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Life’s Lessons

Here we are again… repeating a lesson that I missed almost two years prior, when I didn’t trust my gut. I didn’t listen to the voice that told me to be still. I ignored every warning bell that went off in my spirit because I was afraid of truly stepping out on faith. I put my feelings aside because it seemed like the “right” thing to do. Almost two-years ago my graduate internship ended and I had no income. Being unemployed with no prospects made me desperate for an opportunity to prove my worth.

I knew I wasn’t ready to go back to New Orleans and I really wanted to make an opportunity for myself here in Boston. So I took a job that I didn’t necessarily want because I had rent and bills to pay. I swallowed my pride and “did what I had to do” because this is what being an adult is– sacrifice. I was unhappy, but my bills were paid, that’s important right? I doubted my talent, dimmed my light and faded into the background because there were many people around me that were offended by my light.

Here we are full circle because I’ve been laid off and now have a decision to make. With this “do-over” at a life lesson, do I become consumed and desperate to pay bills or trust that their is a bigger plan for my life that hasn’t come to fruition? Well, since the former didn’t work out the first time, there must be a bigger plan in the works that’ll benefit me.

I’m looking for the lessons in the shattered pieces… willing the universe to bend around me as I find my way.

So far, I’ve learned:

  • All my emotions are valid–I have to allow myself to feel whatever it is that I feel and not invalidate it. It’s o.k. to cry, be angry, laugh, etc. Don’t bottle it up or hide it.
  • To be comfortable with being uncomfortable— Growth is uncomfortable, but I can’t learn without growth. This will stretch me.
  • To rest— There’s only so much worrying I can do ( And I worry a lot). But, worrying solves nothing, so get some sleep or take a nap.
  • To pray/meditate–It’s in the darkest hour that my faith has truly been tested.
    2 Corinthians 12:9 “
    Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

  • To have fun!— Don’t wallow in self-pity. Get some fresh air, do something that brings  you joy.

 

 

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More Than Fried Chicken & Spades

In response to a recent post via Blavity I went to a PWI and still had a black college experience here’s my opinion.

My experience at an HBCU was so much more than fried chicken and spades and it’s slightly insulting that that was the criteria to evaluate whether a student had a full experience at a PWI.

I attended Dillard University, a private HBCU in New Orleans. I chose to attend Dillard after attending spring open house in March 2011. I was impressed by the love everyone had for the institution. When the upperclassmen spoke of their time at Dillard, they had saw significant changes in the person they came in as and the person that would walk the Oaks.

While Dillard has slightly less than 1200 students, I had a rich experience.No, not playing spades in the bottom of Kearny or eating fried chicken and red beans. During my time there I went from shy to speaking in front of large crowds through various leadership positions. What was not mentioned is the pride that the faculty and staff have in the students. They were more  excited than I was to tell Dillard president, Dr. Kimbrough that I was accepted into graduate school.

The strong sense of community and belonging was shaped by seeing people that looked like me and having accomplished professors and alumni that also look like me, pour into me. But, it’s more than just that. The environment to do and be whatever you wanted contributed to us flourishing. I remember being told we had all kinds of clubs and organizations and if I didn’t see one I wanted to join, I could start my own. I needed those four years to provide a stable foundation and understand who I am as a person. No, not playing spades in the bottom of Kearny or eating fried chicken and red beans.

Dillard is where I learned how to foster meaningful dialogue about difficult conversations like race, politics and religion. It is also the place where I forged lifelong friendships. During orientation week, Rev. Gail Bowman told a filled lawless chapel of freshmen, “These are the people that will dance at your wedding”.  I know if I need something I reach out to the many alum and current students for help. It’s amazing how Dillard can still deposit wisdom and require me to look at situations differently.

…that’s what good relationships are. Relationships that challenge each other, that offer input that each person can walk away with and deploy those lessons learned from those people that we come in contact with…

– Juan Serrano, Dillard University’12, TalkStory (podcast)

No, not playing spades in the bottom of Kearny or eating fried chicken and red beans.

My graduate experience at a PWI was different. Not necessary bad, just different. It didn’t feel like faculty, staff and students were invested into helping all involved get everything they could from the program and institution. It didn’t feel like family. It was a bit disconnected. My relationships with my professors weren’t the same. I chose my words more carefully, as to not feed into stereotypes.  There was an awkward class discussion when we discussed implicit biases and I, being one of three black students, described an experience of a woman gripping her purse as I left my apartment.  As I described this experience, it seemed that many of classmates had forgot I am Black. Of course I was subjected to macro and micro aggressions and many didn’t understand how I came back with longer hair after spring break, courtesy of a sew-in.

After experiencing both sides of the coin, I still value my HBCU experience more. I was surrounded by more people willing to pour into me and proud to see me blossom. It’s almost akin to chicken soup for the soul. HBCUs are more than lit parties, an abundance of Black people, and comfort food. Granted those things are at HBCUs, but that’s not the crux of my experience or that of others that have attended an HBCU. No, not playing spades in the bottom of Kearny or eating fried chicken and red beans.

#Hello

Have you heard Adele broke the internet?!

Fans and spectators have waited patiently for four years for Adele to release another album. The wait is finally over. The release of her new single “Hello” on October 23,2015 has accumulated more than 50 million views in the first 48 hours.

She has successfully beaten out the artists at the top of the charts and the album, 25 won’t be released until November 20.

Adele has reached up to 1.6 million steams per hour crushing the newly released Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.

According to Apple, “Hello” is #1 on the iTunes charts in 102 countries. The album is in the top 10 in 9 countries including the UK and US (despite it being a pre-order)

In an interview Adele made the comment that she was going to quit after the success of her last album, 21. She wanted to “go out on top”. Her statement made me think of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk.

“… And the peculiar thing is that I recently wrote this book, this memoir called “Eat, Pray, Love” which, decidedly unlike any of my previous books, went out in the world for some reason, and became this big, mega-sensation, international bestseller thing. The result of which is that everywhere I go now, people treat me like I’m doomed. Seriously — doomed, doomed! Like, they come up to me now, all worried, and they say, “Aren’t you afraid you’re never going to be able to top that? Aren’t you afraid you’re going to keep writing for your whole life and you’re never again going to create a book that anybody in the world cares about at all, ever again?”

Adele could have looked at the many accomplishments of 21 as doom for her subsequent album 25.

British music icon Adele has topped the record books with three new Guinness World Records™ as she is named the First female to have two singles and two albums in UK Top 5 simultaneously – a feat previously achieved by The Beatles in 1963 – and 21 is also the first album in UK chart history to reach sales of three million in a calendar year.

Adele’s 21 album also established new records for Most consecutive weeks with UK No.1 album (solo female) with 11 weeks at the top – smashing the record held by Madonna since 1991 with The Immaculate Collection – and the Most cumulative weeks with UK No.1 album (solo female) with 21 spending a total of 18 weeks at No.1 – stealing the record from Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain, who shared the title with 11 weeks at No.1.(http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2011/9/adele-scoops-triple-world-record-success-in-new-guinness-world-records)

With the current success of this single, the album will be well received. Adele has surpassed expectations. Even one of my neighbors was playing “Hello” in their car.

 

#OneMilThrill

While watching videos on YouTube the commercial that played before the video was Old Navy’s Black Friday campaign spot.

The heist-themed ad for Old Navy’s Black Friday sweepstakes features actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus with tied up rapper Snoop Dogg, in an attempt to strip him of a million dollars that he posted on Instagram. The “getaway” driver is Comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who tells his accomplice that Old Navy is offering a million dollars to a lucky person in line.

When you’re watching a robbery in your favorite movie or show Snoop Dogg wouldn’t be a victim. This spot invites the idea of the unexpected, so when shoppers go out for deals on Black Friday they will think to go to Old Navy. It makes me think of the conversation we had with Sylvia for orientation. She said we will experience a lot of cognitive dissonance throughout our time in this program. This spot is has a lot of cognitive dissonance in the fact that Snoop Dogg is synonymous with gangster and that an actress and comedian can commit a robbery. I love this campaign! It’s humorous, entertaining and memorable. It has stickiness due to the fact that it was completely unexpected for the Snoop Dogg to be robbed. Check out the spot below:

In 2013 Old Navy with the help of Chandelier Creative through broadcast, radio, print and social media content began repositioning the brand. With this commercial, rather than the usual commercial geared towards their target audience: millennials and parent, they decided to take a different approach. The commercial features a stereotypical robbery injected with some humor. At the end of the spot Snoop Dogg says he should stay off Instagram, which would be a nod to the millennials that post EVERYTHING on social media.

Founder of Chandelier Creative is most proud of the account they have with Old Navy. “On a business level, that would be the reinvigoration of Old Navy this past year. The brand is powering forward and there’s much more ahead. We lucked out, because the new team at Old Navy is very smart and willing to try new things. For a mass retailer with a thousand stores, that’s rare. Our TV ads have consistently produced sales increases, including one that had the best results in 20 years. From a business/financial POV, it’s exciting to see such direct results from my work.”(http://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/role-call/role-call-richard-christiansen-founder-co-creative-director)

Chandelier Creative  has created 10 + commercials for Old Navy. Check them out: https://vimeo.com/chandeliercreative/videos/page:1/search:old%20navy/sort:date

 

#RipYourClothesOn

Almost a year ago to the day Downy debuted a commercial spot following the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.   Many probably raised their eyebrows and clutched their pearls in shock. The spot is a departure from Downy’s traditional advertising, this provocative video touted the benefit of softness in a whole new way and framed Downy as a catalyst for human connection. The spot shows a man and a woman getting intimate—layering on more and more soft clothing as opposed to ripping it off.

When it comes to getting soft, touchable clothing, Downy is an essential part of the laundry routine. Downy instills your fabrics with long-lasting scent and softening molecules that infuses your clothes with long-lasting scent and softening ingredients—making them irresistibly soft and touchable for you and the ones you love.

When you’re watching a love scene in your favorite movie or show it is uncharacteristic for the couple to put clothing on their significant other. This spot invites the idea of the unexpected, so when people see Downy in their local stores they think of the connection that could be fostered with the help of Downy. It makes me think of the conversation we had in one of our first classes about the kidney heist. The concrete details were that they looked happy and in love and were getting ready to have sex. My assumption was so wrong and that’s what makes it memorable.  I love this campaign! It’s memorable and filled with emotions. It has stickiness due to the fact that it was completely unexpected for more and more clothes were added onto each person. The viewer is hit with the whole idea that getting dressed can be just as provocative as getting undressed…as long as your clothes are Downy-fresh. Check out the spot below:

“While this spot may be different than what you’d expect from Downy, it is based on a real human insight — soft, touchable clothes play a role in your connection with others on an emotional and physical level,” said Associate Brand Director – North America Fabric Care, Trevor Thrun.  According to a recent Downy/Harris poll, nearly half of men said it would be sexier if their significant other dressed in clothing that was less revealing to leave something to the imagination. More than 4 in 10 men went a step further to say that jeans and a sweater could be just as sexy as lingerie on their significant other. (http://news.pg.com/press-release/pg-corporate-announcements/new-downy-commercial-encourages-consumers-rip-their-clothes)

Too bad, Downy didn’t continue with a few more risque commercials to raise a few eyebrows.

 

#The6GodIsWatching

 

Did you see 2015’s most viral… BILLBOARD? Lucky for you, I’m here to tell you all about it.

Universal Music Canada bought a single billboard on behalf of their client, Drake.   It was bought for 28 days  aside Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway with just 3 words, a number, and a simple graphic .  The billboard below means the 6 God is Watching.  The phrase “6 God” and its accompanying iconography are symbols for Drake’s brand, recognized by fans. The “6” is his nickname for Toronto, derived from its area codes (416 and 647). The praying hands reference the prayer hands emoji, representing, in this instance, “God”—a humble allusion to Drake. The billboard is a subtle promotion for his upcoming album,  Views From the 6. Drake’s one-month, one-billboard media buy garnered more than 86 million impressions in a matter of days.

“That evening, [ November 4] the story went from kids playing with matches to five alarm inferno. Large media outlets published articles on the billboard, speculating about its enigmatic message. Camera crews and photographers were showing up at the billboard as though it were the site of a crashed UFO. Journalists and bloggers were calling the offices of Universal Music and Clear Channel Canada, asking for comment. Headlines like, “What’s The Deal With This Drake Billboard In Toronto?” and “Drake Posts Mysterious ‘6 God’ Billboard in Toronto” hit the homepages of Complex Magazine, MTV, and Billboard Magazine. Canadian television station CityNews covered the story on their primetime news program.” (http://clearchannel.ca/drake-viral-billboard/)

Approximately 24 hours after the billboard “went live,” Twitter mentions had reached over 700 per hour. Various media outlets such as: Pitchfork, Time, GQ, MuchMusic, CBC, Elle,  released articles on the billboard and participated in the social media conversations. The photos, likes tweets, retweets, shares and comments added new aspects to the story. People were talking about the mysterious billboard and how the mysterious billboard is viral.

“According to a report commissioned by Clear Channel Canada and carried out by our friends at Sysomos, the billboard ignited a wildfire of earned media, totalling 86.72 million impressions in 7 days. And this conservative tally excludes broadcast television and much of the individual conversation within Facebook, whose recent API changes limit third-party access to data on content consumption within its platform. All tolled, impressions surely count well north of 100 million.” (http://clearchannel.ca/drake-viral-billboard/)

 

I know you’re probably be wondering how did this work? Is it because of Drake’s celebrity? No, not necessarily. This works for a number of reasons:

  1. The billboard was simple, yet cryptic. This design implored people to start a conversation about what it could be or mean.
  2. The subtle messaging aligns with Drake as the brand. He is known for the use double-entendre and hidden meanings within his lyrics. As for the “6” and praying hands emoji it has become a recurring theme.
  3. The specific billboard along the expressway garners a minimum of 91,000 views a day. Which is similar to what Jeremy Moon did in the Icebreaker case. He targeted the trend setters that would go back to their friends and family and essentially promote for him, via word of mouth.
  4.  The use of a billboard versus another medium made the billboard that more sticky.
  5. Lastly, this provided an experience for us to witness together. The key to making something sticky is making the person feel like their apart of the story or event. Many fans and non fans went to the expressway and nearby buildings to take pictures of the billboard.

 

It’s pretty spectacular that a billboard garnered so much attention. I wish I would have come up with this brilliant idea.

 

#MadSteez

While scrolling on Instagram I discovered an artist and was completely taken aback by his talent.Mark Paul Deren known as, MADSTEEZ is known for his vivid, large-scale, multi-layered paintings, where strange and familiar figures are integrated into abstract landscapes.

rick james

Recently he was commissioned by Bank of America to paint a piece in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Wythe Ave & 10th) to create a piece that would appeal to the masses that were flooding the streets of New York for CMJ Music Marathon. CMJ Music Marathon is one of the world’s most important platforms for the discovery of new music. For five nonstop days and nights, CMJ features over 1,400 live performances in more than 80 of New York City’s greatest venues. (https://www.facebook.com/cmjdotcom/info/?tab=page_info)

The piece (shown below) urges those who view it to consider saving more with the whimsical text that comes from the singer’s lips “Your future is worth saving for putting aside as little as 5% of your monthly income can get you up for an encore”.

He is commodity being commissioned by clients such as Nike, Inc., Target Corporation, Red Bull, Boost Mobile, Honda, Boosted, Volkswagen, MCA Records, Interscope Records, Stüssy, Evisu, Ben Sherman, Capita Snowboards, Armada Skis, Rusty, Salomon, Lemonade Magazine, Wallin Surfboards, ActivEmpire, ActionSports Group, So Sweet Records, 411VM, Palace 5ive, and Bl!SSS Magazine.

 

mad-steez

(In June, 2010, he hand painted a Mini Cooper art car for BMW/Mini that was named the MINIWEEN.)

As a GMCA student I want gain the ability to relate across various industries using images and words that will resonate to various demographics. It is similar to the conversations in Bill’s class about the stakeholder. Understanding that his “consumer”  is more than just someone who appreciates good art, but a parent, sibling, teacher, doctor, student, etc.

But, why does his art work so well with various industries?
The choice of colors create happy feelings and postive emotions. The pieces he creates are often larger than life covering the sides of buildings which make people feel apart of the art.

Check out more of MADSTEEZ at http://markpaulderen.com/

 

#StraightOuttaSomewhere

Going to the movies used to be a treat on the weekend.  Young and old would flock to the movies to see the latest releases. In recent years we have witnessed the rise of subscription platforms like Netflix. Instead of paying a substantial amount of money for tickets and concessions, people are choosing the more cost effective alternative- staying home.

The film “Straight Outta Compton” debuted in theaters on August 14. The film chronicles the journey of hip-hop/rap group N.W.A. It depicts the impact the group had on music and history during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Since it’s release it has grossed close to $200 million worldwide. Nearly a week before the release of the film the mobile application Straight Outta Somewhere was made available to the public.

The app allowed users to customize the “Straight Outta Compton”  title template with where they are from and background images. Various social media platforms were flooded with users representing their hometowns and schools. By participating in this phenomenon these users were inadvertently advertising to their followers and friends.

The idea is truly genius! The consumer essentially creates the ad and promotes the film by sharing it to their network of family and friends. More people beyond the target market are reached through this campaign; more buzz surrounds the release of the movie. Feeding from the hype that surrounds the app generator is Dr. Dre’s release of “Straight Outta Compton” Beats by Dre headphones. The commercials feature celebrities representing their hometown.

I wonder if the creator(s) of the #StraightOuttaSomewhere campaign imagined that it would have such big impact. It’s two and a half months later and people have shirts that say Straight Outta their hometown or institution.

Even my undergraduate institution is taking orders for alumni that would like Straight Outta Dillard t-shirts. (I’m buying one)

StraightOuttaDillard
On the day the film released Snapchat had a geotag which allowed their users to be Straight Outta where ever they were located. Just in case the consumers forgot that “Straight Outta Compton” was being released that Friday there was a “reminder” on Snapchat.

This campaign is genius because the creator(s) understood the impact of social media and their target audience. The campaign had to be simple, but effective so people would want to tell their friends.

 

#PartyHardMoms

Is your mom current with the slang of the youth such as: On Fleek, bae, af, real talk, twerking, etc.? Barely?

Don’t worry, Hefty may be able to fix that. In April Hefty launched a campaign for Hefty Ultimate Cups with the help of Havas Worldwide Chicago through only Facebook and Youtube. Rather than the usual commercial geared towards their target audience: moms, they decided to take a different approach. The commercials feature the stereotypical mom in a cardigan and khakis, but the mom uses slang to recount the days events.

Think about it. When you’re talking to your mom she usually doesn’t talk about her group of friends as ” the squad”. This campaign invites the idea to think of moms as more than just that. We just had a similar discussion in Brand Management; the companies that experience marketing myopia look at the customer as just the customer, not a employee at at a place of business, a parent, a friend, daughter/son, voter, nature-lover, etc.

I love this campaign! It’s humorous, entertaining and memorable. It has stickiness due to the fact that it was completely unexpected for the moms to use slang. Here’s one of the videos from the campaign, below.

 Hefty says the humor is rooted in a truth that’s rarely addressed in typical CPG marketing-to-mom efforts. “Traditionally mothers are cast in one light: wholesome caregivers for their children. But the reality is moms are much more complex and multifaceted,” says Lynnette Hinch, director of marketing for Hefty Cups. (adweek.com)

“Their social networks are extremely important to them, and time spent with friends is often a welcome escape from the drudgery of daily life,” adds Hinch. “We decided to activate that sense of fun, juxtaposing their routine tasks with recaps of epic ragers from the night before. In essence, we’re giving moms permission to party harder with the ideal party cup from Hefty.”(adweek.com)

So why does this campaign work?
Why did Hefty choose to do this as oppose to it’s traditional commercials they’ve done in the past?
It works because you don’t expect a mom reading a book, putting away groceries or folding laundry to talk about going to a wild party with friends. Similar to the kidney heist story, we had already filled in the details that this mom would speak about how reliable and dependable the Hefty Ultimate Cup is.

Here’s another video from the campaign.  It continues to speak to the theme of unexpectedness. It’s so important to me as a GMCA student to keep in mind the ability to be unexpected because that’s what makes something memorable.

See Hefty’s Youtube Channel for more videos from the campaign. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKE9knzSjBKVNTyOilFoOSA

#WalkThisWay

Have you walked this “way” in Cambridge?

During the usual commute back and forth from school to home and some other places in between, we are in our own worlds. Our earbuds are placed firmly in our ears, aimlessly scrolling at something on the screen, and/or impatiently waiting on a train.  In Cambridge near the Central Square station the nearby businesses and sights implore those that pass by to take a break and enjoy. Along Massachusetts Avenue are various art shops that speak to everyone’s inner artist. My favorite part of this area is Richard B. “Rico” Modica Way.  I walk through this Modica Way to get home or get to the train and each time I walk through it’s something new. Each week artists come to the Modica Way and add something to it. Thus far, the piece that has been so profound is captured in the image below. “Earth without art is just Eh.” A phrase so simple, yet it has so much meaning. It is so striking to me because I never considered “art” to be within the word “earth”. Not only that, the two letters that remain “Eh” is considered a spoken interjection. It symbolizes confusion or incites a reply. Based on this, a world or earth without art is confused and awaiting a reply.

say wild child

earth

Like what’s discussed in The Artist’s Way, I would love to be able to paint something along Modica Way. However, my rational mind keeps screaming, ” NO! You are not an artist; you can’t do this.” In spite of my misgivings I need to use Modica Way to nurture my inner child  with the paints, bright colors and the various works of art. In a way it offers whimsy in a world that always wants to be serious. I’m going to muster the courage to paint something. Despite being beautiful and inspiring to a graduate student graffiti is frowned upon.

“Under Massachusetts law, anyone convicted of “maliciously or wantonly” defacing property can spend up to three years in prison and face the loss of his or her driver’s license for a year, as well as a fine of either $1,500 or three times the value of the defaced property, whichever is greater. The offender is also required to pay for cleaning the property. Fines are doubled and 500 hours of community service added for defacing monuments, war or veterans’ memorials, and gravestones.”

Don’t worry, Modica Way is a sanctioned area where graffiti is allowed and won’t be whitewashed or have the artists persecuted.

While I appreciated the art, I also admire the marketing genius.  Social media has generated a lot of people coming through Modica Way to admire the genius. Currently there is a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Graffiti-Alley/487707671277040) and Tumblr page (http://modica-way.tumblr.com/).  People come from near and far to pose in front their favorite pieces. Photographer Eun Hee Kwon captured three male models for “Urban America” meets “Boston Phunk”.  Modica Way has been pictured in the Boston Globe and suggested as a place to see if visiting Boston. There’s so many more art pieces that Modica Way has to offer.  When I walked home today, there were artists working on a new piece. It’s amazing to watch the art evolve over the weeks. It’s consistent with the constantly changing world around it. When you get a chance, come walk this way; I’m sure you would love it!modica way