Monday, December 22, 2008

The New Diner

So we've always called the area in the center of our agency space "the diner." It's where we all convene for Monday idea day lunches, where we break if we're brown-bagging it the rest of the week, and a last resort for holding meetings if our conference room has other people in it.

We've recently started to outgrow our diner in the past few years and have also desperately needed a more fully outfitted kitchen (picture rinsing out coffee cups in the bathroom sink every day). So Roy decided that as a reward to everyone at Third Degree for having such a great few years of growth and all that good stuff, that we could have a new place to rinse out our coffee cups, kick back, gather, get silly, get smarter, and just be.

Last Friday, it was unveiled, the new diner!

In true Third Degree fashion we had to design and execute it ourselves. Art director Kathleen and media buyer Jentry were given a budget, a few months, and a directive to take the unleased and unused corner space that was wasting square footage on the same floor as our agency, and transform it into – like the West Side Story song says – "a place for us."

The Vision

Kathleen and Jentry collaborated on a lot of top secret planning to mastermind this project. Plus, put buckets of sweat and tears into the execution to get it done.  It's why they do such good work for our clients – so the astonishing end product should have been no surprise to us. Above are the schematics that Jentry created.

Mood Board (sounds fancy, right?)

These are the visual inspiration pieces that Kathleen gathered. 

Ta Da!

Up until Friday the renovation had been concealed in mystery (that, and rolls of brown kraft paper taped up to the windows). And even though a small handful of us had gotten some sneak peeks in while the work was in progress, no one was prepared for how cool, bright, warm, exciting, just wonderful the space turned out to be. Keep in mind this was just an empty grey room up until then.

After all the paper was torn down and everyone gasped and oohed, and aahhed, we all lifted our glasses to the new Diner, and then started checking out all the little details.  Like that neat oversized print on the back wall which is actually a photo of the exterior of our Bricktown warehouse building printed onto wood panels. (Who knew you could do that? Thanks Simon Hurst for the cool night-time photo and Impressions Printing for printing on freakin' wood!).  

Other details we couldn't stop looking at...

This modular wall of clocks, cafeteria trays, corkboards, chalkboards and magnetic panels. 

These fun coffee table games and an etch-a-sketch and little bud vases with dice in the bottom.

A Wii game system! I think maybe Roy's making that face because he doesn't like the hairline Daniel is suggesting for the Roy-Mii character he's creating for him.

Like excerpts from our Third Degree brand book written on chalkboard paint columns.

Like jars filled with all sorts of fun stuff that just looks colorful and graphic and Third Degree-ish.

Like our original Third Degree logo that had been hiding in a back storage room area. It's now dusted off and fits right in with our original Third Degree person, Roy.

Like a shiny red retro streamlined fridge, which is being upstage by account coordinator Hallie's ridiculously festive Christmas vest.

Speaking of festive, we were also excited to greet our first surprise client guest to the new diner, Nancy from TFCU, who unexpectedly stopped by with some Christmas oranges and her self proclaimed over-the-top Christmas sweater/turtleneck combo, which trumped Hallie's self proclaimed over-the-top Christmas vest.  

Thanks Jentry and Kathleen for doing such an amazing job.

And thanks Roy for the awesome reward that makes it as cool as it's ever been for all of us to call Third Degree home.

Even if some of us insist on ruining it by wearing lame Christmas vests.

What's your favorite thing about the new diner?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Uncommon Farewell

Yesterday we said goodbye to one of our favorite places, our downstairs neighbor, the Uncommon Grounds coffee shop, who as of today has turned off the java latte machine, packed up the chocolate covered espresso beans and, to our deepest regret, closed their doors.

We gathered with our favorite Uncommon Grounds gals, Janice and Megan, along with many of their loyal patrons in an all day come-and-go farewell.

 Everyone at Third Degree will especially miss them for lots of reasons:

1. The warm cozy smell of fresh brewed coffee when you first walk in the building.

2. Megan's bagels (nice and toasty), Megan's sandwiches (perfectly layered), Megan's soup (full of yummy ingredients), Megan's fulfillment of special requests (peanut butter toast and milk), and Megan's dry raised-eyebrow-response whenever Roy's being sassy.

3. Meetings in the coffee shop are more fun than in a conference room

4. Bouncing on the huge iron scale in the floor from when the building was an old warehouse

5. Always having donuts just an elevator ride away (poor Jeff).

6. Watching the Bricktown bicycle cops try to flirt with Janice.

7. Just seeing the same faces every day, even if they're people you don't know... but now you kind of wish you did.

What will you miss most about Uncommon Grounds?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Card Retrospective

It's here!  Fresh from the printer with that printery smell!  The 2008 Third Degree Christmas card, this year by Brian and Brett.

© 1962 Third Degree Advertising

Maybe we've been watching too much Mad Men, but this 1960's inspired card and coordinating collaterals come straight from a fictional agency of yesteryear: Third Degree Advertising, Communications and Biscuit Company. And if you don't get the Kennedy era "Ich bin ein 'Magenta'-Man" joke once you read it (like me, I admit it) then here's a cheat reference at

The "Magenta"

The cocktail concept was in response to an internal agency demand for an official Third Degree holiday drink (okay, it was Roy).  We taste tested several recipes and this one, called "The Poinsettia" was voted the winner.  But what good's creative license if you don't use it once in a while? So either an aversion to having to concept a card around a flower, or just a fondness for CMYK prompted Brian to rename the drink "The Magenta."

Let's Look Back, Shall We?

Obviously we like to have a lot of fun with our Christmas card when it rolls around, and we like to give different creatives a stab at each year.  Here's a look back at some of the whimsical, weird and often award-winning greetings of goodwill:

Remember Finchy?

Remember Buckles?

This unlikely pair illicited more head-scratching and "huh's?" than any Third Degree card of previous years.  That's why just had to take the story of the mistletoe matched more-than-friends Finchy and Buckles, created by Kathleen and Liz, to the next level with a Valentines Day card follow-up which showed little Finchy overdosing on chocolates.

El Tercer Grado!

Before Jack Black ever put on his Luchador tights, our wrestler extraordinaire was teamed up with his fresh, hot, friendly and right ring mates.

Trusted Compadres

That was the year Daniel introduced friends of Third Degree to "The Fresh Fish," "The Red Hot Demon," "The Friendly Robot," and "Mr. Right." This theme was probably the most appropriately matched with our salsa packages we gift every year.


What happens when you give Brian, who loves to write off-beat scripted humor his first agency Christmas Card assignment? You get a card that literally reads like a kooky radio script and ends with the Roy character brainstorming a Rudolph-hitting-Santa-in-the-crotch-with-a-golf-club scenario.  Favorite line: "What's the buzz in creative, my creative buzzotches?"

Creature Feature

Okay, this was my card.  I think it's sweet.  A grasshopper who wishes he was a reindeer.  A rhino beetle who loves Julie Andrews musicals.  What says Christmas more than that? 

These Are a Few Of My Favorite Things

Exoskeletons, hand drawn doodles, old fashioned names like Bernice. 


Sometimes the details are about the design and not about the twisty-turny back story.  This card by Phillip, was all about the little touches that can make the difference between a typical corporate holiday greeting and a magical, sparkly, wintery hello.

Happy Holidays from Third Degree!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Would You Drink a Jar of Salsa for $100?

What says Christmas at Third Degree Advertising like our personalized stockings?


Like our shining faces hung on the tree with festive holes punched in our foreheads?


Like salsa chugging?!!

Every year Third Degree sends out chips and salsa to our friends. This year, we're sharing the heat inside the agency as CEO and founder (a.k.a. "king") Roy challenged project manager and firecracker of a gal, Jamie, to chug a jar of our homemade salsa in five minutes for $100.

Third Degree Salsa Challenge

If you are a friend of Third Degree, you might be getting your own jar in the coming week. Which poses the question. Would you chug a jar of salsa for $100?*

*Prize only applies to the chugging of Third Degree distributed salsa to pre-selected recipients. Actual chugging must be completed within five minutes and documented on video or with digital photography backed up by reputable witnesses. Other restrictions may apply. Hey, that's advertising, baby!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Smile and Say "Buck It!"

When we create a campaign we can get really, really involved.  That, and none of us can seem to stay away from the camera.  Well, Kathleen can't stay away from the camera (which is a whole separate post in itself).  The rest of my team can be persuaded with a little begging, which is what I did on a recent shoot for Buck The Norm (a Gen Y initiative for Tinker Federal Credit Union) to get some of our own Third Degree-ers to become Buck The Norm-ers.

Thumbs Up!

There's art director Daniel in his closeup. He's got his Bucky face drawn on his thumb. Bucky is sort of this irreverent character who shouts out this message of financial empowerment, and also happens to be a thumb.

Argh! Rargh!

Daniel is really bringing the intensity in this scene. So these monster finger puppets are so cool. They represent "the norm," like debt and overspending. We ordered hundreds of them and passed them out at the OKC Ghouls Gone Wild Halloween parade (more on that below). Almost everyone in the agency has one or two finger monsters that have taken up residence on their desk.

Dance Montage (Deleted Scene)

Yeah... so, this one didn't make the cut.  But we did lots of dancing that day.  We were shooting for a video that we created using a series of still shots (these photos by David McNeese) animated together in sequence to bring the action "to life."

Sweet Girl

Here's designer, Liz, all pretty and coy in blue.

Mean Girl

And there's account coordinator Hallie, all up-in-your-face in blue.  

Lending a Hand

Actually, Liz and Hallie and I had a blast on the set of this video shoot. Liz helped gather and make a lot of the hand-held props like these oversized fake bills on cardboard. That guy and girl drowning in distress are young local student-slash-actors. Those hands creeping into the shot are not. Those are (you guessed it) the sweet girl and mean girl hands of Liz and Hallie!

True Colors

Okay so Hallie's not that mean! She put on a smiley-face-yellow wig and joined bespectacled and bedazzling Third Degree account executive, Kande, to march in the OKC Ghouls Gone Wild parade as part of the Buck The Norm float.

She Wore Blue... (Synthetic Hair)

Miss account coordinator Felina, also donned a beautiful hairdo and along with Kathleen helped coordinate the Buck The Norm parade float and people and buckets (buck its!) and huge finger monsters and music and video.  She, like all the other Third Degree and TFCU brave participants went hoarse after shouting "Buck The Norm" over and over again at 30,000 crazy costumed spectators. Buck The Norm actually won "Beast In Show" from the parade sponsor the Oklahoma Gazette.

Buck The 76 Trombones, We've Got Giant Finger Puppet Monsters!

Here's a video of the Buck The Norm float and participants from the actual parade.  The Ghouls Gone Wild event, now in its second year, is part of an effort to foster the creative spirit in Oklahoma City.  It's an evening event geared towards adults (but whose going to keep the kiddos away from a giant Beetlejuice float? not me!) Wayne Coyne of the world famous independent group, The Flaming Lips, is a huge supporter of the parade and his march of 1,000 skeletons attracts participants from all over the country, eager to dress up as skeletons and carry flaming torches in a surreal procession as part of the parade finale.

So What Is The Norm?

Want MORE finger puppet monsters? Want MORE Daniel and Liz and Hallie?! Who doesn't? Watch the Buck The Norm video that started it all.

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's a Food Thing

So We're Kind of Into Food

Thanksgiving is over, the leftovers are thinning out (okay, maybe "thin" is not the right description), and we're on to the next thirty-one days of bunt cakes and cookies and cheesy log-type-dip-type-concoctions.  But Third Degree doesn't really need an excuse to be into food. Heck, it's part of our brand:

A Fresh Hot Friendly Right
Fresh, Hot, Friendly, Right

That's how we serve it up.  So if you see a running theme in the design of our agency branding, no it's not that you're just hungry, it's that from coffee cups to fried eggs to green peas, we just like using food to show how much we care.  We're working with a therapist on it.

B Happy Plate
Happy Plate

We always have a lot of fun designing new culinary collaterals.  This is one of our leave-behind pieces we did for a national credit union conference.  It's one of those old-school segmented plates that keeps your mixed veggies from touching your mashed potatoes.  We used it to illustrate the importance of a balance marketing mix.

C Matter of Taste
It's a Matter of Taste

So sometimes our little obsession makes its way into work for our clients.  On the right is a gravy-inspired doorhanger Brian concepted for Henry's Chicken Fry.  He has it hung up behind his desk next to this oversized cardboard ornament that labels different cuts of reindeer meat. We didn't design the reindeer piece – but I wish we had!

D My Thing
My Thing

So my thing is I kind of really like fake food.  I have a bunch of plastic rolls and hamburgers and cupcakes and sushi and more at home (which I pretend belongs to my four-year old).  A little of it has found its way to my desk here at work.  This is a really cool foam fake slice of bread with a post-it note pad posing as a pat of butter.  I got it at a Krogers when I was on a TV shoot for Hastings in Amarillo.  I wish we had Krogers in OKC!  Because I also got a platter there that looks like a photographic pizza and a salad bowl that is printed on the inside with fake lettuce.

E Turning Japanese
Turning Japanese

Apparently the Japanese are really into fake food, too.  This is a little miniature of a waffle with a side of some sort of green gelatin-based soup.  See the cute little spoon and knife!  These come in little boxes and you don't know what you're going to get until you open it. 

F More Japanese
More Japanese

Oh, here's a little set of fast food that I forgot about hanging behind my desk, too.  I think these are erasers.

G I'm Not The Only One
I'm Not The Only One

This is art director, Kathleen's desk.  See!  She has fake sushi.  It winds up.  Even better!  I love this photo so much.  This is the profile picture on our Third Degree social media-focused Facebook page.  

H That's Not Right
That's Not Right

Okay, so this is NOT fake food, but it should be.  This was art director Daniel's lunch last Wednesday before the holiday break.   Cheetos smashed into a veggie patty Subway sandwich.  Actually, I'm just pretending it looks gross.  It actually looks delicious.  Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving Daniel, and everyone else, too!!!