Sharpie Confessions: A Life-Long Obsession

LOGOOk, ok. The world now knows about my secret Sharpie obsession, or at least all the customers and employees at my local Staples. There it was, a behemoth of Sharpie infatuation, a display with every color you could imagine – teal, sky blue, navy AND in various tips of fine, medium, broad. Could it be? Or was just a mirage?

Ever since my first days of creating art, the Sharpie has been my best friend and we have created some good times and great ideas together. Now my wildest dreams have come true with all the colors of the rainbow to choose from. Sharpie’s new product line and communications tell me one thing: it must be listening to its audience. With a website full of ideas, tutorials, contests, and opportunities for the fellow Sharpie-obsessed, it is deepening loyalty within consumers.

What can we learn from this? Taking our brands and tapping into the true connection they have with their target is key to communication and innovation. Sharpie could have pushed the brand’s connection with meetings, boardrooms, and diagrams, but instead chose to tap into the root emotion – the love to create. Bravo Sharpie!

Jinean Robinson is a CCIO (Chief Creative Infections Officer) who has been in the communications industry for over 8 years, specializing in creative strategy and implementation, 360 branding communications, and brand development. Join her at or her firm’s website at

The Cricket Theory

logonolenThey don’t have a cool name, like Razor Burn, Cloud Nyne, or inVisible. In fact, they sound like an accounting firm. Thankfully, they’re not into accounting. What they are into is corporate survival, and other things that will make your accountant giddy.

Atlanta-based Nolen & Associates is proof-positive that contempt prior to investigation is foolish. Judged solely by name, they’d never be classified as an agency that is boldly progressive, unafraid of saying “no.” Yet, that’s exactly what they are, and they have a simple message: Market through the tough times and emerge stronger.

And that, in a nutshell, is Cricket TheoryThey call it a brochure, but it’s so much more…

Available on the Nolen & Associates site, The Cricket Theory is tightly written, steeped in fact, and delivers a powerful message:

“Make as much noise as Possible in Dark times.  You will be remembered when it is Light Again”


The Cricket Theory becomes less theory and more fact as various case histories and studies are highlighted.  Yet, the marketing budget is the first to get cut during economic uncertainty.

The Cricket Theory is a short, insightful tool that disproves this practice in a convincing, yet subtle, manner.

Over their 23 years in operation, Nolen & Associates observed as companies eliminated entire marketing plans out of fear. Yet, it was a fear rooted in uncontrollable, intangible factors.

So, the agency searched for information to determine which strategy performed better; shouting in the face of recession, or silent waiting.

The result: companies that “Chirp Loud” and “Chirp Often” come out ahead of those that remain quiet…both during, and following, a recession. There are a couple reasons for this;

“When your message is one of the few reaching the audience, your odds are much better for a greater return on your marketing and advertising dollar. When the upturn does come around– and it will – and your prospects and customers are looking to increase spending, your company (or your brand) will likely be the first one that comes to mind…”

Perhaps the most interesting fact listed in The Cricket Theory is that, contrary to popular belief, spending actually increases during a recession.

crickettheory2The Cricket Theory has become part of Nolen & Associates’ DNA, and is a testament to their progressive nature; while other’s founder, one agency has a plan to enable success during the best, and worst, of times. And no, it’s not your agency.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Project Manager, and New Business Account Coordinator. His passion is writing. If you would like to get in touch with Jeff, please leave a reply or follow the links: or

This Recession Will End.

nortonhd_cincinnati_recession101_future There are some pretty unbelievable resources available online at no cost. Everything from whitepapers to completed slide shows, covering any topic imaginable. Some of the better ones are put out by professional groups in support of advertising agencies and efforts. These include the Advertising Media Internet Center (AMIC), the 4A’s, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.nortonhd_cincinnati_recession101_talentThese organizations also fund and run many of the Public Service Announcements.

On May 5th, the OAAA’s public service campaign was a shot in the arm to all worrying where the next paycheck will be coming from, or if there is a next paycheck. Named Recession 101, the billboard campaign is simple, as if printed on a piece of notebook paper and tacked to a 14′ x 48′ out on the highway. The messaging consists of a simple reminder: some day, the recession will end.

It is not the greatest, most creative campaign ever done, but it is timely and truthful. Look on it as a shot in the arm to keep away all of nortonhd_cincinnati_recession101_talentthe bad stuff coming from television. The great driving force behind it is the idea of looking up during adversity rather than down. Moving forward instead of complaining. In an apt message, the OAAA states:

The campaign is about America and resiliency. The recession has hurt one of America’s greatest attributes-it’s unshakeable optimism…Recession 101 isn’t selling anything other than the American Spirit.”

And it’s about time we returned to the American spirit and optimism. The entire campaign is available here.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Project Manager, and New Business Coordinator. His passion is writing, contributing to BMA as well as freelancing. He’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment or follow the links: or

Raw Engagement: AdWalkers

Your company’s brand(s) are not as important to your customer as they are to you. It’s cold and hard, that truth. But it is honest, and unmericless. I could lie to you…tell you that your dress fits nicely and you look fantastic. It doesn’t. And you don’t.

But, the rule is that the closer we get to something or someone, the less likely we are to notice flaws. This is the power behind the word Engagement.

Enter AdWalker, a company that uses human billboards that look like androids, complete with interactive digital displays on their chests and equipment packs wrapped around them. My first thought was; “This is stupid.” So, being a curious type, I went to their site.

The human billboard is not a fresh concept. The AdWalkers are like any other pain-in-the ass bothering you while struggling to go somewhere, except they have the added ability to inolve you with digital games, contests, gift giveaways, coupons, etc. The payoff for you, the consumer, is discounted or free stuff in exchange for your time and information. And that’s a score for AdWalkers–gaining information is the name of the game. To lend some weight to this, their client list is pretty impressive.

So, maybe it’s not a stupid idea, but it does need work. The site lists several case studies, but they’re weak. They speak in impressions, but never define what constitutes an impression: Is it the number of people that filled out information, or the number of people that were approached? Plus, there is absolutely no meat in any of the case studies. No percentage of coupons redeemed. No dollars earned. No number of new members signed up. No measurement. No ROI. To recommend AdWalkers as anything but a publicity stunt, I would need to seem some data.