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Big Orange Slide

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

(N)UI Revolution – Part 1

April 23, 2014 by Brian Dinga

illustration by Rodrigo Diaz Mercado (Brain Dinga)[1] Illustrator: Rodrigo Diaz Mercado

Those of us who work in the User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) world know we are on the verge of a revolution.

Change can be a scary thing and when it comes to the world of user interface, it can be daunting. This change will happen so very slowly we won’t realize it’s happening and at the same time, it’ll appear almost overnight as if it’s been there all along. This change is NUI (Natural User Interface) and you are already happy it’s here.

Those of us who have been inspired by Minority Reports’ use of gesture interface have been dreaming of a future where our users can interact with our applications with more than just a keyboard and mouse. The umbrella of NUI can encompass touch devices and the extra sensors that (currently) come built into your smartphone. Orientation sensors, touch screens, cameras and voice recognition have certainly improved our UX opportunities; in fact, if the smartphones didn’t take advantage of these additional sensors (compared to a desktop), they’d be no better than a miniaturized laptop (which would make them pretty difficult to use due to their small screen size). With the emerging trend of smartphones and tablets becoming our preferred method of consuming content, it’s quickly becoming apparent that users prefer NUI and that they are adapting quickly. But NUI isn’t just about how the user is using the application environment; it’s also about using the expanding inputs that are available to us as Interactive Designers/Engineers.

Already, invisible inputs are altering the content we consume; now more than ever, our location data improves our search results. For instance, when we use an application on our phone, it is common for our data to be shaped by our current geolocation. With good reason, too! The user does not want to be directed to the gas station near their home, they want the one near their current location. It’s automatically intuitive and natural to use, without the user having to do additional ‘work’ to get the desired information.

Currently, there are many companies that are working hard to bring new sensors and wearable devices to market. These devices could make it possible to reveal the user’s basic emotions. Imagine: the era of MS Word’s Clippy would re-emerge onto the virtual scene once again. Hurrah!  (</sarcasm>) However, the new version of virtual assistants will actually appear when you are experiencing feelings of stress, rather than when the program is guessing that you don’t know what you are doing.

Assuming that mobile technology is going to single-handedly pave the way would be a mistake. While mobile technology has taken the lead in our recent advances in UI technology, it has not yet reached the pinnacle. Gesture Interfaces will emerge as the norm in the coming future. As with all evolutions in UI design (including Command Line Interface and Graphic User Interface), the previous iterations will still have practical applications, as it still will just be plain faster to use a mouse and keyboard to accomplish some tasks.

The evolution of (N)UI is already upon us, and it’s an exciting one. In Part 2, I’ll discuss 3D sensors and what they mean for the next generation of User Interfaces.

The Transition

April 9, 2014 by Jedd Jones

illustration by Rodrigo Diaz Mercado (JEDD JONES).psd

Illustrator: Rodrigo Diaz Mercado

After spending countless lonely nights in cold hockey rinks for the better part of the last four years honing my skills as an amateur hockey scout, the bigger question of what I wanted to do with my life became clear. Don’t get me wrong, being a part of the hockey brotherhood is a great experience, but I knew I needed more.

You might be wondering why someone who has worked in hockey for years wants to abruptly change careers? The simple and best answer is: scouting is not a career, but a passion and hobby. A hobby and a passion which I continue to pursue during my free time. It is my undisputed love for the game that keeps me going back to cold rinks night after night.

I can honestly tell you I didn’t do it for the money as I never saw a penny for my hard work. At the ripe age of 27, it was time for change, and that change came in a big way in the form of an Account Coordinator position at Grip Limited.

It’s hard to believe it has been over a month since an excited, yet nervous kid confidently took the elevator to the 6th floor of 179 John St. to start what previously could only be imagined in dreams.

I was led to the 7th floor, where I sat at my desk wondering if all that was taking place was actually being perceived in the cozy confines of a wonderful dream where I was soon to wake up to a cold, hard reality.  It all happened so quickly: A new desk, a new laptop, new surroundings, and most importantly a new sense of self. My first week flew by. It was over in a blink and I was officially in love with everything Grip.

My mind was being filled with anything and everything advertising. All I wanted was more and more knowledge. I’d like to think of myself as a big dry sponge, whose only purpose in life is to soak up liquids. In my case, I want to become fully saturated with as much information and understanding of the advertising industry as I humanly can.

The hustle and bustle of working in advertising was apparent from the start. I am yet to sit at my desk for more than a couple of consecutive hours. If it’s not a meeting that I’m attending, it’s a trip to see clients, or a conference call. The advertising world does not sleep, ­ well, not from what I have seen thus far.

As if starting my dream job at Grip wasn’t amazing enough, I had the privilege to watch Canada’s athletes compete against the best athletes from around the world during my first two weeks. It was particularly marvelous when nearly all Grippers stopped what they were doing to watch the women’s Canada vs. USA gold medal hockey game. It was a surreal moment that I will not soon forget. How many of you can make that statement?

Being at Grip for just over a month now, I have come to understand that everything has a process. Following the different processes is the only way things get done and get done well.  Every individual working within an advertising agency like Grip has ways they like to work and it is of the upmost importance that everyone respects everyone else’s processes.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a small sense of what to expect when my first day at Grip came around. Now I can confidently say that after my first four plus weeks, my expectations have been blown clear out of the water. I could not ask for a more warming group of talented and savvy individuals who know that working, as a team to reach a final goal is the only way to get things done.

Although I now have a much better understanding of the inners of working in advertising, I am still a work in progress. If I can leave work each day with a new advertising concept in my back pocket, that’s a successful day. I’ve only had successful days thus far in my advertising career.

A two-year-old’s view of advertising

March 27, 2014 by Jordan Legros

Blog

Illustrator: Ihar Turtsou

When it comes to advertising, I’d like to think of myself as a two-year-old, because I have only been in this industry for two years. Each year of my advertising life has changed my perception of this industry in some way and each year will continue to teach me new aspects. This is good, because I don’t think anyone would want to hire a two-year-old Account Service person.

My perception is that it is very hard to get in, easy to get out, and that students have never worked this hard for anything in their lives. Coming from a well-known advertising program at Seneca College, I have realized how many of my peers have told me that they have never worked so hard in their lives just to have someone reject their ideas. Advertising is not just one skill that a person is born with, and it cannot be fully taught in a two-year program. It is hard to get in and harder to stay in the industry, yet it is so easy to just give up and walk away. It is the brave ones who work insanely hard, even when they see their work with that stamp of rejection, who can make it. Because there are those days when that note of approval shows up and it will make all of the hard work, all of the late nights, and all of the little fights feel like they were worth it. It is those good moments that we all work for, when it all seems worth it, because someone out there approved your idea.

The common person believes advertising is a corporate influence trying to create a consumer-based society. Yet we are all still consumers that will identify ourselves through the brands we choose to interact with. Advertising has become a part of our society and culture. I have come to the understanding that advertising is more of a way for brands to put themselves out there and hope that they appeal to the right audience, but regardless of the advertising, if someone dislikes the product, they won’t buy it. All in all, advertising is storytelling with a splash of creativity, to appeal to the target audience.

Perceptions of advertising will be forever be changing; just like everything else in the world, they won’t stay the same. How these perceptions become better or worse will be up to the advertiser and how they communicate their brands.

With the next batch of advertisers graduating from school, we all seem to have a positive view on our up-coming careers. And hopefully, someone will hire us at the tender age of two.

Career Advice: Improvise

March 21, 2014 by Michael Appleby

Career Advice - Improvise[4]

The whale’s stomach was completely empty except for Elton John, my ex-wife Cheryl and I. The three of us were locked in a sentimental slow dance. You see, Cheryl had just revealed that I was the father of all eight of her numerically named children, and I, the classy pushover I was, had found it in my heart to forgive her almost instantly. Elton was there to soften the news, and his presence was a great comfort. But what was I to do next? Snap out of my woozy delirium and accuse Cheryl of manipulating me? Confess a secret of my own? Make a move on Elton? Thankfully the lights went down before I had to commit, allowing us to gracefully slip off stage. The first scene of our grad show was in the books, and we managed to get some big laughs. Phew.

The moment my friend mentioned that she was taking an improv class at Second City, I knew I was going to do it. As a lifelong comedy nerd and Whose Line Is It Anyway? fan, I almost felt obligated. Plus, as clichéd as it sounds, being an advertising creative it just made sense. Today, I’m on the other side of my 10-month-long journey through the Improvisation Program at Second City, and the career-relevant lessons were richer than I could have ever possibly imagined. The following sums up why anyone in advertising should consider taking improv.

You challenge the order of the universe.
From a young age, we are trained to say no to things – things that are unlikely, unexpected or completely absurd. While this skill helps us navigate the world more efficiently, it’s not so good for creative advertising, which requires limitless thinking. In improv, you learn to say Yes, and then stand back and look in awe at all the doors that open up.

You learn the power of “Yes, and..”
Improv is like traveling through life backwards – you only see the things you’ve already passed. “Yes, and” is the acceptance of these things and the promise to build on them. It’s easy to get annoyed when a scene diverges from your own internal plan, but it’s counter-productive. Similar to group brainstorming, you rely on the open minds of your partners, and they rely on yours. Which brings up the next point.

You learn about teamwork.
In improv you’re all walking a tightrope together. It takes some exploring to find the hook of the scene, and it’s never developed by one player alone. Creative brainstorming is much the same. It starts with a nugget of a thought, which may or may not have a golden idea buried somewhere within it. The only way to find it is to have everyone commit to digging together while setting egos aside.

You learn how to tell a story.
Improv is all about storytelling, and by the end of the program the basics had become instinctual. In advertising, our job is to find the drama in a product and tell its story in an engaging way. No matter what the medium, the idea is only as good as the story you’re telling, which makes this an invaluable skill in any ad person’s repertoire.

You discover the power of emotion.
To humans, emotion is compelling – our empathetic minds are magnets for it. For an emotionally neutral person like myself, all it took was an enraged diatribe about slippers for me to feel its awesome power. In advertising we are always looking for emotional hooks, and I’d argue that exploring the extremes of my own emotional reserves has made me better equipped to elicit emotion in others.

You learn the power of characters.
We open on two people doing laundry. Would you rather watch two ambivalent drones or a down-on-her-luck diva and her subservient handler? A strong character informs where your thoughts go, and in writing, this is a very valuable tool. The next time you need to find a brand voice, create a character and go method with it.

You learn the value of authenticity.
In my experience, the scenes that got the best response weren’t necessarily funny – they simply felt real. Nothing sucks the credibility out of a scene quite like stretching for a punch line or bending the narrative for a joke. I think the same is true in advertising. You could write the smartest headline in the world, but if it doesn’t feel authentic to the brand, it won’t get the response you were hoping for.

We’re always looking to try new things. Have you taken a great course in the past? What do you want to take next? Let us know in the comments.

The Orange Juicer: Presentations

What is the Orange Juicer? An annual student competition in which teams from across North America go head to head to win a campaign pitch in front of a real GRIP client.

Today marks day one of those presentations, and we couldn’t be more excited to watch the following teams impress our judges (including our amazing Expedia clients):

Grip Juicer 2014 from Grip Limited on Vimeo.

Brio – St. Clair College

Team Members: David Nolet, Emily Gignac, Lindsay Renaud, Maria Maggio, Paul Morgan, Sarah Fraser

Smoked Poutine – McGill

Team Members: Charlotte Plamondon, Lydia Park, Michelle Yu, Peter Maccario

Echo – Sheridan

Team Members: Margaret Jakubowski, Ishita Luther, Lindsay Kerr, Nicole Mendonca, Mikhail Panov, Vincent Orsini

Screwdriver – Seneca College

Team Members: Belinda Papa, Jerome Braddy, Joey Alcaro, Patricia Cilcus, Steve Ierullo, Noel Mata

Neo – Seneca York

Team Members: Andrew Schuler, Candice Dehond, Hayley Steinman, Hemal Dhanjee, Meaghan Zabinsky, Melissa Cohen

Velcro Bench – Durham College

Team Members: Abbie Keeler, Jim Wright, Tara Burt, Taylor Hreljac

Little Black Dress – Humber College

Team Members: Adam Mawer, Jenny Lee, Kelvin Mak, Samantha Ramsay

Suitcase – Humber College

Team Members: Alex Davies, Angela Miller, David Greisman, Michelle Brown, Mason Powell, Zachary Radford

The Six – Humber College

Team Members: Carly Ouellette, Don Affleck, Haley Kriksic, Jenni Hallihan, Kael Cruz, Sophia Lucken

Beak – Mohawk College

Team Members: Alisa Sera Garcia, Andrea Pohlmann, Dave Knox, Erik Thorkildsen, Leonardo Gonzalez, Rebecca Hayward

Zest – Centennial College

Team Members: William Peckham, Mukhtar Kamal, Dasha Kassenkova, Nicole Kenny, Guillermo Zinny, Edzenia Olivo

Reach out

February 12, 2014 by Lorrie Zwer

illustration by Rodrigo Diaz Mercado (REACH OUT)

Picture this: You’re in a meeting room with five colleagues, all from different departments. The leader of the meeting reads out the agenda, and at the end squawks like a parrot. The woman across the table speaks and she, too, ends with a squawk. The same with the next person. Finally, you speak. To your surprise, at the end of your thought, you squawk as well.

Crazy, right?

Now picture this: You’re in a meeting room with five colleagues, all from different departments. The leader of the meeting reads out the agenda and uses the phrase, ‘reach out’. The woman across the table speaks and she, too, uses the phrase ‘reach out’. So does the next person. Finally, you speak. To your surprise, at the end of your thought, you say, ‘reach out’ as well.

Crazy, right?

In the ten years I’ve been in this industry, I have noticed an ever-increasing tendency to use words that sound good, but have no real meaning. The term ‘reach out’ is one of the most current examples. When you say you’re going to ‘reach out’ to someone, what does it really mean? Merriam-Webster doesn’t recognize the term in their online dictionary. The ever-popular thefreedictionary.com defines it in part as an ‘attempt to communicate’, but I think urbandictionary.com hits closest to the mark: ‘This has become the new cliché for yuppie types or any pseudo-intellectual types or just idiots that think it sounds special. It is simply just another way of saying: contact, call, speak to, notify, etc.’

Last week, in an effort to combat the Mid-Winter Blues, I decided to entertain myself by counting the number of times ‘reach out’ was used in a single meeting. 60 minutes. Five people. 24 uses of ‘reach out’. All of which could have been replaced with ‘call’ or ‘email’.

Shocking.

Even more shocking, though, was my realization that a new, equally useless word was emerging as a contender for the ‘reach out of 2014’ title.

Now, as an aside, like most people, I don’t always pay a lot of attention during meetings. I get the important bits, but sometimes, I’m hungry and I think about food. Other times, I’m tired and I think about having a nap. You get the idea – I’m not always 100% focused. But this exercise forced me to focus on the meeting and on the group.

Of INDIVIDUALS.

Yes, right alongside ‘reach out’, we had rampant and gratuitous use of ‘individual’. There was talk of groups (of individuals). There was talk of this individual. That individual. The other individual. Person, people, Lana, David, He and Her have all become individuals that need to be reached out to.

And since that meeting, I’ve started to notice it everywhere. Not just in conversation, but in print as well. Pick up a copy of a local paper (doesn’t matter which one, since none of them are properly edited any more) and you will see articles littered with the word. Try it. Bonus points if you can also find ‘myriad’ used incorrectly.

Here is what I propose:

The next time you’re in a meeting, say what you mean in as few words possible. If you need to call the client, don’t say, ‘I’m going to reach out to that individual.’ Say, ‘I’m going to call Shane.’ It’s bold. It’s declarative. It gets to the point and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

We spend so much of our time working on our clients’ brands to make their communications as clear and concise as possible, we should also consider what our communication style says about our personal brands.

Out with the Old Spice in with the New?

February 5, 2014 by Big Orange Slide

illustration by Rodrigo Diaz Mercado (Old spice-AXE)

A joint submission by Ben Soja & Coby Savage

Only a few weeks into the New Year and there’s already a strange scent coming from the deodorant aisle at your local drugstore. That scent seems to be coming from both Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice and Unilever’s Axe, who have reignited their rivalry within the consistently growing male deodorant market. The two industry giants have been in a battle over market share for the better part of a decade and both companies have used their wealth of financial resources to launch comprehensive marketing campaigns in 2014. Historically, Old Spice and Axe have invested heavily in their marketing departments, resulting in ads that are strong, powerful, humorous and sometimes even controversial. Let’s dissect these two leading companies’ brand new marketing campaigns to determine who seems primed for success in 2014.

Axe – “Make Love. Not War.” Analysis

When I think of Axe body spray, I’m reminded of grade nine – the first time I doused my pubescent boy-chest with the product. ‘Why not?’ I thought, as it had become relatively popular among some of the other boys at school; we were all hoping we’d get the same attention from the opposite sex as shown in the commercials. Sadly, it did not have the same effect. Not a single girl climbed over her desk to get to me nor was there the slightest threat of being mauled by females between classes. Ultimately, I was left disappointed and reeking of a ‘sucker’. Foiled by another ad campaign, I shook my fist at the Ad World.

Over the years, Axe has taken their fair share of criticism due to the heavy sexual content in their ad campaigns. At times, they’ve been accused of objectifying and displaying a lack of respect towards women. I’ll admit that I found a few of their ads entertaining and sometimes humorous when I was younger, but when I grew up I became disinterested in the brand, due partly to the fact that their communications seemed childish and immature. Since then, Axe ad content has stayed relatively the same, and I’m an Old Spice man now.

It’s time for Axe to change their recipe – something more than the low-hanging fruit of attractive women all over male Axe users, or predictable sexual innuendos. If you’re still reading this, you’re probably wondering, “What you gettin’ at, Ben”. Well, I’ll tell you.

The most recent ad campaign by Axe is a step in the right direction and a step into adulthood for them. High production value, thoughtful message, and visually pleasing. It’s called ‘Make Love. Not War.’ a message everyone can get behind. I’ll spare you the summary as you can just as easily see the extended spot for yourself.

You probably wouldn’t have guessed it was Axe if I hadn’t told you, right? With a competitor such as Old Spice and their advertising success in the past few years, Axe had to step up their game. And that they have.

This is the first time the brand has been presented using a serious tone and the commercial focuses on the topic of war and oppressive regimes. Throughout the spot, there are scenes alluding to events from Vietnam, North Korea, the Middle East and more. Historically, the brand has positioned itself for young guys trying to impress women, but this ad shows that Axe is taking a more balanced approach when appealing to the sexes.

The ad is scheduled to launch officially at this year’s Super Bowl and is already getting some serious traction on social media. Not only that, Axe has aligned themselves with a charitable organization called “Peace One Day” and included them on several global marketing initiatives. A win for Axe for the publicity/traction they’ve created, a win for the charity organization for getting more exposure, and a win for the recipients from the charity efforts. Now all that needs to be determined is if it’s a sales win for Axe as well. Time will tell.

Either way, I’m glad Axe has changed it’s approach and I might start seeing them as more than a grade 9 boys purchasing mistake.

Old Spice – “Mom Song” Analysis

When I was entering my teen years, Old Spice was considered a deodorant that my grandfather would have used. It was certainly not a desirable scent for a 13-year-old boy hoping to convince girls that he was mature beyond his years. Much like Ben, I was more intrigued by the sex appeal that surrounded Axe, and would frequently shower myself in half a bottle of “Kilo” after gym class. Also like Ben, my newfound manly scent did not attract the opposite sex as had been advertised. In fact, my parents would frequently comment that I smelled toxic and that my presence was burning their nostrils.

After years of offending everyone around me by giving off an unbearably strong odour, I decided it was time for a change. Axe was old news and I wanted a scent that distinguished me from every other teenage boy who smelt like he had spent a weekend on Jersey Shore. I made a life-changing decision and switched to Old Spice, and have been a loyal consumer ever since.

Over the past four years, Old Spice has done a fantastic job engaging customers with their wildly successful “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, which launched in 2010. Overnight, the brand turned from “your grandfather’s scent” to “how to smell like a man” with barely any change to the product. Welcome to advertising. However, all campaigns have a shelf life, and it was time for a new direction.

Old Spice definitely needed to generate some excitement around their brand, but is this the answer? In my opinion, Old Spice dropped the ball on this one. The commercial, which premiered during the NFL playoffs, is creepy, weird and doesn’t have the same charm that Isaiah Mustafa had when he was riding on a horse.

The video is full of special effects and imposes images of mothers in strange places during romantic encounters between their sons and young women. One of the mothers morphs from a high school janitor, another pops up out of the sand on the beach, and a third appears from under a sofa cushion, then slides along the floor and up onto a couch. To me, all of this crosses the boundary from funny and engaging to weird and creepy. Even the new slogan, “Smellcome to Manhood” seems like they’re trying to target those 13-year-old boys dousing themselves (and everyone around them) in a can of Old Spice and it just doesn’t resonate with the young adult demographic.

In my opinion, the ads Old Spice has released since the 2010 “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign have been increasingly loud, obnoxious and bizarre. Today, they’ve entered the territory of creepy and weird.

Maybe I’m being too hard on Old Spice because I expect so much from the brand. Or maybe this new direction just doesn’t appeal to an adult audience. Regardless, it seems like Old Spice has had it’s time on top and Axe is making its move to dominate the adult demographic more effectively.

The men’s deodorant industry appears primed for a shift in market dominance. Axe seems to have matured and is ready to solidify the position of industry leader, whereas Old Spice may have tried too hard to recreate the success of their “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign. In an era where the young adult generation is increasingly concerned about the future and are more socially conscious than ever, it is our opinion that Axe has struck the right balance of promoting peace without trivializing the events referenced in the commercial, while simultaneously increasing perception of the brand.

In 2010, the New York Times reported that Axe had done a better job at enticing the youth market, owning 37% of the market share of spray deodorant vs. only 10% for Old Spice. Conversely, Old Spice doubled Axe’s share of the deodorant and body wash market. But four years later, has Axe done enough to influence the sales of their entire product line, and gain ground in the stick deodorant and body wash market? Will Old Spice’s polarizing new direction be enough to turn away loyal consumers? 2014 will certainly be an interesting year to follow these two brands.

What do you think? Has the Axe ad tastefully blended war with passion? Has Old Spice missed the mark with their new direction? We want to hear from you!

Favourite Recipes

January 9, 2014 by Big Orange Slide

illustration by Rodrigo Diaz Mercado (favourite recipies)[1][1] copy

A contribution by Ian Budge of Flash Reproductions, one of our key print suppliers.

A recipe is often something mysterious – a family tradition, a guarded secret. Many times it is a gateway to acceptance, or fame, or fortune. Friendships have been dissolved over recipes. Long-running family feuds have erupted and I’m guessing lives may have been lost. Now that’s weird; imagine killing someone because they were keeping a recipe secret? Believe me I’m following those “Twix” brothers with careful interest – all may not be well in the chocolate cookie business.

Here’s the thing: a recipe is nothing more than a bunch of common elements blended together to yield an uncommon product or experience. The science is blending the appropriate ingredients in appropriate amounts. The magic is choosing the proper ingredients. For the most part, when talking about recipes, we’re referring to food. But the principle applies to almost anything we do.

As a printer, I recognize that there are many people who can get their hands on good equipment and with a little luck can actually produce a good product. The difference between the average printer and the gourmet printer is not just equipment, or knowledge, or training, or skill – it’s who has the best recipe; and even more than that, it’s who has a more sophisticated palate. I’ll admit I’m not much of a cook. Sure, I can measure stuff and put together something edible after a quick Google search and a trip to Fortinos. But that’s being a technician – there’s no magic. And most so-called professional printers have “apple P” mentalities. “The file supplied must be good to go, so let’s just print the sucker”. This attitude perpetuates mediocrity. A fast food burger may be 100% beef, but clearly it’s not the same as a porterhouse steak from Ruth’s Chris.

When I began studying print in university almost 35 years ago, we called it graphic arts – and mostly we hated the term because all our misinformed friends assumed we were somehow involved in making cartoons or hideous machinery warning labels.

print

It’s good that hilarious often accompanies hideous! The truth is, there is a lot more artistry in printing than we allow ourselves credit for. Print craft artistry and getting the recipe right are the main reasons that some print jobs look amazing and others, crappy.

There has been a tremendously dark cloud hanging over the printing trade for the better part of the last 5 years. A recent RGD event in Toronto that was attended by some of the brightest and most talented graphic designers in the country had an underlying theme: “Print is not dead – it’s on life support”. I’m not sure if that was supposed to be encouraging? Let me state without hesitation that print is not dead! In fact, the generation born into the social media world has repeatedly shown a greater appreciation for the printed page than the preceding generation, which grew up with one foot in both worlds. Fine printing is evolving into one of those near-luxury items that younger generations crave, like vinyl records or hand-made leather goods.

Print is not on life support. Print has changed from being a cumbersome commodity to something more enduring and precious. An image on your screen lasts for a few seconds – but that printed book, or brochure or even business card – well, that lasts forever. Of course, I’m one of those geeks who prints something beautiful and then walks around with it in his hand showing to it to anyone who cares to look. There is something remarkable about beautiful materials wrought into excellent products by skilful craftsmen – I think we all agree with Ben Franklin who quipped, “The bitterness of poor quality endures long after the sweetness of low price has been forgotten.”

Print is nowhere near dead. Johannes Gutenberg would be delighted to see designers carefully selecting a single typeface from among the millions at their disposal, and carefully kerning and tracking the crap out of it until it looks just right. He would be thrilled to see colours lovingly plucked from the endlessly diverse Pantone rainbow. His heart would palpitate if he could feel the quality and texture of the chosen substrate. Designers work hard at getting their recipe just right and so too does a carefully selected printer. So, let’s make 2014 a print revival year and kick up the quality a notch or two!

…And a Social New Year

December 31, 2013 by Eric Vieira

Print

Evolution of the Community Manager as we know it:

The profile of a community manager will evolve. Ad agencies have traditionally structured their community management teams to focus on moderating the conversation and addressing emergency situations. We expect the responsibilities to shift client side to alleviate the stresses of a ‘middle man’ in the time sensitive environment of social, where their teams will have immediate access to appropriate resources.

The true power and value of a social team is the creation of consumable strategic content. The social team structure will be founded on four core pillars – Content Creation, Content Strategy, Content Analysis and Content Amplification – a model truly founded in the need to be seen. These pillars will deepen the connection with the consumer, triggering a stronger client confidence in content, and enabling our team to think bigger. We have begun to make internal adjustments to suit our updated positioning through the promotion of two truly deserving Social Content Strategists who have never shied from pushing the boundaries of creativity: Owen Garscadden, Director, Connections Strategy and Patrick Tomasso, Associate Director, Creative Content.

At Grip, we relate this back to a 4 leaf clover analogy where each pillar presents a leaf that empowers us with the ability to ‘manufacture luck’ – this is the notion that luck doesn’t exist, it’s simply opportunity meets preparation.

Is “buying in social” really about buying reach?

Social media buying will shift from the media company to the agency. The power of social buying may be better utilized if it is in the hands of the social content strategist for social amplification. A question to pose to the industry is whether or not our current processes are structured properly to support this real time bidding, constant optimization and socially prominent forms of content amplification. Algorithms can get us so far, but in the same way social requires a human interaction, social amplification demands the attention of a specialist. Social strategists will need to know this skill set to ensure they’re employable in the very near future. Social amplification will not become a revenue generator for agencies, but is rather a confirmation of content consumption.

The Sleeping Giant Awakes!

Google+… If I had one social community to hang my hat on (for brand building) in the next 12 months, it would be Google+. Their platform integration into everything they do makes it an absolute powerhouse. From Google’s algorithm instantly indexing Google+ content, giving it greater value within search results, to the importance of it influencing SEO/SCO strategies, and +Brand pages showing up in the significant right-hand column real estate, Google+ will easily win the ROI value comparison. Google’s recent introduction of “+Post ads” is a brilliant depiction of the next web and the evolution of how we communicate as advertisers. Our content strategies are more than just “posts” when they can be amplified around the web. When you think of the network Google has available to promote your richest content, simply putting ad dollars to promote within Facebook or Twitter seems too limiting. With Google, your content now has an opportunity to gain contextual relevance within a user’s web behaviour. Imagine Honda Canada posts a question to its loyal customers, asking, “What’s your favourite Honda – tell us why?”, then promoting this post within an Auto website to potential car purchasers. That’s when social content delivers true utility – while influencing consideration and, ideally, purchase intent. This simple approach also keeps the community un-cluttered with brand messaging that algorithmically doesn’t deserve to be shown to you. That’s huge.

What does content look like in 2014?

Another significant change to what “social content” is was highlighted with Google’s recent algorithm update, Hummingbird (great article). A significant shift to conversational search results from keyword search results is now affecting 90% of all searches. This notion that your web content’s keyword strategies no longer take precedence in the same way they once did changes the game. Google has placed significant value on content relevance (are you providing utility?) and authority (being recognized by your peers) within its search results. In true evolution, they are recognizing that social doesn’t need to stay on platforms, it is now contextually relevant to web browsing “wants”. You can say that Google is essentially humanizing itself. This isn’t a new thought by any means – content is exactly what it has always been. People still need value and utility from content and there needs to be an idea behind it, however the importance of what content is has grown immensely. The role of social has evolved. It is no longer about your content living within its given platform, but rather how it can support a search result or simply live on the web. How can my content be considered relevant when someone is contextually in the realm of considering my category/product/service (ZMOT)? To think that Google is now indexing TripAdvisor and Yelp as “social content” suggests a significant shift into how our brands need to think when producing “social content”.

The Season of Giving

December 12, 2013 by Chelsea Thompson-O'Brien

Chelsea's article

‘Work hard, play harder’, the phrase often used to describe our industry’s lifestyle, rings even truer at this time of year. With tighter timelines come office treats, perks and wild parties. The holidays mean the classic ‘Type A’ personality and the casual ‘bro’ can come together to throw back some eggnog and enjoy the generous agency gifts before heading home to enjoy some overdue family time.

Hectic schedules can often leave us forgetting how truly lucky we are to work in such a creative, free-thinking environment that brings together individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Our careers have allowed us the necessities, some indulgence and a reliable support system.

To return my appreciation for these luxuries, I’ve had the honour of volunteering with an organization called Nellie’s. They give women leaving situations of violence, poverty and homelessness a place to find comfort, recount tragic stories and share triumphs with their peers. They help ensure these women regain their independence and stay far away from abuse, offering access to services like medical, immigration, employment, housing and education, both during and after their stays. They empower women to establish a better future for themselves and their families.

Grip has decided to support this incredible organization by hosting the second annual Secret Santa Shuffle. The concept is similar to most gift exchanges, only with a unique twist: draw a name, purchase a gift as if the recipient was a five-year-old, exchange the gifts and then donate them to the families at Nellie’s.

So, if you’re a Grip employee, expect a visit from one of my fellow ‘elves’ or myself shortly. If you’re not a Grip employee, you are still encouraged to offer your support, because Nellie’s currently has a ghost sponsor who is willing to match every donation.

I’ll end on a positive, necessary cliché: every little bit counts.