But this is the first time I’ve had storyboards handed over to an evaluation company who was going to use their own methods to determine whether or not they were good commercials. (Bascially, a psychologist looks at the script and determines what is good and what is bad.) The client explained to us that they were “the experts.”
Experts? On what? On deciding whether an ad is good or not?
Once a year I feel like Steve Martin in The Jerk. "The new One Show's here! The new One Show's here!"
I have mixed feelings about awards shows. I desperately want to win them. And it's very frustrating that perfectly great pieces of work aren't accepted because seven out of 12 judges said they weren't good enough. Woody Allen said, "The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don’t." (I think he said that after he won best director and Annie Hall beat Star Wars for best picture.)
Still, I'm pretty pleased to be included in this year's One Show annual. My move to Switzerland put a big enough dent in my creative cycle that I don't have anything to enter in the 2010 show, so this one's especially poignant. Too bad radio is about as presentable in an awards annual as HTML code.
Whenever I come across a new campaign, execution or idea that’s particularly brilliant, I send it out to my agency.
I never did this in Chicago. I didn’t really feel the need to. I thought everyone had their own subscriptions to Creativity, Archive, and CA. Everyone was plugged into Contagious and read the industry news.
Maybe it’s the language. Maybe it’s cultural. But in Geneva, it’s not something that permeates the culture. The cool thing, however, is as soon as I start sending out emails, coworkers start talking about what I sent and most thank me for passing them along.
So that’s one of my new roles: Creative Town Crier. (Shouldn't we all be one?) Here are some of the pieces I’ve cried:
When leaders of other countries take office, they're lucky to be mentioned on page 4 of major American newspapers. No wonder most American's can't even name the President of Mexico or the King of Canada. (Canada does have a king, don't they?)
But when you're elected to the highest office in America? People know. People were streaming the inauguration speech to their work computers last night.
Living abroad, I can tell you this cartoon isn't much of an exaggeration.
I wonder if the Swiss living abroad in America were disappointed when this guy didn't make front page of The New York Times when he became president last year. I hear he's got a lot of charisma.
I went to Kaysville Elementary School when it was a gorgeous building. Here's a picture of it from the City of Distinction's homepage (doesn't it looks like the cover of a Wallace Stegner novel?)...
Chiseled into the facade was the established date: 1918. This is where my grandfather and my mother went to school. Sadly, mine was the last class to attend in this building. In 1984, the summer after I graduated 6th grade, the whole thing was leveled. Trees and all. This is what Kaysville Elementary looks like today...
Which is very similar in design to Morgan Elementary, where I attended 1st through 3rd grade...
Samuel Morgan Elementary, of course, is very similar in style to Columbia Elementary, where my little sisters attended...
And all of these are similar to Reba O. Steck Elementary where my son was attending before we left Chicago...
I'm a fan of Mies van der Rohe "less is more" architecture. I just don't understand when and why American elementary schools began to look less like school houses and more like discarded Fudgecicles with flagpoles.
This is why I'm still blown away by the beauty of my kids' building every time I walk them to school. Multiple levels. A working clock on the front surrounded by figures in mosaic tiles. A steeple. Now that's a school house...
Coincidentally, this school also features it's establishing date on its facade: 1918. The exact same year as Kaysville Elementary.
I'm not oblivious to the economic Tilt-A-Whirl the world's riding. But when I call home or Skype friends in the States, I have to feel I'm not getting the full brunt of it. Maybe it's just not a topic of conversation here. Or maybe it is and my French isn't great.
Similarly, I realize I'm missing out on a lot of my former state's drama. My former senator is now arguably the most famous person in the world. And my former governor is making headlines, too.
Fortunately, I still get a lot of my news from the same source I always did.
As a favor, I agreed to edit a PowerPoint presentation for a client. I took the information they gave me and tried my best to make it succinct. I recently received the client’s feedback on this effort.
I have replaced the text, but I have kept the word count exactly the same. My first slide looked like this…
The client changed it to look like this...
Unfortunately, this presentation is not a meeting of the United Amphetamines Users and I do not believe free triple-shot espressos are included with registration.
I am an audiophile of upper-middle proportions. But I haven’t bought any new music since arriving in Geneva. It was part of a self-imposed budgetary constraint while we got our dollars-to-francs bearings, but in retrospect six months without a new CD seems like some kind of sadistic performance art.
This morning I had my audio breakfast. The first two albums I purchased were Beck’s Modern Guilt and Coldplay’s Prospekt’s March. They sound gooood.
Here were the runners up. As they're on dock for the next purchase, I'd love to hear your input and other suggestions...
Explosions in the Sky - Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever
When I heard there was a James Gurney exhibit about an hour away in Yverdon, I decided to take my kids. Gurney's a painter and creator of Dinotopia, a series of books about a lost island where humans and dinosaurs coexist. I think Gurney might have had a greater appeal if his first Dinotopia book hadn't debuted in the early 90's and been eclipsed by Jurassic Park. I also think his books are a little confusing because they seem like children's books, but they're very detailed and read like novellas.
I thought we were going to an art gallery, but it turned out to be a kind of sci-fi museum called the Maison d'Ailleurs (or House of Elsewhere), located next to Yverdon's castle. I love the dichotomy of a centuries-old castle sitting across the street from a building with a vast library of pulp sci-fi 1950's comic books.
The Gurney exhibit was pretty cool. It was mostly work from his new book/story/collection, Journey to Chandara.
The temporary exhibit takes up two and a half floors, including a 15-minute movie on Gurney, and a loft with a small reading room and copies of the new Chandara book.
But the coolest thing about La Maison d'Ailleurs is the permanent Jules Verne wing. The room alone was worth the trip. To get the the Juels Verne exhibit, you leave the third floor of the main building via a walkway over one of the main streets in Yverdon. Dichotomy again - outside you see two very European houses connected by a walkway that looks like a joint project between Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton.
I'd love to have a room in my house like the Jules Verne room. With its hardwood floors, second-tier library walkway and a wall full of promotional posters, it feels more like a loft apartment in SoHo. The collection of vintage Verne novels was roped off, but you can view the bindings with a telescope, which is both ridiculously impractical and very cool.
There are a couple glass display cases featuring models of ships and vessels from Verne's books.
The far wall is covered with framed promotional posters secured to movable chain treads. Just press a button and they slide up and behind like a giant art treadmill.
There's a documentary on Verne playing on the back of a bookshelf wall. If you want to watch it, two risers of pews face it with headsets that magnetically stick to the bench backs.
And, of course, a miniature of the Nautilus from the Disney version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Complete with attacking giant squid base.
I was afraid The House of Elsewhere was going to be a low-budget geek shop. But it's clear a lot of effort and passion went into making it right. It reminded me of this 7-minute TED talk I came across about the Museum of Human Imagination. I don't know where people get the time or energy for these projects, but I'm glad they do.
Since 1998 I've kept notes on the books I read throughout the year. I just finished my 2008 book list. Click here to download it. Comments and recommendations for 2009 are always welcome.
I feel like I overdosed on business books this year. And I neglected to read a biography of a U.S. President and a financial book, which I try to do annually. I did get my annual LDS and Shakespeare reads in, though (Rough Stone Rolling and Julius Caesar, respectively).