Unpacking my design studio at our new home I came across this ashtray from my grandfather – also a designer and an entrepeneur. There’s something delightful and slightly mischievous that makes this undoubtedly an object of inspiration. I could talk about how great mid-century American design was, the golden age of advertising, or a list of other topics. Here’s the real hook to the piece (ready?)… these guys like their jobs.

They’re not young fellows, in fact they’re probably older than what we’d picture (today) as a pair of successful executives. How can there still be the excitement, the lure of zig vs. zag that launches the project they’re brainstorming past all of their client’s competitors? What’s the source of tension between these two that makes the fellow on the right look concerned about what his partner has in mind? It’s the allure of the Advertising business.

Take any product and re-imagine it. Reduce it to an essential idea. Create a concept that connects, engages, and excites a buying audience. It’s the idea that sets apart this product from similar products in the marketplace to drive customers to action. A million and one of these products are sold in the next week and everyone has a martini or three at lunch when the revenue rolls in. It’s a clichéd scenario, but it paints a useful picture and explains the part about chaos and why these two somewhat frazzled looking, coffee drinking, suit wearing ad men are nevertheless excited. The picture shows advertising working hand in hand with businesses to create wealth. It shows the power of the idea – the concept – to shake people up just enough to reach for their wallets like it’s an Old West quickdraw. Just like the quickdraw artist, the advertising creative walks a tightrope between the truly cutting edge and established cultural norms – between the groundbreaking and the familiar. Striking that balance in a clever way is what “surprises and delights” and what sells products and services. That’s why these guys like their jobs – not because it’s easy, not for the martinis, but for the thrill of amazing their clients by winning big. In the 21st century’s age of social media, you may be thinking “that was great back when advertising was alive and well.” If you can remember that last time you paid for a “Like,” a fan, or a follower, then you’re in fact advertising. Any time you send your brand anywhere outside the confines of “these four walls,” you’re advertising as well. When you need to make these efforts work at least as well as your products, don’t forget, there are people out there who live, eat, sleep, breathe, and sweat to excite your consumers with what your company offers, plus they LIKE what they do and they’re good at it. Some of these talented people can be found right here at Sparkfactor.

Give us a shout.

by Russell Lord

Here are a few recent projects that are surprising and delighting customers right now.
Read more about them at sparkfactor.com.

Merlo Kanofsky & Gregg Rebrand : Identity, Web, Print, Social
The Law Firm of Merlo Kanofsky & Gregg contacted us in the spring of 2012 to let us know they had been happy with the last website we designed for them for over 10 years. The partners in the firm had changed and it was time to update their website as part of a complete rebranding. read more

Path to Purchase Institute : Shopper Marketing Expo
The Path to Purchase Institute asked us to create a fresh web presence for their annual Shopper Marketing Expo at Chicago’s Navy Pier. P2PI loved what we did for their Design of the Times microsite and wanted us to go bigger, better, and more dynamic… read more

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