A post about nothing (or something)

There I was, coming back from a morning run, ready to get into the shower when my mind started spinning. Ideating. Creating. I don’t know how to describe what was happening to me, but between suds and weird shampoo hairstyles I was on fire! Idea fire!

That’s the life of the creative, always thinking about the next big thing (or the next bad joke) while doing the most brainless thing possible. In my case, the idea was to write a blog post about nothing.

Why nothing?

Because it’s more challenging than writing a post about something.

Sure, I can definitely talk about politics, but everyone is talking about it so much that it stopped being funny and insightful at all.

(Full disclosure: I’m totally against the radioactive orange)

I could talk about news in the ad business, but most of them have been covered by AdAge, AdWeek, AgencySpy, etc.

(The only thing I’ll say is: I’m glad that the gender and diversity problem it has is being addressed and noticed by everybody)

Maybe I could talk about the script for the SuperBowl ad I’m hoping to make.

Or maybe I can finish this post as it is and I’ll have completed my mission. A post about nothing (or something).

The invention of the time machine and the “A-ha” moment

Ever since I started working in this business I’ve been wondering what was the “A-ha” moment for the world’s most renown creatives. You know, that moment when they said to themselves, “oh shit! I really wanna do this for a living”—or something close to that.

I know that the Boguskys, the Drogas, the Grafs or the Royers of this world have already talked about their beginnings in the industry, the things they did to become geniuses and more. But correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t read or heard them talking about that “A-ha” moment.

When we are young, we are naturally attracted to anything that’s creative. We’re born creative. And some people cling so hard to that feeling that they grow up to become artists, entrepreneurs, mad men at a very young age. They say they were always attracted to that life and that job, but they never mention the moment when they make that decision.

Take me for an instance. I’ve always loved creativity and took it as a hobby when my life/school took me to the boring corporate world (the kind that wears ties and suits everyday because they’re told to, not because they need to). When I was a pubescent teenager trying to decide what I was going to do with my life, nobody told me that this ad world existed (my school didn’t have career planning or counselors). So when I had to make a choice, I chose business. Cool, exciting, boring business.

That choice led me to a wealthy and successful career path. The money was good, the people were good, but I wasn’t happy. I was just going with the flow.

Then it happened.

Out of the blue, a teacher at a course I was taking explained how the ad industry worked.

My eyes opened wide, my pupils dilated, my adrenaline spiked and my mind was blown (okay, I might have exaggerated a little bit. But for the sake of argument, let’s all think this actually happened).

I had my “a-ha” moment.

I wanted to be a creative. I needed to be a creative. I suddenly got the courage to drop everything and pursue my passion. And four years later, here I am. Writing a blog a lot of people read one day (thanks AgencySpy) and having a blast at life (thanks boss).

So if I ever invent a time machine (or someone does before me). I’d travel to that moment where Gerry, David, Ted, Alex, Steve, Bill and more got that “a-ha” moment. Just to see if they were once as lost as I was.

Or…

On a second thought, I’d better travel back to when I was a naive and clueless teenager and counsel me to become a creative sooner in life (and how to successfully hookup with my high school crush before my worst enemy does—sorry, not sorry).

So M, if you read this. I’m coming for you (or coming back for you?—I’m confused).

*This article happened thanks to “The Time Machine”, a TV spot for one of my clients that you might or might not see on your screen soon (I haven’t sold it to the CD yet).

 

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.

s8lb8ff7gtcuc

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?

 

 

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.

wumafq

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.

tumblr_m0nmeszmws1qibz0jo1_r1_500

 

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.