Part 2 of My Interview with Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer (& Creative Director), David Miner

INTERVIEW WITH ROCK-AND-ROLL HALL OF FAMER (and Creative Director), DAVID MINER – Part Two
585 words – approximately a 3 minute read


Today’s blog features Part 2 of my interview with David Miner, Creative Director for Marketing Symphony. In this part, David shares some lessons he learned from his days as a record producer and Minnesota Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame bass player. And, how those lessons can be applied to the creative process for marketing. My favorite? Use examples rather than descriptions to get your point across. To read part 2 of 3, click here.

AS: Welcome back, David. Last time, you were saying that communication was the crucial foundation to creating an end-product that your client is thrilled with. Can you recap that for us?

DM: Sure, Andrew. Basically, it all boils down to the fact that words mean different things to different people. The classic example is the word trunk: If a client describes an ad where a guy’s leaning on an old trunk, maybe you’re thinking of steamer luggage, I’m thinking of the back of a ’59 Chevy and he’s expecting a picture of a guy next to a large tree. You can’t be too confident of words.

AS: So what do you do, then? How do you communicate ideas so your advertisement or video or direct mail meets the client’s expectations?

DM: Well, as you know, I came up through the musical side. As a producer,

I started using CDs to show a group of musicians what I was after for certain songs.  Sometimes it would be a combination of things that I wanted to meld, so I would bring two CDs and show them rather than try to explain.

It worked so well that I started using it to as a safety check to make sure everybody understood the words we used in the same way.

AS: Like “trunk.”

DM: Exactly. Periodically, we’d listen to an example to make sure. And of course, whenever we came across a breakdown with words, I would ask the person, “Can you play that for me on the piano?”  or “Do you have a CD that illustrates what you’re talking about?”

AS: And this saves time?

DM: It saves time, money-it’s even saved projects. I remember one film score that was on the brink. I’d wasted an entire week on a complicated music piece that was several minutes long and needed to convey some very stark & deep emotion. The director listened to my third attempt and told me that I was even further from what he wanted with this version. Nothing he said to me made any sense. He said-and I quote:

“It needs more ‘ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum.'”

So I said, “You mean like percussion?”

“No, like ‘ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum'”

“I don’t understand-what kind of instrument is making that sound?” I asked.

His response: “Well I’m not a musician, I don’t know how you make the sound, I just need more ba-bum, ba-bum!”

Luckily, I remembered the CD trick and asked him to bring me some tracks. When he did, it took me about 5 minutes to know exactly what he wanted. I went back to the drawing board, and returned to him with a “rough sketch” for the scene.  His response: “Perfect!  That’s exactly what I was after.” We ended up doing 3 more films together, and he got very good at using CDs to help steer the process, and I got very good at creating ba-bum ba-bum.

AS: One of our maxims at Marketing Symphony is that “creativity is birthed out of strategy,” but without good communication and syntax for community ideas. There will be no ba-bum in your creative!

~

So that’s part two of our interview and more to follow.

Interview with Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer (and Creative Director), David Miner

INTERVIEW WITH ROCK-AND-ROLL HALL OF FAMER (and Creative Director), DAVID MINER
615 words – approximately a 3 minute read


Recently, I sat down with David Miner, Creative Director for Marketing Symphony, to discuss the creative process within the context of a marketing firm. David is an accomplished graphic artist, videographer, record producer and Minnesota Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame bass player, and is one of the most creative people I know. This is part one of our conversation.

AS: Good morning, David. Thanks for joining me.

DM: Good morning.

AS: I wanted to sit down with you today to shed a little light on the creative process within the marketing industry. It’s quite different from creativity for creativity’s sake. In your opinion, what is the biggest difference in the two?

DM: There are obviously several differences, but in my opinion, the biggest — and most crucial — difference is communication. In order to facilitate the best use of resources, time, and talents, I need to put more time and effort into communicating than almost any other part. To satisfy the client, being creative with the end product starts by being creative with communication.

AS: “Being creative with communication”? So it’s more that just the amount of communication.

DM: Oh, yeah. Even in the best of collaborative relationships you can veer off course with each other due to nothing more than an unintended miscommunication.

A lot of creative or artistic elements are abstractions — they’re just ideas. Taking abstraction and putting them into words that objectively communicate your idea can be a very hit-and-miss proposition. You’ll go back to your notes later, and your own words don’t make sense even to you.

AS: How do you keep this from happening, or even know it’s happening? I mean, if both people at the table think they’ve communicated, but they each have a different idea in their head, there’s going to be big impact on the deadline, on the budget, and whether or not the client’s happy with the product.

DM: That’s so true. You can believe that the words you’re using to describe an artistic idea make perfect sense, and clearly convey what you want to communicate. And, to make things worse, the person hearing can believe the same thing — that it is all very clear, and makes perfect sense. But they each may have a completely different picture in their heads. The result can be that the person carrying out the creative assignment is creating something not even close to what the client thought they described.

AS: So what do you do to prevent that?

DM: First of all, you can’t depend on words. Descriptive words like WARM or INVITING — even universal words such as: CONTEMPORARY, BOLD and COLORFUL — can mean such different things to different people. Without some printed examples of what you’re trying to describe to accompany your presentation, you can really waste a lot of time.

Of course, bridges of communication will develop quite naturally once people have acquired some working history together. But even then, you can’t just take it for granted. You always need to pay attention.

The second thing you need to do is commit to invest the time at the beginning. To keep things on track in terms of timeline, budget & accomplishing the intended goal or message of a creative piece, you’ve got to pay attention to whether or not the methods of communication are working. Time for the mis-reads and for establishing a workable vocabulary have to be figured into the timeline as part of the process. You can’t rush those.
~

So that’s part one of our interview. Next time, David will give us specifics on how to get over the communication breakdowns, plus tell us some pretty interesting stories from his music and soundtrack producing and playing days. Confirmation Code: ADHKV3434264

My Picks For the Top 8 Of ’08

MY PICKS FOR THE TOP 8 OF ’08
938 words – about 4 minutes to read

Now that tumultuous 2008 is in the can, I’m revisiting the Top 8 of ’08: those marketing campaigns that left everybody else in the dust. These are the most appetizing appetizers and the most mouthwatering desserts. Here’s the countdown. As we say here at Marketing Chef HQ, Bon Appetit!

#8. Apple: I’m a Mac.
Witty, approachable and elegantly designed: Apple’s product philosophy entered its advertising with the I’m a Mac campaign. The ads let “Mac” be congenial and caring — the good guy, while “PC” made a buffoon of himself — awkward, a little paranoid, and often “buggy.” Worse yet for PCs everywhere, the ads went unanswered until just recently (and when they were, the Microsoft response flopped.)

#7. Nalley Lexus dealer: The Love Letter
Just before Valentine’s Day, thousands of men in the Atlanta area received a pink envelope containing a handwritten love letter. The first page is so doting, it almost makes you blush: “I can’t stop thinking about being yours…we belong together…life is too short to spend another day apart…” You get the picture. “I’ve left my picture and phone number.” The recipient turns to the second page and sees (you guessed it) the picture of a Lexus, “I was made for you” and, still handwritten, the dealership’s name, phone number and website. Steamy, deliciously funny and oh so satisfying!

#6. E*TRADE: Baby
E*TRADE hit 2008 right out of the gate with a Superbowl ad touchdown. Now, normally these ads aren’t worth the cost, but E*TRADE’s Superbowl commercial practically paid for itself before kickoff of the Pro Bowl. You remember the campaign: cute baby sitting in front of a computer making trades. Sounds pretty innocuous, except for the eerily well done lip synching that makes it appear that the infant’s actually delivering the monologue. Add a clown, phone or an unexpected spit up and you’ve got an unforgettable campaign.

#5. Geico: Gecko, The Caveman, and the Celebrity impersonating a real person
In 2008, Geico did something that most other companies didn’t do; they ran three different marketing campaigns simultaneously. They ran all three campaigns throughout 2008. The humor ties them all together, while cycling the commercials prevented overexposure for any one of them (a real risk for the Cavemen after the failed sitcom attempt). Rather than suffering from burnout, Geico customers and prospects anticipate the next commercials. When your customers feel like your new commercial is a treat, you know you’ve done something right.




#4. BlendTec: Will It Blend?”
The Posterboy of viral marketing has to be Blendtec’s internal videos turned brilliant marketing campaign. It all began when retro-cheesy CEO Tom Dickson started throwing things into the powerful blenders to see what would happen. Luckily, they videotaped it and somebody threw it onto YouTube. iPhones, tiki torch, marbles and more — and the viewers keep coming back to see what they’ll try next. Millions of views later, sales are up an astonishing 800%. Not bad for an accidental ad campaign!

#3. OfficeMax: Elf Yourself
Nothing says Christmas like dressing up in elf costumes and bustin’ a move with the family. Of course, few of us will actually do this, so OfficeMax’s Elf Yourself is the next best thing. Upload pictures of your family members’ faces, and voila — well-produced video greeting card starring you (or at least dancing elves that look remarkably like you). Interactive, appealing to the eye, starring in your own “movie” — what’s not to like? The website has boasted a whopping 193 million page visits in 2008, making it one of the most successful viral campaigns ever.

#2. China: Summer Olympic Games
When China hosted the 2008 summer games, it took the opportunity to remake its image. China, once thought of primarily as closed, communist, totalitarian country was hoping that the whopping $44 billion it spent on the games would change the world’s opinion. In preparation for the Paralympics, Beijing and the surrounding areas became disability-friendly. Sponsorships were touted as examples of a more open economy, and the ceremonies displayed the nation’s art and prosperity. China highlighted its modernity through technology, architecture and infrastructure, and its soft-side through its sites and human interest stories. Though there were slips in the image-making, like the little lip-synching girl, and the gymnastics age dispute, China largely succeeded in its endeavor.

#1. Obama for America: Presidential Campaign
Every four years, the best and the brightest come out to show us what they’ve got, and 2008 was no exception. No, I’m not talking about the candidates. I’m talking about the marketers who are hired by the presidential campaigns. No matter what your politics, I think it’s inarguable that the marketing for the Obama for America campaign left primary and general election competitors in the dust. Some of the things they did right:

  • An idealistic message appealing on a deep archetypal level;
  • Serious use of social networking. The campaign didn’t just use social networking, it lived on it.
  • Consistency throughout. The campaign (all about youth, hope, technology and inclusion) received a whopping 10% of its donations online, and almost all of those were under $100. Remember, everything you do and everything you don’t do sends a message;
  • Viral Marketing. Okay, so this technically wasn’t the campaign itself, but it still helped. You may have seen the YouTube video, Obama Girl. If so, you were among 8 million others who viewed — and were influenced by — the video.
Of course, this is my opinion only, so I’d love to hear your feedback. Join the conversation and leave a comment! And, check in next time, when I’ll talk about the Worst 8 of ’08: the biggest marketing blunders of the year.

 

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