Category Archives: Art

Flea from the empty.

I spent 5 hours at the Brooklyn Flea last Saturday with my face buried in racks of clothing from days gone by. Everything around me seemed to have value, seemed to have a story, a previous owner who loved, cherished, protected and valued that thing.

Not only that but everything was beautiful.

Charming.

Warm.

Pleasant.

Perfect in spite of their seemingly obvious imperfections.

Whoever made these things, whether it was a baseball bat from 1938 or a map of Lemberg from 1886 cared about what they were making. They were creating value and adding to the natural beauty of the world around them. They did this by transforming some piece of that natural world for themselves or to make money for themselves – true artisanship.

Contrast this with the shopping mall I spent an hour in (no purchases made) just before Christmas. Very little aesthetic value (unless you’re in the Apple store and maybe 2-3 clothes stores) anywhere. Brands melded together and there was nothing distinct from one place to the next except for the name out front.

We need to re-imagine the world. Re-imagine the way we make things. Creative class, this means seeking work (as much as possible) that will enhance the world around us and not just become a part of a growing grey mass.

We must rise up and ‘flea’ from all that which is not beautiful, interesting or of value. If we can stop churning out ‘things’ or ads for the sake of doing it, we just might create change and make the world a lot more like the Brooklyn Flea. Trust me, it’s a lovely place.

Overexpose, underexpose. Aperture this, aperture that.

Cameras are funny things, and the more I learn about them the more they seem to be like a human eye. The best analogy I can come up with so far is that the aperture is like an iris (Credit Sarah Dea). No, not Professor Iris, dumbass. But the iris in your eye. Here is a sample photo from the lot.

Anyway, today I took some photos “Anne Geddes” style minus the babies and lettuce pods. So really nothing like Anne Geddes at all, but whatever.

Take a look at my most recent foray into photography here. If you don’t like it, well, I am sorry. Just know that I know that I suck still.

In other news, my day by the numbers:

Number of ad agencies contacting me for work 3

Number of new twitter followers (today alone) 86

Number of hits on this blog 112

Photographs taken 87

Give me a blank page, and I will give you some ideas.

Do you know where your ideas come from? Do you have a well that you go to when you need creativity and inspiration?

Some people believe that their ‘well’ is a bottle of red wine or some sort of narcotic. Just ask Van Morrison or Lewis Carroll. For me, creativity comes at unpredictable times and in unpredictable places, and trust me there is nothing more nerve racking than knowing that you have no idea where your next idea is going to come from.

More often than not my ideas come from random encounters, discussions with people and even after deep, pensive thinking.

That being said as a person looking for work in an ad agency as a jr copywriter it is critical to show your creativity and writing ability. So I have started developing a spec ad portfolio. For those of you who don’t know what this is let me explain. Speculative ads are advertisements that a person will make that are unsolicited and written or designed by you. Sometimes you may design and write your own ad, or as a writer like me, most of the time you will take the copy off original ad and replace it with your own copy.

So everyday I will post a spec ad that I have made up here on my blog for you to enjoy, hate, critique, share, laugh at or ignore.

Today’s ads: Smart Car. (I realize that some of you have seen these already).

Business Challenge:

Ad agencies are hired by businesses or companies to develop creative problem solving solutions to contemporary business problems. Designing good ads with great content for a great brand or product WILL add to a company’s value and will help drive their business. This is a very rewarding task.

I imagined a challenge for Smart Car and it goes like this:

Smart Car executives and marketing personnel feel like their product is stigmatized, people believe the size of the car is a negative, they aren’t aware of some of its impressive features and others believe the car is unsafe. These assumptions are holding Smart Car back from increasing its market share in the category.

Proposed solution:

I am the kind of thinker that likes to take a seemingly negative aspect from a product, flip it upside down, and turn it into a positive. I always want people to think and laugh when I write as well. I assume that the consumer is just as intelligent as me and try to do two things: 1. Illicit an emotional response (laughter, happiness, sadness, excitement, shock etc) and 2. Illicit a behavioural response (get someone to buy your product and or service, have a compelling call to action, have a person reconsider their current product usage etc).

So with all that in mind I wrote two separate speculative ads for Smart Car.

1. Raging Bull: I wanted to have very little copy, have good use of white space and make you think differently about the car. I also chose the colour of the car carefully.

2. It’s not a teapot: I wanted to make an ad that I would have fun writing and reading. I also wanted to dismantle a common stereotype that Smart Car faces; people think they are dangerous, slow, and tip easily. I have heard that some people go around and tip Smart Cars like some people tip cows. Ridiculous. I also wanted to surprise consumers with some of the features about the product that they might not have known.

Tomorrow I am serving up some Vespa ads. Until then I have to go finish watch Brandon Morrow DESTROY the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He has 14K’s through 7 innings. Unreal. My Blue Jays rock! And how about JP Arencibia yesterday?!

Until the internets connect us again.

Liam

602 applications, 32 days and many sleepless nights later…

Today, after all of that I was offered a gig. Yep that’s right, Saatchi & Saatchi offered me a freelance position where I will get to work on two massive accounts: Proctor and Gamble and Wal Mart. Amazing. I nearly shed a tear when the guy interviewing me offered me the job over the phone. All I could say was, “wow, thank-you.”

Speaking of the guy who interviewed me, he is a big deal. Bigger than Ron Burgundy big. In 2009 this guy was voted as one of the top ten creative directors in the world! Of course I discovered this before our conversation this morning so I was a little intimidated to say the least.

He told me he LOVED my cover letter, “It was very very good” – he liked my tenacity and creativity. So after chatting about baseball, old movies, my life and answering one question for him he offered me a job. 41 minutes is all it took and it felt great.

I mentioned to him that other firms have offered me freelancing gigs. In fact I just got another one with an Ottawa based agency! After telling him this he said “Well, look. If I like what you produce I want to take you with me, and bring you down here and work in the agency full time.” Again, I nearly shed a tear.

This is it. It’s my big break. Getting this shot is a once in a lifetime opportunity, especially with a creative director of his caliber. Who knows what could happen next – but in the mean time I am going to get paid and I will be able to start building my portfolio.

I am getting connected with their senior copywriter so that he can mentor me and teach me what he knows. I will listen and observe and soak it all up like a sponge.

Feels really weird having a breakthrough, I was beginning to lose hope. But now, now I feel like I can do anything. I can’t wait for my first assignment.

This whole thing gave me a feeling that I got when I heard that kid do the guitar solo in August Rush. The clip is here. It will make you feel awesome inside. That is how I feel right about now. Enjoy.

More updates to come as I get them.

And oh yea, his one question for me:

“Liam what do you want out of a career in advertising, moreover why do you want to be like Bill Bernbach?”

My response:

‘To advertise in ways never done before and to give my brain the creative outlet that it’s always wanted”

The ad campaign develops…

I keep getting ideas, some of them I put down on paper. Here are some examples:

As you know I do not do things conventionally, I mean after all I just compared myself to a spark plug – so I hope these are a nice little teaser for you.

I will just keep pumping out different ideas and see what sticks hopefully not everything is made of Teflon.

The Quest for the Holy Grail…

My Quest: To get a job as a Jr. Copywriter with an Ad Agency.

Okay well maybe I am not searching for the actual holy grail that Sir Lancelot and his chums were searching for. Although I wouldn’t have minded a stop at the castle Anthrax where Sir Galahad avoided almost certain temptation.

Too bad.

No no – I am and have been on the hunt for a job in the Advertising industry for a week now.

What does that mean?

I made a kickass resume – the likes of which you’ve never seen. Take a look.

Then I crafted cover letter than screams my name. Literally. Again, look here.

Applications:

According to the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) there are 310 registered agencies in New York City.

As of today I have personally contact each and every one of those firms.

Responses:

As of today I have heard back from 16 agencies. 7 said they would keep me in mind.

The other nine are interesting:

4 are CEO’s

1 is an HR rep

4 are creative directors or copywriters themselves.

Can you believe it?! I am writing back and forth with the CEO’s of these mega agencies.

Their comments range from: “wow, that’s funny,” to “I am interested, tell me more”

So how have I done it so far?

Well I drafted that CV, Cover Letter and then a simple email that gets the readers attention and urges them to read my documents.

I personalized each email, searched tirelessly for the right contact information and in a week I had gotten through them all.

Most importantly I was myself in the entire process. This allowed my personality to bleed through the page, as it were.

It turns out that there really are people on the other end of these internet tubes. You just have to catch their attention.

What’s next:

Well I am moving on to the next markets, Chi City, BOS, LA and SF in search of my holy grail.

I will be relentless. Soon I will start to post my exchanges with these CEO’s (without disclosing their firm or identity to give you an idea of how our e-mails go back and forth – and maybe get some advice from you as to how to move forward).

Tomorrow I apply to the SF & LA ad agencies – updates to follow.

Until then – keep cool.

Liam