McDonald’s Love Notes

Isn’t it nice when someone leaves you a little love note just because?

Whether it’s a note from your mom in your lunchbox:
“Have a good day sweetie!” (Hopefully only when you were a kid)

Or a note from your adoring husband, left on your pillow:
“Just wanted to tell you that you’re beautiful and I’ll love you forever.”

Or a romantic note from your loving wife:

  • Take out the diaper garbage. It’s stinking up the bedroom.
  • Pick up more diapers.
  • Pick up the dead spider on the floor. I used your shoe.
  • The cat puked on your chair. Clean it up.

That was the idea behind these love notes we created for McDonald’s. They were randomly slipped in the food bags of McDonald’s customers in the drive thru. Just because.


Falls Park Farmers Market 2014 Campaign

Because we love advertising AND local produce so much, every year ADwërks puts together a humble, yet bold ad campaign for the Falls Park Farmers Market, the largest farmers market in Sioux Falls with over 100 years under its belt.

The campaign consists of periodic email blasts that let customers know what’s new and in season at the market along with some print ads in the Argus Leader. The concept behind this year’s campaign was to position the idea of buying local produce from people in your community against faceless factory farming, rather than just doing things like childishly, yet still hilariously, drawing similarities between produce and the human anatomy, like we did last year. See a few examples of this year’s ads below, along with the aforementioned immature ads below that.









ADwërks Obtains The Most ADDYs


This was just the beginning.

The 48th annual ADDY Awards Show, which was held this past Saturday in Sioux Falls, was rife with cut-throat competition between ad agencies, but out of everyone else, ADwërks is proud to announce that we probably obtained the most ADDYs – the name of the signature drink at the event – leaving everybody else with egg on their face. We attribute this success to our strict and rigorous training, which involves shutting down the agency early every Friday to drink. It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication, but after receiving this honor, we know that it was all worthwhile.

On a side note, we took home some bling too.

Best of Class Award – Advertising For the Arts & Sciences – Non-traditional Category

We took home two Gold ADDY Awards and the Best of Class in Advertising for the Artsphoto for the SculptureWalk X campaign we did last spring. We created big metal Xs and installed them on all of the sculpture stands downtown to spread the word about the SculptureWalk eXpo, which was being held to celebrate SculptureWalk’s 10th anniversary.

As Jim put it, “It pays to wake up in the middle of the night with an idea.”

Gold ADDY Award – Newspaper Category

Andrew missed the announcement of these awards because he was in the bathroom relieving himself of all the ADDYs he obtained earlier in the evening. But we received a Gold ADDY Award and four Silver ADDY Awards for the print campaigns we did for the Falls Park Farmers Market. A couple examples are below.



– Andrew

Toulouse-Lautrec & His World Campaign

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s art has captivated the world for decades. His immersion into the theatrical and decadent nightlife of 19th century Paris influenced his creation of a wealth of prominent and iconic works. To celebrate these works, an exhibit called Toulouse-Lautrec & His World has come to America for the first time, and the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls is one of only four stops around the country. ADwërks was honored to have the opportunity to promote it.

Since we knew the exhibit would appeal to a diverse group of people, we created and implemented an extensive marketing campaign that’s sure to reach everyone.

Accompanied by 19th century cabaret music, images of some of Toulouse-Lautrec’s most recognizable pieces transition from one to the next as a French woman’s sultry voice communicates the message.

Taken from real quotes from art critics of the time, the radio spot features two cynical French men scrutinizing Toulouse-Lautrec’s work. But hearing their rants today, they actually provide us with an accurate description of his art. What some may have considered Toulouse-Lautrec’s flaws during his time, we view as his strengths today.

This is one of four animated GIF ads we created. They resemble the same look as the TV spot. To replay, just click it.


Since a good portion of our target audience frequents downtown Sioux Falls, we created posters that were displayed in the windows of downtown shops.


Additionally, we created some print ads and a billboard to help get the word out.

The exhibit will take place January 25th through June 8th, and will be held in the Everist Gallery of the Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion. It will feature 150 of Toulouse-Lautrec’s original works, including 12 of his famous posters and 35 sketches. If you enjoy art even just a little bit, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to witness Toulouse-Lautrec’s work firsthand.

– Andrew

The Dreadline

The Dreadline Nov 12, 2013

The dreaded deadline (or dreadline, as I like to call it in my head then laugh at myself in my head because I’m cool) has a bad reputation. Too often it’s last minute, down to the wire, and demands an unreasonably short amount of time to accomplish the task, especially if you want to do it right.


“I like them. I think they make me look sexy.”

Creatives in advertising know this all too well. We like to mumble and grumble when a job with a deadline that’s tighter than skinny jeans on Danny Devito lands on our desk. We’d prefer to take our time on the project, immerse ourselves in it, and explore all the avenues, with ample time to check Twitter and watch cat gifs for “inspiration”. Of course this isn’t always realistic. A tight deadline may seem like it restricts creativity, but I’d argue that it can have the opposite effect, and help it flourish.

Orson Welles said, “The absence of limitations is the enemy of art.” Sometimes restriction breeds creativity. When you have restrictions, you’re forced you to overcome them. And how do you overcome them? Well, you gotta get creative. In the case with deadlines, when you’re granted with a lot of time on a project, it’s easy to get wrapped up in exploring every possible avenue without choosing a direction. But a tight deadline forces you to pick a direction and move forward.

Tight deadlines are going to elbow their way to our desks no matter what; it’s just the way the world works; so we might as well embrace them. And by just changing our attitudes about them and having confidence in ourselves, it will make a world of a difference in our work.

– Andrew

The Lost Lesson Plan: Stuff They Don’t Teach You In Ad School Part I

School can only prepare you for so much in advertising. Some things you just can’t teach, lessons better learned in the school of hard knocks. Since I graduated and entered the ad world, I’ve picked up on a lot of things they don’t tell you about in school, or things I wish I had known. Here are those observations.

1. The Creative Department Is Nothing Like Don Draper’s – Going into the creative side of advertising may seem like the most fun and glamorous choice. You stumble into work at 8:30 or 9 in the morning wearing jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt because you’re creative like that. Then you effortlessly spout out a few genius ideas with a Starbucks in one hand and an iPad in the other, clear a spot on your desk for your future ADDY awards, then spend the rest of the day tweeting and palling around with your fellow creatives, right?

Wrong. You come in on time, appropriately dressed, and you work hard. You have to. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you never stop working. The creative process is fickle. You can’t limit your thinking to Monday through Friday 8 to 5. And chances are you’ll have to weed through 100 ideas before finding one halfway worth presenting to your creative director. It’s a very rewarding and enjoyable career path indeed, but it’s not Mad Men.

2. Media Buying Is Totally Killer – You may be under the impression that media buying is the stuffy, quiet side of advertising, (“It’s something to do with numbers right?”), and it doesn’t offer the kind of glory that creative offers – couldn’t be farther from the truth.

First of all, elements of creativity definitely go into buying and planning. It would be hard to deliver higher GRPs on a smaller budget than the previous year without using a little creativity. Also, deciding on what mediums to place the advertising takes plenty of ingenuity.

Secondly, media buying is a HUGE part of an agency’s services. In school I didn’t realize how important it really is, not only to the agency but to the client. There is a substantial demand for media buying services too. We have 11 employees and three are media buyers.

Also, buyers get majorly brown-nosed by their media reps. I’m talking lunches, gift baskets, snacks galore (especially during the Holidays), sometimes even free vacations. Lucky for us, our media buyers share their bounty. Well, just the goodies. It’d be weird if I went to lunch with Carol and one of her media reps, chomping away as they discuss business. “(Smack Smack) Can you pass the ketchup?”

3. Your Time Card Is Always Watching – Before going into advertising I had no idea that there was this thing called a time card. It keeps track of the billable hours you spend working on projects so your agency can make money so YOU can get paid, but indirectly it’s kind of a babysitter that makes sure you’re not misbehaving.

Every single day, by minimum increments of 15 minutes, you have to record the projects you worked on (using job numbers) along with the specific task you were performing with that project (copywriting, research, etc.) known as a function code. Since I work on a lot of different projects, I am constantly updating my time card throughout the day. And in a way, this ensures that I stay on task. I’m pretty sure there’s not a function code for “Fartin’ around on YouTube.”

By no means did these revelations affect my attitude about going into advertising; in fact, they’ve probably enhanced it. But they contribute to what I think is one of the most important lessons of all, and that is that you should never have expectations or pre-conceived notions in advertising. Chances are you’ll be disappointed. If advertising is anything, it’s unpredictable, and that’s what makes it so exciting.

– Andrew

134 Minutes as Jim Mathis

Not often you can justify spending several hours on a Saturday staring listlessly at the SyFy channel watching alien movie marathons, but all that time watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers proved its worth in 134 minutes. My 134 minutes as Jim Mathis.

I headed off to the South Dakota AdFed Chili Cook Off Contest last Thursday. With my bald cap in place (I couldn’t summon the courage to Britney Spears it and just bic my hair), vogue sweater vest (several sizes too big, stolen from the bottom of my husband’s closet, but still as sartorial as Ric Santorum or Ryan Tysdal) and big bowl of chili, the pot brimming with pork perfection, I set out to be Jim’s culinary copy, his sarcastic sous chef stand-in sans several inches. And in that two and almost a quarter hours, I realized pitching Three LIttle Pigs chili should be served with the same zest you pitch a client. Not everyone likes pork, just like not every client likes the creative we may pitch. But sometimes it’s just a bad taste from a mom who over-peppered pork chops, so a nibble or new presentation, makes it palatable.

When it comes to the recipe, remember the rules but add your own spice. The chili I dished up took a twist on the traditional, not just using so much pork you needed to do some extra push ups to pull the spoon up, but putting in that little extra (and no, not love… in this case, bacon, which is probably about the same thing). When working on projects, time-tested ideas can always work, but when we remember to make it just a little different, those ideas stand out from the others.

Did we win? No, tied for second. But the biggest lesson is, in the end you just need to be you. So while I spent 134 minutes as Jim Mathis, that time quickly came to an end when I ran into the gas station, bald cap burgeoning from the top of my head, and scared a small child. Probably best to stick to being a blonde with mediocre kitchen skills.

– Jolene

The Elusive Perfect Ad

Some say it doesn’t exist. Others blindly believe. Me? I was hopeful, but just didn’t know for sure, until I had a sighting the other day.

I was driving home from work one night, ear buds plugged in and listening to one of my favorite comedy podcasts Professor Blastoff, when all of a sudden an ad came on. It was a short, quirky-funny Old Spice ad, done in a style of humor that tickled me perfectly. Majestic and awe-inspiring, I literally laughed out loud (LLOL) then listened to it again. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the spot ever since; it just stuck with me. I guess that’s the power of the elusive perfect ad.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Professor Blastoff and have never heard any actual advertisements on the show, other than the hosts occasionally endorsing things like, but never anything product-related, nor anything that’s been professionally produced by brands, so I didn’t even expect it.

In my opinion, this was a perfect ad. The message was genuinely entertaining, and it reached me in a moment of zero clutter. Plus, after visiting the production company’s website (Earwolf) and looking at the “Advertise” section, I discovered that I fit into the surprisingly narrow demographic, so it was perfectly targeted. And most importantly, the ad led to a sale. After years of using the same deodorant, I finally upgraded.

Now the only problem is, I can hardly remember the spot anymore, and I don’t know what episode it was on. I have tons of Professor Blastoff episodes on my iPod; each is at least over an hour long. I fast-forwarded through a bunch of them but to no avail. I searched online and scoured the Old Spice website, nothing. I even tweeted @OldSpice and wrote on the Professor Blastoff Facebook page, no one answered.

In our world of ever-increasing media saturation and just plain bad advertising, this perfect ad is hard to come by. But it was refreshing to see that although elusive, it is still out there, that is, if my sighting was real. I’m halfway expecting Old Spice to respond to me with, “We don’t know what you’re talking about. We never ran an ad on Professor Blastoff.” And then creepy, mysterious music will play.

Maybe one day I’ll find this perfect ad again, but it really doesn’t matter, because now, I can say that I am a believer.

– Andrew

A Bid for the Presidency

Wander through the White House or saunter around the Smithsonian, and you probably won’t see any presidential memorabilia made out of poultry (though if Ben Franklin got his way a few centuries ago, we woud be a nation of turkeys). But travel to Dakota City, Nebraska and you’ll find a frozen history lesson.

About three years ago, Rebekah Speight took her kids to McDonald’s and as she cleaned up, a familiar face looked back at her. It wasn’t from a coin purse, but from the pile of uneaten McNuggets. The McNugget looked like George Washington. So government waste no more, Speight kept the pronounced POTUS profile and tucked it into her freezer.

Here’s where the word-of-mouth world that GW knew and our world of connectivity meet to make a creative grass roots campaign. When Speight needed to raise money for a higher purpose, to send students from her church to camp, she got the calling to auction the meaty McNugget. And the lesson from history and marketing is that at times the best viral campaigns mean brushing off the freezer burn and taking a bite of creativity bigger than George Washington’s wooden dentures could take (yes history teachers, and my mom, I know that’s not quite true). It’s stepping outside the usual to create chatter about the unusual. It’s using the tools and toys we employ every day – Facebook, Ebay or Twitter – to drive awareness of those causes that matter the most to us.

For Speight, her bid for the presidency on eBay got media coverage from around the world, creativity that cost conversation and getting bids past $8,000. While Commander in Chiefs may communicate about taxes or partisan politics, when a message makes its way through all the other talk of the day, we must ask why it matters so much. For Speight, the head of state (even in a state of breaded tastiness) gave her a way to help the cause and kids she cared most about it.

– Jolene

Update: The winning bidder chickened out on the sale, but organizers say they will still work to find someone interested in bidding on this presidential piece of poultry.

Is Your Writing All Talk?

Commitment Innovations Today

People Inspiring Discovery

Soaring Achievement Excellence

Do these phrases mean anything to you? I mean, the individual words are ok. But put together, they’re ambiguous, and pretty much meaningless.

This is something I frequently notice in advertising and business communications – words that are pretty on the outside (sometimes not even that), and empty on the inside. They’re purely cosmetic. It’s just a gag played on the audience, similar to the tricks performed by this magician.

For the sake of conversation, let’s call these meaningless ad phrases “gaglines.” (Not only is the illusion that they’re saying something of value a joke, but they make me gag.)

Gaglines defeat the purpose of your advertising. They’re just pretending to say something, but really not saying anything at all.

The purpose of your advertising is most likely to fix some kind of problem; transparent gaglines don’t fix those problems. Just because you use words like “excellence” or “inspire,” doesn’t mean you’re saying something meaningful and beneficial about the brand. Ad copy needs to be real and genuine. It should focus on the message, not the words.

Every ad you put out there is an opportunity – an opportunity to be heard, to influence consumers, to boost sales for the client… Failure to say something meaningful about the brand is a missed opportunity. So take advantage of your spotlight moment. Give your words legs to walk, and say something worth listening to.

– Andrew