don’t think, just doodly do

July 17, 2013 by

Dumb Ways to Die, that viral hit with death-wish cuties, swept Cannes. But what won me over were the quotes from  John Mescall, who created this sing-along wonder.

“People do not fall in love with ideas. Execution is everything,”  said Mescall.

execution is everything.

In other words, our ideas don’t matter as much as how we express them.

In other words, it comes down to art.

Do you agree?

“We live in a visual age,” said Mescall at Cannes. “But nothing is more powerful than language used intelligently with artistry.”

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/203132/dumb-ways-to-die-is-charmingly-gruesome.html?print#ixzz2ZEXfpuKn

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writing tips for the criminally inclined

May 2, 2013 by

Great writing takes guts and danger and an edge of crazy. Not for the faint of heart. If you want to plunge into that world, here’s what you need to know.

1.     WRITE DRUNK

Hemingway said, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” Martinis aside, he meant don’t hold back in your first draft. Dump every insane, half-baked, inspired, stupid idea onto the page. Later you can carve it up with the exacto knife.

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 2.     STEAL

In his book, “Steal like an Artist,”  Austin Kleon claims that no original ideas exist. So seek inspiration everywhere: from that pop song, to the Chagall exhibit, to that trailer that blew you away. Don’t be afraid if something’s been done before. Steal, then transform.

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 3.     PUNCH

Forget soft, wimpy words. Seek out action verbs. Make your sentences brief and direct. Use short words—they get into the brain faster. If your sentence starts with “there is” or ‘it is” then, pal, your punch lacks power.

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 4.     FAKE YOUR IDENTITY

Engage in identity theft. Try on other personalities in your writing. Personality inspires word choice, cadence, and can transform something dull into entertainment. Just ask Randall, the guy who turned a film on Honey Badgers into 59 million YouTube hits (and counting)!

  5.     MURDER

Once you’ve spilled your guts onto the page, go in for the kill. Axe those extra words. Strike out adjectives. Murder those ideas that you love, but don’t fit the goals this time. Kill your darlings. Only the strong survive.

What are some of your favorite writing tips?

how to give creative feedback

April 15, 2013 by

“Not only were all of your ideas lame, but you know I hate the color pink!”

So began role-playing for our creative feedback workshop. Yes, this was the “bad” example.

Food Network’s marketing team wanted to hone their communication skills. So there we were, two groups of thirty marketing and creative folks, crowded near the crackling fireplace at the Maritime Hotel, role playing, creative briefing, and — between laughs over lukewarm coffee and cold danish — applying a new process for creative feedback.

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We call it CRAFT.

C   Criteria

R   respect

A   actionable

F   focus

T    truth + tact

As one person put it at the end of the day, “The team at Tooth and Nail brought together our creative and strategy teams.  Their leadership, encouragement and guidance provided us with the tools to continue to produce great creative work.”

Giving feedback is as much an art as writing and designing.

What’s your favorite feedback story?

why words matter

April 13, 2013 by

“I said the same thing, but with different words.”

unleash your writing genius

April 2, 2012 by

Hola from Barcelona!

One of our favorite cities for architecture and inspiration.

When we weren’t cruising the city, we were soaking up the sights and sounds of Promax Europe. Including the awesome Reep One. The conference was jamming!

Then we shared our tips for unleashing your writing genius. First step–find what inspires you . . . (click the picture to see the graphics and spots from our presentation).

Bare your assets

July 6, 2011 by
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The room was buzzing at our Promax session in New York.
Were we in the buff? Nah.
We were stripping spots down to their bare essentials:
Message, Ideas, and Words.
The pictures were just a tease.
Click the bra to see what we showed.
Give it time to load. Chock full of fun spots!

the sweet smell of turpentine

July 6, 2011 by

Linda and I both get giddy at the smell of turpentine. No, we’re not sniffing the stuff; those spirits evoke memories of art school and long days diving into vats of paint and clay and our inner creative worlds.

So when Artmorpheus asked us to give a workshop on branding at Mass College of Art we couldn’t wait to roll up our paint-splattered T’s. On our way to their high-tech auditorium we strolled past studios crammed with paintings, sculptures, and print-making. Ah, the smell of it.

Usually artists are allergic to the B word–they don’t want anyone fencing them in. But we explored how every art has its discipline, and branding can be a kind of art. If you strike the right attitude.

Write with 3 Balls

June 28, 2010 by

This year the Promax/BDA conference in LA brought in great speakers from around the world and smashed last year’s attendance numbers. We felt honored to be included.

We had a blast presenting “Write with 3 Balls” to the audience of marketing executives, and they returned the feeling. Loved seeing that SRO crowd. As promised, here’s what we showed. Enjoy and please let us know what you think!

[The presentation is packed with good stuff and videos–please give it a few moments to load up.]

Promax Presentation

Add New Post ‹ sharpen your tools — WordPress, posted with vodpod

cooking lessons

June 22, 2010 by

Ever have an over-achieving sibling? Then you probably know that being born under the shadow of greatness can stink. Just look at Cain and Able, Jimmy and Billy Carter, or Marcia and Jan Brady.

My point is this, when one sibling is a star the other kids can have a tough time keeping up.

On the other hand when family dynasties work, they’re a thing of beauty; The Medici’s. The Kennedy’s. Venus and Serena Williams.

So when Scripps, parent company of Food Network, decided to birth a second channel dedicated to food and cooking, they faced more than the usual launch challenges. They had to find the sweet spot for viewers, advertisers, and affiliates, of course. But they also needed to create a sibling Channel to Food Network that carried a distinct personality without stealing Food Network’s thunder or encroaching on its loyal niche.

And they wanted to launch the network in five months.

It might have been impossible but Scripps put the seasoned pros from Food Network on the case; Michael Smith, Susie Fogelson, Patalia Tate, Katie Ilch, Joanne Harmon, and team. They knew to build Cooking Channel from the personality up. At the foundation was a distinct point of view, clear attitude, and language that resonated with the new audience.

Given our deep love of Food, and our passion for branding, being invited into the new network delivery room was a pinch-me moment for the Tooth+Nail team.  Early on we explored personality directions, clarified the target audience, honed in on a single voice, and crafted brand guidelines, language, and a tagline that captured the battle cry of all Food People, “Stay Hungry.”

Foundation in place, internal and external teams were off and running. The new network flourished: affiliate and ad sales marketing, graphics, packaging, the launch campaign, topicals, and the million other details. Creative partners included Leroy and Clarkson for the image campaign, Trollback and Co. for on-air graphics.

Enjoy the collected works of the Cooking Channel team. Think of it as a birth announcement. We’re so very proud.

Food Network, meet your younger sister, Cooking Channel. She’s so cute, and just the right kind of feisty.

aim true

May 31, 2010 by

Promax Boot Camp preview


Every award-winning spot shares one thing in common.

You’re probably thinking big budget, but not so fast. What’s the one single thing award-winning-wows-around-the-water-cooler spots have?

They have a single message. One point. One idea.

As Grandpa Button used to say, “You can’t hit two targets with one arrow.” It only looks easy. Nailing that single message takes plenty of practice so let’s give it a go.

Here’s a kick-ass spot. You tell us the single message. We’ll bet four to one you get the answer.

What is the main message?

A. OMG, there really IS a water shortage!

B. All my voice-overs should have a French accent.

C. Axe=Sex

Think you’ve got the hang of it–good. Next, how do you decide what that single message should be? That, my friend, is for Boot Camp.

At ease.