Mistakes Your Mouth Makes

Yes, let's just blame it on your mouth. Your brain knows the right thing, but your mouth - so defiant and unruly - just goes and saying things however it pleases. Rude. 

Let's have a Come-To-Jesus with your mouth today to help it get its act together. 

Starting off, make today the last day you say "irregardless" however. It my greatest fear that so many people are going to start saying the word incorrectly that Webster will add the incorrect usage to the dictionary and then all hope will be lost. All. Hope. Lost. 

It's one thing when "sexting" gets added, but "literally" now meaning "figuratively" is literally a tragedy. 

Talk how you want to talk with your friends and family, but at work, especially in written communications, kindly get your shit together.

Don't Make This Mistake

Most mistakes in advertising are pretty expensive. Having to change something last minute, especially after it's gone to the printers, radio or TV stations can cost thousands of dollars. Having to redo something - tens of thousands.

Even seemingly small mistakes like writing something as $9.98 instead of $9.99 can put a major dent in profits. (1 million people paying 1 million pennies less really adds up.)

But the biggest, most devastating mistakes are those where you don't get any pennies at all. When people get mad about the content of your ads and threaten to boycott you. 

Small Misteaks Make A Big Deference

Typos and cut-and-paste errors are as common as flies. No matter how much I try to keep a hawk's eye out, sometimes those sneaky little bastards sneak through.

Especially when I'm in a rush.
Especially when I'm stressed.
Especially when I'm tired.
Especially when I'm tired, stressed and in a rush.

Sometimes it's small things like they instead of the, other times, it's big things like misspelling a product name or writing cannot when you meant can. Things that can cost lost of money.
(Check out this very expensive mistake someone at Macy's made.)

Four things to do to make sure what you've written makes sense:

Honest Post: Creative Recovery

Over a year ago, my boss complimented me and said I recover well. In turn, I complimented

myself on being a superb actress.

I can't honestly tell you I bounce back from disappointments, failures and getting lost in the trenches well. Or quickly. I put my all into every thing I do. (Well, most - there's that one part of me that is daydreaming.) Even if I think it's a boring project, or an inane client request, or an Olympics-level exercise in futility. I may fuss sometimes (mostly to myself. And my partner. And my friends.) But I have a certain standard I try to keep myself to. And if I don't do my best, that's not good enough. I never want to give up or give in. I try my hardest to work things out.

But it's not that easy in advertising. You know that saying "You win some you lose some"? Here it's more like 30-70 than it is 50-50.

There have been times I work 10 hours days 10 days straight - writing, rewriting, then writing again. Only to hear:

Make a Mistake List

Last week's post about How to Get Ahead at Work had six great tips to help your career - number six was "Reframe Failure...Reflect on the lesson the failure offers, making adjustments accordingly, then climb back on your horse!"

Fantastic advice.

That's pretty difficult to follow through with.

We all make mistakes. And we all beat ourselves up. And we all think everyone took extensive notes, photos and video of your mistake and pull them up on their phones every night before they go to bed, laughing and shaking their heads at you. (No? No one else thinks that? Oh. Never mind) 

The good news is, we all can recover. And we all can get better.

This article has one amazingly great tip to help you acknowledge, work through and learn from your mistakes: Make a mistake list. Here's how it works.

How To Get Ahead At Work

Getting the job isn't the end of the line. Once you get the job, you have to keep the job. And then you have to get a better job (whether internally or externally.) Your work is never done. 

Love this article that lists 6 Tips on How to Get Ahead in Your Career. 

It even includes relevant books to read that go into more info. All the tips are really great, but this one really stood out to me:

What Your Book Should Look Like

What are people looking for when they look at a junior's book? Creative and strategic thinking. Crisp and professional execution. Ads and ideas that look like they should be in a magazine tomorrow morning, on TV tonight or in the app store right now.

The work in your portfolio needs to look real. Even if you made it up. It doesn't matter if you didn't actually work with the Crest client and got that ad produced in real life, your work needs to look like it could.

real real ad from Oct 2013
But the thing is, it just can't be real real. Confusing I know. But "real real" is legit basic ads like emails, banner ads, Facebook posts or website updates. The unsexy, real-life ad work that you'll have to do when you get hired, but that you don't need to actually show in your book.

It's kinda like how gymnasts don't show that they can do cartwheels when they go to tryouts - they go all out and show the amazing flippy-jumpy-twisty things they can do. Everybody knows they can cartwheel.

You want to be able to do that basic stuff, of course, you'll have to do them when you get hired.

Inspiration: The Answer To Why You Do This

If anyone ever asks you what a copywriter or art director does and why you want to be one, share this collection of ads with them. Ads like these make me proud to be a creative and inspired to make something amazing.

If you ever ask yourself why you want to be a copywriter or art director... well, not if, when you ask yourself why you're doing this, don't look at collections like these.

8 Must Haves of a Creative's Desk

My fav artist: Ananda Mahu
Most agencies have open floor plans with little or no dividers between you and
 everyone else. Which is great for a lot of things (I assume since every agency is doing this now, but I'm not sure what exactly) but one of the downfalls is no privacy or personal space. 

But just because you don't have a proper office, cubicle or officle doesn't mean you can't make where you sit feel comfortable and special.

Personally, there are a few things that make me feel most relaxed and creative. 

My couch is on the top of that list. But since I can't work from home every day, I do what I can to simulate that feeling in the office.

Creative Desk Must Haves 

(for people named Neisha Tweed.) 

1. Things to write on. A note pad and post-its are my go tos. You want to have something close by whenever genius strikes. Or if you need to doodle.

2. Something that inspires you. A picture, a quote, a solar-powered dancing frog...whatever that thing is that makes you keep going, keep it in clear sight.

3. A bit of home. For me that's sea shells from St Kitts. I live the quote "Home is wherever you are" and try to carry a piece of home the makes me feel warm and whole. 

4. Tools of the trade. Whether you are a writer or AD, keep markers, pencils, an exacto knife and a bucket of thumbtacks at your desk. Trust me.

Client clothes/shoes. Have a blazer and/or heels. If you suddenly get called to present in front of the client you better look presentable. 

Snacks. For the late nights, the times you skip lunch to beat a deadline and those times you're thinking really hard and need something to do with your hands. Whether you get pistachios or Skittles is up to you. 

7. A talking piece. Something, anything random that people will ask about. Breaking the ice is easier when you have a ninja sword hung over your cupboards - literally and figuratively. (Warning, don't take weapons to work. You'll probably get arrested.)  

8. (Optional.) Office shoes/clothes. Before I get settled in on my desk and fully ready to work, I switch into flip flops and a comfy cardigan. I learned it from Mr. Rogers. 
Blame my childhood.

Reality Check: Not Everyone Can Write Copy

"Copywriting is sooooo easy." Says anyone who is not a copywriter.

Knowing the proper ways to twist language, turn a phase, add some personality, pluck the right synonym and set the perfect cadence is an effing skill. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

The same way art directors and designers have an eye for colour and type, writers have an eye, ear and wrist for words, connotation and wit.

This blog post below shows exactly how it may totally seem easy to just write a line and promote a product and people will just love it and everything will be amazing and you will be promoted to Chief Creative Officer. That’s how it works because copywriting is soooooo easy.

Inspiration: Everything's Been Done

There’s nothing new under the sun. I either heard that in church or in a Lauryn Hill song. Or both.

It’s the truth either way. (Well, unless you look at all the new technologies and advances in science. Ok so, there are a few new things under the sun. Just not so much in advertising.) 

That’s another reason to constantly be looking at ads from other brands, years, countries and categories. You'll be inspired -- and will save yourself some disappointment.  

There is nothing worse than coming up with one of those ideas that makes you high-five the air, frantically comping it up, presenting it and then hearing, “Oh, that’s just like the [some other shit someone else did at some other time]”

Before You Ask For Reviews

I'm always honoured when people ask me to review their books. I'd gladly help any young (Clearly. This blog exists.) When I reply, they are always surprised by two things: (i) that I took so long to do it, and (ii) that I wrote such comprehensive notes, with references and tips.

You put a lot of time and energy into your portfolio and I want to give it the time and energy it deserves. I genuinely want to help you, and saying this is good, and I don't like this or delete this doesn't help you understand what you're doing right or wrong or why. And definitely won't make you a better creative, get you hired or prepare you for the  realities of working in advertising.

The best critiques I've gotten were those that left me feeling like I should just go look for a job as

ADCOLOR 2013 Recap Pt 1

“Randy Jackson's flower print jacket.”  – AA 
People keep asking me how this year's ADCOLOR Awards & Industry Conference was. It's been two weeks, and being a writer, I’m pretty embarrassed my response is still: “Awesome! Inspirational! Motivational! The weather in LA changed my life!”(I'm usually very conservative with exclamation marks, but they served as my attempt to show the exponential awesomeness of the whole weekend.) 

So, instead of wasting your time with my foolishness, here is some feedback from a few other folks who were there and apparently are more articulate than I am.

What Was Awesome
  • Having an honest conversation with Wilson Cruz at the show's after party - he is so down-to-earth and fearless.  – AA 
  • EVERYONE was nice, humble and willing to help. I've been to many conferences before

Inspiration: Are You Sharp Enough To Win A Pencil?

I'm partial to pencils. Especially freshly-sharpened pencils. And big gold pencils -- like the ones they award at the One Show every year.

I've gone to the interactive award show for the past few years and am always so inspired and motivated by everything I see. To see what other people from all over the world have done in the name of advertising is amazing. Especially the things that actually help people and change the world.

I came across this collection of the 2012 winners. Click on the thumbnails to see the full case study video

Creative Traffic Jams

Creative blocks are painful. Creative construction detours and creative traffic jams...
excruciating. Hashtag the worst

I've been pretty stressed at work lately about because everything is just not there yet. I'm working working working but I still haven't hit gold yet. Bronze. Maybe one silver. But nothing that makes me go "Yes! This is it!"

And that frustrates the shit out of me. (I then decide I suck as a copywriter and should go get a job working as a Dora in Times Square.)

A few years ago, an old boss who saw that I was driving myself to the brink of insanity took me