Category Archives: Marketing

Will a Simple Smile Solve Your (Content) Problems?

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

This week, I found myself sitting in the middle of a two-day long global introduction and planning session. Key figures all across the board. The purpose of the meeting was essentially to solve problems and come to an agreeable solution – one that would work for everyone. Presentations would go on and then conversation throughout the middle of them and then we’d do it all again. Lots of languages. Accents that were both intimidating and invigorating. It was an open and free flowing atmosphere, particularly given the objective of the meeting. It was actually surprisingly great. I was happy in so many ways to be a part of it.

Yes, there were some excellent points raised that no one had considered and there were some equally excellent solutions that came about real-time. But the best thing about it to me was – despite all of the cultural differences, the accents, the nomenclature, the overt and underhanded jokes, there were many more commonalities – bright, creative thinking, respect, openness, love of coffee and/or tea to name a few. But the biggest of all were the smiles.

The simple act of smiling.

I found myself at one time during the meeting just looking around the table looking at everyone smiling. And actually, I have to say, there were some really great smiles. It made me smile. Big.

Then, it got me thinking. About content and engaging with people and being interesting and coming up with whatever creative solutions we can come up with to make someone stop and take notice of this content or that content and do something with it. I instantly stripped everything down its core and thought about the smile.

Maybe many of our troubles as it relates to the “silver bullet” (as if there is one) of content, in or out of the home, gets down to that one simple, shared expression.

So, I’m going to give it a try. I’m going to begin a briefing with, “what makes you smile?” And then apply it to whatever problem we’re trying to solve. Who knows if it will work. Coke has shown us (via Open Happiness) that it is a great foundation to strengthen a huge brand. But will it work for everyone/everything?

I do know this – if you’re looking for a theme, a through-line that will connect with people, regardless of where they are in the world, look no further than simple human commonalities. And maybe begin with the smile.

SXSW and DSE – Very Similar

I find myself in Austin at SXSW right now vs. coming home from Las Vegas and DSE. I have missed my friends at DSE and there are, no doubt, several (if not many) cool things emerging in the field of digital signage/enabling technologies that have surfaced there. But as I walk around SXSW, I can’t help but think of all of the similarities between the two conferences.

1. People are always going to use technology for technology’s sake – one of the best quotes I’ve heard today is, “alot of gadgets (read, “technology”) don’t solve the right problems.” I don’t know whether this is because people don’t dig deep enough to find the real problem or if  they don’t care about problems, they just want to use technology. This is the problem with so much cool technology bombarding us – basically anyone can make anything with it.

2. There are very smart people out there who know how to purposefully use technology – yes, there are many, many crap emerging technology solutions out there, but there are also many good ones. One that I learned about today is: Food. You. Me. For anyone who likes to cook and has had thoughts about hosting a dinner party, but just didn’t feel confident that they could pull it off, this app is for you. It’s smart. These guys recognized a need to make novice cooks comfortable and knowledgable in cooking for more people than themselves, so they’ve created a utility-based app. (It’s in BETA right now, so if you’re interested, sign up to receive updates via email.) Although this particular example is about cooking, it’s an example of an insights-driven approach to solve a problem through technology. Two guys. They did this all themselves. It’s a really good idea and one that puts technology to use in the right way.

3. Passion abounds – some might call it over the top, but there is no doubting that professionals in each of these affected industries are incredibly passionate about what they do. You can’t teach passion. You can do what you can to harness it and point it in the right direction, but you can’t teach it. The recognition of such passion around me is inspiring.

4. Technology is no barrier at all – the more smartphones that get adopted by the “regular” consumer, the more comfortable they’ll get with unique interfaces and human-computer interaction. And, to me, this is the key. Because the technology is out there. Gesture, touch, NFC, RFID, QR – I have a feeling that consumers’ comfort with these sorts of technologies are going to be quicker than their comfort with moving from standard phones to smartphones. I was skeptical about NFC and how long it would take to get into market, at least for early adopters, and it’s not going to be long. I’m sure this is something that was discussed at DSE. I’ve had numerous discussions here.

I’ve only been here for 1.5 days. I’ve got 9 more to go. This is what has stuck out at me in my short time here. I’m sure that many more will become clear as the days pass. And as they do, you’ll hear them here. For now, good night and good luck.


Be on time, be prepared, and be sober

Some of the best advice I ever received. Freshman year in college from one of my acting coaches, Larry Hovis. He was a simple man and this is simple advice.

Be on time, be prepared, and be sober.

It’s stuck with me ever since. Regardless of what I do (no longer acting), I think about this often.

If you show up day in and day out, do your homework before you show up, and have a clear mind, more good things will happen than not.

Keep it Personal, Stupid (KIPS)

I took my boys to see Star Wars today with one of my dad friends. We had to travel ~45 minutes away to the theatre we wanted to go to. All along the highway were traditional and digital billboards.

My friend is a CFO – he’s not one that likes to think that he thinks like a marketer or even a connector, whatever those two might mean. He’s a very practical thinker and self-proclaimed non-creative. But all of that really doesn’t matter – he’s a person who’s in tune with the effect of technology on our lives today.

So, we were talking about – as a brand – connecting with consumers through technology. And he said, “look at these – (pointing to the billboards on the side of the road) – will you remember what you saw a mile back? Much less ten minutes ago?”

We riffed on that and then he said more that stuck with me.

“I mean, they’re just not…personal. Even when you want to mass market to people, it’s really critical for it to be personal nowadays.”

This, from someone who doesn’t breathe this every day, someone who doesn’t try to solve problems around this very thing, someone who could care less, at the end of the day, how or what is done, as long as it’s profitable. But even this kind of someone understands the simple tenant to creating engagement – it’s got to be personal.

So, we can throw all the technology in the world at any sign or billboard or poster or other real-world object, but that technology is not realizing its full potential if it’s not doing something to create personal engagement.


11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

What. A. Week.

In fact, what a year. But we won’t focus on that right now.?!?!

This was a quintessential agency week. One filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One where you have moments that you know, without a doubt, this is why you do this, and you have moments that you question with every ounce of your being, is it worth it.  One that in the end, reminds you, through magic moments, that you were born to do something.

Through a couple of extraordinary circumstances this week, I found myself locked in a room with my college filmmaking buddy (who actually runs our production studio at the agency) ideating and writing scripts for one of our largest clients. It was a high pressure situation, timing was tight, and in a matter of 3 hours, we had concepted and written multiple scripts, were coordinating with the clients and legal and making arrangements to shoot one (or more) of the chosen concepts. Laughing, cursing, thinking, riffing. We were totally and completely in the mix, doing what we do. None of it felt like work.

In the end, we made a video. It’s a really good video. But that’s not my takeaway for the week. That’s not the magical part.

The magical part was actually the doing. Everything that went into making that video. It began with the belief that, against numerous odds, we could do this within the parameters we were given. It included taking a few risks through some of the concepts that we presented. And, most of all, it was about operating in our sweet spots – those zones where there’s 0 thinking about how to do it, you just do what you do, and something comes out as a result.

Work, no matter what business your in, is a grind at some point or another. It’s easy to grow complacent and go through the motions. For creators, this is death. Whether it’s you or one of your staff, recognize those things that enable you to operate in your sweet spot. It can be concepting and creating something or it could be organizing an event or it could be figuring out an enterprise-level network installation. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and above all, don’t be afraid to take on a challenge.

Magic just might happen.


Without Connections, What Do You Have to Offer?

Are connections today’s currency? Technology has enabled connections to be made quicker and farther and easier. When sitting in front of your TV, you can instantly connect with those watching the same exact thing. When shopping in a store, you can connect with the brands or products you love. You can even connect with strangers to get real-time opinions. Driving in your car, it’s now simple to safe(r)ly connect with your family or share your thoughts with your friends or get pointed in the right direction.

I’m just wondering how much value there is to something (be it a standard billboard or poster or even a digital version of either) that doesn’t enable quick, vast, or easy connections.

Seems like those are becoming stable stakes.

This Year’s Desiderata

One of my favorite written pieces is Desiderata. It is a manifesto, of sorts, of how to live, and I’ve always found it to be aligned with my personal beliefs and thoughts. It’s just a really good, inspirational guide for me.

Last year, I wrote my own Desiderata, my own manifesto, for the year. My intention was for it to be the guide for me every day throughout the year. Looking back, I think I followed it pretty well. But I’ve got another year of life experiences and learnings in me, so I’ve written another one. This one building on top of the last one, which really builds on top of the original one. I’m going to try to let all of these words and principles be a foundation for me and my team as we embark on another year of great possibilities.


Be prepared for change. It will, no doubt, fill a period of time this year. While sometimes painful, it always marks opportunity. With opportunity comes decision. Your decision. Even if it is merely how you respond. These are the moments that strengthen your character.

Be led by what’s right. Right is not always easy. But if you know, in your heart, that you are making choices based on what is right, you can get through the hardest situations.

Know, too, that there are no small choices. Each choice matters and more often than not, all of the choices you make are connected in one way or another. This is hard. It requires awareness and discipline, two things that you must embrace. Few things are forever, but the choices we make are one of those things.

Play no games, be straight, and be at peace with the way people respond. You can’t control what they feel or think. You can only play your part and if you lay it out there the right way, you have done your job.

Keep plugging along. In good times and bad, do what you do. Keep your head down and Keep. Plugging. Along.

Do not be ignorant to life moments. You must recognize these moments, especially those that will happen only once. And do whatever you can to play a vital part in them. Don’t let them leave you behind.

You have a commitment to yourself to be great in all circumstances. If greatness is your expectation and driving force, you will be just fine.

Trust your gut. Regardless of how desperate or hopeless the situation might seem to be, your gut speaks more truth than you might give it credit for. Listen to this. Listen hard.

Stand in your power and do not give that power up. But always be kind. It’s simple, really. A kind heart is infectious and it makes things so much more pleasant.

More than anything, don’t lose your flame. There is a flame that burns inside you from your passion. Do whatever you can to fuel it every single day because once it goes out, it might not ever light again. Life without passion is hardly life.

And finally, try to find joy at all times. When there is no joy, stop and ask yourself what you’re doing. It might very well be the wrong thing. And if it is, the best thing you can do is to stop. And move on.





New means limitless opportunity.

New means the possibility of magic in everything you do.

New means starting something you’ve never done before.

New does not mean starting over from scratch.

New does not mean ignoring learnings you’ve picked up from a lifetime of experience.

We embark on something new every day and that’s an awesome gift.

May your new year be made up of unbounding opportunity and magical work.

Little Choices, Big Year(s)

Our lives seemed to be marked by year increments. Birthdays, anniversaries, new years. We look back over time, year after year, to gauge success, failures, trials, tribulations, and joys. And then, we make plans in those same increments. This year is and will be like all of the rest in this way.

But the funny thing about it is – it’s the choices that we make on a daily basis that shape the outcome of those years. No matter how big or small, how inconsequential or mundane, how high pressure or not, those daily choices matter. And they matter in a profound way. They just happen so frequently and at such a pace and are sometimes bad choices, it’s easier to look at a macro level. But the reality is, these daily choices build up one by one, micro by micro, and when it’s this time of the year, together they form good or bad, disappointing or triumphant, hope or hopeless.

There are many things outside of our control, but what is in our control are those choices. What we choose and how we choose it. And every single day, every single choice matters.

Magical Perspective

I hope that you all have had a great Christmas holiday. I know we have. For us, it’s really been one where we have witnessed the magic and awe of what Christmas is through our children (6 and 3), who are old enough to understand it on a few different levels. That perspective – the one of complete magical-ness – is refreshing, rejuvenating, and for me, one that is needed. It’s easy to get caught up in the grind, trying to balance work, family, personal and free time, and especially at this time of the year – where things are insanely busy – it’s important to be grounded in this (and all different sorts of) perspective. The magic behind this time of the year is definitely a reminder of what is truly important, something incredibly personal that transcends any “work” that we have to do, but insofar as work goes, it is also a reminder of the magic of what we get to do on a daily basis, making cool, business-moving stuff for brands and organizations. Doing it with great, new, emerging technology is icing on the cake.