Working partnerships – Part 1 – Phoenix Creative

It all began with a recommendation.

Phoenix Creative needed a broadcast writer to assist them in the development of a new TV and radio campaign for one of their clients. They asked Mike Sneden, a director at The Arbor Group if he knew of anyone that could help and he mentioned my name.

The good folks at Phoenix Creative reached out to me, asking if I was interested and after a get-acquainted meeting where I met the team that I’d be working with, I was awarded the assignment: develop eight new TV commercials and eight new radio spots promoting a variety of topics for Jensen Tire & Auto out of Omaha, Nebraska.

A still from one of the 8 new Jensen Tire & Auto TV commercials.

A still from one of eight new TV commercials developed for Jensen Tire & Auto out of Omaha, Nebraska.

Deans Lynch was my key point of contact. Becca Jordan was the account coordinator who kept me in the know. And Matt Mauger was the art director/agency producer who ultimately would be turning my scripts into storyboards and then, working with Mike Sneden as director, turn those boards into actual commercials and my radio scripts into radio commercials.

Our initial download on the Jensen brand was full of information and gave me a solid understanding of the tone, style and expectations they hoped I could match. They gave me a list of about 10 potential commercial topics, provided a good creative brief and strategy and told me to see what I could come up with.

Jensen Tire & Auto is a locally-owned, family-owned operation that has been in the Omaha area since 1973. They’re honest. Straightforward. Down-to-earth. They’re proud of their stores, the people who work there and they all work hard to deliver the best in service and services. Both the TV and radio concepts had to reflect that.

So I began generating ideas. I wrote a variety of scripts – from the customer point-of-view, the employee point-of-view and a few from the store manager point-of-view. I wanted to be clever – but not overly so. I wanted to find interesting ways to help deliver key points of difference.

At our first internal presentation, I presented campaign directions. We narrowed those down and I went back to work. At our next presentation, I presented more script ideas on the campaign directions I had previously presented. We narrowed those down some more and I went back to work.

By our third presentation, we had zeroed in on the direction – then I needed to fill out the roster, making sure I covered all of the topics that had ultimately been decided upon. We fine-tuned some more. After all those meetings, I understood just how well the people at Phoenix understood their client.

Ultimately, we narrowed down the script candidates and Matt went to the story boarding process. I, in turn, started in on the radio scripts and with a stronger understanding of what would and wouldn’t fly, I seemed to fall into the Jensen point-of-view and hit the mark right off the bat with a few of the scripts.

By the time we made the trip to Omaha for the client presentation, we were more than ready and I truly felt a part of the team – and for that, I congratulate and thank Deans, Becca and Matt for how they welcomed me and enabled me to play a key role in the presentation.

“So the only pressure around here … can be measured with a gauge.”

The homework, teamwork and hard work all paid off. The result is a new broadcast campaign that began airing earlier this summer and will continue for many months to come. This was a working partnership that really worked.

The business model for BloodLines Creative is fairly flexible. I work directly for clients. I also work with agencies to help with their client needs in times of overflow or for select projects. I work with in-house agencies, helping to write or produce videos. And I partner with other designers, social media providers or production companies to assist their client needs. It all results in an ever-changing, always interesting flow of assignments. I am honored to be a part of each and every one. Now, what can I do for you?

A dramatic ‘before’ and ‘after’ with BloodLines Art

About two weeks ago I worked with Scott Schaefer as we set up a mini photo studio in our basement and shot more than 80 of my paintings. Scott has his own company where he markets classic Winchester hunting artwork, selling vintage posters online. It’s a thriving business and he has found a definite market niche.

I’ve been hoping to find a market niche of my own with my artwork. Currently, I have two different websites – https://bloodlinesart.com/ and https://tom-blood.pixels.com/

My bloodlinesart website seems to only be visited by other artists. And not that often. I haven’t really done any full-fledged marketing efforts to promote it and when renewal time comes around, I’m probably going to cancel it. There are lots of other places where I can showcase my art that I haven’t fully taken advantage of to date.

The pixels website, which is also called Fine Art America, has done a lot better as far as visitation. About two weeks ago, I was nearing my 10,000th visitor. They come from around the world. I’ve had views from China, Russia, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, India – and that’s just to name a few as well as people from all over the U.S.

The fun thing about the pixels website is that you can order items featuring my artwork on pillows, tote bags, iPhone cases, shower curtains and a variety of other items. Unfortunately, sales have been less than lucrative.

So I decided to try and become a bit more professional with the presentation of my art and Scott got me going with the hi-res digital images he took. But that’s just for starters as he showed me a number of photoshop treatments all designed to make your photography sharper than ever.

Here’s a pic of one of my paintings before:

A true, 'before' picture.

A true, ‘before’ picture.

And here is the same painting that was digitally photographed and saved in a much higher resolution format. (The image is a higher resolution than the download of this site allows.)

https://tom-blood.pixels.com/featured/white-thomas-blood.html

I’ve tried saving my ‘WHITE’ painting image in smaller sizes but with no luck. So please click the link to see the vibrant color and sharp detail that will now be present with virtually all of the images that I have featured on my pixels site. (While you’re there, I encourage you to see many of the other paintings I’ve done!)

To date, I’ve uploaded about 14 of them – so I have a long way to go. But already, the number of visitors has skyrocketed as I’ve had more than 1,000 new views since I began re-uploading my images. I wish I could say that the sales have skyrocketed, too. Not yet.

But I’m hopeful. I plan on launching a new e-commerce site sometime before the holiday season officially kicks off where people will be able to order prints of my work direct from me. Scott will handle the printing and shipping and together we’ll both profit.

I have a lot of fun creating my art. I hope to soon begin having more fun (and success) in my efforts to sell it.

 

 

BloodLines blogging takes a back seat

There really is no excuse why my posts have become so infrequent.

But I’m going to offer a few anyway.

Recently, I’ve been stepping up my blogging activity for a few clients. Unlike my own personal diatribes where I write about the items that are popping into my head at the time, these take a good deal of research and often multiple interviews, drafts and re-writes before we go live.

I generally don’t like to divulge client information without their permission so the clients for whom I’m creating these posts shall remain nameless. Fortunately, the number of clients continues to increase. So I find myself writing about a wide variety of topics.

I’m sure Google is confused by my browsing activity. They must think I have some fairly eccentric and quirky tastes as one day I’ll be researching the Army Corps of Engineers and the next I’ll be investigating Gmax impact testing. I’ve been fortunate enough to blog about museum exhibitions as well as new curricula being offered at university programs.

These days, I’ve been diving into swimming pool construction. Soon, I hope to be writing more about thermal power generation and posting knowledge about fluid conveyance systems. If that all sounds a little heavy-duty, it is. But it’s also quite interesting to go on a crash course of learning, consuming as much information as possible and then doing my best to digest it and create something that’s relevant and useful to the target audience I’m addressing.

My most recent painting is just one of many items that are keeping me away from regular blogging.

My most recent painting is just one of many items that are keeping me away from regular blogging.

On top of all that, I continue to try and get better as a painter. So there’s always a work that is in the works. One is awaiting more brushwork as soon as I decide that I’ve said enough regarding this particular post. I have another painting that is sketched out and waiting to show up on canvas as soon as I wrap this current one up.

So my attention has been elsewhere. That’s a good thing and a bad thing.

Good, because my business has been booming and blogging has had a lot to do with it.

Bad, because in order to keep building your business, you’ve got to keep at it, particularly when it comes to blogging.

What can I do for you?

BloodLines Creative provides a wide variety of advertising and marketing communications services to a wide variety of clients. From concept through completion, you get work that is on target and cuts through the clutter to connect with your target in a way that generates results. If you’re facing a creative challenge and you’re looking for big idea thinking without the big price tag, you’ve come to the right place.

Volkswagen gets it right this time

A few weeks ago I lambasted Volkswagen for their ‘Birds and the Bees’ commercial in which a couple love to procreate in their VW, eventually, needing a bigger model to accommodate their growing family – hence the need for the new seven-seater VW Atlas model.

Now, I’m here to sing their praises as they’ve taken another iconic song, this one Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, “America” and set it to a story that is both moving and beautifully told.

The first version I saw was 60-seconds. Here’s a link to the full :90 Volkswagen Atlas commercial – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpq4NXtokNU

Not only is it a masterful telling of a story that connects generations, it’s also some brilliant editing of the song, making the most of the lyrics that are applicable to a cross-country voyage while cutting out the parts about being on a bus and smoking cigarettes.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel's 'America' song.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘America’ song.

I was drawn into the story immediately. An immigrant father’s dying wish – for his wife to see America courtesy of their daughter and her own family. We see them leaving New York city behind and they’re off on their journey in the new roomy VW Atlas. Of course, that is never mentioned. They simply let the visuals of the cross-country trek unwind, managing to get in a few on-the-road shots as well as interior shots.

But it’s not about the car, it’s about the experience. We see the granddaughter, bonding with her grandmother and getting reassured from her mother that everything’s going to be okay. We’re along for the ride as we get to see the entire family taking the time to experience the many sights and sounds that America has to offer.

Sure, it’s a little sappy. But the cinematography is gorgeous. The on-going story, told through a few snippets of family interaction between various family members evolves and pulls you in. This isn’t meant to be Aunt Edna strapped to the roof of the Griswold family truckster. When they reach the coast of California and Grandma sets Grandpa’s ashes free into the Pacific ocean, I didn’t feel like the story had been trivialized.

And this time, the payoff of “Life’s as big as you make it. The all new 7-seater Volkswagen Atla” made perfect sense to me. I felt better toward Volkswagen as a company. I only wish that it had been Chevy that had jumped on this song and told the story rather than some German manufacturer.

But I don’t blame them for borrowing a bit of Americana and a classic American song called “America” to try and sell vehicles here in the good ole U.S.A. – that’s what commercialism is all about. And this one gets four stars in my playbook.

Watch the commercial. Then let me know what you think.

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.

 

 

 

An unexpected blast from the past

The music grabbed by attention and pulled me upstairs

The music from this 60-second commercial grabbed by attention and pulled me upstairs.

I was downstairs painting Thursday night, starting in on a new canvas when I heard a music track from the TV upstairs that immediately grabbed my attention.

It was the music we had created for an Infant Adoption Awareness commercial that I wrote and helped produce back in 2005 while working at Hughes.
http://bloodlinescreative.com/tv-radio-video/infant-adoption-awareness

That commercial has always been one of my favorites that I’ve written. It is simple, understated and delivers a powerful message at the end. The whole spot consists of a girl on a swing, coming in and out of the frame.

Each swing takes her higher, and with each swing, she knocks the type that’s on-screen out of the picture …
Like many kids,
she’s happy,
well-cared-for,
loved,
confident,
optimistic
and adopted.

A voiceover delivers the line, “To all those who give birth to, homes to, or just give thought to people adopted as infants … thanks for considering adoption.”

The whole purpose of the commercial was to raise awareness for the Infant Adoption Awareness Council of America. An adopted child is no different than any other child. So why not show a happy kid on a swing to help point that out?

We shot the commercial in Oakland, edited in San Francisco and used Elias Music to create the original score. That was more than a decade ago so I was truly surprised when I saw the commercial was still running.

Its message and ability to cut through the clutter was as strong now as it was back then.

That’s the power of Big Idea Thinking. That’s the power of BloodLines Creative.

 

 

 

‘The Traveler’ is already making his way around the world

My latest painting has already had many views from around the world.

My latest painting is getting views from around the world.

My most recent painting, titled, “The Traveler” has literally taken off, being viewed across the United States and in countries around the world via my http://tom-blood.pixels.com website.

Normally, when I post a new painting, it may garner 50 initial views the first day and then, depending on how popular the painting is, continue to get views from time to time. Early next week, my website should go over the 10,000 view mark which is pretty cool considering I’ve only had it since July and I don’t do all that much to promote it.

Yesterday, I finished up my most recent painting and put “The Traveler” onto my pixels website around 9 pm along with my other website for art: http://bloodlinesart.com as well as on Facebook, ArtLoupe and twitter.

This morning when I checked in, I was amazed – ‘The Traveler’ has already had more than 300 views and more keep rolling in by the minute.

It’s always fun to see where the views are coming from – currently, people in 22 different states across America have checked it out. Not bad for less than a day of exposure. What’s really fun though is the list of people from other countries who have taken the time to view this painting. Canada and Mexico are nice. Germany, England, Ireland, Italy, Austria, France, Belgium, the Netherlands that’s all pretty cool. But when you’re getting views from people in Bosnia & Herzegovinia, Pakistan, Slovakia, India and Cambodia it makes you say, “Wow, ‘The Traveler’ must have some worldwide appeal.”

If only people liked it enough that they would consider buying it – or at least an item featuring it, be that a re-print or a tote bag or iPhone cover. Those items aren’t very expensive at all and it certainly does make a rather striking impression.

Screenshot 2017-04-14 08.21.56

Screenshot 2017-04-14 08.20.25 Imagine having The Traveler as a shower curtain or perhaps on a pillow.

Screenshot 2017-04-14 08.19.54

He’d make a great image for a tote bag, too, traveling wherever you go.

The Traveler would be cool to have as an iPhone cover ...

Or consider having him travel with you as your new iPhone cover.

You can purchase any of these items (along with other things like coffee cups, greeting cards and beach towels featuring my art) via http://tom-blood.pixels.com – which is home to lots of my other paintings in case you’ve never checked it out. I’m hoping that one day, I’ll be able to turn those 10,000+ views into 10,000 plus purchases.

So check it out if you’re interested – wherever you may be.

And safe travels, wherever you’re going.

 

City-County divide helps kick MLS out of St. Louis

It was an artist's rendering and that's as far as it will get.

It was an artist’s rendering and that’s as far as it will get.

Today’s lead story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blamed the failure of the MLS stadium proposal on a large voter turnout in the City of St. Louis. That may be the case. But what really doomed the proposal is the same thing that continues to work against the St. Louis region as a whole – the separation of St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

We’ll never know for sure what would have happened had the two entities been one on this particular matter. So this is purely speculation on my part. Yet I’m convinced that had  St. Louis County been a part of this vote and had it been a single voting block of St. Louis County and St. Louis City instead of two separate entities, we’d be looking at a new stadium going up just west of Union Station.

As it was, passing two props was too much to ask of St. Louis City voters. With all that the City needs, putting the additional funding strictly on their shoulders was going to be a very tough sell. Helping to fund yet another stadium with a league that has been on shaky ground was a big enough leap of faith as it was.

Had the County been involved in the vote, even then, I’m not sure it would have passed and despite what St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said about looking for ways to collaborate, something tells me that the city location of the stadium would have been its downfall with a County vote added to the mix.

Only when the City and County join forces will we truly see regional cooperation. Alas, I don’t think that’s going to happen in my lifetime. The divide is too deep. There are way too many kingdoms in the County that will continue to look out strictly for themselves at the expense of the rest of the region.

I know it’s not that simple.

I was bummed when the Rams left but we sealed our own fate when somebody created that lovely little opt-out in the lease. Now I’m bummed that there won’t be an MLS team to root for during the spring, summer and fall. MLS soccer would have been a fun alternative and addition to the Cardinals and with the soccer-rich tradition of St. Louis, I think the team would have caught on very quickly.

The plan would have gotten my vote.

I hope that someday, another plan will.

 

 

 

Removing Blood On The Walls

A few of the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park

A few of the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery.

Yesterday was kind of a sad day as we removed the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery and Blood On The Walls is now a thing of the past.

All but one of the paintings made the return trip home and as we were lugging most of them into our basement, it bugged me that they were losing their public viewing place. Many of them have been returned to the stacks of paintings I have accumulated through the years and now won’t even be seen by anyone who visits our household.

We had more than 250 people attend the “Blood On The Walls” opening night reception. It was a magical evening and people truly seemed to enjoy the paintings, the music and the good times among friends. I received many compliments throughout the night on the work.

But only one buyer.

It’s hard to say if the paintings were overpriced as art is hard to put a price tag on and I’m also well aware that almost every painting I create has rather strange subject matter. I try and paint ideas. I’ve been trying to create more story appeal with my paintings or at least more mystery as to what is going on in the picture.

But it’s not exactly living room art.

Still, I don’t paint to sell. I paint because I can. I paint because it’s like a gift I have been given – and if I don’t paint, I am wasting that gift.

So I will continue to pursue more paintings based on conceptual ideas and continue to try and get better at what I do. I have completed two new paintings since the show’s opening night on March 3 and I’m about to start a new one that I’m excited to see how it develops.

Speaking of how my paintings develop, here’s a mini-slide show that features some of the steps involved in the process … https://www.facebook.com/BloodLines-Art-904202009683682/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

This last show I had was my first solo show in more than 21 years. There’s no telling when the next one will be – hopefully sooner than 2038!

For now, if you went to the show and saw something you liked, it’s still available for purchase. You can see a lot of my work when you visit http://tom-blood.pixels.com

On that site you can also order prints of my work (at much lower prices than the paintings) as well as purchase my art on tote bags, iPhone cases, pillows, coffee mugs, t-shirts – even shower curtains.

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

“Balloon Girls” throw pillow – http://tom-blood.pixels.com

20170209_180726

“Head In the Cloud” iPhone case – http://tom-blood.pixels.com

I invite you to explore the site – in less than a year, it’s had almost 10,000 visitors from around the world and I’ve made sales from California to New York so you’d be buying work from a nationally-renowned and internationally recognized artist if you do make a purchase.

Or, if you’d like to free a painting from the depths of our basement, let me know what you like, make me an offer and perhaps I’ll agree to let you give it a new home.

In the meantime, it’s back to work.

 

 

Get a room, Volkswagen!

Life's as big as you make it.

Life’s as big as you make it.

Volkswagen has a new commercial that I have already seen about 10 times and though I’m a fan of Dean Martin, I’m not a fan of this commercial.

Set to Dean’s rendition of “The Birds and the Bees” this spot was probably considered ‘cute’ and a throwback to VW’s days as a bit of a rebel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyPbpU3Smhg

Back in the hippie days, a couple going at it in a VW bug may have made sense. But with this timeline, it doesn’t really go back more than 8 years or so and the couple portrayed don’t exactly seem like they’re counter-culture. Dad just seems to have a weird thing about procreating in very tight spaces – rockin’ away in the VW bug at first resulting in a trip to the dealership for a larger VW. The process repeats itself and the happy, growing family continue to have mom and dad go at in the confines of their car. It concludes with another VW rocking away – presumably VWs are very fertile places – only it shows the entire happy family inside the vehicle causing enough of a commotion that they’re causing the car to sway back and forth on its apparently not very sturdy frame.

The commercial ends with the statement, “Life’s as big as you make it. Introducing the all new 7-seater Volkswagen Atlas.” Oh, I get it.

This commercial is trying too hard. Personally, I find it kind of obnoxious, too. In-between all of the Viagra and Cialis commercials, I now get this couple that loves to breed in a bug.

I’m not sure what the key selling points of the Volkswagen Atlas actually are. There are all kinds of vehicles that can seat 7 or more so that isn’t much of a sales pitch.

To me, Volkswagen simply isn’t getting enough bang for their buck.

And I certainly would never want to ride in the back seat of their vehicle.

Being responsive

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you'll enjoy the experience.

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience.

Yes, it took a while.

But BloodLinesCreative.com is finally a responsive website.

So whether you visit on an iPad, your phone, a tablet or on a mac or pc, the site now adapts to the confines of the device.

Yes, it should have been done some time ago. And yes, the site could use a refresh of new work that’s been done over the past year or so. That will come. In fact, the site still isn’t 100% fully functional – my broadcast reel still doesn’t play on mobile devices – but that should be addressed in the next week or so.

I have fallen victim to what so many other advertising and marketing communications companies deal with all the time – it’s tough to manage your own marketing when you’re busy helping with the needs of the clients you serve.

It’s been a busy start to the year. But in order to keep that momentum going, I need to ratchet up my own marketing efforts – and before I began that endeavor, I needed to get the website fully functional no matter how it was viewed.

So I guess I need to wait a few more days until we get the broadcast section remedied for mobile viewing.

In the meantime, feel free to visit the rest of the website – http://bloodlinescreative.com

I welcome any feedback!

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.