colorful language

“Almost all words do have color, and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone’s eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her, too.” (Gladys Taber) Back in my post grads day at the Ad School in Atlanta, I had a copywriting mentor (the actual head of the writing department at the school) who did a lot to challenge my writing style. My first few quarters there were all about settling in and embracing the process. But, as she reminded me on a

And I thought it was just writer’s block

Tom Gauld | As shared by an art director friend…. Granted, my “bees” are usually my sister Cairn Terriers, who love to distract me with adorable looks, requests to play ball, or advance warnings of impending intruders. Or, is it that the mailman is here? Or their “boyfriend” the Scottie has dropped by for an afternoon visit? Or, for Cody, that another ice cube has dropped into the tray? Ah, the joys of being an independent contractor working

giving thanks

What has been an eye-opening issue has been my relationship with the umpteen different temp agencies I’ve registered with over the past few years. Sure, I get calls occasionally from them about my availability and/or interest in temp gigs. But why is it that their pay scale is less than half of what I’ve been able to bill on my own? I understand they have to make money, too. But why is it an agency will pay me my asking rate, but not get even close to that number when it come

Good enough?

There’s an article in a recent issue of Wired where the author lists a whole bunch of “technology” that, despite being inferior in build and results than more expensive competitors, is having a huge impact on the way business and industry are bringing their products to market. From video cameras to the MP3, today’s consumers are content to purchase products and services that are “good enough” for now, and almost adapting a disposable mindset. So what happened? Well, in short,

Pre-tweet. And repeat.

Who needs 140 characters? For the past couple of months, I’ve been lucky to be included in a weekly Haiku exercise. It’s great to see how the people in this Tuesday group see the world through the simple pattern of 5-7-5. It’s not like the addiction that is tweeting and Facebook. I mean, really, how much do I really need to know about the small details of people’s days? I don’t even want to share my own. But hey, we all get to choose how we want to share, with whom, and which

getting in the “mood”

Of course, the natural progression was to evolve from snail mail to e-mail. So as my career progressed, it was easy to fire off a quick electronic note to someone to help put me in the mood. Next came IM, and the constant connection with people in the next office, or across the pond. It still remains a great conversation starter, and does help keep my tone casual. Sure, it’s not always appropriate to be casual. And adapting to that style isn’t too difficult. Today, we have st

confessions of a poser

OK, I’m no Don Draper, nor am I Darren Stevens. (Though I don’t have a personal preference between the two Dicks, I guess I have more in common with Sargent than York.) I don’t play an ad guy on TV, I play one in real life. I get paid to write a variety of different things. Print ads. Brochures. Web banners and sites. And, as of late, TV commercials and radio spots. Here’s where the poser part comes into play: I don’t listen to the radio because I have an iPod connected in my

Creative (Pro)Creation

During this recent spell of non-permanent work, I’ve been pretty darn lucky to work with some great agencies, albeit remotely. One in the Pacific Northwest, one right off old Route 66. The projects have been diverse, and quite creatively fulfilling . With the distance between us, most of the projects start off with a creative brief and a phone call. Once we’ve established the need to create, I go off on my own and work my magic. The biggest challenge has been the whole creati

If you’re happy and you know it….tweet it!

I know one of the biggest new frontiers that advertisers are trying to conquer is the mobile phone audience. But have you ever signed up for one of those opportunities? You know, where you text a particular message to a particular number. Only to then start receiving an obscene amount of texts with, uh, earth-shattering information. Sure, as a society, we’re more attached to our cellphones than we ever were with bottled water. I mean, seems to me that fewer people are carryin

Web of Influence

It’s summer in SoCal, which means it’s sweeps time if you’re a spider. This translates to knowing that, no matter how careful you are, or what time of day, you’re bound to walk into a web somewhere. The challenge, just like the spider who sets up shop in the place he/she thinks is best, is that no matter how much research or data, the attention of the intended target isn’t always guaranteed of being caught. Old school advertising had a much easier time. Fewer choices meant a

swimming in the creative pool

there are days when diving into the creative process is as shocking as the water temperature here off the coast of southern california. not that i really know. i’ll admit that in the 15 years i’ve called SoCal home, i’ve been in the water twice. no deeper than my knees. as shocking as that sounds, it’s no more shocking than my own response to hearing people say, “no, the water’s warm! it’s like 68 degrees today.” uh, thanks, but give me the warm waters of maui any day. but i

Marketing to a more sophisticated palette

There’s no question that today’s consumers are a much more sophisticated lot. It seems everywhere you turn, men and women are constantly clutching their latest digital toy in one hand, and either a gourmet coffee drink or a $4 bottle of tap water in the other. I find myself falling victim to these choice choices. And not just when it comes to dressing and feeding myself. (All said as I’m sipping my Starbucks coffee with my new Palm Pre sitting on the desk.) Like every parent

seeing the world in perpetual pink tones

Perhaps I’m disillusioned? Or maybe I just don’t realize I’m wearing rose-colored glasses? But there is a big part of me that does find the “c’mon, let’s all band together and make the world a better place” trend in quite a few of the new TV spots on the air to be….hopeful. I’ll admit some have even made me a wee bit misty. Even this morning, I was caught by the behemoth bank’s spot about how they’re all for helping people achieve their dreams. Especially in these “rough econ

when creative inspiration takes flight

It always comes back to the same necessity: go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard. (May Sarton) Finding the right inspiration for projects can come from some unexpected places. The brochure project I just completed for a large computer company located in the Pacific Northwest had some unique challenges. How I found the creative solution was rather surprising. The issue was a gaming device. I am not a gamer. Unless you consider old school Cribbage, or an

When words on the page become more than a graphic element

Believe it or not, I’m actually a writer who does think that (most times) less is more. And by less, I mean the amount of copy on any particular piece. But sometimes, the story just needs some breathing room. Like they need to relocate, if only momentarily, from their townhouse in crowded Southern Cali to a nice wide, open pasture in the Midwest where they can stretch and ramble and graze and otherwise just take in a big gulp of fresh air. Sometimes, finding the space on the

In these tough economic times….

Finding myself freelancing and looking for the next big gig has brought back some interesting memories. In fact, it was right after college that I experienced my first tough economic situation. Like so many of the new grads today, the job market (Texas in the mid-80s) was anything but friendly. Granted, looking for a job back then was completely different. Instead of perusing the umpteen different job boards that are specifically targeting the ad biz (and I’m not even really

Advertising: Art? Or Science?

installation by steven hawks “The trouble with us in America isn’t that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.” (Louis Kronenberger) It was a quote like this that, early in my career, reinforced my decision to become an advertising copywriter.  I was enamored with the idea of using words to not just sell a product. I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to take the reader on a journey. I wanted laughter. And tears. Or whatever emotion

Inspired Writing

whether it’s writing an auto brochure, an insurance company’s direct mail letter, or an educational institition’s web banner, approaching each and every one with the same vigor doesn’t necessarily mean the end result will be as….inspired. i’m currently working on some brochures for a large computer company, and while it’s not like i’m writing for apple (of which I’m a huge fan), i’m really enjoying the work. granted, the freelance client is amazing. and supportive. and very p

i’ll see your reel, and raise you a URL

But if you have to choose just one, which is going to move your career ahead more? I interviewed with a large agency in Texas last October. Going into the opportunity, all parties knew my TV experience was light to negligible. But I brought strong direct and interactive experience, which was also part of the job description. We had a great chat (at least from my side of the table, I thought so). But when it came down to making the cut, my lack of TV production experience was

now THAT’s funny

some of the most memorable ads have been so because of humor. others, because of the strong graphic design. i spied this lil transit poster the other day. and to me, it uses both. a nice, simple graphic that catches your eye. cause, i don’t know about where you live, but around SoCal, the world is their ashtray. be it driving down PCH next to the recently restored bolsa chica wetlands. or careening a bazillion miles an hour down the 405. it’s right outside the door of the sta