Archive for February, 2008


Que Gaskins & Team Launch


I got an email from my guy Que Gaskins who I know from Allen Iverson/Reebook, The Additive,, Gaskins Brothers, etc. He and his “uber-talented” team of designers (I know Reggie Jolley has got to be behind this), animators have put this amazing animation together that fuses together global culture, “hood sensibility,” provocative messaging, brands,etc. I’m not even sure what the heck it is for but whatever it is, Gaskins is showing that he “gets it.” The fact that he has me running to go blog about this while I’m sitting in the chair getting my locs twisted means he totally understands how to “tip a virus.” Hats off to ya Que.

Click Here


Is There A Better Time For The Market+James Andrews + Ketchum Interactive?


Over the past 10 years I have enjoyed some interesting days in the interactive space but I must say in a short amount of time my experience with Ketchum Interactive has been the best. Before recently joining Ketchum, I worked at Isobar Global for a little over a year as the Global Account Director and quarterback on “The Sprite Yard”, the highly publicized mobile marketing effort that Coca Cola-Sprite launched. While the Atlanta to London “thing” was an awesome way to pick up much needed global experience (and air miles) Isobar’s highly innovative interactive network strategy was often too confusing for some of our clients to grasp. At a time when the old world models of traditional advertising agencies simply don’t fit the way we “interactives” work, many brand marketers have struggled to try to understand how to exist day to day with interactive agencies. Well that was “so 2006-2007” and according to new reports, in 2008 agencies like Isobar, Ketchum Interactive and Avenue A/Razorfish and many others stand to be the most profitable sector in advertising during a recession baked economy. (Avenue A’s 2007 numbers were up 36% according to recent reports) Not only that, via our efforts we stand to make a ton of marketing execs “rock stars” (if they let us) by providing thought leadership, solid interactive programs and innovation through our efforts. Though the ramps/runways vary from agency to agency differ, the “gi-normous” opportunity is the same. It’s simply awesome and I’m feeling it everyday as I travel from coast to coast evangelizing and aiding in our clients (and future clients) quest to understand, build and innovative in the online space. It also drives me everyday to actually live in the space and “play with the toys” so I can make honest recomendations and not just theorize as I see so much of my competitors doing. Now that the word is out about my new appointment as Vice President at Ketchum, I am very thankful to have the opportunity, once again in my career, to innovative and revolutionize much the same way I was able to do at Sony Music in the 90’s and UBO/Urban Box Office in the late 90’s.


PALY Alum & Facebook Chief Officer Van Natta Resigns

I had to throw the “PALY ALUM” in the title because Owen Van Natta is somewhat of a classmate of mine from Palo Alto High School. He class of 87′ and me 88.’ Van Natta, who had been one of the more visible faces at Facebook has resigned from his post as Chief Revenue Officer and has stated that he will become CEO at a “to be announced” company. This is the first major resignation at Facebook and all other indicators are that things are still going well. Kevin Colleran certainly didn’t look stressed when I bumped into him in New Orleans.


NBA Tech Summit Always A Good Look


Got an invite to this year’s NBA Technology Summit from Adam Silver (David Stern’s #2) which took place at All Star Weekend well before the “hoopla” began. This gathering is generally the only serious business that takes place at ASW and this year and Silver made sure we were in the house. What made this year’s Tech Summit special is that everyone was asked to sport jeans and work clothes so that we could all go into the streets of New Orleans for  NBA “Day Of Service.” Not only was that the right thing for the NBA to do, it also made the atmosphere less stiff and gave even the corniest a little edge!! I thought Kevin Colleran’s (Facebook) mobile photos from the streets on his Facebook Profile said it all

The first of three panels was on the topic of “Which Screen Are You Watching.” Highlights of the panel included a very innovative, yet very midwestern Daniel Gilbert (owner Cleveland Cavaliers, Chairman, Quicken Loans). Jim Dolan (Chairman, MSG and President/CEO, Cablevision) played the role of naysayer and instigator but had very practical viewpoint of the web and the opportunity. Though I differed with a lot of his opinions his role was a necessary one on the panel. David Levy and John Skipper represented Turner and Sports Illustrated respectively and really had the “old media becoming new media” viewpoints that were refreshing but not mindblowing. My favorite, because he best represented my viewpoints, was Jason Hirschhorn (former President @, now President @ Slingbox). Sure I want Jason to send me the newest Slingbox, but he was my favorite because he represented the freshest view on a panel of very risk averse old media guys. I’m not going to bore you with loads of quotes from the panel (get an invite for next year), but the panel was promising and pessimistic at the same time. The crowd was a “who’s who” of big shots from the world of media, corporate, advertising, etc. In my area you had Bill Walton, Daniel Mullally (FedEx), Steven Horowitz (Inner Circle Sports), Keith Clinkscales (ESPN), Steve Stoute (Translation), Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors), etc.

The next panel, “The Socialization of Sports” was definitely my favorite as Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors), Mark Cuban (Owner, Dallas Mavericks), Sean Moriarty (Ticketmaster), and Bill Simmons (ESPN Blogger) lead a very spirited conversation that I believe scared the “bejezzers” out of most of the “not so connected” folk in the audience. Loved Bosh’s perspective on why he created the viral video on youtube and what motivates him about the web. Mark Cuban was well…..Mark Cuban. What else can you say about an owner who has a Twitter page, Facebook page and well trafficked blog? He made his fortune in the space and continues to play in the space. Sean Moriarty’s perspective really centered around Ticketmaster’s interest in social media via iLike, a property they have invested in and breaking new ground.

Between the cocktail party the night before where I reconnected with old colleagues, to the event I felt like New Orleans gave me everything I needed in a 24 hour span.

Thanks to: Stephanie Meiseles (NBA), Chrysa Chin (NBA), Lindsey Robinson (NBA) for the hospitality.

Staci Kramer from PaidContent (sat right in front of me) provides commentary here.


Gap Gets Colorful With The Rehab


Had a really good conversation last week with Nathan Brown from creative shop The Rehab. You will begin to hear a lot about their newest campaign, “Color Redefined” for client The Gap in the next few weeks. Rehab, the SF-Based creative and production shop rolled out the web-only campaign Friday at and all the folks I showed to were floored. I really enjoyed talking to both Nathan and Jessica Corbin from Rehab, they both simply get it. My interview took place over iChat and considering that it took place at 2am EST in my hotel room with me looking travel “haggard” from being on the road, I will spare you the video link. Nonetheless I got the sense Nathan has real flavor. It may have been the fact that he was rockin the ill Fedora cap and has had lived in Fort Worth, TX and London. Not to mention when I compared him to George Lucas, Jessica smacked me across the face (via ichat) to say, “Please. Nathan is more Puffy then Lucas.” About the experience working with the producers/musicians/artists on the Gap program Brown says, “All the artists were stoked because they got “freedom” and “trust”, I think it was liberating for them and furthered their inspiration” Excited to see where Rehab takes this program and others. They have some innovative stuff cookin in the kitchen now that I have been sworn to secrecy not to say anything. Also check out their most recent work on Kenneth Cole with photographer Terry Richardson and a very fresh “behind the scenes” of a road rally for Mini Cooper.

The Musicians in the campaign include the following:

The Blakes, a Seattle-based indie rock group featuring brothers Snow and Garnet Keim, interpreted blue in a bittersweet song (“Magic”) with a light, upbeat sound.

Electronic music artist Dntel used the color red to write a song (“Turning Red”) about feelings of insecurity — even embarrassment — that can accompany love and relationships.

Marie Digby (pronounced Mar-ee-AY), a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, who recently captured the attention of the global YouTube audience, wrote a beautiful, melodic song (“Paint Me In Your Sunshine”) about the color yellow.

The Raveonettes, a Danish post-punk duo, interpreted black and white in a soulful, rhythmic song (“Black/White”) that explores the idea of contrasts. (NOTE: My Favorite!!!)

Swizz Beatz, a hip-hop artist and producer, used the color green to record a fresh, energetic song (“Candy Paint”) about a drop top car driving through the streets of Miami.

“Music has always been a significant part of Gap’s history, so we’re always thinking of new ways to connect with people through music,” said Dennis Leggett, creative director for Gap brand. “With much of today’s music being consumed digitally and shared online, we wanted to create an online experience where people could discover new, original songs and share them with fellow music lovers.”

To bring these songs to life visually, Gap partnered with five acclaimed directors to create music videos to accompany each song. Each video interprets color in a visual format and will be featured on as part of the Sound of Color experience.


A Different Perspective On Steve Stoute/Jay-Z Ad Agency


I came across comments made by my colleague and friend Hadji Williams in his blog where he says about the Stoute/Jay-Z Interpublic deal

And to think Interpublic won’t hire black people who are trained ad professionals, but they’ll hire Jay-Z and Steve Stoute–a former record label exec–as ad men?

Screw going to portfolio school, getting an MBA and learning the ad biz inside out. Aspiring Black ad professionals should just work on making hit records…. that’s clearly the best way to get hired in the ad biz.

Though I am one who has had issues with the love affair brands and largely disconnected and clueless executives have had with Stoute, I have real issues with Hadji’s comments. For me, my issues revolved around the countless times I went into a meeting and faced what I would call the “Stoute Halo.” It would usually take place in a pitch meeting with a brand where they would look at my background and celebrity relationships and ask, “Can you get X-Celebrity and/or Jay-Z on the phone or involved in our program?” Here I was a small business owner trying to prove my worth as a legimate brand strategist and once again I was dumbed down to the black guy who was being looked at to “wrangle a celebrity.”

Hadji’s comments would lead one to believe that ad execs with MBA’s automatically equal “talented” or “smart.” Unfortunately I have been sorely disappointed in many business settings with the lack of depth and creativity that “so-called” Wharton or Harvard MBA marketing “geniuses” possessed. Similar to the record business the advertising agency is crying out for new blood and innovation. Why not Steve Stoute or Shawn Carter? At the end of the day, Interpublic made the right move because this is a “business man” and the Stoute/Jay-Z duo, call it what you want, equates to biz dev doors opening and yes white, black, green, puerto rican and hatian CMO’s dying to meet with them. And as far as Black ad execs inside agencies or worse those that are at black agencies; generally I have come across a giant hole in the areas of creativity, innovation, and strategy.

As a former record executive andd now interactive agency Vice President I go toe-to-toe with “well-degreed” and “pedigreed” execs on both the client and agency side. My experience at a record label gave me P&L responsibility, International exposure, and even new media innovation opportunities that all of my clients and co-workers appreciate. The skills those of us formerly in the record business acquired “breaking artists” come in handy across so many different business segments. Whether it is packaged goods, financial services or even travel/tourism I have never felt better about my ability to craft a solid plan that is innovative, on budget, and on strategy.

Young people. There is no record business to go to so that is not your entry point but I caution you on emulating your career around a dead model known as traditional advertising. Go to a place that screams innovation, bleeds creativity and inspires you to pour your gifts into it on a daily basis. Those qualities used to exist in this “ol thing” called the record business. Go get a great gig and make sure you buy Hadji’s Book


The Writers Strike is Nearing An End

Writers, Producers Reach Tentative Deal

WGA has reached a tentative agreement and will present details today in New York/LA.
Too bad the season is a wrap and we are stuck with American Idol and bad reality TV.
That’s ok, many of us spent more time digesting online media and reading blogs during this dark tv period which is great for those of us producing content for “other” screens.

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