Posts Tagged ‘ krystal plomatos ’

tweaking your book – thoughts from a professional

I just had a quick chat with Earl Cox, head of Planning and partner at the Martin Agency- and those 30 minutes were ripe with valid points for anyone else putting together their book right now.

Why Some Books Sit On Desks:

“Most of the books are too dense, overwritten. Eliminate. Because when I’m flipping through a book I’m looking for three things:

I. AN insight. Not several insights, because then it’s just a recap of research.

Boil it down. “Planning is the art of synthesis and distillation. It requires a great deal of confidence. There’s an expression: ‘Often wrong, but never in doubt.” Sometimes you gotta be a little cocky. That’s what I’m paying you for: a strongly held opinion well argued.”

II. Is that single insight expressed imaginatively in the strategy?

III. Then, is the creative work actually built from that strategy?

Because I see so many books with a brilliant strategy but then the work that follows looks great but has nothing to do with the insight.

Books with Fat Heartstrings:

“Be very weary of movements.”

“I see a lot of books with 4 different campaigns and each one- claims to ‘save the world.’ It’s great to have a conscious and our business doesn’t always have the best reputation- but you have to remember we’re seeing book after book with campaigns declaring that this claim will forever revolutionize ‘_______.’

Remember clients pay us to sell things. Everything ties back to Wall Street. Stockholder Value.”

The Premature Furrowed Brow:

–I’ve been feeling off-kilter lately because I’m putting my book + resume together to apply for internships. Which means I’m looking at all my work through the premature anxiety of knowing I’m going to be either approved or dismissed by it.

After I told Earl this, he recounted how a woman he had just met at a cocktail party summed our business up in 2 seconds: “Your is a business where people try to find their self-esteem in their jobs.”

He went on to say:

“Self esteem has to come from inside.”

Don’t sink yourself waiting on external approval. “At my level, there’s no more Atta-Boys and Promotions- it’s just what’s expected of me. I had to go through that introspective period to realize that. Stop worrying.”

On Planning:

Mike Mattdox, a Brandcenter alum gave a lecture to a class- and one of the students asked Mike ‘what he would have done differently during his 2 years at the Brandcenter knowing what he knows now.’ Mike quickly replied:


Earl added, “the good planners and creatives know how to be provocative. It’s just what stands out. Doing what you think the client wants isn’t what they remember after watching 8 presentations on the same thing.

If you’re going to be meek in this industry- why bother?

Planning is the Thought Leadership Department.

“As a planner- you are a catalyst. You have to be prepared to lead a team based on an idea that you can defend against all others.”

Even though Earl is frequently the 2nd busiest person at the Martin Agency behind Mike Hughes- he always makes time for students. His dedication to the industry and commitment to nurturing talent is something you need to see for yourself. If you are interested in the Brandcenter – definitely make it a point to schedule an appointment with Earl while you’re in Richmond.

Best of Luck on Your Book!

** You may agree/disagree with his POV- but at least considering seasoned thoughts from a renown planning professional can’t hurt.

Bjork + Wanderlust + 3d = a legal trip

I just saw Bjork’s 3d video “Wanderlust” on mtvU. wow.

Of course it’s not nearly as much of an experience watching it online compared to tv, and I don’t have 3d glasses to get the full intended effect ( actually lists how to make them yourself,ha) but the DVD with glasses drops on my birthday and I will definitely be scooping it up.

Once you get over the jarring-ness of the horns, the song is absolutely mesmerizing & hypnotic.

Google campus day @ VCU Brandcenter

Last week Google came to the BrandCenter to set up an intensive 2 day Google Campus.
They brought in 6 kiosks with a Googler on  hand to explain different Google properties such as Double Click, AdWords, Google Maps/Earth, advertising within YouTube etc. Then a mobile cafe to play around with the Android.

Thursday was a lecture on improving SEO & demystifying the Google AdWords AdRank.

Friday, the absolutely hilarious Aidan Chopra had us rolling with laughter as he gave 4 run mini-lectures of Google Sketch Up.

If you’re an Art Director and haven’t been using it (it’s free and there is also a paid Pro version) Get On It. You can subscribe to Aidan’s YouTube channel “Sketch Up for Dummies”

A basic HowTo by Aidan

Google Ad Words + Optimizing Your
Google AdRank
1. If the landing page of your site is Flash heavy- it’s going to lower your rank on a Google search result. (Part of the AdRank score is Ease of Navigation, so Google considers the lag in loading Flash intros a diasadvantage.)

Last week Julia Angwin wrote about how she worked to manipulate what pops up when her name is Googled.

What It’s Like to Be A Googler
Yes, every Goolger we met has serious pride about being a Googler. The phrases “Google always keeps the user in mind,” and “At Google we’re all about doing good things that matter,” was uttered a Google-load of times.

It’s kind of overwhelming because your inner snark wonders, “umm, company Kool-Aid???,” but on the other hand, it’s amazing that the culture is so well defined, embraced and understood for a company that massive.
But Robert Wong, who closed the 2-day event, made the point that ‘people work for three reasons: to chase a paycheck, to make a name, or because they believe in their work as a calling.’

Yes, Google is the juggernaut, but when you look at the 100s of things they produce for us to tinker with that are free, it lends authenticity to the comment that Googlers choose to work there to answer his/her calling.

Before they unleashed us on the Google toys

Before they unleashed us on the Google toys

Lunching with Googlers & the Martin Agency

Lunching with Googlers & the Martin Agency

House of Naked. NYC

If you’re a strategist serious about honing your craft, there’s no place better than the House of Naked. With 37 strategists of various specialties, you’ve surrounded yourself  with thinkers that know how to ask the right questions and poke the right holes in embryonic ideas.

A lot of agencies are quick to point out that they offer more than just advertising solutions. That exact claim is built into Naked’s business model.

Because House of Naked  consists of only strategists and planners, they’re not obligated to work with a particular creative team. Their lean structure lets them cherry-pick from a variety of creative teams from different agencies.

Same thing with their media buys. Since Naked doesn’t staff their own media department, they buy as they go, and buy only what they need. This signals to Naked’s clients that they are getting a truly neutral media recommendation.

The Naked Ethos is this:

1. Everything Communicates
Every touchpoint communicates, and Naked is adept at making sure each component consistently ties back into the brand’s overarching message.

2. People Are Your Partners

Naked knows how to collaborate better than most. They know which firms to outsource  creative, interactive, production, and even work alongside traditional agencies. At Naked- they can ‘compete collaboratively’ and still rake in the dollars.

3. There is a Better Way
Who could have imagined an agency of only planners could keep the pace with traditional agencies? Naked never cared for membership to the Good Old Boys Club- instead they built    their own fort which has grown into the international House of Naked. Cronies & Bureaucracy Lovers Keep Out!

4. See The Full Picture
As Johanna put it, “at Naked we try to take a 30,000 ft. view of the client, the client’s marketing problem, the context & the consumer.” Part of seeing the big picture is having a deeper understanding of the problem and finding a solution that will solve the problem now and improve business down the road.

With a less overhead than other shops, the House of Naked is standing strong in shaky times. It doesn’t hurt that their clients include plenty of necessity brands/consumer staples that stay afloat in times of debit card fatigue.

If you’re Naked, you’re honest. And one of things Johanna mentioned that really clicked with me is how she described her reaction to each new project that comes her way.

“It’s like a brief panic attack because it’s so different from the last thing you worked on and you know it needs to be solved in a way you’re not already accustomed to. You start from scratch every time.”

That’s where it’s at- the adrenaline rush of wanting to nail the solution- while pacing yourself to hatch a work plan that will get you there.

& Exposed

Yes, if you work at House of Naked, you enjoy being exposed. Their website aggregates & streams feeds from everyone’s blogs, flickr,, & Twitter updates.

At the actual House of Naked, they’ve constructed a model of their house. What’s cool, is that whenever the aggregator aggregates, the fire truck at the little model House of Naked whines and wooos, letting everyone else know he/she has contributed something of interest on the world wide web.

Super blurry shot of the House of Naked model, right before the little fire truck went off to indicate that Nakedites were blogging away.

Super blurry shot of the House of Naked model, right before the little fire truck went off to indicate that Nakedites were blogging away.

They just love being exposed at House of Naked. One of the glassrooms they use for important business meetings.

They just love being exposed at House of Naked. One of the glassrooms they use for important business meetings.

Working. At Toy.

You can’t mention Toy without anyone immediately interjecting that Ari Merkin is The Friendliest Creative Genius in the Industry, but I have to add that Anne Bologna, co-founder and “strategic creative / creative strategist” could rival Ari for the title- but that just wouldn’t happen because they’re too sincere to vie for frivolities.

What I found interesting about talking with Anne, is that she defines that small, select group of planners that really drive the adrenaline + goosebump inducing ideas as those that truly   live in the creative space. Meaning, strategists that:

+ understand the intricacies + nuances of the creative process

+ know which creatives prefer a quick chat over lunch about what’s on strategy and which ones live by a truly brief brief

+ is so versed in the realm of creatives that he/she could pinch hit as a creative award show judge and no one would be the wiser. Someone that doesn’t  live only for research numbers and precious positioning statements.

Senior strategists always mention an understanding of the creative species- but Anne differs in that she stressed it as the most important differentiating characteristic between A Planner and The Planner.

She cited an example where she knew her strategy was on- but the creative teams weren’t able to write anything to it. The deadline was looming and shaking a fat fist in her face.

David Lubars, who worked with her at Fallon at the time told her, “If it was anyone else asking me to push them[creatives] through on this, I’d say we’re scrapping this strategy, but I trust you Anne.”

Because The David Lubars trusted that Anne understood the creative process like the best of them, he held out on her behalf, and behold, Citi Bank’s Live Richly was born.

I thought that was a great example of true collaboration, trust and treatment of each other as equals. There’s going to be times when the strategy falls flat or the creative nosedives- but there was no pointing fingers and blaming one another for not being “____ enough.”

What I learned from that is always: strive to treat each others as true partners like Anne & David did- then those mishaps occur less frequently, allowing the gems to surface.

She was also quick to point out other times when she knew she had to step back, re-evaluate then re-write. “Don’t be afraid to get out of your own way,” she cautioned. Humility is key.

Their sense of humor is evident on their website, all their work, and the overall energy at their office, which is a relaxed loft-style setup. This nimble shop is selective about who they take on as clients- they’re the first to admit that they’re not right for everyone. But there’s no qualms there because working for ideas- not shareholders affords them the independence and creative freedom, the very chum on which they sustain themselves.
[Check out their latest J&R work-they nailed what J&R stands for]

With a name like Toy, you might think it’s a creative person’s utopia where each desk is really a pinball machine and that Toy’s ping pong table is more luxe than your agency’s ping pong table. I didn’t even see a ubiquitous-agency p.pong table. But Toy strikes me more like a place of total focus. There’s less drag from clients that “don’t get it,” anxious shareholders, and corporate red-tape.

Like the definition of good design where there is nothing left to take away, Toy is an adroit shop with brilliant people that know  just when to lead and when to get out of the way.

Now tidy up and put your awards away

Now tidy up and put your awards away

potty humor @ Toy

potty humor @ Toy

Roaming around Wieden + Kennedy NYC

A few summers ago I had the pleasure of dropping by W + K Amsterdam. This past January I got a glimpse of life at the New York office. From continent to continent, the offices of W + K radiate this contagious creative energy that makes you wish you didn’t have to leave. (now if I could only get to W + K Tokyo.)

If you want to work at W + K, you have the be the type of person that always knows the best places to hit up after the work is done. I think that’s their secret; they know how to re-charge better than anyone else.

Nurturing your interests & curiosities outside the walls of Wieden seems to be as much of a staple of the W + K culture as the Fail Harder mantra.

From the in-house concerts known as WK Lunchbox in Portland, to W+K Radio, the recently published ‘Wieden+Kennedy The Book,’

or taking a trip on W+KTokyo Lab, W + K hosts scores of opportunities to soak up + create culture.

I spoke with Phil Chang, a strategist-prodigy in the W+K New York office. Phil was actually was hired by W+K Beijing, but preferred the opportunity to ramp up in-house digital in the New York office. That’s another thing to love about Wieden- they’re cool about transferring employees from office to office if they so desire.

I learned that Phil caught W+K’s attention because of his work for KDU, a design collective, and also because he’s a musician (who just happens to have a mind for strategic thinking.)

He was a little surprised when I told him I go to the Brandcenter and the idea of going to school to study advertising. While everyone knows getting hired W+K is as easy as infiltrating Fort Knox- it seems like many were hired not for being ad-junkies but because they are interesting people intently pursuing a passion. Because they breathe that passion  into the body of W+K work.

Which makes perfect sense, with the bulk of W+K’s clients being modern ‘lifestyle’ brands, each with a recognizable tribe of brand loyalists.

I’ll stop prattling about agency life at Wieden + Kennedy now so I can tend to mine.

Cheers to your killer book- that comes 2nd to pursuing all the crazy stories and interests that have made your life richer.

Standing on the Threshold of Greatness

Check out the Theromstat for scale. Monstrous kicks!

Wiedenites with many stories to tell

Wiedenites with many stories to tell


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