Category: Creative Direction


Yeah, So I Heard Blogging is Really Effective When You Post Regularly…

And from whose mouth dropped this pearly bit of wisdom? Mine own.

More than once, in fact —  in every meeting we’ve had recently with a new or potential client, since social media is a component of nearly every proposal we’ve written lately, and a part of every job we’ve landed unless it is 100% straight print.

Oh (I whine in a non-annoying way), I don’t have time to update our blog — I’m ghost-writing four other blogs every week, plus all the writing I have to do like website content, print ads, a ton of collateral, ghosting clients’ Facebook fan pages, Twitter feeds, e-newsletters, blah blah blah socialmediacakes.

Flickr/theTrial
Flickr/theTrial

But I THINK about our blog constantly. Given the choice, I’d be blogging every day because I have an opinion on everything. In theory, this blog is supposed to have some parameters that keep me within the rather elastic bounds of advertising, marketing, and media; selling stuff; how badly brands/people are selling stuff; how cleverly stuff is sold with out anyone realizing they were, in fact, sold something, or they don’t care because it was so well done; egregious marketing ploys; any time the Wall Street Journal writes about something that I find amusingly outside its purview; I think you get the picture. And did you notice I dropped the “royal we” at some point? Because this is my responsibility, like the creative direction and graphic design are Steve’s. The blog just really ties the room together, man.

So, my random attached-to-no-holiday resolution (although I could pin this onto Labor Day…) is to get back to blogging monthly for Alchemy, and start posting our clients’ news as well when we had a hand in it. Because in addition to always having something to say about someone or something, we have a lot of new work and new clients to talk about, and they deserve the attention.


Chicks Rule

There was a brilliant article making the rounds in the creative community last week, on the new advertising industry website called CampaignLive.com, the US version of a UK publication whose corporate parent owns, among other things, PR Week.

YearAheadWomen-20150106050542869The author starts the article with a statement that ripped through social media like a spike heel: “The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” Writer Kat Gordon makes a case for 2015 being the year women in advertising use social media as the accelerant to create a better ad world than the one where agencies still refer to “women’s accounts” as “mops and makeup.”

While a lot of what she says is a bit of “inside baseball” to those not specifically in the ad industry, anyone in marketing/communications – whether public relations, advertising, corporate communications, social media, outside agency, in-house marketing, or some combination thereof – should understand that pinkwashing isn’t going to cut it anymore. “Female Empowerment Advertising” is yesterday’s Chromebook. Women now make up 52% of the population, so we are remarkably helpful and creative when it comes to understanding how to approach an overwhelmingly female marketplace. Let’s just say we know whereof we speak. As Gordon says, “I’m talking about calling out everything, ranging from all-male creative departments to wage disparity to things we do mindlessly like STILL have Miss America-types handing out the hardware at award shows.”

So, regardless of your gender, if you are looking to engage the female consumer, you better be thinking like a woman.


Sports and Cats – No, Really…

What do you get when you cross the Internet’s obsession with cat-based cuteness and the super-cut, sweaty aggro of sports apparel/fitness beverage advertising?

This:


The genius of this spot (designed as much for web-based enjoyment and virality as a broadcast buy) is that it appeals to a truly massive audience. Temptations Treats for Cats has hit on a pitch-perfect pitch that turns the traditional cutesy, meow-y, snuggly, or playful cat kibble spot into an ad that has been viewed since in the last four days over 216,000 times. It could run as successfully during an NFL game as it could during “Ellen.”

The purpose of this brilliant mash-up? Mars Petcare brand just “rolled out” new Temptations Tumblers. What’s the USP? Cat treats that are rounder than previous iterations – not that the average cat cares overmuch. According to the brand’s hype, “Now you can roll, toss or bounce delicious treats for your cats.” Based on years of feline observation, most cats prefer not to participate so actively in the apprehension of said treats.

So what.

With the corresponding hashtag #TimeToPlayBall!, a YouTube channel, and a dedicated Facebook page that began teasing the spot on Tuesday, this is really all about a product marketed to the buyer, not the end-user – which in no way diminishes the creative brilliance of the clip. By this time next week, it will have millions of views and shares, and sales of Tempations Tumblers are guaranteed to see a bump.

It’s a perfect example of how ad agencies can combine creativity and execution; concept and casting; cross-platform marketing; cuteness and edginess; music, muscles, and cats.


Bringing a Cult Film Festval to Your Town

swede fest palm beach 3We have the great luck of a retail shopping destination client with a 500-seat cultural venue. On the not-so-great side, it’s a challenge to attract patrons and shoppers during South Florida’s off season – the incredibly hot and humid summers (with added bonus of hurricane season). Mainstreet at Midtown is known for its year-round outdoor festivals and events like a 16-week Music on the Plaza concert series (held during the drier and cooler months of the peak social season), its Peace Love & Wellness Music Festival, Children’s Festival, Cool Yule Tree Decorating Contest, and others.

So, we needed a summer event, and it REALLY needed to be indoors.

More > “Bringing a Cult Film Festval to Your Town”


The Intersection of Marketing and Art

It’s no bad thing to have a client who is an art patron. And it’s an even better thing when that client, a real estate developer, is a huge supporter of Art in Public Places (#AIPP) and willing to budget for the creation of art as a way to improve the community in which construction takes place.

For another perspective on the scale of this project, this is Tristan painting Alexander Graham Bell’s eye.
For another perspective on the scale of this project, this is Tristan painting Alexander Graham Bell’s eye.

That said, you’d like to have the artwork depict some subtle tie-in to the project, even though Art in Public Places is pretty strict about there being no commercial aspect to the projects it approves. The client, Ram Realty Services, decided that we would conduct a Call to Artists with the prompt that the 7,000 square foot mural would honor Alexander Graham Bell and communication, since the historic structure was once the regional headquarters for Southern Bell, and the converted residential units will be known as Alexander Lofts.

More > “The Intersection of Marketing and Art”


Birth of a Brand Identity

No, it’s not exactly high art.

It is, however, art with a somewhat higher exposure than the fine paintings ensconced in a museum or gallery. A bad logo won’t stop your business from growing – but a good one can catapult you into the cortex of your consumer.

Creating logo ideas, pitching them to the client, gathering feedback, refining ideas and possibly combining elements from multiple options, pitching them again, gathering more feedback…it would be nice to brag that we hit it out of the park every time, but sometimes the process takes some time.

More > “Birth of a Brand Identity”


Looking Like A Big Deal…Before You Are

Transformed: Homecoming Queen, Drig Addict, Spiritual WarriorThe proliferation of ways to publish your magnum opus (or, you know, an exhaustive detailing of your whole two and a half decades of life experience) has been both a blessing and a curse. It allows talented voices an outlet directly to the audience; we’ll skip the fact that it allows the spectacularly untalented a way into print. Vanity publishing used to keep all but the well-heeled hack out of that sandbox.

But we digress. This blog post is about finding clever ways to bring attention to a self-published author, with the end goal of interesting a mainstream publisher in either picking up the work or future works. Then again, if the campaign is successful, perhaps that mainstream publisher becomes much less enticing or even necessary.

More > “Looking Like A Big Deal…Before You Are”


We Have Some Reservations…

swede fest 2 palm beachIt’s time for SWEDE FEST™ 2 PALM BEACH. If you’re a fan of MST3K (and you won’t know what that means if you’re not), a swede fest™ is a similar animal. But instead of making snarky comments to two robots about a cheesy science fiction flick, you make your own cheesy three-minute “homage” to a scene from a favorite film, which is known in certain circles as a “swede.”

Why are they called swedes? We’re so glad you asked.

Sf2013_FB_Square1 dateYou probably know indie film festivals have a rich history of showcasing amazing undiscovered talent, where Hollywood insiders troll for the next big thing, where A-list stars promote the small labor-of-love projects they do between blockbusters. A swede fest is an indie film festival with NONE of that going for it.

The key to understanding why is in the “swede” part. A swede is a no-budget, laughably bad remake of a hit Hollywood film – the bigger, the better. The term comes from the 2008 comedy, “Be Kind Rewind,” and was made up to explain the sheer awfulness of their remade films by touting them as European – “swedes” because it sounded really sophisticated.  This film, starring Jack Black and Mos Def, is not exactly a classic — but neither is it comedy kryptonite.

A still from the swede for "Point Break"
A still from the swede for “Point Break” already submitted by some over-achievers.

And bada bing! Next thing you know, there’s an underground sweding craze. Two guys in Fresno invited a bunch of friends to make films starring themselves, then get together to screen them in another homage: to the indie film festival – but without the beautiful celebrities, coolness factor, or bidding wars. And that, my friends, is how we ultimately come to SWEDE FEST™ 2 PALM BEACH.

We’re sweding a sci-fi/horror classic. Nope, not telling. And we have friends sweding “gems” (yes, in quotes, because the following movies are neither precious nor squeal-worthy)  like Ghost, Point Break, Titanic, and The Shining. A full list of the movies reserved for sweding is at www.swedefestpalmbeach.com. You can also buy tickets there to the July 27th festival for the outrageous sum of $5 per person.

And if you are interested in playing director (and star, and editor, and production assistant, etc.), you should call dibs on your movie today. SWEDE FEST™ 2 PALM BEACH allows one entry per film, so if someone else loves Mannequin as much as you do, you could be SOL. The deadline to submit is July 9th at 11:59 PM. Instructions for submission are on the same website.

Guess we should mention that, again this year, we designed all the stuff (logos, collateral, ads, swag, you know the drill), including that groovy low-tech website. Do we love WordPress or what?


BDB Wins First-Place Awards from The Florida Economic Development Council for Alchemy’s Creative

Just some of the components of the "Right Here. Right Now." multimedia campaign developed for the BDB.
Just some of the components of the “Right Here. Right Now.” multimedia campaign.

The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County was honored at The Florida Economic Development Council’s (FEDC) 2012 Annual Meeting with three first-place awards in promotional and marketing innovation — and two of those were for creative work done in collaboration with Alchemy.

The BDB received the first-place award in the following categories: Ad Campaign for its “Right Here.Right Now.” multimedia effort targeting out-of-state corporate headquarters via a direct appeal to those companies’ CEOs (produced with Alchemy); External Publication for its annual business magazine and investor/member directory, Profile Magazine (primarily an in-house effort with the help of an outside publisher specializing in this sort of hybrid product); and E-Media for its micro-site at www.HQpbc.com, the web-based component of the “Right Here. Right Now.” campaign (again, with Alchemy).

More > “BDB Wins First-Place Awards from The Florida Economic Development Council for Alchemy’s Creative”


SWEDE FEST™PALM BEACH Opens Big!

Any time you work on a brand-new event with a client, there’s always the possibility that — even with a great concept and a clever hook, after everyone’s hard work, late nights, inspired ideas, creativity, sharp copy, media hooks, great pitches, relentless social media outreach, promises from everyone to cover the event, smart media buys, great sponsors, high-profile partners, and every other factor you can imagine — you’ll have a half-full venue. There are so many intangibles you can’t control; then add in that it’s summer, in Florida, during hurricane season, when it usually rains every afternoon from 4:00pm until 7:00pm, it’s hot and humid and hair gets frizzy, people are away on last-minute vacations before school starts and/or work gets back to a more normal schedule, and did we mention it’s summer? And that no one knows what a “swede” is?

Midtown's Belle Forino and Sherri Gedraitis in front of the step-and-repeat using our logo and graphics
Midtown’s Belle Forino and Sherri Gedraitis in front of the step-and-repeat using our logo and graphics

Yet none of that seemed to matter last Friday night when the inaugural SWEDE FEST™PALM BEACH launched to a sold out crowd of over 500 attendees on Mainstreet at Midtown.From the red carpet in front of The Borland Center for Performing Arts through the final credits, this was high-energy entertainment for everyone involved, with “swedes” submitted by amateur filmmakers ages 10 to 60. More > “SWEDE FEST™PALM BEACH Opens Big!”