Monday, December 17, 2007


Im in New Zealand for the next month depressurizing from the last 4 months. No new posts until I get back unfortunately but I will be thinking hard to make the blog better next month. Maybe some more flashing icons and sidebars?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The last post im legally allowed to use the words Adcenter in.

To those who don't know, the Adcenter is no more. Kaput.

Were moving to our new diggs away from the nasty, dirty, bodily fluid filled building, into the new fancy scmancy building. I snuck into the construction zone a few months back and took a peek. Looks awesome but definitely is missing the charm of the old building. What charm? The stains that look like dragonflys, personalized roof tiles over the ping pong table, Fenske photos, and the rest that makes it home.

I will miss it only so much but thats enough sometimes. Im happy to be the last to use it. Gods speed dirty Adcenter. Hello gorgeous new building and new program: Brandcenter.

The beloved computer lab. Too much time spent here.

This couch is colorfully called the "Cum Couch." Good god.

Art Directors dungenon. Where dreams come to live and die. Mostly die.

Fenske's Wall of Non-Dissaproval. Im up there somewhere.

My favorite spot in the Adcenter. One one side of the table of ping.

Aevoir. Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

1/4 of the way there. Now the fun starts.

The last 15 weeks were some of the most challenging I have ever had. Mentally physically emotionally and every other lly you can think of. There were all nighters editing video, shooting commercials. There were countless hours spent in front of blank documents on my laptop. I've slept 18 of the last 24 hours, and my cough will not go away, but I sleep so well.

I've never been through anything like that. The feeling though is that if you can survive the first one you can make it through the rest. God i hope so.

Now I'm not complaining that it was too much, well maybe a little, but it was worth it. I have a lot of respect for the people in this program, we are not normal people to be able to put up with this.

I have nothing that will ever make it into my book, or anything that will see the light of day. Thats not a bad thing. The work will get better. I finally feel like an art director though. And I'm beginning to really like this.

The classes the first semester were amazing and tough. They each challenged you differently. And each mind fucked you as well. The teachers know exactly what you're going to do and when. The best days are the ones when you spin it back around on them and show them something they didn't know you could do.

Don Just's business of advertising class was the beast of the first semester. I was not prepared in any way for what he wanted. The clients we presented for were terrible boring and killed you creatively. But now that its done it is probably one of the more important ones.

Visual storytelling was the most difficult class for me. I had no idea that I would struggle so much with concepting a commercial. Im not even close to good yet but Im miles better than where I started. The teachers said that after this class you wouldn't watch movies the same again. They were right. Oh and Final Cut pro is amazing software.

Fenske's class was interesting. He is a fountain of advice, and stories, and sarcasm. We sat for hours dissecting poetry and listening to NPR pieces. Our work was random and didn't feel like it was helping anything. I don't know when the benefits of this class will come into play but I'll appreciate it later.

Visual Executions was my bread and butter art direction class. It was more graphic design than art direction for me. I've gotten much better with my adobe. My concepting is still weak but better. I have solid work that will never see the light of day. The good news is that it can only get better.

Overall that was the toughest Ive ever worked in my life.

I don't ever know if I'll fully drink the cool aid here, but I at least take a sip here and there.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Visual Storytelling Verizon Wireless

My acting career is taking off

Monday, December 3, 2007

Adcenter makes me make terrible blogs.

Well not exactly. Im tired here, not an excuse but its one none the less. My thanksgiving "break" was nothing but. I got back and it felt like starting an engine in the dead of winter. You get a week of TV and cat naps and have to jump right back to full ad student mode. Not easy, but im almost done.

Today was our last Don Just class. Nice feeling. He read a commencement speach from years past. I would have liked to hear better but I was half asleep. From what I heard Don Just told us congratulations, that we did better than he thought we would, and even got a little choked up.

As much as I will not miss his work load, STILL GOING ACTUALLY, I will miss him as a teacher. If you ever get a chance to come here as a student or prospective or just see him take five minutes to talk. He is one of the only teachers to actually listen, not just listen to see how they can help, but just listen. Its a good skill to have.

Good Afternoon DJ BOA, you magnanimous silver fox.

More to come about the semester and a final review of semester one at VCU Adcenter.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Playstation account won by Deutsch.

TBWA is out of the Playstation business according to Agency Spy. The 150MM dollar account was being pursued by incumbent TBWA, Publicis & Hal Riney, Publicis West, Grey, Young & Rubicam, and JWT in San Francisco; and independents 72andSunny in El Segundo. Hopefully we can see some new stuff that doesn't involve tons of graphics special effects, and celebrity endorsements in favor of something that will help SELL THE PS3!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ever wanted to smash a rabbit with a slab of tempered steel?

Well if you do im sorry for you. However this microsite for Stanley Tools new all in one Thor like hammer from hell dubbed FUBAR, which is a great name for this tool, is a great way to roll out a tool that looks like it belongs on Jason or Micheal Myers tool belt.

Great idea from Mullen. What better way to show a tool designed to break, smash and completely annihilate everything than a group or construction workers wailing on toilets and pianos. I particularly like the head cam option and the sound of constructions workers cheering your brutal demolition on.

Try smashing the cute little bunny you sicko.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mac vs. Windows Vista web banner.

The Mac vs. Windows ads have definitely lost their steam in my opinion. They were played out, over run and worse, parodied. I didn't think there was a way to keep them going. And once again its saved, for now.

This is a web banner running on certain sites that plays when rolled over. There are two sections so keep watch up above for the payoff.

Kudos to TBWA for finding another medium to run this under. Who knows the possibilities here. Will the apple machine ever topple Windows? It could. Rumors of Apple and Google talking behind closed doors to take down the giant are everywhere.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pushing the world down one election at a time.

When politics and Norris combine. You almost have my vote.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sony Playstation Worldwide account up for review.

After ten years at TBWA worldwide, Sony looks like theyre about to ask for client pitches from around the world for their Playstation 3 account. This was going to happen, but not because of TBWA and their lack of effort. Its mostly Sony's fault for not inventing the Wii first.

They have a great product that nobody wants. No amount of advertising can fix that. TBWA has done some great things with Sony and has won shopping carts full of awards with them, including a Grand Prix at Cannes in 2004, but unfortunately have lost a lot of their top talent to other agencies. I don't think this is the right move for them but you have to shake things up with sales so low. Maybe they should save their money and concentrate on Playstation 4.

Does anyone else think that the PS3 logo is too close to the Spiderman movie logos?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Imitation is the sincerest form.

Eat that Cadbury! At least this is selling a product.

Monday, November 12, 2007

User Submitted Content, The Debate.

Everyone is doing it these days. Companies are letting Joe public throw their hat into the advertising ring for their favorite brands. Its a good idea. It creates a two way street of conversation between the product and brand. It also gets people who are passionate about the product a platform to get their message out there. And lets face it sometimes actual consumers know more about the product than the company itself.

Doritos did it famously for the last Super Bowl. User submitted commercials were aired during the most expensive air time on earth. Were they polished, on target, message specific, funny, entertaining commercials we expect when we turn on the TV?


They were terrible.

See below:

It seems so easy to do this when you're 5 beers deep looking at the Head On ads but the reality is that its not.

Doritos little user submitted adventure did nothing but five minutes of fame for the people who made them. No increased sales. No market gain. Failure. However they didn't learn their lesson. Nope. Doritos is the One Show sponsor. What better way to follow up horrible commercials made by people with no experience than to ask people with little experience to do work for you.

Don't get me wrong, ill be working on Doritos One Show along with everyone else, but if I was the CMO of Doritos I would be looking through Craigslist ads for new jobs. Leave the job to the professionals. Cheers on endorsing Colbert for President though. That was a great move.

There is a better way to do this experiement, Apple and Red Bull with their great marketing machines are taking the lead. They take work that's good, polish it up and send it out the right way.

TBWA cought wind of this little video made by Nick Haley:

And turned it into this:

Not much but a little gloss, but success. For TBWA and for Apple by looking like they love their fans and their passion for the company.

Red Bull's new plan is user submitted stories that will be turned into commercials. They don't want videos or scripts, just broad ideas, funny stories, myths legends, and then give those to their marketing machine. This is a great idea. Let the agency do what it does best, while getting ideas from the outside.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wachovia Retirement

3M Magic Tape.

In honor of the Scotch Tape ad that I passed every day for three months in the adcenter. (Click for a larger image).

Monday, November 5, 2007

Google will change the phone market now. Prepare.

No google didn't reveal a new phone like the press thought they were going to do. A big sigh of relief came from across the bay at Apple. Instead they did what they do best, create amazing open software people love to use.

Android is Google's open source program designed to work on a wide variety of phones set to be out the first quarter 2008. 34 companies signed up with Google to provide phones and service compatible with Android.

The big news behind this is the 3rd party capabilities. This new software will let everyone design programs for these phones. Imagine being able to completely customize your phone to your every whim. Not just ring tones and colors but games, maps, or if you want, to create something yourself for your phone no one has seen.

Once again Google capitalizes on a their best talent. Taking existing technology, making it easy and fun to use. Even though their name won't be plastered across the phones. Google will be the leader in mobile software for phones for years to come.

This is exactly what customers have wanted from phones. Companies have relied on the fact that they buy phones based on the features they have, this will break that connection, and hopefully get phone manufacturers to step it up as well.

Switching Into Strategy

Another week another Don Just project. This time was different though. It was the first time I tried the strategy hat on. The requested media was not on target with what I felt was the core audience. I changed the assignment to better fit the core audience.

This previous paragraph is not one you usually hear from Art Directors. Its all where's my brief I've got to make this pretty STAT!

Thats the difference behind Adcenter. Its not just about creative, its about learning to make decisions that are the best for the specific client. Its a weird feeling to act this way. I never came here thinking I would learn some business. I like making things pretty, but its nice to touch the other side for once.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Has the tide turned?

First it was Don Just:

"You are all progressing sufficiently."

Then it was Wayne Gibson:

"Everyone is definitely getting better."

And then it was Mark Fenske:

"I thought the pumpkin work was good."

I'm confused. I don't feel like I'm getting better. But every week i come in and am amazed by the results. People are moving forward. Some in giant leaps, some in half skips, but all forward.

Some of the art directors have never touched Illustrator before coming here and are already producing amazing work. Our commercials are crisper, smoother, and visually great. With a few extra bucks some would be broadcast ready.

I give the copywriters alot of guff. I tell them they have attitudes and that they need us, but truth be told, its mostly jealousy. I live with two of them, they amaze me every time I see their work. They see the world in ways I never though.

This place does make great creatives, hopefully I'm one of them.

P.S. Sorry writers about all the shit I give you, I respect you from a distance.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Epsonality from Epson Printers

I was sent the site to Epsonality from a friend who is Epson's AE at BSSP in San Francisco. I like alot of BSSP's recent work. And they definitely have a specific style. A little quirky, humorous, and a little black humor thrown in. This has all three.

I applaud the writers to throw in a spork, 199.99 in pennies, rattlesnake bites, and a magic mirror to promote printers. This is a good site, simple funny and good targeting to younger customers.

The only problem I see is that this starts to copy Goodby's style in regards to Comcast. This could be the beginning of this style as the standard or just a bump but alot of agencies are coming around.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The reality of being a student today.

While not all of this applies to me here at VCU. Alot did in my undergraduate and high school. Its interesting to think we're learn by a system invented before they had computers or even electricity for that matter.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

TBWA'S New Office. JA!!

the famed LA agency famous for its Little Lad starburst and countless Skittles ads have opened a new office to capitalize on one of the world's highest income per capita markets. Where you ask?

Here are the choices:

A. Germany
B. Argentina
C. Dubai
D. Iceland

The answer is of course.....


Reyjavik, Iceland
This is a great move. Iceland has a booming economy and a capitve audience (it is an island) and its dark for 16 hours a day in winter, which leaves lots of TV time. They only have a staff of 20 but could this signal TBWA's intent to expand further into Europe?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The balancing act.

We all do it. We push classes to the bottom of the pile. That one is usually the one with the teacher who will unleash the least wrath. This changes weeks to week depending on the mood of the students and teachers, and is definitely frustrating.

Im an art director and spend my week looking through strategy, creative briefs and power point presentations. These usually have nothing to do with AD but in reality they are all important to my future. This place teaches you a little bit of everything so you can relate and communicate with everyone in an agency. Which is great.

The teachers all know this and fight back and forth over their classes and their importance for us. This place is definitely like a working agency. If there isn't an ego clash brewing on the surface its behind closed doors. Each of them are our creative directors with due dates. Its a matter of placating the one who won't bite my head off that week.

But sometimes it would be nice to do some art direction. You know that stuff I'm here to do?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

The view from the river.

This weekend was nice, not alot of work and more relaxing and talking with people. Its good. Gets my mind off things. Its interesting to hear what people are going through here. Most are scared and excited about finishing and starting a career. Most feel they arent any good but getting better. Some fall in love intellectually with the teachers. Some dismiss them out right. I might be in the middle leaning to the latter.

But the best conversation I get is the "What are you going to do when youre done" one. Most say to do exactly what were learning here. I like that. Good for you to work hard at a goal and get there, I respect that and will always approve, with a smart ass remark or two.

When I tell people what I want to do, i usually get a laugh, but in reality theres more to it.

I tell people I want to be a white water guide on the colorado river. Buff bronze and bald, with a braided beard and soul patch, i navigate the river with my Rainbow tinted Oakleys, faded life preserver, Tevas, and friendship bracelets in tow. I'm the first one to scream as we leave the rapids and the first to yell when people don't paddle the way i need. "HARD LEFT." "ALL BACK!!"

At night I sit on the edge of the fire circle, Indian style peering into the fire, slowly drinking home brewed tequila. "Where do you live Jesse?" my customers ask. "Where ever i lay my head." I mysteriously leave the circle into the night to do who knows what. But like clockwork, return every morning writing in a small leather bound book, greeting the weary travelers with more stories of near misses, flips, Indian burial stories, and Mexican jails I've been lucky enough to inhabit.

Its a good dream. Theres some truth in it about what I want and why I'm here. I dont know what I want. If I do art direction for the rest of my life, great. If i teach great. If i raft the river for all eternity great. If I end up working at McDonalds.....No thanks......but great.

But i guess im the kind of person to float the river, not literally of course. I let it show me places I've never seen, stories I'd never experience and wake up every day to see where it goes next. Some call it floating, I call it life.

See you on the river. Pretty deep huh?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Justice D.A.N.C.E

Very cool video.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Falling flat on my face.

I fell completely on my face, open mouth and all. No i didnt physically fall. My work did, and once again as Adcenter has shown, so has my ego.

I thought I was doing well, I had one good campaign under my belt for Corona, and I chose Kleenex because it was going to be tough. Lesson learned. I couldn't tell the story of Kleenex, I have no relation, no insight to sell. I use my sleeve.

This of course is no excuse for the real world, if its your client you do it. Period. I couldn't do it. Im frustrated. This is not easy or always fun. Its hard to shoot for the fences when youre too busy being brushed back at the plate.

Once again the strongest Art Director stepped forward and everyone silently cursed at his abilities. Made excuses for their work, but in reality we all knew, we are not there yet.

I sat there as Wayne asked for explanation of my work. I shrugged basically admitting it is what it is look, without a single word. I don't like it, neither did anyone else. Its hard to put your heart out every time for critique and get so little back.

Better luck next time. Here we go.

See below on examples on how not to do ads:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

How to design the worst jersey ever.

I love hockey. There I said it. I love it.

Im one of the 2 people in Virginia that do, and on top of that my favorite team is in California, arguably the hottest bed for hockey next to Mexico City (Its sarcasm people).

This year the NHL has new jerseys for every team. My beloved Los Tiburones (Sharks) have new ones as well. They make me throw up and cry/laugh at the same time, a very amusing thing to watch I promise you.

A quote from the venerable John Buccigross, ESPN's senior NHL expert, on the jerseys:

Upon further review, the San Jose Sharks are wearing arguably the ugliest uniforms in any team sport in the history of team sports. When I see these Sharks uniforms on television, I think I'm watching a skit from "Full House" in which Joey Gladstone goes five-hole on a stumbling Uncle Jesse. These Sharks are so 1991, so "Yo! MTV Raps." "Everybody dance now!" These things need to be put into a dumpster, set on fire and rolled down a mountain as soon as possible.

Perfect. Please see below for visual in how not to design anything:

They spent 15 months doing this. I could have coughed this crap up in 5. Where's my check. BLEGH!!

Truely Blond Beer.

80s Glam makes a comeback.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Mid Semester Review

1/8 done. A few thoughts:

I can do this. Im not half bad, but not half good yet. This place changes your standards. It would be nice to talk to someone about something not advertising related. I haven't left Richmond city limits yet. There are some people that piss me off. There are some people that amaze me with their talent. I like Richmond. I won't live in Richmond after I'm done. The more time spent at Adcenter does not equal good work. Im getting better at Ping Pong. I am learning about time management. I can see what the teachers are trying to do, but am too stubborn to act. It only feels like I've been here a week, when its been more like 12. It would be nice to know some people outside of Adcenter. I can't imagine how I'd find these people with my schedule. Writing a blog is addicting, and intimidating, especially when you know your mom is reading. I don't know if this is the life for me, and thats the way I like it. I've become a harsher reviewer of work. I take criticism better. Im still a bit of an asshole, but working on it. Im tired and sick, but not even close enough to quit. I need some of mom's home cooking for Thanksgiving.

Ahhhh.... Week 7 begins.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Little Knowledge kills good advertising.

I used to marvel in the wonder of film. The stories special effects, technique, with no idea what went into them. I've only produced two commercials for our classes here, but ever since I cannot look at ads without thinking, good god that must have been tough. See below for an example from Sony Bravia, congrats Fallon, you've got balls:

Now see below for a production video:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dove Onslaught

This is Dove's follow up their acclaimed Evolution campaign, Onslaught:

I applaud this as a person. I completely agree, and feel terrible for the expectations women are subjected to. As a advertiser I commend the attempt to follow this up, but it doesn't have what Evolution had, a story. This seems to just tell you that women are constantly barraged, but it isnt telling us anything we dont know. Theres more there, go find it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

I now know the definition of work.

I didnt work at all through undergraduate. Im not being modest. I did good work, I graduated with good grades. But that was not work. This is.

This week has been a nightmare. I've never had to work this hard and it's a scary feeling to work hard for the first time. I don't sleep well, eat well, exercise. I'm grumpy moody and frustrated at the same time. But the best part of it is that I'm starting to like it.

I spend 14 hours a day sometimes in those four walls down the road, and then come home and work some more. I wake up and read client packets on the way to school, and then repeat the process.

This process is insane. Its like mentally sprinting at all times. And for the first time ever I like it. I can see why adcenter students do well outside. We don't know how to stop or how not to finish a problem.

I now know the definition of work. Now all I need is to know how to make great work.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Supercuts cool trick

Got a haircut today. Finally. Went to the local supercuts. As I sat down and waited in the barbers chair I looked at my floppy mane and at the sheet covering me with the logo in the mirror.

It took me a second to realize it but they print their logos backwards on these sheets so they will appear the right way when you look in the mirror. Nice little touch. Nerdy of me to notice.

Disney advertises everywhere.

Who wouldn't buy this DVD after buying bananas?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bud Light: First step torwards my acting Oscar

Here is my first commercial. While I might never be a Redford or Pacino. I have something, that special drunk frat boy Bud Light thing.

Our first commercail. Thanks to Brittany Brown, Katie Fitz, and Amanda Burgan for getting Apple Juice up my noise, it was worth it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Corona's new direction

Corona. I've concepted for you for two weeks and now I begin to art direct you. It is not easy.

I thought concepting was the tough part. It is, dont worry. But the art direction is just as hard. It requires just as much thought. Its not just pretty type and a pic and a logo in the bottom right. This is not being a graphic designer.

I thought my background would be more of a help, but I honestly only knew how to make things pretty, not relevant or well thought out.

Don't let any smart ass copywriter tell you its easy. Sorry copywriters, but we are special, don't worry you are too.

Hello Illustrator, hello photoshop, hello Adobe for the rest of my life.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blend Tec: Chuck Norris Edition

Sure its a little late on the boat, but funny none the less. Wait till the end for the payoff.

Cool New Ads from Non English Speaking Places

Agency: De la Vega/ Ogilvy Puerto Rico Client: Smirnoff Ice

Agency: FCB Draft Kuala Lumpur Client: SC Johnson Bug Off

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Fenske Left Hook


I even see it coming. I leaned into it. Even braced for it, maybe even tried to run into it a little, and it still hurt like hell.

I saw people get chewed up before me. I told myself I wouldn't let it get me. I'd fight back argue, stand my ground, walk away with a moral victory. What I didn't realize is that its hard to walk away when you're knocked out.

I've never felt so bad about my work. So disappointed. Never felt the world flip like that in so little time. It felt like I was dead.

I got pats on the back as I sat down, face flushed and glowing, half anger half embarrassment.

"Good Job." "You stood your ground." "I like it, don't worry." They all seemed empty but helped the sting.

But it was over, and there was only one thing I knew. My work did suck. I fought the losing cause. But in all this there was of course a Fenske kernel of truth.

"My job is to make you feel bad, because that's the only way to get you to do better work."

Bullshit I said, still frustrated with defeat. But an hour later I realized it was true. I would never allow myself to do that work again, I wouldn't let him do that again.

I saw him in the hall after the class, he stopped said hi, made a sarcastic comment about my bad work, and smiled.

I told him "Thanks for rocking my world today." To which he replied "I didn't."

I don't know if that was a form of apology, or good job for standing behind your work, or a you better do better quick, but he's right, he didn't rock my world. I let him, but that will be the last I will let him. Lesson learned.

Is Colonial Village dead yet?

So for our business of advertising class we had to build a business pitch for 70,000 bucks with a quick turn around to help boost occupancy rates in Premium Suites. Not glamourous but my group turned out what I thought was a good solution. I won't go into that because our presentation went as well as a Millie Vanille reunion concert.

We got about 1:30 of a 15 minute presentation when Don Just threw us a curve ball that basically negated our entire premise, and then preceded to ask us if we had any other ideas. Let me tell you my partners did a great job trying to save face, but unfortunately this presentation was about trying to trip us up hard. I can still hear that Millie tape skipping in the background.

Basically the idea was that clients will have millions of ways to trip you up, never on purpose, but it definitely happens, and that we need to be prepared for anything. We had groups that were forced to shut off their Powerpoints half way through. Use people who knew nothing of the presentation, and client objections that would make any person scream "WHY THE FUCK DID YOU HIRE US TO FIX THIS THEN?"

But in honesty I enjoyed it, I dont think I will go into another presentation without printed creative, backup computers, and any of the other million problems that can come up. So good job Mr. Just. Mission Accomplished.

Next up make a replacement for BMW films. Nice, replace one of the most successful non traditional ad. Thanks.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Im surrounded by beer!

Now most people would say that would be a good thing. I unfortunately do not. The next two weeks will be beer concentrated. No i have not decided to become an alcoholic. I have two separate projects regarding beer.

The first is a 30 second spot for Bud Light. Sure I said: "this will be awesome. They're so easy to make, just hit someone in the crotch, show some beer, and cut away!" Wrong. These are actually alot tougher than i thought. Since they've done everything already, its a war of "What haven't they done." Here's my favorite for comparison.

And on top of that, I've got Corona. Simple again right? Beach + Half naked woman = Corona Ad. It would be if I could do that. But I have to reinvent Corona. Thats very difficult considering that people always look at Corona as a vacation, beach beer.

Im learning slowly that advertising is finding the one chink in the armor that hasn't been found and attack it. Well I haven't found it yet but I will, hopefully.

A few Pics from Virginia

This place is filled with great people, just a few pics of a few of them.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The beginnings of the end, of a social life.

I was getting worried for a second.

I thought that the first week was too easy for my own good. But now I'm happy to see I was wrong about that. On top of class, papers, shooting a McDonalds commercial, concepting for Barilla (God please bring me an idea), and writing song lyrics I will sing in front of everyone, there's the idea of a social life to remember.

I've been pretty good so far, making it out as often as I can but no one tells you about the real time killer here at VCU. The group meetings. They are constant and pop up all week at any time. I guess its a good way to get (force) you to work with as many people as possible, find a middle point on projects, and learn to work with different personalities, but meetings at 8pm on fridays? Come on.

I know I know. Its the real world, and damn it you're right. But is it so much to ask that I get once night a week for a few beers. This is advertising school, I have to keep my liver in shape for client lunches right??

Sigh.... you're right, I want to be here, and I bitch but in reality the work is tough but good, and the groups are necessary. I guess I'll have to wait on the social life until I retire.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A man once said:

Monday, September 3, 2007

Hipsters: A national plague on advertising.

Oh the humanity. Its so true.

Concepting: Not a real word.

Why does any word like program underline concepting as an incorrect word. SEE!! As i just wrote it here, it was underlined. No one knows the pain and joy of concepting, even blog software.

My first assignment has been for Barilla pasta. I've gone through enough pages of bad pages to get to my good ones. Well at least thats what I tell myself. I've avoided the obvious glamour pictures of pasta plates and happy families, in favor of a comedic angle. (I know the last line couldn't have been less funny but, I have no excuse, SHIT!!)

However, I realize that I work better in a tennis concepting session. Instead of taking ideas down on sketch books, I toss ideas back and forth with someone, however since that person is myself, they all sound great until I read them back to myself.

"Are you serious you thought that was a good idea?"

"Come on. That's terrible."


"Wow. That was like watching someone throw up in slow motion."

..are all common responses. Sure this is the most fun you can have with your clothes on but, to get there, you have to punch yourself in the head alot of times.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Advice from above.

In days past lessons were handed from on high mountains or booming voices. Tonight they were handed from the people above. Of one year.

This day we were sponsored by the 2nd year students, more of an alcohol fueled frenzy than anything, but a tradition none the less. However afterwards I was lucky enough to be dragged along to their after party and second after party and got enough information to last a long time so I thought I would boil it down, simply:

1. The people you view to be "the best" most likely will not survive, for reasons only known to them.

2. The quicker you acknowledge you know nothing about advertising the better off you will be.

3. Teachers are the end of the line, but we are the answer. We have experience that they can never have as younger people.

4. Enjoy your time while it is here.

5. This is NOT a definite answer to a job, no matter the advertising about it. Learn to work well in as many aspects of the business as you can, learn to be a multi-talented employee, learn to kiss ass when necessary, and finally learn to be yourself and be willing to fight for it, and then, only then, will you be above everyone else, just barely.

59 weeks to go.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Core Classes: Art Direction and Commercials

So on wednesday I came to my toughest day. 9am - 9pm. I was ready, well slept, fed and homeworked up. Wayne Gibson and Keith Witthaus awaited me with visual story telling and my core class of art direction.

Wayne is definitely no nonsense. Here's my qualifications, where I've been and why I'm here. Go present, let me tear it apart, tell you why and let you go. I liked the fact he said that it was his job to get me a good portfolio as that is how im going to get a job in 2 years. After ripping my summer assignment apart (along with everyone elses) with the lesson of: you can't turn shit into diamonds, we were off with our first assignment: Barilla Pasta. Thank god I lived in Italy a while so I can at least attempt an italian angle that will not be good enough. Ciao!

Visual storytelling was much the same, heres our qualifications, here's what were going to teach you. Get ready see you next week. I love the idea of a crash course in film advertising, the more skills we have the better prepared we are going to be.

Im a little worried. I've been on full alert waiting for a shitstorm of work to hit me, and it has definitely been manageable so far. I am exhausted from being on full guard, however I dont want to let it down too much and have a bad day in front of the wrong class.

But overall that was a good first week. Im excited. Lots of concepting ahead, and lots of fantastic work ahead to be ripped apart, spit out and redone.

One down. 59 to go.

Oh and its official. I can't get my money back from VCU anymore. Im in for good.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fenske: A lifetime of ad lessons in 3 hours, plus Van Halen.

So in the first day with the Mark Fenske, I learned everything I needed to know about advertising, however I couldn't write that fast, so I guess I'll listen closely next time.

Everyone was nervous about this one. He came in like the most polite celebrity you've ever met. Intimidating and completely at ease in his surroundings he started. However after the first half hour it was clear it would not be as bad as I thought, again.

He is definitely the real deal in advertising, he told us stories that not many have heard. I know know where the tagline "Just do it." comes from. If you don't google Gary Gilmore. I'm not kidding. I won't give it away but trust me, thats where it comes from.

But everyone knows that he is advertising in alot of circles. What I came away from it was that he is probably a great person to sit and listen to about his stories, sans advertising. He just seems like the kind of guy who is always smack in the middle of stories. And I guess knowing Van Halen helps when you're telling "I should have been there stories."

His style seems to be: Simple and "Where's the news?" Or more simply what has the ten seconds you've taken to talk given me? A little harsh but true in the industry, and if you can get by that you're there, except talent, experience, computer skills, concepting, story-boarding, and networking skills.


I guess I've got bigger things to worry about until next Fenske class.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Business of Advertising: The genocide of eggs.

First Class. Don Just. The room was silent on his entry. It was evident that we were promptly informed of his reputation as a man who taught tough love. His three piece suit, career resume, and attitude towards a room full of fresh-faced students kept the silence strong.

"Some of you will die trying to get into this industry. Some will die trying to get old in this industry." Point taken.

The syllabus and tone was crisp and efficient.

"There is no whining in advertising. Get ready." He said as he prepared his first lecture.

This is serious. This was nothing like undergrad, full of half listened lectures, late entries into rooms, and freebie first weeks to "get up to speed." According to Just, this would be the most important class we would take this year. Coming from a man with his list of accomplishments, I couldn't imagine to disagree.

However, after a little stare-down between the class and himself, the guns were lowered, the corral safe once more, the real lessons began, and our first lesson to Business of Advertising: The Infamous Egg Drop. Yes, the same one we did in 3rd grade. However the idea is to place people into large groups to teach us that egos need to be last in our worries, working efficiently together is the first lesson to this industry.

7 people, 2 egss, a couple of rubber bands, and a brown bag later, our group's egg was through. However the lesson was learned. This is serious business. But you can't make an omelet unless you break a few eggs.

Tomorrow Fenske.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

China Airlines Cover Up

In case you didn't know China Air Lines recently had a little "incident" where one of their flights caught on fire. Thank god everyone survived, a rare good mark in recent times in airline safety. However no matter the accident and how big it was it is always bad marketing. The short version of this is: Crashes = Bad Business in the airline industry but I guess you didn't need me to tell you that.

So what did China Airlines do to stave off the first wave of negative publicity? Paint over their logo on the burnt out hull of the plane. Yeah marketing! I hate to admit it, but that is a very good move on their part.

PS. If youre going to fly to the orient, don't fly C.A.L. I've flown to Thailand twice with them and realize that China is trying so hard to catch up with the west they haven't discovered customer service or seats that fit 6'6" americans. Thanks genetics.

Orientation: One day down the rest to go.

Orientation came and went. First off I was very glad I showed up early and got to know people first. I didn't have to do as many awkward "hellos" and "where are you froms?" than I did many years ago back in California undergrad.

First off Rick Boyko is definitely the real deal. He takes the Adcenter seriously and you can tell by the way he talks to us. He doesn't see us as students, I felt he saw us as professionals who need a kick in the ass. He looks as the Adcenter as the center of the future of advertising and we are the agents of change. All we're missing is the black outfits, crew cuts, and mac electric cow prods.

Fenske on the other hand, well lets just say the words "fuck," "go to," "you," and "hell" were used to describe 50 percent of the class, but at least he didn't punch anyone right?

My immediate first impressions afterward consist of one thing. We all asked questions. Stupid ones. Repetitive ones. Funny ones. About important topics and ones that would never touch our lives.

Its also intimidating to sit with all these people. Their stories are amazing and diverse. We have students who already have multiple Masters, Law degrees, divorced, kids, and even people with kids starting masters programs themselves. People are from everywhere, and our class is split down the middle on the M/F (a first for me).

The teachers are obviously talented. They all sat there with 400 pairs of eyes drilling into their heads waiting for any piece of brilliant advice to come pouring out, and sat with the patience of veteran soldiers in front of the next round of fresh recruits.

Im still in shock. It will be fun. more to come.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Adcenter's Admission Policy: A Review

I was worried about Adcenter from the first. I had no belief that I was going to be able to be an art director. My vision of an art director was a slightly chubby man with long greying hair, horn-rimmed square glasses, sleeve length tattoos, listening to music from an artist that would never be considered "mainstream," while pounding red bulls, standing on his office chair screaming "CREATIVITY IS DEAD!!!"

Yes. I had no idea who art directors were, or what they were like. I was worried I would get to Virginia in a sea of people who would be infinitely more "cool" and "vouge" than I ever wanted to be. Perception is not reality.

Adcenter students are one thing if any: In total shock they got in.

Everyone is still amazed they are here. No one has yet said to me that they we're destined to be in advertising, or that they knew from day one they were going to be creatives. They are normal adjusted people (so far) with wide eyes and even larger dreams of doing a job that avoids 3-piece suits, demands creativity, and revolves around enjoying what you do.

Everyone has traveled or lived abroad. Most have great stories of sites seen or foreign meals consumed in places most Americans don't know exist. Some even speak a language or 6. Some play more instruments then I knew existed. Some come from the four corners. Some come from ten miles down route 64. Some paint. Some doodle. Some have problems writing their own name. Some have no idea who Fenske is. Some have never eaten a hush-puppy (guilty as charged).

But with all the differences and variety there are constants.

We all love advertising (so far). Most of us are hesitant to openly talk or it. I feel the fear of blank stares from friends who spent their lives avoiding advertising created hesitation in crowds to admit their new-found nerdism. However inevitably we all let our love slip and the rest just flows.

We are all social beings. There is the usual hesitation, politeness, coy behavior, but these are only the product of years of social training. Usually a beer or two fixes the mistakes or social politeness in favor of stories of spring breaks past, great you-tube clips, embarrassing nicknames, stupid human tricks, all told with such ease you find in good people. No one is recluse or a potential shut-in waiting for inclusion into the group. We make our spots.

Of course this is all easy to say only one week here, and with no vision into anyones abilities in an actual school setting, but you can see quickly that Adcenter picks people very selectively. Narrow minded people don't make good creatives. Inspiration comes from experience. I had no idea what Adcenter was looking for, but I have a good feeling that they do, and I for one am glad to be part of it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

How do you spell advertising with the letters C O F F E and E?

Intern of course! Just in case you thought that getting into Adcenter was the tough part, here's a little Jem I found on

It's basically a job description on what it is like breaking into this industry. Its not glamorous or always fun, or high paying (wait why are we doing this again?). But there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

I said NO FOAM YOU WASTE OF SPACE! But don't worry one day it will be your forehead veins throbbing at interns over too many poppy seeds on your sandwich.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Guiness strikes black again.

For years Guinnes has been doing great work in the ad world. BBDO recently won tons of awards for its "noitulovE" (evolution backwards) ad, including the Cannes Grand Prix TVC Award:

Here's their newest from IIBDO in Dublin Ireland titled "I'ts alive Inside." Genius and great execution:

Enough with the pessimism.....get to the good stuff!

So I know my last few posts have been negative...even a little upset so I thought I'd tell you all out there some reasons why I know I will love living here.

1. My first lighning storm ever. I know so sad, but awesomely beautiful and so nice out at night afterwards.

2. The girls here. Its been two nights and I fall in love every 5 minutes. They love to shoot the shit and drink beer and whiskey better than I ever could.

3. Its so different. This place is awesome in ways that California just can't replicate. Thank you southern hospitality and an awesome college town and a great area to live in (FAN!!!).

Sure i haven't written much about advertising in a while, but damn I'm enjoying myself. I came here for the program and people, but shoot me if I can't enjoy the perks in life.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Who knew the south was so hot?

So as a final thank you from the city of San Francisco I got to be in the city when Barry hit his big boy home run. Congrats Barry.

So who knew richmond would be hot. Now hot itself isn't enough to describe it. Liquid hot magma? Close. How about I took three baths in my new apartment because i had no power and wouldn't stop sweating all day? Bingo.

Besides the heat its going well, im just cruising by these days. Looking for a car to buy. And no I didn't drive across country, that would be like hitting my forehead with a croquet mallet. No fun.

The town seems very cool. I've been roaming around with Akil Gibbs and checked out the multiple areas around and have been surprised by the diversity in which night life provides. I would have to say my three highlights so far have been:

1. Karaoke night at Buffalo Wings. I wanted to watch the Giants game. Thirty drunk people wanted to sing: Wind Beneath My Wings, Friends In Low Places, and general crap country (sorry I really hate country).

2. Smile Be Happy Cafe. So we walk by and see a big line, so we say "Hey lets check it out." Not realizing that this is a 18+ bar, making us look like two perverts on the prowl as we quickly walk by.

3. Princess Diana mural next to Velvet Gentleman's Club. I bet she would be proud to be artistically placed next to a strip joint.

More updates as they come in. Back to you Kent.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Packing to move 3000 Miles and what it has taught me.

1. Is it sad or good that I can put my whole life into 6 boxes?

2. Alot of crap doesn't always equal a nice room.

3. If it came down to taking only two things they would be computer and pictures.

3a. And clothes if I got one more thing. The whole Adam look doesn't flatter in public.

4. I'm happy to leave behind things I've carried for 25 years.

5. I'm sad to leave behind things I've carried for 25 years.

6. Moving is STRESSFUL. I'm drained in every way possible.

7. I will have to do it again (TWICE) in the next two years.

8. Everyone moves, not everyone gets to go somewhere great. Here I come Richmond.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Taking my bike apart and what it taught me.

1. I couldn't never work in a bike shop, I've thrown my back out twice crawling and bending to reach little pieces.

2. Bikes weren't meant to be taken apart, seriously, they are put together well.

3. Finding a bike box is next to impossible, they're apparently valuable.

4. Im doing all this for a bike that isn't worth more than 150.

5. I have to put it back together again in 2 weeks.

6. What the hell is a crank wrench and why do I need it to remove pedals?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

History + Typography, advertising's silent killer.

There are only really two types of typo. Good and absolutely terrible. You probably know what I'm talking about. The kind where you flip through and it hurts your eyes and stomach. It's a hard thing to explain, why its so good or bad. It just is.

As a graphic designer, I spent months in classes regarding typography: History, digital practice, classical print. I thought I had it down. I figured creating good typography was a skill I had mastered. Oh how little I know. After reviewing the website sent to me for my Visual Concepts class, I realized I might know good and bad by sight, but forgot the why. Check the site here.

My first assignment came last week for my Visual Concepts and Execution class. Basically it has two parts:

1. Redesign a current ad you don't like
2. Learn the history of advertising so you don't repeat it.


Repetititititition is the fastest gateway to unemployment in advertising. You will be shunned be the creative community, and have to settle to work in daytime television, where stealing is mandatory.

Many firms are now checking to see how your history of advertising is. This link from Creativity magazine (formerly shows a advertising history crossword puzzle given to junior creative hiring packets at Lunar BBDO. The first two that completed it got jobs.

Take a look, I didn't know one. In two years I hope I will at least know a few.

Monday, July 30, 2007

How much lazier can the world get?

Sure everyone has dreamed of a motorized bike, wait we already have them, they're called cars. Whoops. And seriously where do you live where you need an electric bike, San Francisco is my only excuse for one. Or morbid obese city USA.

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green.......(but its getting better)

Poor frog.

You've been telling us since I was born that it's not easy being green. And only now were starting to listen. For years the government and industry has told us green is expensive, and will hurt american competitiveness, and jobs. And for years we believed it. But in the last few years things have started to change as companies realize that green is green (as in $).

Get ready Kermit. That lily pad is about to get crowded.

While there are lots of examples of small green companies, only now do you see large companies starting to at least try to look green:



Companies not only need to be begin to go green because of the environment. It will also be the standard for consumers. We will one day demand it. So some might say that these ads are just show-pieces to gain market share or change an image, (which is probably true, when i think GE and Pacific Gas and Electric, I don't think green) but instead I think they've have started the advertising green revolution.

So addies. Get ready to write on recycled paper, drink coffee brewed in tap water, and long nights in studios under energy efficent bulbs, dreaming of how to make clients look green because its coming.

Hold on dear friend Kermit. We're almost there.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Class list posted: Early Review 1st semester

So I got my class list from VCU Adcenter and I would like to share what they have given me as an art director in my first semester. I will not reveal Professor's names but simply what I think might be behind the classes, as not to ruin it for everyone behind me.

1. Technology

Simple. Hopefully it will be learning the Holy Trinity (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign) more than I possibly have tripped over learning them already. Since as an Art Director I will be the blunt force behind visual content I should know this like I know how to prepare Ramen noodles. Guilty as Charged.

2. Visual Concepts & Execution

Damn. Again a self explanitory example of a class. I have always had problems with visual solutions (ie no text). As a graphic designer it was crucial to have text so I predict a lot of time spent staring at blank pages of books for this one.

3. Visual Storytelling

Again with the literal translation. I wish there was some mystery behind these classes. Something like: Hey maybe you'll fail this 101. Or Angry man yells at you and devalues your abilities. But still alot of these classes seem like a straight path, but are probably not.

4. Business of Advertising

This is pure VCU. They understand that advertising is a business in the end. I was thumbing through a CMYK magazine to just see what I would have to compete against. In the first 10 pages were ads from the the top ad schools. Each had full bleed pages showing student work, or why their program was better because of time taken or production value.

Then I came to VCU's ad. It had quotes from advertising firm heads describing why VCU students are better. Most had a common theme: They have great ideas, and KNOW THE BUSINESS. This is the reason I chose VCU. I know I can produce great work. I want to know the business.

5. Creative Thinking

This is the Wild Card. I have no shame saying this is taught by the legendary Mark Fenske. You've seen his work for the last umpteen million years (if you see this mark, i greatly exaggerate). There are horror and glory stories from this class. It changes every year. I have no idea what to expect. I hope I survive.

Wish me luck, this was the first realization that I've started. Minus the student loans of course.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The simple message of: _ _ gg _ _.

Came across this off of Ernie Schenck's blog. Simple is sometimes the best way to get a message across.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Vitamin Water, thanks for the message.

Its a good feeling to come home to a beeping phone displaying: New Messages. You feel the love. People take the time to call you, see how you're doing, to hang out, or just say hello. I love having phone messages.

That all changed today as I dialed into my mailbox today. What transpires is an approx. of what I heard:

Phone: "You have one new message."

Voice: "Wat up dis is fitty cent."

Me: "No way......Does he want to hang out, get some weight lifting tips, share a bullet proof vest?"

50: "I know when I get tired, I needs to recharge my battrys."

Me: "Ok.... I understand life can be tough, everyone gets tired. How can I help fifty?"

50: "Thats when I reach for Vitamin Water. Its got all da best stuff to keep you going. G...G...G...G...Goodbye!"

Me: "...................."Bye?"........ *click*

What happened 50? You let me down. I thought we were going to be friends, hang out, life some weights, write some sick radical lyrics for your dope new jam, but instead you call to tell me that you have a new Vitamin Water flavor. Poor form Mr. Cent.

Samuel L Jackson once called me at 9 am on a sunday to tell me that I should take my "broke ass down on the bus to go see Snakes on a Plane." I went, hated the movie, but love the message I got. I still laugh about it.

So 50, I know you gots to get paid, those bullet proof vest dont come cheap, but please think up some better lines to get me to buy your crap. Click.......

14 days until life begins.

The tension is palpable. I have 14 days until I leave for Virginia and VCU. I have tried to stay calm and organized but, I'm excited. So I thought I would recap what it has been like to move cross country with little money and no idea how to do it.

1. Moving is more stressful than anything.
2. Fed Ex will move anything for 58 bucks as long as its under 150 lbs.
3. Flying to Richmond is cheap, but rental cars are not.
4. Giving away a lifetimes collection of things was harder than I thought it would be.
5. Checking the temperature in Richmond in July makes me pray for working AC.
6. Telling people you're moving to Richmond only results in stunned responses of: "Why?"
7. Do I really need all these clothes?

Besides that this process has been one of blind faith.

I have good roommates, who I have never met, seen or physically spoken to, but have found an apartment with them. I've "met" a majority of the people in the program through Facebook, which makes me wonder how people lived before Craigslist and Facebook.

Im ready. See you in Richmond!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Columbus had it easy, he got to come back afterwards

6:27 am.

Not the best time to wake up on a saturday morning after too many beers from a bar shaped like a overturned pirate ship.

But none the less im up.

I pulled back the curtain on my one window to the view of a San Francisco summer morning:

We locals like to call it tourist weather, because only tourists are stupid enough to wear shorts in the summer in San francisco. Mark Twain should have opened a sweater shop here, and wrote on the side. But I digress.

I love it here.
I have great friends here.
I grew up here.
My life is here.

The last year has been the best of my young life. I have everything i need, and want. And that's why i'm leaving.

As a Bowen I know that deep within my genes lies the wander chromosome. The feeling that when everything is right, it's time to go, and start over. To repress every feeling of security and stability in favor of a change in landscape, and new surroundings. So east i go.

I know not a soul, street, or sky in Richmond, but i go none the less.

I am scared though. Not about going back to school or meeting new people, or trying to remember how you are supposed to be a student. Im scared that I wont be back.

Ancient explorers set out for the glory of God and King, I hope i'm leaving for the right reasons.

At least Columbus got to come home.