I used to have this friend, Ryan. Smart guy, heck of a painter. He was so anti-commercialism though that he thought he was completely unaffected by advertising. But he couldn't see the forest for the trees. His drink was Seagrams and Diet Coke. He surrounded himself with Nikon, Apple, and Adobe products for all his digital art experiments. He went shopping for new paint whenever the postman dropped of a mailer for Blick. Though brands were so deeply embedded in Ryan's life, he rejected the philosophy that he could be moved to buy anything. To me, that's the magic of public relations and advertising.
The following is a collection of works compiled in my studies at DePaul University and earlier. Though some campaigns are more research oriented and some are built on creative alone, each campaign is an exercise in problem solving. This can be best expressed by the following:
Get (targeted audience) to (change their behavior) by (application of specific message).
DePaul University PRAD professor, Jim Motzer, introduced us to Ogilvy PR, and their client, State Optical. State Optical Eyewear had a great idea: hand-crafted, American-made eyewear from fashion designers. Their problem? No one had ever heard of State Optical. With only a handful of frames in stores, they needed to get their name out and quick.
Through secondary research, we learned just what kind of audiences buy fashionable eyewear: professional millennials who shop in neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Lakeview, River North, and Wicker Park. We hosted a focus group of 12 people within our demographic and asked them, "Why do you buy glasses? Why wouldn't you buy a pair of glasses? What does hand-crafted mean to you? What does American-made mean to you?"
We discovered that hand-crafted and American-made are adjectives that young professionals are growing cynical toward--it isn't about contriving the right attitude either. It's about creating an authentic attitude. Because State Optical's frames were inspired by and named after Chicago streets, it seemed only natural to invite young professionals to love fall in love with their streets again.
Get professional millennials to consider purchase of State Optical eyewear by illustrating Chicago street stories with influencers.
Rubai Soni, Rafael Bruler, Cheng Sun, and I put together a sample influencer video (shot by Cheng Sun, starring me!) with the following narration included:
One observation I made while working at the Tie Bar was that our customers loved taking photos of the product. Too many stores don’t allow customers to photograph their items, but we encouraged it—even so much that we did it ourselves. They weren’t touched-up or edited to look better or brighter. It was sincerely illustrating the real deal, while also showing off our neighborhood and the Chicago spirit.
Get Chicagoans to consider the Tie Bar by illustrating the product as is and spreading it throughout the store.
I photographed our people, our product, and our neighborhood delights with, posted with trending hashtags to keep our customers engaged and involved in what we provided. Below is only a sample of the dozens of photographs taken and used in this ongoing social media campaign.
DePaul University Co-graduate Director, Dr. Matt Ragas, asked several students to participate in a case study competition. Of all the campaigns from 2017, AirBnB's "We Accept" campaign from the 2017 NFL Super Bowl was the most inspiring. AirBnB worked with their hosts to provide housing for those affected by natural disasters and travel bans, with the aim of creating a culture of acceptance within their own company and in the communities that they serve
Get American communities to adopt AirBnB by providing housing to those in need.
Patricia Cole, Cesar Camacho, and I evaluated messaging, media coverage, and published earnings to determine the effectiveness of their campaign. Among DePaul University students, we won runner-up from judges made up of Discover's Chicago communications team.
DePaul University PRAD professor, Ken Krimstein, introduced us to Reset Medspa. They had no problems with their skincare treatments--but their tattoo removal treatment had fallen under the radar. Though there's a lot of tech jargon about why their tattoo treatments were better, it made more sense to examine why people remove tattoos. We started with secondary research, determining who wanted their tattoos removed: women between the ages of 25 and 35. Then we engaged some of those women in primary research, just to find out why exactly they want their tattoos removed. The verdict? Somewhere between how old tattoos from ex-lovers hinder their sex-life or how tattoos disfigure that perfect wedding dress. Though we addressed the latter, the former seemed more prescient in our interviews.
Get millennial women to consider tattoo removal by illustrating their negative effect on future romances.
Rafael Bruler and I wanted to tell stories about how tattoos can negatively influence your romantic life through print ads and TV spots, by showing the awkward questions that come when an old tattoo can effect a new relationship in a person's ever-changing life. We even designed an augmented reality application built within a mobile website platform to show potential consumers how they may look without a tattoo--they can even take photos of themselves without their tattoo to post on social networking, to encourage women to see how much better they can live when people don't know about their now-unnecessary ink.
I used to hear this great quote by Ernest Hemingway: Write Drunk, Edit Sober. It was one of those things quoted around the literary community of Chicago on a day-to-day basis. You want to know what the kicker is? Ernest Hemingway never said it. The Chicago Public Library has its own problems--with more people buying books for e-readers or through Amazon, how can they inspire audiences to come and look something up?
Get young professionals to double-check their sources with the Chicago Public Library by correcting common misquotes.
Through a combination of primary and secondary research, I compiled a short list of misattributed quotes. By simply crossing out the wrong name and adding the right name, my insight was to get the young professionals who use those quotes to come to the Chicago Public Library to double-check their sources, thus improving library traffic and encouraging literacy.
At DePaul University, Professor Jill Stewart emphasized the importance of using fact sheets to disseminate information. I couldn't agree more, so I decided to have a little fun with it, give it a little bit of a Walking Dead spin. With a little imagination in the department of what an early zombie apocalypse would look like, and by studying fact sheets for the CDC regarding Ebola and Bird Flu, I drew up what I propose is the CDC's first efforts to quell a zombie outbreak. Calling it the Herbert West Disease (named for the H.P. Lovecraft character), it explains symptoms and challenges experienced during an outbreak.
Get the public to prepare for the zombie apocalypse by creating symptom awareness.
Just check out the fact sheet for yourself.
Mass Effect was a popular game series by Electronic Arts, but they ostracized a lot of their audience by ending the third game in their epic trilogy abruptly. How was Electronic Arts going to get fans excited about the next game in their series, Mass Effect: Andromeda?
The insight, based on secondary research, showed that players who loved the Mass Effect games (excluding the third) loved to create characters. Further research revealed that most serious gamers, for whom Mass Effect appealed the most, liked sharing their in-game achievements with friends and online. So how do we get Mass Effect players to return to the series?
Get former Mass Effect players to consider purchase of Mass Effect: Andromeda by tapping into their social gaming experience.
This mixed-media campaign features a free downloadable app or one through Facebook, Twitter, or Twitch called the N7 Network, where players upload their photo to create a composite character based on the player's face. Before the game even comes out, they're immersed in the Mass Effect universe again and unlocking bonus content. Though the app is a small commitment, it encourages players to commit to the bigger commitment of purchasing the game at release, where they'll be able to use the face they had made through the app.
DePaul University Co-graduate Director, Dr. Matt Ragas, brought us to Pressbox, a local app-oriented laundry company with a problem: they had a lot of customers who tried them out, but never returned. Through a combination of primary research (for instance, I used it and had brief conversations with many customers) and secondary research (based on social networking impressions found through Crimson Hexagon), we were able to determine that most customers took issue with the lack of specificity in the app when it came to their orders. And if you have an app that tracks use of their system, why not include gamification by adding a reward program too?
Get former Pressbox users to return to Pressbox by giving consumers the specificity demanded while adding a little extra.
Grant Culp, Jordyn Holliday, Rubai Soni, Megan McTighe, and I detailed changes to the app and made suggestions for free, branded gifts, like laundry bags and laundry baskets, to help improve the brand's notoriety and bring back the customers who had only just began with Pressbox.
DePaul University PRAD professor, Ken Krimstein, gave us decaf challenge. Beaumont Instant Decaffeinated Coffee made a pretty tasty, instant brew, but they weren't selling a lot. Why not? No one knew how good it tasted, since flavor isn't synonymous with decaffeinated or instant. Through primary research, we determined that coffee isn't the best choice for every occasion--not only is it addictive, but it inhibits sleep. So how do you convince coffee connoisseurs to try instant decaf?
Get coffee connoisseurs to consider trying Beaumont Instant Decaffeinated Coffee by illustrating how "caffeinated or not, coffee matters."
Rafael Bruler and I compiled three ads: one illustrating how you can have coffee with dessert, one showing how regular coffee can make a zombie of you, and one explaining our slogan.
Criminal Class Press wanted to give back. We had just put together a book full of stories from San Quentin inmates who had been practicing therapeutic writing as part of a rehabilitation program. But a lot of inmates who had stories to tell didn't know how to write--how could they be rehabilitated? How could they be made to be productive members of society again? So I organized an event: Punks Promoting Literacy. We managed to raise more than $400 to help teach inmates how to read and write. And we had a lot of fun doing it.
Get punk music fans to donate to literacy programs by blending punk and literature together.
Check out the full press kit.
Doritos faces the problem of being cast to the wayside, like most snacks, in a generation that considers almost everything junk food. But people define themselves by their brands, but when one brand has many varieties, why not apply those characteristics to the varieties themselves?
Get millennial snack lovers to define their personalities by applying specific characteristics to each variety of Doritos.
Introducing the Doritodiac--it's like your zodiac sign, but for Doritos. What does your favorite flavor say about you? If you like classic Doritos, you're an original and a trend setter. Cool Ranch marches to his own drum. Spicy Habanero lives life on the edge. Which Doritodiac are you?
I worked for Wow Bao for a long time--I even managed one of their restaurants. You know what their big problem is? It seemed like no one knew who the heck they were. Their problem was that, in spite of their regular customer base, they faded into the background of other local businesses, when they should have stood out. Part of fixing that problem? Educating their audience.
Get Chicagoans to eat at Wow Bao by teaching them just what Wow Bao is.
I crafted a campaign that focused on educating the consumer, by using the elements in an Asian context to show how each Bao is made. Each advertisement offers a new tidbit that brings the consumer closer to the product, thus educating them about just why they need to go out and grab a Bao. "Bao Before the Elements" was our slogan, because nothing is so strong and so powerful within Asian cultures as the elements themselves.