Disclaimer: I understand that I’ve been more than negligent to my dear WordPress. I admit to abandoning my writing and being the worst kind of deadbeat dad, but the other day my boss encouraged me to write as often and as relentlessly as I can. So once again, I’m dishing out another shallow, meaningless apology for the non-existent following that comprises my readership. Below is a recent blog I had to write for my company’s internal PR and advertising blog, and I thought I’d share.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to write more often. When I started this blog, I had lofty goals of sharing provoking content about music, sports, food and books and anything else that interested me. I’ve come to realize that that expectation puts a lot of pressure on me to publish things that ultimately take a lot of work- taking photos and editing them in itself takes a  long time. And as a sad result, I’ve just stopped updating this. I share photos, news links and ideas on every other social platform, making my blog pretty obsolete. But I truly believe WordPress is still the best platform for purely writing. So I’m going to take a different approach to this blog now – I think I’m going to remove the reader from my thought process and just write what I want to write – selfish as it sounds. Writing is my therapy, and if you’d like to absorb what I share, you’re welcome to it. 


Our fair city has certainly prided itself on its vibrant, eccentric personality – unapologetically labeling itself as the Live Music Capital of the World, a flourishing tech hub and ultimately, a pretty weird place.  However, when considering cities known for advertising and public relations, Austin is rarely top-of-mind, and understandably so. We automatically associate cities like New York, Chicago and LA with these mass communications specialties. After all, they’re among the highest ranked media markets – even Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston fall in the top 10. But Austin barely makes the top 50, ranked a modest 45th place behind other happening city centers like Birmingham and Harrisburg.

Lest we forget, what Austin may lack in size, it makes up for with creativity. Our city is brimming with innovative tech start-ups, a young, hungry student population and no shortage of big, entertaining events like ACL music festival, which has become so large in size and popularity that it quite literally outgrew Austin’s city limits, spilling into two weekends this year.

GSD&M is arguably the most recognizable ad agency in the city, neighboring Whole Foods in the heart of downtown and boasting impressive clients like Southwest Airlines and Goodyear. Even two of NI’s own advertising team previously worked there. In spite of the agency’s reputation, I was surprised and impressed by a recent article in the Statesman profiling one of its employees.

The article essentially describes the role of Glenda Goehrs, GSD&M’s principal referrer. In other words, while most PR and ad agencies place a heavy emphasis on winning new business, Goehrs’ primary purpose is turning new business away. Her reasons certainly vary – these decisions are often based on size of the account or scope of work – but not only does she reject these prospective clients, she refers them to other agencies that can better meet their marketing needs.

Though this role is curious, it’s certainly remarkable. Rather than adopting a cut-throat Mad Men competitive mentality with rival companies, this referral program lends itself to healthy, mutually beneficial relationships, and ultimately, a robust pool of talent in the community.

I suppose, like NI, GSD&M had a long-term vision in mind when it started this referral program 20 years ago. By cultivating a thriving advertising and PR community, these Austin agencies can continue attracting top talent from other major cities – and keep them here. According to the article, there were approximately 135 Austin ad agencies in 1994. Now, there are over 500. Corny as it may be, this data brings GSD&M’s signature tagline to life –  Austin has evolved into an “Idea city.”

This abundance of experts in the creative, digital and mass media communications fields is exciting to say the least. This melting pot of skills, experience and most importantly, ingenuity will only produce provoking campaigns and original ideas. So the next time you reflect on how rich our city may be in technology, music, food, fitness, or dare I say weirdness, remember that it’s full of communicators, storytellers, copy writers, media buyers, and designers too.

2012 was a big year for PR and advertising. With the Presidential Election and the 2012 Olympics, I can’t imagine the exorbitant sums of money spent on this year’s marketing campaigns. I decided to round up some of my favorite commercials from this year. I chose these based on a mix of criteria – the innovation and creativity involved, overall look and feel, and most importantly, what emotions were invoked.
A lot of these will probably look familiar to you. I don’t watch a lot of regular programming, and when I do it’s normally a DVR’d show that I fast-forward through. However, I do tend to absorb a lot of ads when I watch sports games or news segments that occur in real-time. So here goes:
My favorite commercials of 2012:
Funniest: Guinness – Round Up Your Mates for St. Patrick’s Day
I discovered this gem on FastCompany’s list of the 15 Best of Ads of 2012, and I loved it! I don’t think this was a US-based ad, but it’s so clever, cute and light-hearted.
Best Sports: Tie between Adidas Is All In and Nike FuelBand Presents: Counts
Nike and Adidas are arguably the two most popular sports brands out there and I’ve always been impressed by both of their products and their marketing strategies. Both of the commercials below evoke a palpable “cool” factor and what I love about both of these campaigns is how they incorporate a multitude of people and activities that don’t necessarily involve sports, but demonstrate athleticism and high energy. Adidas compiled a super rad music video timed to Justice’s hard-hitting “Civilization” featuring everyone from David Beckham to Katy Perry. Nike simply captured memorable iconic moments like OK Go’s “Here It Goes Again” music video and scenes from our favorite films.
Favorite Olympics: Proctor & Gamble: The Best Job and AT&T’s The New Possible
Ads during the Olympics are such a treat; it’s like watching the best ads of the Superbowl, but on a worldwide scale that lasts a few weeks. I love both of these ads for different reasons – the innovation behind AT&T’s “The New Possible” campaign was super impressive. Incorporating real, record-breaking Olympic results seamlessly into the ads was such a smart way to showcase AT&T and celebrate big Olympic wins in the U.S. Check out how they did it on FastCompany. On the flip side, the P&G “The Best Job” ad is one of the most touching commercials of the year. I love how it includes different sports and different cultures, but portrays how universal a mother’s love and dedication is. Though no products were prominently shown in the commercial, it still beautifully represented P&G and its family of brands.

Best Competitive Edge: Samsung – The Next Big Thing is Already Here

Samsung took a huge risk by choosing to capitalize on the hype and buzz surrounding the new iPhone 5. Rather than sitting back and letting the new Apple launch dominate headlines, Samsung proactively inserted itself into the conversation and made a bold, splashy statement. It’s not a secret that Apple users are uncharacteristically loyal, and Samsung not only made some question the supposed “greatness” of the new phone, but also made Apple fans look ridiculous for waiting in line for something competitors already make. I am a reasonably satisfied iPhone user, but I haven’t been blown away by any of the company’s recent launches. Samsung won’t ever convert the diehard Apple fans, but they are successfully targeting people like me who like their iPhones, but don’t think they’re light years greater than other alternatives.

Best Message: Expedia Find Yours

Expedia also chose to make a bold statement, but in a different, much more meaningful way. Documenting the story of a dad’s emotional and deeply personal journey to find his understanding regarding his daughter’s same-sex marriage, the message was poignant, sweet and incredibly moving. I’m glad companies like Expedia and Oreo are openly endorsing same-sex marriage and I consider this commercial a huge win in the fight for same-sex marriage and equal rights. Not too long after that ad ran, Expedia created a “Find Your Strength” commercial sharing the heartbreaking story of a young cancer patient who found strength in her best friend who she met at St. Jude’s. This one’s a tearjerker, but an uplifting, inspirational one. In response, Expedia is matching donations to St. Jude’s on its website.