Need an Advertising Agency…or a Marketing Firm?

Sometimes people ask if we can help them “market their company.” The answer is always, “YES,” but then we need to know if they have the “business” part figured out yet, and are they ready for promoting it?

Marketing firms help companies sell goods and services. They’re in the business of working through the details and different aspects of the product. Marketing firms deal in data, trends, and information. We’ve all heard of the Four Ps: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion, and marketers look at ALL of that to determine how to increase revenue for the company. I like to think of Marketing as the BUSINESS of selling.

Advertising is the ART of selling. Advertising is dependent on marketing — knowing the Product, it’s Price and the Place we are selling it; but advertisers are UNIQUELY qualified to craft the “final P” — PROMOTION.  As advertisers, our job is to GET ATTENTION in a very crowded and loud market:“Hey, look at me!!”  Then we must quickly prove the RELEVANCE to the very busy customer: “You need me…you know you do, and the reason is plain to see.” Next, we have to COMPELL TO ACTION: “You should check this out now before you forget and miss out.”  Finally, we HAVE TO STICK IN THEIR MIND:  You’re never going to forget me, girl.”  It’s a journey that takes place in seconds, and it’s an emotional one. People BUY on emotion, and then justify the decision they made on logic. Emotion involves language and visual stimulation — it’s an art.

At Marbury Creative Group, we understand Marketing, and appreciate it greatly. It’s critical that we know the business that our clients are in, and have a clear vision of their target market. We can write a marketing plan…but there are so many people who do it quicker (and better) than we do. As an advertising agency — a true creative group — we choose to stay in our lane and do what most “marketers” can’t do. We develop concepts and campaigns that gain entrance to the consumer’s mind, because we have made an emotional impression on them.  Maybe we’ve entertained them. Maybe we’ve shocked or surprised them. Maybe we’ve made them see their potential more clearly. Those are all emotions, and remember…people buy on emotion, and justify their purchase on logic. Once we connect, and that buyer makes a decision to purchase, THEN it’s up to the other three Ps to help them justify their decision.  Is the product really going to do what I now feel like it’s going to do for me? Can I get it where and when I want it? Is it worth that price?

Our most successful projects result from client marketing departments that have “teed up” the research and deep knowledge of the product and their consumer. We love working from marketing plans. It’s great when clients come to us saying, “Here’s what we want people to know…we just need help saying it so they’ll listen.” We are blown away by how perfect or beneficial their product or service sounds, and then they are blown away by the way we can get consumers to notice. Synergy is a beautiful thing.

Are you looking for more revenue for your company? If you have a great Product, Price and Place to sell your product, we’ll make sure your prospective customers are going to KNOW IT through Promotion. If your 4 Ps need a little work, we work seamlessly with our marketing firm partners to build and execute the entire marketing plan.  If you already have a relationship with a marketing firm, ask yourself if they are doing the best in terms of the ART of selling your product. It may be that you need to bring in an agency like ours to help you “Tell it Better!”®

 

A Valentine’s Day Appreciation

It’s Valentine’s Day, and everyone’s sending out messages to people they truly hold dear. Our client base is the most important thing to us – so we figured we’d share what we like most about a few of our current clients….

Allinial Global

We LIKE that Allinial connects independent accounting firms across the globe.
We LOVE that Jack and Rosa are so connected and organized about every project.

AT&T IoT Device Network

We LIKE the amazing technology AT&T provides for the Internet of Things.
We LOVE the Conference Calls of Things with Steve and Brad.

Au Dela

We LIKE working with such an energetic and stylish brand of hair extensions.
We LOVE Jennifer’s extensive vision and spirit in bringing the brand to life.

Bennett Thrasher

We LIKE their groundbreaking approach to collaborating with tax and audit clients.
We LOVE the creative thinking of Erinn and Allie in a field of tax and audit.

BrandBank

We LIKE their BE BOLD approach to business banking.
We LOVE the quietly quirky quality way that Margaret and Tricia handle the marketing.

Clear Concepts

We LIKE the clear approach they bring to health benefits for schools.
We LOVE that we can always have a clear conversation with Eric – because he’s our neighbor!

DeKalb Medical

We LIKE the way they are “With their patients all the way.”
We LOVE that Cheryl and Kelly are as passionate about marketing as they are about their patients.

Georgia Gwinnett College

We LIKE that they are changing the game in the traditional secondary education model.
We LOVE the teamwork between Demetrios, Sloan, Kristi, Mendi, and Mark and our group.

Halocarbon

We LIKE their commitment of using Chemistry to turn limits into breakthroughs.
We LOVE the chemistry that we have with Sidd & David, and they way they challenge us to break limits.

Halyard Health

We LIKE that they Care Forward in all medical devices that they make.
We LOVE the way Pam, Chris and the team move marketing forward to build revenue.

Mizkan

We LIKE all the different flavors they bring to life as the world’s largest manufacturer of vinegar.
We LOVE Dave’s friendly and thoughtful strategy sessions.

North Fulton Hospital

We LIKE that they specialize in you.
We LOVE the way Lindsey continues to move the hospital forward as she moves forward.

Red Hare Brewing

We LIKE that they are one of the top ten breweries in the US.
We LOVE the way Chris, Bobby and Roger are open to whatever creative ideas we brew up.

Riptide Restoration

We LIKE the way they turn the tide on disasters.
We LOVE the way Greg and Charlie are passionate about serving people in time of need.

Square 1 Art

We LIKE that  Square 1 Art always starts with the art.
We LOVE how Jane and Becky build up and affirm the ARTIST in every child.

Swift Currie

We LIKE the way they are on the brink of innovation in legal services.
We LOVE the way Ashley & Michelle can make legal marketing fun!

Treetop Quest

We LIKE the way they are bringing outdoor family fun to new heights.
We LOVE that Sara & Jackie are always down-to-earth – even when swinging from the trees!

THC, Inc.

We LIKE that they make difficult situations easier for clients and their community.
We LOVE that Michael, Joe, Steve and Kelly are so genuine in the way they get things done.

 

3 Great New Year’s Resolutions (For Your Brand)

It’s the New Year, and like each year before it, 2017 brings new challenges. But we’re not talking about keeping your fitness goal or eating less donuts – we’re talking about what your brand needs to do in order to be heard in the increasingly deafening advertising landscape. As our friends from McCulloch+Company said in their guest blog (LINK TO BLOG HERE), there is so much media out there – a new platform seems to pop up every day! As such, trying to establish a meaningful connection with your customers can seem a little overwhelming. Take these three factors into account, and with a little time and money investment, your brand can soar in 2017.

  1. Keep It Social – Social media has come a long way since the days of MySpace (remember that?). One of the biggest changes of the past year came in social algorithms: Facebook and Twitter now sort their users’ news feeds by relevance to the user rather than by when they were posted. This means that posts with more engagement are seen first by users, and less engaging posts might not be seen at all! To combat this, you might want to think about investing some budget in promoting your posts so that more users see and engage with them – doing so is becoming necessary, not optional. Establishing a consistent posting schedule and keeping an eye out for events and trends that relate to your brand help to make more engaging posts. Engagement is the name of the game now – it’s important to know which messages appeal to whom. Maybe your ad for Product A doesn’t appeal to Target B – they might love Product C… which Target D hates! The solution is to divide your target audience into segments, usually by their actions, preferences, and demographics. Then, with these segments in mind, develop unique messages for each audience – from differently worded Facebook ads to unique Google search landing pages. Catering to each segment individually means more specific targeting, which can lead to higher engagement. This is true for email campaigns as well.
  2. Going Into 2017? Bring Your Website – Now that most people prefer a Google search over the phone book (remember those!?), it’s increasingly important that your website shows up when people search for terms related to what you do. We know we’re a broken record on this, but it’s 2017 – your website needs to be in a content management system (CMS) so it’s always current, and it MUST be responsive. As of last year, 60% of all internet use is coming from mobile devices – and 40% of users will switch to a different site if their first result is not mobile-friendly.1 Consumers see responsive websites as a given now, and if your site does not display correctly on their mobile device, they just won’t use it! It’s as simple as that. In addition, Google pushes mobile-responsive sites closer to the beginning of their search results, and is beginning to penalize those sites that are NOT responsive.
  3. The Key is the Message – Your message is the most important component of your brand, so it’s a good idea to give it a look over in 2017. Have you added services or products recently that might change your message? Has your strategy or focus changed? If so, you may want to think about updating your tagline or messaging to reflect these changes. The message also has to be up-to-date with current trends; how does your target talk nowadays? What are their opinions and preferences? If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your brand look, the start of a new year is the perfect time to take a look the mirror!

2017 brings several new challenges, but it also brings plenty of new opportunities for growth. Try reevaluating your brand for the new year with these three factors in mind, and use them as a springboard to think about how your brand can improve over time. With any luck, these will be some New Year’s resolutions that you keep!

1 https://www.sweor.com/blog-posts/8-staggering-statistics-about-responsive-web-design

5 Media Trends to Watch in 2017

We’re excited to have our long time media partner, McCulloch+ Company, as our guest blogger. We have worked with McCulloch for over a decade because of their media strategy and out of the box thinking for our clients. They have helped us take our creative ideas and implement them in unique and innovative ways in the media space.

Thanks to Neil Pace and Scott Christopher for their joint contribution to this blog. I would read carefully, they know what they are talking about!

- Shelly Hoffman, Partner

The world of media is always changing, and it’s nearly impossible to keep up with it all. From social media to “the Internet of Things” and wearables, it seems like every week there is a new media tactic that a brand can leverage. Luckily for you, the team here at McCulloch+Company is on top of it! And since it’s the beginning of a new year, we’re joining the fray of all leading minds in advertising and making our predictions for 2017. Here are 5 trends we’ll be watching in 2017 and how brands can utilize them to garner more impact.

12Days-3The “Year of Mobile (maybe)” – Is 2017 the year that we can finally declare it to be the “Year of Mobile?” It seems so. Mobile device usage has been steadily for increasing the past few years. We’ve seen it happen in bits and pieces, particularly when it comes to shopping. “Showrooming” – the act of using mobile devices to compare online prices while in a brick and mortar location – is where it began. But people would still go back to their desktops to make the final purchase, so advertising primarily on desktops still made sense. Now mobile usage is far outweighing desktop, even in the home. In fact, it’s expected that sometime in 2017, smartphone ownership will surpass desktop with some users owning only a smartphone. And when you consider that technology is now capable of serving ads on mobile devices based on customers’ desktop activity, it becomes clear: if you’re not focusing on mobile users, you’re missing a ton of potential customers.

Outstream Video – Video units have historically driven a higher engagement and clickthrough rates than standard banners, and therefore are always in high demand. There’s been a push to create additional video units since advertisers love the results they get. Until recently, video meant “instream video,” where your ad would be before or after premium video content like a news report. Now we have “outstream video,” where video ads play outside of video content. You may have seen these in between paragraphs of text or – much cooler looking – floating on the corner of the page as you scroll through content. We’ve not had a chance to use these units yet, but we’re hearing engagement on them is even higher than standard video.

Live Video – Last year, live video exploded with the launch of Facebook Live and it shows no signs of stopping this year. Instagram and Twitter both integrated live video capabilities into their platforms late last year. eMarketer predicts that live video will garner a primetime-sized audience of over 10 million viewers this year. Brands can benefit beyond ordinary content marketing with live video that would generate more excitement with more timely messaging. Use it for a new product launch, a Q&A with an executive, or a behind the scenes video. As far as paid advertising, we think sponsorships and brand inclusion by influencers are only the beginning.

Toyota-VRVirtual Reality – We know, we know… everyone’s been watching this one for a few years. But we think virtual reality will finally come to the masses this year. More devices are hitting the marketplace – you may have seen some of the Samsung TV ads over the holidays – and with it adoption among consumers is expected to grow, especially as the price points drop. More publishers are offering VR options as well like USA Today’s VRtually There weekly news series. Toyota is sponsoring it initially and running one of the custom “cubemercials.” It really showcases how this technology allows brands to create fully immersive experiences for customers.

Location targeting via technology and billboards – With advancements in technology and the prevalence of smart phones, there have been major improvements in targeting capability. One way this is happening is through beacon technology and billboards. We watched this trend last year, but expect it to advance even further in 2017. How does it work? The billboard companies place beacons on their billboard; if a consumer drives past and has location services on and push notifications enabled, they could be served a mobile notification. If it seems too “Big Brother”, don’t worry – it’s all anonymous, yet extremely effective. This is an excellent way to give more life to an out-of-home campaign and integrate mobile activation for brands.

Again, these are just five of the trends we predict for 2017. It’s only January, so there’s no telling what is on the horizon in the world of media options. If you find you need some expert media assistance from one of Marbury’s trusted partners, we have no doubt they’d recommend McCulloch+Company to assist you. We live and breathe media, and are laser-focused on achieving success for our clients.

 

 

 

How Not to Be a Robot

How often have you walked up to a cashier, stepped into a business meeting, or called customer service ready for a fight? If you’re like me, brand interactions without confrontation are pleasant surprises rather than the norm. That’s not great new for you as a customer, but it’s a huge opportunity for you as a business owner, manager, or decision maker.

Time to recognize that their customers are people. You can beat your competitors (and cause more than a few smiles) by treating them like it. Why not start with the most human and direct channel for communicating with your customers— social media?

Nail down these four metrics for success on social media and you’ll grow a following of brand promoters as well profit chart that will look great on a quarterly report.

1. Build trust and know thy customer.

Before you can build a connection with anyone, you have to know them. Facebook Audience Insights is a great tool to learn more about your customers demographically. Social tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social offer analytics to show you which of your posts are resonating with your audiences. And, on a more personal and authentic level, actively engaging with your customers will help you get to know them so that you can better serve them. Formalize these insights in brand standards and audience profiles to engage with them in ways that are more meaningful for them and more profitable for you.

2. Work together to build value. 

Create content that is useful and helpful for your audience, rather than simply promoting your latest product. And to that end, don’t only post about your product and its uses – post lighthearted but relatable content that doesn’t necessarily relate to your brand, but is relevant to your audience.

If you sell insurance, consider yourself a resource for mitigating risk in all areas of your customers’ lives. If you sell CRM implementation solutions, how could your customers look to you to simplify processes and remedy pain-points in other areas of their business? When you solve people’s problems rather than sell them products, they might start to trust you. And we’re all more comfortable spending money with people we trust.

Communicate on an emotional level.

We are emotional creatures with logical justifications. You’ve probably heard of the golden circle from Simon Sinek. His point is so applicable to social media—communicate first from “why” you do what you do and your customers will justify their loyalty to you with “what” you do and “how” you do it. On social, this means telling your brand story, celebrating customer successes, sharing your passion for your industry, engage in philanthropy that matters to you, and speak from the core values that guide your business.

Consider your brand as a person.

We humans connect with our own kind better than organizations or bureaucracies. What does that mean for your business? Do things a (good) human would do. Be candid with your consumers and interact with them in real time. If your business makes a mistake, own it—quickly and publicly. If your customers include you in their social media lives, celebrate that and engage with them in real time. Recognize the power each customer has to impact your business (positively or negatively) online.

There you have it. Four metrics to start measuring your success on social media. Who knows? You might find they ripple out into other areas of your business as well. Because no matter what your accountants tell you, your customers aren’t metrics, profits, or trends. They’re people. And it’s more profitable, more strategic, and more fun to treat them like it.

It may sound cliché, but authentic communication really does work best in social media. It’s pretty easy to tell when someone’s heart isn’t in what they’re writing – make sure yours is immediately evident!

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Check-Up for Chicks Spotlight

Our client, North Fulton Hospital, had an idea for a program that would educate women on breast health and promote check-ups. It would feature tips and uplifting content related to breast health, and become a safe place for women to connect. It needed a name that emphasized the necessity of mammograms as well as its female focus. With all these factors in mind, Check-Up for Chicks was born.

Check-Up for Chicks (CUFC) is a valuable, affirming resource for women that has evolved from breast health into a program for all things women’s health. With Marbury Creative Group’s assistance, CUFC was rebranded and additional strategy including social media was implemented for the program. This social media focus enables CUFC to target women in the North Fulton community and provide them easy access to local health resources. In accordance with this new, broader vision, Check-Up for Chicks was expanded to include health and prevention tips, recipes, aspirational quotes and information on healthy living.

Check-Up for Chicks has sponsored and hosted several events to promote woman’s health, including fundraisers to support Susan G. Komen, and events encouraging women to get mammograms and breast exams. We continue to reach thousands of women every day, and CUFC remains an invaluable resource for women’s health and an advocate for early detection and check-ups.

Are you scared of the agency monster?

About 2 years ago, we went to go meet with a potential client that was a well-established organization with a lot of “agency needs.” They were a great prospect for us, as we had experience in their industry which we very much enjoyed. They asked us to come meet with a few members of the marketing team to give a capabilities presentation. A very friendly and competent group, they seemed like they could be great clients. After our presentation, their COO said “I am really impressed with you all…really impressed. You certainly seem to understand our business and your approach and creativity is exactly what we are looking for.” I am smiling from ear to ear thinking “We got it, they like us, they really like us!” Then he says, “but do we have to sign a retainer agreement to work with you?” and I paused.MonsterImage

This was clearly not a reflection on their organization but on the advertising industry as a whole.  I thought to myself, “you only asked that question because you have been burned BADLY in the past.” That is, in fact what happened to them. They were very excited to hear that we bill in a variety of ways including project basis, or monthly plans over the course of a larger project. Of course, we have retainer agreements with clients (which work very nicely), but not every client is set up for retainers, especially out of the gate.

This client has now been with us for over 2 years, and turned out to be the wonderful clients I thought they would be at the very first meeting; however, I continue to wonder…how many companies have this same concern? More than you think.

Advertising Agencies

It’s true, agencies get a bad rap. Not completely unfair since some have gained a reputation for being slow to respond, too expensive, and set in their ways. Every client is different, and an agency is only as valuable as they are flexible.

Flexible Billing

  1. Retainers – many of our larger clients work with a retainer agreement. They have an allocated number of hours each month that we set aside for them – and at a discount (their favorite part). They don’t have to wait on an estimate or formal write up. We can move quickly, be even more responsive and ultimately save them hours.
  2. Project Billing – small-to-mid-size companies typically prefer project basis billing. They can budget per project and know exactly what it is going to cost. This works well for our clients that have fluctuating marketing needs. They may have a set number of large projects each year, or projects may come from different departments and various budgets.
  3. Phased billing – for larger projects, we are always happy to spread billing out over the span of the project. This could be broken down by months, or phases of the project such as strategy, creative, and production. We often work with the client to figure out what works best for them and their budget cycle.

A lot of companies are SCARED of jumping in with an agency, because they are worried about getting locked in to a retainer; or they wonder if it’s worth the money for one or two projects. My advice? Start slow and find your comfort zone. That is how we started with our friends described in this blog. After a few small projects, they saw the value we could bring to their team and now they trust us, know how we will work to make sure they are happy, and have seen significant increase in their business.

There is a place for agencies. But it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.” An agency can bring a whole new perspective, inspiration and creativity to your company. They can truly impact your business and your revenue, but make sure it is with an agency that is flexible and willing to build up over time.

Please don’t be scared of the agency monster. Some agencies are sweet and cuddly, like us! They can not only make your job A LOT easier, but also expand your marketing efforts in amazing ways.

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Digital v. Offset Printing

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY! Remember the radio commercials where the announcer would start off speaking very loudly, with the last “Sunday” being yelled at you? Well, that type of marketing works for some – others find humorous or emotional marketing to be more effective. Print marketing is the same way. Some folks don’t really care how well the piece is designed, what colors are used, or whether there is white space that allows your message to breathe. (I won’t go into whether Comic Sans or Papyrus fonts are used… that is for another blog entry.) I’m here to tell you that print marketing really does matter, and it is an extension of your company’s perception. How do you want your customers/potential customers to perceive your business? Are you in business to make the world a better place, or just make a buck?

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So, what is the difference between Digital vs. Offset Printing, and what are they?
Offset printing (otherwise known as traditional printing) is the printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. Digital printing (which has been referred to as a glorified color copy but is really much more than that today) is a method in which digital based content is applied directly to a surface (usually, but not limited to, paper).

Digital Printing
Digital printing began to receive a wider acceptance in the commercial printing world in the late 1990’s (remember the “indigo”?). There are no metal plates required, making low quantities and quicker turnaround times feasible – even as quickly as same day. The unique ability that digital printing has is that it allows you to have variable data. This includes not only text, but graphics as well, which can be customized PER PIECE for a personal marketing experience.

Digital Pros

  • quicker turnaround with less setup
  • cost effective for lower quantities (typically less than 500)
  • allows for variable data and graphics
  • less expensive for smaller quantities
  • hard copy proof is exactly what the finished piece will look like

Digital Cons

  • sometimes give you streaks from toner lines in solid areas
  • ink is baked on top of paper and will crack when folded
  • limited paper stock sizes, textures and colors
  • consistent color accuracy typically not available

Offset Printing
Offset printing has a strong command of the industry mainly due to the control of color. Have you ever heard of “Coca-Cola Red”? Well, there is good reason for that. The Coca-Cola Company uses a very specific ink formula (known as a “spot” color) that allows consistency whenever their red is printed. Yes, it costs more, but the color of their red is just as important as their mark. Offset printing quality is also superior, allowing you to not only have different line screens that produce sharp results, but also a much wider variety of substrates (paper stocks) that can allow your per-piece cost to be much cheaper in higher quantities. Offset printing is really the only option for large quantities since the presses can print around 18,000 sheets per hour.

Offset Pros

  • superior quality with sharper images
  • printers can match any color exactly – around the world
  • allows for spot (Pantone) colors for exact color matching
  • liquid ink is absorbed into paper and reacts better when folded
  • larger size sheet sizes – up to 38×50
  • cost per piece is much lower with larger quantities

Offset Cons

  • setup can much longer (plates, proofs and drying)
  • proof is provided on exact paper stock or accurate representation when specialty paper is used
  • variable data capabilities cannot match digital

So, why did I write on this?
The designer part of me always chooses the quality side of printing. It takes a lot of time and effort to come up with a good design and strong message, so the delivery should be just as powerful. The former-business-owner side of me might choose cheap materials to maximize profits. But at what expense? The rule for me is “will this piece ever be printed again, or is it part of family of printed items?” If the answer is yes, then the reprint needs to match the original perfectly – mainly in brand colors and logo. There is nothing worse that having a series of newsletters or postcards come to your mailbox that you happen to save, and realizing that the colors don’t match between them. Believe me, people notice.

Most folks take time to make sure their socks match when they leave the house each day, and check the mirror to make sure things are in place. Well, your marketing materials should reflect that same image. If you don’t really care about things that personify your character, then by all means, go for the cheapest/fastest every time.

With digital printing, colors can shift depending on whether it’s raining. Humidity can greatly affect the technology and give you different results from a piece that was printed a week or month ago. If you ever plan to have a piece reprinted, the odds of you getting the colors to match the original set of materials are almost zero. It’s like making a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. The quality will only get worse each time.

p.s. Please, please, please don’t ever get your business cards digitally printed. It screams “I’m cheap and I don’t care, now what can I do for your business”. Just poke me in the eye and get it over with!

With Love,
Johnny

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Is Looking Back an Olympic Sport?

[If So, I’ve Got a Gold Medal Today]

Can you believe the Atlanta Olympic Games were held 20 years ago? I guess I can’t deny the length of time any longer. My previous agency won the bid to design and produce the daily newspaper for the athletes,

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called The Daily Olympian.  As the art director, I was responsible foroverseeing the design team, driving the layout and keeping us on schedule while photographers brought in amazing images from all over town. Meanwhile, the stable of writers worked feverishly with the editors to provide engaging stories of each day’s events. The pace was brutal, with little room for error; but it was fun, rewarding and unforgettable.

During those 35 straight 12 – 18 hour days, I learned a few things about myself… and life in general, that you may find entertaining. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. A Mac in a PC Box is still a Mac
The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) requested our order for the equipment we needed to publish the Daily Olympian every day. We would be producing it 100% on computers, which was relatively revolutionary at the time . When ACOG saw that we wanted Macintosh Computers to do the layout for the the Daily Olympian, they panicked a little — IBM was the sponsor for the Games. So, they directed us to accomplish our task on IBM PCs! Keep in mind, this was 1996, and Quark Xpress on a PC was just not a reliable option (although better than PageMaker!). So after some serious convincing, ACOG relented and said that we could use Macs, but put them in IBM PC “boxes” – to prevent a sponsor walking through the newsroom and seeing an Apple Computer logo anywhere. We considered that, and ended up determining that even just the screen view would give it away, and that it probably made the most sense to just keep the Macs out of sight. Whew… thank you, Lord! We got approval to use the Macs, but it felt like we were real “renegades.

2. I used to drive as fast as the Internet.My shift began around noon and ended roughly 12 hours later, as the last file was being transmitted via modem to the web printer in Stone Mountain. That process took about 45 minutes per spread. I lived in Lilburn at the time; so about 12:30 a.m., I would leave the Inforum building downtown, with a hard copy print out, and four SyQuest disks (remember those?). I would arrive at the print company 30 minutes later, and we would wait 15 – 20 minutes for everything to come through the internet! They output film, pulled proofs and plates and did a print run of 30,000 or so. As I drove in my convertible, I often imagined those files being transmitted through the cables above my head. Man, that was fast!

 3. What happens when a truck hits a building?
Almost everyone has a story of the night that bomb went off at Centennial Olympic Park. The newsroom was on the top floor in the building across the street! I was handing my coworker Rich a marked-up copy of the Daily Olympian, and my arm was resting across the top of the cubicle wall. Suddenly the whole building shook. For a second I thought that a semi truck must have hit one of the building supports in the loading dock.  Rich and I ran out into the atrium, and saw a couple of security guards running toward an exit. We went up on the roof, and heard sirens as we watched people running every direction like ants on the streets below. There were areas where large groups congregated; and it took a few moments to realize they were surrounding the injured, trying to help them as hordes ran past, exiting the park. We took a few pictures (we were, after all a newspaper), and then Rich and I were questioned, and the building was locked down until almost 5 a.m. The next day, the “authorities” confiscated our film, and went through the computer hard drives to make sure we had NO photos of the incident. It was pretty spooky. On to lighter stuff…

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4. I can drink a lot of Coke when it’s free…
Coca-Cola was a sponsor, and throughout the ACOG headquarters there were soda fountains that only required a swipe of your badge to get a free Coke product. Enough said…

5. French is 20% longer than English.
French is the official language of the Olympic Games. So every article, cut line and date had to be written, proofed and laid out in both English and French. The trick was making sure the layout worked with French adding an extra column. Those outspoken French! Hmpfff!

6. The opening ceremonies are cool, even without the athletes attending.
One of my favorite memories was going to the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremonies. It gave the reporters and photographers a trial run to see where they would be able to observe and take pictures, as well as giving the performers an opportunity to experience the feeling of a full stadium before the actual ceremony. It was incredible. As the flag bearers walked in, each country’s name was announced. All that was missing were the athletes. Luckily, we enjoyed the pictures from the real ceremony the following night as they came through the newsroom for the inaugural edition of the Daily Olympian.

All in all, it was a tremendous experience — one of the most demanding and stressful projects I have ever worked on, as well as one of the most rewarding.

If you have Olympic memories, please share them!

 

 

ASPHALT WITHOUT GESTALT

Part of my job as Senior Art Director, is to be very particular about the visual details of any client work that goes through our agency. Among these details is discerning the subtle (or not so subtle) nuances of good and bad TYPOGRAPHY. For me, this attention to detail with letters extends beyond the “Nine-to-Five,” and manifests itself in everyday life outside the office. Take this image, for example:

Bad kerningI’m sitting at a traffic light, and I happen to glance down at the road and see the word “ONL Y” painted on the road in front of me. Even if you aren’t among those with a keen sense for design, you may notice something troublesome about that “yuuuuge” space between the “L” and the “Y.” It just doesn’t feel right..and that poor little “Y’ looks so lonely. This spacial oversight creates an interruption to the eye and causes the reader to subconsciously pause (especially when reading large fields of text, or a headline or sign). This egregious mistake is called BAD KERNING. As an art director, nothing gets under my skin more than poorly-kerned text. Certainly I don’t expect state road workers to be graphic designers, but good typography is not esoteric, reserved only for those with advanced art degrees. All of us are vulnerable to suffering from bad design as it stirs up an odd sense of discomfort. A well-designed logo, ad or billboard — even painted on asphalt— has gestalt! This is when all the elements are working well together, giving the viewer a sense of completion and wholeness. So…I just had to snap a picture of the road to make my point for this blog post. You don’t have to be Claude Garamond or Hermann Zapf to realize something is amiss with that road “sign.”

When I was in school, there were no computers, and we had to hand set all our text with presstype (you know, those rub-off galleys of type) — frequently even had to draw it out by hand. My typography professor at UGA, Ron Arnholm (who incidentally designed the font used for all the University signage on campus), gave an assignment in which we were challenged to create 50 DIFFERENT book cover designs—for Rand Paul’s Designing with Type—all hand lettered. The trick was that we could only use one font…Helvetica. Talk about a tedious task! However, I do believe working through this project forced me to explore the spaces and shapes in that single typeface intimately, and I gained a great appreciation for what truly well-designed typography involves.

Entire books are written on the subjects of designing with type; and, for design nerds like me, there is so much more to the world of typography than just letters on a page…or pavement. So the next time you are at the mall, driving by a billboard, or looking at a menu, see if you notice how the design of the typography makes you feel. I am sure I’m not the ONL Y one.

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