Saturday, February 28, 2009

Just for Advertising!

I discovered two things today that I'm almost afraid to bring up for fear of undercutting myself if any potential employers or even industry colleagues come across this - i.e. I can't believe this is new for him. But anyways, has anyone heard of this wikipedia thing? Anyone can edit it - what??... j/k.

So, I spend a lot of time studying advertising and new media. I'm usually seeking out, exploring and studying different corners of the internet, searching for online niche communities and seeing what they're up to etc. But, until today, I never thought much about turning that search on myself and looking for communities that deal with advertising. So I had a real ah-ha moment when I came across Similar to myBO (a site for Barack Obama supporters I'll talk more about in a later post), it's a social media site just for industry people. I'm excited to start using it, and glad I finally came across it. Phew.

Also, I discovered an online comic strip called Words & Pictures that's about working in advertising. It's funny, creative (of course) and innapropriate - and I've been clicking through its archives for the last couple hours. Check it out.

I'm sure there is more great stuff out there, and I'm excited to find it. Let me know if you already have!

Viral with Value

Today, any client asking for an integrated marketing campaign is going to say, "Where's the viral element? We're gonna need that... because well, that's what's done right now, right?" And they have a point, especially considering the great success that some agencies have had, eg. Crispin Porter + Bogusky with their Burger King work. But, at the same time viral can just as often be done very badly.

For any agency/ company a flopped viral video is embarrassing. Especially when it's not only ignored, but the butt of jokes (and not the "ha ha this is ironically lame, therefore cool" type of jokes). I'm not sure all press is good press despite the axiom, because a flopped viral campaign simply screams “we’re out of touch!” And that’s not good, ever.

For a successful viral campaign I think that at least two conditions need to be met. First, similar to a good book or screenplay, a viral video needs to be honest to get our attention. When Wendy’s “Crazy Lettuce” came out they pretended it wasn’t corporate. And, when it finally came out that Wendy’s was behind it, the video lost all credibility and was hailed as a lame attempt to co-opt our virtual attention. Whereas Burger King (most of the time) slapped the BK logo on everything so we never felt like we were being tricked into consuming the content – we wanted to watch the King! (though, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you always have to show your hand, more on that below).

Second, they should be entertaining: interesting or fun. Even with TV spots there is an exchange that’s going on: you entertain me and I’ll give you my attention. This is multiplied by a factor of ten online. If a video isn’t fresh or quirky or engaging it’s just not going to make the cut in viral land. For Crispin, BK’s viral videos and promotions were clever, weird and new – they were sought out and passed it on. Win. I still find the idea of meat-scented cologne hilarious.

There are more conditions I’m sure, and those I just ran through can of course be broken – and probably should be if you want to be innovative. But viral land shouldn’t be considered one big question mark. There are recipes for success.

Here are some great viral videos/campaigns imho.
- an alternate reality experience and viral marketing campaign to hype the release of Halo 2, this website brought elements of the Halo universe to life. Different hints linked to the this site, that at first appeared to be dedicated to honey sales and beekeeping, to Halo 2. Upon visiting the homepage visitors found the site "was covered in confusing random characters and sentence fragments. Dana, the ostensible webmaster of the ilovebees site, created a stating that something had gone wrong with her website, and the site itself had been hacked. Suspecting that this was a mystery that could be unraveled, Halo and ARG (augmented reality game) fans spread the link and began to work on figuring out what was going on," (Wikipedia).

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - not actually a viral campaign at all, but a real production, Dr. Horrible spread quickly when it came out. "A supervillain musical, of which, as we all know, there are far too few," it had the force of well a known director, Joss Whedon, and a talented cast. With some integrated ads and songs that keep getting stuck in my head it continues to get a good number of hits from me and many others. Marketers could learn from the success of this fun, honest mini-movie musical (an obviously niche idea that "somehow" has rave reviews and wide appeal).

The Ramp - a fake documentary by BMW about a small, economically destitute town in Bavaria that builds a giant ramp with the intention of jumping a 1-Series BMW from Germany to America as part of a PR stunt to bring tourists to the town. Long, but very well done, it feels like a real movie and left me feeling a little sad. The message in the end seems to be that substance trumps hype - but, there's a lot more there as well. Its success should be no surprise as BMW has been doing this type of marketing, and doing it well from the start - they get it.

PS. 3/1: Came across this post only after I wrote this. Some great thoughts on the framework of viral marketing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Some ideas about Millennials and our Brands

Update: Find a more recent version of this article published on

I am in the process of writing a senior thesis about Barack Obama's campaign and in particular his “brand.” Throughout my research and writing the values and concerns of the millennial generation has been of particular interest to me. This is me, my peers and my future we're taking about after all. I've come to believe that our attitudes toward and interactions with brands are very unique from previous generations, but relatively easy to understand – yet, often advertisers and marketers miss the mark.

I've created a list of important facts/ideas about how millennials view and engage with the brands in our lives. It's a rough list and many of the ideas are half formed or need more. I would appreciate any feedback, criticism or ideas you might have.

1)We expect brands to offer us value (our definition of value is wide – a good product, an engaged community, two way communication, flexible meaning associated etc. more below)

2)For millennials’ brands are not a bad thing, just a thing.

3)Brands are used to self identify and create personal meaning. We seek out brands that represent who we are, or wish to be.

4)Individuals and groups identify similar people via their similar brand associations; this commonalty creates a de facto community.

5)If a community is not created for us by a brand we will create it. If one is created for us, it must be flexible and transparent. And, either way this community is considered to be owned by us (the users), not the brand.

6)We expect a say in the evolution of the identity of our community and thus “our” brand.

7)We demand interaction with “our” brand.

8)Like with good writing, truth is the most compelling feature of any brand – chique or punk it must be honest.

9)Brands must know our boundaries and not attempt to push into our lives, they must be welcomed and will only be allowed so far.

10)Brands are embraced only if they follow certain unspoken rules and boundaries. Even the most brand loyal millennial will abandon a brand if the conditions above (5, 6, 7, 8, 9) are broken.

11)We are fluent in brands. We know the symbols, their messages, and the communities associated with them.

12)We constantly do all this (above) with multiple brands at the same time. Moreover, we can easily construct other and larger meanings through the combination and layering of brands. (eg. Someone wearing a Red Sox hat, Converse shoes, North Face jacket, Starbucks coffee – add or subtract any element here and their brand equation or association map changes, and so does my understanding of them).

13)Thus, we use brand associations and combination of associations as a heuristics to construct an image of others and who we are. A typical millennial is both conscious and unconscious of this fact and select their brands accordingly (see #4).

14)My brand associations are important to me, but ultimately a just one of many variables in my daily life/ equation of personal meaning and value. I dislike brands that do not understand their place in this equation.

Addition 3/1:
15) From profiles to phones we demand the ability to personalize. We want to make our piece of our brand, our own.

P.S. These feel eerily similar to the principles of using social media to its fullest potential...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

On 25 Things About Me...

In class yesterday the infamous "25 Things" on facebook came up and we all had a good time bashing the trend, but chuckle as I might I think that there is something to it. We're usually on the look out for commonalities with the people we meet and this translates nicely to social networks, eg. list your favorite movies, books, music... But, there just isn't a field for some things such as: what books you hope to finish but keep putting down or your latest obsession with sunblock etc. And that's what "25 things" is for - random facts I wouldn't otherwise know - creating a deeper connection.

These are the insightful, interesting, truly unique things about each of us that provide insight into who we are as people (at least in part) - and drive home the point that we're all a little weird and neurotic sometimes. It's no secrete that society constantly applies pressure to normalize us and bla bla - so I thought that it was a nice break from my day to see all the quirky things that my friends do and share my own oddities, such as obsessively playing with tape when I'm thinking or my secrete desire to get a dog despite the fact that I'm a self proclaimed a cat person. These facts let even my close friends get a better picture of who I am, and I enjoyed that.

In the end almost everyone did it, so I guess writing the "25 things" note ultimately amounted to nothing more than normalization and social pressure (oops), but I guess it doesn't have to be all bad?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Name that Soda

Name that Soda

Friday, February 20, 2009


Here are just a few of my favorite commercials; spots that I have laughed at and influenced how I think about the job. Enjoy.

Old Volkswagen Commercial - One that I've never forgotten though.

Mr. W - A great "ah ha!" moment here.

Loewe Sound - Very clever, "made me smile" and laugh out loud (for real). Thanks swissmiss.

Altoids - Speaks for itself.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

PS Help

Update: I have sort of fixed the comment problem, so if you've been waiting to tell my how many spelling errors you've found - don't hold back.

- Jase

Shepard Fairy (1)

Brighton Avenue, Allston

Cambridge Street, Allston

In a way, it was almost an appropriate beginning to the Shepard Fairy exhibit at the ICA that he was arrested on opening night, right outside the museum. An artist who began his career with an underground sicker campaign of Andre the Giant’s face in 1989, his work has grown and continues to grow via guerilla tactics. America’s Bansky, Fairy’s work is all about being subversive, with most of his graffiti, posters and banners displayed on city streets without invitation. He’s always been about going outside the system, and Fairy is more than willing to own that, as his more than a dozen previous arrests make clear. His current exhibit (the first ever major retrospective of his work in a major museum) is a big step for this type of art, moving it from subversive to being acknowledged as legitimate – so it’s almost comforting to see that there is still plenty of rebel in him and his art.

While subversive art is nothing new - and in many ways Fairy's message is not entirely original either - there is an element of time and place that contributes to his success. Fairy’s contemporary style and visual language resonate today because he is communicating something that feels pertinent, accessible and authentic; three things that have been difficult to find altogether most of my life. It’s no secrete that the MTV culture that exploded throughout the 90s created an atmosphere of slick corporate imagery that continues to permeates our lives yada yada. But, just because we accept it (and even like some of it), does not mean there isn’t an undercurrent yearning for originality for those of us who aren’t hipsters or down with hard-core counter culture movements.

Moreover, even right here in Boston there is another casualty of a sometimes overly controlled trend. For example, we love our Citgo sign, but very soon it’s going to become one of the only relics from that era. As lesser-known neon signs break down they are not being replaced or fixed because of strict zoning laws no longer permit such things. Just as urban decay is something to be loathed, the opposite, sterilization of our streets and neighborhoods is similarly unnerving. There is something about a street of matching mailboxes and white front doors that I find plastic and claustrophobic.

For his part I think that Shepard Fairy’s work taps into these feelings within many of my generation. Fairy speaks with a voice that responds to both an ad saturated Time Square and a sterile suburban neighborhood, in a language that connects with a generation coming into its own, looking for direction and new thinking (with a touch of rebel, per usual).

(Nothing is Original).


Friday, February 13, 2009


As part of a strategy to make myself stay on top of updating and improving the, I decided to add the website to the top of my business card. Because of this I'll need to be sure the site is always up to date or else risk much embarrassment or even cost myself a job. Eeek! I immediately regret this decision.

It's not that I am unmotivated to work on the magazine, and in truth I write a great deal and sketch ideas for it on a regular basis. But, as in the context of everything else in my life, the New Athenian is a side project and a big thing to tackle (in terms of time and energy) - especially considering my ever growing to do lists. The project means a lot to me, but I know that what needs to be done right now is not going to be quick or easy. As a result, it has been easy to keep pushing the big revamps and updates to "next weekend."

This could be a dangerous experiment, but it could be a great mechanism for staying as accountable to myself as am for others. I've found it's much easier to get tasks done when there are deadlines, time lines and colleagues/ team members relying on me to get it done. Now, hopefully writing and design Jason will need to be a little more accountable to looking for a job Jason, and vice versa. Because now I'm a team, or something.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This and That

I've been feeling under the weather this week and along with that I've been having trouble sleeping. So at around 2am I find myself cruising blogs and I've found a few really cool things.

Just a few of these are:

Tweet what you spend, a Twitter application to help you keep track of your spending habits. Follow it with your Twitter account and any time you spend money send a direct message to twys from your cell phone and it automatically records it with a time stamp. You can even categorize your purchases and download everything to an Excel sheet! Find other cool Twitter apps here.

“If limitation spawns creativity, is the limitless resource of the Internet a good thing? Does it do more harm than good to read all these blogs?”

— Alec Soth

(via swissmiss, via glass)

You Will Not Be Dating Me, A fun blog about dates gone terribly wrong. A great way to put your love life in perspective, especially as "Singles Awareness Day" approaches.

But, why I really had to write this post was this; maybe it's the early morning talking but I watched it three times in a row before I could even do anything else.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A List of To Do Lists?

As I organized my desk tonight I started filing away all the scraps of paper that had recently accumulated in stacks into folders. I already has some started for different projects I have been working on for both school and not-school, but I had to make a few new ones too. Then laying out folder after folder so that they tiled my bed blue, black and manila, I was surprised at how quickly I found my deliciously comfy full size mattress (with 2 inches of foam padding, yeah awesome I know), covered with a card stock blanket.

There were so many folders that I started forgetting what each was for. Realizing that I also really had no idea just how many different projects I was actually invested in, I counted. All told, I found that had 12 plus things I should be working on each week. This should not have been news to me, but sadly it was.

I'm not sure how, or rather when, my pile got so large, but it's not something that I will be cutting back on as I don't think there are any optional projects I would boot. And, so far I've been managing to scrape by, even terrible managed so with a system how can I fail? But still, adventures in time management are in my near future. And, as the human mind can only hold 7 things at its forefront at the same time, and I still need to buy a new T pass every so often and um... eat, I'm sure there will be a lot more lists in my life after this one.

On the upside, my resume is almost done! Awesome!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Selling Me

A little past 12am on a Thursday night, I am surrounded with resumé books and pages of notes along with all the Post-its(R) that have congregated around the edges of my monitor. With a point and a wink, the irony of ad majors crafting resumés to "sell themselves" has been pointed out to me on several occasions. And, while it's logical that adverting and marketing people should have the easiest time crafting these personal branding briefs -- I find that the subject of "me" hits a close to home to write about easily. Also why in-house ad agencies are so few and far between I suspect (Cutlip, Center, Broom 2006 agree).

Writing a resumé/ CV is naturally a very retrospective and writing intensive process -- finding just the right words to put just what you did over 4 months of work into one beautiful sentence. I can just feel the future HR director drooling over my dazzling use of 250 "Verbs with Impact" provided to me by the Office of Career Services. Aided, abetted, fled... wait, what?

But then there's the question that matters most, so what? Why do you (an employer) care that I: researched and maintained press lists and a policy maker database? More than just a list of my duties at Gap Inc. and degree from Suffolk, the role a good resumé is to tell a story about how my experiences thus far demonstrate just where I ought to be right now, working for you. If this were in ad industry terms it might be framed as 'The Big Idea," and in terms high school English class it could be "Spark Notes." Or, as a friend recently advised me, "applying for a job is not just about demonstrating qualifications and abilities, but showing that you're a proper fit for the position and that it's a proper next step for your career." Turns out such an assignment requires knowing yourself very well.

Yet, even for those who do, knowing yourself doesn't necessarily translate to a creative work plan the same that knowing Kellogg's does. For a while I sketched ideas about the "Jason Potteiger" brand, and started to break myself down in terms of brand image: product attributes, benefits and attitudes... (See Keller 1993). But, just about when I started to think how Potteiger Brand Jeans (PBJTM) would look, I realized that branding myself was bound to fail for a couple of reasons.

First, how I know and understand myself is always going to be different from how others perceive me. For example, after a haircut I might feel that I look like a million bucks, but in reality no one really notices, because it was just a trim. For a first impression does my odd sense of humor come off as fun or inappropriate? But further, our own point of view is plastic and changing, and brands are not as multidimensional as a person. Therefore my logo (if I had one), would seem to change its meaning to me as time went on. But, as I'm not Coca Cola, I don't think it would change and evolve along in my consumers minds as well.

Second, conceptually brands are not always about the truth -- while some stand for quality others are all fluff, adding artificial value to generic products. And yet, as much as it's said that resumés are about embellishing (I don't believe this), I want to present a picture of who I am, at my very best, not whatever brand of that I think an employer wants me to be.

Long story short, I started a blog (to accompany my portfolio and resumé) as a place for me to focus my ideas and share them. But more importantly, to show who I am as a person, not a brand.