The sun’s out, and I look out the café window to see hot, sweaty dudes flexing their guns mid-jog. One, two, thr— nah sorry, that’s just a regular guy with a bit of paunch rolling up his sleeves as he makes a desperate lunge for the bus. It leaves without him, belching diesel fumes in its wake. I’m sorry, my good dude, I think. I watch his visible disappointment as he waddles over to the bus stop before planting himself on the seat.
My eye travels to the huge advertisement board planted behind that bus stop, cemented to the ground. I stare at the board for a while. This is all it really is: A woman holding up a bottle of whatever skincare from some foreign country is cruelly frozen in time, furnished with an eye-rolling-worthy amount of cheese that went into manufacturing her once-perfect white smile — now grey and dirty with smog from city pollution. There’s a line of faded copy positioned somewhere beside her left cheek. It was probably meant to be classy. A lot of thought from some ad agency’s creative team probably went into producing it.
Is this what’s making people buy their product? Specifically, women? I mull this over inwardly as I give her a mini salute, savoring my overpriced iced latte, which is really more ice than latte. The heat and smog is really the only reason I ducked into this café.
That brings to mind – if I were more creative, how would I have done that ad better? If I were to be in the creative’s shoes, how would I have made that ad look 10x better than it looks right now, collecting dust and bird droppings as it stands towering over a busy street?
Rethink Outdoor Ads You See On The Street
Like that one you’re sick of seeing all the time during your morning commute.
I would NOT buy that, I think as I make eye contact with yet another billboard hollering about a new line of cleaning products to the masses. Now with cinnamon butter fragrance? If I wanted my bathroom to smell like a bakery I’ll just buy a scented candle.
Okay, but some guy probably had to put a lot of thought into creating that ad. Sorry, but YAWN. These marketing tactics might have worked for baby boomers, but it falls flat for millennials and the rising Gen Z.
So what would I do in his shoes?
First up, use a better stock image, I guess. Take away the woman on her hands and knees struggling to sop up a messy floor only to have her grinning afterward with the cleaning product in hand. To be fair, if there’s a woman cleaning, there should be a man in an apron somewhere doing the cleaning, too. Don’t tell me your designing budget couldn’t make space for two people in the shot. Or better yet, go vague and avoid the gender stereotypes altogether with a faceless stock photo. Just have unisex looking hands wiping a surface clean. That’s a lot easier to ‘shop.
That’s really all you need to say — something direct and to the point without all the bells and whistles. But that’s just me. My ideals aren’t your ideals. Maybe you’d want to see something else. Give it a shot.
P.S: Someone else paid to have that ad on that billboard and those things are COSTLY just so you can put your imagination into practice – for FREE.
Take A Photo Every Day
There’s always something interesting to capture.
Whether it’s a menu item that has great presentation, or your dog giving you a doggy grin as it gazes at you in hopes of food – these everyday moments in life are worth capturing. (Granted, the Internet has an endless collection of cat photos, so if you’re not a dog person, you could always contribute to that.)
Your photo collection might even end up on an article somewhere on the virtual sinkhole we’ve been nurturing called the Internet, like those titled “Fun-loving Pet Owner Takes A Photo Of His Dog’s Antics For A Month”. Free exposure, guys. Gotta build that creative portfolio. 😉 Also, did you know you can monetize your images here?
You don’t need any special equipment other than your smartphone camera. But if you do have them and are a photography professional – by all means join our contributor community! We’d love to have you and your creativity on board.
Give Commercials A Different Ending
Definite nod to how it should’ve ended. There’s a Youtube channel for that.
If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t be watching TV – you’d be on Youtube (and Netflix, but it’s thankfully commercial-free so forget about that). And with those unavoidable bumper, in-stream or pre-roll ads they have in between your watch time, I allowed my imagination to spin a different ending in under a minute.
An ad from a gas company showing a depressing shot of old guy getting abandoned by his kids and grandkids? Hello … and goodbye. I didn’t come here to see that. But the SKIP button cannot load any quicker, guys – so let’s give his story a twist à la Benjamin Button so he can relive his life just the way he wants it. Let him alter his past the way Steve Rogers did in Endgame (yes I may have internally sobbed at that scene of him dancing with Peggy Carter) because why not??
And then he fills up his tank with Whatever Brand of gas in his town and goes on a road trip. Meets a biker gang – joins them – stops by another town miles from his own – gets into a bar fight – all thanks to the gas he refueled with. Forget his grandkids; he feels like he’s 23 again.
Or you could give that a different ending. Make it your story! Your creativity knows no bounds. Alternate endings are always fun to cook up, and gives your brain a massage.
Write/Design Every Single Day For Well, Summer
Anything and everything, really.
If you love writing, you’ll probably agree with me when I say there’s a huge difference when you’re writing for a living and writing for personal reasons. I stopped by a stationery store and got myself a leather-bound notebook because
(a) I’m a sucker for leather 😉 and
(b) I have a hard time restraining myself from collecting nice things. (It even came with page refills. How could I refuse?)
And I just filled up all the pages without editing a single thing. Doing this daily was freeing to both my creativity and conscience. I also discovered that my handwriting improved – something to be proud of since my digital addiction took over. You don’t have to go out and get a notebook, work with whatever you have.
Because I’m a design-based writer hybrid, I love looking at all things artsy. (Kudos if it’s an original illustration that’s been hand-drawn! I always appreciate when someone took the time to create something.) Whenever I feel like it, I’ll slide into designer mode, or if that gets too boring, I flip back into my writer persona. You know that age old saying Practice Makes Perfect? (Sounds 10 times better when said in Morgan Freeman’s voice.)
Design something everyday this summer. If anything, you can always look back at your collections and chuckle at your progress. Progress is better than not doing a thing, guys! I hope you discover you’re actually pretty good at breaking your own creative barriers. After all, no one else can do that but you. 🙂
Stick To A Creative Project This Summer
Bake or build, it’s your call.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a DIY professional or just starting out. The feeling of accomplishment you will get when you complete a creation with your own hands is nothing short of amazing. This is a great way to give yourself a confidence boost. Feed your creativity with a summer project. Whether your skills lie in producing some pretty awesome latte art or stone carving, the more you work at something, the better the results.
Bonus: daydreaming is also considered a creative pursuit. So if you’re not good at anything else but that, go ahead and daydream all you want this summer. If you need a little extra creative boost, check out these 5 photos and vectors to make a summer marketing campaign.