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The Copeland Collective launches in Victoria

12 Mar
The Copeland Collective from Victoria BC

(L>R front) Asmaa Methqal, Kristin Grant (back) Jodie Carlisle, Doug Brown, Derek Ford, Michael Tension, Bryan Dwyer, Dave Wallace, Kris Hageland, Andrea Merson, Danny Prew, Matt Andres, Brandon Wells

When advertising people look at potential solutions to marketing challenges, we do so through the lenses of our trade: corporate strategic planning, research and data analysis, branding, marketing strategies, ads, promotions, contests, social media…you get the idea.

But bring an interior designer or a videographer or a multi-media artist into the brainstorming fray and you see the opportunities through remarkably different eyes.

That’s the idea behind The Copeland Collective, a brand new creative community of some of the most talented artists and professionals the city of Victoria has to offer.

Logo for The Copeland Collective in Victoria, BC

The Copeland Collective is a creative problem-solving machine, designed to revolutionize the way we look at how brands and customers interact, and move away from traditional advertising solves.

In addition to Copeland staff, the Collective includes:

But this is more than just a powerhouse group of creative minds: these are connectors and entrepreneurs with their own communities, and they’re wired into the city,  into culture and into the vibe on the street.

With these amazing talents taking our analytical and creative skills to a new level, we think we can do anything the other major Canadian urban centres can – and do it better.

We’ve got projects already in the works and you’ll be hearing a lot more about The Copeland Collective and the players within it as we roll ahead. Stay tuned!

(Photo by Derek Ford, logo by Michael Tension)

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A growing problem

5 Mar

Do you feel self-conscious about your errant ear and nose hairs?

How about now?

These posters from Tondeo Mini Trimmer cut right to the chase, and I like it.

The funniest part – even funnier than the branches – is his blank, glassy-eyed stare. It reminds me of guys on school picture day: a collared shirt, too much hair product, and the perfect rendition of a deer caught in the headlights.

On a side note: thefreedictionary.com informs me that “errant” can also mean “wandering in search of adventure.” I’d love to see an artist’s rendition of a tenacious young ear or nose hair leaving the nest in search of action and adventure.

(photos courtesy of ibelieveinadv.com)

LEGO shows the way to true customer centricity

4 Mar

Smart companies know that they have to pay attention to their customers if they want them to hang around.

That can take many forms, from social media interaction, to research, to transactional data analysis.

The deeper your understanding of your customers’ attitudes, habits and needs, the deeper the engagement you can create with them. And the easier it becomes to get new customers.

Listening is critical. Asking your customers their opinions is even better.

Danish toy manufacturer LEGO has taken this a step further. They asked their customers to do their design work. The subsequent ideas and public vote on their website has led to the launch of a 369-piece replica of the Hayabusa asteroid explorer, the Japanese-designed space probe that collects samples from asteroids for study back here.

LEGO launches Hayabusa asteroid explorer

LEGO launches 369-piece Hayabusa asteroid explorer

It was probably not an idea that LEGO would have hit on, but their customers sure did. Imagine the kind of loyalty that will flow from LEGO’s openness to customer input.

One of the coolest features of this model is Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission supervisor Junichiro Kawaguchi recreated in miniature with two expressions: one for “everything’s great” and another for “%$&#*@!”

JAXA project manager Kawaguchi as a LEGO guy

JAXA project manager Kawaguchi as unhappy LEGO guy

Every Dog has its (bad) day

27 Feb

Gender identity, obesity, fidelity, and well, stumbling into one of your parents more intimate moments are issues that people face every day. The “Dogs have issues too” print campaign from Ireland/Davenport in Johannesburg, South Africa imagines our best friends in some of our worst nightmares with heartbreaking results.

Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer’s host, uses behaviour modification techniques to rehabilitate dogs with problems ranging from minor inconveniences to excessive barking, carpet urination, and aggression.

The need for help and support through emotional and behavioral issues is not a uniquely human one. This campaign does a great job of using some uniquely human issues to bring a sense of connection to these canines that I’m sure we can all relate to on some level.

Concept-wise, it doesn’t feel like we’re being sold the same idea four times. It’s nice to see a series use repetition with such a nice amount of variation though-out. This feels like a robust little campaign.

And you can’t deny the creative on these ads is great: each is a simple scene with a perfectly subtle amount of content. I bet you had fun scanning each one to find the issue at hand. Kudos to the art directors on this one – it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for these little guys.

It isn’t obvious whether they were able to achieve the dog’s expressions naturally or through the help of some clever photoshopping (although I suspect this is the case), but either way, the heart-breaking emotion on their little dog faces is the finishing, personifying touch on these bittersweet ads.

Post by: Christie Burns & Danny Prew

Tunnel tourism: the next big thing for Victoria?

19 Feb

Victoria’s entrepreneurial management of its historical assets lies at the heart of the city’s success as a tourist destination. We do a lot with a little.

Tourists tend to move from the Inner Harbour down Government St. to Chinatown, then back. Small strip, but there’s a ton of history packed into those 6 or 7 blocks.

Of course that’s only the history you can see. There’s a whole different level of intrigue going on below the surface. Literally.

The Tunnels.

Tunnel tours

Whether coal chutes from the harbour up through Market Square, escape routes for opium users in Chinatown, or discreet connections between the Empress Hotel and the Union Club, everyone’s heard a story about the tunnels – and there is plenty of fanatical interest. Yet no one really knows the entire network for certain and the City sure isn’t telling.

I was personally introduced to one by the owner of the Pacific Design Academy on Wharf Street who stumbled upon it in his basement while doing renos.

Imagine the financial potential of upgrading those tunnels and creating under-city guided tours: Victoria’ amazing history told through the city’s original town planning.

People love tunnels. Think of the success of the Catacombs in Paris, or the Cu Chi tunnel systems in Vietnam. When managed well, tunnel tourism can be huge business. Seattle has been exploiting its own tunnel history since 1965 thanks to the efforts of legendary historian and promoter Bill Speidel. So the model is already there.

Victory’s history could be even more sensationally brought to life via an Augmented Reality app that you use when you’re on the tour.

Tunnel tourism would make a heck of a viability study for the Entrepreneurial majors in U Vic’s Gustavson School of Business, don’t you think?

Tunnel tours

Use words to nail a perfect idea

3 Feb

In my professional bios, I always state that I am still in hot pursuit of the perfect idea. I define perfection as simplicity, beauty and absolute executional relevance to the product.

Have I ever come close? Perhaps on two occasions, both print ads. Coincidentally, they shared a theme of being type-only ads where the words tell the visual story.

I was influenced in this regard by the legendary New York graphic designer Bob Gill, who loved type-only design and applied the concept of reductum ad infinitum with relish. He removed everything from his designs except what was essential to telling the story. His United Nations lunch series invitation inspires me still.

U.N. lunch invite by Bob Gill

Bob is 80 now and his website still crackles with energy and simplicity.

I came across these word-as-image examples and recognized in them not only the excellent logo of a fellow T-CAAN agency, Vancouver’s Elevator Strategy, but a number of executions which nail my definition of the perfect idea. Most of them would make memorable animated logos.

I loved Voyeur the best. Which was your favourite?

Everyone’s a critic so deal with it

17 Jan

One of my favourite interview techniques is to criticize something a candidate has done: their CV or their work or their responses.

I don’t do this to be a jerk, but to learn something.

It’s important to know how someone handles criticism because in this business it’s as much a part of the fabric as the colour black. We traffic in ideas and everyone has an opinion: your co-workers, the clients and the audience.

It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you view criticism as a personal attack and go all defensive – or worse, offensive – you will exhaust your welcome very quickly.

Dinosaur eating human

Don't view criticism as a personal attack

Learning to handle criticism well just may be the greatest positive change you can make to your skills as an advertising professional.

So how do you go from feeling under siege to benefiting from the criticism?

STOP TRYING TO CONTROL

Someone has a different opinion than you and so you want to change their mind. You want to be right. You want them to see things the way you see them. STOP.

You don’t need to change their mind. You can listen, really listen, to see their point of view. Shut up your mind and your mouth. Then take some time to process it. This is not a sign of weakness but of sagacity. Wise people are always pictured as listening and nodding their heads as they do so – ever notice that?

STOP TRYING TO PLEASE

The response I most dread is the knee-jerk agreement without due consideration. Don’t back down immediately and concede to score points.

Resist the temptation to feel you must agree in order to be well-regarded. Instead listen to the point being made and think about it. I love to hear: “That’s an interesting point. I’m going to think about it.” Rather than a rushed: “Oh I only did that because…”

When you bring an idea to the table, have the guts to stand up beside it and allow scrutiny without feeling you have to rush in to resuscitate it or revise it. There will be time for that.

REMOVE YOURSELF EMOTIONALLY

Candles and rocksGo with the critical flow. Become a leaf on their verbal stream and don’t fight it. Imagine candles and stacked rocks and bamboo mats. Whatever powerful emotions rise up in you (possibly because you hate the guts of the person who is bringing down the criticism), what’s called for is calm and equanimity. You are not the action that is being criticized. You are not the idea.

When you can control your emotional response, you open yourself up to considering the criticism. That’s where growth kicks in. Every person I’ve ever met and every idea I’ve ever come across had room for growth. Constructive criticism is what initiates that process.

When your clients and co-workers feel you can handle their opinions well, they will offer them more freely. Opinions are not always good ones, and not all have to be heeded. But if your stance is hostile to the idea of feedback, you can be sure that you’ve made it as far as you’re going to get.

Feel good about what you bring to the table and relish the process of others helping you shape that further.

And when it’s time for you to be critical of others, a little empathy goes a long way.

You can tell me you think I’m full of crap. I can handle it. I think.

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