Monthly Archives: March 2013

Turn around, bright eyes.

360i is a full serviced agency founded in 1998, with a focus on social/interactive/digital content. In 2013, AdAge deemed them #2 on their US A-list. 360i has a colorful office in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, London and New York (HQ). Some of their royal clients include Coke, Hanes, HBO, JC Penny, Toyota, Oscar Meyer and Oreo.

Alright that’s enough stats. Let’s talk about cookies.

360i are the smarties behind one of the funnier, perfectly timed jokes during the Superbowl blackout fiasco this year. They had a team watching the game who promptly tweeted this baby:

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“Within minutes, we concepted, designed and published a piece of content that… garnered 525 million earned media impressions – that’s 5X the number of people who tuned in to watch the game.  Wired magazine declared Oreo as the Super Bowl winner, and Adweek even ranked the tweet as one of the top five ‘ads’ of the night.”

And it wasn’t even on TV. Suddenly spending millions on a spot seems silly.

360i are also the folks behind The Daily Twist, another major OREO success this past year.

The idea was to see current events (really the most popular event of that day) through the eyes of an oreo. With a cute, simple, very-cookie appropriate art direction the campaign was stupidly successful. I think a lot of the attention is due to the campaigns bold start. On July 25th, they kicked open the social door with this (now familiar) image:

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Fan engagement soared. We saw a 280 percent increase in Facebook shares and 510 percent increase in re-tweets on Twitter. The content series garnered more than 1 million Likes on Facebook – or 10,000 Likes per post, on average. Oreo became a fixture in the press for the duration of the campaign, earning praise and mention from outlets like the New York Times, Huffington Post, Mashable, ABC News, CNN and BuzzFeed. These and thousands of other placements produced more than 230 million earned media impressions.”

http://brands.nabisco.com/Oreo/dailytwist/

360i offers year round internships, mostly in NY. You can check them out on their career tab that interacts like a colorful elevator. It’s fucking enjoyable, which hopefully means that working there is too.

Driving is great, riding can be hell.

“God, I forgot about that! Remember what -“ stops my giggled question. I turn to the pair of break lights up ahead. Focusing red, I plaster my right foot to the floor board. It goes too far and nothing happens. Three seconds pass, we halt before impact. Inertia pulls me forward, the seat belt pulls me back. Normal sound returns to this vacuum of unnecessary panic and I scoff at my buddy who’s driving like a mad man. Then I look forward and regret the scoff. I’m the mad man.

Everyone’s got their thing that strikes a crazy chord. Mine is riding shotgun to bad driving. It’s like a pointy green monster dances inside of my skull, a frustrating control freak. What’s weird is that I’ve only been in two accidents and I walked away from both without a scratch. So is this just unwarranted PTSD? The second wreck was a close call (a three-sixty spin in I-35 traffic) but we only blew one tire. I was in the backseat and remember holding eye contact with a friend sitting next to me. The last person I’d seen before our splattering demise looked way too calm. I’m pretty sure she has been smiling. Maybe she was laughing at my confusing expression. Maybe I burned out on calm reactions that day.

It’s funny how I can read someone before they turn over the ignition. For instance, I know my roommate is an awesome driver. If we’re late for class we drive instead of biking:

He de-pockets a black key and beeps the small Miata unlocked. The key isn’t attached to a key chain because key chains are excessive and Trent is a minimalist. The interior of the Miata is spotless and smells like leather. I’m in a good mood. I’ll get to class on time.

Riding with my other roommate, Sarah, isn’t quite so serene:

We’re talking about a movie I haven’t seen and she can’t find her keys. She digs to the bottom of her bag. My nerves begin to shutter and open the door. Yep, the car’s a mess. Here we go. Sarah interprets the first stop sign as “roll slowly into T-bone territory”. I try to focus on the tear in my shorts. She changes lanes and iPhone playlists. She watches my reactions, not the road. We park and I step out like it’s the first time I’ve seen grass. I feel crazy and relieved.

Sometimes the inventiveness of my paranoia amazes me. If I’m really nervous about the person driving I’ll sort scan the risks around us, break them into variables, and rearrange those into possible sequences of disaster. Then I’ll think about what a car actually is: several sheets of thin, sharp, metal flying down a concrete surface faster than any living thing. It’s a deathtrap. We could die. Apparently Final Destination 3 played on HBO for two months too many.

Other times I realize how ridiculous my thoughts are and quickly redirect. I zone out of my nervousness and slip into an empty, calm sense of apathy. Welp, I’m not driving, I think. If something happens it’s out of my control, which has to mean it’s my time to go- might as well hang on and smile. This is good step to reassurance. Unless I can’t help but ponder what it means to hand over control of my life to another. Is this is truly someone I’d like to make such a trade with? The following existential staircase creates more questions than it aimed to solve and my eyes usually widen into a soft-glaze.

I’m not always such a mad man though. This is just a collection of nervous bubbles that pop up when I ride shotgun. My life is normally a big happy mess, especially when I’m in the backseat. But if you happen to ask if I want to drive, know that I will always say “Yeah, sure” and that I’m thinking thank God. 

Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk needs better package copy

Maybe something like this!?

There’s plenty of space in your driveway to park that pirate ship. It won’t float away, just avoid the sea monster. Trespassers make him stressed. But don’t worry about the butterflies or aliens, they’ve got lots of room to flutter. Also, hopscotch near the daises, away from the territorial tigers. They only play four-square with the monkeys and mice (it’s some kind of Chinese moxie). Like we said, there’s plenty of space in your driveway – a lot more than you’ll find on paper. Go chalk up the cement world with the colors of the real one. It’s okay if pirates get tangled with a sea monster in your daisy patch. Just add water and start over.

Another essay: A Little Freedom

Another essay from the same course, this time with a focus on voice. We were prompted to give a voice to anything, even inanimate coins. Here’s my submission:

Where I come from, you see still, expressionless, faces everywhere. If you’re lucky, you’ll notice differences in skin tone or age lines. But for the most part we all look, and act, the same. It’s hard not to feel like just a melancholy piece in the shiny confinement. What makes us special? What makes me special? I like to avoid the thought.

            The day I met Abe was an important one. “Name’s Abe,” he croaked. “That’s right, just Abe,” before I could respond. “Don’t answer to nothin’ else.” So I didn’t call him anything else. He had a face that stayed with you. Astonishingly damaged, it wasn’t one I’d ever put in the category of same. He knew it too, but did nothing to hide. If you needed to speak with Abe, you were going to have look him in the eyes. Through green scars and textured blisters were a pair of eyes that knew more than you. So naturally, those close to him avoided eye contact. He only spoke if spoken to, and turning jumbled thought to spoken word was never my strong suit. I tried not to bother the guy.

            One afternoon, though, my wonder betrayed my fear. I went straight to his corner, “Abe, where are you from?”

 He turned to face me, sighing. “Son, how old are you?”

“Answer me first,” I reacted. Who knows where that bravery came from.

“I’m from Texas,” he grunted.

“Interesting. I’m 16.” I saw his old expression conceal a smirk before glancing away. “Do you mind if I ask you another question?”

He didn’t look at me this time, “I don’t- but three strikes and you’re out.”

I took a moment to think, then continued: “What’s your story?” Abe turned to look at me again. This time he held a stare before speaking.

 “I’m not much for sharing, kid. Now get on.” I didn’t move. I wanted my third strike.

            It took awhile, but eventually I suspect Abe enjoyed sharing. That first afternoon he spoke about his early days in Texas. He met many faces and then wasted a few years on one in particular. To my surprise, Abe told me to stop by again. “Lots of folks here got ears, but you seem to be the only one that knows how to use ‘em. Come back and see me, kid.”

            So I did. Soon Abe was telling me stories of his former life every day. They were filled with places and faces more colorful than his scars, and I never got bored. Sometimes his marks were even visual aids. “Now, see this here? Never go to New York, the rats are mangy beasts.” Every tale seemed to end with some kind of advice, as if it would come in handy down the road for me. Yeah, right.

            I used my ears to listen well, like Abe said, only chiming in on occasion. One afternoon I reacted when he warned me about the disfiguring nature of sand. “I’m glad that isn’t something I’ll ever get lost in.”

“Oh, ya never know. Time might toss you through a beach or two,” he answered. I shook at this with doubt. I’d been in the same community for as long as I could remember. My world would get no bigger.

 Before I left that day Abe stopped me: “This world is mighty large, boy. Don’t forget your home, but don’t ever let fear trap you in the mud.” He was acting strange. I didn’t like it. Who was he to come into my world and make me question? I know who I am. I’m a face, like any other around. No better, no worse. Nothing special.

 

            That was my final memory of Abe, and all the other pennies that filled that damn jar I called home. The very next night brought a strange disaster, shattering the glass walls of my shiny world. I flew far from my comfort zone. Now only Abe’s advice was with me as I faced a world unknown, scared and excited.

            Eventually, I pieced things together. It was Abe who shook until the jar fell; that rusty old fool set me free. He wished me to see the world he had already explored, but not without a few pointers first. Thanks to Abe, my life’s worth more than a cent. 

An essay: What it feels like to play the French horn

This was an assignment in a copywriting course. For weeks the professor had us write creatively about anything but advertising. Here’s mine:

​The mouthpiece makes the magic happen. It’s tiny, shiny, silver and twists into the hole of its metallic companion. Bringing life to a French horn starts here. With lips pressed together, you decisively exhale through a small opening and cause them to vibrate quickly. When I first joined the band, we spent over a week just learning to use the mouthpiece. There’s nothing exciting about a room full of kids buzzing in unison. I remember feeling a little deceived, but, like a lot of things in my life, initial discomfort and worry faded to curiosity. Fading further into a genuine desire to make music.

​            Half of learning to play a horn was the coordination of lungs and mouth; to play any wind instrument breath and embouchure is everything. There’s got to be enough air in your lungs to finish a musical phrase, for example. I won’t hit a high note if I’m blue in the face because I forgot to take a breath. So it takes a good bit of focus. Focus on the math like language of dots strewn across your sheet music. Focus on the pulsing hands of the director up front. Focus as they gain speed, tracing quick triangles through the air. Focus on when the hands stop, petrified by a rest sign. Focus on the clock to see if class would be out soon. Too much focus and your brain might forget to remind your lungs to carry their weight.

​            Next, the personalized air stream also has to travel through twelve feet of tubing to reemerge as sound. Through the mouthpiece and stem, it fires through one, two, three, or four openings called rotary valves. They feel smooth when they’re oiled just enough. It’s oddly reassuring. Like a surprisingly flexible gate hinge, or easily shifting gears in a brand new Acura. Gliding between notes and key changes is possible because of these valves. And speedy fingers to play is the second half of learning. It was always so blatant who had practiced and who hadn’t (usually I hadn’t). After so many runs, my fingers just have a mind of their own. They shift up and down, seemingly magnetized in routine.

​            Those are a lot of the physical details that go into with playing the horn, but as I grew older personal thoughts and emotions became more of an active factor in the music. If playing in an orchestra as a young kid felt like a form of recess, playing in an orchestra as an older kid was an academic endeavor. For me, knowing the story behind a composer and his song’s purpose was how I stayed interested. We performed pieces that were previously scores for theatre and movies. We also performed modern work, tied to well known names like Ticheli, and Whitacre. These were particularly intimidating. We’d listen to a recording, trying to follow along, but the freshly speckled notes seemed impossible to wrap my head around. Weeks down the line I’d have a better grasp on things, knowing the overall goal was to sound better than the recording I initially dreaded.

​            The good senses, like achievement, from playing the French horn started breaking down for me at age seventeen. I was too interested in trying something new and running off to college. So I put down the French horn for good. Nowadays, I just have an odd bundle of memories involving the metal funnel cake.