Ad Nerd

I’m a copywriter at Spring. A fairly new one. I’ve worked at Spring for about 6 months and interned for 3. While there are many roads into advertising, my road was an education heavy one. I have a degree in commerce and marketing from UBC and a graduate certificate in advertising copywriting from Humber College in Toronto.

A question that I have been asked a lot in the past year: “Was it worth it?”

My answer: “Absolutely.”

And here is why.

If you have the means to attend post-secondary school and are somebody that benefits from that style of learning I don’t think you can go wrong with expanding your knowledge. You’re going to have it for the rest of your life and in my mind, that’s money well spent.

Having attended a big university and a smaller scale college I liked things and disliked things about both. These are my take-aways.


I wanted the full university experience. I didn’t want to go to school and go home, I wanted the social aspect and the prestige that went with going to one of the top universities in Canada. I wanted to experience everything from all-nighters in the library hyped up on a mixture of coffee, energy drinks and cheap sushi to UBC’s notorious PIT nights.

Did I achieve all of this? Yah I did. I left with a rich university experience, some of my best friends and a strong knowledge of business and marketing. But did I leave with my dream job? Not so much.

When it It is no longer a IOU. came to finding a job, career services pretty much left me to my own devices. And around the 2 month mark into my new grad, very unemployed life I was beginning to feel very complacent with waking up at 10 am. Not to search for jobs but to watch “Rich Bride, Poor Bride.” Yup, I was a putting that $40,000 education to good use.

Surprisingly, the ultimate low point of my career search was not watching ordinary women turn into Bridezillas but was an interview I had for a job at an IT firm. Turns out I was highly under qualified (thanks for wasting my time IT firm that shall not be named). The interview was going downhill fast and I knew it was over when the man interviewing me asked me to explain how the Internet worked. “Uhh, it comes from this place called wi-fi?” may have been my answer, or something along those lines. I was a business kid who studied marketing strategy not computer science.

So as I walked through downtown Vancouver talking to my friend about my failed interview, I happened to receive an email saying I had gotten accepted into the Advertising Copywriting program at Humber. Times were changin’!


Realization #1: Everyone is young. Like fresh out of high school young. And their outfit choices…highly questionable. Sure, UBC had 17 year olds but they mixed in with the other 50,000 students that went there so I never really noticed.

Realization #2: College is super disorganized. I was used to detailed learning outlines. College as it would turn out was the easy-going, slightly neurotic cousin of organized, slightly alcoholic university.

My studies at college were focused at least. I knew in the end I would be trained to be a copywriter. Not some ambiguous marketer or wanabee IT recruiter. The whole program was based around creating a portfolio so when I was set loose into the industry I would be prepared. Humber sent my class and I to agency recruitment events, organized a grad portfolio show for us and sent emails notifying us about potential internships. In the end, college really helped me do something that university failed to – it helped me get my foot in the door at a place I was excited to work at.

So was one more beneficial than the other? That’s a hard one to answer because I think one thing that differentiates me as a creative is that I have a business background that allows me to see things from a different perspective. That being said, without Humber I probably wouldn’t be working at Spring. I may have ended up here, but it would have been a lot harder. I would have had to figure out how to create a portfolio and make all those contacts myself. Plus, when I did eventually come back to Vancouver looking for an internship my portfolio and education made me stand out. And when you’re looking to get into an agency that gets hundreds of applicants a week, you need to stand out.

So do you need to go to school to work in advertising? Of course not. Ask people how they broke into advertising and you’ll get a variety of answers. What it comes down to is finding a way that best suits your situation. For me it was school. For you…well, that’s for you to decide!

Posted in The Agency | Comments Off on Ad Nerd

Boink Day 2013

We boinked in the rain
We boinked on the street
We boinked so people
In need could eat

Ourclothes were soaked
But our spirits stayed high
Thanks to everyone who
Stopped by to say hi

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Boink Day 2013

Man vs. Agency: Born Survivor

My name is Al and I`ve been working at Spring for about a month now. What follows is my survival guide to all my fellow advertising newbies. Some things I learned in my time here others I sourced from my co-workers experiences.

Man vs. Agency: Born Survivor by Al Theuri (read: Grylls)

Okay, you did your due diligence and now you are in: You are finally working in an ad agency. But now what? Though you are extremely proud of your own personal achievement, no one else seems phased at all — and rightfully so! Looking through the company bios you quickly realize that the people around you are not only some of the more attractive members of society, they are also some of the smartest and most talented people you are ever likely to meet. So, to help you through your first couple of weeks, here is my advertising survival guide.

They can smell fear

Agency folk are a bit like sharks. Or bears. Or Sharkbears

Or pretty much any predatory creature with canines long enough to force Kristen Stewart to make another tough decision(#TeamJacob). And similar to their blood-thirsty counterparts, agency folk seem to have the ability to sense fear. Prepare yourself for a lot of good natured ribbing, my recommendation is to avoid letting anyone know that you are scared with a healthy dose of Axe body spray every morning.

That being said, you will probably meet the most genuinely friendly people you have ever met while working at an ad agency. They are all passionate about what they do and are always willing to help out wherever and whenever they can.

Take a deep breath

If you played your cards right the agency you are at is busy, I mean so busy you forget to eat. So busy that you seriously consider the time saving attributes of adult diapers. The point I’m getting at is: Don’t forget to breathe. Just take it one task at a time and you will get through it. Unless, of course, you over did it with the Axe. Then you might want to hold your breath for a little while… and probably go home and take a shower.

Get stuck in

It’s easy to get into a groove of always just doing enough and for a while no one will notice because they are really busy (see above point). But remember; you are surrounded by a bunch of over-achievers — people who look at the world and generally think “I could probably have done that better.” So, really get in there- perhaps, “stuck in” if you want to stick out.

It’s probably going to be nothing like Mad Men

Again, assuming that you are in an agency that has a decent number of clients, you will almost never be doing the 5 martini lunches. Again, you will be too busy for this. But if we are being completely honest, this is probably a good thing; no one really wants to be a functioning alcoholic whose main concern in life is navigating from one office affair to the next… right?

Grow thicker skin

If you are one of those people who can’t take criticism, constructive or otherwise, you probably want to work on that. Or, alternatively, you could hire a really good therapist to get you through what will inevitably be a very short stint in advertising.

If you are in an agency that values the work they put out, you will find that everyone cares about the quality of your work and will not hesitate to let you know when your work isn’t up to par. What you have to understand though is that when people say “Your shit is crap” they are really just saying “I love you, and though you are very talented, this shit is crap.” Well, at least that’s what I tell myself.


When you walk in through that door, despite how talented you are, you will find that there is still much to learn. Take time to foster your own perspective, grow and develop your skills to reach your furthest potential. The biggest hindrance to your time in an agency is stagnancy and complacency! Remember how hard you worked just to get here? That’s just a taste of how hard you are going to have to work to stay here and be good here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Man vs. Agency: Born Survivor

Where are my Dragons?

Last weekend I took an exciting opportunity to partake in the dragon boating expo down at Creekside Community Centre (in the Athletes Village).

Splitting us into two groups of ten they geared us up with a life jacket and paddle. While land bound they taught us simple water safety as well as the stroke basics and how to hold the paddle etc.

Next it was straight to the boats. As beginners we started off in the 10 person paddlers, whereas the typical boat holds 22 people, 20 paddlers and 1 drummer and 1 steerer.

Lucky for me I got to sit right at the front, which meant everyone had to follow what I did to keep in time! Eep- so much pressure, yet so much fun!

30mins of paddling and practice and a race against the other team all whilst the sun was shining upon us and then I realized……………………. WHERE ARE THE DRAGONS??

<img class="alignnone size-full In order to lower points online casino on your driving instructor record, you are allowed to attend a clinic once every five years. wp-image-3927″ src=”” alt=”” width=”500″ height=”279″ />

…. it is called ’Dragonboating’ right?
Well the official wiki answer is this; although dragon boating taken place annually for more than 20 centuries as part of religious ceremonies and folk customs, dragon boat racing has emerged in modern times and the dragon boats are generally rigged with decorative chinese dragon heads and tails for competition events.

So that’s it then,.. I have to join a team! Luckily for me Creekside Community Centre is offering a beginner dragon boating class, which includes 10 weeks of practice and the entry into the Vancouver Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival in June.

If you’d like to find out more, you can click here:

And lastly, I apologize to those who thought this blog may be about Game of Thrones and thank you for reading this far. As a reward Game of Thrones starts March 31st. That is all.

Posted in Online | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

On the move? There’s an app for that!

I always enjoy the thought of living somewhere new but when it comes down to actually moving, everything else I could be doing – like the laundry or pulling out my hair strand by strand seems infinitely more appealing. But hey, if you enjoy packing a person’s entire life into a mountain of cardboard boxes, leave me a message. You can help me during my next move.

But if you must move (as we all must at some point) you will soon find yourself surrounded by a sea of knickknacks that you just can’t bring yourself to keep or throw out, unless you’re one of those crazy minimalists. But for the rest of us who can’t quite find a place for that special porcelain cat piggybank that you can’t bear to throw out – there’s an app for that now! It’s called Bondsy ( Post your personal items to sell, trade or donate – take a picture and name your ‘price.’ Your friends can view your items and bid on them with cash or whatever else. The perfect/safer solution to Craigslist (hello, stranger danger) if you’re moving or just doing a bit of spring cleaning.


Posted in The Agency | 1 Comment

Our Backyard

I”ve just returned from a long weekend in Whistler where a few friends and I went Catskiing. Powder Mountain ( is about 20 minutes South of Whistler and is one hell of a good time. The “Cat” seats 12 people and takes you up 3,800 vertical feet, across 4,300 acres and five peaks of unspoiled, untouched terrain. You can pretty much choose any run you want. Through the trees, glades, over ridges or just laid back open faces….all pow ( 40 feet to be exact )

It”s been 13 years since I moved from Toronto to Vancouver and I”m often reminded at how amazing this Province can be, assuming you take advantage of it. Our Cat was filled with visitors from New Brunswick, Toronto, New York, Chicago and Hong Kong who all said that it was some of the best powder they”d ever experienced…..and all of it just over an hours drive from my doorstep.

Feeling blue with the rainy weather? Stop complaining and do something different. Scare yourself a bit. You”ll be amazed at how alive you can feel.

Next year – Heliboarding! Who”s with me?

Posted in Rants | 7 Comments


OK, this morning’s latest Chevrolet commercial was the proverbial straw. I can no longer leave it without a rant. So here goes. The marketing efforts at General Motors are just wrong. I had written stronger words but have since calmed down a bit. Chrysler is as bad. Ford, a little better. But the bar could not be lower.

Let’s start with the basic premise that there are a number of factors that go into any buying decision. It’s a mistake to look at these as logical. In his recent TED Talk on the “why” of companies, Simon Sinek points out that real purchasing decisions are made on a gut level. When you think about this, you are rewarded with an explanation for thousands of different brands of jeans, colours of cars, and choices of beer. Yes logic does fit in a buying decision but it takes a back seat to factors that live in a whole different part of the brain.

This is simple stuff. You get it, I get it. GM, apparently does not. Their advertising budget often feels like it would be better off unspent. Here, let’s try a little demonstration using the typical copy found in an average Chevy radio spot and apply it to something that people don’t wait for a discount to buy.

MUSIC: Upbeat, contemporary music, female singer, light hip feel.

ANNCR: It’s wowed the critics all over the world, with sleek European inspired aluminum styling and lightning fast processing speed. The award winning Apple Macbook is the laptop computer that everybody’s talking about.
SING: Yeah!
ANNCR: Now get in to your Apple dealer and get the 500 gig solid-state hard drive that the competition can’t touch. And get $200 dollars off when you come in now!
SING: Apple!
ANNCR: Apple. Future! Dependable! Value!

Now how about a dealer spot?

IAN: Ian and Steve here for Maple Ridge Macintosh. Steve I have never seen the deals on Macs better than this.
STEVE: That’s right Ian, that’s cause the manager’s away and we’re going craaaaaazzzzzyyyy!


That splat you just heard was the value of a brand. When it comes down to it, GM products are pretty good. They just lack self-respect.

Respect. An important idea when it comes to a purchase as big and important as a car. We respect a luxury brand like Mercedes because it touches our aspirations. We respect a value brand like KIA when it’s honest in its thrift. We are learning to respect Hyundai because they have relentlessly improved their products and are dedicated to being a design leader. We respect Volkswagen because of, dare I say it, their advertising. We respect Toyota because they are blandly reliable. We could easily argue that none of these cars are any better. They just help their customers feel good about themselves when they buy.

So what’s with GM? I don’t blame the dealers. But I suspect that they’re part of the problem. Can you blame them? They’re embattled. After decades of being saddled with poor design and bad ideas from the factory, they’ve suffered a slow, demoralizing decline. As market share has plummeted and competition has cranked up, famine has reached the sales floor. It’s only natural that advertising used during such times should smack of a certain sort of short-term thinking. What person in this position would want to build a brand/customer relationship? So it’s about the deal. In advertising the deal means this: Stuff a lot of features in, find some third party endorsements – no matter how tenuous, and badger your audience. Voila, a few customers show up, the kind who only live for the deal. Suddenly there’s a little food in the showroom. Then do it again. And again. Short-term food. Long-term, death. Starving populations usually eat their seed crops.

The short-term solution. Meanwhile, marketing staff are shivering behind a moat of market research that drowns any brave ideas. And from top to bottom, all are looking for the analgesic effect of short-term performance to block out the shrieks of yet another short-term thinker, the shareholder.

Imagine for a moment advertising that made its way into the collective consciousness and got a laugh, a smile, and a reaction that came from the gut or the heart of the viewer. A relationship would begin again. It would take time, patience and stamina but in the long run it would work. Imagine a world where people aspire to buy a brand that their grandparents coveted, one that built factory towns and help knit together a lot of North America. Imagine a scene where the neighbor comes home in a new Impala and you feel a pang of jealousy. Imagine GM as a brand that people respect. It could happen. Just ask Hyundai.

Oh yeah, and don’t get me started on those stupid Dodge RAM ads.

Posted in Uncategorized | 990 Comments

The Iceberg That (you heard it here first) Will Sink the Brand

We consumers live in an overbuilt world. In the digital realm that goes without saying. To use myself as an example, I have a rather huge music collection that has absolutely no chance of ever filling up the 160 GB iPod Classic that it lives on. Actually I don’t even use that device anymore. It all fits on the new phone. But overbuilt is everywhere. There is no earthly reason for urban pickup truck drivers to wheel around in 80-foot tall 100-foot long boulder haulers. But they do and we accept this without so much as a roll of the eyes. Fact is, consumers don’t like consumer products. They like professional products. That’s why one-time specialized brands like Timberland, the North Face, Carhart and Makita have become mainstream consumer products. That’s why Dodge or GM or Ford or all of the above refer to their trucks as ‘professional grade.” If I could think of a professional grade food, I’d go into business with it…Oh wait. Gatorade.

Which brings up the inevitable content of most early 21st century marketing blogs, a rant about Apple. Some history. There was a time, a time before the i-anything when a Mac was an expensive, high performance tool used by designers, art directors, print production artists, photographers, video and film people and, well and that’s about it. It was a professional grade niche brand that struggled along from design to design under the weak updraft of the committed faithful. Why were they faithful? Its operating system was the only one that really worked in the creative industry. And that’s it. Apple was as professional a product as Finning is a tractor.

We all know Apple had trouble. It needed to be a consumer product to survive. Better a consumer product than no Apple for anyone right? Well of course! So along came the letter i. Soon the world had a new darling consumer brand. Apple enjoyed a growth curve that inspired the undeserved self-congratulations of a thousand marketing guest speakers. It bucked a recession, became synonymous with the word innovation and started showing up in the coffee shop chairs, then schoolbags of everyone who had a little cash and a self image that needed to tell the world it was “Creative.”

Great. Apple had brought the world a parcel of beautiful and even groundbreaking consumer products. Meanwhile it kept the pro’s happy with a bunch of products creatively labeled as well, “Pro.” Predictably, consumers wanted to own Pro too. So, like trucks and tools, and shoes, and coats, it became a consumer product. Sadly, and inevitably Apple products began to emerge with all the disposable build quality of the average cheap consumer product. Sure the price tag stayed high, why not? It wasn’t the product that was for sale anymore, it was the brand. So now, photographers, film companies, design and ad shops have a large pile of dead, nearly dead and we-won’t-admit-it-but-it’s-dead-too, Apple gear. And a point of view that has travelled from undying support, to grief to angry blogs.

By way of example, and maybe revenge, I report that here at Spring we have had three top-of-the-line $4000 plus MacBook Pro’s drop dead in the past year – Apple Care covered the repairs but we’ll never get our weeks of down-time back. The really good iMac that was in production died an ugly death just days after its first birthday. Weirdly, we forgot to get Apple care on it. You would think we would know better. Its big brother came to us dead in the box. It never worked at all.

Account services uses PCs. They cost about $600 each. In seven years, not one has packed it in before its obsolescence.

You can say that my point of view might be as obsolete as those old PCs. After all, Apple isn’t computers, it is phones and iPods and Apple TV and iTunes. True. However, as the technology gap closes between Apple and its competitors, the quality of products must stand up as a touchstone to what sets the brand apart. A product that can no longer earn the respect or even trust of its professional users cannot hope to hide behind an old reputation for long. Just ask Detroit in 2008.

I’m not happy to see the cracks in Apple. I’d prefer that they sold great machines that one can depend on. It is a wonderful world where a person with curiosity, work ethic and creativity can make something amazing while seated in a coffee shop, classroom or basement. But to use a cliché as old as me, they don’t make ‘em like they used to. But in this case it’s not a cliché, it’s a fact. Take for example the 2007 and earlier Macbook Pro. It has a bladder under the keyboard to protect it from spills. Sensible. It’s not on the newer ones. Sad.

Now I finally arrive at the point of all this. If ever one line in a commercial tore a leak in its competition, Samsung did it to Apple with its spot-on parody of the Apple faithful, portrayed as slavishly standing in line for the release of the iPhone 5. I swear the line of TV script delivered by a hilariously well cast Apple zealot will be seen in the future as the iceberg that ultimately sank the brand.

HIPSTER GUY: The headphone jack is going to be on the bottom!!! Phfeeeew! (Hipster Guy makes a mind-blowing noise while using his fingers to mimic his own head blowing off)

So let’s see. The products aren’t very good. Now they’re not very cool either. Sell the stock if you have it. Buy Samsung if you can. You heard it here first.

Posted in Uncategorized | 79 Comments

Fat Tuesday vs Fat Sunday

Call it Super Gras, a once in a lifetime confluence of epic events. The Super Bowl AND Mardi Gras have both descended on everyone’s favourite Jambalaya makin’ hot-bed: New Orleans, Louisiana. Aka Crescent the and Naturtint. Bit times is My #34 be version looking.

City, NOLA, the Big-Easy, home of gambit from X-Men,

Party-Dome. Ok, so I made up Party-Dome but needless to say, this is pretty much going to be the greatest city in the world over the next few weeks.

However, some Cajun’s are ragin (pretty good right?) because the Super Bowl’s arrival has resulted in the Mardi Gras festivities being put on hold for a week . From a logical standpoint, this makes perfect sense – staggering the two events will result in even more tourism revenue for the city and will be much easier from a logistical and public safety stand point. However, from a selfish standpoint they are depriving us of an ultimate party showdown – the likes of which haven’t been seen since my 8th birthday fell on Armor All National Car-Wash day (there were A LOT of water fights). The question becomes, which party would prevail? The superest of bowls or the fattest of Tuesdays (Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday – the more you know)?

3 Reasons the Super Bowl would win:

  1. Layer Dip (and other indulgence) – No other day in the year rivals the sheer indulgence of Super Bowl Sunday. Also known as the day before I re-commit to any and all health based New Year’s resolutions.
  2. Recreational Gambling – The range of things you can wager on in the Super Bowl is mind-boggling. Some personal favourites: What colour Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach, how long will Alicia Keys rendition of the national anthem be, will Jay-Z join Beyoncé on stage at the halftime show and will the two team’s head coaches post-game hug be over or under 7 seconds? (They are brothers, I love the over here).
  3. Super Bowl Ads – I mean we are an ad agency after all. This is the one day of the year where my friends ask me “Are the ads YOU make like that?!” and say it without utter contempt.



3 Reasons Mardi Gras would win:

  1. Bourbon Street – Professional drunks from around the world flock here to take advantage of open container laws, loose morals and something called “huge ass beers”.
  2. Mardi Gras Costumes – Do a google image search. There are some amazing outfits worn every year. I’ve done the hard work of finding the best one for you:
  3. It’s 2 weeks long – Granted the buildup to the Super Bowl also works out to 2 weeks of hype. But Mardi Gras is the marathon of parties whereas the Super Bowl is much more of a debaucherous sprint.


At the end of the day, we’re all winners; especially anyone lucky enough to find themselves in New Orleans. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m hopping on the next plane to the Party Dome.


I want to go to this.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Leisure Capitalism Manifesto

How do you spend your leisure time? Do you run errands? Read a book? Watch TV? In the past, my off work hours had been plagued by unrelenting restlessness – A constant reminder that I may not be getting the most out of my holidays and weekends. Enter: Leisure Capitalism – an oxymoronic lifestyle choice designed to squeeze every last ounce of fun out of the delicious citrus fruit that is, time off.

Please find below the key components of this exciting new movement:

  1. Approach free time as an opportunity to experience new things. Unwinding is as much about broadening your horizons as it is about chilling out.
  2. “Sports” such as: Bocce, Slow Pitch Softball, Croquet, Frisbee, Golf and Frisbee Golf are honourable

    games of skill and should be played in a competitive yet easy-going manner.

  3. Music, snacks and ice-cold beverages are the cornerstones of any leisure activity. Ensure an ample supply of all 3 whenever engaging in leisurely pursuits.
  4. Boats are great.
  5. Time Outside > Time Inside.Accept rain as inevitable and you won’t be disappointed.
  6. Wear Sunscreen.

Similar to any emerging movement, I understand this may not be for everyone but I assure you that if you follow these suggestions you should find yourself on a Sunday Night: dead tired, slightly sun burnt and extremely happy.

Boats are great

Turn of the century Leisure Capitalists

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments