The Good Old Days
I thought I’d write a little bit on our past in advertising as I happened to mention to some colleagues that I used to have this “luggable” computer and they said “blog material!”. I hate writing this because it shows my age and I always think myself young. In technology, though, everything is old fast.
We were never much the MadMen scenario but we did have drinks at lunch once in a while. We started Fusion after the tail end of that kind of thing…except on trips to other cities with clients. Those were wild and may still be wild. But drinking in the office had become a Friday at 4pm thing, with the norm being one drink. Two for us old-school guys.
Fusion started with no computers in 1992. We always heard that Joe Grande had a Mac and that made us jealous and wanting.
We started with my aforementioned Hyperion dual 5 ¼ inch disk drive “luggable” machine for proposals and letters with the help of an old typewriter. Seems with that kind of past, I would by now be laid out to rest in the ad farm in the sky. But while I haven’t gotten old fast, that thing did.
We got our first Mac around 1993-4 and I think it was a Macintosh IIsi. One Mac for two designers and then two Macs for four designers to share.
Times before computers were fun times. Sort of. All hands-on. Everything hand drawn for mockups. Felt pens, coloured pencils, pastels, Letraset were everywhere. Client revisions were a nightmare to make in order to give them a new proof. Colours could only be shown with Pantone chips.
We often had to work all hours of the day/night to get something done as clients never understood how long these things took so took their time with proofs (and that hasn’t changed much!). We sent out for type galleys and cut rubylith to build a 100 page annual report. It was fun because it was a grind and we were small and did it together and with lots of Bourbon. And me, the business guy, was right in there, sleeves rolled up and cutting ruby and pressing down Letraset.
We ordered type galleys and waited for them to arrive until we had to jump in the car and harass the supplier (DesignType). If the galley didn’t fit, you had to order it again with different specs and go through the same dash to their shop and back. You begged and pleaded to skip the lineup they had and always seemed to owe these guys for all the last-minute favours. Or, if the deadline was very tight, you chopped up the type galley and taped it in pieces where you needed it. And then we worked and worked and worked some more toprovide these fragile things to film companies who shot half-tones or output film for the printer.
The computer killed those companies fairly quickly, but it made us incredibly faster and it has made us all much better designers (after some time period of poor design because you could do all these new and cool things on the computer).
I don’t know what happened to the Hyperion, but I may have left it in its bag in storage in the basement of a hundred and twenty year old building that was our second office. Someone will enjoy that find (but won't know what to do with it).
This Smile Brought to You by Science
As a pretty intense dog lover, I was super excited when I found out that Fusion was going to be working with Kane Biotech on the launch of their new pet oral health care product StrixNB. I was even more excited to be a part of the team that got to put this launch together and I'd say I jumped into it with both paws (come on, you knew there were going to be pet puns).
Right away, the focus was on big doggy smiles and the key differences that StrixNB brings to the table in oral health care water additives - a strong scientific background and a guarantee of only safe, human-grade ingredients. Sounds like a reason to smile to me! Maybe it was my love of the subject matter, but the look for this one and the pieces themselves seemed to come together almost on their own, and I can say that spending several weeks staring at these happy puppy grins was a total blast.
The product launch was centered around two big events in February - CenCan, an annual veterinary conference in Manitoba, and National Pet Dental Health Month.
To start, we put together a package to send to vets around the city, introducing the product and informing them of a promotion that would be running throughout Pet Dental Health Month. This information lives on one side of a fold-out poster, while the other side is a non-branded promo of Dental Health Month, advising pet owners to ask their veternarian about oral health care . We also included pins for vets to wear for this same purpose, and of course a dog bowl full of Hershey's Kisses, with a note on the bottom that every kiss should be so sweet (since StrixNB has the added benefit of improving doggy breath). On a side note, we ended up printing extra of the Pet Dental Health Month poster to fill requests from the vets.
Next, we created a tradeshow booth for use at CenCan. A special guest at this event stole the show and became quite the media darling - Leo, Barrett's Vizsla. Leo worked it for the camera, set off by the gorgeous booth that housed bottles of Strix and a fact sheet, which can double as a piece of the sales kit. The launch was picked up and featured on various media outlits, including the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV.
Finally, we developed a POP display for clinics who are carrying StrixNB, and a sales kit for the sales team to use down the road while continuing to sell their fabulous product.
I learned a lot about pet oral health care while working on this project and can't wait to get my little gal started on a StrixNB program - along with her regular scaling and brushing, of course. And if you want to get your dog started too, give your vet a call, as it will only be available through vet clinics. Cheers to healthy puppy teeth and the end of doggy breath, and thanks to Kane Biotech for making my job so much fun over the last couple months.
Valentine-makers at work.
We’ve started a new practice at Fusion, a weekly “creative huddle” for our team of designers, our creative director, and writer (that’s me!). Each week, someone takes a turn to share something they’ve been working on, or something they’ve found inspiring.
At our first meeting, we talked about personal projects that generate the kind of creative energy that can spill over into our day-to-day work.
Not long after, I came across Project Valentine, a non-profit organization in Denver that distributes valentines and gift bags to people undergoing cancer treatment. I thought it was a nice way to let people who are going through a difficult time know someone is thinking of them. And for those of us tethered to our screens, making something by hand could be a way to put our creativity to work in a different medium.
I contacted CancerCare Manitoba to find out if the idea would be welcome, and received approval. Fusion generously offered the use of our space at 78 Princess for a valentine-making workshop. Together with the friends and family who came to help Feb. 6, colleagues and members of the Vincent Massey Collegiate Key Club, we made 215 valentines!
CancerCare volunteers who regularly provide refreshments to patients will distribute the handmade cards today.
When I went to drop off the cards earlier this week, Kathy Harrison, manager of volunteer services for CancerCare gave me a tour at the McDermot Avenue facilities. As we walked through the halls, doubt crept in.
They don’t need or want a silly valentine, I thought as I caught glances of people receiving treatment. Meanwhile, Kathy told me a story about a day when she approached a group of patients sitting quietly together.
When the well-stocked refreshment cart came along, suddenly people were chatting about their favorite treats and more, and a solemn mood was lifted. One of the patients commented to Kathy, “Is that your job… to bring a little joy wherever you go?”
“And what a great job that is,” said Kathy.
It’s not really about cookies and juice – and on February 14, it’s not about valentines.
Let’s all do what we can to share a little joy. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Art & Copy…
…& Pizza & Popcorn & Butter Tarts & Happy (censored) Birthday!
Fusion took a little break from client demands today for an extended lunch in our lounge brought to us by our fabulous Social Committee.
Art & Copy, a 2009 documentary film about the advertising industry in the U.S. was the feature film on our giant flatscreen. It followed the careers of ad people (some hilariously foulmouthed) from as far back as the 1960s who were responsible for iconic campaigns such as “Just Do It”, “Where’s the Beef?”, and “Got Milk?” and turned the likes of Tommy Hilfiger into global brands.
A few of us are old enough to have seen a lot of these ads when they first hit the airwaves and print. But judging by the appropriate chuckles and facial expressions they resonated with everyone – just as their creators had intended.
Listening to present day interviews with these veteran ad men and women was inspiring. Lots of what they said sounded familiar to everyday life at Fusion. The words of wisdom they have, and the stories they told, served as great lessons. At least they did for me. I would recommend the film to anyone in the advertising business.
And to make the event that much more special…today is Claudine’s birthday. Ninee seized the moment as the movie played – climbing up on the couch for a cuddle with the birthday girl.
Happy Birthday Claudine!
Many mornings on the slow ride to the Fusion office I’ve passed a young man waiting at a bus stop wearing a hoody with this logo on it. Being a sports nut, and of a certain age, that kid always brings a smile to my face. This is the logo of the Hartford Whalers.
That random guy was probably no more than a tyke when the Whalers last played in the NHL. I can remember being a kid in school, around the days the original Winnipeg Jets first joined the NHL, and pointing out to my buddies that the whale tail and the letter W formed the letter H in between. And they didn’t see it until I pointed it out. I didn’t know at the time that was pretty good use of negative space. But I thought it was a cool logo. And I knew it was more than a logo. It was an idea.
Looking back, I was attracted to logos from an early age. I drew them all of the time.
And somewhere along the line I started getting paid for my own logo ideas.
I realize now I was always meant to be a graphic designer. Some day I should stop that kid in the hoody and thank him for pointing it out to me.