Friday, May 22, 2009

Where Am I?

What happens when the creative director goes on vacation? She delegates, delegates, delegates, changes her out-of-office email reply, changes her voicemail, and... lets go.

At least for a week.


Maybe you're still not back in the office from Memorial Day weekend malaise and/or mayhem, but now that vacation season is here, the shared office calendar starts to get color-coded blocks of time that are a little bit longer than usual.

But, there's also lots of other reasons for being away from your desk. Some work-related, some not so much.


This desktop flip chart is a promotional item I got in the mail from the stock photography resource, Veer. It's specifically geared toward creative professionals, and a bunch of us kept it around here, so obviously it struck a chord. We have a very open office (no walls, no partial walls, no secrets). So it's sort of redundant to broadcast that you're away. But these are just too clever and quirky to resist putting on display.


Maybe you're at the dentist.

I'm ALWAYS at the dentist, thirty-three years old, two crowns, a ticking time bomb for a third, apparently I clench... my teeth that is.


At a long lunch.

We tend to brown bag it in our agency diner. But we have been know to step out once and a while.


Dealing with a high-maintenance kid. Or perhaps just a high-maintenance teacher.

That's a little bit of an exaggeration. I love my kid's teacher. However, she thinks Super Mario Bros. is too violent and not age-appropriate for my five year old to be discussing in class. Really? Super Mario? He like, jumps on mushrooms and turtles with wings. Maybe I shouldn't tell her his second favorite video game is Halo.


Some of them get a little more kooky.


A little more creepy.


And a little too close to reality for comfort.


But my favorite is the one I'm leaving up while I leave it all behind.

If you comment to this post, please don't get your feelings hurt if I don't reply. Like the first photo says, "I'm going off the grid" and leaving all modern technology behind. Except for my kid's Nintendo DS. Because Super Mario doesn't take vacations.

Ready For Your Closeup, Regional Health Care Center?

So our creative team recently tackled two photo shoots in the same week for two different clients. Nothing too unusual about that.


But what was kind of funny is that they were both for regional rural health centers, Jackson County Memorial Hospital and Unity Health Center.


And, both shoots were booked with Simon Hurst, one of our favorite photographers from across the pond (that means he's English, like the Hugh Grant.... or Mr. Bean).


He calls Oklahoma home, now, though. It's not like we fly him in special-like all the way from England.


That's his photographer's assistant, Beau.


Beau is like a magician's sequined, smiling assistant. Except not smiling, and no sequins. But he does get all the glamorous jobs like keeping Simon and his camera dry in the rain.

This might be some lighting thing going on here, but I'm pretty sure it's makeshift umbrella duty.


Beau probably has a lot more to say than he shares. As he watches our associate creative director Brian, consult with Simon, Beau's probably thinking we should try a different composition, or consider shooting our every day people with greater depth of field to exaggerate the concept of them playing a powerful role in their own healthcare.

Or he's wondering when we might break for lunch.

JCMH-0002 Brand Platforms.indd

A lot of times we use stock photography for our executions, especially in the initial concepting phase. This is one of the brand platforms we just started for one of our newest clients, Jackson County Memorial Hospital. We'll continue to develop this brand into other messaging mediums like a web site redesign, annual report and an internal awareness initiative including an employee brand book. But we'll be replacing some of the stock photography with custom photography of real doctors, patients and members of the community.


It's not unlike the brand we created for Unity a couple years back. The "it starts at the center," platform has been a springboard for outdoor, web, print and also internal outreach – like a brand video they shared with all the staff and community members at a town hall-style launch of the new Unity look and feel. We ended up using a combination of stock and "real people" photography in the final pieces we created for them.


It's always an unpredictable undertaking shooting real staff and patients. Simon is really great about putting them all at ease, and they usually find his British accent incredibly charming. Because, unless you're like our art director Kathleen, most regular people don't necessarily run to fling themselves in front of the camera.


Although it's always pretty easy to find Third Degree team members who are willing to act as stand-ins while we find our best shot.

Okay, technically since our account coordinator Felina is expecting, it's somewhat appropriate for her to be pushed in a wheelchair. But our designer, Liz, is definitely not qualified to be her caregiver. Although I have a suspicion she's no stranger to playing doctor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Every Credit Union Should Have a Simon


Simon is the guy who knows what's going on the inside – the staff side – of the credit union.


Simon isn't afraid to share. He's a enthusiastic giver of information, motivation (and self-proclamation.)


Simon has got your back. Even if you don't know it, or aren't quite sure you want it once he's literally standing in your cubicle.


Simon is the friendly face of people working and bonding together behind the scenes.

Amanda and I (pictured above and below) just got back from a two-day planning session with the always enthusiastic and welcoming marketing team at Delta Community Credit Union in Atlanta. I saw "the Simon head" up on the shelf, and asked one of their team members, Jeff Deck, who is always "Simon" and always a good sport, to get on the get-up and give us an impromptu photo shoot.


Did I mention Simon is friendly? We'll just assume this especially friendly moment is because it's really hard to judge appropriate personal space when you're wearing a giant foam head and have limited sight and depth perception. Right?


And, hey, cut the guy a break. He usually exists completely online. Simon is basically the portal for all employee communications on the Delta Community Credit Union intranet.


Simon lets employees know about upcoming credit union events and news, job opportunities, new employees and need-to-know stuff like processes and procedures. The intent is to create a friendly, consistent and current source of info for the internal staff – taking the idea of reliable, people-helping-people positioning that the credit union works so hard to continually reinforce externally to its members and community, and bring a little of that attention to one of its biggest group of advocates – its own employees.


Although the taped glasses and tie are always staple Simon character traits, Simon has a lot of looks for all the different types of information he shares.


Third Degree created the Simon character together with the Delta Community marketing team . We wanted Simon to be fun and a little offbeat (he was even a robot first for about two rounds of concepting). We wanted people to, well... pay attention to him. Almost everyone is guilty now and again of ignoring a breakroom flyer or a mass company-wide email. Our hope in creating Simon, was to create a memorable messenger.


And, if mischievous members of the Delta Community team, who are always up for a practical joke, ever start to really have some fun with Simon (this printout was mysteriously tacked up in marketing one morning, although Simon had already been returned damage free), it just goes to show he's truly become one of them.

Speaking of returns – can an organization like a credit union measure the R.O.I. on fostering happy, informed, all-on-the-same page employees?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Snorts Visit The OKC

The who visits the wha? The 'Snorts is a small group of about a dozen non-competing advertising agency founders from all over the country that meet a few times a year to compare notes, discuss challenges and debate and deliberate on just about everything from tracking financials to cultivating agency culture.

Third Degree's founder, Roy, is a Snort. And yes, that name is weird. It's actually short for Bucksnorts. Which isn't any better, but at least eliminates the allusion to a certain advertising agency extra-curricular cliché from the eighties. But it does make it sound like they wear orange puffy hunting vests, or wear little tassled fez hats and ride around on mini scooters in small town parades. They do neither. Apparently the name has a enigmatic mystery-shrouded history, so we'll just leave it at that.


The Snorts come from agencies from Alaska to Ohio, but this week, they descended upon Third Degree's home turf, Oklahoma City (hence, "The OKC"... you know, like "The OC" but without the ocean, or the dramatic, suntanned and angsty teens with their dramatic, suntanned and angsty parents.) Okay, I suppose we have angsty teens in the midwest, too. Just not as tan.


Brian wrote and Brett designed this clever little visitor packet for them when they arrived. It covered a few highlights like our Bricktown entertainment district, the Oklahoma City Memorial, and fun areas like the Paseo Arts District.


The Snorts stayed at downtown's historic Skirvin Hilton Hotel. It's a beautiful hotel, I want to say art deco, but perhaps even predating that just a tad. Misty put together these goody-packed baskets for them at the hotel. The Snorts get into some serious discussions in these all day, drag out, knock out sessions they hold. They mean business, which means serious brain food, like goldfish, right? Of course right.


When the goldfish run out and dinner rolls around they are usually worn out on the ad-speak: "so do you prefer cocktail napkins or post-its for recording your a-ha moments?" or "do you consider agency intramural ping-pong competitions as billable time?"

Their last evening with us was on Cinco De Mayo, so we had to take them to our most popular Bricktown mexican restaurant, Chelinos.


Heres to margaritas, mariachis and making the most out of "The OKC." I know we like to think we make the most out of it at Third Degree.