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.


The Passing of a Legend

By Jim Mathis

You’ve probably never heard of Tony Mikes, but he has made a tremendous impact on my life, helping to shape my career and my business. It’s a bit of a strange path from his home in Eastern Pennsylvania to my small agency in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but I’m a better person for taking it. Tony Mikes passed away on Thursday, June 25, 2015. I’m proud to call him a friend and he will be missed.

In 1988 Tony started a company called Second Wind. Second Wind is a network of smaller to mid-sized advertising agencies, design firms and marketing shops all over the country. What Tony did was give the owners and managers of these businesses a place to come together, learn from each other, share successes and failures. For more than 25 years, Tony sat at the helm of Second Wind, helping agency leadership find their way through this tumultuous business. Craig Lawrence and Paul Schiller (the founders of Lawrence & Schiller) were early members of the network and the agency still belongs today.


Prior to starting Second Wind, Tony had a successful career as an advertising agency owner himself. He had already experienced many of the growing pains and tough decisions that the network members were experiencing. He was there to help guide and grow; the perfect mentor for small agency owners like me.

I met Tony over 20 years ago. I was a media director for Lawrence & Schiller. The agencytonymikes had planned a manager’s retreat in the Twin Cities and Tony was brought in to facilitate. At the time, I was a disgruntled employee; not happy with some of the direction I saw the company going and was seriously considering quitting. At the end of the meeting I was feeling better, but I still had reservations. Then I had the opportunity to drive Tony to the airport (which was more coincidental than intentional, I was picking up Kara so we could spend the weekend in Minneapolis), but the 45 minutes I got to spend one-on-one with Tony were invaluable. He was able to see my concerns and walk me through them. In that short ride he talked me off the ledge.

Years later when I started ADwërks, I decided to join Second Wind as soon as I could afford it. Since then I’ve made many dear friends in the Second Wind network. I’ve learned things that have helped make me successful and avoid many pitfalls that could have been quite costly. In mid-July I’ll be traveling back to Wyomissing, Pennsylvania to spend a few days with other small agency owners at the Second Wind headquarters. I will miss Tony, but I am grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned from him and the others in the Second Wind family.

Lessons From Dear Old Dad

By Jim Mathis

Over the years my father taught me many life lessons. Some seemed trivial and even silly at the time; while others felt like he was passing down great wisdom, as if he was transferring the weight of the world from his shoulders to mine. At times I think his lessons were carefully planned, and sometimes his teaching was delivered accidently in the course of our everyday lives. But each time he shared his ideas, insights and challenges, I grew as a man and he helped to shape the person I would become.

When I was young, my father would take me fishing. He taught me to be patient and wait for the excitement that would come when the fish began to bite. While those moments of exuberance were sometimes few and far between, the time we spent waiting became a chance to talk one on one with the guy I looked up to. Somehow through those times I learned the virtue of patience was far more valuable than bragging about what we caught.

GooseCallThe time I spent hunting ducks with Dad was much the same. We’d get up early, drive an hour or so, take the boat across a dark river. We’d set the decoys in the still water and climb into the duck blind, long before the sun began to rise. We’d sit and wait to hear the whistle of teal flying past. We would talk quietly while our eyes scanned the sky, waiting for our chance to bag a mallard or gadwall. Some days we’d shoot our limit of ducks and proudly bring our bounty home while the morning was still young. Other days we’d sit and talk, occasionally calling in vain to ducks on the horizon. Hours later we’d pack up and head home empty handed. It was on those days, without ever saying it, Dad taught me that hunting was more about time spent in the field, less about the contents of our bag.

When our outdoor excursions were successful, he taught me to carefully clean the fish and fowl, to respect the animals and use what we had harvested. While that lesson was important, I think he also wanted to delegate the dirty work, and I was happy to help. Then we’d go inside and clean our guns and neatly put away the decoys, calls and other equipment. A place for everything and everything in its place, a lesson learned.

When it came time to cook, he taught me to neatly stack charcoal briquettes into a dusty black pyramid in the old Weber kettle. He would douse the stack in lighter fluid then strike a match and toss it in. We’d watch in awe as the flames reached high into the air, the smell of petroleum was thick in the backyard and I was proud to be part of the ritual. I’ve since learned to fire up the grill without all of the chemicals and fuss, but I still think about him whenever I strike a match. The smell of sulfur and smoke take me back every time.

As I grew older, Dad taught me an appreciation for many of the finer things in life, from the pleasure of a good steak; to the sweet and briny goodness of an oyster you shucked yourself. He also showed me how to enjoy the simple pleasure of a good libation. Over the years we shared many fine Scotches, bourbons and ryes. And even though I’d moved hundreds of miles away, we’d talk on the phone and compare notes on a new (or perhaps 18 year old) Scotch one of us had discovered. He’d save me samples, and when we could get together we’d enjoy a glass. When he passed away last winter, many of my friends who had come to call him a friend as well lifted a glass of fine bourbon or Scotch in his honor.

Many years ago, mom and dad were called into to my kindergarten teacher for a conference. The teacher firmly encouraged my parents to be honest with their son about what dad did for a living. My folks were a little perplexed; I’d been to dad’s office and seen what he did, so what was the problem? Apparently, when the teacher had asked each child what their dad did for a living, I had said “he colors.” Mom and Dad said I was right. I went to his office and he was there drawing pictures and coloring them in with markers. That’s what art directors did back then.

I think that may have been the most important thing he did. My dad got me interested in dad2advertising. He had worked in advertising as I was growing up. I thought it was so cool that he got to create ads and brochures. I wanted to do that when I grew up. By watching him as I grew up, I think I learned as much about advertising as I did in college. Without his wisdom and encouragement, I would not be where I am today.

Six years ago I started writing a column for Etc. For Her Magazine. Every month I’d send copies of the magazine to Des Moines for my Dad. He would often call with comments (or corrections). When his health began to fail, Mom would read the articles to him. Through that humble publication, Sioux Falls became his favorite place to visit. He would arrive with a list of new restaurants to visit and places to see, all based on what he learned from Etc. for her.

So this Father’s Day as I remember all my dad did for me, let’s all drink toast for the men who taught us to ride our bikes, to know right from wrong and what it meant to be loved. Here’s to you, Dear Old Dad, and all the other Dads out there.

Conceptual Engineer Promoted To Assistant Certified Advertologist™

In case you can’t decipher ADwërks’ very sophisticated and official job titling system, 0_2013-03-14_Sara-SullivanForshey_17_SaraCam_Fix_Flat_CropSara Sullivan, one of our Art Directors, has been promoted to Assistant Creative Director, which makes her a Certified Advertologist™.

The news was revealed at ADwërks’ annual office Christmas party, held at the Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion in the Moby Dick exhibit, shortly after an exquisite dinner set to elegant music, and shortly before some of the grown men made juvenile Moby Dick innuendos after practically drinking the bar dry and probably traumatizing the bar tender.

As Assistant Creative Director, Sara will have more authority in decisions, step in when Jim, Principal Creative Director and Certified Advertologist™ is unavailable, and she’ll share some of his workload when it comes to creative direction and approvals. The promotion also rewards Sara for all of the awesome work she’s done at ADwërks over the years. Along with her new role, Sara will resume her regular duties as Art Director, she’ll just do it with more authority!

Sara’s been with ADwërks for almost a decade, and during that time she has consistently proven herself to be a creative force to be reckoned with. She can always be counted on to deliver impressive work and lend a fresh perspective to projects. These merits and more have made her more than qualified for the promotion.

We’re proud to call Sara an ADwërker, and we know she’ll excel in her new position. Feel free to help us congratulate her!

Announcing Our Newest Kool-Aid Drinker

ADwërks has managed to not scare off a newcomer; she even read our not-so- Nicole4Blogpolitically-correct holiday letter before being hired and she still willingly joined us – miraculous.

Nicole Townswick has joined the ADwërks crew as Post Master, which means she’ll work as a social and digital media strategist for one of our largest accounts, McDonald’s. She’ll be the primary person managing and posting on the social media accounts for McDonald’s restaurants. She’ll also be analyzing data and insights to help determine and refine content and strategy.

Nicole has a Journalism Degree with an Advertising Emphasis from South Dakota State University, and she has a great background in social media. She worked as a Public Relations and Communications Manager at Volunteers of America, Dakotas, where she managed their social media accounts. She also worked at Habitat for Humanity, SD where she did grant writing and social media, and on top of that she has done some freelance social media work as well.

“I’m thrilled to be a new member of the ADwërks team,” said Nicole. “I look forward to using my skills and experience to advance the social media strategy for the restaurants, the Co-ops and the McDonald’s brand.”

When she’s not at work, the self-proclaimed “boring person” enjoys volunteering, running, and kickboxing, you know, pretty run-of-the-mill stuff.

“When Nicole told me she was a kick-boxer, I felt like I had to hire her or she’d kick-box my ass!” said Jim Mathis, ADwërks President and Certified Advertologist™.

We’re confident that Nicole will be an excellent addition to our team, and we look forward to her future here at ADwërks. Feel free to help us welcome her aboard!

A Not So Politically Correct Holiday Letter From ADwërks-2014

Well, none of our cats had to have penis-ectomies this year, so 2014 has been good. See ya in 2015.


Just kidding. Twenty-fourteen has been rife with change at ADwërks, with plenty of TonicSnowEditedgood fortune, and of course some janky fortune as well. For starters, we lost our dear friend, Monday, in March. The office just wasn’t the same without her – too dry without drool, too dull without a furry friend to pet, and too clean without the occasional accident in Mike’s office. But the good news is that there’s a newcomer to follow in Monday’s paw prints, and her name is Tonic. Jim and Kara welcomed the two-month-old yellow lab in October, and we couldn’t be happier to have her in the office. And since she’s so young and naive, we don’t have to pay her much – the opportunity to gain experience digging used tissues out of the garbage and chewing on ADwërkers’ shoe laces is enough to make her happy.

In addition to Tonic, we welcomed two other employees this year – Caryla Chambers as Cog Whisperer, and Tyler Evans as Defender of Market Share. They’ve both fit in well so far, but the true test will be at the ADwërks Christmas party when Andrew will inevitably have too much to drink and say something inappropriate.

Speaking of inappropriate, you’d think that we have Barry White playing on repeat in the office, because there’s been a lot of baby-making going on. Tyler had a baby boy, Taeson, this spring (his wife did most of the work), Heather gave birth to her daughter Onnika, and Andrew knocked up his wife Jenny, and their baby girl is due in February.

They grow up so fast, don’t they? Jim turned 50 this year, but only after Carol did first, so he wins. Also, Kristi’s son Cooper started middle school; Carol’s youngest daughter Tara started high school, and Carol saw her oldest daughter Tiffany off to college, and we all know what happens there, eh? Sometimes you tear your ACL playing soccer and need surgery, that’s what happens (at least that’s what happened to Tiffany), nothing more. Don’t tell Carol otherwise.

It certainly can be hard on parents to see their children leave the house. Carol was eating carrots in her office and she started getting choked up, and Kristi comforted her with a reverse hug. Oh wait, that’s when she was literally choking on a carrot and Kristi rushed into her office like Pam Anderson in Baywatch to give her the Heimlich, only with more life-saving and less slow motion boob-bouncing. It was truly heroic.

Tiffany wasn’t the only one to have surgery this year; Jolene had surgery on her shoulder, which really interfered with her renowned phone skills. We could have used her hyper-ability to accidentally hang up on people when we got our new phone system. We’re still traumatized by the first few days – the incessant ringing, lights flashing everywhere, people getting parked when they should’ve been transferred, people getting transferred when they should’ve been sent to voicemail, extension numbers shouted out like war cries, it was total chaos.

A couple ADwërkers did some moving this year too. Sara moved all the way from Chicago to Greenville, South Carolina, which is the opposite direction of where we would have liked her to move. However, the city is basically like Sioux Falls but with a southern accent, complete with its own historic downtown, a Falls Park, and probably a bizarro Mayor Huether. And Kara moved from the east side of the office all the way to the west side of the office. It was the 6th time she’s moved within 5 years; she must be going for a record.

ADwërks went through a lot of changes this year, but there is one thing that stands above the rest – it has been revolutionary, totally earth shattering, and utterly life changing, and it’s called Cards Against Humanity. One of our clients gave us the game, and we haven’t been the same ever since. If you’re not familiar, it’s exactly how it sounds. It’s kind of like a mad lib card game except the card combinations can be so hilariously vulgar and obscene, that you’ll question the very concept and miracle of humanity. This is not a game for your grandma, unless your grandma is Betty White. We’ve made the card game an ADwërks weekly tradition; we play it every Friday when we start happy hour.


And this is a tame one.

So, we’ve covered just about every ADwërker, but what about our dear Michael Hay? Last week he had a huge burrito, with red AND green sauce because he really gets into the Christmas spirit.

Have a happy 2015.

ADwërks’ Fantastical Office Tree Decorating Contest

We ADwërkers aren’t exactly known for our Holiday spirit, heck, Andrew hasn’t even 6started his Christmas shopping yet. Our idea of Holiday spirit is more along the lines of drinking a glass of distilled spirits in December.

But a comedy of errors left us with a bunch of extra 18-inch Christmas trees with no purpose – destined to spend eternity in our basement collecting dust and the occasional floodwater, never to experience ornaments hung on their branches or the joy in the eyes of a child as he opens his gifts on Christmas morning, and that was kind of depressing, even for Mike.

So we decided to turn a bah humbug into a yule log (don’t even know what that means) and hold our very own office Christmas tree decorating contest, because a little more Holiday spirit isn’t going to kill us.

Each ADwërker received a little tree at his or her desk to decorate, but with a catch – we could only use the items in our office space to decorate our trees, whether it be paper clips, post-it notes, even that half-eaten granola bar stuck to the bottom of the drawer in the filing cabinet was fair game.

So we went to work on our trees, and now we need your help to determine a winner. To vote, go to our photos folder on Facebook HERE and like or comment on whichever tree you think is best, and then we’ll post the winner. Polls are open now through December 15.

We Need A Social/Digital Media Strategist!

We are looking for a social media strategist to lead regional social strategy for one of ADwerks_GearLogothe world’s most recognized brands. Yes, you read that correctly – we’re going to pay someone to spend their day on Facebook and Twitter. How cool is that?

This position will manage digital platforms, develop a social media strategy to build greater brand awareness, develop, implement and manage all social media related efforts designed to increase consumer awareness, as well as consumer acquisition, retention and engagement.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Research, develop and manage day-to-day social media content
  • Manage social advertising campaigns on Facebook and Twitter with regular status updates provided internally and bi-weekly reports to the client
  • Manage a social media budget and media strategy for paid ad placement to increase engagement on social platforms
  • Interact with consumers/customers in real time via social media platforms
  • Identify opportunity areas and conduct research in order to leverage social media activities and strategies to extend the campaign
  • Ensure social media platforms and channels are effectively aligned with the client’s brand and overall business strategies
  • Monitor trends in social media tools and applications, and apply that knowledge to the use of social media strategies within the business
  • Develop and manage a content calendar
  • Provide consumer insights to help lead overall marketing strategy

Position Requirements:

  • Candidates should be highly organized and detail oriented
  • Must show outstanding written and verbal communication skills
  • Degree in Marketing/Advertising/PR or Communication, or English
  • Minimum of 3 years of experience in social media/digital marketing required
  • Agency Experience preferred
  • Capable of performing tasks independently and meet objectives with little supervision
  • Well versed in all social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other comparable and up-and-coming social media channels
  • Experience with third party social media software tools and social listening or engagement tools
  • Strong Analytical Skills
  • Knowledge of Photoshop and InDesign is preferred but not required

If this position sounds like it’s up your alley, please send your resume and cover letter in PDF format to

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.









Watch Your Tone

Watch Your Tone Aug 13, 2014

I recently took a series of online courses from MarketingProfsPRO called Marketing certificateWriting Bootcamp. Don’t believe me? I’ve got a diploma to prove it. I had to take quizzes and everything. Why are you doubting me so much? Seems weird… Anyway, the class covered many topics, and in its wake left a bunch of knowledge in my brain, knowledge that I am going to bestow upon you.

One of my favorite courses was on tone of voice. You know how when you were a blossoming prepubescent teen and your mom would say; “Don’t take that tone with me,” then she’d send you to your room? Or how when you’re married and you’re a blossoming prepubescent man and your wife will say; “Don’t take that tone with me,” then send you to your room? That’s because it’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it that makes all the difference.

Brands can use tone of voice as a tool to more accurately communicate who they are. For example:

A company that makes things might say:

The diversity in our department enables us to be innovative and creative, resulting in revolutionary, ground breaking and immersive products for our customers.

Or they could say:

We build awesome products that our customers love.

The message is the same but they sound vastly different because of their language, personality, structure and tone. Neither is wrong, as long as they effectively communicate the brand’s personality, culture and values.

How do you start?

To determine the type of tone you should have, start from the beginning by defining your company’s values. Are they silly? Inspirational? Cool? Intellectual? Just don’t say “boring”. It’s easy to jump to that conclusion for some, but I guarantee you it’s not true. Your values will then define your brand, which defines your personality, which dictates the type of tone of voice you should have. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to talk. But before you open your mouth, make sure you’re ready to use it consistently.

Positioning your tone of voice in the consumer’s mind doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time. Think about it. When you know a person, you have certain expectations for how they talk, the types of jokes they make and the things they say. When they say something that aligns with your expectations of them, all is right with the universe.

Now if I suddenly decided that I wanted to talk like, oh I don’t know, Darth Vader, it would come across as strange, since it would go against the expectations people have of me.

Let’s say I told Mike, one of our art directors, to use a certain headline in an ad and he didn’t listenThe Office Dark VaderAdwerks to me. I’d normally say, “Hey, what happened to that headline?” But if I wanted him to suddenly perceive me as Darth Vader, I’d say, “I find your lack of obedience disturbing. Your insolence betrays you. Now feel the wrath of the dark side,” then I’d pull out my pink lightsaber (I’ve always wanted a pink lighstaber). It’d be weird because I’ve never talked like that before; I haven’t established that I’m Darth Vader. That’s an extreme example, but I think you get what I mean. It takes time to establish your tone of voice, and that’s why you must do it consistently and accurately.

Tone of voice can really do wonders for your brand. It can help you stand out from the crowd, engage customers, share your personality, build trust, strengthen and reinforce your brand, and all of this can ultimately lead to generating more sales. And today, given the amount of voices (including the ones in my head) we hear every day, tone of voice is especially crucial to helping you stand out and be memorable.

– Andrew