Design Daze

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.48.36 PM“I don’t know I just hate all of it,” I told my Media Design professor, walking back to my monitor to show her my Cipe Pineles project, “don’t get your hopes up.”

As I scrolled through InDesign for my professor, she claimed it wasn’t as helpless as it seemed. I suggested about five different and better directions I could take it in, but she reminded me that the project due date was nearing and I wasn’t exactly ahead of schedule. Unfortunately true.

It’s often said we’re our toughest critic; but when the other option is your grade or job performance reflecting that missed detail, how could we not be? The issue with this self-criticism isn’t that it exists or is too prominent, but rather that it isn’t balanced by self-advocacy.

This summer at my internship, I redesigned a mundane product document to make it more engaging, effective, and brand conscious. However, due to a tight deadline and miscommunications, it wasn’t perfect and couldn’t be used for the approaching event. Although disappointed, I didn’t have the same urge to delete it all and start from square one that I experienced the other day.

Instead, I saved it in one of my folders, for no other concrete reason than the fact that I liked it.

Certain this design would have a time to shine, I mentioned revising it a few times for the events between July and November but it never seemed to be priority. Eventually with the right audience and timing, I got the green light to make a few changes and bring the document back on the table. This turned into many changes, every draft better than the former.

That’s my favorite pScreen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.45.10 PMart of designing, creating and writing for someone other than myself, their critiques will catch things I don’t see or to be honest, that I wouldn’t be motivated to perfect if it didn’t affect anyone else.

So what if we have it wrong? Are we meant to be our toughest critics, perfecting things before they see the light of day, even if that sometimes means they’ll never leave a buried folder?

While there’s obvious value in this, I think we need to put more of our energy into following ourselves down the rabbit hole, then perfecting that vision until everyone can see it. This means spending less time brainstorming for that flawless consensus moment; it won’t exist if someone doesn’t dive fully into their creativity and advocate for themselves.

Staring at my Cipe project, I thought of this scenario, and decided to move my project in a direction I could be excited about. Despite the tight deadline, a project I want to work on will be completed to higher quality and well before a project I am dreading. At the end of the day, your coworkers, professors and audience are there for critiques; but if you don’t advocate for yourself, your creativity, who will?

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Ad of The Week: Partners in Parenthood

As students, we’re often told not to narrow ourselves into one area of strategic communications, as the fine lines that separate advertising, public relations, marketing, etc. continue to stretch and shift.

Originally, I never saw myself filling any role in advertising or marketing. Strategic communications as a whole, really, felt like intimidating, uncharted territory that I could just skim the surface of with my love for events and writing. However, through diverse opportunities and challenging myself to diversify what opportunities I think I can approach, this thinking has shifted.

I think these fine lines that separate focuses have more to do with the people than the work. Public relations always appealed to me for the opportunity to create relationships on behalf of an organization and impact how people think of their brand. That appeal still exists, but I now recognize that my skills for this can be- and need to be- applied to all mediums of strategic communications.

The advertisements and campaigns I get most excited about do just that, which is why I am highlighting Petsmart’s Partners in Parenthood campaign (by GSD&M). The advertisements, two of which were shown during the Oscars, play on the idea of pets being part of the family, and create satiric scenes of the different stages of “parenthood.”

The extended version of all the advertisements can be found on YouTube, and can credit a good fraction of their views to my free time and love for dogs.The campaign’s unifying idea is that PetSmart will be with you every step of this journey, something every actor calls out in some way in the commercials and online videos. PetSmart brings attention to the humorous and all too true dynamics of a pet owner, which looks much more like a parent and child. It also creates or reinforces a need by telling pet owners “No, you aren’t caring too much about your pet, don’t second guess these toys, boots or grooming sessions.” At the same time, the products are weaved into the stories so well, you don’t feel like they’re being aggressive.

The marketing directors of PetSmart said their goal was to “make people laugh or smile as they recognize themselves or someone they know in the videos; and to remember PetSmart, I think it will set us apart.” They predict it will be a successful campaign, which I completely agree with.

Within minutes of finding the ads on YouTube, I posted the full video (2 minutes vs. 30 second t.v. spot) to my friend’s

Facebook, tweeted about the campaign and quickly emailed the links to my family. When you can see your self or others in an ad, it builds a connection with that brand, a sense of they get me.

Additionally, PetSmart had traditionally took a more “features” approach to advertising, which didn’t really set them apart or make them too memorable. This campaign focuses more on their customers and what PetSmart has in common with them, a love for pets. The creative target audience seems to be “obsessive pet owners,” or “helicopter pet parents,” who can be reached in a completely different way than the people who are looking just for the essentials for their pet.

PetSmart is making fun of how ridiculous owners like Anna Farris (and me) sound when describing the haircut their imagining for their dog’s grooming, but at the same time they are saying, we get it, they aren’t just a dog, they’re family.

If that’s not focusing on creating a relationship, I’m not sure what is.