Monthly Archives: June 2009

Business Card Redesigns with new Logo

I was required to include a map similar to the old card, along with email, facebook, logo, address and phone number, and a graphic design element. So I did. All pointers/tips welcome:




Weirdness Wednesdays…

This was actually a dream I had Monday and it’s been my most memorable. I have yet to come up with anything to match it in weirdness. I think we all need to get some weird stuff down if we intend to be creative. So while this isn’t something I can necessarily use, it was fun to just make it. My first webcomic ever.


A lot of you may not know Lovecraft’s work, but you should give it a read, even if it is somewhat obscure. Thoughts?

On Portfolio Night… OR… Because a Great Night Can Always Be Better

Portfolio Night 7

The first time I showed my book to a CD was last week, June 11, 2009. I think that means something. It’s the first milestone upon completing my book and the beginning of a truly collaborative effort towards breaking into the business. I will still be striving to make a great book, but it will no longer be a great book according to me. Henceforth it shall reflect what a great book is according to those who know what they look like.

I realized that CDs actually respect juniors and their work, and that that kindly worded email from Ogilvy and Mather Montreal last summer explaining that they didn’t have any internships open but that I should keep trying wasn’t all platitudes. I genuinely felt the people I’d met last night wanted me to do well. Maybe they’d have crossed the street if they knew I’m actually a design assistant for infomercial product packaging by day, but being a glass-half-full kind of guy, I’m just elated to know they can’t smell it.

As for what I wish I’d done better, here are 5 things the present Rich is telling the past Rich so he’ll be closer to being great (and hired) the next time:

1. Tell a shorter, better story about yourself: Everybody will ask what it is you do, they will ask you to tell them your story, or describe yourself, or want to know how you got there. Variations on the same question should not prompt vastly different blabberings. Stay on message, and try to entertain. If you want to be in advertising, you have to be a great ad.

2. Meet everybody and show them your book: Try to work the room, don’t stand paralyzed or hover near people you admire. I’m sure it made me creepy, and when I finally let loose a torrent of ‘excuse me’s to get my book looked at after the event, the ‘yes’s were almost immediate. Unfortunately by then it was already almost over and one of the writers I’d have really loved to meet had walked right past me and gone home. You always have to seize that one chance to meet someone face to face. Creative Directors are there to get to know you, take the first step.

3. Thank the help. I am sometimes, for inexplicable reasons, subject to the sudden onset of uncontrollably mortifying shyness. This keeps me from doing the things I should, like talking to the wonderful volunteers and thanking them for their work. If any of you are reading this now, much gratitude. One other reason to do so is because some of them are fascinating people who have awesome stories to tell you.

4. Do your research and do it effectively. Weeks before PN7 went down, I made a point of writing down the names of every CD who was going to be there, summarizing what info about them I could glean from the internet, and watching as many ad reels as I could from them and their agencies. Unfortunately it was too much info for my head to handle while pulling all-nighters on nothing but caffeine and I couldn’t sort out who did what or match names to faces when it came time to demonstrate my creepy omniscience of the Toronto ad industry. Still, it came in useful when a friend of mine pointed a CD out and told me he was a real hotshot from either BBDO or DDB (neither agencies were in attendance at Portfolio Night Toronto). Next year I think I’ll focus on memorizing a few ice-breakers.

5. Take Control. Basically, that’s what all these ‘woulda-coulda’s I’m posting here amount to; if you want something done you gotta do it yourself. It doesn’t mean be an asshole and grow silver hairs on your back or wear a lion skin round your shoulders and gird your loins with furry speedos, it just means you ought to tell people what you want. I didn’t let on that I’m pretty much willing to do whatever grunt work is necessary so long as my foot’s in the door and I can see what agency life is like. I didn’t tell CDs I didn’t care which agency they were with or how my ego would feel if they stopped being nice to my work, that I welcomed brutal criticism because I truly wanted to improve, and that I desperately need a mentor to truly grow. In short I wasn’t my usually-affable, sometimes-masochistic self and as a result I didn’t sell anybody on the idea that they needed me in their creative departments, writing a hundred headlines for every one that would see print or sleeping at the office two nights a week with an idea-filled art pad for a pillow. My loss, and theirs.

So what can I say other than next time I will be confident, next time I will rock harder, and next time I will rise higher and shine brighter? I can say that I had a fantastic time overall, that I really love the communal atmosphere of Toronto’s ad industry and that I’m going to seize the initiative and start a conversation with every single ad/PR/marketing enthusiast alive in hogtown and really flog my book for all its worth once I get the new one up and running. Thanks again to everyone who saw my book…

It was sick, sad, and yet you had no choice but to look...

It was sick, sad, and yet you had no choice but to look...

Thanks for helping me clean it up, hopefully next time I can show you something better-constructed.

SPEC AD 3: Esquire

I think this’ll be the last one for the print portion, next up I’ll design a sticker-book with possible stickers and maybe find some outdoor places to actually stick ’em.

guitar copy

Tag reads: “The Rules. Read ’em before you perform ’em.”

Esquire SPEC AD2: Cubicle

Too tired to ask your opinion, but please give it. Which execution is better? If the latter, I think I will make it transparent like in the speedo one (don’t have time now).

cubicle wall1 copy

cubicle wall alternate copy

Sticker reads: “Rule No. 659: The dumber the man, the louder he talks.”

That’s it for now. Oh, will hint at upcoming project involving Reason…

The final stretch: My last campaign (before PN7)

Saw the Lisbon event today via online meeting, was a little intimidated. For some reason I kept picturing myself there and doing mortifying things like dropping my lap top and then getting my head tangled in a CD’s skirt trying to pick it up under the table (the quarters seemed a little cramped).

Anyway, here’s the final campaign I’ll be bringing with me to PN7. It took me quite some time to concept this and work out all the kinks to what I think is a good idea and a nice ‘ambient’ example.

The idea (which is somewhat lamely conveyed via photoshop here) is to provide subscribers with Esquire Rules stickers, which can be applied where they deem fit, such as dentist’s offices and on photos. Also, Esquire itself will run ads with pre-applied stickers in apt places. The taglines will have slight alternations to fit the situation (hence ‘read ’em or wear ’em). I think this is my strongest campaign yet, but I’d love to know your thoughts, as always.

speedo1 copy

The Most Interesting Man in the World Has Us All Wet

Under normal circumstances I would not have much to say about Dos Equis‘ campaign, since it came out before this blog even started, but isn’t old enough to be new again, like my embarrassing Hathaway Shirt rant from when I knew very little about advertising other than David Ogilvy. I want to keep this blog from degenerating into a bunch of spec ads with minimal commentary or criticism, which it had been doing for a few weeks now, so here goes…

Actually, who am I kidding? I always have something to say about anything advertising-related, I just usually keep my mouth shut, but this campaign is interesting for several reasons.

Irony without Snark

 On the one hand it is tongue-in-cheek, but not so tongue-in-cheek as to be snarky. ‘The most interesting man in the world’ (TMIMITW) is indeed quite interesting, commercials show him doing things which are the stuff of Hemingway novels, early Bond movies and pulp fiction: 

Particularly dig the kendo reference in this one. Maclean’s mentions a ‘Wes Anderson’ aesthetic to them, to which I disagree, there’s nothing intentionally dorky about the guy at all, the stock is purposefully grainy and jerky to evoke Latin American/European period footage, the feel is meant to be heroic. It’s got more in common with Fidel Castro and those ‘Your Dad…’ Canadian Club print ads than Rushmore.

Not that Snark is Necessarily Bad…

An example of a beer campaign that is snarky-but-oh-so-brilliant is the ‘Real Men of Genius’ commercials. There are now countless iterations of this basic theme, and it’s hands-down one of the greatest beer campaigns of all time. I’m pretty sure it and Silver Bullet for Coors and other such campaigns defined the now-ubiquitous two-tone approach to beer commercials.

But there’s now too much of it.

The typical approach: focus your commercials on bodacious babes, hinting not-so-subtly at how they seem to come with the alcohol, or focus your commercials on stupid guys, hinting not-so-subtly that men are idiots and do stupid things either for beer, with beer, or after beer(s). Sometimes you combine the two, and make a commercial about a stupid guy who gets girls or doesn’t get girls because of beer.

Why ‘Staying Thirsty’ is Morally Victorious

In the Dos Equis commercials we have a reversal, TMIMITW is a role model, who is successful with women because of what is innate to his character rather than that of the beer. You could also say having lots of supermodels around comes with the territory, that you can’t be all that successful as a man in society without also being a potential lothario, but it doesn’t change the fact that these are girls he wooed on his own grounds and weren’t there for beer or provided by the beer*. He even comes out and says he ‘[doesn’t] always drink beer…’ and in another commercial claims to be endorsing the beer as a favor, and not because he’s a ‘shill’. While other campaigns still emphasize ‘sexy’ and ‘fun’, these do it in a completely different light.

In contrast to campaigns that belittle men and portray them as little more than incompetent, sex-obsessed beer receptacles, Dos Equis presents manhood in a positive light. It celebrates aspects of stereotypical masculinity and adulthood which are admirable, most notably the concept of mastery. It’s a bit corny at times with its Chuck Norris-style facts long after these were funny, and the thick odor of machismo found on the website can at times be nauseating. I also get that its portrayal of women may not be any more positive than your average beer commercial, but at its core I think the message is positive. When parsed out, the social cues of drinking here are far healthier, the idea being that it’s okay to drink, but that drinking is only a component of a much richer life packed with innumerable other pursuits. Even the tagline, ‘Stay thirsty, my friends.’ is a double entendre that celebrates a healthier lifestyle than ‘take one for the team’ or ‘where there’s life, there’s Bud’.

Before Chuck Norris endorsed Huckabee, he had already lost all cultural relevancy.

Before Chuck Norris endorsed Huckabee, he had already lost all cultural relevancy.


Oh, and Here’s Some Ogilvy

Giving credit where it’s due, I think at least some of the imagery in these ads must have been inspired by Commander Whitehead and the Man In the Hathaway Shirt**. Not saying it’s any less creative or original, just musing over here. After all, George Lois just came out with a book showing how none of his ideas were produced in a vacuum. Part of what drove Ogilvy to pick the Russian Baron-type as a model for his eyepatch-wearer was because he sensed an air of sophistication, the eyepatch added a sense of danger and mystery. At their core, both Lois and Ogilvy were firm believers in the idea that great ads had to have memorable visuals and copy, hence the men who represented Hathaway and Schweppes both had striking visual features:


Something about this guy... new haircut?

Something about this guy... new haircut?





Look at those cufflinks!

Look at those cufflinks!



















More specifically, notice that these men are doing interesting things, the story and the print may be about something else, but the images are rich, powerful, and captivating. These are men who’d stand up against the Dos Equis guy and they were people guys of the time found interesting. 

These days you still have to have a story, but once in a while let’s make it a story about somebody we aspire to be, rather than somebody we think we are during a bad day.

*Hopefully this will translate into the real world of beer promotion and mean I won’t have to sit through a hockey game with Molson’s hired guns ever again. Really, while the idea of providing a free hockey game AND hot chicks might sound appealing, it’s actually just awkward, and makes me feel really creepy.

**Not an SEO-grab I promise