Challenge: Increase brand awareness and positive recall of an insurance brand that had been heavily outspent in media by its competitors for over 50 years. Previously, Pacific Life's commercials were dull affairs consisting entirely of stock footage of humpback whales and unmemorable voice overs.
Strategy: Create TV spots using the whale icon in conceptually unexpected and memorable ways.
Result: Year after year, Pacific Life enjoyed a 10 to 15% increase in brand awareness and positive brand association.
"Children" No whales or children were harmed in the making of this spot. The kids were in a pool in Florida. The stock footage of humpbacks was photographed by sea-faring adventurers. We shot a bunch of beautiful blue water in the Bahamas for merging the two sources. The rest was the result of digital FX magic and a nice version of Vivaldi we commissioned from HUM in Santa Monica.
"Tennis" One of my favorite spots that I've worked on as copywriter. No animals were harmed (including a humpback whale), but some professional tennis players got soaking wet.
"Animated Paintings" This spot shows Pacific Life's 'mascot' humpback whale in a new light, through the lens of the styles of famous artists. It features animation by Academy Award-winning artist Alexander Petrov. To create the spot's rich effects, Petrov and his team used their fingertips as brushes. In his Moscow studio, the artist—best known for his Oscar-winning animated short, The Old Man and the Sea—painted 625 oil-on-glass pieces over a three-month period.
When it launched, Zicam Cold Remedy was a game-changer in OTC remedies. It shortens the duration of a cold, rather than just masking symptoms. We thought an untraditional remedy called for untraditional cold remedy advertising; as Seinfeld might say, no hugging, no smiling, and no spots featuring sick couples in bed late at night... He turns on the light, "I can't sleep..." yadda yadda yadda... the next morning everything's fine... yuck.
The creative brief highlighted the fact that colds are spread in enclosed spaces. We thought setting the launch spot in a space shuttle could be a fertile location for memorable hijinks.
In the year after launch, we came up with a campaign called The Short Cold, back-to-back :15s that played off of the word "short."
In the wake of the 2008 recession, I freelanced for a few years "in between" staff jobs. I worked for Raleigh-area agencies, had some of my own clients, and also set up a school called simply The Portfolio Shop. My classes attracted undergrads at the college down the street, UNC Chapel Hill; the kinds of students who were interested in practical education. I had a lot of fun, got great reviews. And the old saying was true; I learned just as much as I taught. OOH posters for the school:
CLIENT: Novartis Pharmaceuticals
GOAL: Increase number of patient tests for Iron Overload, a potentially life-threatening condition that is a by-product of chronic blood transfusions.
CHALLENGES: Many recipients of these transfusions are sickle cell disease (SCD) patients, very often young children or teens. These patients and their caregivers are naturally focused on their primary disease, making sure they get a transfusion when a pain crisis occurs from the SCD. Hence they have little awareness of Iron Overload, a secondary but potentially fatal condition.
WHY FATAL? Iron is deposited permanently in the body with each transfusion. After 10 transfusions, this excess iron can damage internal organs and become fatal. EXJADE is the Novartis drug which, taken orally with juice, binds with the excess iron and flushes it out in urine. A positive test typically leads to prescription of EXJADE.
unbranded campaign: transfus10N
This bold, text-based typographical solution grabbed the attention and interest of caregivers visiting transfusion clinics. Its simple and elegant melding of the number 10 within the word "transfusion" led to a 10% increase in sign-ups for Be Transfusion Smart, the patient support program, and a similar increase in the number of blood tests given for Iron Overload.
Challenge: Southern California is car capital of the U.S., an important market for Jiffy Lube. But while oil changes are important, it's never top-of-mind, and many people doubt Jiffy Lube's expertise.
Strategy: Reach people where they live: in their cars, surrounded by outdoor billboards and radio spots that entertained as well as informed.
Result: Our campaigns consistently led to increased car counts whenever our radio was on the air, and in years where the brand had flat sales around the U.S., the LA Jiffy Lube market rose an average of 10% higher.
The "Street Smart" campaign touted the expertise of Jiffy Lube.
Radio celebrated the everyday heroes of L.A.... the drivers who survive the traffic, relying on Jiffy Lube to help them stay on the road.
Jiffy Lube "OR ELSE"
This campaign of outdoor and radio served as a gentle reminder of the importance of changing the oil.
Problem: In a "normal" year, one out of every five adults in the U.S. experiences some form of mental illness. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal more stress and anxiety for Americans. About 80% of visits to a doctor are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Yet, seeking help is often stigmatized.
Solution: This campaign (launched Nov. 2019 before COVID appeared in the US) is meant to help people show themselves love, and go and get some help. A creative challenge was to make the message work within the Blue Cross "Live Fearless" campaign, because people in emotional distress are unlikely to be feeling bold, confident, or 'fearless.' The solution was to express a new meaning to fearless: to ask for help. The video above is for YouTube pre-roll, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Here's a static post:
:30 livestream commercial on Pandora, with accompanying static banner below:
All of the creative clicks through to a website about how to seek out help and talk to your doctor about your concerns.
I'm proud to be part of the team that created the 2017 online video campaign entitled "You Got It." For our efforts we were presented with a national Aster award recognizing excellence in healthcare marketing.
BACKGROUND: The health care system is complicated; that's not big news to anyone. My assignment was to show & tell what the company is doing to make things easier for its members, and thereby raise positive brand awareness of Blue Cross NC. This campaign is for Blue Connect, their suite of online tools.
Here's a sample of the videos, social ads, banners, and radio spots in this integrated campaign.
RESULTS: The largest amount of audience engagement of any campaign to date, measured in click-throughs, time on site, and social sharing.
A handful of the web banners:
"Facts" :30 Radio spot
Consider the machine but
Write like a human
I didn't start out in advertising. After acting in college I banged around New York City as part of an improv comedy group called The Fresh Air Cab Company.* Being onstage in some dingy nightclub, armed with nothing but our bare wits and passion for play, was amazingly fun. When it worked it was magic. There was (pretty much) nothing better!
After awhile, I looked for a way to use my gift for making stuff up for a slightly more regular paycheck. Advertising fit the bill. Banging around in a conference room with other fringe human beings, making up s&^@, throwing pencils into the ceiling tiles like Tom Hanks in "Nothing In Common," well it was like improv theatre all over again, only with health insurance.
I haven't looked back. And what's kind of cool about this era of consumer-driven social marketing we're living in, is that it's becoming more and more like doing improv. You put a message out there, and messages come back from the audience! What's more, the brands that are willing to improvise — "play along and play nice" with consumers — are winning in the marketplace.
That's my story, and I'm sticking with it. If you'd like to look deeper, my resume is on LinkedIn.
What's your story? I can help you uncover it, and share it with customers and potential fans. Let's have a conversation!
*NYC, back in the day. Peter Freedman, Betsy Beers, Michael Berliner, Winnie Boone.
the better stuff
In any career, there'll be opportunities to produce work that you feel quite proud of.