Tom Lichtenheld’s drawing of the Focus Group inside my Brain.

Man, my stuff rocks.
Man, my stuff rocks.

Tom Lichtenheld used to be one of the world’s best art directors and now he is one of the world’s best children’s books authors. (Don’t take my word for it. Look him up. His latest has been on the NYTimes bestseller list for, like, 80 years now.)

Anyway, years ago when we were workin’ together at Fallon, he went out of his way to be mean-spirited and disrespectful to me, just because he thought I liked everything I did.

Which is SO not true.

(Man, this is a good blog, isn’t it? The BEST.)

My Top 5 Faves from CA’s Interactive Annual.

I love advertising competitions because they feature work I might not’ve seen but for the shows. The new Communication Arts Interactive Annual 21 just came out and I have done my readers the courtesy of picking out the top five projects featured in the magazine. There is no charge for this service.

This first one reminds me of that great saying they use at RG/A; “Make sure what you’re working on is either beautiful, useful, or entertaining.”

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Well, this first one is beautiful and — if you were thinking of travelling to Maine — also useful. “The Maine Thing Quarterly” site is beautifully art directed and flows along so sweetly I suddenly find myself 20 clicks into it and going deeper. Still, it doesn’t beat my all-time favorite piece for Maine tourism, a bumper sticker that read: “Ah-yuh. Been To Maine.”

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Google Labs had several things in the show. This first one is called “DevArt” and it’s a collection of cool artsy stuff people have made with code. For example, in the “Giant Map” idea, kids can stop through Gotham like they’re Godzilla. Here you can see cool stuff made out of different APIs like flickr, Instagram, tumblr, Twitter, Google Maps. As I tell my students, “Don’t make stuff for the internet. Make stuff out of the internet.”

A similar Google project called “Made With Code” was also featured in CA’s Interactive Annual; similar, but different. Made With Code is all about reaching out to girls to show ‘em how learning to code can help them build the next world and then rule it. Also, it doesn’t hurt that grads who can code start their careers at around $60k; that’s almost $15k more than most grads pull in their first year out there.

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Also featured in this year’s annual was an app called the John Lennon Bermuda Tapes. It’s available on iTunes and if you’re a Beatles fan, dude, go get it. It’s an interactive app that tells the story of Lennon’s life-changing journey sailing through a mid-Atlantic storm in June 1980. The “interactivity,” while fun, is mostly silly stuff and isn’t technically interesting, but that’s okay — you can hear demos he made for Double Fantasy. Way cool.

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Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has quietly turned into one of the best clients out there and their latest collaboration with Droga5 is also featured in the annual — the Coke Zero Sweater Generator. Me, I’m still partial to what they did for Coke Zero on Mother’s Day.

Those are my favorite top things from the new CA Interactive Annual. Again, there is no charge for this service. You’re welcome.

Your Site VS Your Book.

Your substitute teacher today is Mr. Carroll.
Your substitute teacher today is Mr. Carroll.

Good morning, scribblers. Your substitute teacher this morning is Mr. Carroll again. You remember Mr. Carroll, a CD at Austin’s GSD&M. He’s here to teach us how to get jobs so please give him your full attention.

YOUR SITE VS YOUR BOOK

Yes, there is a difference between the two.

1.) Your site is the thing I look at on my mobile phone when I’m in a meeting, pretending to listen to account people. Your site gives me a sense of who you are as a human being, your creative sensibilities and, of course, your best work.

2.) Your book, on the other hand, is the thing you talk through when we meet in person. Unlike your site, in your book you can show, say, the detailed version of your integrated-digital-social-mobile-experiential-AR-and location-aware campaign for pet food.

I’m not suggesting you have different work on your site and your book; only that you package and display the work differently to best capture the attention of the most ADD people on the planet: CD’s like me. (True story: I checked my email five times before finishing writing that last sentence.)

Let’s start with the site and some tactical considerations.

3.) Make sure your site is responsive. (If you don’t know what responsive is, find out.) Make sure your site works beautifully on mobile. It may be frustrating to hear, but nearly everything I do is on my mobile – including looking at your work. And I’m not alone. My phone is the one thing I always have on me. So if you email me a link to your site, there’s a good chance I’m checking it out on my iPhone. Same thing if our recruiter has a site she wants me to see; I’ll get it via mobile. Now … if I really like your site, I might go to my laptop and check it out in more detail, but I can tell from the mobile site alone if you’re the type of person I wanna call in for an interview. (Also, having a site that’s built for mobile says you get it.)

4.) I always go to the “About Me” section before I check out the work and I’m not alone. Most creative directors do this and nearly all recruiters do. Why? It gives me quick look at who you are, your skill level, and your work experience. It gives me a frame of reference for how to judge your work. This section is almost as important as your work so don’t blow it off or half-ass it. This section (and really your entire site) is your opportunity to make me like you; really like you. If you purport to be a writer and you can’t entertain me or make me like you with words, well, that’s a problem. Give me an insight about you, how you think and how you look at the world. We don’t hire books; we hire the people behind the books. You are the one I have to travel with. You are the one I have to put in front of a client. You are the one I’ll be spending weekends and late nights with. It helps if you’re a likable, interesting person.

One of the best “About Me’s” I’ve seen was for a junior art director who titled his bio section, Ten Things About Me That Might Be the Truth or a Lie. When you rolled over each one of the ten things, it would tell you, true or false. Each of the statements was hilarious and it became a game to determine what was true about this person and the more you learned, the more you wanted to learn. (Dude now works at Wieden.)

5.) Treat your site like a campaign in your book. Every aspect of your site is an opportunity to show off and to impress me — from the design, to how you talk about your work. If it’s a standard Cargo Collective template, part of me calls you out for being lazy. With all the resources out there, you couldn’t customize a site to best reflect you and best showcase your work? You’re trying to land a job that requires you to help brands stand out, breakthrough and connect with their audience. Show me you can do that for yourself.

4) The first campaign in your book needs to floor me. You can’t stumble out of the gate because you’ll never get anyone to check out the second campaign. Put your simplest, most compelling idea first. Simplicity and power is key.

Too often, here’s what I see: the first piece of work on the site is an integrated campaign executed in five different media with a paragraph explanation for each execution. Half-way through, I still can’t figure out the idea and so in an attempt to show me how big their idea is, I’ve lost the idea.

You should be able to explain the problem in a sentence, the strategy in a sentence and the idea in a sentence. Follow that with an image or two (or one-minute video) taking me through the idea. If the sentence describing your idea doesn’t sound interesting, chances are, it isn’t. That’s a problem.

Next, put your second strongest campaign. I know convention is best campaign first, second best campaign last. “Start strong, finish strong,” and all that. I disagree. This is a boxing match. Try to knock me out with each punch; don’t save your best for last. If I love your first three campaigns, you are moving on to an interview.

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I hate it when I have to learn things from people way younger than me. But Ryan’s right about how the “start strong, end strong” thing is bullshit. I used to think so, and so I’m making that correction in the next edition of Whipple. Fact is, I’ll be including a lot of Ryan’s material. Dude’s smart.