A Contact is a Terrible Thing to Waste

A few weeks ago I ordered a gift for Mother’s Day, one of the fruit bouquets you see fruit_bouquetadvertised just about everywhere. I placed my order a week in advance, arranged for delivery and thought I was done. But what I had inadvertently done was sign myself up for a barrage of attacks on my inbox. You see, when I placed my order I innocently clicked the box saying it was OK to send me special offers. What I didn’t know was they would email me twice a day, every day through Mother’s Day, reminding me it was not too late to make the purchase that I had already made.

I thought that was it, with the holiday over they would leave me alone. Oh no, Monday morning they hit me again to tell me it would be a great graduation gift. I thought maybe they would let me update my preferences to let them know I only need an email once a month or even once a week. Nope, my choice was all or nothing. I voted for nothing.

About that same time, I made another online purchase and once again the emails started coming. Today I got two from that retailer before 8:00 AM. Update preferences? Yes, I think I will. But they didn’t give me the chance to get fewer emails. No, they only gave me the chance to sign up for more emails from other companies. Unsubscribe to all was my choice.

In both case they had a chance to keep in contact with a happy customer but they abused that opportunity. In both cases they spent money on advertising in both traditional and online media to attract me as a customer. In both cases I was very happy with the product, but right now I don’t want to do business with either. They had a chance to keep in touch with a valuable contact but they squandered it, now they have nothing.  If you’ve had similar abusive email relationships with companies, please don’t email to tell me your story, my in-box is already full.

– Jim

ADwërks Successfully Clones Kara

Of course by “cloning,” we mean that we hired an equally skilled and hardworking person Caryla-for-blogto take over some of Kara’s workload.

Caryla Chambers has joined ADwërks as our Cog Whisperer. Her main duty (ha, duty…) is to coordinate and manage all of ADwërks’ production work for McDonald’s, guiding it from creation to completion, and making sure that it is produced and delivered efficiently, correctly and on time. Additionally, Caryla will oversee the production work for ADwërks’ other clients, which includes updating the daily job sheet and ensuring that each project is progressing on schedule. In other words, if the creative team is wasting time drawing pictures of Batman and watching cat gifs when they’re supposed to be working on a project that’s due in two hours, Caryla will lay the smack down.

Caryla has been in the advertising business for more than 30 years, and over that time she has accumulated an impressive amount of experience. Heck, she was laying the smack down before The Rock grew into his speedos. She worked as a production manager at Lawrence & Schiller for over 14 years, she was a traffic manager at Avera for over five years, and she was a production/traffic manager at LodgeNet for nine years, to name a few.

Caryla was born and raised right here in Sioux Falls, but she has kicked around a bit, including a stint in Minneapolis and taking up residence in Missoula and Bozeman, Montana, but ultimately family brought her back to South Dakota.

The self-proclaimed workaholic (an addiction that is fueled by another addiction – coffee), still manages to find time doing the things she loves, which includes spending time with her husband Dar, her two beloved cats, and spoiling her 7-year-old granddaughter. Caryla also enjoys gardening, drawing and painting. Plus, as a dedicated Cirque du Soleil fan and art buff, she travels the region to attend every show and gallery possible.

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

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

Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons Campaign

Being a Girl Scout is much more than just selling cookies. The program offers young girls GSDH HiResa world of new experiences and opportunities, empowering them with the confidence to do almost anything, even making a commercial. That was the idea behind the public service announcements (PSAs) ADwërks and Mud Mile teamed up to produce for Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons.

First we had to put together a group of Girl Scouts from around the Midwest to star in the PSAs, so we sent out a request for submissions. Any Girl Scout who wanted to be in the spots just had to send us a video containing whatever content they wanted. Some told us why they wanted to be in the PSAs, others introduced us to their families and pets, and one little girl even launched a rocket into the sky. She made the cut, obviously.

Once our stars were selected, we scheduled a production day here in Sioux Falls, and the day was jam-packed. After the girls got their hair and make-up professionally done, they learned about the field of advertising and what the motive was behind the PSAs we were about to make. They also got a rundown of the video production equipment, from the green screen, to the cameras, to the lights and the audio, so that they could run the equipment when we were ready to shoot.

After a long day of shooting, the girls were sent on their way. To thank them for their participation we sent them home with a goodie-bag that included their very own movie clapboard, which was probably the most popular gadget among the girls on the set.

The day gave us enough footage to make three different PSAs, and we’re pretty proud of how they turned out. Check them out below

Along with the PSAs we also produced a billboard, some radio spots, and did some work for their website.

– Andrew

ADwërks Intentionally Confuses The Public With Big Blue Xs

Ok, maybe the word “confuses” is not entirely accurate, but I don’t feel comfortable putting blogx3the word “titillates” in a headline. Anyway, you may have noticed a bunch of blue metal Xs lining the streets of downtown Sioux Falls. And if they left you wondering, “What the heck is with all these Xs?” then we did our job.

Jim Mathis – ADwërks President, Certified Advertologitst™ and Sweater Vest Aficionado® – is also the President of the SculptureWalk board, so ADwërks donates our services for its marketing. Jim went to bed one unseasonably cold March night, only to awake after dreaming of Xs (as in the letter, not the ex’s that George Strait sings about). His revelation was that the X is the perfect motif for the 2013 SculptureWalk season, and so the titillating campaign was born.

So, what the heck is with all these Xs? Well there are three answers to that question. First, by placing the Xs on the empty sculpture stands, they promote the 2013 sculpture lineup with the tagline “X Marks The Art,” which we included in the window posters we put up in downtown shop windows and ads in area publications. Secondly, X represents SculptureWalk’s 10th anniversary this year. And finally, the signs promote the SculptureWalk eXpo, an event this weekend in celebration of SculptureWalk’s decade milestone. It will be the single largest free indoor sculpture exhibit in the upper Midwest, featuring 250 sculptures on display and on sale along with free sculpture-making seminars.


With this campaign we hoped to create an intriguing spectacle by placing these Xs on Phillips Avenue, Main Street and 8th Street. The enigmatic nature of the simple X is just mysterious enough to spark curiosity in passersby, motivating them to find out more, which is why we put stickers on the Xs that explain their purpose.

If you still haven’t seen the Xs, head downtown today (Phillips Avenue has the most signs) and have a gander before they’re replaced with new sculptures early tomorrow morning. And if you’re looking for something titillating to do this weekend visit the SculptureWalk eXpo at the Washington Pavilion, Saturday 12pm-10pm and Sunday 12pm-4pm, and check out the new sculptures downtown.

– Andrew

ADwërks Media Team Gets More Experty

Our team of expert media professionals has gotten even more experty with a brand new ADwërker!

Kristi Cornette, our new Pilot of the Airwaves, will work as a traditional media buyer for our 0_2013-03-14_Kristi-Cornette_018_SaraCam_Fix_Flat_Croppedlargest account CarHop, handling mostly TV and print. She’ll work alongside Monique Lupkes, our OTHER traditional buyer for CarHop, and together they’ll conquer the many CarHop markets across the country, riding the airwaves to true media glory.

Kristi has been in advertising for 22 years, and she’s been buying media for 16 years. Her agency experience is bountiful, including employment at Barkley in Kansas City, MO, where she bought for Sonic (not the hedgehog), Valentine Radford, also in Kansas City, where she bought for Pizza Hut, and closer to home, Nichols Media, where she bought for various clients in the auto industry.

When she’s not piloting the airwaves, Kristi enjoys spending time with her family, which is comprised of her husband Michael, 10-year-old son Cooper, and their dog Scout. Together they enjoy having movie nights, watching TV and just hanging out as a family. The Cornettes have recently returned to Sioux Falls after temporarily living in Missoula, MT and Kansas City, MO, but they’re glad to be back.

Although this is the first time she has worked at ADwërks, it’s not her first encounter with the Mathi. Kristi has known Jim and Kara for about 18 years, and she and her husband actually used to live five doors down from the Mathis household. Is that why you moved away Kristi? Nonetheless, we’re happy you came back.

Based on her mad media skills, good experience and great personality, we know Kristi will make an excellent addition to our team. Please feel free to help us welcome her aboard!

An Epundemic

An Epundemic Jan 14, 2013

“Believe In Your Smellf,” “Don’t Suffer The Coughiquences,” for whatever reason bad puns are everywhere in advertising lately. I guess you could say it’s an epundemic. It’s almost to the point where the terms “copywriting” and “pun-writing” are synonymous, as if there’s no other possible way to write.

This might seem pro-pun, but I just couldn’t help myself. Puns are addicting. That’s partly why they can be so evil.

Don’t get me wrong; puns can be fun, in an ironic sort of way. In fact, I’m somewhat of a punslinger myself around family and friends. I just don’t think every freakin’ brand out there should build an entire marketing campaign around one of the lowest forms of jokes, that’s all.

Among copywriters, puns are infamous for being the first ideas that come to mind when brainstorming. I know that all too well – lost in the darkness of my mind trying to think of a great idea, suddenly with a flash of light in the distance the sweet siren of puns calls my name, tempting me to come closer… It’s easy to give in, but you must push on. Nine times out of 10 you can do better.

Some hardcore copy critics out there believe you should never ever incorporate a pun into your advertising; I’m not that harsh. I think they can work, sometimes pretty well, as long as they accomplish your basic advertising objectives – inform, persuade or remind by saying something meaningful about the product or brand in a memorable way, to sum it up. And of course you must manage to do it all in a way that builds up the brand in a positive and intelligent way, which can be hard to do in the pun realm.

Oh boy…

If being silly is all an ad pun has going for it, it probably won’t accomplish anything more than that. That’s why I’ve been getting such a bad taste in my mouth with the omnipresence of these lazy puns in advertising, in national campaigns for that matter! “Smellf?” C’mon. Again, maybe it’s worth a laugh while having some beers with friends, a SHORT laugh at that, but not worth a national ad campaign. Some seem to be solely based on one copywriter’s bad joke, which totally just diminishes the product and the brand. We should aspire to write more like Hemmingway, not Gallagher.

What do you think? Are puns the unfailing heroes of advertising, or are they the hacky comedians of copy?

– Andrew

Please, Make It Stop!

People are annoyed by advertising every day. That’s just how it is. To a certain degree consumers have gotten pretty desensitized to it, so it’s our job as advertisers to rise above all that generic, annoying clutter, and stand out in a meaningful way that presents value to the consumer. But every once in a while something comes along that does its job of breaking through the clutter, but in a bad way.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been punched, slapped and beaten over the head with a commercial, to the point that I scramble for the mute button every time it comes on. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s a Zales spot that shows couples in a few different romantic scenarios, accompanied by different lines of copy like “The Falling For You Store” and a song that I really liked at first – “If it wasn’t for you, don’t know what I’d do…” (It reminded me of The Rosebuds).

So it has a good song, some nice cinematography and a pretty good message. The only problem is that the commercial has been following me everywhere I go. Aside from reaching me at home every night, during every single freaking commercial break, the spot has interrupted my YouTube viewing, annoyed me at in-store TV displays and stalked me at a sports bar. It’s ruthless. If I could file a protection order against it I would. And one can’t argue that I’m not in the target audience, because I’m recently engaged; they’re just a little too late. So now I despise the song and resent Zales for torturing me. You know they used this same tactic as an interrogation method at Guantanamo Bay, right?

I definitely think there is such a thing as too much frequency in advertising. We spend so much time focusing on making sure the consumer receives the message, we forget that reaching them too much might have the opposite effect. You know how when you were a kid and your mom told you to do something over and over again, so much that you wanted to deliberately NOT do it just out of spite? That’s what this is like. The first 10 times I saw the commercial I had a positive reaction, and because of that, if I were in the market for jewelry I would have considered buying from them. But they didn’t stop there. They continued beating me senseless until I couldn’t take it any longer.

You can argue that in the end the ad did its job. It broke through the clutter and placed Zales top of mind as a jewelry brand. But does the end justify the means? Is it ok to twist consumers’ arms until they say uncle, or is it better to make them genuinely like you? I would think the latter, but then again, I’m just a fussy, whinny copywriter.

– Andrew

They’rrre GR-R-REATLY Boring

It’s 6:30am and my alarm goes off. By alarm, I mean my mother telling me to get up. “It’s time to get ready for school,” she says. “I laid out your favorite Zubaz pants.” (Kidding about that, kind of…) Then she’d leave my room to continue preparing breakfast, and probably hoping that I’m not going to snooze her for another 5 minutes. While lying in bed, teetering between dreams and reality, sometimes the only motivation I had for facing another day of Mrs. Hansen’s 3rd grade boot camp was the bowl of cereal waiting for me downstairs.

Cereal used to be much more of an experience than it is today, and of course much more of a sugar-infused experience as well. Whether it was puffed, frosted, looped or marshmallowed, it was all the same fuel of empty calories that prepared us kids for a long day at school. But there was more to kids cereal than just bright colors and a sugary taste, there was the enchanting “back of the box.”

I remember just getting lost in the back of the box. Oftentimes cereals would have an intricate, Where’s-Waldo-esque scene on the back, and I’d chomp away while admiring the cartoon fantasy land that I desperately wished I could visit in real life. The back of the box always coordinated with the cereal’s theme too.

In addition to your standard cereal mascots, there was a cereal for just about every lovable character in pop culture – E.T., Slimer, Gizmo, even Steve Urkel. And although it was clearly “evil” marketers just trying to get my mom to buy their brand, I didn’t care, and still don’t. I’d totally buy cereals based on some of my favorite things today – Frosted Beerios, Professor Blastoff’s Podcast Pops, Micachu and The Sugar Shapes, C3PO’s – wait, that actually existed…

Once the box started feeling light, you knew that any day a toy would pour out with the final bowl of cereal. Sometimes if you were too impatient, you might force-feed yourself just so you could get to that toy. And whether it was a little dinosaur, a toy car or one of those parachute guys you could throw out a window, a fight between my brothers and I over who gets the toy would inevitably ensue at the breakfast table, to the point where we had to take turns claiming ownership. (Josh always got the best ones, no fair…) Today it’s a lot harder to get away with throwing a toy in with food, because apparently kids will eat and choke on everything.

Walking down the cereal aisle now, there are few pop culture tie-ins, no fun fantasy lands and hardly any “FREE INSIDEs,” only “Whole Grains!,” “Zero Sugars!” and boxes with computer-generated graphics (which somehow removes the warmth), directing you to go online to join some lame cereal community or to play some mundane online game.

Of course we want our kids to eat healthy and to avoid choking-hazards, but nonetheless, cereal has lost its fun and pizazz. There is no flare, no spark, just a grocery aisle that is the result of years of regulations and consumer complaints. The cereal world that I once visited every day is long gone, and to me, it’s a tragedy.

– 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