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My time as a ‘brotern’ was life-altering.  No, I am not going to over-hype the experience just make a better story.  It simply was.  I remember my mindset on advertising before I knew about Brokaw.  I classified all of today’s advertisers into one group, only reflecting on the bad perpetuated by ads in our nation’s past.  This isn’t to say my classes didn’t teach an appreciation modern day advertising.  Rather, my mind couldn’t move past the industry’s historical injustices.

And then I met Gregg Brokaw.  As Gregg light-heartedly told me the in’s and out’s of him and his brother’s agency, my worldview on advertising was shaken a bit.  I finally met an honest group that was only interested in doing great work and having fun.  What I loved most about how they run things at Brokaw was they never take themselves too seriously.  Their work is edgy, hilarious, and memorable.  Most importantly, they’re passionate about outwitting their competition, not outspending them.  I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to intern as a junior art director up in their creative department.

Over the course of the past ten weeks, I have gotten my feet wet in such a diverse set of work.  Just to name a few: University Hospitals, First Merit Bank, Cayman Jack, Great Lakes Brewing Co., American Greetings, RTA, and a myriad of decks for new business pitches.  I’ve gotten to search through imagery for commercials, layout print ads, and mockup product proposals.  The faith Brokaw has in their interns was astounding to me.  It takes a lot of courage and confidence in your staff to be able to treat your interns like any other employee.  Because of that trust, my admiration and passion for great advertising has grown tenfold and I can proudly say that I now have what it takes to work at an agency. Thank you Brokaw.

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Dollar Shave Club is one of the best examples of a successful brand identity that is ubiquitous, from its packaging to its digital presence.  I’ve always been a huge fan of a beautiful rebrand.  However, what puts Dollar Shave Club (DSC) in a league of its own is that it was already beautiful, even at its start.

The idea alone was simple: solving an a relatable problem that’s shared by men and women everywhere, getting razors that aren’t ridiculously overpriced.  Quality generic alternatives shipped to your door for as little as $3.00 a month is a perfect example of product-market fit.  The founder and CEO, Michael Dubin recognized an age-old need and found a brilliant answer.

You may remember DSC’s head-turning launch video when it came out
in 2012 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUG9qYTJMsI).  That video (now viewed almost 20 million times) spread across the nation like wildfire on social media and made a boring subject like shaving entertaining enough to share with a friend.  But how did such a young and clever brand become the 615 million dollar mogul it is today? Through a delightfully unique customer experience.

When I subscribed to its service, Dollar Shave Club sent me a friendly “welcome to the club” email and shipped a very well-branded box to my door including the following: the products, a playful “member card,” free samples and (my personal favorite) “The Bathroom Minutes,” a hilarious monthly lifestyle newsletter from the chairman with pun-filled quotes, trivia, club news, member spotlights and more.  I loved how humble the packaging was.  The exposed-cardboard box had very little ink on it and yet it had just enough to keep it tastefully stylish.  This only helped represent the brand’s “No BS” core attitude.

This extraordinarily inexpensive and straightforward method of delivery changed the industry.  It seems more and more brands are now mimicking DSC’s approach, probably because of how pleasurable it is to a consumer to (for once) not have a product trying to blind you in the eyes with hologram-y, foil-stamped, 84-color packaging.  No contracts, no hidden fees, a distinct culture and a lifestyle service that’s worth talking about?  That’s not something you witness everyday.

Over 50,000 people a month refer a friend to the club, according to Dubin in a recent interview with CNBC.  That kind of number gets me giddy for advertising.  To be able to elevate your brand high enough that people do the advertising for you?  That’s more efficient and cost-effective than any other brand / media strategy that I can think of…

Stay true,
Dan

This week’s brotern blog posts will all be related to social media
(or in my case, a lack there of).

First, I’d like to point out that the technological revolution, as a whole, has been a beautiful thing, connecting people all around the globe that, just a few decades ago, would have never had the privilege of diving into one another’s lives.  Nearly all of my family members now have a Facebook.  I mean a lot do.  All of my siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and extended family from overseas are all “friends.”
This was the spark that put all my views on social media into perspective.

Now, I already understood the negative effects on self-esteem that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. could have on a teen’s brain, within the first few months of beginning my journey through the networks, at the ripe age of twelve.  Hell, I felt them.  Seeing my classmates have fun without me, hearing my crush was dating someone else, and being sucked into careless complaining and drama about adults never gave me a real sense of relief.  But all of it seemed worth it for that sweet feeling of being “in the know” on what “everyone” was talking about.

The more and more my family hopped on the social media bandwagon, the less interest I had in it all.  After all, I saw my family all the time.  I knew they weren’t going anywhere.  What was the point of knowing everything there was to know about one another’s lives, leaving nothing new to talk about at reunions or at the dinner table?  That idea stuck with me and slowly cultivated into the driving force for me to shed the networks that ruled my life for so long.  If family is forever,
why can’t my friends be?

Deleting social media, shedding all the “friends” I barely kept in contact with, and simplifying life down to face-to-face connections and actual conversation was the best decision I have ever made.  Looking back, I wonder how much of my adolescence was wasted worrying about what others thought of me, or what I thought of myself as I dwelled on the past and compared myself to others.

Things feel lighter now.  Absolute.  Thoughts remain in my brain, pictures stay private, and my friends understand.  Everyone that genuinely cares reaches out and you learn pretty quickly who you care about.  To keep this already long blog post short, if you are in need of positivity or a greater sense of dignity, I encourage you to try a month without social media.  The first week will feel a little tough.  You might miss a few of your “friends” birthdays and your Farmville might catch fire, but boy will you get hooked on the feeling of palpable clarity that comes along with your social media sabbatical.

I’ll leave you with that.

Be well,
Dan


http://adage.com/article/advertising/creative-director-paid-write-wedding-speeches/299294/

After I stumbled across this AdAge article on a brilliant creative director’s “side job,” I started reflecting on my own hobbies and passions.  If this Nathan Phillips ad exec guy could make money writing break-up letters, wedding toasts and TED talks, what could I make money doing?
I guess a better question for myself would be this:
“what do I want to make a living doing?”

Well to put it simply, what I’m doing now (but with a sprinkle of pro-bono work on the side).  I feel eternally grateful to have been given the opportunity to help such a clever, talented agency tell each of their fantastic clients’ stories.  However, I have found I continually ponder what humanity is to do about the big issues that don’t have a cool little “face” or “brand” for themselves; and I’m marveled by the apathetic nature of American society.  These astronomically influential ideas that are so relentlessly fought over, year after year, have little to no progress made on resolving them.  Instead, most of the uninformed public lets the powers that govern make the paramount decisions for them.  Decisions that will change the fate of our children’s (and even our own) future.

I will forever love and respect Brokaw for rising above the blah blah.  How could I not?  After all, it’s the world’s best ad agency.  Google said so. But it’s my goal to build a life where I can leave work each evening, go home, and take that same fervor I have for storytelling and translate it over to a little side gig that helps enlighten the world with stories of civilization’s struggles for unearthing universal truths (equality, peace, etc.).  Now whether that will be through a podcast, design for public good, activist work or something completely unimaginable at this point, the goal will always stay clear: help the world learn from its failures and have enough courage to keep moving forward.

A single thread of hope is still a very powerful thing.


“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck. Your profession is what you’re put here on Earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”  –  Vincent Van Gogh


Fourth week in and the magic still hasn’t worn off.  I had the pleasure of creating an ad for this year’s AAF-hosted volleyball tournament!  It was a little nerve-racking at first to have complete control over what this promotional piece could be . . . I mean, with Photoshop there’s only over a trillion different possibilities . . . no pressure. Luckily, on a whim, I decided to play around with blending modes and ended up with some pretty cool, colorful letters.
AAF15_Volleyball_800x315pxI’m also really grateful to have one other creative intern upstairs with me to bounce ideas around with!  Emily was also kind enough to draw some type up for the event’s description.  The splendid hand-made touch she provided for the promo gave the typography a strong contrast and really pushed it past the finish line!  Thanks Emily!

IMG_4185We also got a surprise visit from First Merit’s treat truck!  It’s so heartwarming to know that this agency has so many strong relationships with its beloved clients. Every day I walk into the office I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have stumbled into such a perfectly infinite space.  My creative spirit feels so nourished, working at a place that makes every member of the team (yes, even the interns) feel comfortable enough to interject their ideas and get their hands dirty in a barrel of brainstorm.
I am excited to lose count of how many beautifully fulfilling days this job has provided me.  Thank you Gregg, Tim, Steve, John, Aaron, Kelsey, Autumn, Holly, Heather, Erin, Angela, Zorina, Pat, Mark, Mike, Kelly, Leah, well . . . EVERYONE for making this such a fantastic experience, day in and day out.

For now, I’m signing off.
Until next time wonderful world —
Dan.

IMG_4186

What a three weeks it has been!  Working in this amazing place and discovering all Brokaw has to offer has totally opened my eyes to what the ad world can be.  And it’s only just beginning?  Sign me up!  Oh wait, already here … wow.  I’m HERE???  How in the world!

A handful of different clients to work on every day, a fun, sunlit, high-ceiling office, and the friendliest people?  I honestly don’t know how I didn’t find Brokaw sooner.  This place already feels like the home away from home i’ve yearned for ever since I completed college and left Kent.  And the staff here has treated us like family, happily greeting us with warm smiles and meaningful words.

One of my favorite parts (other than blending a new smoothie almost every day) has been getting the chance to interview coworkers nearly every day for our internviews.  Getting the chance to hear how unique everyone’s life path has been for them gives me optimism to face whatever my unpredictable future may hold.
I’ll leave you readers with a quote.

“you can meet somebody tomorrow who has better intentions for you than someone you’ve known forever … time means nothing … character does.”

This rings true as I look at the extraordinarily talented individuals working beside me, all pumping with the same team-driven passion that courses through my veins now.  These people care.  They care about the potential of each and every brand to be the very best it can be, speak the clearest message it can, make the most impact with the fewest words.  Most importantly, they love the agency they work for.  As do I.

FEELINGS

Blogs are confusing. I feel like a grandpa. Anyways, finally got this whole bloggy situated. We’re going to keep it casual this first (second?) week.

Here’s three things about me:

  1. I have a BFA from Kent State’s VCD program
  2. Being a tour guide was the best 3 years of my life (I talk too much).
  3. I come from the greatest, loudest, Italian/Hungarian wine-o family.

More exciting than that:  Here’s ten things I learned in my 1st(ish) week:

  1. The walk from the parking pit feels steeper every. single. day.
  2. It’s better to just stop trying to associate traffic patterns with specific weekdays.
  3. Ringing a bicycle bell is one of the most satisfying feelings.
  4. Constantino’s is the best [affordable] lunch destination (so far).
  5. There’s a dungeon below the office where all the previous (bad) broterns are caged.
  6. Vitamix blenders must be forged by wizards.
  7. Labeling inDesign files correctly / saving them in the correct place involves concentration.
  8. Mayflies (or whatever they are) love flying into your mouth (talking outdoors = not smart).
  9. Coffee + 16ft. spiral staircase = also a bad idea.
  10. Brokaw IS the world’s best ad agency.

peace & love to whomever reads this,
Dan K.