Today was a double rainbow kind of day!

I am totally exhausted so I will keep this brief.

The last couple of days have been totally worthy of Double Rainbow status, just totally awesome. First, my new digs up on the Danforth. Glorious. I have never seen so many Gyros in such a confined area. My hosts are awesome, hopefully I can get out of their hair soon!

Today was my first day at Grip. Was it what I expected? It exceeded my expectations in every conceivable way. I can see why this agency has been so successful. The people there are top notch. I got a tour of the digs, which comes equipped with lots of neat features (I have mentioned them before).

I got my office too! I am sharing an office with two others, one intern and a freelancer. It’s a corner office, I share it, but still, it’s a corner office. I could see OCAD from my desk all day!

There was something awesome about my run this morning: 6am running across the Danforth to my office and back. It felt nice to be back in Toronto.

I got a project today as well. I think I am going to be challenged with staying disciplined and on brand. I have a tendency to want to make everything funny, sometimes it doesn’t work.

So I am essentially drafting as many headlines as I can think of and will try to have two or three decent ones that I am not ashamed to share.

Anyway, the day was just AMAZING. I feel like getting here was tough, but totally worth it. It was funny, almost EVERYONE I met knew me as the dude who commented on the blog. I am pretty sure I should be embarrassed by this fact. haha. I am too pleased to care.

I will share more tomorrow, if I have time.

Oh yea, the Jays lost tonight, too. That pissed me off.

Liam

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Goodbyes mean hellos!

So now that I have written my heartfelt goodbye I will take 2 minutes to make a pseudo awesome announcement:

I got an internship at my favourite ad agency in TO! I start this week, Tuesday at 9:15am to be exact. For some of you this will be a complete surprise because I have kept it relatively quiet (I found out just under a week ago) but that was mainly because it felt like somebody gave me the shocker.

Anyway, I cannot wait to be in Toronto (yes, Ottawa people I will miss you deeply).

I am going to be working at Grip Limited as an Copywriting Intern. I will do anything they need me to do, including bathroom cleaning if necessary. I don’t care. So onward and upward! This is huge, this place is amazing, it’s one of Toronto’s top employers, it has a firepole and slide to get from one floor to another and bud light on tap.

Then there’s the work: some of the top clients you could hope for. Honda, Budweiser, so on and so forth. I will chronicle my journey into the ad world as I continue this insanely awesome journey. The end of poverty is nigh.

Liam

A guide to a time capsule

Hi historian, friend, mentor, hobbyist or archaeologist, son and or daughter:

You have no doubt been looking for this time capsule for many years. I left this here many, many years ago. I left it here before I fell in love, before I did anything of any consequence. These were simpler times where my only worries were figuring out how I was going to eat my next meal. Now life has become a mix-up of sorts with more layers than a painted window sill in a one hundred year old home on Main Street. I want to share this with you because I love you.

Storybooks are fun. Mine will introduce you to the friends I had (and still have) from this time, to the places I went to, the food I ate, the drinks I drank, the trials I had, the thrills I sought, the tears I shed, the smiles I smiled and the love that I gave and received. And yes, did I ever receive love, more than I could have ever imagined. When you grow old like I am now many years after having written this you will realize that life is beautiful and so are the people who will weave in and out of it. Your memories will scatter across your soul like the stars in the night sky. Some will shine brighter than others, some will glow warm and some will be cold, even blue. You will have moments of brilliance like a shooting star across the canvass that is galaxy.

The last year of my life, the year this time capsule chronicles, has had moments of brilliance, many memories, moments of consequence and instances of frustration.

This is my goodbye to a city and to the people that added colour to every waking moment:

One midnight greyhound ticket from Peterborough to Ottawa, soon after that a mended heart. A voucher for the Arbuckle inn. Late night Metro receipts, napkins stained with purple with the familiar smell of garlic sauce encrusted with hummus. A roll of quarters and a pick up time at Browns. A pint glass from the Manx a reminder of the jokes and plans that started three pints in. Pictures of the girls I’ve kissed, the ones I didn’t and the ones I liked. A transpo ticket to get to ‘burbs (life really is different there), and movie ticket stubs. Guides to theatres that were more beautiful than the movies themselves, at times. Photos of converted city streets made into walkways at night. A pair of worn out running shoes which ran the half, explored the canal, the ottawa, rideau and whatamacallit rivers, iPhone shots of Pink Lake, Christmas trees, happy times and sad times. Tattered and torn coasters with the stains of despair, hope and mischievousness. Bowls of stale cheetos and the playlists from free jukeboxes. A framed degree and a paystub, and student loan statements. Cards from staffers who were more partisan than their bosses and cards from bosses who were less knowledgable than their staffers. Late night scribbles in a notepad, the thoughts of an insomniac. A headrest slip and broken dreams. Balance statements in the red, in the black and in the red again. IOU’s and thank you’s for friends and family, prayer cards and church bulletins. A soul lost and a soul discovered. A new school pin, an old school pin. Directions to a new friend’s house, blindfolded journeys to the old ones. Boat rides and dingy bells with candle light sandwiches. Ford Escorts made king size sofa and early mornings stretched into afternoons. Love at first sight found on Christmas eve, love that fades and love that was. Turkeys and impromptu parties. Silly sweaters and stories of years gone by. Risk and the Cave, into the woods only we didn’t starve. Bowties and gin, manliness and sushi. Rama Lotus and hyperventilation, Ed Hum and special mind spots. Plastic bags as socks and late night walks. Restaurants without windows and a parliament without a Prime Minister. Homemade meals from friends who cared and lipstick stains from the nights I dared. Cakes baked and cottage mornings by the lake. Crosswords and buzzwords, shawarma and free salsa. A termination and a congratulation(s). Chat logs and early morning skype talks, a change of heart and a brand new start. Festivals, ghost walks, rainy Fridays, Shakespeare in the Park, and spicy eggplant please. Red wine in carpets, two days later PBR in Brooklyn. Broken hearts, smelly farts and even better freshly baked tarts. Nutella and Sriracha sandwiches. Enjoy them said Mr. Zevon, and enjoy them I did.

I love you all, more than you could possibly imagine.

Living a life full of love,

Liam

C is for Cookie and B.A. is for Bad Advertising

**I just spent the last hour writing an awesome post which I lost so forgive me if this lacks in detail or wit.
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Have you ever read an ad that pisses you off because it plays to the lowest common denominator and assumes that you/we are stupid? That’s how I felt when I saw this Dare Cookie ad claiming to have re-invented the cookie:

The body/headline copy reads: Why does the milk have to be more nutritious than the cookie?

Subhead reads: The COOKIE Reinvented.

So let’s consider the question, why is milk healthier than cookies? Well for one if I drink milk everyday I will most certainly not have elevated risks of heart disease, diabetes, or obesity. Milk has actual, tangible health benefits while the cookie gives you heart burn. Claiming that a cookie is healthy because it has fibre is about as useful as saying that Joe Louis’ will help you lose weight because they are a wonderful source of calcium. Give me a frigin’ break.

Even The Cookie Monster knows that a cookie is “a sometime food”, sweet Mother Mary, save us all.

Yea, I know he eats the cookie but geez, he weighs the benefits and tries to explain to kids that cookies are a snack that you can have from time to time. The ad above is sick and dangerous. Children might interpret this ad as cookies literally being better for you than Milk. Society has many problems already, let’s not ad this one to the laundry list.

It reminds me of something Alex Bogusky once wrote in an essay, I am paraphrasing but it went something like this: kids don’t understand grey areas like adults do. Everything is black and white. This explains why little Charlie thinks dad is going to die from a glass of wine at dinner time because his teacher taught him that drinking is dangerous in health class.

Ads like the one above are awfully dangerous for kids in my view. It tells a fundamental lie about the product. There is nothing re-invented about the cookie, who said it needed to be reinvented anyway? This ad tries to take the “perceived” features of the product and turn them into a tangible health benefit. Guess what, Doritos contain fibre too, doughheads, but you won’t catch me with a bag after a 10K run.

Take some more advice from Cookie Monster as he talks with Matt Lauer:

Of course I am not much of a post-modernist so I can’t just tear this ad to shreds without a suggestion or a version of my own.

I wrote my own spec ad which attempts to appeal to the actual benefit of the product in my mind: it is a delicious indulgence that you shouldn’t feel bad for enjoying, because everyone does.

This is a much more honest approach. Take a look:

The headline reads: Your nutritionist’s dirty little secret.

The subhead reads: Everyone has a vice, make it a good one.

I’ve lost 72 pounds in the last year and I haven’t done it by eating a cookie a day to keep the doctor away. No, in fact I did it by eating LESS cookies because I know they are bad for me. However, I kept my sanity by allowing myself to eat cookies knowing that a cookie here and there isn’t so bad. Maybe that’s why I am so personally offended by the first ad, because I know how damaging that type of advertising can be to a person.

Regardless, in the eternal words of Hulk Hogan, “To all my little Hulkamaniacs, say your prayers, take your vitamins and you will never go wrong.”

Until the internets connect us again,

Liam

Are you man enough to ride a Vespa?

Good afternoon internet(s)!

Ever dream of whipping through city streets uninhibited by traffic, picking up your that ginger you need from the market on your way home from a bustling market in Chinatown, the feel of wind in your hair as you take off in your scooter? When I think of this I think of the Vespa.

To me, the Vespa represents the top standard in urban transportation alternatives (outside of public transportation and bicycles of course). So naturally I was drawn to the product and thought maybe I would draw up a couple of spec ads.

See, the problem is no matter how awesome and functional the Vespa is there are lots of dudes who think that driving a Vespa is emasculating. As if to suggest that just getting on a Vespa would make them unattractive losers. As sad as that is, it’s true. So instead of writing an ad to tell these dingleberries how ridiculous they are the approach should be to instruct this very special sect of men to grow a pair and man up.

Trust me, I am sure the most interesting man in the world would tell you to do the exact same thing.

Grow a pair and man up to riding a Vespa? I can see my critics now: “That makes no sense.” Ever hear the phrase “A real man wears pink” or “A real man is comfortable with his sexuality”? Well I think Vespa hit a nerve when they released a Vespa print ad not long ago that tried to overcome this unique business problem.

Here is how I see it.

Vespa’s business challenge was simple: men don’t ride our bikes because they think they are feminine or compromise their masculinity.

Business solution: Make men feel inadequate for NOT driving a Vespa. Get men to believe that a Vespa is in fact a utility that will enhance their lives and not a massive pair of shears that will cut off their testicles upon purchase.

With that in mind Vespa has an ad made with the following copy:

“It’s too manly for you, not the other way around.”

Here is the original. The rest of the print ad run can be viewed here.

I REALLY liked the challenge that Vespa presented and thought I could improve what was already pretty good copy. So I tried to come up with a couple that were short snappy and clever. Hope you like them.

Spec Print ad 1:

An unsolicited speculative advertisement made for my own portfolio.

Spec Print ad 2:
An unsolicited speculative advertisement made for my own portfolio.

Spec Print ad 3 (this is more of a joke, because I doubt Vespa could get Chuck Norris’ permission to write these ads but I couldn’t resist for the fun of it):

An unsolicited speculative advertisement made for my own portfolio.

So guys, would you drive a Vespa? Or are you not man enough?

For the rest of you, does this add to brand? Does this add value to Vespa?

Until next time.

Liam

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

The Davy Crocket: a job ‘hunting’ technique pioneered by Liam Mooney.

How do you catch the attention of people you want to talk to?

When I write to ad agencies about job openings I act as though I have less than 3 seconds to ensnare them. I try to lock them into a type of conversation but it’s weird because I am only one speaking. I have recently changed my letter that I send to prospective employers.

I try to communicate the following:

1. I can write properly
2. I am fun(ny)
3. I am not a douche bag
4. I am creative
5. I will do anything, including any and all manual labour to get into the industry.

My letter has a certain “Davy Crocket-esque” feel to it, see for yourself:

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Good day!

I just finished reading your website and I felt compelled by the power of Bill Bernbach to write to you and introduce myself. I hope you have 5 minutes or are a speed reader with less than a minute to spare.

We haven’t met before, but I think we should. You want interesting people, in fact you need them. So here I am – wanting to work for your agency. You have no idea how badly I want this – I actually dream about it.

I want to work as a copywriter in a Jr. position, an internship. Heck, I’d even dress up like a fern and stand in the front foyer during business hours to add to the decor if it meant me getting a crack at this place. All I need is enough to clothe, feed and house me. If you can do that at a minimum then we’re talking. If you can’t well I guess I could consider making an outfit out of loin cloth and sleeping in a self constructed log cabin in the woods. After all, I am from Canada and know how to survive this thing we call “winter” and we love the outdoors – a lot. As for the food part, I was never any good at fishing or hunting but I suppose I could give it a try if I had to, we have lots of moose and geese up here.

If you can’t stand the thought of me dressed as a potted plant in your office, then know that I just got a gig freelancing for Saatchi.

I realize you probably get more ‘job application’ emails than you could possibly shake a stick at – but I doubt you get many like this. So before you delete this I ask that you do a few things for me (I know we just met, relax, I am not asking you on a date or anything):

Read the cover letter I wrote for you (because I think it is super cool and therefore you will too) and take a look at my CV – it is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. I promise.

With all that in mind I have attached the following:

1. A mugshot so you can see who you are dealing with
2. Cover letter
3. Resume
4. An ad that I made just for you

The attachments are big so I would really appreciate it if you could email me to let me know that you received my application. This way I will know that this email hasn’t ended up in the nebulous world of the internets.

Also, you should know that my portfolio dwells in this internet cave:

http://files.me.com/liampatrickmooney/47bem6 – keep an eye out for the cover letter inside.There is a lot of spec ad material in there. You will find the most relevant stuff in the “Print” folder. If I modified an ad previously made I simply included the original, labeled it as such and included my revised versions with the new copy, you tell me if I improved the ads. Some of the ads are original concepts that I wrote and designed myself. My favourite work is in the “Smart Car” and “Vespa” folders located inside the “Print” folder.

Thank-you very much for considering my application and I hope to hear from you soon!

Cheers,

Liam

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Think this is a stupid approach? I get ten personal responses everyday from agencies thanking me for this letter and my attachments. It might not be for everyone but in the eternal words of Lloyd Christmas those who like it, like a lot.

Yes, I know. Stop bothering me about the spec ads, they are coming.

Peace out brussel sprout,

Liam