Saturday, February 26, 2011

Irregularly scheduled interuptions.

Today. I'm working on a presentation. Listening to an audio book. Watching a movie. Thinking about a campaign. Catching up with a friend. Writing this blog post. All-at-the-same-time.

We've become comfortable in a state of constant interruption.

They say every time you get interrupted, it takes twenty-five minutes to get back to where you were in the creative process. This is a very big problem when interruptions are constant and your job is creativity. Especially, when most of the time, we're the ones interrupting ourselves.

It's not surprising that profound concentration is an endangered art. 

We gladly offer a fraction of attention to everything and everyone we interact with. Maybe it's procrastination or process avoidance. As Luke Sullivan mentioned, for whatever reason, we hide from the creative gift. On purpose. When we first get the brief, we tell our team, "We're on it." But, yeah, we're not. At least not right away.

Initially, we're afraid of dealing with the creative challenge.

Why? Because, when you first start coming up with ideas, they're going to suck. Sometimes horribly. Cliches, elementary connections, half-baked ridiculousness. Things that have been done or are off target. General lameness. All of the things you have to exorcise from your head before you can move on. It's painful, but there's no avoiding it. This phase leads to uncharted territory.

Sooner or later, we have to make time to create.

Find that quiet place where your mind can exhale and methodically work through an idea. Walk away with all the collaborative thinking, shut the door, and finally make sense of it all.

As much as I love creative solitude, interruptions are part of the process.

Within reason, they can fuel inspiration. Save us from getting hung up on something. Trick the mind into lucidly retrieving subliminal thought when you're not concentrating on being creative. Ever try to make yourself "be creative" on command? Yeah, that doesn't usually work.

I shut off the movie. Wrap up my conversation. And the book. Scribble down random campaign thoughts. Genius! What if… oh, never mind that sucks. I'll come back to that later. And lastly, I finish this post.

Now, FINALLY, I can concentrate on my presentation. 

< Self interruption > Screw it, I'm going for a run.

[This post was inspired by Luke Sullivan's talk that the Denver Egotist covered here.]

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Choose boldly.

There it is. A simple philosophical thought exponentially magnified through development and execution. Whether or not Jim Beam is worthy of such a grandiose movement, it's pure genius from StrawberryFrog.

Willem Dafoe embodies the "Bold Choices" campaign. Any actor who can realistically play Jesus, a vampire, and everything in between has serious choice range.

The idea that life is a series of choices is a powerful thought. That your choices define you. They incrementally change who you are. If you were offered the same choice that you made years ago, would the "you" today make the same choice? Maybe. Maybe not.

What if you could give your younger self choice advice? I love the raw honesty in this post answering that very question.

The "Bold Choices" spot illustrates life as a mixture of better, worse, and seemingly insignificant choices. Most people have maybe a dozen pivotal choices in their lifetime. Those are the ones we relive. They torment us. They make us smile. We learn from them. They push us toward greatness. They hold us back. We celebrate and fear them.

At each crossroads, we decide whether or not we will be bold. Life adjusts accordingly and we get more chances to change our course.

Fate is not something that just happens. It depends on choice and thrives on opportunity. So, choose boldly.

[Here is Strawberryfrog's behind the scenes footage.]

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Declarative methodology.

About a year ago, I made a fairly bold statement when introducing myself to the Denver Ad Club board of directors. It went something like this, "I'm with Burns Marketing. If you haven't heard of us (insert dramatic pause) you will."

Those that had heard of us believed me. The others probably just thought, "Uh, who the hell is this chick?"

Since then, I've been on a mission to deliver on my declaration. To get us into award shows, up our game, and raise awareness. I'm very happy to say we made it into everything we entered last year: the Denver 50, ADCD, AMA, and BMA awards. I blogged here and there. And, along the way came across some great new talent and visionaries through the Ad Club's NEXT creatives program, the HOW Conference, our design internship, judging, and presentations.

So now what? 

Well, apparently we take it to the next level. We work harder. Bring on the creative briefs. I'm refining my methods. Again.

Approaching a creative brief is like method acting. 

You train yourself. Get in the mindset of your audience. It's metamorphisis. Improv with a set of parameters. If you can't relate to your audience, read autobiographies. Find relevant personal blogs and see what motivates them. Learn how to think like another person thinks.

Best transitional actor example? Christian Bale, hands down – even though he claims to just wing it. Not only does he drastically transform himself physically to support a part, he also dramatically changes from character to character personality wise. There is a deep, underlying character motivation exposed in each of his roles. He masterfully instigates battles between internal and surface emotions.

If you stumbled upon The Machinist after seeing him as Batman or Patrick Bateman, you might not even recognize him. I will always be amazed at how he brought American Psycho to the screen. After reading the book, I didn't think it would be possible to make his character's violent narcissistic absurdity likable or believable without it going in a wild cartoon-psychedelic-dream-state direction. He made a monster into something real. Something you wanted to understand. I read somewhere that he based the character on Tom Cruise. Drawing from Cruise's projected warmth and friendliness oddly counteracted with blank nothingness behind his eyes. Intense, charismatic energy on the outside. Neutral, character-shifting mystery inside.

So, how far are you willing to go? 

Can you care about everything and nothing? Can you tap into your inner child on command? Can you set your own point of view aside for a moment and dedicate yourself to your client's audience?

Can you deliver on your crazy declarations?

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