How to Break Into Modern Art Museums.

Strategy > Product Development

I’d designed and manufactured all kinds of products – baby clothing, children’s hooded towels, toys, stacking blocks, board books, even pacifier cases. OMG it was all so HARD. I had always wanted to make a line of plush (normal people call them stuffed animals), but was intimidated by the potential for it to go wrong. Hahaha. I’m such a chicken, but being gun-shy DID bring me a success in our Mysterio line. So, I put that kind of thinking against the plush problem.

First of all, and if you know me you already know this, it couldn’t be like any plush. I didn’t want to make furry lions, or sweet teddy bears out of recycled sweaters. It had to be different. I was super intrigued by blind box art toys. Especially the artists who were sculpting one simple form and then re-skinning that form in different ways. It seemed so simple and yet so endless what you could do within those confines. So I started noodling forms and experimenting with what could be done with them.

Where I ended up was certainly really different. Canvas forms filled with beans at the base so they stood on their own. Easy surface to print on, simple shape to sew. Manufacturing would be easy since I’d only be held to a printing minimum rather than a per piece construction minimum. I could make a lot of different dolls without a lot of expense. But it wasn’t “fluffy expected” and it wasn’t particularly “baby”. I didn’t think it mattered. I was going for something beyond expectation.

FINAL:  This is Robot Stuf. Because we were funding this line ourselves we had to do it as economically as possible. Can you guess one of our methods? Right. Limited colors on each doll (notice the ON switch on the back isn’t green). But it made it a challenge. So what do you do when you’re limited on colors? Double down and make it work to distinguish each dolls individuality and character.

FINAL: This is Robot Stuf. Because we were funding this line ourselves we had to do it as economically as possible. Can you guess one of our methods? Right. Limited colors on each doll (notice the ON switch on the back isn’t green). But it made it a challenge. So what do you do when you’re limited on colors? Double down and make it work to distinguish each dolls individuality and character.

FINAL:  All along It was always this simple. The form on the left was Big Stuf, 12” tall. On the right, Small Stuf, 6” tall. These were the blank factory samples we approved.

FINAL: All along It was always this simple. The form on the left was Big Stuf, 12” tall. On the right, Small Stuf, 6” tall. These were the blank factory samples we approved.

FINAL:  While some Stuf families had the same patterns on the back of each doll (Robot Stuf all had ON and OFF buttons, Circus Stuf all had a shared graphic pattern), Pirate Stuf all had a bit about each pirate’s personality on the back. My favorite, I think, was the orange Shaggy Dan who was “only a little afraid of the water”.

FINAL: While some Stuf families had the same patterns on the back of each doll (Robot Stuf all had ON and OFF buttons, Circus Stuf all had a shared graphic pattern), Pirate Stuf all had a bit about each pirate’s personality on the back. My favorite, I think, was the orange Shaggy Dan who was “only a little afraid of the water”.

FINAL:  Circus Stuf was probably my favorite family and it was an honor to have them for sale at the Ringling (as in Ringling Brothers) Museum of Art Florida. Pictured with the Circus Stuf family is the Big Top-themed wood and canvas backdrop I later added to the line.

FINAL: Circus Stuf was probably my favorite family and it was an honor to have them for sale at the Ringling (as in Ringling Brothers) Museum of Art Florida. Pictured with the Circus Stuf family is the Big Top-themed wood and canvas backdrop I later added to the line.

FINAL:  Bird Stuf and Developmental Stuf.

FINAL: Bird Stuf and Developmental Stuf.

I always tell my clients that they need to design their audience before they design their product. I knew I wanted this line to appeal to art-types, and that because of it’s plush category nature, they’d likely be parents. So why not make collectible art plush for children? And that’s when I started working on themes. I went EVERYWHERE and it was SO fun. I eventually landed on five different sets – Circus, Bird, Robot, Pirate, and Developmental. Developmental was interesting because developmental research shows that babies respond positively to high contrast items. It stimulates their brains like crazy (in a good way).

Side note: No matter how simple you try to make things, it always gets complicated. We had hired a freelance production manager who’d worked for the likes of the Gap and we found a factory who’d manufactured for Disney, yet 75% of our container shipment arrived practically destroyed. Badly sewn, misprinted, stained and unsellable. The 25% we could use was exactly to specification, thank goodness. Entrepreneurs, know this: no matter how much you try to prevent this situation, it’s ALWAYS a possibility. Which ALWAYS sucks. 

I’d always planned to market Stuf in a special way. Like, exclusive special. So I developed a line presentation that would set it us to be museum quality from the beginning. Even the name, Stuf, gave a simplistic European flavor without the fancy umlauts. Each line of Stuf would be a limited series, and a percentage of proceeds would be donated to a specific charity related to each theme. Bird Stuf, for example, would donate to the American Bird Conservatory. Developmental Stuf would contribute to Plan. The idea was for stores to display each line of Stuf alongside an engraved plaque we had made with the charity information. When a customer brought a Stuf doll to the register, the shopkeep would retrieve a fresh product from the back for purchase. It was special art you could buy. And this is an important part of the strategy – perceived value. We set this up to look like each piece (with its charitable contributions and lack of back stock) would retail for $40 each. No. Each of the small dolls retailed for just $12.95. The big ones for just $24.95.


FINAL:  Our online retail packaging was clean, simple and graphic, like the brand.

FINAL: Our online retail packaging was clean, simple and graphic, like the brand.

FINAL:  Developmental Stuf in NY MOMA.

FINAL: Developmental Stuf in NY MOMA.

Finally I get to the REAL strategy part. We didn’t cop to being the creators of Stuf. We were just the DISTRIBUTERS. We never told our stores or any interested parties where Stuf came from. And this is important to building mystique. We build a whole separate website for Stuf and only offered a single Stuf email as contact info. No order forms. No list of stores that we sold to. No wholesale reps to contact to buy it. Nothing. This all lived in the background before we launched at the big NY International Gift Fair.

When Wrybaby did bring it to market, we played dumb. We found this line and we’re the distributors. It was so different from anything else in the Wrybaby booth, it was totally plausible. And we gave it wide berth to attract stores we’d never been in before. Those store were museum stores. Modern art museums. And we got their attention. Before too long Stuf was available in:

MOMA NY
MOMA SF
Contemporary Arts Center - Cinncinati
Walker Art Center - Minneapolis
The Art Gallery of new South Wales
Arkansas Arts Center
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Delaware Art Museum
Portland Art Museum
Tacoma Art Museum
Dallas Museum of Art
Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Ringling Museum of Art Florida
The Getty Museum
The Ackland Museum NC
The Autry Museum
The Bremam Museum
Bay Area Discovery Museum

FINAL:  Once the concept proved itself, Stuf got to have  it’s own booth  at NYIGF. So clean! I wish I had a better camera to document it. :-P

FINAL: Once the concept proved itself, Stuf got to have it’s own booth at NYIGF. So clean! I wish I had a better camera to document it. :-P

But here’s the best part. Museums liked Stuf, but we pulled the whole third-party distributorship act through to the end. Emails to the Stuf website went unanswered, or a Stuf Staffer replied vaguely. There was no phone number to call. It was like those Stuf people weren’t really interested in selling their plush dolls at all. Stuf’s website was hilariously smug. It was set up like a modern art gallery site. It only listed the products, the museums they were in (which expanded by the week), the charities it funded, and the trade shows it would be presented at. I’ll tell you, I sat on the one museums PO for months until they were calling me every day to fill our their new vendor form and ship them. Why? Sometimes the more you make people want something and the more they have to work for it, the more valuable it becomes to them. It’s the law of exclusivity. Availability works the same way.

Stuf was successful enough to warrant an INCREDIBLE trade show booth dedicated to it. Very artsy. We added cool canvas backdrops to the product line so kids could put on plays using characters from each Stuf theme. Stuf went through another reorder with another factory (much better) and we retired the line to focus on other projects. But I’ve still have the bragging rights to having my art featured in most of America’s major art museums (even if it was in the gift shops).

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How to Turn Iffy QC into an Asset.

Strategy > Mysterio Predicts

Making things sucks. There. I said it. Kelly and I had been manufacturing goods for Wrybaby for years and whether it was done domestically or overseas, it always sucked. It’s just a lot of moving parts that can go wrong. And we weren’t even making complicated stuff! We had our share of screen printing problems in the US and we once had our inventory held for ransom in India WHILE WE WERE THERE VISITING THE FACTORY. Understandably, when it came time to think up a new product in 2005 we were feeling pretty sour. So we gave ourselves this challenge: Can we design a product that, if it arrived all messed up, would still be ok to sell, if not improved, by its defect?

FINAL:  This is how consumers meet  Mysterio  for the first time. Curb appeal for days and all the result of outsmarting a quality control problem. I specified using rough-sawn wood for the crate box knowing it wouldn’t print very well on the front. That way I’d never be disappointed with how badly AND it sets the stage so well for the product.

FINAL: This is how consumers meet Mysterio for the first time. Curb appeal for days and all the result of outsmarting a quality control problem. I specified using rough-sawn wood for the crate box knowing it wouldn’t print very well on the front. That way I’d never be disappointed with how badly AND it sets the stage so well for the product.

That’s when Mysterio was born. Honestly. As exotic and fun and popular as Mysterio’s baby tees are, it’s totally one of those really disappointing “How I met my spouse” stories, like, “Oh, we were drunk in Vancouver and hooked up and got pregnant, so...”. Mysterio was a child of past failure. See, maybe you know this, but manufacturing overseas sucks for small orders. The sewing, for example, can be kinda janky even if it’s something the factory specializes in. Like onesies. You’ve got QC, but still some crap sewing sneaks through. Sometimes a lot. The printing is even more iffy: It’s off center, faded or too dark; or smudged because it’s done across town with someone your factory contracted with. Get it? Good luck getting anyone to take responsibility for anything when you see it come back all messed up. And again, that’s on stuff they all specialize in.

So given our challenge, we went rustic. We went old world. Exotic. Mystic. We started with the aesthetic. What could you make that, if it arrived messed up, looked like that was intentional to reflect being handmade, or primitive, or of exotic origins? And how would that product relate to a new baby (which Wrybaby specialized in)? 

At this point in our own parenting adventure, we were past the “how will we keep it alive” phase and entering the “what will it be someday” phase. So, I don’t know, it became sort of a no-brainer to make the connection. What if we created a garment that told the baby’s future? It could come in a printed bag that was sealed, so you didn’t know the future until your opened it? What if we built it up to make people think the futures would be amazing and then they weren’t? What if they were kind of hilariously odd? Like, how you can wonder sometimes how anyone grows up to find their passion as a Shrimp Boat Captain? Or a Romance Novelist?

FINAL:  The current product  packaging , front and back. We’d added the grommet to give our stores more display opportunities. You can see how the printing on the front is a bit off-center (a bit too far to the left). If it was on an envelope or a box, I’d be pissed. But because we used a sewn bag, you totally forgive it.

FINAL: The current product packaging, front and back. We’d added the grommet to give our stores more display opportunities. You can see how the printing on the front is a bit off-center (a bit too far to the left). If it was on an envelope or a box, I’d be pissed. But because we used a sewn bag, you totally forgive it.

FINAL:  Clip the bag open and VOILA! Your baby’s future. Boom.

FINAL: Clip the bag open and VOILA! Your baby’s future. Boom.

It all unfolded from there. We didn’t even test it. We just went all in. We developed a wood crate display for stores with tons of curb appeal. It’s made by a US company who is AMAZING, but still, their shipper dropped our palette and half of the crates splintered, cracked or flat out broke. DIDN’T MATTER! In fact it made them better. They looked like they were just thrown off a boat from Cambodia.

The product itself is a little complicated to explain, being so unique. It makes a bit of heavy lifting for the little muslin packaging, but here it is: Mysterio predicts your child’s future on a t-shirt. There are 12 possible futures (which, btw, we change up every year) and each future is sealed in a muslin bag. Clip open the bag to reveal your baby’s future. 

In 2005 people weren’t very trusting that the futures wouldn’t be something stupid, dirty or terrible. So, we listed all 12 futures on the lid of the display crate so customers knew what they were in for. Eventually, we put the futures on the back of the bag (for reasons I mention in another article.) We succeeded in creating an amazing baby shower gift that was memorable because of great suspense and theater it created at parties. And talk about having a keepsake for that child to discover decades later when they really achieve their career goals! Creative moms-to-be have even used Mysterio Tees to let their husbands know they’re pregnant. Boutiques around the world found that Mysterio customers became steady customers, as Mysterio became the proven go-to baby gift. One boutique told us that Puff Daddy sent his personal chef (why the chef we’ll never know) to open all the Mysterio’s in the shop until he found Criminal Mastermind. He paid for everything he opened and left with his prize.

FINAL:  Mysterio’s money-back guarantee along with some product extensions. His deluxe Keepsake Chest, his picture book, and even little freebie goodies like a papercraft Mysterio you can consult in times of indecision.

FINAL: Mysterio’s money-back guarantee along with some product extensions. His deluxe Keepsake Chest, his picture book, and even little freebie goodies like a papercraft Mysterio you can consult in times of indecision.

Over the years we’ve tinkered with Mysterio here and there. In the beginning all you had to do was pull the string to open it, but too many people just opened them in stores until they found one they liked. So now you have to cut it open. We added a silly guarantee the your future will be accurate by the time they’re 70 (and even still there’s a ton of impossible legal stipulations). We even released a limited keepsake box full of games, an inspirational book about Mysterio, his t-shirt and even a paper craft doll Mysterio doll to guard your child’s aura. Mysterio continues to delight, and I’ll be sure to update this post soon. He’s got some new, amazing products in the works as I write.

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How to Not Destroy a Baby.

Strategy > Safe Baby Handling Tips

Are you a parent? Let me tell you, it’s terrifying. Scary at the least. If you are one, you know what I’m talking about. You’re so nervous and excited and, well, clueless. Because if it’s your first, you have no real idea what you’ve gotten yourselves into. And that’s a fact that becomes more and more clear as you careen toward your due date. When Kelly and I were expecting, I was just scared. She was terrified.

FINAL:  The cover of the expanded version of   Safe Baby Handling Tips.   On the cover is a miniature, simplified version of another product I designed for Wrybaby – The Wheel of Responsibility.

FINAL: The cover of the expanded version of Safe Baby Handling Tips. On the cover is a miniature, simplified version of another product I designed for Wrybaby – The Wheel of Responsibility.

When I was 14, my parents decided they missed being parents (of really small, helpless people). So, they had my brother Josh. Then my sister, Lindsey, three years later. So being in middle school through high school with a couple of babies in the house would prove really helpful to me as a soon-to-be-dad. I knew how to feed and burp a baby, change diapers, and all that jazz. Meh, just like ridin’ a bike. I was in no way emotionally prepared (and who is the first time) for the shock of full time responsibility, but at least I had some exposure in the field. Kelly had none.

We did all the things you do as expecting parents. We read scary articles online, we bought books that were thick and boring, or thick and scary. We were the first of our hipster advertising friends to have a baby, so they were, hilariously, no help at all. We went to baby care classes, and to the requisite Lamaz classes. And finally, our hands about all wrung out, Kelly went into labor and everything changed. 

 Sorry, changed for the better, I mean. Kelly and I soon discovered a few important truths.

  1. Across the span of human history, all new new parents feel the same

  2. Caring for a baby is difficult, but it’s manageable and only gets easier with time

  3. You’ve got to be a fucking moron to really mess this up

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REVIEWS:  Our  Amazon reviews  are hilariously amazballs.

REVIEWS: Our Amazon reviews are hilariously amazballs.

TRUE:  The only foreign translation of  Safe Baby Handling Tips  – German. Take a look at that title on the cover! Hahahaha. Do I have to tell you I had nothing to do with the layout? So bad!

TRUE: The only foreign translation of Safe Baby Handling Tips – German. Take a look at that title on the cover! Hahahaha. Do I have to tell you I had nothing to do with the layout? So bad!

That last point, especially. That’s where Safe Baby Handling Tips came from. Look, as long as your intentions are good, and you’re a somewhat stable person, you really aren’t going to mess this up. At least not in the beginning. Oh, you’ve got all the time in the world to unintentionally destroy your child emotionally. But in the first year? Nah. You good.

We’d conceived (see what I did there) the concept of these “handling tips” about a week after bringing our new son home. Each illustrated tip was printed on a newborn item: a onesie (Playing with Baby); a hooded towel (Drying Baby); a diaper cover (Checking Baby’s Diaper); you get the idea. It’s very simple. Each scenario shows you a common parenting activity and what kind an absolute idiot you’d have to be to mess it up. Sort of gives you some perspective, no?

Anyhoo, we were in Wrybaby’s booth at the New York International Trade Fair when a couple of reps from Running Press strolled in. They asked me if I had any more of these tips to fill a book. “Of course!”, I said. I didn’t. But I sure did a week later when we sent them the packet of illustrations that would eventually become Safe Baby Handling Tips.

To date, Safe Baby Handling Tips is in it’s XX printing and has sold about XXX,XXX copies. It is also well reviewed on Amazon. The book has been translated into German because if anyone knows anything about comedy, it’s the Germans. And the illustrations have become an stubbornly enduring meme on the internets much to our pleasure and dismay.

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How to Describe Something That’s Never Existed.

Strategy > Product Description

VersaMe made an early-education wearable that would count the number of words a child heard throughout the day. Not WHAT the words were, mind you. It just counted how many of them there were. Parents would get detailed data in almost real-time about how many words were said, and when. So, what would you call that? A word counter might be your first thought.

Now think of a device that counts your steps. A-ha! Easy, right? A Fitbit or, step counter or whatever. Tons of them that exist. But you already know, after decades of education from various sources, that exercising is good for you. Even walking adds benefits to your health. So, steps x healthy = the more steps the better. Done. Good job.

WHAT DOES IT DO?  So small, so cute, so frustrating to describe! AAAAAAHHHHUUUGHH!

WHAT DOES IT DO? So small, so cute, so frustrating to describe! AAAAAAHHHHUUUGHH!

But the vast majority of people don’t know why more words are good for your baby. When I started working on this, the best way to get people to understand the product (once you established it was a wearable for infants that improved Junior’s educational potential by counting the words he heard) was to say, “It’s like a Fitbit for words.” You could literally see cartoon lightbulbs go on over people heads.

But that’s no way to brand a product. You can’t rely on another brand name to describe your product no matter how different an industry it’s rooted in. This is a really stupid, hard problem. It starts to sound like a really mean logic puzzle when you get into it a bit.

Wearable Word Counter - Doesn’t explain the fullness of the system (hardware, mobile software, benefits)

Advanced Early-Education Wearable - Doesn’t say what it does.

Early-Education System - Well, it’s more than a word counter, but again, not very descriptive.

Wearable Word Tracker - Sounds like it keeps track of which words a baby hears

Also, the Starling didn’t record the words a baby heard. It literally just counted them. So words like tracker were verboten.

FINAL : Where we ended up on the redesigned packaging – complete early education system. Which was super accurate, but still a clunky mouthful.

FINAL: Where we ended up on the redesigned packaging – complete early education system. Which was super accurate, but still a clunky mouthful.

This kind of technology never existed for everyday consumers, so they had no point of reference to lean on to understand it. In the end, the closest I got was to describe it as an early-education monitor. And I thought that was SUPER close. After all, you use a sleep monitor to be sure your baby is sleeping enough. Why wouldn’t you use an education monitor to tell if your baby’s learning enough? I’ll always wish we had more time to reconfigure in this direction to see how this would have done. Never underestimate how hard it is to sell something no one has ever seen before. And know that the only solution involves repeated education, and time. And lots of both.

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How Honesty Isn’t Always the Best Policy.

Strategy > Sales

Before I came on board, VersaMe, makers of early education technology, had brought on an expensive big box rep group with great credentials. Turned out they sucked for lots of reasons, but they managed to arrange a phone call with a buyer form Barnes & Noble while I was in California and so I took the call with co-founder and CFO, Nicki Boyd. We did our thing and at the end, the buyer was still on the fence when she asked, “Are you going to be at ABC next week?” “Of course we are,” I said. “I’ll get you the booth number later today.” She said, “Fine, I’ll come by your booth Friday afternoon at 2 to take a closer look at the Starling.” We hung up the phone and I looked at Nicki and said, “Guess what? We’re going to the ABC show.

ABC SHOW:  Mmmmmm. Vegas convention center. Soak it in.

ABC SHOW: Mmmmmm. Vegas convention center. Soak it in.

Of course we had NO plans to go to ABC. Nicki didn’t even know what it was. But I did. ABC is the huge annual, baby gear trade show in Vegas for wholesale buyers big and small. I’ve done ABC multiple times in the past for Wrybaby. Booth space typically starts at around $5,000 for the three and a half day show. That doesn’t count your airfare, lodging, and food. Nor does it include what it costs to have a decent presence there. And if your product is a high-tech baby gadget, don’t even go if you’re only going to use what they supply you for $5K, $10K, or even $15k: plain industrial carpet; two folding chairs; dark blue fire-retardant curtains as your walls; a plastic trash can; and a white plastic sign hanging from the curtains with your company name and booth number printed in Helvetica Regular. No, you’ve got to either spend $$$$ or $$ and be clever. We had to do the latter. Because this was a one off show for us. Of course we wanted to be in a big box store, but at the time we were really trying to make a connection with consumers on our own. We weren’t focused on a wholesale strategy. So it was worth the gamble to go and make our Barnes & Noble meeting, but we’d also have the chance of meeting other relevant big box buyers (Target, Buy Buy Baby, etc.). Not to mention all the indie mom and pop buyers.

ABC SHOW:  Welcome to the show. Here’s what you get for all that $$$! Now to paint some lips on this pig.

ABC SHOW: Welcome to the show. Here’s what you get for all that $$$! Now to paint some lips on this pig.

This post isn’t about booth design. Because our booth ended up being the least expensive version of what it would take to pass for looking like we had advanced tech to offer, that we knew what we were doing, and that we had done shows before. All were important bars to meet for any exhibitor. OK, I’ve gone this far, so I’ll give you some quick exhibitor tips for going on the cheap. Get a pop-up display to use as your back wall and get a snazzy, eye-catching graphic wrap made for it. After 8 years of doing big shows twice a year for Wrybaby, I had never used a pop-up (I always had those spaces custom built), but for VersaMe I used monsterdisplays.com. They were affordable, fast, and the quality was great. Still, that solution alone is pretty lame. You gotta spice it up with furniture. Don’t rent tables and chairs from the show. It’s expensive and they look like shit. Find an IKEA nearby and go buy the small tables and chairs you need there. Also, if you’re going to display a product, get some shelving there, too. Oh, and some accent rugs for color. Then get an Uber and take it all to the convention center and start building. In the end you’ll have something that’s somewhat unique, eye-catching (if you bought the right stuff) and a step or two above being a basic bitch. Your booth neighbors will also not hate you.

ABC SHOW:  A quick Uber to IKEA and we’re in business. A table set in company colors (YAY IKEA) for our big Barnes & Noble meeting (and whoever else we’d be talking to)!

ABC SHOW: A quick Uber to IKEA and we’re in business. A table set in company colors (YAY IKEA) for our big Barnes & Noble meeting (and whoever else we’d be talking to)!

Anyhoo, we made it there. Our lodging was an AirBnB apartment in a dingy mixed-use building behind the convention center, whose retail anchor was a psychic. The dark halls smelled strongly of heavily seasoned fried foods. It was amazing. We got our goods at IKEA, built them all night, arrived for the first morning of the show...and waited.

We made contact with interesting folks big and small (a lot of ABC is meeting buyers, then closing sales after the show). We also got to practice the pitch, refining it here and there for everyone who stopped (and there were a lot). Finally, the moment of truth – our Barnes and Noble buyer arrived. We went through our pitch as she stood looking looked at the display we’d set up. The Starling was out of its box perched in front of a pyramid of the packaging behind it. As I talked, I saw she was looking hard at the packaging. She asked a lot of smart questions, and then things went quiet. She was still looking at the packaging when she said, “I feel like It’s not ready yet. Let’s stay in touch.” She thanked us and she was gone. We’d taken a chance and it didn’t pay off.

ABC SHOW:  Here are some very real, very terrifying things one could purchase at the ABC Show. Don’t ask me why. They were in a catalog I found near a trash can by the bathrooms. I wondered if this company also had a pending meeting with our Barnes & Noble buyer.

ABC SHOW: Here are some very real, very terrifying things one could purchase at the ABC Show. Don’t ask me why. They were in a catalog I found near a trash can by the bathrooms. I wondered if this company also had a pending meeting with our Barnes & Noble buyer.

After the show, I followed-up with the buyers we met. Especially our Barnes and Noble friend. I wrote that it was great to meet her and I totally understand her assessment that we weren’t ready for prime time yet. In fact, I forgot to mention to her that we’d heard that before, and we were just wrapping up a redesign of the packaging. I was getting some final mockups next week, and when I did, I’d send some photos over to her. Of course, there was no redesign underway. So now I had a week (including the weekend) to redesign the packaging. I threw myself into a full study on the project and got founder approval. I’d still heard nothing back from the buyer, so I kept cranking. I printed designs and built fake boxes, photographed them, and sent them off to the buyer. Again, I heard nothing back. For weeks. She didn’t reply to my follow-ups. I was bummed. We took another chance and that didn’t work, either.

Three weeks later I got an email out-of-the-blue from Barnes and Noble. It was a PO from their purchasing department with instructions on how to register as a vendor. They wanted 500 units for a test run in a few stores. We did it! It all worked! Except, wait, was it because of the packaging? Because it would take time to print the new sleeves for reals and get 500 existing boxes unwrapped and repackaged. I wrote to ask if they expected the new packaging. I wrote everyone – buyer, purchasing, underlings, interns. No one would get back to me. So, we shipped the order in the old packaging.

I wish this story ended with something cool, like, “They sold out in minutes and the buyer took us out for a fancy dinner and we swapped stories and laughed all night long”. But what happened is usually what happens when you’re a small business working with a behemoth. We heard nothing. As a vendor you get sales information every week. Or at least you’re supposed to. We didn’t for a really long time, so I wrote to everyone in the organization to fix it. Finally, months later, I got a spreadsheet from them and the total units on hand were incorrect, and sales were listed as none. We asked which stores they were in, and they couldn’t say. After a while, I had to turn my attentions elsewhere. About 6 months later I got an email from Barnes & Noble’s purchasing dept. They were planning a reorder, and they wanted to know if we had enough units in stock. I couldn’t believe it. I wrote back again and again, saying yes – we were ready to go. Then I got an email alerting me that there was a new buyer. So I called her to say we were so excited to supply her with more Starlings, and she said, “Oh, we have no intention of ordering more Starlings.” I never heard from them again. And that, my friends is how most big box adventures end with a 😐.

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How to Market a Product No One’s Seen Before That Solves a Problem No One Knows About.

Strategy > Branding

OMG the world needs this early-development technology. I’m dead serious. But even though this revolutionary wearable looks simple, how it works is actually pretty complicated. And did I mention the results aren’t immediate? (Just wait, I’ll get there). But one thing is absolutely clear – the result of using this technology means your child will get a substantial educational head-start over his or her peers. That head-start begins in infancy, and keeps distancing your child ahead of others for life.

PRODUCT:  This is the Starling. So tiny, so cute, so powerful.

PRODUCT: This is the Starling. So tiny, so cute, so powerful.

FINAL:  One of the first things I made at Versame – a 6”x9” two-sided handout for parents touting the Starling’s benefits.

FINAL: One of the first things I made at Versame – a 6”x9” two-sided handout for parents touting the Starling’s benefits.

The great advantage of doing what I do at this point in my career is being able to choose the projects I work on, and the people I work with. I really liked the people at VersaMe before I even knew about the product. Chris and Jon, two of the company’s founders, contacted Kelly and I out of the blue. They had left Silicon Valley like we did, and now lived just a couple of towns down the I77, in Huntersville. They explained that they were fans of our parenting board book, Safe Baby Handling Tips. In fact, the bit about Playing with Baby was one of the early slides in their investor pitch for a startup they were launching with a third partner, Nicki “The Money” Boyd (the nickname I gave her). Nicki controlled the finances and managed the development team back in Redwood City, while the rest of the team worked out here in NC.

BEFORE AND AFTER:  The original packaging on the left didn’t communicate the product or it’s value. My  redesign  on the right led with the value proposition and steadily unfolded the whole story in easy-to-digest snippets.

BEFORE AND AFTER: The original packaging on the left didn’t communicate the product or it’s value. My redesign on the right led with the value proposition and steadily unfolded the whole story in easy-to-digest snippets.

Kelly and I met Jon and Chris for coffee and they explained what they were making. They had a passion for early education and learning (it ran in their family). They knew that the education system was not only broken, but historically broken and getting worse. From studying years of scientific research they concluded the only way to nip the problem was, literally, in the bud. They sought to jump-start the learning process as early (and as correctly) as possible. This was the problem they worked on at Stanford and they already went through a successful round of funding. The hardware and development infrastructure was built, and they were about to launch on Kickstarter. The three had a lot of the planning done (and it was good) but they asked us on to help them out with tightening up the branding and early messaging. That’s when we learned all about the Starling.

The Starling was a beautifully designed, high-tech wearable for children 0-4 years old. When you clipped it to your child’s clothes, the Starling would count every word spoken to your baby throughout the day. It did this in virtual real-time, without recording, and sent the data to your phone with beautiful graphics telling you how many words your child heard that hour, that day, that month, that year. It let you set word count goals to challenge you every day. Anticipating how hard it can be to carry on a one-sided conversation (Chris and Jon were also parents), the app gave you fun daily prompts to help you keep talking to your baby at every occasion - in the car, during your afternoon run with the jog stroller, at bedtime, etc. Feeling competitive? There was even a leader board that you could use to see how much quality engagement you gave your child compared to other Starling parents. Amazing, right?

I bet I can guess what you’re thinking right now. “Why?”

Why all this technology to talk to a newborn? It’s not like I’m NOT going to say anything to my baby, so why all the extreme fuss? You’re not wrong to think that. But here’s a big fact – the more words you say to a child from 0-4 years old, the more likely they are to reach their full potential. And the “to” is super important. You can’t just talk “at” your child, like over your shoulder while you’re doing the dishes. No, doing that doesn’t work the same way. Think reading, with the child on your lap. Or telling a story while making lots of eye contact. There you go, that’s the right stuff. It’s about engagement. Feed a child’s brain enough words like this and soon you’ll find yourself with an early talker. Then while other babies are still learning to talk, yours is busy learning to read. Get it? And while other people’s kids are learning to read picture books, yours is reading chapter books. This goes on for their whole life!

FINAL : For professionals who already understood the importance of verbal communication, I created this  “bookshure”  to introduce them to a powerful new tool – the Starling.

FINAL: For professionals who already understood the importance of verbal communication, I created this “bookshure” to introduce them to a powerful new tool – the Starling.

But understand this – doing all this talking with engagement doesn’t mean every child can grow up to be Einstein. It’s all about maximizing your child’s genetic (not economic) potential. If it’s only within a child’s genetic capacity to be average smart, they’ll get there faster and stay there for life. This can make a huge difference to a child’s quality of life, considering where they could end up without the benefit of this help. And I can’t stress this enough – I’m talking about  ALL children. Not just poor children. Or special needs children. ALL CHILDREN. (If you’re a parent reading this, please note your feelings right now. I’ll get to them later). 

Finally, dear reader, here lies the rub. Look how long it took me to explain the Starling to you and the problem it solves. My expertise in working with clients in San Francisco was taking really complicated concepts and making them dead simple for a consumer (best example here). I worked on the Starling for two years and what you read above is the shortest I think I’ve ever gotten the complete pitch. So as a marketer, here are your options:

  1. Explain how The Starling works, and then explain why it solves an early-education problem you didn’t know existed

  2. Explain how you need to talk to your baby as much as possible from 0-4 years old, and then explain what the Starling is and how it could help you do that

You can’t do one (explain the Starling) without the other (how early development works). 

The three founders had become early-childhood experts, for real. And their research scientist, librarian, pediatrician, speech language pathologist, mentors and partners were all in touch on the regular, keeping tabs on the Starling’s progress and correcting messaging when necessary so that everything stayed absolutely factual. We needed to look like experts, but not scientists. The messaging had to be intriguing, inviting and fun – but not misleading or fantastical.

FINAL : A  one-sheet  for interested schools to get a little more detail on how the Starling can help their mission.

FINAL: A one-sheet for interested schools to get a little more detail on how the Starling can help their mission.

The Kickstarter launch was a success in that it did what we needed – raise as much awareness as cash. (As I said, VersaMe was already funded by an investment group). Our mailing list blossomed. Sales started coming in. But that’s when the real work began.

I’ve worked on big tech in San Francisco. A lot. Sun Microsystems, Borland, Sybase, Veritas, Dell, Adobe, blah blah blah. That’s not including all the dot coms. I was there for the first big boom, and the first big bust, working freelance for almost every agency in the City. Startups are different. It’s EXACTLY like in the show “Silicon Valley” (the first season, anyway). It’s crazy and confusing and exciting and hilarious and scary and frustrating and fun as hell. You’ll NEVER pack more work into a shorter span of time than when you work for a startup. Because even though we were focused on who we were, and which audience we were talking to, we were saying it all - in every conceivable way. And we had practically no budget to do it with. Even though there was $10M in seed money, you gotta watch like a hawk how you spend it (right, Nicki?). Because it’s only going to last so long. So we were begging, borrowing, and stealing while testing the messaging multiple time a day, every day, everywhere. And once we saw progress in any direction we’d run after it full speed.

There’s no way I can ever tell you everything we did. It was so much! But one of the first things  was to use everything that inspired the creation of the Starling to build a giant online resource center for new parents, filled with published studies that prove the benefits of direct, verbal communication. Then we published articles and how-to’s on our blog everyday giving tips on how (and why) to maximize your baby-talking skills. Our newsletters were going out weekly to new parents, filled with communication tips and info on developmental milestones. I found out that the founders had invested in a HUGE AdWords ad buy that included a lot of YouTube videos. I had two weeks to deliver finished product and there was nothing in the works. We set up tents in shopping malls and Nicki and I did the ABC show in Vegas (to have a meeting with Barnes & Noble, who said no, then inexplicably sent us a huge order two weeks later). We got into a hipster tech showroom in Silicon Valley. I totally redesigned the packaging. I made an online school for new parents. We developed a custom Reading App that you could use with the Starling. We hired influencers on social media. We created a mobile app game based on the Starling. We brought on a respected social media agency to give it a go. We. Tried. Everything.

WORK:  And lots of it! This is probably about 2% of the things we did to position, explain, and sell the Starling.  Clockwise from top left:  Dumbing it down, we created multitudes of info-loaded landing online campaigns and landing pages, we created and ran an online school, we sent the founders to present at indie book stores, parenting groups, schools and libraries. I made a Starling Honors program for little students, we made an educational mobile game, we tried multitudes of simple online campaigns and landing pages, we gave away free information (so much free information), we changed the whole website, we started  marketing the platform  the Starling was built on, and we developed ridiculously complex email newsletters and campaigns.

WORK: And lots of it! This is probably about 2% of the things we did to position, explain, and sell the Starling. Clockwise from top left: Dumbing it down, we created multitudes of info-loaded landing online campaigns and landing pages, we created and ran an online school, we sent the founders to present at indie book stores, parenting groups, schools and libraries. I made a Starling Honors program for little students, we made an educational mobile game, we tried multitudes of simple online campaigns and landing pages, we gave away free information (so much free information), we changed the whole website, we started marketing the platform the Starling was built on, and we developed ridiculously complex email newsletters and campaigns.

Nothing worked. At least, not on the level we wanted it to. It was just too much for people to wrap their heads around. Most thought it was a great product...for terrible parents. And of course, THEY were all excellent parents. There’s actually a study that exists which found 90% of parents thought they were parenting in the 5th percentile of awesome parents. Which, of course, is mathematically impossible. So we pivoted to focus on Starling Partnersschools (public and private), libraries, speech pathologists, pediatrician clinics, non-profit organizations. Frankly, any group that already understood the importance of early learning. Most ended up being too outright dysfunctional, painfully slow to act, or too strapped for funds to make a difference to our bottom line. Our biggest success came from developing a program for libraries to loan Starlings out to patrons. We got ourselves into a lot of libraries but not enough, and not fast enough. In the end we had to stop. There was nothing left to try. This amazing technology is now in the hands of the scientific researchers who inspired it. They’re using it to further understand how we can make our children better, smarter, happier people. I’m 100,000% sure that someday you’ll see this product (or something like it) make a huge consumer splash in the future. Sometimes a good idea doesn’t make it simply because of something that no one can foresee or control  – timing.

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How to Turn a Total Shit Show Into a Winner.

Strategy > Branding

Despite the title, this is the funnest (I know, but I made it a word) project I’ve ever worked on. A lot of what makes marketing great (and great marketing) is what happens behind the scenes. How did we involve the client, the CEO, the employees? What obstacles did we have to overcome aside from winning the business? So, having said that, read on and you tell me...what’s was not to love about this particular project from the outset? 

FINAL:  The first salvo in a campaign designed to convince people to love the communications company they loved to hate.

FINAL: The first salvo in a campaign designed to convince people to love the communications company they loved to hate.

Three town governments in North Carolina overpaid, substantially ($80,000,000), for a local communications company that was failing in every aspect of the word. The public didn’t get to vote on the action (which they surely would not have done). Nope, the town officials just decided to buy it with taxpayer bonds, and did it. The result was an incredibly bitter, prolonged public comeuppance. The public rallied behind “The government shouldn’t own a communications company!” and before long everyone in office, from Mayors to Commissioners to Town Managers were out, out, out. Everyone was replaced by angry electeds who agreed with the angry public that this cable company was bad, bad news. They all wanted out of the deal, but the damage had already been done. They were stuck with a financial burden they couldn’t get out of. That thing was called MI-Connection, with the MI being a lame combination of Mecklenburg and Iredell county initials that nobody, even to this day, can agree on how to pronounce – MY Connection or EM - EYE Connection? Oh, and even if you knew the initials, good luck finding the hyphenated URL. Sad Face Emoji.

But, incredibly, it was kind of an understandable decision to buy the thing. I mean, it’s not like they did it on a whim. Despite these three towns being about 10-20 minutes from the banking explosion called Charlotte, and populating themselves at an extremely rapid pace, this area was severely under serviced. Heck, if Mooresville, Davidson, and Cornelius didn’t lay fiber and string cable themselves, no one else was that interested in doing it. Even though there were three competitors in their market (Windstream, Time Warner, and Dish), these out-of-towners just weren’t investing in this area. Honestly, why should they? So how else can a town (or 3) attract residents and businesses so they can grow? Before they were (mostly) drummed out of office, the commissioners did one smart thing – they found someone with big telecom experience who could potentially turn the ship around (provided he could stop it from burning even closer to the waterline).

BEFORE:  What MI-Connection was putting out there before we cleaned up their act.

BEFORE: What MI-Connection was putting out there before we cleaned up their act.

In stepped David Auger, CEO. David had incredible experience in telecom, was an ex-Time Warner executive, a marketing aficionado and a lovely man. Sharp as a tack, too. He had MI-Connection lay low for a year, advertising little, assessing the damage, and building a sharp, experienced Board of Directors. Now, here was his (and the town’s, after all they were the owners) core dilemma:

If no one subscribed to MI-Connection’s services (Video, Internet, and Phone), then the whole thing would collapse. So how do you make people love the communications company they LOVE to hate? 

My first meeting about MI-Connection was actually with the newly elected Mayor of Mooresville, Miles Atkins. The Town of Mooresville (TOM) was the biggest investor of the three in MI-Connection and Mr. Atkins was the one official who, as commissioner, was a lone voice against buying the business. Miles was also a former client of mine. For a whole year since the purchase, both the press and citizens scorched MI-Connection as an $80,000,000 socialist pariah. And no one was saying otherwise. But Mayor Atkins had a different perspective. While he opposed the purchase, he could see that we were all stuck with it, no matter what. And by not using it to its fullest advantage, our three towns would not only be shooting themselves in the face, but also lose out on what owning a local communications company could mean to our communities. To his thinking (and it was smart), we all owned this thing – so let’s make the most of it. Mayor Atkins set up a meeting with my wife, Kelly, David Auger and myself, who gave us his perspective. In the year he’d been restructuring, there was actually good news. Plenty of it. Mr. Auger was able to shore up the company and even quietly implement some programs to aid the communities who owned the company – free services to non-profits who helped local underprivileged families, free Wi-Fi for underprivileged local students, and more. Also, subscribership was up. The cable company everyone thought was a failure had begun to do better. Way better.

FINAL:  We didn’t have to play by any rules but our own. So to convince people our story was worth hearing, we opened up a conversation via all outlets. The website got cleaned up, the  ads  were bold and in-your face, but communicating SO much better. I devised a template for the direct mail, too. Way more professional using nothing but what was there all along.

FINAL: We didn’t have to play by any rules but our own. So to convince people our story was worth hearing, we opened up a conversation via all outlets. The website got cleaned up, the ads were bold and in-your face, but communicating SO much better. I devised a template for the direct mail, too. Way more professional using nothing but what was there all along.

FINAL:  Some more print and some online that was really fun to write. SUPER click-baity and led you to a landing page that would clear things up pretty quick (and encourage a phone call to MI-Connection).

FINAL: Some more print and some online that was really fun to write. SUPER click-baity and led you to a landing page that would clear things up pretty quick (and encourage a phone call to MI-Connection).

Obviously, there was a communication problem (amazing how it’s always the culprit, right?) between the communications company and the public. From the outset, officials never conveyed effectively to the public why they were buying this thing. So once it was said and done, the nay-sayers were in control of the narrative. A year of zero self-defense didn’t help matters. What was needed was a little public education. Not subtle, but a giant baseball bat to the noggin.

We called the launch “Straight Talk”, which was exactly what it was. No false posturing, no flamboyance, no marketing speak. We listened to the positive things David and his team had achieved and telegraphed it all straight to the public with full page print, direct mail, local cinema ads, and local online banners every week for 13 weeks. MI-Connection launched out of nowhere with an incredibly tough offense. This local cable company you, personally, have a stake in is not only beneficial to your life here, but doing rather well. The messaging was raw, compelling, based in common sense, and it was all true. And at that breakneck pace, the haters had a hard time trolling our positive, provable messages.

Design-wise, my hands were tied by the existing brand (and its terrible website, name, logo, etc. You can read about how we changed that here), but I was able to rework what existed into a clean, blunt instrument of education that was hard to ignore. This launch campaign ended up being MI-Connection’s steady messaging for 7 years of solid growth. That is, until MI-Connection was profitable enough to get out from underneath the tainted shadow of the old brand. That’s where the real fun (and success) began.

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How to Create a Private, Free Club That People Will Cheat to Join.

Strategy > Special Programs

We’d branded Downtown Mooresville and things were working pretty well. Their event schedule (Art Walks, Live Music, etc.) was bonkers (so many) and they kept people streaming Downtown, but shop traffic was still lagging. People liked the events, but didn’t really feel like exploring. We had to figure out a way to pull them into the shops, if not to buy, to at least bookmark Downtown for the next time they needed something. We also needed a way to figure out how many people were using Downtown on the steady already. Are the people at these events from across town? Are they from nearer by?

If you’ve heard me say this in another post, sorry (not sorry). It’s how I tackle assignments and I don’t think I can say it enough - When you try and solve a marketing problem, consider all the other problems around it. Focus, but stay open minded. Solve the problem at hand and then step back and ask, “Can this solution also help solve any of these other problems over here?”. If it can’t, well, maybe that ain’t the solution. I find more often than not, it can. People called the Downtownie Program a loyalty program, but it was much more than that.

FINAL:  You’re entry point to become an official, card-carrying member of Downtown Mooresville – a Downtownie!

FINAL: You’re entry point to become an official, card-carrying member of Downtown Mooresville – a Downtownie!

The best way to describe it is by how you’d experience it as a consumer. Say you’re at the Festival of Food Trucks. You’re waiting for your artisan grilled cheese sandwich when a nice lady in a bright orange Downtown t-shirt gives you a Downtown Passport. She tells you that when you fill in all 20 sticker spots in the Passport and mail it in, you’ll become a card-carrying, lifetime member of Downtown Mooresville – a Downtownie! You’ll get unique, special discounts whenever you show your Downtownie Card in participating businesses Downtown. It’s all free. Next time you’re in a business Downtown, just ask for a sticker. The nice lady then gives you a sticker to start you off. It’s got a little flag on it, signifying an event.

FINAL:  Inside your Downtown Passport.

FINAL: Inside your Downtown Passport.

You finish your grilled cheese sammy and notice you’re in front of a big frame shop/art gallery. You see the Downtownie sticker on the door and walk in. You’re looking around when someone asks if they can help you. You say you’re fine, but can you get a Downtownie sticker for your Passport? The sticker they give you has a little shopping bag on it.

Before you leave that event you have 5 stickers - a flag, three shopping bags, and the fork and knife sticker you got in that little craft beer place (Restaurant). It was fun and you’re halfway done. Next time you’re Downtown you notice that virtually all the shops have Downtownie stickers in their window. You stop for lunch and see that there are other people getting stickers and the waitresses are handing out Passports with each bill. Before you know it, all your sticker spots are filled so you write in your info and mail it off to the Downtown Commission.

A week later you get a letter from Downtown Mooresville. There’s a personal letter from the Executive Director of the Mooresville Downtown Commission and a hot tip - the steakhouse is treating Downtownie diners with a free bag of their house coffee this week. Oh, and they gave you a window sticker for your car so you can flout your love of Downtown and identify your fellow Downtownies all over town.

FINAL : Your Downtownie card finally arrives!

FINAL: Your Downtownie card finally arrives!

You start using your Downtownie card, and find it’s sort of like a treasure hunt. The breakfast spot is giving Downtownie’s 15% off their famous Eggs Benedict. The sushi place is giving Downtownies a free Edamame appetizer. Even the insurance place is offering something special, even if it’s just a lollipop. All the merchants are in charge of their own Downtownie specials so some keep their offers the same all the time and some switch it up every season, month or week. You know who’s doing what each month when you get the Downtownie email newsletters that spotlight events and specials going on. Every Downtownie card was numbered too, and you read in the email that the shoe store picks a random number every week to win a free pair of socks. You ask yourself why it took you so long to discover Downtown Mooresville.

FINAL:  Window clings Downtown tell you who’s celebrating Downtownies, while car decals help visitors show their love of Downtown Mooresville.

FINAL: Window clings Downtown tell you who’s celebrating Downtownies, while car decals help visitors show their love of Downtown Mooresville.

Easy, right? Wrong. Any Downtown director will tell you (with a small tear welling up in their eye) – getting merchants on the same page is akin to herding bi-polar tigers on crystal meth. It took a LOT of presentations, to both groups and one-on-one, in order to get everyone on board. And then it took even more hands-on education to get them all (and their staff) to use the system in their shops. But once it was going, it got going fast. My favorite part was when a restaurant owner came to me, really upset, and said he saw some people cheating by asking for extra stickers. He was so mad. But I laughed and told him, look, if people are willing to cheat at this free game by getting free stickers to join your free secret club, stop worrying. It means it’s working!

So what were all the problems this program solved?

  • we found a way to get people to sample different shops when they were Downtown

  • when the sticker books came back, we knew how many people really enjoyed being Downtown, who they were, where they lived, and what their email address was

  • by the type of stickers in the completed Passports, we could see what they liked doing most Downtown - shopping, dining, events, services

  • we knew what their favorite thing was Downtown, and what they wished was Downtown

  • by keeping track when restocking merchants with stickers, we knew who was pushing the program the hardest and who wasn’t

  • merchants felt like a cohesive unit for once because they all had something they could rally behind that didn’t take much effort

  • for all you Downtown Directors out there, this is the best part. The Downtown Commission finally had visitor data they could use to get more funding from the town

You might say, jeez, why didn’t you just make an app? It’s a good point, but it wasn’t realistic for this client’s budget or the tech sophistication an app requires. And I guess that’s another good point to make. If a client cant afford a smart idea because it’s too fancy, complicated, or expensive, then give them the smart idea in a way they can use it. People forget, that’s a good chunk of what being a good creative is.

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How to Fake It 'Till You Make It.

Strategy > Branding

Downtown Mooresville is a special place. Its charm (and untapped potential) lured us away from San Francisco when we were looking for better schools and a less hectic lifestyle. We took a look at Downtown, found an old home a block and a half away, moved, set up shop in the old telegraph office along Broad Street across from the old train depot, and quietly kept doing what we were doing back in The City. Only this time, with a freight train passing by and blowing its whistle every day at 1pm. It was so loud you couldn’t plan any phone calls around that time slot. It was awesome (not sarcasm). The old Downtown was only a few blocks long on Main Street, and wore charming but warehousy treasures over its shoulder along Broad Street too. 

FINAL:  The first thing we did was define Downtown Mooresville as, well, Downtown Mooresville. The final  logo  could easily represent Downtown’s railroad past, but also make sense with shops you’d find there  (fashion, restaurants, bars, hairstylists, hardware, etc.),  and event that would be held there. It had to play nice with everything you threw at it.

FINAL: The first thing we did was define Downtown Mooresville as, well, Downtown Mooresville. The final logo could easily represent Downtown’s railroad past, but also make sense with shops you’d find there (fashion, restaurants, bars, hairstylists, hardware, etc.), and event that would be held there. It had to play nice with everything you threw at it.

It’s hard to not meet people Downtown. Heck, most of them were neighbors as it turned out. One of those neighbors turned out to be Kim Atkins. She’d had successful career in the printing business and became a shop owner on Main Street. It didn’t work out. Rather than do what anyone would have done (curse Downtown and never return), she did the opposite and was elected the Executive Director of the Downtown Commission. Our boys went to the same elementary school and had become inseparable pals.

Downtown Mooresville was founded in 1873 along a rail line (yep, trains still use it!). In the 1960’s, Duke Power created the man-made Lake Norman while at the same time, the I77 was created to offer a faster way to motor to Charlotte down south, and Statesville up north. The lake was to the west of Downtown and offered about a jillion miles of lakefront property opportunity. The I77 freeway divided the town in more ways than one. Downtown was considered the poor side of Mooresville. Lake Norman (LKN) was where the money was. Hot-Cha!

BEFORE : Oh, there was clearly nothing happening Downtown when we started this project. Open shops had huge gaps of vacant, papered-over storefronts between them. That’s real bad for encouraging foot traffic and look at the mess. By code, closed businesses had to have their windows papered. So we had the idea to paper them with interesting facts about Downtown. It would pull people through to all the open shops, entertain and educate visitors, clean up the overall look of Downtown Mooresville, and cover up it’s vacancy problem. And, being black and white, it’d be affordable. So many problems solved with one easy solution!

BEFORE: Oh, there was clearly nothing happening Downtown when we started this project. Open shops had huge gaps of vacant, papered-over storefronts between them. That’s real bad for encouraging foot traffic and look at the mess. By code, closed businesses had to have their windows papered. So we had the idea to paper them with interesting facts about Downtown. It would pull people through to all the open shops, entertain and educate visitors, clean up the overall look of Downtown Mooresville, and cover up it’s vacancy problem. And, being black and white, it’d be affordable. So many problems solved with one easy solution!

BEFORE:  The many brochures (and identities) of Downtown Mooresville, all in circulation at the same time when we started working with them.

BEFORE: The many brochures (and identities) of Downtown Mooresville, all in circulation at the same time when we started working with them.

Cut to modern times and it’s still the same. One side of Lake Norman has all the Red Robins, Super Targets, and Olive Gardens they can handle. While our side (I live in this part, remember) is a little weathered, but has all the heart and soul of what this town used to be. It didn’t help that Downtown was all but empty, lacking both shops and people. The most going concern though, was really going. Soirée was situated in a beautifully restored building in the center of Downtown and was a destination on any night of the week. The problem was, the few shops and business Downtown were never open when Soirée was pulling in the public. Worse yet, the town was so divided that (and I’m not exaggerating here), 85% of the fancy people on the Lake side didn’t even know Downtown existed!

FINAL:  The first step – getting our house in order. With some selective photography we presented the Downtown we wanted people to see. All beautiful old buildings and historic charm. We dressed up Main Street with some handsome, attention-getting, hard-working  street banners , nailed down our identity and made ONE exciting  brochure.

FINAL: The first step – getting our house in order. With some selective photography we presented the Downtown we wanted people to see. All beautiful old buildings and historic charm. We dressed up Main Street with some handsome, attention-getting, hard-working street banners, nailed down our identity and made ONE exciting brochure.

Sorry. Lots of backstory, but it’s super important (especially if you’re a small town in a similar situation). Downtown was quiet, but not dead. They launched a VERY aggressive event schedule to get folks over the I77 to our side, but they didn’t really have a brand to hang it all upon. Some merchants were calling Downtown “the Dirty Mo” on their social media. Some called it “DoMo” (Downtown Mooresville). Messaging was all over the place and none of it was cohesive or sticking. So Kim asked us for ideas on what to do.

The first thing I recommended was nixing the idea of a clever name altogether. People didn’t even know there WAS an old Downtown in Mooresville. Calling it fancy things would just confuse the issue. It was Downtown Mooresville, so just let it be Downtown Mooresville. You can always make a fun nickname later. They brought us on for branding Downtown and the  next thing I did was lie through my teefs.

FINAL:  Next it was time to promote Downtown as a destination.  Clockwise from the left: 1.  By working closely with the pubs we advertised in, we were able to create uniquely  branded templates.   2.  Our  award-winning program  to celebrate fans of Downtown Mooresville.  3.  Our first piece of  Downtown merch .  4.  We created a  photobank  of amazing images that we could use to show folks what we saw in Downtown Mooresville.

FINAL: Next it was time to promote Downtown as a destination. Clockwise from the left: 1. By working closely with the pubs we advertised in, we were able to create uniquely branded templates. 2. Our award-winning program to celebrate fans of Downtown Mooresville. 3. Our first piece of Downtown merch. 4. We created a photobank of amazing images that we could use to show folks what we saw in Downtown Mooresville.

Downtown was tired and mostly empty, but not dead. And with a roster of new events, we had to make it seem like there was a secret party going on over here that the Lake people weren’t privy to. In a nod to our railroad history, I designed a vintage/modern logo lockup with the tag line, It’s Happening Downtown. And that was the big lie. Sort of. It was GOING to happen, it just hadn’t actually happened yet. Operation “Fake It ‘Till You Make It” was in full effect. We started running monthly event ads in the local papers. We installed street banners, made bar coasters, put up signage at our local ballpark. We started doing spreads with an event calendar in the local magazines. We rebuilt the website. We got on social media. All the stuff you need to do before we got really creative.

FINAL:  From 2009 to 2017 we’d spread the word about Downtown Mooresville.  Clockwise from top left: 1.  The website we designed for Downtown.  2,  One of many  posters  we did to promote their crazy amount of fun events.  3.  A magazine ad designed to introduce newcomers to Downtown.  4.  One of many little quarter page  newspaper ads  promoting monthly events Downtown.

FINAL: From 2009 to 2017 we’d spread the word about Downtown Mooresville. Clockwise from top left: 1. The website we designed for Downtown. 2, One of many posters we did to promote their crazy amount of fun events. 3. A magazine ad designed to introduce newcomers to Downtown. 4. One of many little quarter page newspaper ads promoting monthly events Downtown.

For example, we made calling cards for Downtown merchants and employees to hand out to other shop and restaurant owners whenever they happened to find themselves in a business they wished was Downtown. A bakery, a great Indian restaurant, that kind of thing. It said, “If you’re reading this, your business should be Downtown.” One the back was an invitation to call Kim Atkins to discuss retail opportunities. OMG, even if you weren’t looking to relocate, it sure made it look like shit was going down in Downtown Mooresville. Super buzz worthy, and it worked. Despite our launching during a recession (always fun), within a year, Charlotte was airing a live prime time news segment about Downtown’s revitalization. Finally, it really was happening Downtown. Lie turned truth.

We’d go on to make fun event posters, TV spots, and even more special little programs. Our custom-made Downtownie™ loyalty program would win an Innovation award from the State of North Carolina. Best of all, Main Street filled up. At its zenith, it reached 95% occupancy. Morning, noon, or night, people were coming to see what was Happening Downtown.

dave_bug.jpg

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How to Turn Good Work Into Great Work.

Strategy > Branding

Stop right here. If you haven’t read about all the MI-Connection drama leading up to the complete rebranding of this company, you really need to catch up. Seriously, otherwise it’s like starting House of Cards from the middle.

FINAL:  We had two objectives – look reliable and be local. The name,  logo,  and color palette were in charge of reliability. We even got a bonus graphic from the very definition of Continuum. The three color-coded services we offered are always seen looping effortlessly behind everything we do.

FINAL: We had two objectives – look reliable and be local. The name, logo, and color palette were in charge of reliability. We even got a bonus graphic from the very definition of Continuum. The three color-coded services we offered are always seen looping effortlessly behind everything we do.

Caught up? Good. The tri-town-owned cable, Internet, and phone company, MI-Connection, was now doing great. The new advertising was doing well, subscribership was up, negative public opinion had all but subsided (except the die-hard trolls. Haters gonna hate), customer service had reached an all-time quality high and really, the only thing holding the company back was its old identity and all the baggage that came with it (see here). 

BEFORE:  Look, I can’t knock this too much because I was the one responsible for cleaning this act up.  Take a look at what it was before, for God’s sake.  I got this brand cohesive visually, then spent years driving home the super tough messaging that this company was NOT public enemy #1. This hard work worked hard to give us the opportunity to take this company to the next level.

BEFORE: Look, I can’t knock this too much because I was the one responsible for cleaning this act up. Take a look at what it was before, for God’s sake. I got this brand cohesive visually, then spent years driving home the super tough messaging that this company was NOT public enemy #1. This hard work worked hard to give us the opportunity to take this company to the next level.

There was a different vibe afoot at MI-Connection and it needed to be defined. Kelly and I worked up some market research with the CMO to find out what the townsfolk REALLY thought about their community-owned communications company. I’ve never been a big fan of focus groups. I’ve been in plenty. It’s expensive and they’re so easily manipulated by whoever is running them (the company who wants positive feedback, the agency who wants the opposite or whatever, etc.). So we launched a sincere, straightforward email questionnaire campaign (nothing fancy, just a Typeform thingy) across MI-Connection’s service footprint, steeling ourselves for the prospect of most everyone either not participating or just trolling us. We were surprised (in a good way). We had an 15% response rate and while a few were ALL CAPS TYPING CRAZY PEOPLE, we got a wealth of feedback from our survey. 

RESEARCH:  Welcome to the world of shitty communication company logos. On the left, our regional competition of mostly giant out-of-town providers. And us at the bottom left there. The longest logo and therefore the smallest logo in the bunch. Does it inspire faith in MI-Connection’s abilities? Nope. To the right I give you a smattering of what indie communications companies were up to across the US. Mostly a total shit storm except, in my opinion, ting and fibrant. And maybe Qnet. Clean and simple, sure, but seemingly reliable on logo design alone? Are they able to stand up against our list on the left? Dunno.

RESEARCH: Welcome to the world of shitty communication company logos. On the left, our regional competition of mostly giant out-of-town providers. And us at the bottom left there. The longest logo and therefore the smallest logo in the bunch. Does it inspire faith in MI-Connection’s abilities? Nope. To the right I give you a smattering of what indie communications companies were up to across the US. Mostly a total shit storm except, in my opinion, ting and fibrant. And maybe Qnet. Clean and simple, sure, but seemingly reliable on logo design alone? Are they able to stand up against our list on the left? Dunno.

Ready for this? People didn’t care that MI-Connection was community owned. Despite the real promise that all eventual profits would be dedicated to buying more emergency services, playgrounds, etc., what people liked most was that MI-Connection was locally owned. Sure, the difference between the two is super microscopic, but it’s real. Because MI-Connection was owned by three towns, this made citizens share holders thus putting them in charge of how the company benefitted their communities. But they didn’t care about that (even though we were always super clear about it). Instead, they responded more positively to having a local alternative to the big providers, which MI-Connection was designed to be from the beginning. The other big takeaway from the survey? People also wanted to believe that their provider was capable and reliable (aka. Duh). We did extensive research into what other indies we’re doing to stand up to the big telecom companies. Turned out, not a lot.

FINAL:  Is it just me, or does Continuum look more professional and reliable than Dish and Windstream? Not to be OFD (Own Favorite Designer), but doesn’t Continuum look at least  competent  in comparison to the other logos?

FINAL: Is it just me, or does Continuum look more professional and reliable than Dish and Windstream? Not to be OFD (Own Favorite Designer), but doesn’t Continuum look at least competent in comparison to the other logos?

Next we interviewed employees – with no management present, just Kelly and I, and them. What were they up against? What were they frustrated with? What were their ideas for big and small change? This was super valuable because when all the research was said and done, we presented more than a mere identity to the CEO. We presented a whole new company that would solve the problems we’d discovered. The CEO was on board, and as we explained to the Board of Directors, you can’t just put a new name on this thing and hope people forget what it was. To change perception, you have to change reality. They agreed, but I’ll always remember the words of encouragement the Chairman of MI-Connection’s Board gave me after that presentation. After everyone filed out of the room, he shook my hand, and smiling, said, “Don’t fuck it up”.

PROGRESS CHART : Rebranding a communications company from it’s name to an intern’s email signature can be, um, intimidating. I made this simple chart so the CEO and the board could clearly see the path from start to finish. In every one of the thousands of presentations for each step, I’d use a marker to show where we were in the process. The far left is represents the 300+ names we’d whittle down to favorites, then to a few, then a winner. Then a ton of black and white logo ideas, color exploration, favorites, then final colors., Then we concept the materials with long lead times, while we explored fonts and taglines and stuff, and then on to advertising concepts and a final launch campaign. Everyone found this chart oddly comforting. Even me!

PROGRESS CHART: Rebranding a communications company from it’s name to an intern’s email signature can be, um, intimidating. I made this simple chart so the CEO and the board could clearly see the path from start to finish. In every one of the thousands of presentations for each step, I’d use a marker to show where we were in the process. The far left is represents the 300+ names we’d whittle down to favorites, then to a few, then a winner. Then a ton of black and white logo ideas, color exploration, favorites, then final colors., Then we concept the materials with long lead times, while we explored fonts and taglines and stuff, and then on to advertising concepts and a final launch campaign. Everyone found this chart oddly comforting. Even me!

I built out a detailed plan of work and a timeline including the MANY presentations we’d have to make. We needed every commissioner, Mayor, Town Manager, PR folks, etc. to understand exactly why we were doing what we were doing (seriously, in the end we must have made somewhere around 35 presentations). We kicked things off with a broad naming exercise (about 300 name options), then narrowed that down to 10 to run by legal. That narrowed it down to 3 viable names that we presented on visual concept boards of how each name might be treated. Once we had a name approved, it was time to make it a logo. Remember, people want to believe their Internet provider is strong and reliable. That’s the job the name and logo had to do. A ton of more options, a dive into color palettes, and it’s all whittled down to one winner – Continuum.

BEFORE AND AFTER:  Amazing how much a nice clean rebrand can improve a look, right? And it didn’t just make  the fleet  and the building look better. It made the people who work there  feel  better. Morale goes up, customer service goes up, business goes up. What’s that old saying about raising all ships? That.

BEFORE AND AFTER: Amazing how much a nice clean rebrand can improve a look, right? And it didn’t just make the fleet and the building look better. It made the people who work there feel better. Morale goes up, customer service goes up, business goes up. What’s that old saying about raising all ships? That.

There was still one big job left, and that was to make our strong, reliable name look local and friendly. For that we drew inspiration from a different company altogether – Jet Blue. Yeah, the airline. Same kind of problem, really, if you think about it. Reliable, trustworthy name. Fun, un-corporate language, clever amenities and friendly customer service. Lot’s of cool, branded little programs and lots of fun, light icons. And instead of using the same old stock photos of families laughing on a couch in front of giant TV’s, we’d reflect the real, local people who are answering the phones and installing your routers. Honestly, you couldn’t do this if your employees didn’t care, and these people did. It IS the south, after all.

FINAL:  We launched  featuring employees  in all our communications along with influential citizens from all three towns. I like to call this Guilty by Association: “If very outgoing, visible, respected people from my town are not only backing this company, but also publicly endorsing this company, well, it can’t be all THAT bad.” It worked. Eventually we were able to just stick to the heroes of local customer service and let them shine.

FINAL: We launched featuring employees in all our communications along with influential citizens from all three towns. I like to call this Guilty by Association: “If very outgoing, visible, respected people from my town are not only backing this company, but also publicly endorsing this company, well, it can’t be all THAT bad.” It worked. Eventually we were able to just stick to the heroes of local customer service and let them shine.

FINAL:  Some of the  advertising  featuring the folks who made the Continuum’s promise of excellent, local customer service a reality.

FINAL: Some of the advertising featuring the folks who made the Continuum’s promise of excellent, local customer service a reality.

Finally, a tag line to wrap it all up with a bow. Kelly nailed it and I especially love hearing it at the end of every cross-channel TV spot we did, “We’re Local. We’re Limitless. We’re Continuum.” We set off a tease campaign a week early that made it look like a new provider was coming to town (more on that here), and on the big day we let the hounds loose with an education campaign for existing customers (we’re a new company now), and a proper launch to potential customers.

How did it end? Continuum ran this campaign for two years (at this writing it’s still going). In the first year they hired 6 more local customer care specialists and built out a bigger call center. In fact, it worked so well that the debt was starting to be paid down faster than anyone thought it would. Which is when they decided to sell it. Yep, they paid $80M for it and estimated they’d get $56M for it. They ended up getting $80M for it. I’d say it worked pretty well.

dave_bug.jpg

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com

 

How to Be Creative for Creatives.

Strategy > Branding

It all started at the big annual toy show in NY, the International Toy Fair. I was there representing Wrybaby and started up a convo in the Wrybaby booth with a nice guy who turned out to be from American Greetings. I don’t even know how we got to it, but he mentioned that they were looking for a way to do something that I can’t write about here (ask me in person and maybe I’ll tell you). I said I had an idea that would work perfectly for that. After the show, I pitched my idea to his boss over the phone. He was the head of American Greetings Properties (AGP). AGP managed licensing for all of American Greetings’ legacy properties like Hollie Hobbie, Care Bears, Madballs, Strawberry Shortcake etc. But they also thought up lots of new stuff, too. They were creating properties to develop themselves or to pitch to companies like Disney and Nickelodeon, and that’s why they took an interest in our idea. It was really out-of-the-box. So the head of AGP loved what we presented and said he wanted to make this idea happen with us. He flew down to visit our office in Mooresville, then he invited us for what would be a super weird visit to the AG mothership in Cleveland (ask me in person and I’ll tell you all about it). Then he dumped us into a really shitty negotiation process with AG’s entertainment lawyers in LA where they continuously threatened to steal our idea outright. Super hardball shitty. I told the lawyers that they and AGP could, literally, to go fuck themselves and hung up on them. And then the AGP boss asked us to rebrand them. Well, first he asked us to design a fun corporate team-building program for the department. And then he asked us to rebrand them. How freaking weird is that!?

FINAL:  The whole idea was based on the home page. An island fantasy land of AGP properties where all the dispirit characters could live in harmony. You can check out the website design deets and  see bigger pictures here.

FINAL: The whole idea was based on the home page. An island fantasy land of AGP properties where all the dispirit characters could live in harmony. You can check out the website design deets and see bigger pictures here.

BEFORE:  This was AGP’s home page when I was brought on. You can see what they tried to do from the start – create a fun-but-not-too-fun envelope that can hold variously styled characters from the 70’s to today (the properties slugged along as a slide show). So, done, right? Sort of. The problem was that it didn’t set AGP up as the creative all-stars they were. It was just a generic box of characters you either knew or didn’t.

BEFORE: This was AGP’s home page when I was brought on. You can see what they tried to do from the start – create a fun-but-not-too-fun envelope that can hold variously styled characters from the 70’s to today (the properties slugged along as a slide show). So, done, right? Sort of. The problem was that it didn’t set AGP up as the creative all-stars they were. It was just a generic box of characters you either knew or didn’t.

And we did it. Which was even weirder. But all of the (very real) unpleasantness aside, it was a cool project and they paid us what we were worth <shrug>. Chalk it up to me always rooting for the underdogs, I guess. Which, despite all the success and billions of dollars they generated, AGP and the team that supported it deserved more respect. We got to meet all the crazy-talented artists and writers on our visit and they seemed like normal, good people. Remember, AGP might be pushing a lot of old brands, but they were also in the business of thinking up of a lot of new, exciting characters and shows. The problem was, when the studios saw they were hearing a pitch from AGP, they thought a couple of corporate grandpas would be shuffling in to show them some old Holly Hobbie shit. The AGP boss wanted to change that perception.

COMPS:  Some (not all) of the ideas we presented in the first round to AGP. Each idea included whatever it took to get the concept across. So some ideas came tight with taglines attached. Some were just rough sketches.  Clockwise from top left:   1.  Freshen up the old characters and spice up the new by presenting each character’s personality in a modern way.  2.  Incorporate the characters into a graphic envelope (the safest idea, just in case they freak out over the others),  3.  Explore exciting new worlds with AGP. Visit planets and discover unique characters.  4.  The world of AGP as an island inhabited by strange, sweet, wonderful, and exotic characters.

COMPS: Some (not all) of the ideas we presented in the first round to AGP. Each idea included whatever it took to get the concept across. So some ideas came tight with taglines attached. Some were just rough sketches. Clockwise from top left: 1. Freshen up the old characters and spice up the new by presenting each character’s personality in a modern way. 2. Incorporate the characters into a graphic envelope (the safest idea, just in case they freak out over the others), 3. Explore exciting new worlds with AGP. Visit planets and discover unique characters. 4. The world of AGP as an island inhabited by strange, sweet, wonderful, and exotic characters.

American Greetings, duh, already has a brand. We were just giving the one department a new look. We started calling it a “restaging,” because we had to use the AG logo lockup unmolested in anything we did. So the first thing we did was present a whole mess of concepts (from tight to super sketchy) to hang their new skin on. These guys were all artists (and all WAY better than me), so we knew that they’d get what we meant if we showed them loose drawings. We showed them all kinds of directions they could go to solve their problem (as we do for every project). For example, there was one idea about how creative the team in the department was, and all the crazy things that happened in their building on the steady. We’d do a lot of videos, social media (with a focus on Linkdin), email newsletters to the industry, etc. The employees would get a chance to be stars and use their awesome talents to help promote their common cause. I only mention this so you can get an idea of how different each idea was. What they chose was way different. The idea was to refresh the old stuff, pull the new stuff into the spotlight, and bring all the properties together as one. Instead of being the keepers of the old that sometimes had new ideas, AGP would represent a big fun world of full of creative ideas. We’d just take “legacy” out of the conversation altogether.

FINAL:  Every pop-up on the  AGP website , in every category, would include a strip of bright, clever, modern infographics. One trivia block in each strip would be animated, too, leaving the visitor with a ton of tiny positive impressions of how amazing these properties are, no matter how dated they seemed to you before.

FINAL: Every pop-up on the AGP website, in every category, would include a strip of bright, clever, modern infographics. One trivia block in each strip would be animated, too, leaving the visitor with a ton of tiny positive impressions of how amazing these properties are, no matter how dated they seemed to you before.

FINAL:  We pulled the map theme across everything from their massive trade show booth (back wall pictured above) to Powerpoint presentations. We also gave their team a host of  logo lockups  they could use wherever in the future. All predesigned and ready to go go go.

FINAL: We pulled the map theme across everything from their massive trade show booth (back wall pictured above) to Powerpoint presentations. We also gave their team a host of logo lockups they could use wherever in the future. All predesigned and ready to go go go.

The final execution would all bloom (see what I did there?) from a new home page featuring a fanciful, illustrated map of an island filled with AGP’s properties. Visitors would click on any of the characters for a pop-up filled with info on that property along with its licensing opportunities. Kelly and I came up with a ton of fun taglines to support this idea, and they picked our favorite in the end – Happiness Happens Here. As they created new properties, we’d just add ‘em to the island. Once the site as approved and in production, I took the island I’d illustrated and pulled the concept through everything from their giant trade show booth to PowerPoint templates for presentations. The whole thing was modern, unconventional, bright and fun. Just the way AGP wanted to be thought of.

dave_bug.jpg

DAVE SOPP – Creative

Yep, that’s me. I’ve got over 20 years of marketing strategy, graphic design, advertising art direction, and illustration experience. Want to use some of it? Email me at dave@davesopp.com