Origami Is Therapeutic

Advertising, Education, Thoughts

Media Literacy: In Search of a USP

Media literacy is a problem. This problem is never more prevalent than during presidential election years. Facts are skewed for political gain and the media illiterate are left to feed of their droppings. They won’t give up their scraps for anything either. A recent poll asked people in Mississippi and Alabama their believe on President Obama’s religion. 52% of Mississippi Republicans and 45% of Alabama Republicans believe that he practices Islam.

I’m not against anyone disliking President Obama’s policies or having their misgivings about his tenure in office. But I am against the reality that folks are believing the propaganda that is thrown their way – hooking into their God-given right to dislikes and misgivings. How do you fix this? Well, being a professional in the advertising industry, I believe that our talents can help alleviate this problem.

I’ve tried to politely help point folks, from all sides of the political spectrum, to the truth. The result is being called a “liberal tree hugger” or an “evil republican nazi”, to which I’m neither. If there were a “just the facts, ma’am” party – I’d be checking that box off. What I’m saying is that the problem isn’t that simple. So, how do I propose we fix this country?

I need your help, to define the unique selling proposition for this country to become 100% media literate. Once we’ve got that USP, we can then move further and come up with creative ways to help folks who are targeted for their beliefs and fed lies and untruths.

Are you game? Put your thoughts in the comments.

Education, Thoughts

Protest SOPA and PIPA

Today websites around the world are protesting two legislations that are currently in discussion in the United States; the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP act.

Nothing can be said better than this post: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/01/how-pipa-and-sopa-violate-white-house-principles-supporting-free-speech

I grew up with the internet. I say grew up, meaning that it has matured along with me. The tools and information that have become available to me on the web are priceless. I wouldn’t have been able to seek out all the materials being taught in ad schools if it weren’t for the internet.

Honestly, I could go on and on about how the free and open internet has changed my life. Justin Beiber’s success story would never had happened. All those people who are able to express themselves by posting covers of songs on YouTube — GONE. Goodbye is the rapid spread of remix culture. Sayonara is the ability to crowd source our society’s history, because if someone feels that any part of that story is copyright infringement that site is blacklisted.

But then again, if 2011 brought us the rebirth of the hacker movement — would we just build an internet around the censored one?


Education, Thoughts

Hal Riney

One of my first glimpses into the world of advertising was the documentary Art & Copy. If you haven’t seen it, do so. Many of the industry greats in the film left a huge impression on me but none had impressed me more than Hal Riney.

He had a gift. One that a lot of advertising is missing these days. His gift, I’d later realize, was the fruition of Bill Bernbach’s mantra to find the truth about a brand, product or service. Hal took this mantra to another level. He found the emotional hook that would embed the truth into your heart. He was to advertising what John Hughes was to teen films. He told the story of us in order to sell us.

In this Saturn ad, he captures the moment of someone buying a new car and how a car company can be more human about the process to make the difference.

His more famous work won a presidency by helping depict Ronald Reagan as the guy who’ll look out for the everyday American. I used this ad as the inspiration for my Intrax corporate video.

In my obsession with advertising I’ve done all I can to study to past masters and with Hal Riney being an inspiration to me, I’m sad that there isn’t more available on his life, his work and, of course, his legacy.

I hope one day, someone does the research and writes that book. Because I’ll be in line to order one of the first copies. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll find the means to write it. Wouldn’t that be awesome.

Education, Thoughts

What I Learned This Year

I’m not cool enough for anyone to ask me to write one of these. Luckily this is the 21st century and I don’t have to wait for someone else to provide me with the means to do so. So here we go!

2010 was probably the shittiest of all years, so 2011 had only one direction to go… UP. 2011 offered juxtaposition to my brother’s death in 2010 with weddings. Lots of them too. Which brings me to the first thing I learned this year. Weddings are way better than funerals.

2011 wasn’t without loss though. We lost Steve Jobs in October. His advice to “stay hungry, stay foolish” is my adopted modus operandi. It’s driven me to expand my creativity in new ways. It’s guided me from New Orleans, to New York and back to San Francisco. In the last year is driven my passion to master a new craft. With that said, another thing I’ve learned this year is that you can never stop learning. I only wish we could live long enough to learn all the universe has to offer. The good news? If you stay hungry and foolish enough, you’ll learn the limit in your lifetime.

In June, I was given the chance to work in Washington, D. C. This provided me with my next two lessons. The first one is that true friendships can stand the test of time. 8 – 10 years had passed since I had last seen Chris, but we picked up right where we left off. It was like we saw each other the day before. It was awesome to feel that connection to someone.

The other lesson from D.C. came from a group of Muslim high school students. The big send off for the YES program was your typical high school dance. Seriously, go to Anywhere, USA and watch a high school dance commence. You couldn’t tell the difference. This lesson was an affirmation of my belief that we are all the same.

The last knowledge I’ll drop in your lap is to stay true to yourself. Sounds mighty cheeky doesn’t it? Well after losing the most important person in my life in 2010 I can attest that the road you’re on has bends and forks throughout it. During these times of tribulation the hardest thing to do is to keep your head up and be true to yourself. So no matter what 2012 brings you I hope that you can take these lessons I’ve learned and build upon them. Because shared knowledge moves the human race forward.

If I don’t post again before 2012, stay safe and happy new year!

Education, Thoughts

Egyptian LOL Cats

If the world ended tomorrow, the civilization that discovers our digital ruins would believe we were a society that worshiped cats. This prospect provides great insight to our judgmental tendencies.

Our obsession with cats on the internet is looked at with a light-hearted chuckle but what does it really say about us? It reminds me of our inclination that Egyptians worshiped cats.

It’s certain and logical that the Egyptians used cats to fight off vermin that were ruining their crops. But what proof do we have that they were worshiped? You’re probably saying… “Hey, they made statues of their cats!” Well, I’m sorry the Egyptians didn’t have YouTube. How can we be sure that those statues weren’t meant to make Egyptians laugh at the silly crap our feline friends do.

Wikipedia says the above statue is a Cat Goddess, but I say it’s the original “barking” cat. Until an Egyptian arrives through a Stargate you can’t prove me wrong otherwise.

But back to the present and the morale of my observation.

Without us there to explain, how would that civilization be able to know we weren’t worshiping our cats? Without context, nothing is certain. This principle is the root of every comedy bit you’ll ever hear but unfortunately, when the situation isn’t a guy at the on stage with a mic in his hand, the outcome isn’t funny. Today, teachers lose jobs because they have a photo of them with alcohol in their hands. Companies are making tons of money off employers who want to dig up your digital dirty laundry before hiring you. Professional and educational institutions are preaching that you must be wary of this. That your digital reputation can affect your future.

To the people who not only believe this crap, but are supporting it – I want you to know that when this world ends and another civilization will think Jesus was just a guy in a book and you’ll have worshiped cats.

The simple truth is that you speak to your mother differently than you speak to your coworkers. You tell a story about your work one way to your wife and another way to your boss. The single behavior that needs to change is everyone’s expectation that we are two-dimensional. That you are the same person to everyone. When in reality you’re a mother, an employee, a student, a sibling, a mentor, and so on.

So the next time you see something that causes you to judge quickly, remember that you’re more than a cat worshiper.

Education, Storytelling, Thoughts

The Survivor

survivor [səˈvaɪvə]
1. a person or thing that survives

I have survived many things. You could say my first survival story is my birth. With my birth father killed in a car accident and no way to care for me, my birth mother could have easily ended it there. Instead she braved through her pregnancy to give me up for adoption. If I ever meet her, I will let her know she’s a saint.

I survived being an outcast and a nerd in elementary school. I should say my confidence survived because without those rough years of self doubt I doubt I’d be the man I am today.

I survived not being a poor student. I now know that I just wasn’t meant for the type of academics available in my youth. Back then there was little patience to figure out that I could be interested in all those subjects if they were taught a certain way. A few teachers did along the way and I’m grateful for that.

I survived my wreckless early adulthood. Lots of poor decisions and careless behavior and I’m still amazed this day that I have all my limbs. Unfortunately, I suffered other feats of survival in this period. Two best friends were taken from me too suddenly. Both were taken too soon as well. 21 and 23. Later, another high school buddy was taken from us but it had been years since we spoke and honestly by then I was numb.

When I decided to change my ways and lead a more fruitful life by settling down and get a college degree, mother nature would test my survival skills. I stood in the foyer of my home in Chalmette, LA that day – August 27th, 2005 to be exact – and thought very surely that this will be the last time I would see this place. I wish I could say I was wrong, that like every other hurricane I came back a few days later to bitch about having to go out of town and disrupt my life. No, instead I never returned until a month or more later. Our home took 20~ feet of water and after the water drained away another hurricane gave it a refill. Katrina and Rita took everything I owned but thanks to my earlier tales of survival I was certain they didn’t take everything I had.

I grew up a little rebellious and free spirited, maybe it’s due to my astrological sign but I don’t follow that stuff. Because of this fact I was never the best son or brother to my family, the lucky ones who adopted me. When Katrina and Rita took all my belongings, what stood was my family. I loved my family relentlessly, but this was a sign that I hadn’t always proved it. I was 24/25 at the time and was ecstatic when I realized I had plenty of time to make up for it. Not to mention, I figured Katrina and Rita had purged all my bad karma. Wouldn’t have you?

I lived the next 5 years proud of all the dots I connected backwards. Calling them “events of survival”: Birth, youth awkwardness, bad grades, wreckless 20s, natural disaster. I was also doing my best to be a good son and brother. My brother, Randy, and I were becoming especially close. My mother and I became best friends. Something I never knew would happen and I was relieved the day came.

I wish I could say this is where my tale of survival ends. How making it through all of those moments gives you character and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While all of this is true, the harsher truth is that life is a vicious cycle. Ups and downs. But none of the other survival events could have prepared me for 5/5/10.

When your dad calls you early in the morning, your heart always jumps because it isn’t normal. This has happened constantly since cellphones and I never got used to it. Usually it resulted in a “oh, I didn’t think you’d be sleeping” apology with some nonsense convo to releive your blood pressure. But that morning, what my dad would say would begin my current state of survival. “Hey dad, what’s up?”

Randy died in a car accident last night.

Those are the kinda words you have to survive every morning. Unfortunately, I can’t say how I will survive this one. It’s been 16 months and I don’t see the end in sight. All I can do is rely on my instincts and survive. Because after my parents are called upon to the kingdom in the sky, I will be the survivor.