Ads that make you cry and why that matters.

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This article was originally published on MMI Agency’s blog. The read the entire article, click here

You’re sitting at your desk checking emails when your friend sends you a seemingly innocuous YouTube link followed by a crying emoji. You take a sip from your coffee mug, glance around to make sure no one is looking, and click play.

In the course of ninety seconds, you are transformed from a slick, confident business person to a weeping infant who would rather be in the fetal position under your desk than sitting behind it. You try to hold it together, but it’s too late. You know that Judy from Accounting has heard you sniffling and the charade is over. You can’t hide it anymore: an ad just made you cry.

Click here to read the full article. 

FOUR WAYS TO TELL BETTER STORIES

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This article originally appeared on MMI Agency’s blog. Read more here.

In the ad world, it seems we are all about storytelling these days. Everyone is talking about it—and for good reasons. Stories are entertaining, engaging, and valuable. When told well, they create meaningful connections between brands and consumers that move consumers emotionally, and generate conversations that can boost a brand’s visibility, cache and credibility.

Brands do this all the time. Think about Dove’s stories about women discovering their true beauty, or Nike’s compelling narratives about driven athletes who wear its apparel. Chipotle hit a home run with its short film that told the story of a scarecrow as dedicated to healthy, fresh ingredients as the restaurant brand.

Good storytelling takes skill, no question. However, not everyone in our industry has an English degree, studied psychology, or has been the beneficiary (or victim) of a storytelling workshop. But you don’t need those—or a Pulitzer Prize in literature—to be a compelling storyteller (although, it wouldn’t hurt).

So how do we hone our storytelling craft? With training and practice. Before you start telling yourself, “not for me,” consider these four easy ways to become a better storyteller…

Storytelling is a piece of work.

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14D4C516_Luna Book_D4C-FO_8x8

Another day, another item checked off my bucket list. Recently I got the chance to write a children’s book for one of our clients at MMI Agency: Dentistry for Children. To help educate children about oral hygiene, MMI developed a books series for Dentistry For Children featuring a lovable character, Luna the Tooth Fairy. For the third book in the series, I got to throw my hat in by developing a new storyline incorporating Luna and her friends, Lionel and Libby.

The story focuses on a major tooth crisis: the moon, which gets its glow from the shiny teeth collected by Tooth Fairies, is losing it’s brightness. Luna needs to tell kids about dental hygiene, and asks Lionel and Libby to help her.

The following are excerpts from the 15-page fully illustrated book (feel free to read the whole thing):

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Childhood Dreams Come True

Advertising, Everyday

When I was younger, I had a dream of writing greeting cards for a living. Although that dream has since faded, it doesn’t make having a greeting card I wrote actually published any less awesome. That’s right. I wrote a greeting card and it’s getting published!

A year ago my friend and work partner, Alan, and I entered a contest on Threadless, a crowd-sourced t-shirt design website, to make a greeting card. Our birthday card design was selected to be part of their collection and will be exclusively sold at Target starting June 16th. Yes, that Target.

This is what it looks like:

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Some of you might cry, “Heretic! Haley doesn’t drink! Why is this card about drinking?” And that is true, I do not partake in the drinking of alcoholic beverages and am a complete teetotaler. I wrote this card on a whim and never thought it would actually make its way into the aisles of a store – or the hands of a person. That being said, I’m not against alcohol. I just don’t support drinking in excess. Alcoholism runs in my family and after 3 years of being an RA I know far too well the negative side of drinking. That being said, moderation people. Moderation.

So if you’re too lazy to make your own card and wanna get your bud one that is clever and quick to the point, hop over to Target and buy one of mine. Or buy fifty. Because I get to split 20% of the profits with Alan and we wanna roll around in wads of greeting card cash.

All The Time In The World

Advertising, Lists

This is what my schedule looked like today:

Photo Aug 08, 6 12 29 PM

And that doesn’t include the actual work I had to do – plus the fact that I am working late tonight.

So what does one do when there isn’t enough time in the day?

  1. Make A List – Check.
  2. Utilize Your Clone – Although a stereotypical answer, the clone card is still relevant. Sadly, my clone lives in Dallas and has no knowledge of the advertising industry.
  3. Make a Cardboard Cutout of Yourself – The perfect device for being in two places at once.
  4. Ask Siri For Help – It’s worth a shot.
    Photo Aug 08, 6 06 22 PM
  5. Pitch A Tent – A stellar idea. I’m considering keeping a tent in my cube. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for a fort made of paper balls, my emergency hoodie, and some paperclips.
  6. Invent A New Time-Scale – If time is relative, then I should be able to make more time. Right? Right. From now on there are 47 Haley-hours in a day.
  7. Cry. Then Do One Thing At A Time. – A cathartic process, but could get messy. And it’s far too practical.
  8. Do Everything At Once – The inevitable solution. Every time.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to tackle my task list and managed to get most of what I needed done. And I didn’t even have to resort to the cardboard cutout.

What do you do when you’re out of time?

YouTube thinks I’m weird.

Advertising, Everyday

The Internet is a wonderfully complex organism. It thinks. It responds. It knows what you are looking for in a potential mate. But most importantly, it likes to recommend things for you.

In this era of smart technology, I’ve come to expect a lot from social media websites. I expect them to know what brands I like, what politics I preach, and what Twitter followers I’d most likely follow. This expectation crosses all social media platforms. And I feel like most have a fairly accurate opinion of who I am – except for YouTube.

Below is a screenshot of some of YouTube’s recommendations for me this morning:

youtuberesults1. One of my current Broadway obsessions is the musical adaptation of Matilda. Kids rocking out like Spring Awakening? Good work, YouTube.

My Nerd Points: 20

2. I’m subscribed to Emma Blackery’s channels (she’s one of the many YouTubers I follow from across the Pond). Two points: YouTube.

My Punk Points: 10

3. I have no clue what this is. But it disturbs me. And is Emo Dad an actual web series? And why am I being recommended the finale of this show? Minus one point: YouTube.

My Emo Points: 5

4. Now I’m trying to think of what I have watched in the past that might make YouTube think I’m one of “those” people who are in the REAL Apocalypse Shelter market. Wait. Am I one of “those” people? Excuse me while I have an identity crisis. Minus one point: me.

My Gun Toter Points: 25

5. Apparently YouTube thinks I’m dying to know what’s next in the world of Soaps. My question: is the girl in the picture “the bold” or “the beautiful?” I am now intrigued. Minus one point: me.

My Cat Lady Points: 15

6. Everything about the title of this video confuses me … First up on #TableTalk: what happens to you when you die? And after you’ve given yourself a complex, let’s talk about your dating life.

My Cat Lady Points: 25

7. I don’t think I want to watch The Dirty Old Greek Man do anything. Unless it’s a deleted scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, because I’m on that like dirty old clothes on a greek man.

My Possible Unabomber Points: 10

I’m not sure if it’s me or them, but the folks at YouTube HQ must think I’m weird. That or a cat-owning, show-tune-singing doomsday-prepper. But then again, is it possible they me better than I know myself? Maybe I need to stop questioning their recommendations and start watching them. For all I know I’ll like Emo Dad. But probably not.

Haley Takes SXSW

Advertising, Everyday, Travel

Tomorrow afternoon I’m driving to Austin for the SXSW Interactive Festival. Many of you already know this because I either haven’t stopped talking about it or you stalk me on Twitter. Or both.

For those who don’t know what SXSW is, here is a brief synopsis: it’s awesome. But in all seriousness, it’s one of the largest festivals of its kind. Spanning several weeks, SXSW is broken up into several sections, namely Music, Film, and Interactive. Most people are familiar with the music and film aspect, but I will be attending the Interactive portion of the festival.

SXSW Interactive focuses on interactive media and emerging technology. The website explains further that “the event features five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable line-up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis of the future, SXSW Interactive has become the place to experience a preview of what is unfolding in the world of technology.” Cool, huh?

So why am I going? My agency is sending me and four others to the festival in order to learn more about upcoming media and new technology that so that we can gain a better understanding of where our industry is going and the opportunities for where we could take it in the future. So, over the next 5 days I’ll basically be in creative nerd-land listening to some of the brightest minds in the media world. And that is just the place for a young advertiser.

In classic Haley-style, I considered blogging my trip just like I have my other travels in the past (see: Scotland and London). However, I also realized that I’m going to be crazy busy and people may not necessarily be interested in my day-to-day laundry list of activities. Thus, I’ll mostly be logging my trip through my Twitter account. If you’re interested in following my adventure, you can get live coverage by clicking here.

Other than seminars and workshops, I’ll also be getting a lot of free swag, enjoying free parties and food, meeting some cool, like-minded people, and catching up with several old friends who will be attending as well.

Overall, I’m super pumped. Can you tell?

Pitch, please.

Advertising, Lists

Before we begin, for those who don’t know, the advertising world is all about pitches. Pitches are the way to win new business and new clients. Basically, it’s the official process through which an agency “pitches” ideas to a prospective client. They are usually a two-week process during which you must respond to a prospective client’s prompt (what we call a “creative brief”) and develop several campaigns, with several different pieces in each campaign. At the end of the pre-pitch weeks, the agency will present their creative ideas and business plans to the client. Then, the client will think on it a long time and then choose which agency they liked best. Usually there are three or more agencies competing for the same business, but it depends on the client and the situation. It’s generally a very exciting – and very stressful – process that feels awesome when you win and pretty sucky when you don’t.

Now that we have that out of the way… I’ve been working on a pitch at work and it has been an event to say the least. We were given two weeks to prepare our presentation, but one of those weeks happened to be during Thanksgiving and you can imagine how helpful that was.

The Things I’ve Learned From Pitches

1. A Pitch is kind of like a marathon. Except you can’t train for it. And there aren’t people on the sidelines cheering for you.

2. There’s a lot of food involved. Catered. For Free.

3. Weekends become weekdays. And you spend more time at work than at home, which makes work feel like home, which makes finally going home feel weird.

4. Elevator music never stops playing. Even at night. When all the lights are off.

5. Night janitors wear headphones when vacuuming. That’s not a joke. Just an observation.

6. No one cares about recycling. We just print things. Over and over and over again.

7. You should be allowed to wear sweats to work everyday. And bunny slippers.

8. Illustrators are strange beasts who only communicate through email and never call you back.

9. Waiting for “Pitch Day” is like waiting for Christmas, the last day of school, and getting your lab test results back at the same time.

10. If I had to work nights and weekends, I wouldn’t choose any other team to work with. It’s feels awesome to stand in front of “The Wall” and see all the crazy, amazing, funny, inspiring work that you and your coworkers created. And I’m happy to have shared in the creative process with them.

For us, D-Day is this Wednesday. That’s when the pitch team travels to the mystery location (mystery for you, not for me) and delivers “The Pitch”. Then we’ll have to wait a bit for the client to deliberate and notify the agencies involved of their decision. I’m pretty confident in our work – and all the hard work and creative thinking that went into it all. We’ve produced a crazy amount of awesomeness these past two weeks. I really want to win. But, win or lose, I’ll just be glad when I can go home and enjoy a home-cooked meal. And change the water in my fish bowl.

Me when I had to work all weekend:

Me when I had to work all weekend.

Me the Monday after having to work all weekend:

Me the Monday after having to work all weekend.

Ads are scary.

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Here are some flyers I helped make for our office Halloween party. Simple and sweet. Shout out to Leigh for her awesome art-directing skills.

Side note: I am mad that my team lost at Pictionary. If my team could guess “werewolf” from cat ears and “phantom” from a stick-figure wearing a mask, then we deserved to win. There were cheaters. We were wronged.

Let’s all go to Candyland.

Advertising, Everyday, Rant

Today at work I played a game of Candyland. Yes, that’s how cool my job is. My fellow creatives and I needed a mental break and whipped out this cardboard classic and let loose–well, as much as you can with such a simple game. I mean, have you made a trip down the rainbow pathway to the Candy Castle recently? It could be the most foolproof game in history; I’m almost ashamed to have once found it entertaining. Our game took a total of two minutes. Two minutes is all it took for my friend to make it from the Peppermint Forest, past the Gumdrop Mountains, through the Molasses Swamp, and into the gates of the Candy Castle. The game itself relies on neither skill nor luck–not even chance. I think even an amoeba could play it and win.

Aside from it’s simplicity, there was something else I noticed that disturbed me: they changed the game. The mysterious “they” of course refers to the brains over at Milton Bradley whose sole jobs are to mess with my childhood. To give you a glimpse into the game’s importance to me let me explain that my sister and I used to play Candyland in real life. Basically, we’d pick characters and reenact them in classic toddler role-playing fashion. So these small “changes” completely reject the cornerstones of my childhood fantasy world.

Firstly, Princess Lollipop is no longer Princess Lollipop. She is merely, Lolly. This is a travesty of the highest kind because she was my favorite and I always insisted on playing her. At first, I guessed that perhaps Milton Bradley was trying to make her more “hip” like when they made Dora the Explorer a teenager and gave her long hair and sparkle pumps. But then I realized that poor Lolly wasn’t getting a promotion on the social ladder, her title was actually stripped from her by Queen Frostine who, in attempt to stay young, is now called “Princess Frostine”. On a side note, does that mean she and King Kandy got a divorce? I’d like to play that board game…

Secondly, they removed perhaps one of my favorite–and the cutest–of all the Candyland characters: Jolly. He was plump and purple and utterly ridiculous, but who can argue with that adorable face and those crazy eyes? What did he ever do to deserve a complete removal from the game? The characters don’t even do anything and are purely decorative. This makes no sense, Milton.

Yes, this game is purely a device to teach children color-recognition, but part of me still feels gypped. One of my fellow players couldn’t have said it better, “I won and I’m still mad.”

I encourage everyone to explore the Candyland Wikipedia page to experience more frustration. Click here for that.

By the way, the rights for a Candyland movie have been sold and Adam Sandler is the man behind it. Is this news sweet or sour? You decide. Other than the fact that the game provides next to no starting material for a plot, my only question is what role will Sandler play? Maybe they’ll bring back Jolly…