This gamified sweepstakes site created via Catapult found itself on the Creativity Top 20 list and won a Reggie award, and not just because the game avoided activation by arcane numerical or QR codes. Instead, rockpaperskittles.com used the Skittles themselves and modified facial recognition software to turn the candy into digital game pieces. A version of Rock Paper Scissors with five variables instead of three, cool animated avatars that protected kids’ privacy, and a $50,000 grand prize, it also happened to be a blast to play. And once a bag of Skittles is opened to play a game you know what kids do? Eat the Skittles and then buy more.
Can commercials work too well? While I worked at JWT on Foster's Effie-winning “Australian for Beer” campaign, these almost did. In the United States, SABMiller distributes Foster’s and the ads were so effective that bars were asking distributors to take away their Miller Genuine Draft taps and replace them with Foster’s. Awk-ward. Nevertheless, it was blast to shoot an underwater beer commercial on the Great Barrier Reef.
Born of a keen insight—that kids feel Kraft Singles is their cheese—this commercial, created while at JWT, dramatized that emotional connection and sold tons of cheese, literally. It also won a fancy pants European animation award at the Festival international du film d'animation d'Annecy and caught the attention of Cartoon Network. Years later, Red and Ned still have fans on YouTube and around the world via the web.
Kernel Season’s is America’s #1 brand of popcorn seasoning. Its aficionados are known to experiment by combining flavors to create their perfect popcorn. This website gives visitors the ability to “virtually rehearse consuming the product,” as a principal at an advertising research company wrote, by mixing and matching flavors online. It also allows them to share their personalized blend via social channels.
What’s the advantage of the virtual rehearsal? It fires the mirror neurons of the brain, which should predispose the visitor to experiencing Kernel Season’s firsthand—i.e. they’ll buy. Plus, it’s fun. The site even gives each flavor combination its own goofy name.
Working on a new vehicle launch was an advertising dream come true for me, especially because the vehicle was the incredibly cool International LoneStar. Part Class 8 truck. Part street rod. The LoneStar’s exuberant styling announced that it wasn’t just another transportation conveyance burped forth from a wind tunnel. The LoneStar was a badass, and the launch ads created while I was a CD at Bagby made no apologies. In fact, they celebrated it.
If drywall were just as strong but 30% lighter, what would that mean to those who install it? Over the course of a day, a week or a month, how much less weight would they lift? It begged the question, “If you’re not lifting Sheetrock Brand UltraLight Panels, what are you lifting?” It was great to be invited by Gyro to write some copy for the print campaign, as well as the entire UltraLight brand launch dealer playbook.
This campaign, developed at Element 79, allowed Harris Bank to approach an audience that is used to being in charge: individuals who just sold their companies and are suddenly very well off. It also highlighted that with newfound wealth comes the opportunity to lose it—unless the proper expertise is sought.
It’s not every day that a distillery opens in Evanston, Illinois. In fact, until FEW Spirits began operations, it hadn't happened in the hometown of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Charged with creating a website for the only small-batch liquors good enough to tell the rest of the nation, “We’re sorry for Prohibition,” Wilburn Thomas was kind enough to ask me to help create this award-winning White City themed effort as well as write the copy on the liquor bottles themselves.
2012 American Package Design Award: Label Design
2012 Neenah UnShow Competition: Label Design
2012 San Francisco World Spirits Packaging Design Awards, Silver: Label Design
2012 Package Design Magazine (Cover): Few Spirits
2012 Thedieline.com, “Trending: Hipster Edition:” Few Spirits
2011 W³ Awards, Gold: Website
2011 Davey Award, Gold: Website
2012 Communicator Award: Website
The company known for the invention of Bubble Wrap is a sustainability company. No, really, it is. This website was created to make its case. Even Bubble Wrap’s signature plastic pillows allow smaller parcels and more efficiently packed trucks. In turn, the carbon footprint of every box shrinks. The company is also creating many new forms of packaging, some of which are grown. In addition to web content, I wrote the company’s 10/14 Sustainability Report.
Solixir makes all-natural functional beverages that compete against traditional energy drinks from the likes of Coke and Pepsi. In other words, they are David fighting multiple Goliaths. To succeed, they eschewed the athletic field and targeted the workplace with transit, outdoor and web advertising featuring brain-dead cubicle dwellers known as the Working Dead. Actors were even hired to portray the Working Dead in Chicago's Loop during rush hours. Overall, sales for the only known antidote to the zombie-like condition steadily increased after the campaign’s April, 2014 debut. In fact, many businesses directly approached Solixir to have the beverages stocked in their offices.
No one likes to rake leaves. This spot, created while at Campbell Mithun, leveraged that human truth and throws in an old vaudeville joke for good measure. Adweek named it a “Best Spot” and wrote, “The novelty of the X-ray visuals grabs the viewer’s attention, and the off-beat humor holds it—which means Toro gets a hearing for its sales pitch.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Long known as a recruiter of top-tier corporate executives, Spencer Stuart wanted a campaign to attract the next generation of talent. The goal was to fill their database with interesting up-and-comers, and these ads that appeared in the likes of The Wall Street Journal and Forbes did just that. Built on the idea that the most capable candidates had compelling backstories, the campaign reached out to kindred spirits and asked them, “What’s next?” True fact: the snowman ad was about my wife, who really did break the world record for the tallest snowman with her friends while at Dartmouth. Sometimes, it helps to write what you know.
You gotta love more power, and I loved it when Toro dropped the biggest engine they could in their leading lawn tractor. This commercial highlighted the horsepower infusion and created a groundswell of demand for the tractor. There were even posters and replicas of the hot rod tractor. What you never saw on camera was that the customizer pinstriped the words “Haul Grass” between the rear fenders.
Smokers know that smoking kills and they resent being told as much. Instead, these outdoor boards prompt smokers to explore ways the habit creates absentee parents, of which death is just one. The result was an over-20% increase in calls to the Illinois Tobacco Quitline.
Ironically, Baker’s previous website failed to demonstrate the school’s virtues. That was remedied by making the Baker experience palpable through words and extensive photography. The result was this site heralded by Chicago Parent magazine as a model for how private schools should market themselves. After it went live, the school enjoyed a strong applicant pool with waiting lists in multiple grades with an increased enrollment of almost 15 percent.
In a category where competitors’ print ads rely heavily on the borrowed interest of celebrity chefs or expensive looking architecture, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet employs neither. Instead, the brand was repositioned as uncompromising in every way and the equipment was presented in a manner that allowed it to own the great outdoors. Instead of potential customers seeing an ad and saying, “That doesn’t look like my home,” they now say, “That could be my backyard.”
Duxler treats its customers like family, and they know a thing or two about family. In fact, the company has been family-owned since 1926. Since then, the auto repair chain has provided service and value superior to even upscale dealerships. This campaign let customers and potential customers know that they would always be treated well, and would always get the family discount.
I'm not a big fan of sharing new business pitch materials, but these two print pieces—featuring Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and created when Bagby pursued the Blackhawks—proved remarkably prescient. Indeed, had this work ever seen the light of day, it would have beautifully anticipated the Hawks’ first Stanley Cup championship.
Every weekend across the nation, folks tend their yards while listening to America’s pastime on the radio. This spot leveraged that familiar soundtrack and coupled it with a memorable feat to underscore the extraordinary performance of the Wheel Horse lawn tractor. And yes, the tractor really did it. I was there.
Ladder Up is a not-for-profit dedicated to helping hard-working families climb above the poverty line. This site, created while I was a CD at Bagby, provided a portal for those who require assistance in getting their Earned Income Tax Credit via TAP (Tax Assistance Program) or who want to learn financial skills with LIFT (Life-Improving Financial Tools). It also answered the question, “When was the last time you heard an accountant say, ‘It’s on the house’?” A comprehensive identity program was developed alongside the new website.
Ashley Furniture recognized a human truth—we all hate buying new mattresses. So they banished sketchy salespeople, high-pressure tactics and giant inflatable rooftop gorillas and in their place created Zzz’s by Ashley. More of a sleep spa than a mattress store, this site captured Zzz’s more enlightened retail experience for a web audience. I also created “The Nightstand,” a sleep and wellness blog, as well as its content at launch.
This may come as a shock to you, but not a lot of creative directors or copywriters have much knowledge of nuclear medicine and imaging machines. Nevertheless, the folks at Gyro, knowing that I have interests in medicine and education, and that both my parents were doctors, turned to me to concept and write brochures for GE Healthcare’s most technologically advanced medical scanners. The Discovery NM 630 and NM/CT 670 are important for they scan faster and more clearly than the competition while cutting patients’ radiation doses in half. To be successful, my copy had to be as precise as the machines themselves for the physicians who read it, yet still engaging to the hospital administrators who would ultimately cut the checks.
There was a sign in the lobby of the late, great agency Element 79 that read, “Facts Aren’t Insights.” The cornerstone of this commercial is an insight—people don’t like eating leftovers. It also leverages a truth—people enjoy watching things blow up. Together, they worked to create an economical yet memorable ad that presented consumers with an easy and delicious alternative to nuking leftovers in the microwave. The commercial also promoted a 6-percent increase in sales.