Dec 31, 2008

Policy for Green CLE

Out of the housing crisis comes an opportunity to design a greener, cleaner Cleveland. These brilliant plans for a more sustainable Cleveland including using the available land in smart ecological ways that will help the environment and strengthen our communities. With the number of foreclosures still rising, the land creates green opportunities other than real estate.

Neighborhood Process is the organization responsible for this 36 page "Sustainable Cleveland" document. The mission statement sounds great: "The Cleveland of the future will be a smaller, greener and healthier city with bigger parks, cleaner watersheds and a growing agricultural sector."

Ohio Tax Credit for Film Industry

You may recognize some of the buildings in Spider-Man 3, from Euclid Avenue in Cleveland. Governor Strickland and the Ohio Senate vetoed a brilliant tax credit for filming in Ohio. This is potentially big business for Cleveland. Advertisers and movie studios love to film here because costs are lower with no shortage of amenities. I wrote about my experience in the industry while asking the Governor to reconsider this policy. You too can write Strickland. Video of our policy-makers is supposed to be available here, but it's the most useless site ever.

Dec 29, 2008

Coal Industry : Advertising vs Research

Highly recommend subscribing to the newsletter from Environmental Leader. They had an article about the coal industry and how much money is pumped into lobbying and advertising rather than science and research. Many industries resort to such a lopsided budget in this regard. What if it were equal parts, R&D and marketing?

Dec 12, 2008

Nice Work From Local Entrepreneurs

This fantastic local company has a great campaign message: "No One Can Do Everything. Everyone Can Do Something." Local entrepreneurs (a mother / daughter team) sell these t-shirts with great design. Great xmas gifts, no?

Dec 9, 2008

Walmart Selling a $99 iPhone

Looks like Apple wants to move more merch. Good thing the price is so low, because I wonder if Walmart shoppers would normally afford such a high end product. Remember when Walmart tried to sell high end design clothes and it bombed? Read more at AdAge.

Nov 21, 2008

Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres

If you enjoyed the book Freakonomics, then you'll enjoy Super Crunchers, by Ian Ayres. It's subtitle is "Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart." There are many occasions when randomized testing improve the world we live in. There are millions of applications for this type of testing and research. The results of everything can and should be tested. Often the only resistance is from the experts who previously could make the most informed decisions. By crunching the numbers of a huge number of events the results are most often more accurate and predictable than what experts produce on their own. We should all benefit from this technology.

Nov 11, 2008

Look Up : Hunter Fan Campaign

Produced for Hunter Fan, this campaign educates consumers about saving money, year 'round, by using their ceiling fan. Mikey Burton designed the logo and I extended the brand look to the advertising. See two animated banners here on

Nov 6, 2008

Letterpress Printing

Currently working on an edit of Mike Burton printing a letterpress poster. Vimeo looks better than youtube and supports a lovely wide format. Here's a sample:

Letterpress Test Wide from josh gerken on Vimeo.

Nov 4, 2008

Victory Gardens

Our food travels 1500 miles from field to fork. It's getting more expensive to grow and ship. Not to mention the over-processing. Grow a victory garden for delicious and nutritious food. There's a rich history of the white house gardens. And the initiative is one of several recommendations for the president On Day One. What a cool idea to get the public opinion up to the chief executive.

Nov 3, 2008

Vintage Match Collection

This is a collection of old matches. Once again, excellent vintage design and fabrication. Saw it on Coudal just now.

Oct 29, 2008

David Byrne in Cleveland

From David Byrne's journal, this is a very embarrassing story for Cleveland and an idiot driving a cab in town. So sorry, Mr. Byrne. We love you! Here's an excerpt, and it escalates after this:

"We arrive and the fare is a little over $18, so I pull out my per diems from my pants pocket and give him $100 and two singles and ask him for $80 in change. He takes just the 100-dollar bill and puts it near his crotch and begins to fumble with his change purse. After a bit of this, I remind him that he doesn’t have to make change — just give me $80. He then says to me that I never gave him the $100. I say I did, and he points to the remains of my per diem in my other hand and says, “There’s your hundred right there, this one is mine.” I say, “No, I definitely gave you the $100.” He repeats, “That’s your hundred in your other hand.” Oh, man."

Oct 27, 2008

American Chemistry

I like the idea of industries coming together to share information. This is a good one. Hopefully this will help kids in America get more excited about science and technology. We need to focus on these areas where we have slipped. Good policy will help too.

Oct 25, 2008

Oct 14, 2008

Ministry of Culture

David Art Wales founded Ministry of Culture in 2000. (Watch: Who We Are.)

Prudent Boozers

Other Groups around 1850 which prohibition also disbanded:
Sons of Temperance
About Abstinence
Order of the Oddfellows
Tolpuddle Martyrs

An old social group called Prudent Boozers promoted responsible drinking in the mid 19th century. The Ministry took this old brand over and revived it in a very interesting and historically accurate way. Rich content with a good message. Not preachy. Historical. Could have a logo on products, like the heart association.

Drink Responsibly gets dismissed. Solution for young people: Prudent Losers: The "Role Models" of today's youth: Britney and Paris et al...

Oct 13, 2008

Big Spaceship

Crafting an ethos of innovation by Michael Lebowitz, CEO / Founder of Big Spaceship.

Greatest number of FWA's.But didn't show any work. He changed presentation at the last minute, saying if you'd like to see the work, just visit our site.

Encouraging non-digital internal projects creates a culture of excellence and desire to innovate. The energy created by internal projects is used for client work. Such as a low-fi stop motion animation using a still camera and paper.

The shop is not a web design firm, that's reductive. Not full service, because you have to be good at something. Not advertising, because they utilize earned media, and not a production company.

A digital creative agency, they are innovating where brands meet consumers with good will as they actively engage.

Everyone is creative! No such thing as creatives. Passion: bring something to the table. Everyone works together in a parallel. "If not, you can't work here."Partnership, fun and comfort are mandatory. Don't hire assholes, no matter how talented. Hire to be the dumbest person in the room. Give autonomy. Stay small. Manage by exception.

Four autonomous teams (little companies) which rarely need intervention. Only with major red flags. This enables the teams with great ownership and entrepreneurial opportunities.

It's a big open space where the teams are in the aisles. Teams sit together. Teams are seven people including producers, creatives, developers, strategists and quality control.They all work together through each step of the way.

Focus on culture! Fun begets passion. Passion begets quality. With creative, you cannot telecommute. Working together and correcting mistakes in real time is how it works best.All together throughout projects:


Stay flat. No more process than is necessary. RFP process is flawed (again).

Swiss Miss covers this presentation:here

Think is BigSpaceships blog and this is about the Click NY:

Next was a panel on education:

Oct 10, 2008


Poke is an 18 month old shop with 20 employees in NYC and 50+ in London.

Create a meaningful relationship between brands and consumers.

The RFP process doesn't make sense these days. Clients should submit problems, not needs. We can then help come up with the best way to solve the problem. There is no formula.

Fuji had a budget of $2.5 million and wanted to develop a photo sharing site! The world doesn't need another photo sharing was the response from Poke. They suggested spending that budget inventing a way to use the existing successful sites, like Flickr, snapfish, shutterfly, photobucket or google. Or in partnerships with them. Or new technologies like tagging images, etc. had 500,000 visits with a few minutes average per view. 60,000 in one day. People shared and media covered it. Poke doesn't create advertising. They create things that advertise.

Uber collaberative. (Illustration.) Advertising doesn't add value. Interactions do. "We aim to only execute only that which makes the web a better place to be."

For KY, the consumer tells us what is sexy. Not the other way around. This is a $20,000 site. It generates search content for google advertising campaigns. The research was sole to Cosmo.

In a shop of 20, there are no titles and no divisions.

The global rich list.

Tea Buddy

Synch Step

The coverage of Swiss Miss

Oct 9, 2008

The Brooklyn Brothers

Paul Parton, a self-proclaimed "red coat bastard with bad teeth," is a partner at The Brooklyn Brothers.

"The Barbarians Are Coming!" Billboard for The History Channel with thousands of real arrows shot into it.

An online state of mind. There are thousands of analog to digital converters out there. Less broadcast, where there's no interaction. Must engage with consumers. Invite them. The idea is the medium. Advertising is disposable.

Fat Pig Chocolate is an organic product developed by the agency. Consumers upload photographs of them with product. Very analog, delicious chocolate.

Reuters campaign: Terrorist or Freedom Fighter? was to bring the issue to America, but was denied by the media.

Send a beating card from Versus. Upload a photo, punch face and send.

Bobby Granger for the NY Rangers hockey team.

Idea is the medium. Rangers sucked so they built it up from the fans side. Bobby Granger was over the top spokes dude and was in reality, the biggest Rangers fan. He was at events with a megaphone. Was blogged about, "Who is this guy?!" then embraced: "He's a real fan!" Chants were created around the character.

Advertising is disposable! Utilize $2000 websites and videos rather than $200,000 TV spots.

The user defines what the big idea is. Fuse film: 400,000 hits on youtube in one week. Got $95,000 worth of media with a $75,000 total production budget. Cheap one was most popular.

Think entrepreneurially. Creating own brands and partnering with clients create a personal stake / ownership. Value-based pricing rather that time-based.

Agencies are bloated and wasteful. They are sad and / or need therapy. Larger organizations with executives and large overhead make it more difficult. "That machine has to be fed." Small shops outsource production.

Have had no resistance from clients regarding disposable advertising. Doing 20 small (experimental) things instead on one big (precious) thing.

Oct 8, 2008

Product Placement

Thirty seconds of David Lynch on product placement in movies.

Over the top / early product placement in the Waynes World movie.

Another Anomoly: Good is Good

Another Anomoly, Award-winning Executive Creative Director, James Cooper

Check out Why They Exist.

Started with Wall Street clip.
Greed is Good. / Green is Good. / Good is Good.

Don't shoot for awards. Aim for greater good.

Effie Award winning "Keep a child alive" campaign.

Spike Lee and Anomoly crew enter Apple Store.

EOS Shave Cream is a good product that doesn't rust in the shower. "That's all that's required. It's an efficient use of money and makes sense."

Converse produced music video with musicians from several genres:

Partner with clients. You aren't an asshole with your wife so don't be with your clients.Partnerships create a stake in the work and create work efficiently, honestly and transparently. Consumers like useful things.

Avec Eric is a brand with online blogs, video demonstrations and good products.

Test Theories, don't chase awards. Be on the consumers side. Good is different / Different is good. Help out the industry. Have partners, not clients.Less fees, more ownership.

Oct 2, 2008

Click NY Conference

I was at this great conference yesterday. Great advice from the professionals. Here are links to their stuff:

Wind Farm in Lake Erie

Harnessing the power of the Lake's wind: Studies are proving favorable for wind turbines to produce power in Lake Erie, offshore from Cleveland. Each turbne would produce enough power for 4500 homes. Read the whole story here.

Sep 19, 2008

Cleveland Old Photo Archive

The Cleveland Memory Project and Cleveland State University have put together a great reference for old photos all from Cleveland. Pretty interesting, time machine style...

Sep 13, 2008

Marketing in Cleveland at the Race for the Cure

I wish I had brought my camera to document these tents and tactics. Some were quite well done, mostly the national sponsors of the race who spent the money to market effectively. Here are a few specific observations:

Ford Cares: Ford had a huge display including two large trailers / trucks. The designs were quite well done and it was interesting. They were giving away bandannas with this branding on it. And a guy was on a microphone explaining that all the proceeds from their merch sales would go toward fighting cancer here in NE Ohio. Very well done. (And well funded.)

Quilted Northern also had a large pink tent. They were giving away what may have been toilet paper. Kinda funny. Fuze and Yoplait also had sizable setups and were giving away product. Energizer had a large truck specifically designed for the race for the cure. It looked great. They were doing nails and giving massages at that truck reinforcing their "recharge" messaging. According to the list of national sponsors, there were other major sponsors present. But I didn't notice any others than who I've mentioned.

Some of the local sponsors include Caribou Coffee. (Delicious! I had a free one.) They weren't branded for the race at all. Neither was University Hospitals, who just had a black tent and black T-shirts with the UH Ireland Cancer Center branding on it. They were just standing under the tent. (Well, it WAS raining.) They weren't doing anything special, which was kind of odd. Just standing around. There are probably some effective & creative things that could be done at these events. Things that wouldn't require huge budgets. Starting to think that cheap, disposable marketing could be really cool...

Sep 11, 2008

ISO50 : Very Cool Designs

Awesome work by Scott Hansen in San Francisco. Including interesting details about the process of creating a Barack Obama poster. Check out these T-shirts and other sweet design: