December 22, 2009

The Moment Jars

Every year, our team collaborates on a winter book. Mark writes the story, Lure Design designs the book, Kim Fox does the illustrations, and Drive New Media develops the website. This year's book, The Moment Jars, is about a man who captures the special moments in his life and places them in a jar. It's a wonderful story, probably my favorite one yet (though I seem to say that every year) and a beautiful book, but what really set this year apart from the others was the success and far-reaching impact of the website.

The Moment Jars is a pretty simple site, with a pretty simple idea: share your own special moment and add your virtual Moment Jar to the collection.

Moment Jars web

The response has been amazing. First, we shared it with friends and family, who were great about adding their own moments and memories. But it was the mention in Swiss Miss (recently named one of the world's most influential design blogs) that really gave us our big break. Soon there were moments rolling in from all over the world. We had Italian moments. Spanish moments. Even one from all the way in Japan. There were moments about having kids, and moments and about being a kid. Moments about leaving home for the first time and moments about finding home in unexpected places. There were many, many moments about falling in love. Almost as many about falling out of it. At last count, there were over 500 moments in all. Most were short and sweet, though one was too long to leave in a jar. As one blogger pointed out (in a very sweet post which I can't seem to find again), not a single one was about money, possessions, or any other material thing. A great reminder, especially at this time of year, that life's most precious gifts aren't anything you pick up at a store.

Now here's the funny thing. While the website proves that people all over the world want to capture the moments of their life in a tangible way, the story the book tells makes you question that desire. How? You'll just have to read it to find out.

Share your moment, and purchase The Moment Jars book here.

April 23, 2009

Green Reading

Just in time to celebrate Earth Day, we found out that our winter book The Reds, The Greens and the Sweetest Honey Anyone Had Ever Tasted scored an honorable mention in the Green Book Festival, an annual competition honoring books that contribute to greater understanding, respect and positive action on the changing worldwide environment.

The Reds, The Greens... is just one of our winter storybooks, an annual collaboration with Lure Design, Drive New Media and Doug Scaletta Photography. All these limited-edition winter storybooks will soon be available for sale at Urban Think! in Orlando. Stay tuned for the meantime, check out the companion website,

January 08, 2009

Call for Papers (and pencils and crayons and other creative tools)

Think Creative is answering President-elect Obama's call to participate in a National Day of Service and we could use YOUR help.

On Monday, January 19, (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) we will host a supply drive to benefit Page 15, a non-profit organization committed to providing supplemental reading and writing education for all students living and attending public school in Orlando. They offer, among other things, free after-school tutoring and creative writing workshops dedicated to enhancing communication skills, encouraging personal creativity and inspiring a lifelong passion for the language arts. Such passion burns bright  in our offices, and we are happy to support efforts to ignite it in the next generation. If you feel the same way, you can help by donating items for students to use in their creative projects, including but not limited to:

  • poster boards
  • letter stencils
  • large construction paper
  • printing paper
  • pens
  • pencils
  • calculators

We will also accept monetary contributions, which will go towards the purchase of magazine subscriptions for the Page 15 reading library. 

Please bring donations directly to our office at 1001 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL through January 19, or if it's easier, contact us to arrange a pickup. Thanks!


May 12, 2008

Now smell this

Ah, Luca Turin. One of my heroes on the sensory front. Place him in the smell category. He and Tania Sanchez have teamed up on a new book Perfumes: The Guide. Which I did not get for Mother's Day. DAG. But enough about me. Back to Luca. Scientist, collector of scents, his theory of olfaction (based on vibration versus shape) is fascinating. The book ranks 1,000 perfumes (1 to 5 stars -- 5 being the most extraordinary according to his well-versed nose) and includes witty, sometimes snooty--never snotty, and often hilarious comments about each.

Here - take a whiff:

*** KenzoAmour (Kenzo)

classic floriental • $$ • availability: limited

What saves KenzoAmour from falling into the sticky caramel death trap that gums up other vanillas is that its loyalties lie not with cakes and cookies but with something more low-key: rice pudding. While this may make Amour seem fit only for the toothless, its soothing, softly powdery vanilla-woods sweetness stays from dinner until breakfast. Isn’t it nice to know Amour lasts? TS

Now, I believe we've only scratched and sniffed the surface of understanding and embracing the power of scent. Proust was way ahead of the game--tea and madelines anyone? The "Got Milk" marketers tried chocolate-chip cookie Magniscent strips in San Francisco bus shelters. Speaking of milk -- remember that Dead Milkmen song "these are a few of my many smells. Won't you come and smell me. Won't you share my stench?"  Hmmm...maybe they were onto something too. The Sheraton chain has it's own signature scent --- Welcoming Warmth...ahhhh, love that fig note. Branding guru, Martin Lindstrom, wrote that "75% of our day-to-day emotions are influenced by what we smell."  And most of us have been exposed to some form of sensory branding over the course of our daily activities without even realizing it. Pretty heady stuff indeed.

Take some time to come to your senses. Breath in and smell the roses, that first cup of coffee, eraser dust, or the top of your baby's head. What memories and feelings come to mind? 

Enjoy the moment and smell ya later!

April 26, 2007

Return of the Dragon

April’s Fast Company had a great article Less Hulk, More Bruce Lee which profiled the design firm JDK, starting with an anecdote about how they won the Microsoft Xbox account. 

"Our approach was to transition Xbox from this hulk of escaping power into this quiet power that is lurking, something still incredibly dangerous but with more of an elegance and grace."

That got me thinking. In a hyperactively evolving marketing/ad environment like today’s, maybe we could all use a little less Hulk, a little more Bruce Lee. This is not a cry for bare-knuckled board smashing and flying roundhouse kicks around the conference room table - though that would be a fantastic way to enliven a meeting. It’s simply a call to approach business –hell, maybe life itself -- a different way.

Let’s start with simple structure. Everyone says bigger isn’t necessarily better, but how many people still seek out the security of a big company when it comes to choosing who to do business with? I wonder how many times my own company has lost clients to the notion that small companies can’t handle big accounts. 

Well, to them I say this: Bruce Lee was 5’7”. If you’ve got the chops, you’ve got the chops. And I know we have that. What we don’t have is a lot of padding. But the thing with padding is that sometimes it slows you down more than it cushions you.   

Another thing. If you’ve got the chops, who cares where they come from? Bruce (in my head, he lets me call him Bruce) famously challenged the strict adherence to tradition practiced by other martial arts schools. He dubbed it “organized despair” and even had a miniature tombstone in his office carved with the epitaph:

In memory of a once fluid man, crammed and distorted by the classical mess.

In business, you’re just as doomed if you lash yourself too tightly to the established foundation. Best practices. What worked before. It doesn’t just become obsolete. It disappears. Bit by bit every day, and now, faster than ever. And if you don’t find some new ground to stand on you’re screwed.

Of course, the problem with new ground is that it has no name and some people are scared to death of it. For instance, my company is not an advertising agency. But we are tempted to call ourselves one because we do provide those services and it is a name that people (i.e. potential clients) understand. They don’t understand the notion of a collective. They can’t embrace a partnership of independent parties that can marshal whatever forces it needs to get the job done. The foreignness scares them. Even if it that’s what makes us better.

I dream of the day that we can sell ourselves on the fact that we operate like a good jeet kune do fighter:

He has not technique. He makes his opponent’s techniques his technique. He has no design. He makes opportunity his design.

When we can emblazon our website and collateral with a part zen, part kickass motto like:

The way of no way. To have no limitation as limitation.

When we can all be a little more Bruce Lee.


(For a great introduction/overview of Lee’s philosophies, check out The Warrior Within)   

January 25, 2007

Experience the what?

“Experience the excellence.”

That tagline was on a brochure that just came across our desk. The excellence of what, you might be wondering. A supercharged turbo-powered automobile? A revered educational institution? A facial?

The brochure is actually for a company that offers luxury vacation home rentals. But from that line, you’d never know it. That’s the problem with a line like “Experience the excellence.” It doesn’t really say anything about anything. Its essence is such a trite sentiment – “Try our product, it’s good” — that it barely registers, much less makes an impression. As a tool of marketing communication, it fails.

In their new book, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath explore the elements that make an idea “sticky.” They use a number of real world examples and leave readers with an incredibly useful – and accurate – guideline for identifying why an idea does – and doesn’t have impact. According to the two authors, a sticky idea is always: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and a Story (leave off the last S for succinctness, I guess).

While it could be called simple (in the sense of common or plain, rather than easy to understand), “Experience the excellence” fails to exhibit any of the other attributes. It is, in fact, quite the opposite: Typical, Ambiguous, Questionable, Cold and Prosaic.

You can see what that spells.

Why would a person trying to push a product rely on such an ineffective message? Heath and Heath refer to the “curse of knowledge” that keeps marketers from being simple and condemns the rest of the world to a barrage of information we can never understand or care about. Well, there’s another thing that often gets cooked up in the marketing cauldron: the curse of generic superlatives.

We’re all afflicted from time to time. I know I’ve positioned products “heads and shoulders above the rest.” Who hasn’t anointed the “best of the best” at one point or another? Raise your hand if you’ve ever described something as “exceptional in every way.”

Now use that hand to smack yourself in the head. (Ouch!) Maybe that will teach us to avoid such overused and useless platitudes when we’re trying to make a point.

This product is good. You should try it.

Guess what? Every single marketer for every single product on the planet can—and will—make that same claim, including your competition. So you better find something more compelling to say if you want your audience to pay attention.