I provide a full range of creative services with this goal in mind: To help you communicate your message in a way that gets attention, provokes discussion, maintains awareness and helps you achieve your objectives.

Simply put - I'll help you decide what to say.
And how to say it.

OPINION: Advertising worked better when it didn’t have to try so hard.

Do people use ad blockers because they don’t like ads at all, or because online ads are so fucking annoying?

Pretty sure it’s the latter.

When was the last time you heard anybody complain about the ads in their local newspaper, or in their favorite magazine? Never, you say?

That’s the beauty of print advertising, you can either look at it, or ignore it altogether. It doesn’t stop you from reading the news story or flipping to the next page, and it doesn’t hold your newspaper hostage until you answer a few simple questions.

Another thing print advertising offers is context.

If I pick up a home-oriented magazine like Architectural Digest, I can peruse all the nice-looking ads for furniture. Or kitchen appliances. Or upholstery fabrics. Or antiques. You know—all the nice things you might find in a home. Sometimes, the ads are almost as valuable as the editorial material, since they appear in the same context and actually relate to one another.

Even the local newspaper offers some context. Like local restaurant ads in the weekend section…tire ads in the sports section—where guys will probably see them. You get the picture.

Even Television and Radio follow this protocol for the most part. The only complaint might be that there are too many commercials, but there are rules to control that; with so many minutes available each hour. About the only complaint I ever hear is the non-stop deluge of prescription drug ads to which we are constantly subjected while watching television; whoever decided to allow that deserves a special place in hell.

Finally. A New Vision of Akron.

NOTE: Every once in a while, I post on a subject that doesn't directly relate to advertising, marketing, publishing or design. This is one of those times. Every once in a while, I'll touch on issues that are also close to my heart, like urban planning and design, architecture - and in this case, my hometown.

This is an exciting time to be living in Akron. If you’ve lived here all your life, like I have, you can just sense that we’re seeing the beginning of a new era—with a change in leadership, a change in attitude, and some other interesting changes that will help us as we move forward over the coming years.

I’ve mentioned to people that anyone who’s over 50 and lived in Akron most of their life carries a sort of burden. Many of us remember when downtown was a crowded and vibrant place, the rubber factories were going full tilt, and our neighborhoods were stable, attractive and strong. Nostalgia is a mixed bag, though. Memories of what used to be can make it hard to re-imagine something new.

If you lived through the 70’s and 80’s – it would have been easy to think that Akron’s day had come and gone.

We were no longer “The Rubber Capital of the World” – a burgeoning, prosperous industrial town that had actually been one of the fastest-growing cities in the world between 1914 and 1920. By the time Chrissie Hynde sang that her “city was gone,” she pretty much hit the nail on the head—both literally and figuratively.

As I said, having witnessed what this city was actually makes it a little harder to imagine now what it could be. My generation knows the city will never return as the kind of boom town it once was; we still tend to judge anything new that comes along by the standards and experiences of the past.

Yet there is a feeling that things are on the upswing.

Big Data Driving Election Strategies, But You Still Need The Right Message

There was an interesting article in the New York Times about the way large scale data analysis is re-shaping the way political campaigns are run, from micro-targeting messages to predicting voter behavior and more. We all know this has been going on for some time, but the impact hit me the other night when I was sitting around the table at a campaign meeting for an old friend.

We've been working together since 1986, and back then the only "data" we had was voter lists we got from the local board of elections - which my friend used to walk precincts and generate mailing labels. In those days, our meetings were dominated by the minutiae of gathering sign locations, planning for fund-raisers and events like parades, and generally trying to get a "feel" for which way the voters were going. We had a working group of about 8-10 people that were regulary involved in a single city ward campaign.

In contrast, I sat at the table the other night with just three people, reviewing the progress for a city wide campaign. Most of our time was spent talking about voter lists and campaign reports, crunching data and sorting combined lists to refine the information we needed to target specific neighborhoods and fix sign locations. This was folowed by a conversation about automated calls and gathering that data to further refine targeting and campaign messages. Sure, we touched on subjects like fund raising, mailers and volunteers, but there was a certain detachment to the process that struck me.

I guess I liken the "old days" to hunting in the woods with a shotgun--not sure what you might find--but aware that you could only rely on your senses to tell you what was going on, and that you could only be sure of the result at the very end. It was thrilling right up to the last minute--and fun. Today, the process feels much more like ordering up a drone strike on a computer screen; there's a coldness and a distance to the process that I can't say I enjoy...and that's probably why I didn't talk a lot during the meeting.

Today's data-centered approach makes things a lot easier and more predictable, it's true. It saves a lot of time and needless worry as well. But in the end, you still need to craft the right message. While polling and research can help with that, candidates and their teams may have even more success by also "trusting their gut." That means getting out in front of the research, going "out into the woods" and discovering the things that data alone just can't tell you. The result allows you to develop and embrace strong themes and ideas that actually gather and capture voters.

Making Believers: How to Build a Brand Cult

I came across a great post from Ilya Vedrashko on Ad Lab that touched on Douglas Atkin's 2004 book, The Culting of Brands. I remember reading about some of the issues it raised at the time, and that it made a lot of sense. Ilya's post not only brought that book back to mind, but cast the contents in a new light, especially considering our current, non-stop fixation on all things social media.

Of course, social media can be a valuable tool - but what Ilya points out is that Apple - one of the most admired companies out there - really isn't very social, though we sometimes have this impression that they are.

What is really going on? Ilya has some valuable insight here; check out his original blog post on ab0ut Apple and the enlarged "10 easy steps of brand culting" image found HERE.

Well-Targeted Placement Makes for Powerful Persuasion

AirTran Airways has announced that it plans to outfit all of its 138 Boeing jets with seat-back advertising. Over the next two weeks, each airplane seat will be outfitted with a 2.5-by-9-inch, changeable, full-color advertisement - fully visible to passengers throughout the boarding, taxi, takeoff, landing and deplaning phases. It's an interesting concept, and just one more example of how advertisers are continuing to grasp at new strategies and methods for reaching consumers. The seat-back ads also provide some interesting opportunities for sharp advertisers who really want to target their audience at just the right moment with just the right product. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has already decided to try the ads out, and some other companies would do well to think about it too--like manufacturers of noise-cancelling headphones, ebook-readers and similar electronic gadgets.