. But the real ones, the good ones, they linger. And though they may be few, they are mighty.
  4. I am not an extrovert. Joke's on you! I like being alone way more than I, or anyone else, realized. Sure, I love telling stories at parties and being on stage, but small talk with strangers? Making friends with anyone I meet? Large parties where I don't know anyone? Please, spare me. I can turn it on if I have to, but most often I would rather be curled up, alone, writing, reading or binging Netflix. Really had everyone going there for a while though, huh? I guess my "Most Days I Wish I Was a Cat" mug is more accurate than I thought.
  5. We Are Always in Transition. I keep waiting for the day when the earth will feel solid and still under my feet and I am beginning to realize... it's never gonna happen. That's the beauty of being human though, we are always in motion. Mentally, emotionally, physically. Okay, maybe not always physically, but you get the idea. Maybe it's not so much about finding a static position as it is about embracing the momentum.
  6. Never Talk Politics Drunk. Just don't do it. It's not a good idea. In fact, it's a very, very bad idea. You are never as articulate as you think you are.

So ya, only 6 things. But hey, it was only one year.

Peace, Love and 2017.

 

America, I love you, but you're bringing me down.

 This felt bigger than a Facebook post. Bigger than Instagram or snapchat. Bigger than I can even begin to wrap my head around, but I'll try.
Last night the mildly unsavory political actions of an outstanding woman were deemed worse for the country than the twisted, bigoted moral fibers of a man. Trump's entire personality was decided to be a more acceptable flaw than Clinton's exaggerated political corruption.
This wasn't politics. This was something much, much bigger.
This was an exercise in brutal compartmentalization for a lot of Americans. Both parties had large majorities that voted for their candidate despite their own unfavorable opinions of said candidate. Both sides had voters who had to overlook glaring flaws to do what they believed, in their heart of hearts, was right. Not everyone was running to the poles with bells on to cast their votes like I was (and I'd do it again in a heartbeat).
Although our country has elected, in my opinion, a racist, sexist, manipulative, psychopathic billionaire, if we can, as individual citizens in our teeny tiny seemingly insignificant daily lives, no matter who you voted for, treat each other with kindness, empathy and respect, call out injustice with fierce vigor, stand firm and unwavering in the face of oppression -- hate will never win.
I wish that didn't sound so idealistic right now. I wish it didn't feel like I was lying to myself and to all the Black, Muslim, Mexican, LGBTQ, Female, Jewish (unfortunately etc.) people I love and respect. But it's the only thing I can believe in right now. To me, right now in this moment, America is not the sum of it's parts. It is a broken machine in need of repair. There are parts that must be replaced, yes, but there are also parts that just need a little grease, a little tightening of the screw, a little adjustment. Though those tasks feel anything but little right now.
I write this because it is all I can do right now. I write this because I cannot let this go. I write this because I will not be silenced even though the majority of white America just told me they don't want to hear what I have to say. I write because that is how I will make change. It is my teeny tiny seemingly insignificant contribution, in the plea to please, please, please not let this country fall apart.
"It is all a dismal picture. Late last night, as the results were coming in from the last states, a friend called me full of sadness, full of anxiety about conflict, about war. Why not leave the country? But despair is no answer. To combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do." - David Remnick; An American Tragedy
*Note: yes, this particular post may be about politics when the rest of my blog deals mostly with the creative side of advertising, so I am aware that this may not have been the best platform to express these sentiments. However, if you think for one second the political climate doesn't affect the advertising industry, or if Trump's potential (still holding out a sliver of hope her) presidency won't affect women in the industry on a large scale and perpetuate the boys club mentality that is unfortunately still alive and well among Admen, you are sorely mistaken.

don't sponsor me. promote me.

Perusing the 3% Conference Blog, as I am wont to do, I read this:

Find one shining, talented woman. Put her on a pedestal. Be there to help her knock down the obstacles that will undoubtedly arise. Perhaps more accurately, help her dismantle the ones that have always been there. Be her sponsor.

It was written by manbassador Trent Thompson, Group Creative Director at Cossette Toronto in a guest post titled "You in or What?" which is definitely worth a read.

Before we all get our panties in a bunch, I need to address a couple things:

First: I know his intentions are good, I am not out to villainize, he's probably a lovely guy Second: Good for him for getting involved with the 3% conference, we need manbassadors

Now, it's time to get gritty. For the most part, it's the word sponsor that just makes me throw up a little in my mouth. Female creatives are not malnourished Ethiopian toddlers. We do not need your charity. We are capable, we are intelligent, and while I agree that we need the support of men in the industry to gain visibility, we do not need to be put on a fucking pedestal like some sort of human prize that you found on a Twilight Zone treasure hunt and are now proudly showing off to your buddies in some weird "no, support women more" pissing contest.

We are badass forces of nature that demand your attention

What we actually need is to be respected in the workplace. We need to be listened to, we need to be allowed to present, we need to be in on important briefs and client meetings, we need to have a healthy work-life balance that allows us to have children (or not) without sacrificing job opportunities. We need men, especially in positions of power, to set a positive example and squash sexist thinking and behavior (in creatives and clients) before it is allowed to become detrimental to the creative process. We need a space where we are allowed to try and fail or succeed in whatever pattern necessary because we are treated as equals. Our failure should not be sugar coated because we are women nor should our successes be magnified. We should earn our place just like any other creative. And if we are totally killin it, we shouldn't get a sponsorship we should get a fucking promotion or at the very least, a raise.

I can only assume that this is what Thompson was trying to say. I don't know the guy, but he seems aiight. It's just this language. The language of male privilege, even with the best intentions. So before y'all go sponsoring creative women like they're in AA, maybe we should focus on the culture of the industry as a whole. Let's create an agency environment in which women are allowed to succeed on their own because they are seen as fierce contenders and valued as crucial assets, not because they are damsels in need of a swift rescuing.

Peace, Love & More Money PLZ

 

/RIFT/ verb. To Remain Exactly the Same

When Stephen Rodriguez, a former Apple Genius and all around go-getter with a knack for all things tech established RIFT, he wanted to create "a better mouse-trap." A full-service digital marketing agency that would utilize technology to not only build amazing work for it's clients, anticipating their needs and exceeding expectations, but also pull in and retain outstanding creative talent. In this way, Rodriquez has been wildly successful. Business is generated entirely by word of mouth. RIFT has never cold-called, never pitched to a potential client and the ability to work remotely, connected by a multitude of digital interfaces, not to mention a fat paycheck, has drawn in and kept some of the brightest and most talented creative minds in the industry, producing a stunning array of websites, integrated & intuitive software, photography and videography that not only looks pretty, but evokes a thrill unmatched by many of it's competing agencies.

So, what's the problem?

Let's start with this: When Rodriquez was asked by one of my fellow Circus Freaks (oh, I should mention here that he was our most recent #CircusForum speaker) why he named his agency "RIFT" his response was something to the effect of:

I wanted to create something new, something that broke apart the traditional ways of working and challenged the status quo ... to retain brilliant creatives and make the best work.

Okay sure, that's a pretty good reason, especially considering that the definition of rift is "a crack, split, or break in something." But challenging the status quo? I don't buy it.

Before the Q & A portion of the forum, Rodriguez showed us a 3-minute video that he was "incredibly proud of" and was meant to show the best of RIFT's videography and serve as a sample of the kind of work they do. It was 3 minutes of fast cars driven by white dudes, fit, white guys mountain biking to their slick sports cars, and women dressed in skin tight lace dresses laying down on couches in bars coyly waving at the camera as they prepped for a photo shoot. Basically a straight 17-year-old boy's wet dream. And that was what he is most proud of. That was what he chose to show a room of young creatives, many of which are women and POC, to exemplify the work RIFT does.

Naturally, I was frustrated. Naturally, I wondered if he even saw this as an issue. Naturally, I had to say something.

So after his presentation, when the floor was opened for questions, I shot my shaking hand in the air. My mind swirled with words, trying to quickly fit them together correctly before taking the mic. How can I address this issue and be heard? How can I respectfully call him out for this injustice in a way that doesn't illicit eye rolls and "here she goes again" sighs? So worried about his response and the reaction of my peers I almost didn't even say anything. I almost sputtered a "how do you manage creative freedom and client's needs?" nonsense question into the mic. I almost let it go. Almost.

Luckily, I was sitting next to, in front of, and behind some of the most supportive creative forces that are about to take this industry by storm. Luckily, I realized the moment I took the mic that if there was anyone in the audience that was going to be annoyed by my opinion, that's their problem, not mine. Luckily I said something to the effect of:

With all due respect, that video that you showed us was three minutes of white dudes driving cars and women blatantly being objectified. Don't get me wrong, it was beautifully shot, but I'm just wondering, as a person of authority at your agency, why didn't you put a woman behind the wheel? Danica Patrick could have been in there and she wasn't.

Shouldn't you use your position to increase diversity? Change the perception of the market? Women like sweet sports cars and mountain biking too. 

Or something. I probably rambled a lot more and half apologized and then took it back. I don't know, I kind of blacked out. But I've been told it was great.

His response was very diplomatic. He acknowledged that he actually hadn't thought about it until I asked the question and that it will be a huge take away for him. I sure hope he was sincere. Because honestly, it's not that these CEOs and CDs and presidents of agencies don't want to be purveyors of social change, do the right thing, increase diversity and empower women, it's that they don't realize they aren't doing it. They don't realize that by not taking a stand, they aren't just continuing on a well-worn path of inequality, they are telling the rest of the world that it's okay and encouraging them to follow that same path.

That's where people like me come in. It's our job to open their eyes and not just ask politely, but demand that they make a change. No one likes to be called out, no one likes to be put on the spot and told that what they're doing is offensive especially when that was never their intention. But how is our industry supposed to grow if we all just let it go? Sweep it under the rug? Be the "cool girl who gets it?"

And to all my CD's out there reading this, (okay so probably just my Dad, hi Dad!) it's your job to take some social responsibility. Produce work that challenges perceptions and attacks stereotypes. Don't just hire a few women and token black people and call it a day. Put them in your ads. Hire them too, duh, but definitely create work that shows women and POC empowered, educated, and strong.

Please share this if you deem it important, and check out The 3% Conference to learn more about how you can support women and diversity in advertising. Thank you.

Peace, Love & Speaking Up

When a compliment isn't

Each time one woman starts a compliment to another woman with the phrase, "I wish I were more like you," a tiny feminist fairy dies, tangled among the weeds of self-deprecation in the ever-growing forest of patriarchy. OH, YEAH.

This is that kind of blog post.

For real though. Ladies, hear me out. I'm sure at one point or another we have noticed an attribute of a fellow femme and uttered the words: "I wish I were more like you and [insert perceived compliment here]."

In most cases, the "I wish I were more like you" compliment (IWIWMLYC) is a backhanded way to point out a negative quality in someone while simultaneously pointing out a positive quality in yourself.

"I wish I were more like you and could just say whatever I wanted, no filter. But I care too much about what other people think."

Translation: "you're really loud and a lot of people find you annoying. I'm not like that." Not cool. Negative feminist points. Plus, if you're gonna attack someone, grow some ovaries and do it directly.

On the other hand, sometimes the IWIWMLYC is actually meant as a compliment.

Yes. Believe it or not, there have been several recorded instances of women genuinely complimenting one another. Usually this is done in private so as not to appear weak in front of the pack. It is a rare and cherished moment in the female jungle.

"I wish I were more like you, you're so skinny! I could never pull off a crop top."

In that instance, it's not that the complimenter is out of line, it's that she is putting herself down to make someone else feel good. Not only does that make it hard for the complimented to receive said compliment (what do you say to that? Fish much?), but it washes out the intended gesture in a sea of self-loathing.

So it's like this. The IWIWMLYC is either a non-so-subtle jab, or a self-shaming friend booster. Both instances show a lack of confidence and ownership.

So stop it.

If you want to tell a woman she looks great in that dress, or you're impressed by how fast she ate that cheeseburger, or how she understands the nuances of Anna Karenina better than anyone else you know, just freakin tell her. It's really not that complicated. She's not going to think you're hitting on her, don't worry.

Likewise, if you're proud of certain qualities you've got, own it. So you're a quiet woman who only speaks when she has something to say. That's great. That's you. Don't put down the loud girl in the middle of the room. She knows she's loud. She's 28. She gets it, okay. Okay?

Peace, Love & Stop the IWIWMLYC

 

 

Kill the Snake

The worst thing you can do to a subpar idea is keep it alive. Imagine your family has a cat. It's 15 years old, blind, incontinent, and you find more hair on the couch than on its body every day. Sad, right? Sure, you've had 14.5 amazing years with the ole sack-o-flees but at this point, keeping it alive is borderline inhumane. In the wild, that cat would be so dead already. So just do the right thing, stop pumping the poor furball full of medication that keeps it barely breathing and just let it die.

Now imagine that cat is an idea. At first, you were psyched. You opened up your brain box and this beauty leaped out at you with so many legs it may as well have been a freakin octopus. But as the minutes, hours, days, weeks, God forbid months, go by, that octopus starts to look more like a snake. And you think,

"we can turn this around. We just need to come at it from another angle. We just need to sleep on it. We just need to-"

No. No you don't. And you shouldn't. Instead of trying to make a snake grow legs, your time would be better spent finding another octopus. Trust me. No matter how long you try to make it happen, a snake is never gonna grow legs, plus they're creepy. So, ya gotta kill it.

The tricky part is, snakes are sneaky. They have a way of deceiving you, making you believe they are something bigger and better than they are, and unlike the imaginary cat I made your family buy earlier, they don't want to die. It's your job, as its creator, to pull the proverbial plug.

But, how can you tell if your idea is a snake or an octopus? So glad you asked!

1. If you can't tell if your idea is a snake, it probably is. 

A pretty good indication that an idea isn't working is doubt. And not just, "I'm not very good," typical (and normal) creative self-doubt. I'm talking big, bad wolf doubt. The kind that goes beyond execution to the strategy as a whole. If you don't think it's awesome, it's probably not.

2. If you have to over explain your idea, it's probably a snake. 

The idea should speak for itself, and not in a Book of Genesis temptation way.

3. If your teammates are sick of working on it, and borderline sick of working with you, it's probably a snake. 

I mean... #sorrynotsorry

4. If it makes you cry, it's probably a snake. 

"No idea is worth your tears, but once you find one that is, it won't make you cry." - CD Eisenhower

5. If you are relying on cool technology, strategic placement or other executional devices, it's probably a snake. 

Unique, weird, crazy executions are awesome. But unless they are developed out of one hell of an octopus, they will just fall flat.

The most important thing to remember through all of this is good ideas always survive. If there is even a nugget of octopus in that snake you just murdered, it will find it's way back into your brain box. You just gotta keep it open.

Peace, Love & Snake Murder

 

 

Kate Mckinnon. Kate Mckinnon. Kate Mckinnon.

I've taken the liberty of listing the top 5 reasons Kate Mckinnon is the best thing to happen to women in comedy since Carol Burnett. And no, I don't mean Matt Damon's character on 30 Rock.

  1. She is openly gay. No, I'm not saying you have to be gay to be funny as a woman. In fact, her gayness doesn't define her comedy at all. It's what being open about her sexuality means about her as a person that allows her to be the comedian she is. Her confidence and willingness to put it all on the line, no matter what people think, makes her a force to be reckoned with.
  2. She does't apologize. Her comedy is blatant and straightforward. Her unique characters are not meek, gentle or dumb. They say what they mean and do whatever the fuck they want. And it's not under the guise of "being one of the boys" either. She's just a badass.
  3. She doesn't capitalize on her femininity. She doesn't make fun of her body, or any other woman's body. She doesn't "get away with jokes" because she's cute and small and feminine. She gets away with jokes because she is actually hilarious and doesn't mask her intelligence or humor with sex. Her characters don't find themselves in sticky situations because of their female blunders. And they don't need rescuing, they rescue themselves.
  4. She doesn't make rape jokes. Because a) they're not funny, b) they're not funny, and c) she has enough self-respect and respect for women to know that even when they come out of a woman's mouth, jokes about rape and sexual assault are never funny. (Lookin' at you Amy Schumer. Cut it out.)
  5. Her face. Next time you watch her, really look at her face. Even when she's not speaking. The amount of facial expressions this woman has is unreal. Delivering lines with impeccable comedic timing is one thing, but this woman can crack me up without a single word.

So yeah, I think she's pretty great. And if you're reading this, Kate, maybe we could like... hang out some time? I'm like really cool so... Alright well, have your people call my people.

Kate-McKinnon-as-Jillian-Holtzmann-in-Ghostbusters-kate-mckinnon-39375610-200-200

Happiness is boring.

Growing up the eldest daughter of a novelist stuck in a Creative Director's body, I learned about cynicism at a very young age. To my father's credit, I also spent many nights watching Hitchcock and Wes Anderson films (a surprisingly delightful combination) and as many of my friends know, read Little Women twice before I even knew who Harry Potter was. The quintessential image of me as a child: I am about 7, reading a book (either Where The Wild Things Are or Oh, the Places You'll Go) sitting cross-legged on a tree stump in the middle of the woods. Oh, and I'm wearing a bright red batting helmet, because safety. I loved my childhood. Wouldn't change it for the world. But I wouldn't say it was happy. It was fun and weird and scary and devastating and vibrant, but happy? Nah. That's not a word I would use. And that's okay. I'm okay with that. I'm sure I had Kodak childhood moments, and I know I laughed a lot, and still do, but there was always something inside of me that held total happiness just out of reach. According to my father, that thing inside me was, and is, intelligence. No joke. I distinctly remember a conversation we had about the nature of happiness when I was about 12 or 13 (I read David Mamet plays at a very young age) and these were his fatherly words of wisdom:

"Casey, you're too smart to be happy."

And he was right. Look at the brilliant writers throughout history, they were all sad, suicidal bastards. Hemingway? Shotgun to the face. Plath? Head in the oven.Woolf? Pocket full of rocks in the river. David Foster Wallace, Hunter S. Thompson, Anne Sexton; Hanged, shot, left the car running. What can I say? Literature loves a tragic hero.

Now, that's not to say the only way to be a brilliant writer is to be suicidal, that's just crazy talk. But I do believe that your level of intelligence and your level of happiness are inversely correlated. To quote South Park: "Simpsons did it."

Yus0zHlZRp6rcw03UIRB6REvo1_400.jpg

Thanks, Lisa.

My creative process has always been about finding that sweet spot. The perfect blend of intelligence and happiness that allows me to create something meaningful. If I try to create when I am too anxious or feeling depressed, my product is garbage, if I can even muster the energy to produce anything at all. Likewise, if I am feeling too excited of joyful. No one wants to read poems about unicorns and glitter and true love. Unless it's a Lisa Frank graphic novel.

As intelligent creative people, we must find our own kind of happiness. We must accept that we are never going to be satisfied and learn to love our neurotic, anxious, deeply emotional, constantly questioning, existential, borderline personality disorder selves. It may not be happiness, but it's happyishness. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather be happyish and deeply creative, than happy and well, boring.

Peace, love & Happyishness

 

Creative Paralysis: Releasing the Beast

Not to be confused with Creative Constipation, Creative Paralysis is the condition in which a creative person has so much to say, they simply freeze up. Closed for business. Too many little ideas are ideating around in the noggin and it gets clogged. They start over compensating, trying to get it all out at once, and end up sounding like the Swedish Chef. All energy, no substance. giphy

Articulation of ideas is just as important as the ideas themselves. When you're creatively paralyzed, it's the hardest thing to do. So much to say and not enough words to say it. Too many different ideas that don't match with each other and you know it is going to be a hot mess when it all comes pouring out. I guess what I'm saying is, release. Release early and release often.

This is starting to sound like a masturbation metaphor. "Ya gotta cum regularly, or you'll get all backed up!" I think I heard that somewhere once. But I'm a lady, and I don't think it works that way for us. To be fair, I don't think it works that way for guys either, it's just a way for them to not feel guilty about touching themselves since there's this backwards sexual stigma in America. It's everywhere, but "shhhhhh! we don't talk about that!"

Anyway, release. What I am doing right now as you read this. You're welcome.

Grow up. I mean writing and you know it. Plus, how would I even know when you're reading this to time my - it doesn't matter. Moving on.

As you may or may not have noticed through this blog, (unless this is your first time, then please read chronologically. I'll wait.) I have a lot of feelings and opinions. And I think I'm pretty intelligent and occasionally funny, so I like to share those feelings and opinions via the written word in hopes that people will be entertained. Are you? Do you love it? Do you love me? Love me. Love me!

The problem is, as of late, so much crazy shit has been happening that I just don't know where to start. Every time I sat down to write about something, it would spiral out of control and make zero sense, like I was speaking gibberish. Now you understand the Swedish Chef simile? Full circle, baby. Full circle.

So what I'm gonna do now is let it all out systematically. If you don't care about my thoughts/opinions/feelings/love of cats, you may stop reading now. (Cats are not a part of this, just wanted to mention how much I love them.)

1. Prince I know it's been a while, but I'm still not over it. It's not that I think his death is any more important than any other death that has ever happened, it's just that his absence from the planet matters more in our social climate. Never before has there been such a strong, talented, independent, sexy AF, ambiguous AF, creative, transcendent, loved, beautiful, giving, open, black man on this planet. And maybe there never will be again. All we can do is revel in the fact that we were alive in the time of Prince. What a small section of history in the expanse of the world and we got to share it with him. If anyone wants to start Princeology with me, I'm open to it.

2. Trump Fucking just stop. Just stop it. There is no way this is real. South Park couldn't write a better story. I'm just waiting for the day he gets elected (because as much as we say it'll never happen, we said he wouldn't get the nomination either so...), stands up at the inauguration, and one of two things happens: He unzips his human suit to show he is, in fact, the Lizard King and we are now his humble servants or Ashton Kutcher in attempt to salvage his waning career jumps out and tells us all we've been Punk'd. Because please. I can't even talk about the issues because the biggest issue is who he fucking is as a person. So let's just all cut it out, okay? I mean, I guess he would be the first blond & tan president but you have to ask yourself, is it worth it?

3. The Creative Circus Because this blog is about my journey through portfolio school, I feel I should speak to the school and what my experience has been like. Amazing and fantastic.

4. Guns All this violence and hate in the world and especially the gun violence in America is fucked up. Bottom line. I don't care what you believe or where you come from it is never okay to kill another human being. Never. Not once. Not ever. Their life is not yours to take. It's just not. Present to me all the hypothetical situations you want I will always respond the same way: No, I would not kill Hitler if I could go back in time, No, I would not kill a man who was going to murder my family, No, I would not kill my mother so 1,000 people could live. Not that I think Hitler was cool or I don't love my family, or I want 1,000 people to die, but taking someone's life is wrong. End of story. So yes, gun control. Ammunition control. Ban hand guns and assault weapons, lets do all of those things. But even if we do all of that we still need to learn to live together in harmony which brings me to my last point, and it's a doozy...

5. Equality and Social Media It's not about agreeing with everyone. It's not about having the same ideas or experiences. It's about treating everyone everyone like a human being. I'm not religious, but that Jesus dude was on to something with the Golden Rule. Allow people their opinions because you want to be allowed yours. Allow people to speak their mind because you want to speak yours. Allow people to practice whatever religion they chose because you want to be able to practice yours. You see where I'm going with this?

Equality in humanity does not mean that everyone is the same. Equality means that everyone is different and that's okay. In fact, it's great. It makes our lives more interesting. It allows us to have unique experiences all over the world and discuss them and learn from each other. It allows perspectives to be broadened and hearts to be opened. All we have to do is listen to each other. Which includes social media, people. When terrible, awful, heartbreaking things happen in the world (most recently Orlando) it is not our job to jump on social media and tell other people how to feel. All we can do is express our thoughts, but we cannot speak for others.

What I mean is this: After any tragic or iconic, or sometimes both, event happened, I would see posts on FB and Twitter claiming "you don't understand [insert event here] if you are a [insert race, gender, sexual orientation here]" How do you know? No, really. How do you know that there isn't someone else out there that understands what you are feeling even though their experiences aren't the same as yours? I was especially put off when those events were Beyonce's Lemonade or Orlando, and the race/gender/sexual orientation was "white person" or "cisgender straight person," of which I am both.

Um... first of all, isn't much of Lemonade about Beyonce's struggle with Jay-Z's infidelity and finding her identity/place in American society as a black woman? I think I get that. Okay, not the black part, but for sure the woman part and definitely the relationship aspect. And as far as being a cisgender straight woman, all of that is bullshit anyway. Gender and sexuality are fluid. People are people. Just because I happen to like my lady parts and, for the most part, am attracted to men does not mean I don't have the capacity to understand what it means when a group of individuals are senselessly murdered because they love a certain way or present themselves a certain way. I am an intelligent, educated, cultured, opinionated, informed woman. Please do not tell me where my capacity for empathy begins and ends.

On a larger note, when you belong to a minority group, and you are preaching a platform of equality, isn't it a little backwards to straight up tell people they cannot be a part of the movement? Don't we (I say we because I am a woman, and do believe that is still a minority group and if you want to fight me about it I will verbally assault the shit out of you) actually need the empathy of the majority? Doesn't our advancement in society rest solely on the hope that the rich white men of America will see our plight and say, "wait a minute, that's not okay, let's do something about it?" Not in a patronizing way, but more of a "I have power to change something and I will use it for good" way. The fact that we even need anyone else to help us gain equality in the first place is disgusting, but that's exactly what we are working to correct. It's not just going to change over night. We have to be willing to put in the work and make sacrifices for future generations.

Think about it this way, if you had an amazing idea that would make the world a better place but no money to create it, you'd need an investor, correct? Sure, the investor might take all the credit and your name would get lost until years later when liberal colleges would create whole curriculums about you, but your idea would become real and ultimately make the world a better place. Greater good, people. Greater good. I don't know if I'm sounding insensitive or sheltered or especially white right now but basically what I'm trying to say is this: We can't shut those out that might be willing to help us even if they are from the group of people that is oppressing us. We must be open to empathetic support because the human capacity for empathy is the key to true equality.

Wow. Went into an opinion blackout for a moment there. I'm sure I didn't express anything quite the way I wanted to, but it's out there now. Do with it what you will.

Peace, Love & Love peace

Instagram Killed the Radio Star

Before Facebook and Vine and SnapChat and Instagram, before Periscope and YouTube and the iPhone, it was the 90's. If you wanted to make a video, you had to borrow Dad's camcorder, which probably still recorded on VHS. If you wanted to publish an article or short story, you had to send it away to actual magazines, or worse, submit it to the school paper. Before this goes any further, this is not what it looks like. This is not a millennial's self-hating rant on technology. I love my Instagram as much as the next girl. My issue is with what technology is doing to creativity. "You're so creative" has become equal to "dude, you're a genius." There is no value in it. It means nothing. Why?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmSO2cz2ozQ]

Because when everyone's creative. No one is.

I'm not trying to go all "Hero's Journey" on everyone here. We're creatives, we're not saving lives, but this new technology, the rise of social media and exhibitionism has made it so everyone has a platform to publish their work. Everyone. Celebrity Bloggers are called writers, Instagram stars are called photographers, the Kardashians are called Talented. (Okay I made that last one up, but you get the idea.) Anyone who has an idea is allowed to create it, to put labels on themselves and others, to adjust and filter and auto-tune the world around them and is that not creativity which in turn stifles creativity? To make something mediocre in a way and on a platform that forces people to praise you for it just because you were brave enough to "put it out there" it's just-

Okay, this is starting to sound a bit ranterrific, even for me. So let me just say this: This influx of so-called creativity, this generation of DIY filmmakers and Pintrest Decorators, has produced a wide and endless sea of, I'll say it, creativity. This is essentially a good thing. Self-expression and whatnot. The problem becomes finding your way through the chaos without drowning. When everyone is screaming "Look how creative I am!" sometimes it's best to remain silent. Maybe the best way to get noticed as a creative is to be well, not. Take up work at a sawmill. Learn to be a butcher. Make your own candles (but only for functional purposes).

Then again, we could also just try to be more honest with each other. Just because someone posts a sunset on Instagram doesn't mean we have to praise their point and click skills. And just because someone writes a few words on a blog doesn't mean we have to tell her she's skilled in prose. But I mean... you could? Just like, if you really meant it.

Peace, Love & the Rise of Mediocrity. <- Okay, that was self-hating millennial speak.

Don't Live and Breathe Advertising

I once overheard (yes, I've been known to eavesdrop) that the greatest creatives in the industry are the ones that live and breathe advertising. They are all advertising. All the time. And their friends probably want to murder them in their sleep. I don't know about you, but the idea of being about nothing but advertising makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

Gasp!

"But how can you say that as a copywriting infant hoping to make her mark on the world through the very industry she is shunning?" I ask myself.

Good question, self.

First of all, I am not shunning the industry. I am beyond thrilled to be starting my career in such a vast industry that is on the verge of groundbreaking change and development. I am stoked to be able to think creatively to solve real world problems, challenge social norms, and break down stereotypes. Advertising is one of many outlets for me to release my tenacious energy. But if I stopped there? If I only focused on landing a hilarious Super Bowl spot, or making a montage-tear-jerker better than that P&G Olympics one? I would be so concentrated on the end result, I would forget the purpose all together. My messages would lack any vibrance. They would be forgettable, and I would fail.

Living and breathing advertising is not the problem.

The problem is thinking that's enough.

We must live and breathe creativity in all it's forms. We must make art: movement, sculpture, melodies, brush strokes, prose. We must venture to articulate our philosophies in as many different ways as possible. It is only through our richness of endeavor and experience that we will find the insights that make great advertising.

In my opinion, anyway.

 

Let's Talk About Old Navy

More specifically, Chandelier Creative, who has quite successfully rebranded the affordable apparel giant over the last few years. Finally nailing the voice they have been trying to create for years. #SorryNotSorry Crispin, the SuperModelquins pale in comparison. I know I'm a little late to the party on this one, but it struck me today. Why has The Circus not been a-buzz with Chandelier praise? In their latest Facebook promo for BOGO tees and tanks, Actor/Comedian Kumail Nanjiani (among notable others, Cecily Strong, Jay Pharoah, and Nasim Pedrad) answers the question, "What do I look for in a T-Shirt?"

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4lJ5dRE6p8?list=PLh3LFxf8c47oI7sOc3OgM3qA0nQfy7N2i]

Gold.

Granted, a lot of the glory of this campaign is due to terrific casting. But isn't that the point? Chandelier Creative had the insight to cast the right people and the bravery to let them run wild with their precious idea. Poking fun at the "rebel without a cause" image of brands like Levi's in a way that says, "Dude, it's just a T shirt, you're not changing the world." Spot on. Old Navy is a bargain brand. They are "fashionable enough," so why make it more than it is? Chandelier is addressing the tensions of the company in a way that is relatable and refreshing.

I could gush for days about how much I love this campaign. But honestly, I gotta run. Tees and Tanks are BOGO at Old Navy. (send my endorsement check to P.O. Box 45627, thanks.)

 

Too Creative to be Normal.

All good creatives are outcasts. Rejects. Nerds, losers, punks, nobodies. And I say that with love. We are insecure, lonely, emotional, aloof, loud, silent, sensitive, possessive, passionate, demented, needy, anxious, and self deprecating. But it could be worse. We could be normal. We could work every day 9-5 in a beige office with cream desks inside sterile cubicles. We could be in stable, routine based relationships. We could support the local sports team and have lots to say about the recent weather patterns. We could drink lite beer, because what's the difference, and sit in the same chair every night to watch the same late night talk show. We could ruffle zero feathers, talk to our mothers calmly and peacefully every day,  we could be happy. We could be content. We could be complacent. We could be numb.

Instead, we are unpredictable. We are up and down and up again before we even get out of bed. We are at once motivated and debilitated by praise or rejection. We are simultaneously wide open and completely closed off. We seek out the new and exciting and different. We are never satisfied. We push and we pull and we take and we give and nothing is ever balanced the way we want it to be.

And it's exhilarating. After all, that is what we are collecting, yes? The little moments that make everything worth it? The tiny pieces of life that you can fold away and use later? Add more fuel to that brain fire. It's what keeps us moving. That search for the next big thing. The next great campaign idea, painting concept, lighting composition, lyric, melody, movement, theory, plot line. We must roll on before we rock.

Roll through that pain, suffering, heartache, loneliness, all that bummer shit, that's what makes art. Without it, shakespeare couldn't have written much of anything. Picasso wouldn't have painted anything during his blue period. And Alanis Morisette, well we all know her songs are garbage now that she's "happy" or whatever.

We may not belong anywhere, we may not fit in, we may never be normal. But who wants to be normal? Normality is boring. We're too smart to be normal.

Stay weird, my friends.

 

 

 

 

Unbreakable.

Females are strong as hell. Truer words have never been spoken.We bleed for 5 days in a row and don't die. We push small humans out of our bodies, sometimes more than once. We wear heels.

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But Kimmy isn't the only survivor. Titus escaped Mississippi. Jacqueline, a loveless marriage and the oppressive pressures of having to "keep up appearances." I know, it feels like a stretch, but everyone has their own unique struggle and every unique struggle is valid in its own way.

Sure, a bunker may seem like a real tangible prison, but being a gay black man in a southern town, or a "poor" divorcé in a world of wealthy couples is its own kind of hell, each with its own set of challenges. What unites them all, is their coping mechanism: present to the world the face you want them to see and save the tears for the dark. Which is what women have been doing for ages anyway, right?

Every woman on this planet is part Kimmy, part Titus and part Jacqueline. All at once. Every. Damn. Day.

We are Kimmy when we put other's needs before our own. When we find joy in the mundane. When we accept everyone as they are and love them for it. When we laugh because if we don't, we'll cry. When we struggle between being nice and being a doormat.

We are Titus when we follow our dreams. When we say "fuck Broadway" and make our own musicals. When we say yes to a love that might tear us apart. When we are scared because life is amazing and we are just waiting for everything to fall to pieces like it always does.

We are Jacqueline when we try to fit in. When we do everything in our power to get ahead and put our needs before anyone else's. When we fall victim to cruelty and depend too much on other's validation. When we are lonely. When try desperately to stop caring what everyone thinks but find it near impossible. When we are insecure and terrified and not sure where we belong.

Those parts fight with each other inside of us. We are always caring but selfish. Kind but cruel. Lonely but in love. There's a war zone inside all of us all the time. And we need all of those parts to survive. Kimmy to keep us positive. Titus to keep us dreaming. And Jaqueline to keep us from getting walked all over.

And sometimes, as much as we try to avoid it, we are all Mimi Kanasis and we just hide in a closet and wait for the storm to pass.

Peace, love and survival.