Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Late Night Conversatin'

A few excerpts from 12:43 am. It's funny to me to see how my mind was in two totally different places at the same time. Thanks, ichat, for writing it down for me.

On the value of basic media principles:

he: when you write a brief, don't think about messaging
think about activity
think about excitement
when you think about a web experience, don't think flashy and perfect
think big. or think little. think about commitments instead of campaigns.

me: i think you will get in trouble with media folks for this
but i agree with you

he: i would love nothing more than to get in trouble, just to see what that would be like

me: i meant like, a lot of campaigns have an awareness objective
so awareness is linked to messaging - aware of what?
but, i mean, you're right
who really wants awareness

he: brands do

me: right. i mean obviously there is equity in awareness
but no one signs their bankruptcy papers saying, "but at least they were aware"

he: i suppose.

...and simultaneously, to my best pal, currently residing in Oz:

me: there is a kangaroo on jimmy kimmel right now
is that you?

she: yes.

me: i thought so.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

LMJ's Cheese-A-Rific Newcomer's Guide to the Windy City

So, two of my favorites from the Miami and MAS scene are en route to Chicago for their next QA adventure. Seeing as I have been here exactly one day less than one month, I am hardly an expert on the city and really not qualified to pass along any kind of wisdom or insider insight whatsoever. However, I am really good at being new, somewhat awkward and touristy, and finding my way around (slowly). Seeing as both A and J keep asking me for all kinds of advice, here is a little list of items I find helpful and/or awesome thus far.

1. The Chicago Plus Card. Get one, and buy it online now. I cannot reinforce this enough. They take a week or so to deliver, during which time you will need them at least 5 times. Save your cash for the bar, and learn enough about CTA to get to work, your friends' places, the bars, wherever. Figure out the rest later.

2. The city is a grid. The lake is east. I actually figured all this out, meaning you can, too. Anyone who has ever gone anywhere with me, ever, knows that I have no idea where I am. But remembering the grid thing and that the lake is east, I have actually only gotten quasi-lost like 2 or 3 times. For realsies.

3. Do the touristy stuff. Go ice skating at Millenium Park, check out the shiny bean, go to the Sears Tower, Wrigley Field, the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, the Lincoln Park Zoo, museums, take the riverboat architecture tour, all that jazz. For the love of God, get a hot chocolate at the Hershey store. Tourists like this stuff because it is actually pretty cool, and it defines Chicago, to some extent. Take a weekend and get it out of your system. Take some pictures while you're there.

4. Do the other stuff. Check out the neighborhoods, wander around, find new restaurants, shops, and dive bars. In my opinion, the artsy neighborhoods and the hole-in-the wall establishments are where the real Chicago can be found. I am just getting started on this one. You can come with me. There will be drinks.

5. Network with the ad people. So, so many avenues for this. Do not, repeat, do not take for granted. You are both going to super cool agencies. Take advantage. Go to agency events. Meet people. Learn stuff. I am working on this one as well.

This is more or less all I have thus far. I will letcha know if I come up with any other winners. And, welcome to Chicago!

On porn, and things that are real.

According to the demo research I have been pulling for a plan I'm currently cracking out, you people, young people especially, like reading blogs. I would like to surmise that this is because our generation feels that it has been somewhat deceived, scammed, and swindled by society, politics, the man, what have you, and we value things that are real. Don't get me wrong, there is certainly a purpose for the ridiculous and the obscene - I plan my Monday nights around Gossip Girl. But this crowd respects honesty. Despite an underlying feeling of doubt encircling the veracity of the items posted in cyberspace, there is a feeling of sincerity to a good deal of the content found in blogs. And I think that the social media junkies and regular Joes alike, we appreciate a little something that feels authentic.

I went out for a drink or three last night to catch up with my old friend, the real wonderboy, and his beautiful girlfriend, who I had not yet met. Upon facebooking her today, I had a chuckle and a think about the fantastic quote she had posted in her profile.

"Beyond a certain age, sincerity ceases to feel pornographic." -Douglas Coupland

I am going to do the cheeseball thing and link this back to blogging... sigh. Lame, I know. But, as you may have noticed, I haven't posted in a few weeks, mostly because I was feeling unsure that I had anything sincere or worthwhile to share. Also, I already felt a little naked based on what I've put out there thus far. But, as another good friend loves to tell me, it's time to quit being a child - I'm past the age where putting my thoughts in the light needs to be revealing in a dirty way.

I would really like this blog to be considered part of the community of cyber items that my generation finds real, and I am done being embarrassed about it. I would really appreciate any suggestions that you have as to how I can make this more relevant to the community, and also any tips as to how I can get myself out there. What can I do to get readers to say, "awesome, this chick rocks," and then pass my URL along to their web friends? I want to know how I can break through all the porn and earn your respect.

By the by, I love that this generation values the real. High fives, all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Putting the "media" in social media.

As an up-and-coming media professional, and, admittedly, a sometimes flighty little person, I like to take a step back from time to time and have a think about the career path I’m currently skipping down. Especially when someone says something that gives me a jolt in regards to what it is I value about the profession. The kind of stuff that makes me go for a three-mile jaunt on the treadmill to clear my head and ask myself if I am out of my mind. What is it that I am doing with my time and brainpower? And why?

The topic in question is social media. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, linkedin, Flickr, Vimeo, what-have-you, the communication lifelines of the young and interactive. And lately, not even the young - just the interactive. The innovators, the influencers, the opinion leaders, along with pretty much anyone who has a computer and an internet connection – people are talking to people on the internet. Interaction via internet – and to think, it has only been 38 years since we walked on the moon (okay, I stole that, but it's funny). And, I find it quite surprising, or, ridiculous is another word, to hear media folks disregard the social media world as dumb, stalkeresque, time-consuming, childish, etcetera. Seriously?

What is media, really? Media, as a discipline, is many different things, but to me, it all boils down to creating a logical avenue for message delivery based on the psychology of an audience – it’s the precise artistry of lending credibility to the message per the target. Media is research, reporting, flighting, balance, budgeting and negotiation – and the sweat put into fine-tuning these items is for the purpose of perfecting our client’s channel of communication, and the communication itself, while we’re at it. We pour over syndicated research, we create storyfinders and build daypart analyses, we comb through SQAD and focus group findings in an effort to unravel the audience, to see how they think and breathe and go about their day – to determine how our otherwise insignificant message can reach them based on their raison d’ĂȘtre. We strive to show our audience that our message is credible and worthwhile to their lives because we understand them. Really, media, as with any other aspect of advertising, is people talking to people. And it is beyond confusing to me that people who like research, and want to understand people and how they dole out and accept communication, could disregard something as simple and useful as social media.

There are certainly less than desirable activities that take place surrounding social media. But at the core of the idea is a hothouse of basic media principles. Social media takes an abstract and slippery-to-track concept like communication and makes it tangible, measurable, and historical. It literally provides a concrete framework on how people communicate. It’s tracked and recorded in the catacombs of the interwebs. And, it’s free, simple, and brilliantly easy to study – just go play in it, to quote a friend. Sign up for accounts, find your friends and family, and start talking. Meet new people based on industry and interest groups. Download widgets and gadgets to change the way you use the applications, based on how you best communicate. Check out the other ways of looking at it, to see how others are communicating. Build feeds to keep everything in line and see what you want to see of what others are posting. Really, it’s an incredible wealth of information and insight, and it’s easy and fun. How better to understand how people communicate than by taking part?

And the value as media vehicle - people have historically devalued blogs, social apps, things of this nature in media planning. Clients want to stay far away from social media, because it is unpredictable. But people are unpredictable - communication reflecting life, go figure. These avenues are where people are seeking out credible messages, because this is where they are talking. Obviously it will not necessarily make sense to use social media in a plan, but to not even consider it when determining media strategy is to overlook an incredibly potent vehicle of human communication.

As media buffs, we are in the business of talking to people. How can we talk to people if we are writing off the ways that people are talking to people? I am not trying to say that social media should be a replacement for planning tools. All I am saying is that this movement is relevant to us as media planners. We say we want to know how people receive messages, but we are ignoring the fantastic insight that social media provides. It doesn’t make sense. I asked this question of one of my favorite social media junkies, and his response – I couldn’t have said it better myself.

“People are talking to each other online. It's measurable, and you can find the right people easier than you ever could before. If you want to ignore that, feel free. I, on the other hand, will not be ignoring the fastest-growing, most networked channel of communication we have ever experienced.”

Amen. I’m-a gonna go tweet about it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Do The Hutch Hassle.

I know this is kind of stupid, but I found myself missing my Whiskers crew. I guess you could say I am quite susceptible to cute holiday interactive ads. I think my favorite part would be at the finale, where Jaime clearly demonstrates the Hutch Hassle. C'mon c'mon c'mon.
(L-R Clay, Don, Jaime, moi, et Brooke)

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, November 17, 2008

A good idea.

I will be the first to admit that there have been times in the past few weeks when I was hesitant about Chicago. As I sorted through all the details that moving threw in my direction, I found myself stopping every step of the way to ask: is this a good idea? My family, my friends, even my former coworkers reassured me that yes, of course this was a good idea! How could I not think this was a good idea? And, I didn't know!

It occurred to me today that perhaps I had been asking the wrong question. While Chicago and a big fancy agency job seemed exciting and glamorous and attainable and real, I am not exactly known for my spontaneity. Good idea or not, I think what I really wanted to know, was: is this going to work?

In the first minutes of the 6-hour train-a-thon that made the up majority of my first day at my new post, Howard Draft, Jonathan Harries, and Laurence Boschetto were delivered in glittering high-def to welcome new hires to the business they had built. After a simple and powerful (who better than admen to deliver simple and powerful, eh?) introduction to their philosophy, the three men faded out as the following words flashed across the screen, searing themselves into the back of my brain.

There is no such thing as a good idea that didn't work.

The quote illustrates an interdependent relationship between good ideas and things that work; I saw it as stemming from good ideas. At which point I realized: holy shit, yes, this was a good idea, and as such, it was going to work.

Technically, that brief orientation clip was just a little agency branding. But, I love branding, and therefore, I am inspired.

Here are some work- and life-related reasons that this is going to work:

1. I love this city. It is beautiful, it is fun, there are a million things to do, and there are a million people here who I would love to do those things with. Not being a loner in a place I can fall in love with is a good idea.

2. I love advertising, and from what I got out of today, these Draftfcb people do too. From the wheel model to Return on Ideas to Insight to Incite, I was more or less sold on everything they had to say, and I am thrilled to be part of it. Sharing a passion with some really smart people; so far, it smells like a good idea.

3. I met not one, not two, but three people today who informed me that they were gluten-intolerant. Two of which were on my planning team. Seriously?? Awesome. Dietary buddies = good idea.

4. In my orientation packet was a notice encouraging team members to use their voices, and stretch their interactive wings, via blogging. Weird. What a good idea!

5. My friend Josh from college is on my team. Instant friend on the 13th floor, who immediately sent me the link to the cafeteria menu. Thanks, Josh. Making a new (old) friend on the first day, really a very good idea.

6. I actually really enjoyed the walk home. A good opportunity to reflect on the day, and check out the lights on Michigan avenue. A little time alone in my head is always a good idea.

Good ideas, all.

There is no such thing as a good idea that didn't work. This new life was definitely a good idea. And I will make it work.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cheers, to new beginnings.

Tomorrow begins my new life in Chicago.

I guess technically, last Saturday began my new life in Chicago. Signing my life away on a one-bedroom piece of real estate in the Gold Coast sealed the deal on that. Utilizing every last inch of a tiny U-Haul trailer to transport my life from Milwaukee, saying goodbye to various items of furniture and my precious Honda Accord, and procuring assorted injuries while attempting to set up my new place - the icing on the cake.

More technical yet would be to say that my new life in Chicago began on Thursday, Oct 23, when, crying my eyes out, I put in my two weeks at Hoffman York and signed my offer letter with Draftfcb. One of the greatest agencies in the world told me that they wanted me for their newest media planner. And I wanted them, too. How could I say no?

It took me a while to build up the moxie, but I am ready for a new life, a new city. Most importantly and nearest to my heart, I am ready to take this step towards realizing my career goals. HY gave me a great foundation in media and ignited a passion. I am excited to see where my ambition can take me from here.

Tomorrow, my first day with Draftfcb, begins my new life in Chicago. I have cheers-ed out the old, and drank in the new. Rested and recharged, I am ready to learn, to be challenged, to be better.

In leaving HY, our chief creative officer told me to make sure to shout so my voice would be heard in Chicago. As an attempt to do so, and also to learn more about the interactive space (and to get with the program, it's the 21st century), I have created this blog. It is my aim that it will serve as a forum for my ramblings on media, on Chicago, and on life. I also hope that maybe someone will find it interesting.

As a post-script, if anyone is in the market for a 2003 Honda Accord (4-door sedan in graphite with grey upholstery, 2.4 liter engine, ABS, power steering, 45K miles and newly tuned-up), holler at me. She's a sweet, sweet ride.