July 6, 2024

Creating Your Own Competition

The funny thing to me about ad agencies is that, especially as you get to the higher levels you aren't paying people to work for you as much as you are paying them to not compete against you.

I wrote this the other week and it mildly blew up. A week later the former ECD's at GS&P New York announced their new agency (post layoff) would be taking Liberty Mutual with them.

April 29, 2024

AIDC Redux

I posted about my AIDC boxes on LinkedIn last week and the post had a minor blowup. 30k+ views and almost 250 likes with lots of well wishes and compliments. Not too bad for the investment.

April 5, 2024

Lamenting a Lack of Leadership

For a few weeks now I'd been discussing with friends my frustration with agency leaders who had been dead quiet on what was happening in the industry right now. After some encouragement from my friend TJ Bennett I decided to go ahead and write about it.

I do wonder if me speaking up about about issues I see in the industry makes things harder on myself in terms of finding work, but I'm not the type to shy away from hard discussions. After all, we can't fix things we don't want to talk about.

It seems to have struck a chord though with over 13k views and 160+ likes. Apparently I wasn't the only person who had noticed.

February 5, 2024


Last week Squarespace posted about a new Sr. Art Director position in LA and honestly, on paper it'd be a great match for me. But none of that matters if I can't get an interview. So on Friday I threw together a page on Squarespace to make the case for why I'd be the perfect candidate. It mostly has to do with my history of designing websites (not professionally) and understanding the target demo. Plus to really make the point it took me less than an hour to get the page up. I posted it to LinkedIn today and broke 100 likes, whether or not that'll make a difference is yet to be scene.

It does bring up an interesting philosophical question though. The page received a good bit of traffic and a lot of messages of support telling me they loved the idea. Are stunts like these zero sum games in terms of success? If I don't get an interview out of it from Squarespace, is it a complete failure? Does grabbing the attention of other creatives mitigate that if I don't? We'll find out I suppose.

August 25, 2023

There’s plenty of Crying in Advertising

I really do believe that certain "taboo" subjects should be talked about more openly so they won't be taboo anymore. I've done it in the past when I posted about pay ranges for full-time and freelance and I thought it was time to do it again for one of the mental health issues plaguing the industry.

You normally only see people posting about crying in the office on places like Fishbowl where they can be anonymous. Everyone in advertising fears being seen as weak. I thin it's funny though, because to be truly great at it you have to be empathetic. You need to be able to feel emotion and relate to how others are feeling as well.

Being honest about being humans is the first step, so we should be able to talk about those moments of humanity we have without fear or being seen as somehow lesser than those who don't. And that's before we even get into the underlying conditions at agencies that cause it to happen to begin with.

August 5, 2023

Free Headshots

The other week I made an offer on LinkedIn to take free headshots of any out-of-work creatives who wanted a refresh. I only had one person take me up, so everyone else's loss. Brandi and I met up this past Wednesday over in Santa Monica and these were the results.

August 4, 2023

Family Matters

With the baby coming soon, I took some time to reflect on what it meant for my career. Seems to have resonated a bit.

July 10, 2023

Creative Kitchen

I'd been preaching the virtues of kitchen communication to my students for awhile, but while I was watching The Bear the other week I was able to add a new parallel to the comparison. I ended up writing about it and, well, apparently it resonated.

April 6, 2023

Forced Freelance Help

I've been laid off three times in my 10 year career and as a result have spent more time freelancing then I have working full-time. I remember the feeling of shock upon learning that I was being thrown into freelance before I was personally ready for it. With all the layoffs happening, I wanted to help other people in a way that I wish I had been helped so I went to LinkedIn to let people know I was available if needed. Apparently it resonated.

March 18, 2023

Bias in AI

I was playing around with the new version of Midjourney the other day and I noticed something interesting. If you didn't specify race, it would feedback stereotypes for certain prompts. For example, I had it imagine 40 iterations of what a creative director for an ad agency in NYC. It gave me 40 white men. I repeated this with a more general request for a portrait of a doctor and again, all white men.

The first thing people will (and did say) in the comments was that it was reflective of the industry. Which can be partially true, I won't dispute that the industry is heavily white/male, but there are a few problems with that. The first is that a simple google search for the same prompt brings up plenty of diverse results of all races and sexes. So the results are out there to scrape from. And secondly that when you do a prompt for Midjourney it spits out 4 images at a time. There is no reason it should spit out 4 similar looking people. Hell you get more diverse results when you do a general prompt for a cat.

The problem with and has been with AI is that it indirectly reflects the bias (or laziness) of its creators (see the problem automated driving cars have with recognizing dark skinned people). I don't know if the Midjourney creators have a bias, but I do suspect they were lazy with the images they used to train the platform. They probably weren't thinking about what they were doing and this was the result.

Some people tried to argue that all you had to do was to change the prompt to add "randomize" or "diverse" to get the desired results, but this actually reinforces my point. How many people will actually do that (if they even know you can) and not just go with the first thing that's spit back to them? When race and gender aren't specified, white/male (or whatever stereotype for a profession) shouldn't just be the default.

Anyway, I posted my findings to LinkedIn and it resonated with some people. Cindy Gallup even reposted it twice on her timeline (yes, THE Cindy Gallup).

February 15, 2023

Industry Tax

I spend a decent amount of time thinking about how we can make the advertising industry more accessible to people of all walks of life. Maybe it's my background in sociology, but it's become increasingly clear to me that the root of the problem is access. We work in an industry where to have the best shot at getting hired, you have to go to an expensive portfolio school.

That said, I don't regret going to Creative Circus. But opting not to go to ad school makes the path significantly harder. From networking to acquiring the skills you need and putting together a book that will get you hired, school just makes it easier by 1000%. While some people will opt not to go by choice, many others who'd like to go can't because the schools are just too expensive and being burdened for 20-30 years with student loans is not a great option.

To that end, I came up with a possible solution to level the playing field and wrote about it on LinkedIn. It's gotten almost 20k views at this point so the idea seems to resonate at least a little bit.