Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Gifts

Well I hope you had a great Christmas and are planning on ringing in the new year with friends and family. This post will be quick and fast so that I can get back to my time off. I came across this great site for all of you who may not have received that gift you were hoping for.

Have a great rest of your holidays and I will see you in the new year.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Toshiba Space chair

I saw the recent ad/video that was created for Toshiba HD cameras. I like it. It's different as well as a new Guinness World Record. This is the true future of where advertising is going, creative executions that aren't hard sells. Ideas that get people involved and interested to want to find out more about a brand instead of being spoon fed some strategic jargon they care nothing about or don't understand.

The future of advertising isn't creating advertising. It's about creative ideas that come together to form a reason for people to be involved.

This is a cool idea.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don't let the rain get you down

Starting a new venture can be and often is an immense challenge. There will be tough days and then there will be enormously tough days. The sunny and fun days are the icing on the cake and the motivators to keep you going, they get you through the rainy days.
Sometimes it seems like there may not be a light at the end of the tunnel but you have to believe in yourself, in your talents and in your vision. Anyone can get through the toughest of times, all you have to do is buckle down and push through it.
It is often said that the elements of success are 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. That's the truth. If you want it bad enough you will do what ever it takes to get it. If you're not willing to sacrifice what you have for what you want then you don't want it bad enough. Which could mean one of two things: either you don't really want it or you're lazy.
Being successful takes a lot of determination and follow through. Inspiration can be a powerful tool, you would be amazed at how far you can go on inspiration alone but at some point you need to switch gears and go from inspiration to implementation. That is where most people fail. They aren't willing to sweat and go with out to achieve success.
I use the metaphor of life is like a pendulum, if you want your life to swing into the successful side you first need it to swing on the sacrifice side. All through life it will continue to do this, it's called balance. The more effort you push it with determines how far it swings. If you put in a half assed effort you won't be too successful but if you push yourself hard enough and make enough sacrifices then you will be on swinging in success before you know it.
I read an article this morning from a fellow small agency owner, it was right on the money.
So no matter what you are doing, where you're working or what your goals are, go after it. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.

Have a great Monday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Back again

It's been a while since I've posted. Crazy times. It's been an insane roller coaster of ups and downs over the last few months. My advice to anyone who is planning on starting their own company is make sure you are  ready for crazy times. There are moments when you think, "when the hell am I going to make money" and then there are times when you think "when the hell is the craziness going to get back to normal".
I guess in an entrepreneurial world there is no such thing as normal.

I do love it though. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't have it any other way. It keeps me on my toes and the freedom is liberating.

I have to say that the economy is making so many people's lives a shit storm right now. No one is immune to the craziness. I know a lot of people who are wondering what the hell to do. My advice is take the time to focus on what you really want to do and then do it. Work in a field that you won't hate in five years, or find something that you always wondered about and get involved with it. You never know where it might take you.

I for one have always been of the mindset that when opportunity knocks you have to answer, regardless of your circumstances. Every little opportunity will eventually lead you to somewhere larger.
I for one thought I'd always be working for a large ad agency until I got old enough to retire and tell stories about the good old days. Funny how things turn out.
Now I run my own agency, albeit small and all, it still gives me a rush to do great creative work and what the faces of my clients light up as they see the impact that great creative work can have on their brands.

But in addition to advertising I also have a new found love for snowboarding. I got bitten pretty hard last year by the bug when I was "shredd'n" at Whistler. So what does that have to do with anything? Well I've decided to put my creativity in what I love to do and now I'm trying to start my own line of snowboard accessories. Who knows where it will go but I gotta try it. It's an opportunity to take advantage of. Sure there are other people out there doing it, but I think my line will have something fresh to add, funky and functional. It's going to be killer. Even if I don't make a ton of cash on it, it's still going to be something fun.

That's what life is all about. Getting through all the shit that weights you down with a smile on your face. Life is too short to be doing something you hate. You've heard that a million times right? But it's true. Nothing comes easy. Some of the most successful people I know have busted their ass for years before they reached any kind of success. But they will all say that it was worth it.

So to all that are finding themselves in hard times I say push on. Don't let it get you down. Focus on what you love and then go after it with all the sweat and tears you have. Because it will take that and then some.

Here is an article I came across about three older men doing what they love. I had the privilege of working with one of them and I have to say they are truly amazing men.

Buckle down and go after what you want. It's that easy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We had some fog roll in over the last 24 hours. It was quite surreal. I managed to snap a few photos of it coming over Burnaby Mountain and through the trees at SFU. I also took a couple shots out the kitchen window this morning as well.

Fall is here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back in the saddle

Ok, so I've been away for a bit but I have a good excuse. I've moved. I left the downtown streets Vancouver for the suburban foothills of Port Moody. No, I never thought that I would ever want to move to the suburbs again. I grew up in a small suburb of Toronto and eventually moved to the city. I loved it and vowed never again to move to the burbs. There were so many reasons why I hated the burbs and it doesn't matter where you live because the reasons are universal.

The traffic sucks, it would take me at least an hour or more to get home. By the time I did get home I was so stressed that I couldn't relax.

The people in the burbs are usually focused more on families and not on business. Which I never saw myself ever being a "King of the Hill" person drinking beers in my garage with my neighbour buddies.

So what changed my mind? Well first let me say that I lived in a very nice part of Vancouver. Affluent people and families throughout the neighborhood. But the crime was really pissing me off. Our condo parking got broken into four times in one year. Our car was broken into and our GPS and other stuff got swiped. Our storage unit (which is only accessed by a fob) got broken into three times and our highend mountain bikes got stolen. In addition to all this crazy crap going on the price was huge.

So we found an amazing new place which is larger, a lot cheaper and the neighborhood is much more friendly out here in the burbs.

So that's whay I've been up to. MOVING!!

Anyway, I'm back now and came across this great new device from honda. Check it.

Happy Tuesday.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lutz is a Putz

Well the new ad for GM is getting some buzz but I don't think it's the buzz they were looking for. General Motors marketing chief Bob Lutz spoke out in defense of the new ad campaign featuring Ed Whitacre the new Chairman.

In an effort to gain back the public trust with an ad that focuses on the laundry list of reasons why GM measures up to its foreign competitors is in my opinion a grave mistake strategically. Why? By taking this approach you have already admitted you aren't as good. What is worse, the general public already knows this so why harp on it? The problem lies deeper than just a strategic approach.

This ad has been done back in 1984 with Lee Iaccoca for Chrysler but Lutz says their TV AD is nothing like it. You be the judge.

So where does GM begin to rebuild its business? Well here is my take on it. Being someone who has working in the advertising business for some years now and someone who's father worked for GM for 33 years gives me a special insight to this brand.

First mistake they made was hiring Whitacre. I know that the government put him there but GM did have a say in it. Although the approach of putting someone who is "fresh" and not tainted by the auto industry in place is a noble idea, it might prove to be a disaster. Why? The last thing GM needs is another "old" face at the helm.

GM needs to shed its persona of "the old guys" auto brand. They need to put someone youthful and spirited at the helm to give he brand the breath of spirit it needs. The auto sector is changing and its buyers are changing too. For too long GM has ignored what the consumer wants and tried to push them into substandard offerings that they feel the public needs.

Change and improve your product GM! To quote the ad guru Leo Clow "Nothing kills bad product faster than great advertising". So before you focus on your advertising try focusing on your product and make that great first.

Lesson #1 GM = Listen to your consumer. It's exactly what has made Toyota and Honda as successful as they are. They listen to what people want in a vehicle and then they design the hell out of it to surpass their expectations. For too long GM has based their business on an introspective view.

Even though my father worked for GM for 33 years and through is entire life drove GM products I myself swore never to buy one. For years GM cars to me were cheaply made and fell apart after a while. Even when I reached a point in my career when I was successful and I could afford the higher level of GM cars with more "luxury" I never considered it. To me they aren't worth the money and there is no pride in owning a GM anymore, there is no bragging rights on both an aesthetics or environmental point of view. Not to mention the poor service that you receive after you buy one. (I'm sure everyone has a horror story about service from every car manufacturer but I've heard more from GM owners than ever.)

Car buyers of today make much more of an educated purchase then they did just 5 years ago. They walk into a dealership and in most cases know more about a specific car than the 20 something year old salesmen do. So why would someone buy a vehicle knowing that in 3 years the resale value of the car will be in some cases 20-30% less than what they paid for it? New vs Used

GM needs to design cars that are in tune with what people want in today's market. They need to get rid of the old boys club at the helm and bring in some young intelligence. Shed the models of yesterday and design us something that inspires us. The public wants to believe in you but you aren't giving them reason to.

I know GM is boasting about the new Volt but I don't think it will be the big saviour that they are planing on. Sure it claims great mileage and environmental benefits but for the money you can already buy better alternatives.

Sorry to rain on the GM parade but it's frustrating to see a group of people trying to rejuvenate a brand with the people's tax dollars and all they are actually doing is the same old things that damaged the brand in the first place.

That's my take on it. Happy Friday!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

You're only as great as your resources

Here's a great resource for illustrators to get some inspiration. There's lots of cool stuff on here so check it out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Done right

Here's the latest site redesign for Redbull executed by the Barbarian Group. Great job, nice and clean with lots of content aimed directly at the demographic. You guys nailed it. I love it.

Happy Tuesday

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Somethings keep repeating

I was watching some videos this morning about a few of the original heavy weights in the ad industry. I came across this video of David Ogilvy talking about how Direct Response was the new bloodline of the advertising industry. I found it fascinating how there are many parallels to the digital world now. If you watch the video and exchange "Direct Advertising" for Social media you could run this today.
Funny how things change, but not really.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A huge hand slap

Here's a prime example of what can happen when an agency focuses on their own gain and benefit instead of the clients'. Although this ad was spec (even worse) and used to pitch the business which they never were awarded (double slap). This is a prime example of doing something creative for the sake of being creative and forgoing the benefit to the client. Is it waaayyy off brand? YES. I think DDB Brazil has their hands full of feedback and I've heard rumors that the team responsible for creating the ad has been let go. Do you think that's justified??

Happy Wednesday and stay creative. (and on strategy)


Monday, August 31, 2009

Even if the budget is poor the idea should always be rich.

The last few days have been busy, which, in this economy is a good thing. I wanted to talk a little bit about the importance of understanding what a great strategy and a well executed campaign can mean to a brand.

The other day I received a phone call from a potential new client that was steered in my direction from a friend of mine. (the more the merrier) This client was a small to medium size business who told me that they were interested in doing a national campaign. My first thought was wow, they must have a good budget and had someone do their strategy already because how would they know that was what they needed?

So this client proceeded to explain to me their business, it sounded great and they had all the indications of being a really profitable company. Then I started asking a few questions like "What is your goal? What do you want the campaign to achieve? and so on.
There were a few silent moments from the other end. I was asking these questions because they needed to be asked. Too often clients jump into things not fully understanding what it is they actually need versus what they think they need.

The part that puzzled me the most was the consistent question "How much does it cost?" "Well without knowing what we strategically want to accomplish it's kind of hard to give a number to associate to" I told them. They seemed puzzled so I went into an explanation that went something like this:

Creating an advertising and marketing campaign is kind of like buying a car. You wouldn't go to someone and say " I want to buy a car, how much does it cost?" Well you could, but then someone would take advantage of you and sell you a car that you probably didn't want or need. (It's amazing the similarities between advertising and cars)

Fist we need to know what you need the vehicle for, is it to haul your family around? Do you need something that is good on gas? Do you need a sports car? Or maybe you just need something cheap to go from point A to B. All these things factor into the decision.

Similarly you need to know what the campaign is going to achieve, what you need it to do? This is the starting point. You wouldn't have much success with a mini van if you what you really needed was a sports car. Knowing what the campaign is to achieve clearly sets out a path in which to deliver on.

So after you determined what the purpose is you have to figure out strategically what the best approach is to fulfill that purpose. Lets say you needed something that is economically feasible, it's good on gas, gets you from point A to B without much worry. Easy to operate, easy to maintain and doesn't cost a lot of money. (sound familiar) Well there are a lot of options that can achieve that. A small car, a hybrid, a fully electric and so on. The choices are usually made based on budget.

It's the same thing with the campaign, there are many ways to achieve the goals - paid search, SEO, hybrid campaigns of both traditional and online and so on. It all depends on what we can fit given your budget.

So lets say you have $12000 to spend. Chances are you will be hard pressed to find a new small car to buy for that money, but you could buy a quality used one or lease one for a year within that budget.

Same goes for the campaign, there are lots of options we can plan so that the budget is utilized to the fullest and gives you the most return for your money.

And so the conversation went on with my analogy of cars and advertising. The client was a bit shocked because they realized they hadn't really thought it through. It was clear that the client needed to think it over. I offered my services to help them get a quality strategy together so that they were at least headed in the right direction.

In this day and age you can do a lot with less. But you have to be strategic about it and understand the limitations before heading into it. You can't get a Ferrari on a Yugo budget, but you can still turn some heads.

Happy Monday and I hope you watched Madmen last night.


Friday, August 28, 2009

It's good to be Cream

So the last few days have been busy. My business partner and founder of Cream Advertising Leif Neilsen came out to Vancouver and the two of us set up some meetings with potential new clients. It was great to see Leif and his wife Dana, they run the Toronto office and handle the eastern Canada business.

We started off our four day business extravaganza playing in the PGA of BC Pro/Am at the beautiful Crown Isle Golf course. It was an absolutely amazing day, we had a chance to play a round of golf with two great Pro Golfers. It was great to see guys that can actually play golf really well. The course was in great shape and the views were stunning. My game that day... not so stunning. I like to say that I saw every beautiful inch of that course, the trees, the sand, the water, the rough and on the odd occasion, the fairways and greens. We wrapped up the day with a great dinner and prizes, which we won a beautiful box of high-end cigars and some wine.

All-in-all it was a great couple days.

From there we headed to Gibsons just on the other side of Horseshoe Bay to meet up with a good friend of ours to talk some business. It was a short ferry ride across and great day spent checking out the original location for the long running Canadian show "The Beach Combers".

Just a quick note to those who are traveling on ferries across from Horseshoe Bay, if you leave your vehicle in the cue and decide to head into the town for a bite to eat while you wait for your ferry to arrive... bring your ticket with you or else they won't let you back in and your vehicle will sit there all by itself blocking the entrance to the ferry. (enough said)

The rest of the visit was spent meeting new people and business owners in Vancouver and it was truly an amazing time. We met so many great people. We enjoyed having Leif and Dana here although it went by really fast. They will indeed be back soon.

Now it's back to daily work. The great part is, when you love what you do and you run your own company it's not work at all. That's why it's great to be Cream.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Creativity makes everything better.

I keep touting the song about creativity. It's not because I am a creative and it's my job but because I truly believe that when you do things, anything in a creative way it can make a huge difference in the outcome. It can move people, inspire people it can make others want to do more. Here is a little tidbit that really drives home this message. You can take something that has been treated in a very generic way and do it the way it's always been done or be creative and inspire others and move people.
Why not take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. Take the usual and make it unusual.

Go one people, be creative!!!

Actually, stupid is the enemy of great.

Well it's Friday here on the coast, a bit overcast but still warm. I can feel fall coming, which is a good thing because I love fall. It signals change and change as we all know is a good thing.

I was speaking with some friends the other day that also work in the ad industry and we were discussing the importance of award shows. It just so happens that I am working on the advertising for a local award show here in the city.

And so the age-old discussion around what matters most “the effectiveness” of the ad or “the recognition” was started. Now before I get into the meat and potatoes of it all know this, I think there is no right or wrong answer here. Much like advertising, it is subjective and depending on what your over all goal is, each side has its benefits. There is however one important matter to factor into the equation – What is advertising supposed to do? = Sell. That is the bottom line. How you get there is the grey area.

Being a creative working in the industry for a while I truly believe that advertising has to be…well…creative. You have to make the person want to buy whatever you are selling. You have to be funny, witty, shocking, heartfelt whatever you choose but just don’t be boring. Make it relevant to the target. Don’t just put up a price point or massive fucking logo in hopes that will sell.
But yet there are tones of that kind of advertising out there. So the importance of a creative idea is monumental in any form of advertising. It is the catalyst that makes people want to stop for 5 seconds, 10 seconds or a minute out of their chaotic lives to pay attention to what you have to say. In fact, if I as a consumer am going to take time out of my day to be distracted by your advertising you better make damn sure it’s worth my while. I want to laugh, I want to get pissed off, I want to have something added to my day that makes me start a conversation. No one talks about the massive price point they saw on a transit ad or billboard, no one mentions that annoying fucking floating banner ad that pops up on the page all the time other than to say it’s an annoying fucking banner ad. GET THEM INTERESTED BY BEING CREATIVE AND INTERESTING.

So that being said I think you get my point that in order to be effective you have to be creative. Now this is where the other side comes in. Do creative ads sell more than your typical eye numbing crap you see everywhere? Check this out.

It’s easy to dismiss ads you see in award shows as being out in left field and creative for the sake of being creative. People often ask “sure it’s creative but did it do anything for the client?” I think more and more the gap between creative work and moving the bottom line is being bridged. Lets take a look at this years' Cannes Lions winners. Being arguably the best award show in the world for advertising, Cannes recognizes the best in the world for being creative and for being effective. This year’s Cyber Lion winner the Tourism Queensland campaign was amazing. Was it creative? Yes. Was it effective? Very much so. Take a look at the ROI.

So what is the net take away? Award shows are important and so is the effectiveness of the advertising. After all that is what advertising is all about, selling. Great work should be recognized. It gives the client a sense of reassurance for trusting their agency. It gives the agency a sense of recognition for using their creative talent to the fullest. At the end of the day we all want the same thing, for our clients to be successful because that means we continue to get paid. But if at the end of the day all you want is to win awards for self-promotion, then heed this, an agency full of awards is worth nothing if the client has empty pockets.

Well it’s Friday, go have a drink! Or if you are living the Madmen life, have another one it’s still early.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Those who know do, those who understand teach.

Well it's another great day in Vancouver, sunny and warm. The skies are clear and the mountains can be seen from miles around and from my window. Today I'm working on some taglines for a couple clients of mine, which brought me to realize that very few clients truly understand the importance of "Branding".

I think the word branding has been over used to the point where clients hear it a lot but forget what "real" branding is and not what the hundreds of fly-by-night communication companies tell them it is. It's not a commodity and shouldn't be dealt with in frivolous manner. Quite often it's the first thing that less experienced communication companies will tell clients to change because it's an easy cash grab for them and the clients aren't as attached to their branding as they should be.

A tag line is just one element of a companies brand, albeit an important one, but the total sum of the logo, the colours, the strategy and the tagline all work together. Most companies, especially those that are small to mid size think that branding is something they need or something they will get to when they have more time or money. The reality is that branding is the first step in a companies inception. It "is" who you are, what you stand for and what separates you from everyone else.

It should be the foundation on which you build a company, it should be in your business plan, it should be the spark that starts your entrepreneurial spirit.
Sure companies can revamp their brand, give it a new logo, a more modern spin on the tagline but one has to be careful to not deviate from the original brand strategy. Don't forget who you are and what you stand for.

A good example of this is Coke and Pepsi. Coke has the same original logo since it's inception. Pepsi on the other hand has gone through a myriad of logo changes over the years. Both of them have changed taglines from time to time but Coke has remained true to their brand strategy over the years and it's paid off. Pepsi has lost it's way, it seems as if they are trying to keep up and stay cool and relevant. That's suicide in this marketplace. Stop trying to be something you're not and be who you are.

So when clients approach me and are looking for new taglines or logos I immediately ask them a barrage of questions. What does your company stand for? What makes you different? If your company had a personality what would it be? and on and on. It amazes me when clients look back at me with a puzzled look on their face because they have never thought in-depth about their brand before. This should be the first step. But that's what I'm here for, to help them out and get them on the right track. It's what I love to do. Brand strategy is pinnacle.

In my mind the best brand and tagline ever...NIKE - Just do it. It sums up everything they stand for and the brand personality in just three words. Not to mention, the use of the swoosh is a symbol most recognized around the world all on its own, without words. Now that is a powerful brand.

If anyone out there needs help with their brand drop me an email, my company www.creamontop.ca can help you out. You can also check out my personal site for history and background kevinsimcock.com


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Take it for what it's worth

Well it seems like the ad world keeps going for a shit every time I read about it. People I talk to and other blogs I read all say the same thing, it’s not getting any better any time soon. No wonder, the bloody government tries to put out this false beacon of hope announcing that the recession is turning a corner for the better and will soon be over. What drugs are you idiots on? This thing is going to last for a while so get used to it.

The state of the ad industry in Canada is gloomy to say the least, thousands are laid off, many of them never to return. Those that once held the higher level positions claiming the six digit incomes are on their ass in the streets or are having to take pay cuts to keep their jobs. I guess it was fun while it lasted but there isn’t any gravy to be sucked up anywhere. Freelance is hit and miss these days. Those that can get it are gripping to it tighter than a fat kid on a twinkie. Many of those who have been cast out and laid off have turned it into a positive life experience and have decided to veer in a different course all together. Check out this latest documentary on the biz http://lemonademovie.com/

For me, I choose to go all in. I joined forces with a long time industry guru of mine and we opened up our own shop called Cream. www.creamontop.ca

Unlike our hefty dinosaur agencies we used to work for, our agency is nimble, cost-effective and it’s fun! We work with the clients we want to work with, go after the business we love to work on, it’s a great change. It’s also the toughest thing I’ve ever done. You don’t have the security of a steady pay check or the assurance of knowing if you will get through it ok but that is the thrill of it, the challenge that makes it so rewarding.

For those out there that are looking for work and are finding it hard to make ends meet I suggest you go client side. Maybe some of them can rely on your expertise to educate them on the benefits of being strategic and creative.

It’s funny how an economic downturn can force you to get your priorities in order, to reinvent yourself if need be, or to give you that kick in the ass you need to get your shit together and really go after what you want.

If anyone wants to send me their portfolio I can see if I can help out with some freelance from Cream.

Till next time.