The dilemma of presenting live vs. presenting digitally

Ok, I have to come clean. I love Mad Men as much as anyone else who works in the ad industry does. But this post is not about how much we love this show. It is about what this show can teach us (aside from drinking and sleeping on the couch during office hours).

Like presenting an idea live.

Remember this scene from Mad Men?

Yes, I know. This is one of the most famous scenes in the whole show and everybody has talked about it before on countless blogs (some of which I have read). A former teacher from ad school even used to say that this is the pinnacle of how a client presentation should be set.

But today I’m not digging into the mechanics of how to build a deck (that might be a topic for another post). Today, I’m going to talk about the dilemma of presenting your creative live vs. the comfort of presenting it digitally.

 

While sending a deck to the client over email and waiting for their comments might sound like the comfiest thing to do (especially if booking a meeting is near to impossible). Sometimes you need that extra “oomph” (this is not a word, obviously). What I mean is that sometimes you need to paint a more comprehensive picture to your client other than just words and images over a PDF.

For example, a few months ago, we presented a couple of ridiculous radio spots to a client. For the first one, I had to act the voice over and the SFX so the client could imagine how the final product would sound. The second one was presented with a spec spot that we badly recorded on our computers.

Both were sold and produced.

Why?

Because the client didn’t have to imagine them.

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I know that this might be harder to do with TV spots or more innovative ideas. But that’s why I started this post with that Mad Men scene. Because if Don Draper had put that speech on a deck and emailed it to the client, he might not have sold the idea.

When we present live, we can act, we can paint, we can play with our client’s imaginations. Guide them to see and think the way we did when we created the idea.

When we send it digitally, we can only hope they see it the same way as we imagined it.

And let me ask you a question. How many of you have sent or received an ambiguous text message that could be interpreted in so many ways?

Exactly.

So if you really want to sell an idea, book that meeting. Don’t leave it to chance.

How do I renew my passion to create everyday?

Working in any creative industry can sometimes be really frustrating. You know, having to go through endless changes, ideas getting killed, budgets being cut (or non existent), etc. It’s no surprise that many people think that the only ones that have what it takes to succeed are the ones with an unnatural talent, a really thick skin and luck.

I can vouch for the thick skin. It is true that you need it to see your mind-babies being killed and gather enough courage to keep pushing until you give birth to a new one.

But unnatural talent?

No, sorry.

Creativity is part of human nature. Which means, we all have talent. You just need to nourish it, unleash it and enjoy it.

Even though, sometimes you need to renew your passion to create. Find that fuel that makes you keep on going against all odds. It is a different process for everyone. Here is how I do it.

Ready?

READING

Say what???

Yes, reading. Everyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that I’m always reading something. I’m either stuck to my Kindle, to the endless tabs I have open in my browser (which make my computer crash regularly) or to any book that seems interesting.

Reading keeps me up to date with new tech, ideas being made, funny stuff, entertaining stuff—you name it. Sometimes I won’t even finish the article when I’m using it for an idea I just came up with. Reading is my fuel.

For example, on a recent trip back home, I dug out a gift package I got from AKQA back when I was a not-so-little fella attending ad school. It contained a book called “Spark For The Fire” from Ian Wharton.

I started to read it and oh boy, my mind was blown.

So much that it led me to set new goals for my professional career that will make me push myself even harder than before, and a new personal project that hopefully will launch in two weeks.

I honestly don’t know if the book is really that good or should be an obligatory read for any creative (sorry Ian). But I have been recommending it like crazy to all my office mates and friends (you’re welcome Ian).

Anyway. That’s how I renew my passion to create everyday.

Now tell me… What’s yours?

 

 

Welcome to the taboo-free “Touching” Era

I’m gonna start by saying this—BREAST CANCER SUCKS!

So whenever an ad agency comes up with a really cool and clever way to encourage people to touch themselves and detect early stages of breast cancer, I’m totally on board with it.

Why breast cancer?

The answer is simple—taboos.

While we’re comfortable talking about sex, balls, male genitalia and the gruesome ways characters kill other characters on Game of Thrones, we still feel weird when talking about or seeing breasts. Remember the Super Bowl XXXVIII nipple incident? In fact, our most beloved social networks won’t let a female nipple get anywhere close to a post.

When someone comes up with an idea to fight breast cancer, the first thing they have to think about is censorship and the female nipple taboo. That’s fucking bullshit! Fortunately, some creatives are really good at this and know how to go around it.

I’m proud to say I know one of them.

One of my closest friends created The Sisterhoodie, a hoodie for all mamkind. It lets you touch yourself and become familiar with your breasts just by changing the placement of the hoodie’s pockets.

And I don’t care if I sound a little biased. This idea is fucking awesome, fashionable and about 80% taboo-free.

Enter the CTA

Learn more about The Sisterhoodie or order yours at thesisterhoodie.com.

 

Beat breast cancer. Touch yourself.

That’s a tear in my ad… No, wait. It’s not an ad.

Every once in a while I see one of those ads that make me feel envy, professional envy. You know, work that makes you say, “I wish I had done that.”

Today it happened.

I was going through my usual routine of reading news and watching newly released ads when I found this article on Adweek. It talks about a short film made by John Wikstrom called “Player Two”. I’m not going to ruin the plot. Instead I’ll let you guys see it and shed a tear with me.

According to Wikstrom, the idea came to him when reading a string of comments on a YouTube video called “Can Video Games Be a Spiritual Experience?”. It’s powerful, emotive and it works as one of the best ads ever made for Xbox.

The best part?

It wasn’t made or commissioned by Microsoft. It’s spec work. Work that’s usually done by students when they’re trying to show their ideas and enter our industry. But I believe this film goes more than just spec. I bet Wikstrom never intended to make it work as an ad. I bet he just wanted to tell a story, a very powerful story. He wanted to make a piece he felt passion for.

So John Wikstrom, if you’re reading this I gotta say, “I envy you.” But your film really moved me.

Kudos!

 

 

When your idea becomes another’s idea

You’ve just arrived at the agency. It’s time to start your morning ritual. You know, get some coffee (or tea, or water, or whatever you kids drink these days). You grab a bagel with extra cream cheese because you deserve it. You start reading the news, swiping the endless ad industry blogs (hopefully you read this one too). You watch the newest ads on Creativity Online or Ads Of The World trying to find your inspiration muse for the day.

Out of the blue, you read one article that you didn’t expect. Or a new campaign with a title that’s way too familiar.

Your pupils dilate, your heartbeat is racing. You sweat, you curse (whispering at first, then so loud everyone can hear you). You can’t believe it…

Some mother $@%&* stole your idea and made it!

That idea you thought about months ago and got killed by your boss, by your client or by a producer that said it couldn’t be done. That idea that you never showed it to anyone because you thought it was so bad it wouldn’t ever fly. That idea that you forgot and is now lost between a mountain of used papers and old scribbles.

But now it’s there. Another creative thought about it. Another brand bought it. And it’s out there—getting the press yours will never get.

You keep cursing all day long. You play angry music. You want to call the son of a bitch that stole your idea and make him put you on the credits. You’re irrational.

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But you know what?

You’re wrong. It’s not your idea anymore.

Why?

Because that other guy made it. Plain and simple.

While your idea is gathering a pile of dust. His/hers is out there, produced, published and running.

And you know what?

That’s what happens in this industry. The ideas that count are the ones that are made.

But don’t worry… I’ve been there too. Today.

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Adland Adventures—it’s funny because it’s true

It’s late at night. Like really, really late. I wish I could go home and sleep, but I have to finish this. I have to come up with a new concept, a new idea, something that saves tomorrow’s meeting from utter disaster. Maybe there’s something I can use from my old notes. Maybe not.  Wait… this looks promising—yes, I can work with that. And… I’m going home.

If something like this hasn’t happened to you, you’re not in Advertising. A small agency in North Carolina, The Variable, realized that and developed a funny site called The Adland Adventures—which compares the ad world to the animal kingdom through a series of fun stock footage/VO snippets (I still don’t know which one is more savage).

So, if you’re out of internet and you desperately need something to laugh about for the next 10 minutes or just an ad guy living with PTSD, you should definitely check them out.

P.S. Here’s my favorite one if you ask:

Facebook, brands, 90 characters and me

Yesterday I was wasting my time reading my Facebook newsfeed. I stumbled upon a post from a former teacher and creative director.  In it, he joked about how Facebook just presented its plan for the next 10 years while some brands are still thinking of how to engage with the customer on the Facebook from three years ago. Remember? Those brands that keep asking how many likes the brand page or the post has.

Sadly, that joke hit a little close to home as I was actually working on a Facebook ad for one of the brands I work for.

I started to have one of those existential crises every creative has at some of point of his/her career. On one side, I was looking at a blank screen, trying to come up with 90 characters of customer-engaging, ground-breaking, super-salesy-but-not-too-pushy copy. On the other side, I was thinking how cool it would be if this brand, any brand I work for let me play and create some bots to up their game.

How cool it would be?

My dream didn’t go too far as I had to come back to Earth and finish those 90 characters before the meeting. But it made me realize why our role in the marketing process has changed. Not only are we responsible for creating good, creative marketing campaigns that sell the product (which technically is what we´re being paid for). We are also responsible for being knowledgeable in new technologies and teach our clients how and why to use them.

I know, I know… This is not something new.

I know I can probably find a thousand articles on AdAge, AdWeek and so about this topic. What I won’t find is an article that helps me sell a product and engage with today’s audience using the Facebook from three years ago (if you ask, this is not that article either).

While I wait for some Eureka moment that shows me the answer to that question or wait for someone else to write an article about it, I’ll go back and finish my 90 characters. Because that’s why I’m being paid to do today. I’ve ranted for a while now and I think I’m good to go.

Thanks Daniel for the laugh.