Forget Resolutions, Choose Three Words for the New Year

Now that we’re in a new year, let’s forget about resolutions, which often end up being disappointments, and focus instead on goals–in three words. What are three things you want to be, do or attain this year?

A Little Background

Two years ago, I decided to start the year with three words that summed up goals I wanted to reach. My words were: healthy, secure and fulfilled.

I had no idea that Chris Brogan has been doing the same thing for even longer and has built a “Brave New Year” motivational program around the concept. (Not a surprise that Chris took this such a big step further. That’s what he does.) So, in the same spirit, I decided to share my three words.

Anyway, this year I wanted to go bolder, brighter even. And I encourage you to do the same.

Create

My first word was inspired by this photo I saw the other day:

The earth without "art" is just "eh"

All my life, I’ve been a writer and an artist (of sorts). As a kid, I was always writing stories and poems and drawing pictures. The art eventually fell away while I was in college. I didn’t have the time to squeeze in studio classes. I write for a living, but there’s so much more I still want to do–and I haven’t been pursuing it.

What have you always wanted to do but aren’t taking any action toward? That could be your first word.

Enjoy

Fun at Longwood

One favorite trait of mine is that I remain a sort of child at heart. But I haven’t set aside enough time to play. I don’t take enough vacation, explore enough of the world or spend enough time with friends.

Instead of putting pressure on myself and framing this as a resolution, I’m opening up my options by simply saying I want to “enjoy.” Enjoy my work, enjoy my time, enjoy my hobbies, enjoy my friends, enjoy my family–the list goes on and on. And, as long as I’ve spent more time enjoying myself by the end of the year, I have succeeded.

What resolution of yours can you turn around and open up like this?

Love

Boy and dog looking out window, with boy's hand on dog

This word is all about continuing to improve relationships and approaching every day and every person with love in my heart. I worked for a CEO once who used to say, “Always assume positive intent.” Sometimes in the stress of a hectic workweek, tempers can get short and relationships with coworkers and customers can be strained. It’s easy–too easy–to go negative and assume the worst.

Note, in the photo above, the simple gesture of caring. It’s often the smaller, simplest things that mean the most.

Making sure that I’m always acting from a good place takes the power away from any external negativity and gives me a better chance to improve outcomes. Those outcomes can include a better work product, stronger working relationships, more long-lasting relationships with customers. And, of course, it applies to my personal life as well.

You might not choose “love” as your word, but I’m guessing you could probably use more positivity in your world too. What word would that be for you?

Three words…that you could do anything with. Three words that could help you in your personal and professional life. Three words that open up far more options that any limited resolutions could do.

So, in 2013, what do you think? Are you going to cling to the same old resolutions or go for the power of three and choose three words?

What Do a Fashion Icon and a NASCAR Driver Have in Common?

World Autism Awareness Day design. World with sun and people holding hands around it.Autism Speaks answers this question in a series of touching, personal public-service advertisements (PSAs) meant to raise awareness of autism.

These PSAs are effective for two reasons:

  • Smack-you-in-the-face statistics
  • Personalization

More and more advertisers, in general, understand that making advertising and messaging more personal help keep your audience engaged. Autism Speaks is doing that very well, so far with four stars from various fields:

  • Tommy Hilfiger, fashion icon
  • Jamie McMurray, NASCAR driver
  • Toni Braxton, singer
  • Ernie Els, professional golfer

Each celebrity has a family member with autism. Braxton and Els both have sons diagnosed with the condition.

It’s very powerful to hear the statistics—1 in 110 children will have autism.

Personalization really drives those statistics home. Each star talks about the odds of them making it to their different points of success.

Jamie McMurray says, “The odds of having 157 career top ten finishes in NASCAR—1 in 125 billion. The odds of winning the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year—1 in 195 million.”

Tommy Hilfiger says, “The odds of opening his own clothing store at the age of 18—1 in 138,000. The odds of achieving his dream in the fashion industry—1 in 23 million.”

These two ads mimic ones done by Toni Braxton and Ernie Els. The only difference is that the newer ads start with animation rather than snapshots of the stars’ lives.

All the videos end with “The odds of having a child with autism—1 in 110.”

Speaking as someone who works in the advertising world, I like these ads for almost the same reason that blogger Landon Bryce hates them—for their use of celebrities.

Landon admits the ads are well-intended, but he also adds that the campaign seems to be making the following point:

You are much more likely to be related to someone with autism than you are to be a celebrity like Tommy Hilfiger or Jamie McMurray.  And even celebrities like them can be related to people with autism!  So being related to someone with autism is both normal and cool, so you should learn the signs that will help you see autism in a family member.

Landon seems to have much more experience than I do with autism and says he has autism as well, so I can understand why he reacted the way he did. But I don’t think the commercials send that message at all. I think the celebrities are used to gain awareness, to make people notice.

Bottom line—and it is a sad one—is that people respond to celebrities more than they would if the ads featured regular, everyday people.

But, I also don’t want Landon’s reaction to these celebrities to overshadow two other important arguments he makes about these ads:

  1. They suggest “all autistic people are unable to speak for ourselves and need family members to speak for us.”
  2. They suggest, “that what really matters about autism is how it affects family members.”

I hope that viewers aren’t going away with those impressions. The autistic spectrum has an extensive range to it, and yes, most autistic people can speak for themselves. At first, I didn’t even consider what autistic people thought of these ads, so I wonder now if others feel the way Landon does. I encourage you to read Landon’s blog and get that view from the other side.

Autism Speaks explains the intent of their campaign:

The PSA campaign was designed to demonstrate the odds of a child reaching milestones parents think about often compared to the much greater chances of being diagnosed with autism. We all dream that our child will one day be a professional athlete or famous musician, but in reality the “Odds” of your child having autism are far greater.

They go on to say that, “The campaign has been a tremendous success, generating over $300 million in donated media, earning numerous awards, and most importantly, serving as a major catalyst to the rise of autism awareness in the general public over the last five years.”

So, I have to believe that most people do see the ads more favorably. Agency BBDO started this campaign (pro bono) back in 2006. The new work involves handmade fabric and paper models brought to life by 3D computer animation. Impressive and creative, the intent was to lull the viewer “into storybook worlds where they witness Hilfiger and McMurray’s respective journeys from humble beginnings down the road to success, before being brought back to reality by the odds of a child being diagnosed with autism.”

It all makes sense to me. Do you think they achieved that? Or do you react in a different way?

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April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, and Autism Speaks asks everyone to Light It Up Blue. Cities around the world will turn on blue lights on many of their buildings and landmarks.

Emerging Interactive & Digital Media Trends in 2012

I’m sure you’ve seen many predictions already for social media and technology in 2012. Here’s your chance to add your thoughts.

There’s a great discussion taking place on LinkedIn (it’s been going for 4 months) in the Interactive & Digital Media group. It all started with the question:

What are the few new emerging interactive & digital media trends in the next 1-2 years?

Augmented reality

Forget the QR code (well, not yet). Augmented reality will eventually blow away QR codes.

Ben Grogan's comment on Augmented Reality from LinkedIn

Check out some of these iPhone apps that use augmented reality. They include:

  • Golf range finder
  • GPS and compass apps for hiking
  • Sightseeing and travel guide apps

The detail and capabilities are what’s really exciting and impressive. We should see these capabilities explode in the next year or two or three.

Another interesting example is what the Moscow (Russia) Ministry of Internal Affairs did to try and improve road safety.

Near-field communications (NFC)

Many people agreed this was the field to watch. Cashless payment is just the start. Jon Cheung sees it as “an interesting social arena, that will make it easier to check into locations, easier to like things in the real world, and easier to share information, and a new element to games.

Bruce Condit adds a nice sense of the integration available:

Imagine, your customer walks in the door, they receive a coupon via BlueTooth promoting your latest special. They purchase the item or service, using the coupon that was broadcast to them, and they pay for their purchase using NFC. This would enable business owners to really target their offers based upon time of day, location, season, etc. It could also provide powerful demographics based upon coupon usage.

Social TV

Some social TV products are already on the market. We don’t hear too much yet, but I think we soon will. It’s a logical progression, with many comments on social and connected TV in the group discussion. (Look for comments by Zach Weiner, Nick Meyers, and Sean Connors)

As Sean Connors suggests,

With the dawn of wi-fi enabled televisions finally becoming more widespread, we’re on the cusp of another level of interactivity. I easily see digital content providers creating ways for viewers interact…the ability to reach across multiple platforms is just another added plus.

There are so many possibilities here.

Greg Yavello comment on Social TV, available on LinkedIn

Personalization

We’re not just talking marketing and market segmentation here. We’re already seeing advances in personalization of search results. This will go even further to personalized decision engines or context-based recommendation engines.

Jon Cheung gives a great example:

Google knows what I like, who I talk to, and what I talk about, mash that against the Internet and Google should be able to customize a wall of content tailored exactly for me.

Many people talk about how facial recognition software will change things. And Megan Cunningham talks about how the entertainment industry is developing a more intimate relationship with its audience.

I think the emergence of personalized photo-apps (like the campaign we launched earlier this year with ABC’s game show, Wipeout) is another way of looking at personalization. And many other entertainment marketers have done this effectively as well, developing more intimacy (and often humor) between audiences and the characters in their shows.

Advertising

I think we all realize the benefits and challenges this creates for advertising. In fact, I’ve talked here about advances in display advertising that were highlighted by Google recently.

All these changes in technology will bring exciting new interactivity and creativity to advertising.

Adrian Hernandez comment on advertising, available on LinkedIn

This will be fun to watch!

So, what are your predictions? Add them to the group discussion on LinkedIn, or feel free to talk about them right here.

World of Warcraft, Wipeout and Wit

As Christmas nears, we’re getting lots of gift ideas from commercials. I think ad agencies and brands should get ideas from some of the commercials too. In fact, I have two specific ads in mind.

World of Warcraft

First up is this brilliant commercial for World of Warcraft.

Boy, does this brand know how to target an audience—at least in this commercial. Their Chuck Norris ad was inexplicably dumb…but I digress.

I’m not a gamer, but I am a woman, which I think is why I like this ad so much. The girl in this ad has power, and that’s such an important message to get across to young girls and young women.

And no, I wasn’t offended by the obvious “motherf*cker” she mouths. You can’t hear it, but in the ad I saw on TV (not the above one) you can read her lips and see that’s what she says.

“So…my boyfriend gives me World of Warcraft for my birthday, and I’m like, ‘I said diamonds, motherf*cker.”

As a writer, I love this line because it’s so real. The “I’m like” is natural and so is the use of such a curse word. Plus, it gives us a sense of her personality. She doesn’t back down easily.

Wii Wipeout

The second commercial is for the Nintendo Wii Wipeout game.

Not only does Nintendo spectacularly use fun and humor in this commercial, but they entice you with a $50,000 prize.

I don’t watch Wipeout on TV, but I have seen plenty of clips. I do always wonder what happens to the contestants after—do they end up in the hospital? Do they end up on disability because of the way their body folded backwards when they bounced off a giant ball?

The Wii Wipeout commercial plays around with that notion very well. The former contestant, Joel, is frightened by sudden moves and noises. It’s exaggerated and just flat out funny. Plus, the demonstration of the Wii game itself, makes the game look like fun. If I had a Wii, I would probably buy that game.

And be happy I don’t because I’d try and win the $50,000 too. And I’m one hell of a competitor!

These two commercials are unique, creative, make you laugh and are just plain well done. Agencies and brands should take note. I had no trouble remembering what these ads were for after just one viewing. And I liked them so much I keep telling others about them. Truly the marks of terrific advertising.

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The young women in the ad is Aubrey Plaza. I didn’t know who she was when I first saw the ad, but I’d say she is a perfect choice to represent power. Read her bio on Wikipedia and learn about how she had a stroke at age 20. Pretty inspiring. 

Tennis Serves Up Creative Advertising to Court Young Players

What’s one of the most important qualities for a person, a company or organization to have? Adaptability.

Times and technology change quickly, especially these days. And if you’re not keeping up, your competitors will most likely pass you by.

One of the places this need to change is significant is in sports…specifically tennis. Many professional sports leagues are suffering, but probably none more than tennis.

Storybook picture of scared cartoon girl on tennis court

On weekends, as you drive by field after field, you can see for sure that soccer is the most prevalent sport among kids. Tennis courts stay pretty empty. Professional tennis in the United States is at risk of losing its audience and future players.

Tennis is like a corporation that’s been around for 100 years. It’s slow to change and holds tight to its conservative roots. But in the past few years, it’s been breaking out of its shell.

First, they allowed review and seamlessly incorporated it into each match, without causing much delay. The audience, the players and the court umpire all view the replay together. Talk about transparency! Other professional sports should follow tennis’ lead.

Next, tennis organizations paid more attention to promotion and advertising. For example, not only did they decide to make an official series out of the pre-U.S. Open tournaments, but they used some rocking, tennis-star-filled advertisements to encourage interest. Increased ratings proved their efforts paid off.

Most recently, they’re trying to get more kids involved by adapting what trainers have been doing for years. They’re changing rules, equipment and court size to help kids play and grow in the sport.

One of the things about this that excites me—both as a creative professional and a tennis fan—is actually the advertising that announces this rule change. This humorous commercial with Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi targets—and mentions—its enemy. Please watch:

Two superstars of tennis, a great sense of humor and the willingness to actually mention the sport that is kicking their ass among youngsters are just a few of the reasons I love this ad. Plus, the illustration and animation in the storybook are fantastic!

Tennis in the United States is not dead yet, and it’s proving that old, stodgy institutions can change with the times. As a fan, I wish they had changed sooner. As a marketer, I’m also hoping they can inspire other conservative organizations to embrace the truth and move forward with humor and gusto.

What organizations would you like to see learn from this example?

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Want to see another example of positive sportsmanship and fan friendliness in tennis? Check out this fun video of Andre Agassi and Marat Safin playing with the fans and a ball boy during a delay.

Creative difference: Why being wrong is right

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”  – Joseph Chilton Pearce

"Perfection" with red slashed circle over it

Being a copywriter or a designer is a tough job. We have to come up with idea after idea after idea to please different people and to fit different projects. And we think our ideas are damn good—otherwise we wouldn’t present them.

Of course, other people have ideas of their own so we’re used to all sorts of people telling us our ideas aren’t good enough. Even when we know they’re wrong, that can be a tough business to be in—especially if you’re a perfectionist.

What is perfectionism?

Many people think being a perfectionist is a good thing, that it means you only produce quality work. But having high standards and expecting to be perfect every time are different.

Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead…To the perfectionist, there is always room for improvement. The perfectionist calls this humility. In reality, it is egotism…Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough. – The Artist’s Way (p. 119-120)

Hi. My name is Coreen, and I’m a recovering perfectionist. Surprisingly (or not), I think a lot of creative people are perfectionists. They’re probably the ones you’ve never heard of—because they refuse to publish until something is perfect.

I was lucky because college helped mellow out my perfectionism. Getting the first D I’d ever gotten on a test, getting hammered on critique day in my writing classes—while disconcerting at first—really helped me distinguish between what was valuable feedback (internal and external) and what was not. Berating myself for not being perfect was not.

My passion to be creative and my quest to produce quality work are still in tact, but I’m okay with work not being perfect because creativity is a work in progress. What’s great about working with other creatives is that good ideas feed off of each other. And at some point, you have to let go…and that’s a good thing.

A perfectionist thinks nothing’s ever good enough. A good copywriter or designer thinks “how can we make this better?”

The perfectionist feels defeated and soon her passion for the work will die. The non-perfectionist remains excited about the possibilities, her passion still alive.

Being wrong gives us the opportunity to learn from someone else. It gives us the chance to make something better that more people will like and be satisfied with.

To break your perfectionist habits:

Give yourself deadlines

A creative mind often needs a trigger, a reason to start creating. Give yourself an hour to work on a project that would normally take three hours. Limit your work to that one hour so your adrenaline and creative juices kick in and your thoughts flow.

Encourage and enjoy teamwork

Watch and listen to how your coworkers develop ideas. Working as a team helps take pressure off and frees you up to learn, to see, to think and to contribute.

Open up to feedback

Ask people you trust what they think about your ideas or your work. Ask people you don’t trust too. Instead of being upset by seemingly negative feedback, be inspired. See this as a challenge for you to think and act differently.

Stop being afraid

Trust yourself most of all. You know what you’re doing. One shame of this economy is that it’s driving people back to perfectionism. People are afraid to lose their jobs, which means they’re also afraid to take risks and express new ideas. It’s time to stop being afraid.

Companies—managers and CEOs—have to step up and stop this cycle. Innovation and leadership come from having the space and the freedom to take creative risks and express all ideas.

Being right often comes after being wrong.

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Want to go from perfectionist to creative genius? Read: Your Creative Genius Mindset: The Essential Qualities for “Outside the Box” Thinking

Wordification – Creating new words to promote your product

Jabberwocky tribute cartoon by Doug SavageMaking up words to sell a product? That’s ridiculous! Or is it? Captain Morgan might say it’s ridiculicious?

After all, people make up words all the time. (Sadly some of these words do make it into dictionaries, but that’s another story.)

In advertising, creating a new word is perfectly acceptable. However, it better be good.

3 traits of a perfect advertising word

  1. Easily understood
  2. Meaningful in relation to the product
  3. Leaves a lasting positive impression

Easily understood

One new word you may be aware of is from Bud Light. They said their beer has “drinkability.” Bud Light took a lot of heat for this one (from me too), but the word itself wasn’t bad. So what went wrong?

Yes, drinkability is easily understood—you’re able to drink it. Okay. I hope we all see the problem here. Bud Light is a beer, which is a drink, so it is related to the product. But what does it really mean? Aren’t all beers drinkable? Is this really the best thing they have to say about their product?

Which sounds better: a beer that has drinkability or a drink (Captain Morgan) that is ridiculicious?

Meaningful in relation to the product

An oldie but a goodie comes from 7-up—the “uncola.” In six letters, they differentiated their product from the competition. Not a cola. All their advertising backs that up with words like: fresh, crisp, clear, natural.

Leaves a lasting positive impression

My personal favorite is Shopportunity from Marshalls. It perfectly suits what Marshalls is all about. (Ha! Excuse the pun.) Designer clothes at lower prices—that sounds like a shopportunity to me.

Marshalls sister company, TJ Maxx, engages in similar wordplay: “Give me a fashionista and I’ll make her a Maxxinista.” This tagline of their new commercial fits their purpose and brand. Love fashion? You’ll love TJ Maxx.

Target has even jumped in the game to promote clothing at their stores. Their new ads use  “Jeanius,” “Plaiditude,” and “Knitorious” in a commercial that is quite Gapilar…Gapaphoric…Gapogenic—okay, looks and sounds like a Gap ad.

So, you can see, the most success comes when you combine two easily recognizable words that have the three key traits. (Short version: Understandable, meaningful and positive.)

Have you had success with wordification? Or are you dying to refudiate me?

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Picture credit goes to Doug Savage. Here’s a link to his Savage Chickens website. The ultimate master of making up words (following none of the above rules) is Lewis Carroll in his poem Jabberwocky. The Simpsons are pretty good at it too. I also found this fun blog you might enjoy, Fritinancy.

Making Ideas Happen: Book review

Photo of book, Making Ideas Happen

Scott Belsky is the founder and CEO of Behance, with some wise words to share in his book Making Ideas Happen. The book is exactly what the title says. It’s a collection of information and instruction you can use to make your ideas happen.

Overcoming obstacles between vision and reality (the book’s tagline) requires a sort of process to follow, says Belsky. But he also notes:

“When a process is imposed on you externally, it can weigh you down and diminish your energy.”

Amen! The solution, he says, is to customize a process to your own personal preference.

If you’re someone who doesn’t like process, read this book to discover why you need one and how to follow a process that doesn’t have to be painful.

If you’re someone who loves process (hello, Six Sigmas!) and makes a living instilling process on others, read this book to humanize what you do more (and get buy-in from more coworkers). This book could open you up to a more simple way of doing things but still keep you process oriented.

For creatives, if you can get over being insulted over and over throughout the Introduction of this book (I’m not kidding), you will take away some very valuable tools.

The earliest and arguably most important one would be the Action Method. The Action Method is based on the idea that everything is a project. And for every “project,” you need a system to reach your goal.

Belsky has a nifty method that breaks down parts of your project into three categories:

  1. Action Steps – The actual steps you must take to move your project forward
  2. References – Project-related notes, sketches, websites, etc., that you may want to or need to refer back to
  3. Backburner Items – Tasks and ideas that come up that are not actionable now, but may be in the future

Simple, right? That’s the idea. If your process or way of organizing doesn’t suit you or isn’t simple enough, you won’t use it. Yet you need structure to move your ideas forward.

This structure works for almost anything. Test it out by using this method to organize your e-mail. At work, you can use it on most projects and jot down action steps, items of reference and backburner ideas during meetings.

Use it in your personal life to:

  • Plan a remodel of a room or home
  • Keep track of all you have to do when buying and/or selling a home
  • Set up a financial plan
  • Plan a long vacation trip
  • Create a “to do” list for the week

Possibilities are endless. If the process were more specific and lengthy, chances are uses for it would be specific and limited too.

Belsky doesn’t just talk about process though. He explains how to work smarter and manage better through the three sections of his book:

  1. Organization and Execution
  2. The Forces of Community
  3. Leadership Capability

For a guy who started off by insulting creative people, he sure did put a lot of effort into helping us as well. His ideas for creating and maintaining a productive workplace are easily doable and right on the money.

When you read this book, you might want to keep some paper nearby to keep track of action steps that come to mind, references, and backburner items. Here are just a few tidbits you’ll find yourself underlining:

“A fearless approach to sharing ideas is one of the most common attributes” among successful creative people.

“Smaller, more confined spaces may help us focus more intently, while wide-open spaces with higher ceilings foster a more unencumbered way of thinking.”

“Writing is a particularly labor-intensive exercise that calls for pure discipline and perspiration…Sheer perspiration will only come from organizing your energy and holding yourself accountable with some sort of routine.”

The book holds probably thousands more fresh ideas on conflict, apathy, leadership, productivity, skeptics, brainstorming, best practices and more. I wish I could list them all.

This is the type of book that excites you while you read it, because you feel like you can’t wait to put these ideas into practice.

So, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this review and go make your ideas happen!

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Your experience doesn’t have to end when you finish the book. You can download a free template of an Action Pad (to help you create Action Steps), join the 99% community, and attend the 99% Conference. Also, I was not compensated in any way for writing this review. I just spotted the book online after hearing about Behance.net and thought it sounded interesting. I was right.

AT&T’s Blackberry ad wins by using nostalgia

We’ve all been driving and a song comes on the radio that reminds us of a former love or an old memory. Sometimes we feel instantly warm inside or sad or start laughing at a goofy incident from years past.

We all have other places that bring up memories. I remember my first big-girl movie. My dad took me to the Keswick Theater to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The Keswick is no longer a movie theater. Instead, it’s a small concert venue. But every time I go back there, I have this warm feeling inside thinking of walking to the movie theater and other fond memories of growing up in Glenside.

Both are examples of nostalgia and can be the key to successful advertising.

One year ago, Stuart Elliott of The New York Times said, “As the recession continues taking its toll, marketers are trying to tap into fond memories to help sell what few products shoppers are still buying.” That still holds true today.

The key to evoking nostalgia in advertisements is to create a scenario that’s more likely to evoke positive memories—and to appeal to a large group of people. Then, if you’re lucky, that positive association drifts toward your product as well.

AT&T does a fantastic job of this in their new commercial. Check out the ad here:

What do you think?

I instantly smiled and had a strong urge to find some bumper cars to ride. My dad even said how much he liked the commercial when it came on while we were hanging out together this weekend. So, that’s two generations who agree. (And my dad and I don’t often agree!)

Did you catch the expression on the man’s face in the elevator? Wouldn’t you love to feel that way at work?

Business meet fun. Fun, business.

Given that tagline, AT&T could’ve gone another direction and simply showed people having fun at work. Adding a nostalgic childhood element to it made it more than just watching people having fun, we could actually identify with them.

They took a place where many people these days don’t feel good and transformed it. And that’s how you get your audience to engage.

Look at some of the viewer comments (from YouTube):

I like this ad. The world-speeding-up idea is well captured. Next time I start to roll my eyes at middle managers carrying on during a meeting, I’ll imagine them twirling in teacups… lol. <LilyOmori>

I’m addicted to watching this commercial! It’s so cool! When fun meets business, that’s the life I want! <Tehtarik1996>

All I have left to say is, “Well done.” In fact, I liked the commercial so much, I won’t even mention that awful name Torch. With solid advertising and the Blackberry name, it probably doesn’t even matter.

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Want more nostalgia? Bookmark Popular Nostalgia. Want to read more about branding and advertising? Check out the Branding Strategy Insider and the Warc blog—found some great stuff there.

Boost your creativity: Stop reading.

I’m sure you’ve heard about people going a week without television. Lately, people trying to take a break from technology and reconnect more humanly are going a week without social media or texting. I have something harder.

Try going a week without reading.

Yeah, you heard me, reading—and not just novels and magazines. No reading blogs, newspapers, or online news stories. No reading texts, e-mails, Facebook posts and Twitter tweets. About the most you’re allowed to read are street signs.

Try stopping for a day, you’ll see how much of a reader you’ve become. Try stopping for a week, you just may change your life.

As Julia Cameron says:

We have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up. Like greasy food, it clogs our system. Too much of it and we feel, yes, fried.

In Ms. Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (a self-led workshop on creativity), Chapter 4 requires that you stop reading for the week.Blog author reading The Artist's Way

The goal is to free your mind from all that weighs it down. Instead of filling your mind with other people’s thoughts and words, you can now fill it with your own.

I can tell you I wasn’t very good at not reading, but even by limiting my reading (cutting out a heck of a lot), I learned this is true:

  • Creativity comes more easily. One blog post came to me while I rode my bike. For another, I looked to my surroundings and interviewed someone rather than reading for ideas.
  • You have more time to do with what you want. I was more productive at work and at home because I wasn’t online or in a book.
  • You spend more time reading than you think you do. In today’s online world, we read way too much. Much of what we read is by routine.

Here’s what else I learned:

  • Not reading is HARD! Monday morning, I logged in to my e-mail and immediately opened the day’s USA Today. When I was done skimming the headlines and reading about two stories, I realized I was reading. Ugh. An hour into my week and I was already, accidentally, breaking the rules.
  • Not cheating is hard. Excuses are so easy to come by. I read for my job, so I easily could have read much more and excused it. Don’t fall into this trap.
  • Defining cheating is tough. Sunday night I popped in to Twitter’s #blogchat, but within a few minutes I had to leave. As much as I wanted to call it “chatting,” I was reading, no doubt.

If not reading for a week scares you, give it up for a day. But really give it up. At the very least, you’ll be more conscious of what you do with your time. And that is always a good thing.

Let me know how your day or week of reading deprivation turns out. Oh, and one piece of advice: Wait until you finish that fantastic novel you started—why make it harder, right?

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Want to know more about The Artist’s Way? Check out the official The Artist’s Way website. To see how others fared with reading deprivation, try the unofficial The Artist’s Way blog and Watson’s Unleashed.