Is there a PuppyMonkeyBaby in my future?

Would I ever have thought of this?

Would I ever have thought of this?

I’ve been creating ads now for well over half of my life. During my time, I’ve come up with some rather unusual creative solutions. But I must admit, I have yet to ever be part of selling a client something as outrageous as Mountain Dew’s PuppyMonkeyBaby used to sell their Kickstart drink. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql7uY36-LwA

Yes, I know, this is old news. The commercial made its debut this past February on the Super Bowl. But I saw it again last week and for some reason, it really stuck with me this time.

BBDO out of New York was the agency that created it. I have no idea who the writer on it was. Amazingly, I think the ad is very strategic. The team knew they were creating an ad for the Super Bowl so it had to stand out. Kickstart is a combination of three things – Dew, juice and caffeine. On the Super Bowl, everyone loves commercials that have a baby in them – or a puppy – and yes, there have been quite a few memorable commercials featuring a monkey.

So someone had the very simple thought, “Hey, why not combine all three into some really weird creature with a dog’s head, a monkey’s upper body and a baby’s lower body walking around in a diaper?” It’ll be a Puppy Monkey Baby.

It makes no sense. It makes brilliant sense. It’s weird. It’s disturbing. It speaks – in a very strange voice. It dances. It carries its own little bucket full of Kickstart and it makes its grand entrance through a kind of little trap door in some guy’s apartment where three slackers are just sitting there chilling when the PuppyMonkeyBaby arrives.

Later commercials play up the tag line “It all starts with a kick”. They’re fun, they’re crazy. But they’re nothing like the PuppyMonkeyBaby.

So the question I ask myself is this – “Is there still a PuppyMonkeyBaby waiting inside me, just yearning to come out?”

Yes.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to create TV commercials all that often anymore. It’s my biggest lament of running my own business that caters to a client base that most times, simply do not have the budget nor the need to do broadcast advertising.

So that PuppyMonkeyBaby stays locked up in my brain, just waiting to be unleashed.

It’s in there.

And it wants out.

The endless pursuit of ‘What’s Next?’

As a business, BloodLines Creative is continually in new business mode. Even with my existing client base, I’m always seeking new ways to help build their business, knowing full well that if I can help them expand their market share or drive more customers to their website or Facebook page or directly to their store it will ultimately generate more business for BloodLines.

So I’m always on the lookout for new ways to deliver messaging, new techniques for grabbing attention, new avenues for targeting potential customers, new ways to reach people in unexpected ways. One must remain forever curious.

With BloodLines Art, I face a similar challenge. I do paintings very similar to the way I read books – once I start one, I don’t even consider what’s next until I put my name on the painting. When I do finish, I begin searching for ideas.

Rene Magritte said that the most difficult part for any artist is deciding what to paint.

I agree with that dilemma.

So with my work by day and my art by night, I continually face the challenge of, “What’s next?”

Work has been strong this year. One project seems to lead to another and when one client goes dormant or isn’t currently in need of marketing support, it seems another one comes along. I have been very fortunate.

I have also been quite pleased with my painting progression this year. My techniques are improving and I feel as if I’m getting better at what I do and finding my own unique style.

Every business faces that “What’s next?” quandary.

The key is to never stop learning. Never stop exploring. And always be open to possibilities as well as opportunities.

If you do that, the opportunities will find you.

Working partnerships – Part III – E-Merge Interactive

I’ve been working with the fine folks at E-Merge Interactive (http://www.connectwithemerge.com/) long before they were known as E-Merge Interactive.

Barry Lee, David Smith and Kerry Brown are pretty much the brain trust behind E-Merge Interactive and I have worked with all three of these individuals for more than 25 years. I used to do quite a bit of video and audio production at Smith-Lee for a variety of clients. Dave’s wife, Sandy, is an amazing composer and gifted musician who I worked with to create award-winning commercials and videos back in the day.

But times changed and though Smith-Lee still does an impressive array of audio work, they shifted their focus more to the interactive world and formed a separate company,
E-merge Interactive, providing a full range of interactive services, primarily for B2B clients.

One of those clients is Byrne & Jones Construction. (http://www.byrneandjones.com/)

A partial look at the home page of Byrne & Jones Construction.

A partial look at the home page of Byrne & Jones Construction.

When we first began working with Byrne & Jones, their website was, to put it politely, a work in progress. Many of the sub-pages were incomplete. The home page featured rotating imagery but it didn’t really focus on key benefits of what the company provided.

And Byrne & Jones provides a lot. They’re the largest asphalt provider in the St. Louis metro area. Their sports division is one of the largest builders of tracks and athletic fields in the Midwest. They have a booming micro surfacing division, as well as perform concrete and soil stabilization work. In the past year, they also bought a company called Midwest Foundation that does marine work on rivers and lakes throughout the Midwest. (http://midwestfoundation.com/)

We recently launched a newly updated website for Midwest Foundation, a Byrne & Jones Company.

We recently launched a newly updated website for Midwest Foundation, a Byrne & Jones Company.

Over a period of time, we completely overhauled the website and began doing SEO work as well, partnering with Romondo Davis of Davis Interactive for his expertise in all aspects of social media. The Byrne & Jones blog, that hadn’t had any new posts for quite some time began getting regular entries which we pushed out via social media to help drive more traffic to the site.

Thought leadership articles and profiles of projects are now regularly posted via the Byrne & Jones blog.

Thought leadership articles and profiles of projects are now regularly posted via the Byrne & Jones blog.

Numbers have been trending upward and the growth of Byrne & Jones continues to be on the rise as well. They are a well-managed, well-run company that needed their website and social media to catch up in order to better tell their story.

Byrne & Jones is just one of the clients that I have partnered with E-Merge Interactive to help provide marketing communications. We’re in the process of launching a new website for another B2B client and there are more projects in the works. It’s been a good blend of their interactive capabilities and my branding and writing expertise.

There’s always room for more.

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?

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?

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Blogging takes a back seat

Maybe this was inevitable. My blogging rate has been on a steady decline the past two years. Though I have vowed to blog more in earlier posts, I’ve done the exact opposite.

I don’t want to talk about politics. There’s more than enough negativity out there as it is and I’m not interested in stirring things up.

I don’t have that much to say about sports right now. The Cardinals are already on a ledge with the loss of Reyes. The Blues are doing their usual thing of stirring up hope when in reality, they probably won’t get past the first round of the playoffs. Stan Kroenke and his endless greed is old news. April 4th will determine if we get an MLS team or not and I’d probably lean not though I wish it would go the other way.

I’d like to talk about the great progress St. Louis has been making recently. At least we’re staying out of the national spotlight and I know there are great things going on in this metro area but it seems like it’s always one step forward and two steps back or maybe a little side shuffle instead.

I could talk about the work I’ve been doing – lots of video production, some new broadcast campaigns I’m working on in sync with an agency and a few new business pitches here and there – but I haven’t really created anything earth-shattering.

Then there’s my art which I continue to pursue and I’m gearing up for my first solo show since 1994. Opening night is set for Friday, March 3rd at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s now less than two weeks away and there’s still lots to do.

Every day that goes by without posting something makes it that much harder to do the next. It’s so easy to just say no.

This blog post was like a Seinfeld episode. If you read it all the way through, you realize you’ve just read something about nothing.

I’ll try and do better on the next one but if you made it this far, thanks for coming along for the ride.

 

2016 and beyond for BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art

So on this last day of 2016, I take a few moments to look back on the year and try to project what lies ahead for 2017.

Business wise, it was a good year. Not a great year. But a good year. I worked with a variety of new clients, lost an established one and still maintain ties with a long-time relationship which is very rewarding.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

I created a number of videos, helped re-vamp one client’s website and we’ll soon be launching a new branding effort for another one. I began blogging for one client, worked on some PPC ads and I’m in the midst of working on a new TV and radio campaign as well. (Sorry for not naming client names – I only do that when I have permission and for this particular piece, I’m not even bothering to ask.)

On the art side of things, I was happy with the progress I’ve made as a painter. I created 11 paintings in 2016 – I don’t exactly churn them out, but I do stay at it and I continue to try and improve my brushwork, executing a variety of ideas that come from all places but always seem to circle back to Magritte in one way or another.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

I began to more actively market my art this year as well. I now have two websites devoted to my art: http://bloodlinesart.com and http://tom-blood.pixels.com

The first site looks nice but has basically been useless due to a lack of promotion on my part. The second site enables you to take your art and have it show up in the form of pillows, tote bags, iPhone covers, coffee mugs, greeting cards and a variety of ways to order prints. That site continues to draw about 25-50 visitors a day and I’m approaching more than 8000 views since I started it back in July. The sales effort though has been somewhat disappointing – I’ve made enough to pay for the site but that’s about it.

Nuts and Bolts - one of my 'stick' paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I've sold a few of them in 2016.

Nuts and Bolts – one of my ‘stick’ paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I’ve sold a few of them in 2016.

There are more than a million works of art on the website. So I’m not overly surprised that my work isn’t selling like gangbusters. I don’t do art for a living. I do it for fun. I do it because I can. And I will continue to try and get better with each painting.

Prospects for 2017 look solid for both BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art. Currently, I have a number of projects already in the books, some that will be on-going thru the Spring. I’m hoping to have my website fully optimized by the end of January and then I’ll begin more aggressive new business pursuits.

I hope to ramp up my blogging efforts in 2017 and have them be more focused on advertising and art. I dropped off the blogosphere and I’ve lost a lot of regular readers. Hopefully, I can earn them back.

I’m going to be ramping up for my first solo art show since 1994 over the next two months. It’s going to be at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s both an art gallery and a music venue which will be awesome as I’ll have more than 30 works on display throughout the month of March. Opening night is going to be on Friday, March 3 and feature the music of Tom Blood, Jr.

More on that will be coming.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

I have learned in this business that you never know what’s around the corner. You do your best, try your hardest, be honest with the people you work with and have fun in the process and generally, good things will happen. I have been blessed to work with so many gifted individuals through the years. I continue to learn and explore new ways to market – but bottom line, whether you’re doing a website or online ads or developing a trade show booth, you still need big ideas to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

I’ve still got a lot of those.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you on the other side of 2017.