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  • 18 Aug 2009 7:00 AM | Anonymous

    What Real World Are You Living In?
    By Erik Proulx

    Erik Proulx is the founder of Please Feed The Animals,
    and writer/co-executive producer of the movie Lemonade.

    With every new crop of ad school graduates, you can practically hear the collective moan of creative directors everywhere. “I like it, but that would never fly in the real world.”

    This is a post about that real world.

    Real is relative. Real for the 25-year old newbie is different than real for the 25-year veteran. Real for an account person is different than real for the brooding creative. But, here’s the thing, with the right environment and minimal toxicity, an agency’s collective real can accommodate all of them.

    In fact, an increasing number of advertising agencies are starting to do exactly what portfolio school graduates have been doing all along: Defining their own real by doing work that they want to do.

    And I’m not talking about the specfest that plagues our award shows. I’m talking about legitimate work on legitimate projects, but with one important difference. These agencies have an ownership stake in their clients, to the point that many are researching, developing, distributing, and marketing products. The agency is the client and the client is the agency, and they advertise how they see fit.

    One shining example is Fat Pig Chocolate, the organic candy bar created by The Brooklyn Brothers, and marketed by -- you guessed it -- The Brooklyn Brothers.  As their new business director Matt Lake said in this interview with AgencySpy, “ your own brands changes the conversation you have with clients. You're no longer an agency trying to sell creative, you're a peer that happens to be very creative. And you get paid too."

    What if ad school graduates harvested all their creativity, education and relationships and did something bold, like start a business? Maybe that business is an advertising agency, like good folks from VCU did when they started Agency Nil. Or maybe it’s a coffee roasting company, like my new friend Bob Weeks did after getting laid off.

    Either way, the case for leaving ad school and making a bee-line to the first decent agency that hires you gets weaker and weaker with every successful business started by a young entrepreneur. And in the case of creating your own product and being your own agency, you’re able to strategize and market that product by the letter of your own law. Your own ideas. Your own standards. Your own real.

    But even in this job drought, being an entrepreneur is infinitely more difficult than finding work as a salaried employee. I have learned firsthand these last many months that building a business from scratch, with no capital, no investors, and no track record is fraught with hardship. So, no sugarcoating there.

    But if I want to start a Facebook page for my business, I don’t need to share it with a boss, focus groups, or legal departments. If I want to make a movie to promote my business, by golly, the success or failure of that idea rests on my shoulders alone.

    No, being my own client and agency is not an easy thing. But it’s better than contorting to someone else’s values. And this real world -- the good and the bad -- is my own.

  • 04 Aug 2009 12:00 AM | Anonymous
    John Winsor
    VP/ Executive Director of Strategy and Product Innovation
    Crispin, Porter + Bogusky

    I’m really excited for the conversation I’ll be having with Edward Boches in Boston entitled All About Crowdsourcing on the August 5th.  To prepare, I’ve been having lots of interesting conversations with folks on the subject. One thing that constantly surprises me is the amount of emotion around crowdsourcing. It’s made me reflect on what’s happening at a deeper level. It feels like I’ve seen this disruptive play before. On a long bike ride yesterday it came to me.

    I started my first company in 1986. It was based on a radical paradigm shift and I was able to take advantage of it. I decided to buy a magazine, Rocky Mountain Running News to use it as the foundation to start a larger magazine entitled, Rocky Mountain Sports. The purchase was only possible because of a radical shift in technology. Instead of paying $35,000 for typesetting, annually, I was able to buy a Mac Plus, a 20MB hard drive and a laser writer for $23,000.  I was also able to get a beta version of Quark. Then, it was essentially a type setting program for macs. That seems surreal now, doesn’t it?

    So, there I was trying to figure out how to typeset my magazine. It was trial by fire.  I was a complete amateur. While I didn’t need our typesetting house for the body copy of the magazine, I still used them for the occasional ad.

    The first few issues turned out much better than I thought they would. But, you should have heard the professional typesetters. When they saw the issues they just laughed and talked about what awful kerning and leading the magazine had and that the choice of type was horrible. Every time we talked they said, “This amateur desktop publishing thing will never work. You’ll be back.”

    We all know how the story ended.

    My sense is that we are in the midst of another such revolution. This time, it’s all about connectivity. Now people can participate in culture by going on line. They don’t have to move to the right city or work for the right company to be involved. It doesn’t matter whether their an amateur or a professional, people now have the ability to work where they want, with whom they want and how they want. We’re evolving, as Eric Raymond so aptly put it, into a world ruled by the creative bazaar instead of the world of cathedrals that agencies have created.

    You can call it crowdsourcing, co-creation or open source innovation, the crowd is here is to stay and will produce more and more creative content. The big questions are: How do you manage and inspire the crowd? How do you make meaning from all of their input? How do you build brands in such a noisy environment?

    I hope you can help answer some of these questions with us either in person or via Twitter.

  • 03 Aug 2009 11:53 AM | Anonymous
    Face to Face Time.

    Andrew Graff
    CEO, Allen & Gerritsen
    Chairman, The Ad Club

    People in our industry are emerging from their cubicles, conference rooms and PC screens for some real human interaction.  Some have lost their jobs and are starting out on their own or realize that they need to get out there and reconnect in case they lose their job and need to start on their own.  Others admit they need to learn a new skill (like how to use Twitter for business) or brush up on an old skill to make them more valuable to their boss.  Social networks have their place and provide connections, knowledge and inspiration but putting away the iPhone or BlackBerry to talk to peers and make new connections is the way to build business and remind us why we are in the industry we are in.

    At the Ad Club in Boston, we have had great turnouts for our events and classes, a trend that we noticed last fall when our industry started to feel the effects of the economy.   Sure, there are business cards being handed out for those out of work, but there are also many business cards being handed out by promising start-ups and those who are happy to make an introduction to spark another connection.

    So, Tweet, LinkIn and Facebook Friend away, but do this in tandem with a face-to- face commitment to one of the many associations and clubs, locally and nationally and globally that our industry has to offer.

  • 29 Jul 2009 1:27 PM | Anonymous

    Edward Boches
    Chief Creative Officer, Chief Social Media Officer

    Imagine this.  You just had a slew of ideas rejected for new mobile telephone campaign you’ve been working on.  But online, you come across a request from another mobile company looking for fresh ideas from the community.  They’re crowdsourcing for content, and you’re sitting on some.  Do you submit the work and try to win anonymously?  Does your client own the rejected work?  Should you never, under any circumstances, participate in a crowdsourcing assignment from a brand that competes with one of your agency’s clients?  Or have (and will) all the rules change?

    These are but a few of the many questions and issues that are bound to arise as crowdsourcing becomes more and more popular.  Will creativity become commoditized? Will content creators, individuals and agencies demand more ownership of their ideas so that they can, in fact, offer them up in multiple ways?  How will compensation work?  Will most of what gets served up as content be crap?  Or will the crowd, through its sheer volume, generate better, more compelling ideas?

    For me, the real question is this:  Will we continue to use this new technique in the most boring and traditional of ways, simply creating competitions, calls for entry, and gigantic (dare I use the word; it’s not my term) gang bangs?  Or, will we let crowdsourcing inspire us to come up with new applications, products and creative experiences we haven’t even thought of yet because they were previously impossible.

    I don’t know if we’ll answer a fraction of these questions, but next week, John Winsor, you, and I can try.

    Join us via Twitter, or live at All About Crowdsourcing.  Bring questions; bring answers.  Hey, if we’re going to talk about crowdsourcing, we ought be practicing it, too.
    Oh, and while you’re at it, check out one of my favorite examples of crowdsourcing.
  • 27 Jul 2009 7:54 AM | Anonymous

    Keepers of the Legacy 

    Andrew Graff
    CEO, Allen & Gerritsen
    Chairman, The Ad Club

    As Chairman of the Ad Club of Boston and the New England Regional Board of the 4A’s, I’ve thought a lot about these organizations’ contributions to our business in a Web 2.0 world.  

    In addition to the pure lobbying power of hundreds and thousands of members united for a cause, trade associations are the historians and keepers of the timeline that link us all together.  They archive and record the work we produce.  They can reference the people and the events that have influenced the evolution of the advertising, marketing, production and media industries.   Sure, a Google search and Wikipedia entries can pull up some of this data, but trade associations and award show staff show how it can be put it into context. 

    As we planned the Boston Ad Club Reunion, we uncovered a lot of interesting artifacts and oral histories that underscore the importance of our industry.  According to Paul McDermott, the Director of the Ad Club from 1969-1979, the entire Boston media and ad agency community embarked on a massive public service campaign during the busing crisis in Boston.  This time in Boston’s history was charged and violent.  The Ad Club members wanted to remind demonstrators that there were CHILDREN on the buses and the importance of keeping them safe.  Over 20 public service campaigns were filmed and the Boston media agreed to air them during prime time.  Taking the campaign a step further, the Club’s members created customized brochures for each school in the system to welcome new students who were enrolling for the first time.  

    Our current crisis, the economic crisis, has sprung Ad Clubs and associations like the AAAA and ANA into action to help its members.  

    What programs or initiatives could a trade organization implement to help you or your business?

    Find this post on the A&G Blog
  • 20 Jul 2009 7:55 AM | Anonymous

    Unifying our industry

    Andrew Graff
    CEO, Allen & Gerritsen
    Chairman, The Ad Club

    When I was asked to be the Chairman of the Ad Club here in Boston last year, I was honored, yes, but not sure if I wanted the job.  I questioned the relevance of a local Ad Club, especially in a Web 2.0 world where we all have so many friends, followers and connections we don’t know what to do with.

    Today, who needs Ad Clubs anyway?  The real answer is, we all do, if we are going to attract and retain clients and talent.  

    Boston is a city where technology, education and culture converge and naturally attracts creative people.   We are the only state in the country with a Creative Economy Director at the state government level.  We also have a similar position at Boston Mayor’s Office.  One of the first orders of business for me as Ad Club Chairman was to meet with these officials to see how the Ad Club can quantify the dollars that our industry brings to our region.  Eventually we hope to create tax incentives and economic programs to help keep agencies and clients here.

    As a marketing trade organization, we are not alone in working toward a common goal.  Consider the collective energy going into building diversity in our industry, creating marketing metrics, public service campaigns and above all, helping our economy recover.  I spend a good deal of my time serving the Ad Club and the AAAA.  I’m doing it for our industry as whole, but selfishly, I’m also doing it for my agency.

    NY, Chicago, Austin, Minneapolis, San Francisco and other hubs of creativity:  how do you demonstrate your value to the creative economy?

    Find this post on the A&G Blog
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