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8 kinds of work I like to do

Posted on 18 Jan 2016 in Advertising, Branding, Marketing, Not For Profit, Print, Storytelling, TV, Uncategorized, Websites | Comments Off on 8 kinds of work I like to do

I was recently asked, “What kind of work do you like to do?”. While a longer answer wasn’t uncalled for, I believe the expectation was something on the lines of a genre or a medium, such as “I like writing blog entries” or “I’m really into writing ads”. I do like writing blog entries and ads, yet something in my wiring didn’t let me keep it to a short answer, and even now I have a hard time answering this is in a predictable way. I just don’t slice my “like” along such strict genre or media lines (I like the term media-agnostic. I don’t know who started it).
This was, however, a mental exercise that was worth exploring so I’ll share with you my (over)thought-out answer.

ThatGuyWriting likes to do…

1. work that wants to exist.

You’ve probably seen the Michelangelo quote that sculpting legendarily was simply taking his block and removing the parts that weren’t David. While it feels overused, I felt it appropriate here in reference to a piece that borrows from another of his famous works. Getting to that point that seems natural, that was always there, it’s a nice feeling we don’t always get when we create something. That naturalness can take some time and effort, ironically. I feel great when it happens, even on pieces that, for whatever reasons, don’t see the light of day. I find great satisfaction in elegant solutions.
This gets me on a tangent now: I think my kids might be ready to learn what “pull my finger” means. I’d better stop now.

2. Work that puts something new out there.

We don’t always get to blow minds. It’s great when we can. This work was wonderful to work on, with that bristling creative energy and nerves in so many parts of the process. I wrote close to 30 scripts for what ended up being two spots. Again, part of the process that yields the best from the team and the endeavour. One of the proudest fruits of these commercials is that it put the BC Dairy Foundation on the map as a client open to creative work, eventually leading to their award-winning must drink more milk spots.

3. Work that brings a smile, especially an unexpected one.

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There’s not much to say about fast food, at least factually and especially not in a nutritional sense. It’s fast. So we did simple billboards around town that were also fast. After creating the ads, the client took it on himself to put out T-Shirts and a good friend bought me the magic mushroom one. Also indicative of the place it held in the city was that the high schoolers who worked there were happier, and considerably less embarrassed about working at the place. While that wasn’t in the brief, it’s still a highlight of my career that I helped affect that kind of change in some lives.


4. Work that’s fast-acting and/or efficient.

Click to see the Lights Out FB post for Gateway Theatre.

Not an error. This is the actual image. Co-Writer & Art Director: Andrea Yu.

Point 3 was also fact-acting work (at least the billboards were), and I do like to turn a sweet headline for a time-crunched audience.
Click above to see what we did at Gateway Theatre for a little thing called Lights Out Day. It was a pleasure to co-write it with Gateway Theatre’s Development Associate, Andrea Yu. And I’m still not 100% how she generated these images, just that they were exactly how I envisioned them 😉

I’m a big fan of efficiency of time and of budget, which is why I really like to see proper energies placed on Social Media (although that is becoming a drain on budgets in the mystery of their algorithms).


5. Work you might not want to do.

Writing itself is something that daunts us often (even, perhaps especially, as writers ourselves!). So simply taking on writing tasks is a parsing out of a job that you might not want to do. Among copywriters, writing radio ads was, at one time, a bane, an Achilles heel.
I really liked radio though. I still tune in on the FM dial. I might be a bit sentimental that way.
Basically, I like to paint a picture and tell a story for a brand. And I certainly don’t mind using the AM/FM band to do it.

My motivations are weird. It sometimes makes me hard to read, and to please.
Often, though, I enjoy making the seemingly uninteresting interesting. This is indeed what frequently keeps me interested myself.

6. Work that brings us together.

I’m very unsure where this photo came from but I’m glad I was able to salvage something from the project. The Tree Trimming Party at Harfield & Associates Marketing included a major drive for the food bank. Because cardboard boxes happen to hold perishable foods admirably, and are also used traditionally by panhandlers, this was a natural fit to combine the two uses. The use of this concept was actually a No for a while, then a pitch that included my own handwriting (the one on the left) yielded not only to a Yes, but a Yes that needed bigger boxes that what I’d initially envisioned. I’m proud that this became a rallying cry for our team to work on together (and take spontaneous photos) while the party itself was an invitation to have our clients join us in reaching out to those in need in our city.
We actually have one these boxes at home. It holds, of all things, some of our wedding mementos.
There’s also the Memorial Cup work on this site’s ThatFolio, where our raised stick icon became a rallying cry which was embraced by the tank driver heading up the parade, CTV news anchors, and the country, as the event set the record for total and average attendance that still stands today.


7. Work with humour-imbued introspection.

Click for an extra special extremely official press release from Gateway Theatre.

Click for an extra special extremely official press release from Gateway Theatre.

To me, branding is a lot about figuring out who you are as a collective. It’s tough work. In my own life and in my business, I really do like to put it off. However, there are opportunities to let this kind of soul-search shine, even if it doesn’t get out there and it’s an internal guidepost. Then again, sometimes it’s suitable for public consumption too, and helps you continue the conversations with your audience that help shape you even better.

8. Work that helps good work get done better. Even if it’s not portfolio-worthy.

One of the best brief-cracking I did in my ad agency life was a colour-coded spreadsheet. I didn’t save this. It really wasn’t all that pretty, or of much use unless you were doing ads like we were. However, more and more I see the merits of injecting creative problem-solving into the creative process itself: can we be creative about how we work, and not just about polishing/crafting the work itself? With one of my favourite clients, New Solution Mediation, we’ve just started getting creative about how we blog, and not limiting it to just sitting and typing.

A common denominator in all this work I like is that I often eventually find the joy in simply doing the work that’s assigned. While this is probably about the least sexy way to describe what gives me passion, ultimately I give my life to service and find a great deal of satisfaction in serving wisely and interestingly.
In light of this, perhaps the more appropriate question is “What kind of work would you like me to do for you?”.



So now what do we have to say for ourselves?…

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