Thursday, November 15, 2012


Holy Cow! I finally got back my feedback from Redscout. I was starting to question whether or not it was ever coming and I also started to doubt my work. I was the only person in my class to make a physical document and turn it in while everyone else sent digital files via email, I started thinking that if they could forget to give feedback on a project that should be sitting on their desk then maybe it wasn't as impressive as I had hoped. I literally poured everything I had into that project, well, I poured everything I could give within the week I had to work on it. Luckily they were satisfied with what I turned in and I got the highest grade in class! Here is the assignment and grading criteria that they sent over along with the feedback:

The Assignment
Here’s a recap.

    Define a clear problem statement.
    Conduct cultural, category and consumer research. After a few days of research, organize your learning into insights across the consumer, category and cultural buckets. 
    Inspired by these insights, freeform ideate.
    Share your breadth of ideas, evaluate them and build an argument for the idea(s) you think is the strongest

Using your medium of choice (Word, PowerPoint, InDesign), describe and visualize your idea. Demonstrating your process and showing how you got to the idea will be just as important as the final idea itself.

Grading Criteria

Based on the nature of the assignment, we thought it would be best to evaluate the assignments based on four different criteria:

    Insight – We evaluated how strong and compelling the insights you developed were. Did you identify a real need in people’s lives? And, how well did you pinpoint the opportunity? As part of this we also looked at your problem statement to evaluate how strong, specific and compelling it was.
    Storytelling – We looked at how well you crafted a compelling, concise and clear story. Was it easy to follow and did you build a strong case for your ideas?
    Ideas – We assessed how original and innovative your ideas were. With that, we were looking to see if you had a breadth of ideas of which you were able to sell your winning idea.
    Process – We assessed how rigorous, thorough and well-researched your work was.

For each of these we’ll provide a grade on a scale from 1 to 4, making the total assignment worth 16 points.

Melissa Nickell


I was blown away by the depth and quality of research. While the insight and opportunity may be a bit niche, I totally understood them both from all angles. I was really happy to see how used research to develop a strong case for innovation.


The printed booklet that you hand delivered was a special touch of storytelling that must have taken a lot of time. It was a smart idea that helped put me in the mental space of the category. The design of each page and the cues that you borrowed from maps, guides and other nature communication were really smart. Great work.


The idea is simple and seemed to perfectly address the problem, insight and opportunity you had presented. I like that you considered the business model and admitted your reluctance to use technology and an app. This fact in particular showed how you considered the pros/cons of your idea, and used this analysis to determine what was best - instead of letting your preference decide. To go the extra mile and think about partnerships, brand and campaign was really impressive.


Absolutely blown away by the style of approach, depth of thinking and documentation of it all!

16/ 16

Thanks Brian and Ashley for taking the time to review my work, I know you guys are busy and of course thanks for liking my project. 

Monday, October 29, 2012


Between my research class, an account planning class, and trying to re-work past projects, I have been unable to escape numbers this semester. I have to admit, I have been pretty excited for finally feeling like I am enrolled in an legitimate academic institution. With all the numbers and data I have been finding, I have also been figuring out how to decipher what is important, relevant, and/or compelling and how to construct it into neat and tidy story that is inspiring to others.

I found this infographic on AirBnB's growth from their start up to January 2012. I love me a good infographic, when done right they make numbers easily digestible, like this...
 Mmmmmmmm, green monster smoothie, you make it so easy to 
consume three pounds of kale and broccoli

Unfortunately, infographics done wrong can be less like an easily digestible smoothie and more like this
 Nothing says love like chewing the food before you feed it to your toddler

The AirBnB infographic fell somewhere around here
Hope you don't have diverticulitis

It looked good and made all those numbers really easy to understand while telling a compelling story with them. They didn't do anything ground breaking with this infographic; it looks good, shares some data, and is formatted in the ridiculously long column format that seems as if it was meant to takeover Pinterest. The story of the company's growth was told in an interesting, and very clear to see way from start to finish and they even gave multiple types of graphics to re-iterate the point they were trying to make.
This is probably my favorite graphic out of the whole bunch because they didn't even give numbers (besides the date.) They had the numbers, they knew exactly how many listings there were/are and they could have just written them out but who ever digested those stats realized that showing a block by block graphic told a far more compelling story than just giving straight numbers. 
The above graphic is my least favorite in the story. This is an example of design hindering, rather than helping, the story. My issue with it is that they are trying to show how many offices they have and point out that they are all over the world, but with the map being oriented away from us and being rectangular as opposed to circular or oval, there is a lot of the southern hemisphere that is looking neglected and making their offices in 9 countries seem less impressive than it should, or could.

Overall, I really like this infographic because it has so many examples of ways to digest numbers while telling a story with them. I appreciate the individual graphics that are not as successful as some of the others because they demonstrate the importance of being able to edit yourself in order to tell a well crafted story.

Infographic found here
Smoothie found here
Alicia Silverstone found here
LaraBar found here

Monday, September 24, 2012


This is what Matt Herrmann thought of my assignment:

"Very clear, and extra credit for design for sure. Great target description - felt like I really got to know them.  Great release strategy too - shows a real affinity for comms strategy.  It falls down in the because though - the because is the authority that this brand or product has that's unique, but "People want what no one else has yet" is another target insight.  Need something more specific to the product to make it sing."

I knew when I turned it in that the because just wasn't where I wanted it to be but I ran out of time. I will make sure to work on it before including it on my portfolio site. I am just so glad that I have had the opportunity to have so many industry professionals review my work.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Matt Herrmann from BBDO came to class today, let's just say he's got an interesting sense of humor– I dig it.

The much ballyhooed zombie apocalypse has happened, and actually, it's not as dramatic as we expected. Things were pretty hectic fo a year or so, but now the smoke has cleared, and everything is pleasantly familiar, but a little weird around the edges. Sure, everyone's a little paler than normal, but there's still zombie farmer's markets, zombie ultimate Frisbee, and zombie elections between two zombie political factions. 

Kraft Food, Inc., in fact, is now known as Zombie Kraft Food, Inc. They've come to Zombie BBDO and asked you to launch a new gourmet line of human brains called "Cerebella Foods." Cerebella makes the most of its revenue off of a proprietary brain hummus blend. They'd like you to name and market the product for $50MM. 

We have to write a brief using the BBDO format of Get, To, By, Because, & And.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Redscout came to play with my Creative Thinking & Problem Solving class today. Initially, Gabrielle Muse was scheduled to lead us on this assignment but at the last minute she had to cancel and so her fellow 'Scouts, Ashley Autenrieth and Brian Meyers stepped in. Now, I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that Gabrielle couldn't participate, especially after the impression she left on me the last time she came to the Academy. Fortunately, Ashley and Brian were also pretty great and helped make this an exciting project to get started on.

The class focused on brand strategy and innovation (duh, they are from Redscout.)
The main takeaways were
  • "innovation does not equal invention"
    • an innovation is a new idea that surpasses the competition by re-framing the opportunity and improving the way human needs are met. 
    • examples: iPod, iTunes
  • an innovation is what nudges the human race transforms the world we live in
  • a good innovation should deliver on human needs
    • self actualization, esteem, love/belonging, safety, psychological 
  • INSIGHT= simple yet powerful statement that explains why behaviors/beliefs exist
      • defining insights is an intuitive process
    •  examples of innovations from insights: Air BnB, Nike Fuel Band, Ubercab
  • How to get insights
    1. Identify the problem 
      1. Is it an unmet need?
      2. Is it a business issue?
    2. Study the situation & identify insights
    3. Ideate (then assess)
  • Rules for finding insights
    1. Keep an open mind
    2. Follow your gut
    3. Jot down notes, etc.
-Conduct cultural, category, and consumer research
          -organize learning into insights in different buckets
-Freeform ideas
-Evaluate ideas and bring strongest to life
***Show process
          -Consider-target, idea description, design principles, marketing tactics


In class Brian and Ashley helped us come up with ideas to base our projects around. I am working with, "how can we connect people who are always connected to nature?"

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I have been working on this project for my Professional Practices class for several weeks and today I recently had some affirmation that my project was on the right track. I have been writing a syllabus for a strategy class that I could potentially teach after graduation and I have been pushing myself to think of what it is that I as a student am glad I know/wish my fellow students knew/wish I knew/etc. Well, I went to a talk by Gabrielle Muse from Redscout and I was sitting in the room dumbstruck because basically her entire one-hour presentation was the short version of what I have been setting up "my class" be. I am not going to get too into it because honestly I am afraid that I may sound like a weirdo because of how amazed I was by her. Let's just say that at first I was dumb founded because she is smart, like really fuckin' smart, and charming and personable and everything that you want a presenter to be. I think I need to start figuring out how to go work at Redscout so I can work with her. ANYWAYS, here are her 10 nuggets of wisdom that she said she wished she knew when she was just starting out:
  1. You know it better than anyone in the room
  2. Never stop hustlin'
  3. Consumers People are people
  4. Clients are people too
  5. The truth seduces
  6. Your way is always more interesting than the "right" way
  7. That is, so long as you are interesting
  8. The process doesn't matter, the outcome does
  9. Rigor & intuition are your best pals
  10. Risk is mandatory. 
Oh, and she called planners a bunch of overachieving weirdos, just in case you were wondering where the title of the post came from.