The “G-Word”

No, not G-string. Someone asked if that was the G-word I referred to…Sorry to disappoint but I’m talking about Generosity.

My professor tends to use this word liberally. Each time we hear the word “generosity” escape from her mouth, students shoot a smiling glance at each other and shake our heads thinking “Oh silly Deb, and her catch phrases…”

When I first told my non-advertising friends I was missing a week of school to go to New York, they were confused (and jealous). Each person wanted to know what I would do there. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure myself. As far as I knew, we would go to the One Show Creative Week student exhibit and visit various advertising agencies in between. I expected to tour agencies and sit through presentations. What actually happened surprised me.

Advertising has a reputation for being a cut-throat world filled with egotistical Don Drapers and hierarchies. Although most agencies still reside on Madison Ave, the days of being an asshole (their words, not mine mom!) are over.

I learned so many things while I was in New York. I have notebooks filled with quotes and insights. I could write a 10,000 word blog post on everything I soaked up. However, one of my biggest takeaways was that advertising isn’t as scary of a world as it appears.

Eager students hanging on every word

As a lowly student who just discovered the actual job description of a planner, or still doesn’t know the difference between an Art Director and a Designer, it’s easy to feel like a minnow in a shark pool. We hear stories of agencies receiving over 400 applications per week, and we cry ourselves to sleep  thinking about how we’ll forever remain living with our parents (or potentially a cardboard box if we’re lucky enough to land an internship that pays minimum wage). But speaking with people in the industry showed me that we can do it.

It won’t be easy. It’s going to be difficult, and at times we’ll question why we even bother in the first place. But we’re capable of huge things if we keep our passion alive. And people in the industry are there to help us along the way.

“You have all of the power. Don’t let it go unrealized” – Michael Lebowitz, Big Spaceship.

I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of each person that we met while in New York. Every industry professional had incredible insight for us, and genuinely wanted to help us succeed. Initially, I expected short tours and presentations that ended with “alright, thanks for coming but we’ve gotta go back to work”. I was so impressed and overwhelmed by the kindness each person showed us. They took time out of their day to speak with us, and some even rearranged their schedules so that we could talk more. Almost all of them gave us their contact information and encouraged us to reach out to them at any time. It’s not often that you find people who are so willing to help you, even though you just met.

“Advertising is a chaotic job. Nothing has a logical projection. It’s managed chaos. But there’s no distinct, ordered process towards creativity” – Matt Macdonald, JWT

New York is a place that used to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I grew up in a small town in Oregon, and I am accustomed to the relaxed west-coast vibe. The first time I visited in New York, I came back emotionally and physically exhausted. I remember telling my parents that I hated New York and I would never live there because “everyone is on their own agenda”. It was too fast paced for me. Oh, how times change.

Both New York and Advertising still terrify me. There’s days when I wonder if I’ll survive the industry. However, meeting everyone in New York made me realize that there are far more good people in the world than bad people. We met some incredibly inspiring people who want to see us flourish, and that makes me feel like the real world isn’t as scary as it’s made out to be.

Someday, I hope to be on the other side of it, helping students feel the same way. In the end, we’re all just people. And where would we be if we didn’t help each other once in a while?

“Be smart, work your ass off, and help anyone who needs it” – Tom McDonnell, DDB

Thank you so much to everyone who met with us during the week, and especially Deb Morrison, Dave Koranda, and Harsha Gagadharbatla for leading the way. There’s no way I can ever express my gratitude for the incredible experience that I had. Thank you.


24. Finding Your Passion

As the year winds down to an end, I took some time to reflect on all of the lessons that I’ve learned throughout this term. I flipped through my notebook, and one of the things that struck me was the difference in my notes from class to class. Most of my notes seem to be the average copying of slides. However, in one particular class, all of the notes seem to be a frenzy of inspiration and engagement. You guessed it, it’s the notes from my creative strategist class.

To show you what I’m talking about, this is what my notes from Economics look like:


Now, here are my notes from Creative Strategist:

Kathy Hepinstall's Lecture

Tracy Wong's Lecture (Sorry for the profanity -- blame him!)

My notes from creative strategist clearly show a higher level of engagement. I can tell just by looking that I care about that subject the most. After studying my notes for a while, I think the difference between each school subject reflects the difference in my passion.

Advertising is something I am passionate about. It’s a huge aspect of my identity; it’s what makes me happy.

I love how it feels to complete a project I worked hard on. I love when it feels like I made meaningful work, and contributed something to the world. Collaborating ideas with others for a purpose is something that I truly enjoy. I love the friends that I’ve made through my advertising journey.

It’s hard sometimes. Often I feel like I’m not good enough, or that I’ll never make it. But it’s that passion that gets me through it.

I feel pretty fortunate in that for me, finding my passion was pretty easy. Strangely enough, advertising always has been my passion, and (hopefully) it always will be. I know some people struggle to figure out what it is that makes them tick. Some people get stuck in the rut of going through the motions of life because it’s easier or more secure. But if you never unleash your potential, you will never be fully satisfied.

Success should not be defined by the amount of money you make. It can only be defined by your happiness. Deep down, everyone has a passion that drives them — it’s what keeps us sane. Find something that makes you truly happy, and start living.

3. Curiosity Killed the Cat, But it Praised the Advertiser

When I was little (yes, here we go again with a personal anecdote), I used to beg my dad to take me to the library. Each time my mom had a “girls night” party at our house, my dad and I would hop into the ’93 Infiniti and head to the wealth of knowledge known as the public library. At the time, I never realized that this was all just part of my dad’s ploy to make me a genius while simultaneously escaping the frenzy of screaming middle-aged menopause, but I digress…

I would leap onto the brick pathway, scaling the wall like a spider monkey (I was a weird child if you haven’t picked that up yet), and after spending hours in the children’s section, I would check out at least 30 picture books. Usually, 28 of those 30 picture books were Curious George.

Curious George was a book I could relate to; first because I thought I was a spider monkey, and second because like George, I myself was curious. Also, my dad would occasionally wear a yellow hat (not really, but that would have made this story better).

Fast forward, and today in creative strategist we talked about account planning.

I am not an account planner. While I may have an obsession with plans and I use three different agendas each with increasing detail to map out my life, I want to be a writer. But the important message here is that the job title doesn’t matter.

To be a good advertiser, you need to be curious.

I first thought about curiosity during my Intel internship. Ironically enough, it was because we sponsored a television show on the Discovery Channel called “Curiosity”. They sent an announcement around about how we were sponsoring this new program, and I looked into it. One of the commercials that plays during this show is an interview with Genevieve Bell, Director of Interaction & Experience Research at Intel Corporation.

In this spot, she gives some great insight on what it means to be curious:

“Curiosity is what you can make people think about, and what you can make possible for them. Curiosity is not just about observing things; it’s about being changed by them.”

Before I discovered the show, I had never thought about how those ideas could play into advertising. Genevieve puts it all into perspective: “you have to know why people love the things that they already have to invent the next generation of things that they’re going to want”. 

As WPP planning guru Jon Steel puts it,

“The key to success is understanding the basics of the human condition.”

It’s time to stop thinking about audiences and start thinking about individuals. If you are curious and truly engage with a consumer, then you will achieve unparalleled results. Take an interest in people, and they will reciprocate that interest.

So, how can you be curious? Be like George the monkey. Look at things from a childlike perspective. Ask yourself what makes people the way they are. Ask WHY. Collect things. Curate interesting.

It’s not always about the answer — sometimes you learn the most when you reflect on how you got there.

This was an installation by Renee Alvarado, Corey Haugen, Holly Schnackenberg, Kristen Mohror, and Emily Papp. Check them out - sheer talent.

2. Ode to the 90’s

It would have been much cooler if I wrote this blog post in 2010 for the whole “decade” effect but alas…I just thought of this blog post today.

This post will either make you feel really old (if you’re in that baby boomer generation – news flash: you ARE old! Just kidding, Mom and Dad) or very nostalgic (if you have fond memories of watching that incredible Nickelodeon line up of Rugrats, Doug, Salute your Shorts and Clarissa Explains it All while eating Captain Crunch in your footie pajamas). But hey, nostalgia is always fun!

As a proud member of the Spice Girls, Doc Martens, glitter eyeshadow era, today I reminisced on all of the things I used to love back in the 1990s. It should come as no surprise if you read my last post that one of the things I loved about the 1990s was advertising. I wasn’t lying when I said I used to memorize jingles as a child. While most kids my age were enjoying the great outdoors, I would sit in my living room surrounded by my larger than life beanie baby collection (I SERIOUSLY thought those would be worth a fortune someday…This is why I don’t buy stocks) and I would recite commercials. Out of adoration and pure love of the 1990s, here is my ode to the best advertising of the good ol’ days (or at least the commercials I remember most from my childhood).

1. Sears Air Conditioning

Ahh, the Sears air-conditioning commercial. Although most people would probably put this in the category of “worst commercial ever”, I have some very fond memories of sitting in the back seat of my suburban with my best friend Kara on our way to soccer practice as we each dramatically acted out this scene. I always got to be the sweaty woman who “CAN’T STAND ANOTHER DAY WITHOUT AIRCONDITIONING!”. How could you not love a commercial with lines like:

“Says tomorrow’s gonna be hotter.
Like yesterday.
Yesterday you said you’d call Sears!
I’ll call today!
No, you’ll call now!
I’ll call now!”


“So, what’s the paper say about tomorrow?

Now THAT is some quality copywriting*! Regardless of the cheesiness factor, I must say that I STILL to this day can recite those lines word for word. Successful advertising? You tell me.

2. Budweiser – Wazzaaaap

Admit it, you answered your landline phone like this for the entire year of 1999.

3. Taco Bell – Yo Quiero Taco Bell

I wanted a chihuahua very badly after this commercial. Later, I met a chihuahua for the first time and it bit my hand. Long story short, I should have approached the chihuahua with tacos. (Sidenote: chihuahua may be one of the most fun words to say).

4. Budweiser – Frogs

I used to have a mug that would play the sounds of these frogs when you tilted it. I miss that mug…

5. Daisy Sour Cream – Dollop

This is the sour cream ad that I referred to in my earlier post. I used to drive my parents crazy by singing this repeatedly while I put sour cream on my baked potatoes. This commercial is also the only reason why I even know what a “dollop” is. (sidenote: dollop is also a very fun word to say).

Don’t worry folks – this post has some educational value. From a more scholarly aspect, the changes that happened in ten years (eleven years…but ten sounds better) fascinate me. When I look back on these commercials, I can’t believe that they were successful. Aside from the obvious production advancements since these commercials first aired, one thing that stands out most to me is the cultural implications.

The “wazzap” commercial started an entire phenomenon. You couldn’t walk five steps on the playground without someone screaming “WAZZZAAAAAAAAAAAP” in your face. The Taco Bell ad has some subtle racism and stereotype generalizations that probably would not be accepted today, but at the time it was a huge hit. Don’t get me started on the Daisy and Sears ads — apparently the 90s were a big blur of straight sappiness. However, even though they were lame, I still could sing you the jingle or recite my lines flawlessly.

For me, these advertisements make me wonder. How will I look at advertising in the next ten years? To an outsider who watches these commercials, it would appear that the 90s were a carefree time of corny sensationalism, Boy Bands, and light-up shoes. How will the next generation of advertising shape our culture?

For creative strategists, we need to think about this. Do we really want to look back and have nothing to show but jingles and weird catchphrases? Or do we want to do something meaningful to shape the world?


It’s a scary time to be a future graduate. Every day I feel bombarded with messages that tell me I can’t do it:

The unemployment rate is too high.

We are in a recession.

In this economy, you should take whatever you can get.

When people ask me about my career goals, immediately following my overly excited response of copywriting!!! (with that many exclamation points) they say: “Why advertising?”

When I was eight, my elementary school held its first career day. Students dressed up as what they wanted to be when they grew up. Most students came to school dressed as doctors, lawyers, astronauts, and of course, Britney Spears (hey, it was the 90s).

I sat shyly in the corner of the classroom wearing plain clothes, a pencil behind my ear, and a notepad full of concept sketches. My classmates, blind with confusion as to why I wasn’t dressed extravagantly in pop star diva attire, spent the entire day interrogating me. “What’s an advertiser?” they’d say. Apparently, no one else my age spent their time memorizing commercials and singing jingles from sour cream ads…

My parents thought I would grow out of it. In kindergarten, I said I wanted to be a police officer (despite my lack of bravery). The next day, I claimed that culinary arts were my calling (despite my lack of baking skills). Yet as time passed, my passion for advertising remained. I grew up, but I never grew out of it.

This is me, when I wanted to be Batman. Then I realized I couldn't fly, and I'm not a man.

Ten years later, I started at the University of Oregon. My first class was Writing 121. I nervously took my seat in the middle of the classroom (I was too scared to sit in the front – total n00b) and saw “George Orwell: Why I Write – 1946” written on the board with chalk. Our first assignment was to read his essay, and then write our own version of “Why I Write”. I had always considered myself a good writer but through this reflection, I realized how much I truly enjoy writing. I had never thought about why I wrote, and this assignment made me understand my necessity to creatively express myself. However, it never struck me that it could be a career.

Sophomore year, I joined Allen Hall Advertising. It was almost by fluke – I had recently declared a journalism major and I needed a resume builder. I had no knowledge of advertising besides the lingering spark of interest from my elementary school days. Little did I know how fortunate I would be. I was completely taken aback by the innovation and creative thinking that surrounded me. I realized advertising is more than just persuading people to buy products — it has the capability to shift cultural ideologies and change the world for the better (more to come on that subject in a later blog post, if you don’t believe me). My time at the University of Oregon has allowed me to pick the brains of ad industry professionals and incredible student talent, and delve into the world that I am so passionate about.

It has been an interesting journey to find my professional identity. Some days I envision myself in that corner office, coming up with slogans on the spot like Don Draper (in a non-sexist, non-smoking, non-alcoholic sort of way). Other days, I read Ernie Schenck’s Be the Rabbit and wonder if I have what it takes to survive the cold, bitter slap of the advertising world. But that’s life; all I can do is try my best to live it.

What is my ultimate career goal? I want to be a writer at an advertising agency. How will I do this? Learn as much as I can about my passion – start small, educate myself, accept failure, learn, and grow. Why advertising? Because it’s time to make these dreams a reality, no matter how difficult it may be along the way.

A quote from my dad that inspired a page in my Idea Book. Thanks for always believing, Dad!


If you are an avid follower of my blog (which I would guess you are not since I only have one subscriber and it is myself…), you may notice that I gave my blog an extreme makeover! Ty Pennington was here, there was a huge ceremony, I cried, etc. You missed it…


That’s right folks – things are stewin’ and brewin’ over here. It’s my final year at college (panic attack?)  and it’s all starting to come together. I am especially excited about my advertising class, Creative Strategist, because it provides me with a hefty dose of daily inspiration. As a fortunate member this melting pot of ideas known as J456, I will start numbering my blog posts. I just thought I should let my dear readers know about my format and blog title change.

I’m molding into a young professional, and as such I will make this blog a little bit more focused on my passions: stories, technology, social media,  and of course advertising. Here and there, some posts may be sprinkled with random goodness but for the most part I will blog about those topics. Off we go!

Ad Snob’s Favorites: Schweppes and Liberty Mutual

Seating charts in a large lecture class of over 200 people sound ridiculous – especially for college students. Yet, as a human programmed to following rules my entire life, I sit in row F seat 9 every day. Although many complain of how unfair this seating chart is (college kids are a bunch of whiners – we think we’re independent, but let’s be real: our moms still finish our laundry when we come home) I particularly enjoy my forced arrangement because it allows me to engage in random conversation with my peers.

Yesterday in class we watched a few commercials as we talked about social media marketing. I had already seen most of them because I eat, sleep, dream, and breathe advertising (<–ad snob) but the girl next to me, Grace Fox (visit her blog here) was very intrigued by them. We got into a conversation about our favorite advertisements, and why we like them. Being the ad snob that I am, I dominated the conversation, and I’m pretty sure that she regretted asking me the question because I talked her ear off…But nevertheless, here are the commercials that I deemed my favorite.

This is an Australian commercial for Schweppes. The Schweppervescence campaign was developed at George Patterson Y&R, Melbourne.

If you know me personally, you know that I am a sucker for anything that is in slow-motion. I could watch slow-motion videos for hours upon end. Why? Because it is AWESOME. 10 points for you, Schweppes, for recognizing my slow-motion obsession.

In all seriousness though, this commercial is absolutely beautiful. Viewers become entranced by soothing melodies paired with moments that one yearns to be a part of. How badly do you want to be at that party where they are throwing Schweppes balloons at each other in tuxedos?? Sign me up.

I can’t stop watching the beauty of the slow-motion, the song entices me emotionally, and then at the end I feel like crying because #1 the Schweppes party is over and #2 the simple tagline “a moment of…Schweppes” makes me realize that life is all about little moments and we all need to slow down sometimes (woah – so many emotions I need to grab a schweppes and sit down for a while).

Slow-motion + Song I want to download+ Life metaphors/revelations = perfect commercial.

My other favorite commercial is Liberty Mutual’s “Do the right thing” advertisement by the Hill Holiday Agency.

The first time I watched this commercial, I bawled my eyes out. Tears streaming down my face, I thought to myself, “WTF am I doing crying at an insurance commercial??”. Well played, Liberty Mutual…

Yet again, they hit my weak spots. Pay it Forward is one of my favorite movies of all time, and this commercial really resonates with me. That sassy tagline at the end that says, “When its people who do the right thing, they call it being responsible. When it’s an insurance company, they call it Liberty Mutual” puts all of the company values in line for me, and makes me want to choose them for my insurance.

I came across an interesting article in business week about this campaign, and I was even further impressed with Liberty Mutual and Hill Holiday Agency. Before this commercial, I had never heard of Liberty Mutual insurance. In fact, after watching the commercial for the first time, I remember Google searching the company because I did not know what it was.

Liberty Mutual had an ambitious goal of becoming one of the top five auto insurance companies in the U.S., but how were they to compete with other companies who dominated advertising and outspent Liberty Mutual on a 5 to 1 margin?

Now, as an advertising extraordinaire (aka snob), I’m well aware of the idea that one must “break through the clutter!” and Hill Holiday Agency did just that. They thought beyond traditional campaigns, and utilized research about how the company operates to completely transform the brand.

“Employees summed it up as: “We know you do your part, and you can count on us to do ours.” It’s what Liberty believes in, and it is what consumers seek. The team had found the catalytic idea—that collective, almost subconscious thought—that was already part of Liberty Mutual’s value system. This shared belief in responsibility would be the basis for a brand movement.” –Business Week Article

I always thought that I was more humorous and the best commercials were ones that made me laugh out loud (or, “LOL” for all of you preteens out there). However, when someone asked me what my favorite commercials were, the ones that I really remembered were these two. Advertising is all about storytelling, and allowing consumers to feel part of something bigger than themselves. THAT is what resonates with consumers. Schweppes and Liberty Mutual achieved this. What can your brand do?

p.s. I decided that this whole “Ad Snob” thing is fun. Since I love the advertising world and commonly come across new campaigns that catch my eye, look out for more posts like this one from now on!

Public Relations and Advertising: Two Peas in a Pod

There I sat, feverishly scribbling down notes in my Principles of Public Relations class, when I realized it.

To be completely honest, I was never excited about public relations. Advertising has always been my passion; my tunnel-vision. My obsession that causes me to spend countless hours straining my eyes on Adobe Illustrator. My elite group of enthusiasts who ooze creativity and discuss things like typography in everyday conversation. Public relations was just something I picked up on the side so that I could graduate with a double major. It was something to look good on paper (see? this is me being transparent!).

Yet there I was on that second day of class, when I realized how correlated advertising and public relations are, and how much I am looking forward to being a part of both industries.

The subject matter of today’s class did not even sound appealing. History of Public Relations? Wake me up when it’s over. I’ve never been a history buff, and anything before the 1950s makes my eyes droop. Yes, I should learn history so that it doesn’t repeat itself…But what can I say? I’m a futuristic kind of gal. Not to mention, the class takes place during my normal lunch hour and it’s hard to hear through my embarrassingly audible stomach grumbles. However, I put my pre notions of boredom aside, and listened to what Professor Kelli Matthews had to say. It turns out that her lecture gave me an important insight into why I am double majoring in advertising and public relations.

Her lecture focused on previous press agents who changed the industry, and shifted public relations into what it is today. The press agent that intrigued me the most was Arthur Page. Arthur Page was the vice president at AT&T and he insisted that public relations should be an integral aspect of the corporation and serve as a management function.

Arthur Page...So dapper!

One of my main takeaways from the lecture was Arthur Page’s Seven Proven Principles that Guide Our Actions and Behavior. Although they seem like common-sense practices, many times I am so consumed with industry trends that I forget to go back to the basics. I decided to use these concepts, and add my own insights as well. These seven principles made me realize that simple ideas are extremely significant in both public relations AND advertising.


Like I said – it’s so obvious. People appreciate honesty. Ask anyone what they value most in another person, and most times people will respond by saying “honesty”. Take this concept, integrate it into business practices and problems can easily be avoided. Granted, people make mistakes. Yet, most will feel more inclined to forgive impropriety if one is upfront about their mishaps, and thus lead to brand loyalty.


As we all know, actions speak louder than words. As Arthur Page suggests, “Public perception of an organization is determined 90 percent by what it does and 10 percent by what it says”. Companies that prove their honesty are more likely to achieve brand loyalty. When customers are a priority, they will respond positively.

An example of this is seen in Chris Malone’s article “Why Tylenol Got a Pass and BP Didn’t”. According to Malone’s research, “Almost simultaneously, Tylenol and BP…faced bruising public crises. Yet in July, at the depth of both calamities, a nationally representative study of more than a thousand U.S. consumers found the Tylenol brand largely unharmed while BP was widely distrusted.” The reason for this? Tylenol went above and beyond and demonstrated their true brand values when “it voluntarily closed its plant in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, although the plant’s products generate $650 million in yearly sales.” Actions like this show consumers that the company truly does have consumer’s best interest at heart, and therefore builds relationships that can withstand crisis.


Everyone likes being heard. If you do not listen to the public, why should they listen to you?

Always remember the importance of the public part of public relations.


Companies cannot solely focus on the present, but must also think towards the future. Anticipation is key if a company wants to receive positive results. If unanticipated crisis supervenes,  it could be too late to fix it. Always be thinking about tomorrow.

Come on, sing it with me now!


This was one of the ideas that shifted public relations into a professionalized practice. Utilize public relations as an integral part of the company. “No corporate strategy should be implemented without considering its impact on the public”.


People are what matter. A company is only as strong as those who thrive within it. It is a company’s responsibility to hold true to their values, and only hire those who fulfill their ideology.

Once I was in a job interview, and it came to the inevitable part where the interviewer asked if I had any questions. I asked what the company values were – a question that I ask at every place that I interview at in order to make sure that it fits with my own personal values. The interviewer responded by saying “well, I’m sure you could read about it somewhere on our website”. Well, little did she know that I did extensive research on this company’s website prior to my interview. I was unable to find any information on their website pertaining to the company values. How will this company find employees that integrate their policies, when their company values are not accessible? Finding employees that hold true to company ethics is important, but equally important is the transparency of company values and as previously mentioned, carrying out these values.


“Cool heads communicate best”

Personality is important. Public relations and advertising are both about building relationships with clients – everyone is human, and likes to be treated as one. People connect with others who are interesting and intriguing. Don’t be afraid to show your true self (in a professional manner, of course – no keg stands allowed in conference meetings).

Arthur Page’s ideas are simple. However, sometimes we get so caught up in complexity that we forget the basics. It’s important to return to these ideas and stay on track.

Similarly, I was so caught up in the advertising world, that I neglected the importance of public relations. On occasion, I even thought public relations was contradictory to my advertising ambitions. This all changed after I read a blog post by Freddy Nager that eloquently (and hilariously) describes why the two industries must begin to use each other’s benefits for a more advantageous campaign. Advertising and public relations “complement each others’ strengths and mitigate weaknesses, with the publicity providing the credibility while the advertising creates the buzz”. Advertising and public relations are enhanced when in cooperation.

Clearly, it has been a propitious soul-searching day for me. Page’s principles reminded me that the goals of public relations are identical to the goals of advertising. Instead of fighting each other, they should thrive together for mutual benefits. I finally recognized that my double major is more than just words put on paper, but a path that will lead me to success in the industry. Public relations and advertising can coexist, just like two peas in a pod.