Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ESPN Will Make My Penmanship Famous

First, I'd like to thank all of my teachers from pre-school through fourth grade, my parents, G-d and the guy that made banana-grip for pencils and pens. While I'm at it I'd also like to thank the guy, who invented the piano key necktie. He didn't help me develop my handwriting per se, but he inspired a bit of this drive for perfection. And that perfectionism (word check? - yes, others have called it being anal), may have led to me needing an extra 30 minutes for all written homework and test including essays, it also led me here. To becoming the hand behind the man.

The man is Steve Braband. He is the face, body, voice, feet and everything else but the mind (not entirely at least) of our new campaign for ESPN's SportsCenter. A quick history: ESPN came to us wanting to know how to communicate the news that SportsCenter is going live from 9AM-3PM weekdays. We worked with them to create a brief and most importantly figure out the right personality, attitude and tone to bring to this simple message. Our creative team's idea wowed everyone. It was literally a personality...Steve.

They wanted to find and follow an ESPN employee just about 24/7 for two weeks leading up to SportsCenter going live and broadcast this employee live on ESPN during commercial breaks. It (IMHO) is less commercials or ads than it is content. This is quite possibly the work I'm most proud of being a part of (in crafting strategy more than copyhandwriting, believe it or not!) Here's one of my favorites so far from Day 2 of following Steve. Gotta love the running clock he has to keep with him at all times. Sports version of Flava Flav!

So where does my talent come in? Come on - don't tell me you missed it! Go back and peep that card at the end of the video. "More work for us. More better for you." Yeah, more work for me, writing that and everything on the site, Steveislive.com, (going live tomorrow - sneak peek for my readers) and banners driving to it. And that tagline, "Live" and "9AM-3PM" is shown at the close of each spot we do!

Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about. I'm about to get a hyperbaric chamber to keep this hand in tact. Next up, making my sunglasses famous like the Aussie Spicoli's.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

So What, Wieden+Kennedy New York?

So what goes on at Wieden+Kennedy New York? I've heard this question numerous times since working here. In fact, one of my highly viewed posts is the one announcing my start. I know I asked Whudafxup with W+KNY way before I ever interviewed at this place. Sure, we get that one line in the AdAge Agency Report Card every year that reads something like "Lastly, the NY office continues to pump out entertaining work for ESPN." Which, of course, is better than nothing or hate-hate-hating. But when you've got your one other U.S. office, the global HQ in Portland, doing its thing for years and for clients like Nike, Coke, Old Spice, Heineken, Target, CareerBuilder, EA Sports, Starbucks and who knows what else; and you've got London winning Nokia, bringing it for Honda and killing it with their blog; and other global offices opening or coming strong, to put it simply: Pimpin' Ain't Easy.

So what did I do when I got here? Nothing at first, except absorb and understand the culture of this office. I identified a couple of opportunities to better our internal collaboration and our external brand. I set objectives, I drew on past experiences, and I started experimenting with solutions. Along the way, I certainly faced some challenges...and I know I'd be a fool to believe it's smooth sailing from here.

So what am I actually talking about? The creation of Wieden+Kennedy New York's blog.

I guess the idea was considered way back when I was a prospective employee, working out at Fallon Minneapolis and ready to move back to my home, NYC. The agencies on my radar were the ones people were talking about. They were the ones getting written up. They were part of the conversation, and thus, my consideration set. Wieden was always a favorite agency...too bad they were in Portland.

Yet it wasn't until shortly after I arrived that John Jay came through our office on his "we're AdWeek's Global Agency of the Year" tour that I totally believed in the importance of developing our office's unique culture and voice. The benefits that could be gained from sharing within our walls, across our network, within the industry and international creative community far outweighed the risks. I really believe this. And I have already seen how much more involved people become once someone takes the very little time to teach them (about the platform or a post).

So, I got people smarter than me to help create it. I enlisted people more interesting than me to populate it with content.

Now doesn't come the statement, "This is not an agency blog!" Of course, it is. Are we going to be different that some of the others? I sure hope so. And that's not a comment on agency blogs stinking - there are some fantastic ones that serve as inspiration to me at the very least. We obviously hope to be different because there's no need for the same content to be regurgitated.

On a related note, while it is an agency blog, it is not a planning blog. Nothing against them. I still read a bunch and enjoy each! But as of now, I'm the only person with that title with a login. We have a design, media director, copywriter, cultural curator (yes, sick title), search director and project manager all set up with logins (though not all have posted). And yes, past experience has shown the heavy lifting will likely be done by me and a couple of others.

So what do we hope to bring to the blogosphere? A window into the world of Wieden+Kennedy New York and New York culture through the lens of our people. So you won't get someone like me who's still listening to FutureSex/LoveSounds hollering about the underground music scene. You'll get a music-junkie. You won't have me and my Johnston & Murphy zip-up boots poppin' off about the latest kicks. You'll get a sneaker-head. And so on. Plus, you'll get way less alliteration and rhyming!)

This blog is supposed to interesting. It is supposed to be fun. It is only supposed to be self-serving in that we benefit the same way that any blogger does - from engaging in the conversation, learning by doing and learning from others. Hopefully you'll find it entertaining and every once in a while inspiring. As you'll see from the archives, we've been working on being interesting and honing our collective voice since February - and we're still a work in progress. (Yes, always in beta - but I'm sick of that phrase.)

So that's all for now. Come visit and say hi. But don't leave me...I couldn't bear it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

7 Weddings and A...

There are a ton of ways I have considered finishing that phrase. Thankfully, "Funeral" is not one of them. But "Hangover," "lmost Broke," "nother 4-Day Work-Week," "Missed Holiday...Again" and "Ripped Pair of Tuxedo Pants" all would have been appropriate.

This is definitely not living up to the "Plethora of Marketing Ideas" blog subtitle...unless you see something I don't. But I know there's a new business idea in here somewhere. I've had tons since the first wedding-related event I attended this year—my buddies' joint bachelor party in Vail, CO in March. Unfortunately, I don't think there's a single one that would be profitable. (So Web 2.0 of me.) But I'll have time to keep thinking during my 5 more weddings (and countless surrounding events) this year.

So the two aforementioned guys with the co-bachelor party have gotten married. The weddings have been worth the cost (see above considered post title endings). I think you'll agree after seeing one quick video from each.

Kiran and Sheetal's Wedding in Mahwah, NJ:

Rubes and Dre's Wedding in Washington, DC:

If you couldn't tell, most of my friends love to dance. (And yes, there have been a few business ideas focusing (on) that passion alone.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Training Starts Tuesday!

If anyone read that in the Gap Girls "Diet starts Monday" voice, you need to email me immediately and be my new BFFALAW (Best Friend For At Least A Week)! If you have no idea what I'm talking about watch the famous SNL skit here. (Unfortunately it cuts off before Farley laughs and says the aforementioned "Diet starts Monday" line.)

Back to the point: Today, after work, I officially kick-off my training for the NYC Marathon with the NYC Chapter of MS. I decided to Run MS for a few reasons, which I will talk more about in future posts. The first of which is quite honestly that I wanted to run the marathon and thought running for a charity/cause would be a win-win. I would get guaranteed entrance (after being rejected a few years back) and the organization would get a dedicated champion of its cause. (Jen was also an inspiration for this.) When I got to Wieden, I saw that one of our pro bono accounts was the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I was extremely interested in working on this account for two reasons. The first of which was to offset my not helping the world in advertising guilt. The second was a lot less selfish—my friend's mother has had the disease and in recent years had to fight harder against it. Therefore, I wanted to help by both learning and doing. And I'm proud to say that NMMS has recently become a client of mine.

Please check out My Personal Donation Page. As you can see, I have not started to raise money yet. (The 100 spot was what I dropped initially to get the spot in the race.) And as you can also see, my goal is to raise $3,450. 3 G's (not to be confused with the iPhone 3G) is the bare minimum and I don't want to be someone who is thought of as doing the bare minimum when it comes to fundraising for a great cause or wearing flair. But the amount is not arbitrary; it correlates to the time I hope to finish the marathon in - 3 hours and 45 minutes. I ran my first and only marathon (Twin Cities) in October of 2006 in just under 3:48.

While this seems like a conservative goal, three minutes is a lot to cut in running even over the course of 26.2 miles and the temptations and running routes in NYC are greater and lesser, respectively!

So all that said, you're going to be hearing more about my training and about MS. And I'm going to be asking you (hopefully not harassing) for some support in the form of cash money (PayPal or checks) until November 2, 2008. Starting, well, now if you feel the urge. Thanks for reading everyone. More to come.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm Not Blogging to Make Friends

Actually that's not true at all. But as an admitted reality TV addict, most of you know by now this type of compilation (can we call it a montage, Team America?) is right up my alley...

Quick shout-out to the Real World Hollywood crew for becoming friends even without being polite...and in the process putting on quite a show. (Yes, all 9 of you.) Half shout-out to Jesse (or as I like to call him, Travis from Clueless), who was able to make friends and win DeAnna's hand in marriage on this season of The Bachelorette. Zero shout-out to Kristy for making friends but then deciding she didn't like winning Tila's heart.

That was therapeutic. Please be my friend.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Finish that F'in Book Already

Continuing the theme from my last post about the video digestibility, I was just introduced to a service by Eric that take continuous media snacking into account...and given I haven't made it to the final page of a book in more than two months, should be right up my alley. (I hope.)

It's called DailyLit and true to its name, it provides literature in bite-sized quantity via email or RSS feed daily (or on the exact schedule you'd prefer, so you don't have to receive text on weekends for example). And to answer your next question, if you have more time you can receive the next installment (and more) on-demand.

According to the founders:

We created DailyLit because we spent hours each day on email but could not find the time to read a book. Now the books come to us by email. Problem solved.

I know Matt is going to wish he thought of this given this post of his detailing the challenge laid out and solved above. As someone who hates starting something and leaving it incomplete, such as the three books I'm stalled on right now—Sharp Teeth, 1776, and A New Earth—I thinking very seriously about browsing/signing up pronto.

Actually upon further investigation, I found this incredible idea/service they are providing free of charge: Book Reading Groups via Twitter. How sweet is that! And it's rare for me to quote something a CEO says for a press release but you really get the sense that DailyLit's Susan Danziger is sincere:
We’re interested in exploring new ways to make books more accessible to readers, and sending book installments via Twitter is an innovative way to do just that. I also love the idea of creating a group experience by having folks from different parts of the world read books according to the same schedule.

Very cool idea and very smart execution.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Length Matters

This is a short post about short-form content consumed in large doses on the web (in one sitting in front of my laptop each time). (And with oh so provocative a title!) It made me think about how much length (of video content in particular) matters given the many different situations, mindsets, needs or more importantly from an entertainment perspective wants and constraints (time, screen size, ADD, etc.) which people bring when they "go online" every day.

It started late Sunday afternoon after getting home from watching the Euro 2008 Final. I read a post over at Paul's blog about Inside Sudan on VBS.tv. I watched the 5 approximately 4 and a half minute about Sudan and then moved over to Vice's Guide to North Korea and knocked out the 13 part series (average 4 to 5-minutes each) like it was my job. (Actually, that'd be a pretty sweet job - Shane Smith's job or a job watching all VBS's content.)

Then on Monday night, I was exhausted but then as I was catching up on Kanye's blog (by the way, peep this ridiculous thing he just did for Absolut's Artist Series), he noted how Jay-Z killed in the U.K. So after the controversy, I wanted to see for myself. And I did. For almost an hour (ending after midnight), I watched the 9 parts (median time of ~8 minutes each) of Jay-Z live at Glastonbury on YouTube.

My feeling is (and behavior would suggest) that the smaller chunks of video content are more appealing to a time-crunched (perception even if not reality) web audience because they seem more digestible/watchable/doable. (Lunchable?) In fact, I think a short piece of content (like sampling) is critical to getting people to "invest in the rest." (I'm considering trademarking this phrase.) I, personally, am also more likely to get through books with more, shorter chapters than few long ones. Each I read is a sense of accomplishment. However, I'm not buying a book based on this criteria. On the Interweb, most often you get it all for free, so engagement is more important. Thus, how the content is served up is more important.

One difference between the two viewing experiences is that on YouTube the next clip played without me having to click. This was not a necessity to keep me engaged but certainly a nice to have. Plus, I didn't necessarily have to watch the performance the entire time rather could listen with surfing, so the autoplay was nice. However, back to the point, I couldn't help but wonder if our Brawny Academy back at Fallon would have had more success had it made its ~15-minute episodes shorter (if we had cut each in half). It's not about the sum total time of the content (which is the same either way), it's about the length of its parts (which can be made more palatable, enticing to the audience).