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Intern Spotlight: Killian the Copywriter

First day on the job, I walk up to the small white house on a hill. In the window, an old sign reads “The Voice” indicating I’m right where I should be. With no idea of what to anticipate of the internship, let alone my first day, I take a deep breath and head inside ready for the new experience.

I study Communication and Islamic Studies at Fairfield University. I know it’s an odd mix but it shows my indecision of whether I want to go into a field such as advertising or international relations. Having been exposed to the world of advertising and marketing from an early age with my family being in the field, it’s something that I’ve always been able understand well. In recent years, I’ve had a growing interest in International Relations and find the concept of working in the United Nations in Humanitarian Rights to be highly enticing.

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The Intern Experience

What Educating Peter Teaches Us

While this is really hard, mute your cell phone, quit email, close browser windows and carve out 11 whole minutes to watch Educating Peter. This landmark video was made by Digital — Who the hell is that? — before there was the internet, 140-character ads and twenty concurrently running apps to lift everyone’s ADD to the stratosphere.

Educating Peter is an early explainer demo that many marketing professionals with wear on the tires will fondly remember. What better way to demonstrate computer systems — which are essentially silicon, wires and electrical currents — than by taking “Peter” on a Tron-like tour of its inner workings.

Is it dated? Yes, I guess. Does it have an effective close or call to action? No, it ends like they ran out of budget. Is it still relevant? Yes, it speaks to the market in a memorable, clear and approachable fashion.

Here’s a recent video we made for our client, Avalara. It’s as different as night and day to Educating Peter. But while styles have changed, the goals of advertising haven’t. We’re still trying to get our audiences’ attention and sell them stuff. This is the heart of advertising, dating back to barkers standing on Egyptian piers 3,000 years ago announcing the cargo of arriving ships.

The next time you get a brief looking for “disruptive digital thinking”, remember Educating Peter and its clear purpose: communicate the complex value proposition of a dry product in a way that people will actually want to watch. Then let the ideas flow like water from a pitcher. 

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History of Advertising

Pepsi spot is only missing one thing: An Idea.

Back in the old-fashioned times before the internet, I used to go to the Museum of TV & Radio in NYC and watch TV commercials on VHS. They have a vast archive there, including a tape with a compilation of Pepsi spots and its classic tag line, The Choice of A New Generation. Watching them all back-to-back surfaces the irony that there are several generations of commercials with the same line.

Fast forward to today, with the cringe-worthy spot featuring Kendall Jenner. 


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History of Advertising

If Women Ruled The World

Probably fewer wars, resistance to the defense/oil/pharma economic machine, more empathy, greater equality, reduced corporate greed, same pay for the same job, universal access to health care, less global corruption, niceness not nastiness, enhanced sense of a global family... that's for starters. On this International Women's Day, State Street did a great job by putting a female in front of the bronze bull on Wall Street. Those male-driven corridors reek of testosterone, ego-centric mentalities and an artificial value system (and brains and money, to be fair).

Years ago, Shirley Polykoff ruled a female department of staffers selling products for their gender at FCB. She wasn't the first woman to work in advertising, but she was the first in NY to be empowered with a platoon of soldiers and a budget. One of their great early successes was for Clairol Hair Color. "Does She ... or Doesn't She" became a catch phrase across the country. The reference was does she or doesn't she color her hair, but the obvious double entendre was does she or doesn't she... you know... boink. Watch this video for a pocket lesson on how Shirley changed the game.

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History of Advertising

Don’t Let Art Direction Become A Lost Art

This ad does exactly what its creator wanted. Men, lechers that we are, think: “Heh, heh, I’m going to get a free gander at her privates.”

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History of Advertising

Happy World Radio Day

ROI: 1st Radio Commercial Sells 3 Condos

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History of Advertising

P.T. Barnum: The George Washington of Advertising

PT Barnum invented many of the techniques that we employ in advertising today. How many can you utilize in your business? Click here to read my article at adforum.com: P.T. Barnum: The George Washington of Advertising.

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History of Advertising

Why Paul Rand Transcended Design

Paul Rand is known as one of the most iconic graphic designers in American history, but his contributions are even greater than that. He elevated commercial artistry into graphic design. Previously, art directors were often known (behind their backs) as page decorators. Make it pretty, make it blue, send it through. Rand was one of the best, most articulate, most persuasive practioners to show companies the power of a corporate vocabulary — how their imagery (logo, colors, type, visuals, etc.) established how they were perceived in the marketplace. Other famous Rand logos were for UPS, Westinghouse and NeXT computers (for Steve Jobs).

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History of Advertising

My Top 5 Books of 2016

Old Testament: Lots of smiting and other cool action. I discovered that you can read the bible during church services and nobody will stop you. Heaven forbid I pay attention.

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Happy Holidays from the voice

All year we work for our cause
Up and about like bees in the hive.
But during the holidays, we always pause
to say thanks for being part of our lives. 

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