Advertising Creative Releases His Secrets, Thousands Fail to Enlighten Themselves

How to Create a TV Spot- by Vinny Warren

If you think you might be remotely interested in ever having a career in advertising or working on commercials you should probably give this blog post a read. It's Vinny Warren's tips on how to create a good TV spot and these aren't things I've found in any book. He pretty much says hre's my process, try to beat me at my own game.

Right now you might be thinking "Why does this Vinny guy have the authority to tell me how to make an ad? I took advertising principles. I know the ropes."

Well even if you aren't that smug let me learn you something fierce. Vinny is the guy who created "Whassup" and a ton of other great commercials for Budweiser back in the early 2000's. He made stuff go viral before youtube existed. Pretty cool. So if you want to learn something from one of the best hit the link and start thinking about all those cool commercials you'll be able to write soon.

If you don't know/remember Whassup here's a refresher:

Inspiration from Alex, that guy who was kind of a big deal in advertising for a while - and, even though he left, still seems to be.

Here's a little bit of inspiration from Alex Bogusky that I just rediscovered tonight. It's a comment he posted over a year ago on his article "Why not take a moment and define success before you pursue it?", before he quit advertising and everything.

If I have one tip for you when reading articles it's always read the comments. Sometimes the authors distill and improve on their insights then post to the comments; I know I've stumbled upon some nuggets of wisdom in the comments sections multiple times.

Here's that quote (unedited of course):

You probably dont have to search very far to find a comment from me on the value of hard work. There is no substitute. Yet how is it some poeple seem to have the capacity to work so much harder than others. Would they work that way no matter what they did? in my own case I assure you this is not the case. Having had multiple jobs outside of advertsing I was a fairly lackluster employee and never asked for overtime.This idea of easy vs not easy is interesting and I address it but not head on. I would suggest that if easy means a 9 to 5 approach then it will never be easy. But if easy means having fun and enjoying life as you spend countless hours doing what you love then your own personal definition of success can help make that journey a lot easier.

He also followed up another question with this gem:

Because I found a passion and working hard suddenly gave me the same feeling as playing hard.

I would recommend reading the entire article if you haven't. It was a definite fire under my ass to do whatever it took to get into advertising.

Thanks for reading folks!

Diversity; It's what makes us diverse!

Sorry again for the long break between posts. It's been a busy couple of weeks but there are many posts in the works.

As far as I'm concerned this video is perfect, all jokes in the headline aside. It's a collaborative effort between the 4A's and VCU Brandcenter to get more diversity into advertising. The interviews, the music, the insight and the filming techniques are exactly what I would have used if I was making a film enticing people to get into advertising. The entire film kept me captive, and I loved it.

And the movie does a very good job of stressing a very important fact; advertising needs diversity. Both diversity in the classic sense, the majority of what is discussed in the video, and diversity of ideas. I'm going to write about the latter point because I feel the former does not need expanding upon if you watched the film. (which I'm quite sure you have.)

Be interesting. That piece of advice has been told to me by almost every person in the industry I have talked to or read. The way that you do it may vary but creating great work is only part of the story behind why people should hire you.

Just going through the motions and getting your degree is not enough. If that's scary that's fine because a little fear never hurt anyone. Just know that a piece of paper from wherever comes second or even third to what you produce and who you are.

Erik Proulx, current filmmaker/ activist and former copywriter, wrote something along these lines last year. His advice to student seeking jobs, or I guess anyone seeking a job, was "Don't be the person looking for a job. Be the person out there doing something interesting."

There are tons of crazy talented people out there looking for a job but what have you done that makes you interesting? Maybe it's something obscure like moonlighting as an EMT while you study or you took a crazy semester off and couch surfed. Whatever it was there is something that makes you interesting, something that makes you diverse. And that is what you should be showing off.

Because at the end of the day you're getting hired based on your story and ability to tell it. So let it be interesting.

(Also Erik is doing a cool thing to fund his new movie by having people sponsor it at a dollar a frame. Consider giving and starting a successful career as a film producer. Hit this link for deets.)

I remember when I made my first hundred (followers that is).

Tonight I reached 100 followers on twitter*. Doesn't seem like that much but it's a big accomplishment for me.

In July 2009 I set a goal for myself to grow my followers organically (I had roughly 25 at the time after having twitter for over 2 years but not really using it). Basically what that means is that I wasn't going to follow a bunch of people just to get artificially inflated followers, I wanted people to discover my thoughts and then choose to follow me. That's what made sense to me because that's the way I determine whether or not I follow someone.

Hopefully what I have now is 100 people following me who are genuinely interested in what I'm saying, or find me charming at the very least. I'm just going to keep on doing what I've been doing and hope people continue to like it. Sometime later I'll put up a longer post about why it's good to have a twitter (it's been in the works for a few days) but for now that's all I've got.

If you visited me from a link via twitter, thanks!

*I also find it funny how we arbitrarily set accomplishments as big, shiny, round numbers- but that's something else entirely.


W+K Creatives Divulge Their Process (but you should still find your way to work)

For those of you who have been asleep for the past 8 months there was a hugely successful series of commercials from Old Spice. They centered around 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like'.

Funny stuff. Really, really good creative work.

The creatives who developed the campaign were recently interviewed for a youtube series titled "The Creative Process: Illustrated". Here's the video:

Having this peek into their creative process and chemistry as a team is really neat. I also found their comments about the ego stroking nature of a viral video made them seem very human. Humans who can create ads that would make almost any young creative jealous.

Or very motivated at the least.

How 50 Cent's Song 'Wanksta' Changed My Life

Before the 5th grade I did not have much in the way of what a normal human being would call 'musical taste'. I pretty much listened to the radio or whatever my parents had in their cars, Rod Stewart or some Broadway show most of the time. Which was fine for me. I didn't know any better. Then one day my friend introduced me to Rap music.

If we're splitting hairs it was 50 Cent's song "Wanksta".

While this song is certainly not a masterpiece it opened up an entire new world to me. I started exploring new music, new genres, and what started as a liking of music grew into an obsession. I now enjoy more types of music than there are classifications but I still have a soft spot for rap and Hip-hop. I think that it comes down to sampling.

Rap songs aren't just rap songs. They open up their beats and references to the culture at large, and that's what is so intriguing to me. Take Kanye West for example. I started to listen to him around the time his first album came out. I loved his use of samples and I liked the melodies they created.

As a result of that I would seek out the original songs and got exposed to great soul music. It was inspiring to see what the original song was and try to figure out what Kanye had done to it. He would take a piece or art and add something to it. It was not always an improvement but it was always interesting.

And that's what I try to do with my life. In papers, work or conversation I'll let my mind associate or sample from various things I have learned. I sample the information that I have amassed in my lifetime to come up with original, occasionally strange, thoughts about any topic.

So while talking about a rap song and the merits of a remix I might bring in something about post-structuralist thought. Not because I'm trying to sound smarter than I am, but because making those connections helps me make more connections. In turn, every thought I have becomes a more complete thought through exploration. (I tend to be slightly introspective)

Even more importantly it helps me pull from different parts of my life when I am doing work. which is a really cool thing.

So while it may be conventionally strange to talk about the death of the author and rap music it works for me.

Which is another reason advertising attracted me. Because every day you get to look at a problem and say, "What can I do with this to make people take notice? How can I look at this problem in a way that is different from anyone else?"

And I think that's pretty exciting.


I was struck by this interview from Dave Trott. Specifically I was struck with his comments in the first minute or so about advertising in a recession.

You see, most people are not too keen on the whole recession thing. Less money in businesses means less air time for commericals, less pages of print and generally less of just about everything. So why would anyone be excited about making an ad during this time? Conventional thinking says they wouldn't; but if you've read much about advertising you know conventional thinking has little to no place there.

Dave said it was very good for creative work that we are in a recession because the less money you have to spend the more exciting your ideas have to be. Since you don't have millions to beat an idea into a person's head by buying tons and tons of media, although it is getting increasingly more difficult to do this thanks to narrowcasting, your ideas have to stick out. The work has to be really truly good for the first time in a while.

I like that a lot.

There are still some companies that don't get that really really good work resonates better than blind repetition. I'm under the impression there always will be. Nevertheless this is an exciting time to be getting into advertising. Every dollar is worth so much more, every piece you create has to try a little bit harder. New shops run by fantastic creatives are popping up all over and we're about to get in on the bottom floor.

I do not think the recession was necessarily good for the business of advertising. What I do believe is that it has been good for advertising as a whole. The system needs a little shaking up from time to time, just be thankful you're around while it's happening.

Another High-Minded Article About Advertising (that's completely on the money)!

For the life of me I cannot remember who tweeted about this, but thank you. If it was you feel free to comment at the bottom for attribution.

1959-67: by Adam Curtis

There you have it. Adam Curtis may have written the best article of 2010. It's long. It's in depth. It mixes video and text. Most importantly it's a finger in the face of people who say traditional advertising is dead.

Exclusively using traditional media is pretty much dead, but the core of advertising- the idea, is still alive and well. I cannot say good enough things about this article. It paints a picture of how we got our current examples of great advertising from the age of 'Mad Men.' Please do yourself a favor and read it.

It has been out for around a month now and one of the videos won't play if you're in the states but the ideas are gold.

It's where you're looking

In my copywriting class this week my professor showed us a job listing for an entry-level copywriter position. She said it was in the marketing department of a major company headquartered in Des Moines that works with other major companies across the US. I'm thinking it was probably Meredith Corporation, but that's just me.

She was showing off what they were looking for in a job applicant. Most was typical job stuff; 1-2 years of experience, customer service skills, written communication skills (duh), strong proof-reading skills, knowledge of pc programs including quark express. You know, normal stuff.

But quality creative work wasn't mentioned anywhere.

I found that interesting and, while this is not a critique of the class, it made me wonder why she chose to show this job listing. Most listings I have seen from agencies stress the importance of creative work, most creatives will even tell you it's all about the work. I think the problem was where the job listing was coming from.

If you want to work in a major corporation by all means fulfill the requirements on the first list. But if you want to work in the creative field look for a job that emphasizes your work. If they don't ask to see your book then I might suggest looking somewhere else.

Seth Godin Spits the Truth All Over Minneapolis

A few weeks ago I traveled up to Minneapolis to see Seth Godin speak. It was one of the stops on his 'Linchpin Road Trip'. It also happened to be the closest city to me.

Three things drove me to hear him speak. 1) It's Seth Godin, live. 2) This was first time he was speaking publicly outside of New York. And there was no telling whether he would do it again. 3) Student Tickets were 25 bucks, regular tickets were $150.

The event was worth far more than either price. As I told my friends Seth stoop up on stage and 'spat truth' at the audience for close to an hour and a half. Then he let us ask questions about any topic we wanted.

He even answered my question about education! (more about that later)

I can honestly say this was one of the most awesome and thought provoking events I have ever attended. But you're probably itching to hear a little about what he talked about.

Seth brought up a myriad of good points. (Enough for me to fill out 7 pages in my notebook and tweet my fingers off.) Much like his blog posts he presented the information in chunks. Each of the chunks was a unique bit of wisdom while still fitting in with the overall idea of Complacently vs Creativity.

To me no chunk was more poignant than his words about problem.

He urged the audience to seek out problems that have no perfect. Because when we have a perfect problem we shoot for the ceiling, but don't go any further. With imperfect problems we try to do as much as possible because there's no benchmark for when it's done.

With imperfect problems we never get to settle. Those problems keep people working and innovating because they are constantly being molded. I found that a really cool way to look at things.

Seth was also pretty down about education, something I could identify with. He said that public schools are too focused on being a factory for students. They encourage memorization instead of critical thinking.  In a humorous jab he said, "Wikipedia has all the facts you'll ever need."

For Seth Colleges aren't much better than public schools. He described them as high school with more drinking and debt. A pretty apt description from my experience.  He also reasoned that schools aren't going to change much. So it is the responsibility of parents to encourage real thinking at home.

I'll leave you with one of the last chunks Seth left the audience with, as a business/individual/marketer "what you say must be true." This isn't new thinking but it seems that so many people forget to be truthful when they are offering a service. If marketing is truly your passion it's definitely not a lesson you want to forget.

If you have thoughts about anything that he said feel free to leave a comment below. It's a blast talking about this stuff.