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.

 

All in a day’s work – augmented reality, vehicle signage and video script writing

I don’t often post about the work I’ve been doing for BloodLines Creative – which is probably bad for business. Yet I’ve been so busy doing things, including continuing to paint in the evening hours, that I just haven’t found the time – or the energy to tout some of the recent projects I’ve been involved in.

That’s okay because business continues to roll along – never at the volume that I would prefer which would be 40+ billable hours a week – but at the end of each workday, I often wonder where did the time go.

These past few weeks I’ve been working on a new business pitch and part of our proposal involved using augmented reality. In case you’re wondering, Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

In case you’d like to see it in action, here’s a little demo you can view – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaO5tXzj58U

I won’t go into the actual applications that we were proposing but suffice it to say, it has the potential to be pretty cool – if we actually get the business.

I’ve also been involved in creating new vehicle graphics for an electrical contractor we’ve been working with via The Epstein Group. Recently, we got the opportunity to see some of the new graphics put into place on a variety of vehicles in their fleet – vans, bucket trucks, pickups and even a trailer where we wrapped the entire vehicle in graphics.

What’s really exciting is this is part of a comprehensive re-branding effort that will include a new website, print and collateral materials along with new videos.

Speaking of new videos, I’ve written a number of them recently. One for a construction company, another for a new product launch along with a series of internal award videos recognizing the collective efforts of groups or individuals.

No, I’m not naming names or showing the work as some of the projects are confidential in nature or haven’t been approved for public release.

But the work has been both fun and rewarding. And I continue to learn new things and new tactics to utilize in the ever-changing world of advertising and marketing communications.

Regardless of the tactic, they still take smart, strategic thinking in order to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

Big Ideas Start Here.

BloodLines Creative provides Big Idea Thinking to a wide variety of consumer, B2B and government-related and not-for-profit accounts. The work we do ranges from individual projects to full-scale advertising and marketing communications across all media. If you’re looking for something out-of-the-ordinary, then resist the ordinary. Give us a call at 314.973.9197 today.

Close Encounters of the Pokemon Kind

Pokemon Go gets people out and about - but only paying attention to their phone.

Pokemon Go gets people out and about – but only paying attention to their phone.

 

The workout facility where I usually get my calorie burns is closed for a few days this week. So I set out for a little 5-mile walk in nearby Des Peres Park, only to be engulfed by a multitude of Pokemon GO players trying to find whatever Pokemon character that had been geo-located into the park that day.

It was a very bizarre experience.

I’ve heard about the popularity of Pokemon GO but I never really experienced it before yesterday. I went to http://www.pokemongo.com to get a little overview and I watched the video on their home page. It’s actually a pretty cool idea – using the interactivity of your phone as a geo-tracking gaming device to find Pokemon characters not just in your area, but all over the world.

Magical.

The reality was a bit different.

As I tried to stroll through the park, there were literally hundreds of people – mostly teens in clusters of three or four walking all around, all staring at their phones as they moved about.

Upon arrival, I immediately knew that Pokemon GO had lured them to the park. It’s what you call a Poke Stop. That’s not a bad thing. But most of them had their heads down as they were walking. You had to avoid them – they were oblivious to your presence as they searched the park for Pokemon characters in their habitat.

I saw a few people on bikes, riding and looking at their phones at the same time – a certain recipe for disaster. I had to step out of their way as they went by. There were a few others on skateboards, heads down, searching their maps, looking for where they might be able to throw a Poke Ball and up their level.

It wasn’t all teens, either, who were transfixed by their phones. Lots of adults were in on the hunt as well. I saw a mom, pushing a stroller with two babies in it. Her concentration was entirely focused on the phone.

You can’t really complain about a game that gets you out and about, off of the couch and out of the house. It also gets you to explore and maybe go places you haven’t gone before.

It’s just when you have hundreds of people doing the exact same thing and their entire focus is the phone, it makes you wonder.

Mark Twain had a quote, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

Put Pokemon GO in place of golf and that pretty much sums up my feelings.

How about you?

Snotes on the rise

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Snotes – not because nothing has been happening but rather, I’ve been too busy working on the account to have the time to blog about it.

Snotes stands for Secret Notes. It’s a form of anamorphic messaging that has been around since the days of da Vinci but thanks to a patented technology, allows a user to create a Snote by typing in their message on the Snotes generator that lives on snotes.com and in under a second, your message is magically created – able to be sent via email or posted on Facebook or texted to your friends.

This is an actual Snotes LoveKnots necklace featuring Chris' initials and mine intertwined together.

This is an actual Snotes LoveKnots necklace featuring Chris’ initials and mine, intertwined together.

The fun thing about Snotes is how many potential uses they have. One such use is shown in the necklace you see above. We call them Snotes LoveKnots and we’re just now beginning to take orders for them. What you see in the photo are four sets of initials – CMB, THB, CMB, THB that are intertwined together and put into a sterling silver necklace. It can also be done in gold and there are a variety of ways we’re working on to showcase the letters – raised, with colored backgrounds and with different borders.

A lot went into turning this concept into reality. We had to develop a way for the laser cutters to read the pattern that is created when four sets of letters are intertwined with each other. It took a lot of experimenting and a lot of back and forth but it’s finally been figured out and an initial batch of necklaces have been delivered to a number of people who are now getting asked, “That’s a cool looking necklace. What is it?”

It’s exciting for the wearers of the necklace to explain that it’s their initials and their husbands initials. Or maybe the initials of their grandkids.

Monogrammed jewelry is a big business in the U.S. – and this is a whole new way to do monogrammed jewelry.

We’re not just talking necklaces, either.

Snotes LoveKnots can go on bracelets, ear rings, key chains, belt buckles. And that’s just for starters.

Imagine a bride and groom using a Snotes LoveKnot on their wedding invitation. And then having it on the napkins, glasses and even the cake at the reception, followed up by Thank You cards and personalized gifts for the bridesmaids and groomsmen with their names and the date of the wedding.

If you’re interested in an even wider range of how Snotes might be used, visit http://snotes.com/licensing-opportunities/ and explore our three key categories: Business, Consumer Products and Education.

We are truly excited about the potential for Snotes. Teachers have discovered the fun of using them in the classroom for games and quizzes and are making plans on incorporating them into next year’s lesson plans.

Our website visitation has been exponentially growing.

In about three weeks, we’ll be attending the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. We have a very cool looking booth that will showcase our full range of Licensing Opportunities. We also have prearranged meetings with some major companies that have shown interest in partnering together that could potentially accelerate the growth of Snotes in ways that might be hard to fathom.

Snotes are on the rise. It’s going to be fun to see how this story continues to unfold.

 

 

Drunk on America

When I first heard that A-B InBev was renaming its flagship brand, Budweiser to America for the summer and right on through to the election in November, I thought it was a joke.

I honestly can’t believe that here I am blogging again about Budweiser. Just a few posts ago, I was writing about how angry their ads had gotten, taking an in-your-face attitude to new extremes.

Now, this Belgian-owned company is doing the ultimate act of American commercialism, jumping on the patriotic bandwagon in their effort to sell more beer.

America beer.

Talk about a brand that has lost its way.

You can’t say that the folks at A-B-InBev are doing this to get us all to rally ’round the flag. Putting the Star Spangled banner on a can isn’t exactly a fitting tribute to Francis Scott Key. Sadly, in this day and age, I’ll bet the majority of Americans don’t even know what “E Pluribus Unum” even means or where it originated. Perhaps a few bar conversations might elicit the answer but I’m betting it doesn’t begin a new age of enlightenment about American history.

It’s all about selling beer and Budweiser, or, starting May 23rd, America, is fighting a losing battle. According to Market Watch, “In 1988, Budweiser sold 50 million barrels on its own, making up 25% of all beer sold in the U.S. It has lost more than 70% of its sales since that time and, back in 2011, was knocked into third place among beer brands by Coors Light. It now accounts for just 7% of the U.S. market.”

Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again – but this brand of America is on the decline, getting kicked around by the same craft beers that Budweiser has bashed in recent commercials.

I don’t think the in-your-face attitude is going to fly in their efforts to sell America. Instead, I’m expecting some syrupy, idyllic slice-of-life showing the great times had by all consuming America at backyard bar-b-ques, 4th of July celebrations and sporting events from baseball games to the Olympics. All in an effort to sell more beer.

Maybe they’re hoping that everyone will buy a six pack of America just so we can sit it on the shelf as a collector’s item and shake our heads at the audacity that Carlos Brito is now allowing to be launched from sea to shining sea.

First he does a hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch. Then he comes in, cuts costs, jobs and puts pressure on suppliers – from rice grain to beechwood to the printing and packaging industry, forcing companies to accept 90-day and in some cases 120-day payments for services rendered. Ah, that’s the American way.

No, it’s not.

I know a lot of people who still work for the brewery. I know a lot of other people who have lost a lot of business ever since the Belgian takeover took place.

Maybe America will be a marketing success.

I’m sure it’s been focus group tested and when quizzed, people still respond that they love America.

I just find it wrong for a company that is now foreign-owned to try and sell beer by putting our country’s name, founding thoughts, and heritage onto a label.

When Chevrolet did it with their, “America loves baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet” it was kind of cute and iconic. When other brands salute the Olympics and play on Americana, it’s to be expected – particularly since many of those companies are helping through sponsorships. But no company (especially a foreign-owned one) has ever done anything quite as blatant as this.

America. I’m not buying it.

 

 

 

 

 

Budweiser’s bully pulpit

budweiser-macrobrew-super-bowl-hed-2016

Even though Budweiser commercials still end with that all-time tag line of, “This Bud’s For You”, I can’t help but feel that they’re trying to insult me into making me drink their beer.

Facing declining sales, Bud has been fighting back with an in-your face campaign designed to slam microbrews and imported beers.

Initially, I liked the big, bold approach.

The King of Beers was protecting its throne.

But after seeing the same spot for about the tenth time with plenty more views guaranteed now that the Cardinals are back on the air, it struck me that Bud just now comes off as a big bully.

The commercials, by Anomaly out of New York, are very well-directed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF711XAtrVg Lots of close ups of the powerful Clydesdales; a guy flicking a fruit wedge out of his beer; young ladies dancing with Buds in their hands; more close ups of the beechwood aging process and the beer being brewed; all set to a pulsating, vibrating, big, bold music track.

But it’s all just too in your face. And I can’t even remember the last time I saw a female drinking a Budweiser.

Gone are the days when Bud would salute the hard-working every man with a smooth, silky, friendly approach that all led up to the final thought of, “For All You Do, This Bud’s For You.”

Now, I feel like the commercials are being shoved down my throat.

“Drink our beer, you putz. What kind of a man are you, anyway?”

Sorry, Budweiser. I’m not buying it.

A really crappy assignment

tt-toilet-humor-hed-01-2015I never really imagined I’d be writing about toilet commercials but when I saw a recent spot for American Standard’s new VorMax flushing system, I just about ____ my pants.

http://bcove.me/0svmmhid

Well, not really. But the commercial called “Splatter” certainly made its point and grabbed my attention, particularly since I just recently got over a stomach virus.

Ewwww!!!

I can just imagine the writer assigned to the account on a conversation with his mother. “Yeah, mom, we’re working on some really cool stuff. Yeah, it’s going to be a national TV commercial for American Standard – you and dad ought to check it out.”

Actually, the premise behind the commercial makes brilliant sense. Ever since low flow regulations reduced the amount of water toilets could flush from 3.5 gallons down to 1.6, Americans have been both disgusted and discouraged by what’s been left behind. The new VorMax flushing system comes in with two streams of water to wash our troubles away.

But how to demonstrate that fact? Resort to potty humor.

There are three spots in the campaign – “Skid Marks”, “Clingers” and “Splatter”. I had seen “Clingers” a few times before. http://bcove.me/2wlabta2 I don’t think I quite got the message with the first viewing but I definitely remember the end visual of a man’s head popping out of the toilet with the message, “It’s clean!”

Talk about memorable visuals.

The first time I saw “Splatter”, I even noticed the subtle reference of a ketchup bottle on the insides of the toilet, cleansed away in a VorMax product demonstration. Now that I’ve seen all three of the commercials (here’s the third one called “Skid Marks” http://bcove.me/b6enm8ex) I see how they’re carrying that message through in each of the spots.

The commercials were created by 22squared in Atlanta. I’ve never heard of them before but a little research told me that they’re the 4th largest independently owned agency in America which evolved out of West Group back in the early 90s. So they’ve been around for awhile. A little more time on their website and I see that they do consistently great work and have had the American Standard account for a while and in fact, won a 2014 Gold Effie award for a campaign that helped provide impoverished countries with more than 500,000 donated toilet pans. http://www.22squared.com/work/american-standard

So congrats to the creative team at 22squared.

We’re not quite ready to rush out and buy a new toilet as a result of this campaign. But they’ve definitely raised brand awareness of American Standard in my brain.

There’s a lot of bad advertising out there. Most of it, should be flushed right down the toilet. Thanks to VorMax, I can be sure there won’t be any lingering residue.

Duty calls.

 

 

 

Writer or artist?

During the day, there’s no doubt what my profession is – I’m a writer and a creative strategist, helping companies with their marketing communications challenges.

I don’t just enjoy what I do, I love what I do.  I get as energized now about coming up with strong concepts as the day I first entered the business which, when you think about it, was truly from another era – when copywriters created their copy on manual typewriters. No, it wasn’t the Golden Age of Advertising – that was supposed to have been in the ’60s. But it was long before the internet came along, before cell phones and fax machines and the whole concept of a blog would have sounded like some sort of science fiction term.

Creative director and writer by day. But when evening rolls around, I find it more entertaining to pick up a paint brush and see if I can get better at whatever painting I happen to have in the works. So, “Writer or artist?”

Recently, the brush is winning out over the keyboard keys.

So the blog is losing momentum, losing readers and I am losing interest – to a degree.

I don’t believe I’ve gotten any business as a direct result of the content I push out. I know I’m not following all the rules of blogdom and that if I really wanted to become a Subject Matter Expert in the wonderful world of advertising and marketing communications, I’d have to always be on point and actually push out some knowledge that could be of use to people.

There are plenty of people that do that already.

So instead, I write about what interests me – and apparently, I’ve written about enough things that interests others from time to time. Since I began this blog, I’ve gotten more than 50,000 views – which initially sounds impressive. But in reality, that’s not even equal to the attendance of a bad Rams home game (not that I can write about them anymore). And when you spread those 50,000 views out over a 5-year period, the numbers begin to get smaller and smaller.

Meanwhile, my painting prowess seems to be picking up a bit more. I had a 16-year hiatus from the canvas but now, I love to have a painting in the works.

I was proud to have my work on display at the MySLArt.org first ever “Best of Showcase”. There were some very cool paintings on display and I think my work stood on its own.

Recently, I began sharing some of my paintings on a new app called ArtLoupe, put out by Art St. Louis and I was flattered yesterday to receive a message that I’ve been chosen as one of 12 artists that they will be promoting through the organization’s various social media accounts which includes over 6,000 followers. My hope for 2016 is to land a gallery show of my own and I’m going to be pursuing that over the coming months.

 

 It’s cool when other people post your work. It’s fun when other people read your work.
Bottom line, I’m going to try and do both. But right now, there’s a canvas that is calling my name.