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.


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.

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

A Life Insurance Ad That Will Haunt Your Dreams

The following ad contains a scene that is spine-chilling and disturbing in nature. Viewer discretion is advised.

The horror, the ungodly horror! This… this, thing… is one of the creepiest ads I’ve ever seen, and it’s about life insurance, of all things.

The headline is one synonym away from what people put on gravestones. It’s exactly what the creepy lady in the Lazy-Boy would whisper to you in the middle of the night as she rocks back and forth in the corner of your room. “Sleep in peace dear; it’s time to put that life insurance policy to good use (cackle cackle).”

And then, there’s the hand — that disfigured, unholy, inhuman hand – gently stroking the other one as she plots to free you from your earthly existence with her knitting needles.

Despite its flaws, I guess this ad did get me thinking about my own mortality, which I suppose is the point. After all, you never know when a demented granny with a blood-thirsty grin will sneak into your house in the middle of the night and strangle you with the same yarn she used to make mittens for her grandson little Timmy. So I was able to get a life insurance policy for just $27 a month!

– Andrew

Breaking Out Of The iTunes Prison

What started out as a revolutionary way to consume music, has today turned into a formidable, tyrannical beast that feeds on cash and freedom and keeps its minions on a leash. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but that’s how I feel about iTunesFix-iTunes-Error-0xE8000065

It’s not just the nonstop software updates, nor the constant inexplicable errors that I
experience; it’s the fact that you don’t really own the music that you buy.

With iTunes, you’re only buying a nontransferable license that gives you the right to listen to music, and this is subject to “Usage Rules” that Apple can change whenever they want, giving them all of the power over your content. If they wanted to, they could just take back your music for any reason without an explanation or a refund. And when you kick the bucket, don’t even think putting your iTunes collection in your will; it’s not allowed. Maybe that’s not a big deal to some people, but for me, it’s the principle – we’re buying music that we don’t really own in the end, giving us a false sense of ownership, and that’s unfair to consumers.

And let’s not forget the control-freak nature of Apple. If you haven’t noticed, your iTunes music is in mp4 format, as opposed to the standard mp3 (which you can do anything you want with it). An mp4 is a restricted audio format that makes it difficult to copy and/or move around the files on your computer, and it can only be played through a limited number of devices and software. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the idea of not having complete control over my music.

If you encounter any problems or errors using iTunes, good luck getting assistance. If you want to talk to a customer service rep, you’ll have to pay for it. Otherwise you’ll have to rely on combing through message boards and YouTube tutorial videos to find an answer, which, I never find.

I believe that with iTunes, we have traded our ownership rights and freedoms for convenience (it’s ridiculously easy to buy iTunes music), but I don’t think it’s a fair trade. That’s how I came to realize that buying music directly through the artist or the record label can be much more beneficial to both parties, especially if it’s an independent label.

avatars-000001287388-79bcvf-cropOne of my favorite record labels is Polyvinyl Records, for so many reasons. First of all, my all-time favorite band is on this label. But also, when you buy an album, whether it’s a CD, vinyl record, cassette, or digital copy, you get an instant download link that you can access as many times as you want, from any device you want, as opposed to iTunes’s one-time-download policy and five-device limit.

Polyvinyl, like most other independent labels, is a small business, and because of that, you get to experience all kinds of perks by shopping with them and being a devoted customer. They have weekly giveaways on social media, from posters and albums signed by their artists, to concert tickets, to anything else from their store. Also, they regularly have sales and bundles that you can take advantage of. (When was the last time you’ve seen an iTunes sale?) On a couple occasions I bought 5 CDs for $25. The same purchase would have cost me at LEAST $50 through iTunes, and I would’ve only been “leasing” the digital copies, rather than owning the digital AND physical copies that feature breathtaking album art worth putting on your shelf.

And when it comes to customer service, you have access to real people who are helpful and appreciate your business.

But I think the most powerful thing that has drawn me to shopping with record labels is the fact that you establish a direct connection and relationship with the label and the artists. You can be confident that buying your favorite artists’ music supports them, and only them. And their interests lie in the pursuit of their art, rather than strictly in commerce.

So the next time you want to buy a song or album, before clicking the “buy” button, first consider, is it really worth it?

– Andrew

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

When a Favorite Product Goes Away

Does everyone remember the Seinfeld episode when Elaine discovers that her favorite form of birth control, the Today sponge, was off the market? She spends the first part of the show finding and hoarding the sponges from every available source. She fills a closet with her beloved sponges. But she goes beyond just gathering the remaining sponges, she rations them too. At the end of the show she queries whether or not a boyfriend is “sponge-worthy.”

Well, that scenario is happening to me. Years ago I fell in love with the Listerine jj-1894_1zPocketPaks Breath Strips in Fresh Citrus flavor. Then, the company that made them changed hands and through some terrible twist of fate, the Fresh Citrus flavor was discontinued. The horror!

I consider the Listerine PocketPaks Breath Strips to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century, right behind the automobile and the internet. I’m not alone; Esquire magazine has praised them as a modern marvel.

Like Elaine, I began hoarding. I ordered dozens of packages from every source I could find. I had stashes at home and stashes at the office. I kept looking for new sources and hidden caches to be uncovered. Alas, I’m down to my last couple of packs. I’ve ordered a few more off Ebay, paying well above retail price, but I know the end is coming soon and I will not be able to get them ever again.

I’ve started experimenting with other flavors. The Cool Mint is OK, and I can live with the Fresh Burst, but the Arctic Berry and Cool Heat are non-starters for me. But none of the new flavors come close to my favorite Fresh Citrus.

Yes, I’ve started to wonder whether the person I’m talking to is worthy of a coveted Fresh Citrus Listerine Breath Strip, or should I just confront them with bad breath. If anyone knows where a guy can score a few Fresh Citrus PocketPaks, please hook me up before I have to determine whether or not you are breath strip worthy.

– Jim

Ice Cream Bars Get Canned

After a long period of inadequate performance, we have decided to let go of Dean’s Country Fresh Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwiches, 10 pack. The decision was made after careful contemplation, and we believe it was in the best interest for both parties.

These things are never pretty.

These things are never pretty.

At first we were excited to have Dean’s ice cream bars aboard. They were fresh out of the grocery store and filled with potential and wonderment, and seemingly had a lot to offer our agency. But when the honeymoon phase was over, they quickly became stale and jaded (with ice crystals), and ceased to provide any kind of long-term value to our team. There’s just not enough room in our freezer for a snack that falls short of greatness; we simply can’t afford that kind of drain on our resources.

We’ve felt this way for a long time now. Having to see the underwhelming, freezer-burnt treat every day was a constant reminder of our oversight in bringing a less-than satisfactory snack to the company; we’re normally a better judge than that. At first we tolerated the once-celebrated bars out of pity, and just pretended they weren’t there. But we couldn’t hide from the truth any longer, as the ice cream sandwiches began getting in the way of everything we wanted to accomplish, from grabbing some ice cubes to getting the coffee. We just couldn’t have them interfering with our progress any longer.

Dean’s Country Fresh Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwiches, 10 pack, had been with us since the summer of 2012 – longer than some of our employees – but that doesn’t change the fact that the bars failed to perform on a consistent basis, after being given multiple chances.

“As a business owner, it’s disappointing when you invest so much in an individual snack, only to see its potential go unrealized,” said Principal Jim Mathis.

It was a tough call to make, but we believe it was the right one. We’ve learned and grown from this experience, and feel that we are now more equipped to select future snacks that better align with our core values and company culture.

We wish we could say this relationship ended on good terms, but it didn’t. Let’s just say that Dean’s ice cream sandwiches had to be escorted out of the building.

– Andrew