The oil spill: how you can  help
The oil spill: how you can  help

Our agency was founded in 1951 in Mobile, Alabama. Although Lewis also has offices in Birmingham and Nashville, the history and culture of our company owes a good bit to the people and institutions on the Gulf Coast. We live here. We work here. We play here.

Whether concerned about where our next fried shrimp po’ boy is coming from, or worried about the economic impact to the fishing, travel, and tourism industries or the local real estate market, we’re all watching the tragic situation playing out in the Gulf of Mexico and hoping for the best.

Just as we often feel powerless watching a hurricane bear down on our beloved coast, watching news reports, Facebook posts and more to monitor the oil spill situation can make any of us feel helpless in the face of this impending disaster.

But, countless groups have been preparing and mobilizing to deal with the oil spill and can use our support to accomplish their mission of saving wildlife, preserving fragile marsh and wetlands, and cleaning up our coastline, should the spill eventually reach land.

Before you donate your time, your money and your support, you owe it to yourself to get to know any group and make sure their mission is compatible with your beliefs and your donation.

Below is a list of just a few of the many groups working on the Gulf Coast that we think you should check out if you are looking for a way to help.

Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
Roberta Swan, Director For more information call 251-431-6409 or visit

Mobile Baykeeper
Casi Callaway, Executive Director and Baykeeper
If interested in volunteering to reduce the impacts of the oil spill to our Bay, call 1-888-433-4460 or email with your name, address, phone number, e-mail, and available resources (boat, etc.)

The National Wildlife Foundation
Visit for more information and to sign up for cleanup efforts
Follow @NWF on Twitter for updates
Text “Wildlife” to 20222 to donate $10

Coalition To Restore Coastal Louisiana
6160 Perkins Road, Suite#225
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Telephone: 225.767.4181
Toll-Free: 888 LA COAST (888.522.6278)
Register to volunteer or donate at

The new Edelman Trust Barometer Study is out and causing quite a stir among marketing people. The buzz surrounding the report is primarily because it shows a significant one-year decline in the perceived value of “friends” as a trusted source re: brand trial and preference.

Many pundits are gleefully quoting this single datapoint as evidence that the social influence “fad” is starting to fade.

I think this is a big mistake.

For starters, words matter and the term “friends” has been severely cheapened and confused due to the social media lexicon. Real friends will forever remain a source of trust and confidence for Americans. We are greatly influenced by people we know and admire, and as media fragmentation continues, our reliance on these sources will increase.

Secondly, it is important to remember that brand “conversations,” as we define them here, have never been limited to or framed by the social influence movement. We don’t endorse a cannibalizing view of social media and we openly reject the “advertising is dead” mantra.

Instead, our position is that “we do work worth talking about,” no matter what the media. This is not a new position for our firm, nor is it an attempt to promote ourselves with a social media spin.

We are marketing communications experts who are passionate and gifted at stimulating, measuring and sustaining brand conversations — which is vital in an era of “always on, always accessible” media.

Therefore, while the term “conversations” may become a casualty of the social media debate, what should not be lost is a singular focus on helping customers better connect with and through a client’s brand.

This has always been the strength of great agencies and it will never lose its value.

See the good.

Aubie and Big Al
Aubie and Big Al

My family moved to Birmingham from Los Angeles when I was a kid. It seemed like everyone on the playground that first day asked me if I cheered for Alabama or Auburn. “I cheer for USC,” I proudly told them. The other kids didn’t seem impressed. Instead, they further pressed me, “War Eagle or Roll Tide?”

I quickly learned how insane this rivalry is, and it was absolutely necessary to pick a side. The emotions around the Iron Bowl run deep, and all year long. It’s definitely not just a game.

Recently, fans have shown that there are no limits to how far they’ll take things, from vandalizing the lawn in front of Bryant Denny to poisoning the trees at Toomer’s Corner. If you watched the Roll Tide / War Eagle special on ESPN this week, you would agree that it certainly encompassed the extreme nature of the two fan bases. It is a deeply rooted hatred. Fans here mean business.

This summer, we shot new TV spots for one of our clients, Tiffin Motorhomes, who sponsors various SEC football programs, including Alabama and Auburn.

The spots feature Aubie and Big Al poking fun at each other and playing pranks. The mascots put this playful, innocent spin (especially when Big Al steals Aubie’s toilet paper!) on a rivalry that often runs deeper and more extreme than seems reasonable.

I love how these two mascots are able to make light of a situation that can get a little crazy, both on and off the field. Aubie and Big Al are never going to be best friends, but instead of hating each other, they channel their emotions and intensity into silly pranks and poking fun.




The travel industry has endured a rough couple of years, to put it mildly. In times of downturn, there is always a desire to focus on short-term tactics that will “drive traffic,” and that often leads to pressure on a Destination Marketing Organization to promote more with fewer resources. In my opinion, however, this is a slippery slope. Instead, I would argue that while drawing more visitors through specific initiatives is important, now more than ever is a good time to remind yourself and your community partners of a few core obligations that you have as a DMO.

1. First and foremost, a DMO must ensure that the community brand remains strong. Your job is to answer the question, “Do I want to go there and will I enjoy it?” in the mind of the visitor. Hoteliers, restaurants, attractions and other businesses in your community are focused on the things that will bring them customers and revenue, and they should be. They need you, the DMO, to be the voice of what your community stands for and promote the values, lifestyle and experiences that their visitors will enjoy in your community. If you do not take care of the brand, no one else will.

2. Next, your constituents need you to give them the ammunition to attract the best customers. To do so, however, you need a lot of insight from your constituents and their customers. Specifically, they should allow you to speak with their customers (in a respectful way), and they should openly and proactively share things they learn about their customers. As a result, you need to give back to them in the form of customer profiles, trends and insights for the community as a whole. You should make sure that any potential visitor or group finds your constituents quickly and easily. I will take that one step further and say you should share this information with city members to see if there are opportunities to improve infrastructure or incorporate your brand throughout the city.

3. Lastly, your visitor is online (call me “Mr. Obvious”) and you serve your community best by engaging your brand with consumers where they are. If I were to do a Twitter search on your city, what would I find? What if I went to your website or Facebook page? Is a dialogue taking place between you and the online community? Does your website give me a sense of your community or is it simply an online version of your visitors guide? You are the portal to your destination and you cannot afford to neglect the online world or damage your brand by only touting local promotions. You serve your community partners best by being the one, if only, voice that allows people to get to know your community.

If you remain true to these fundamental challenges, I believe that you will see long-term success, and that the pain and length of the downturn can be greatly reduced.

How do you ensure your brand message is being heard today? How do you help your constituents attract customers? What does your online presence look like? I would love to hear how you are balancing your branding efforts with the downturn and what you are finding works.

In the battle between Canon and Nikon, both camera companies are trying to cram more and more megapixels into their sensors. And people are buying into the more is better theory. Although some photo pros need these advances, the majority of the population can save their money and stick with fewer pixels.

I used to carry a 21-megapixel camera with me everywhere. It was rare to see me without it. But something strange happened about a year ago. I started seeing some amazing photography by pro Chase Jarvis. That is nothing new. He is a world-famous commercial photographer. What surprised me was that the shots were taken with his 2-megapixel camera phone. After seeing such awesome photography, I started thinking, “it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer.” So I began shooting with my iPhone daily, trying to capture better shots. I shoot anywhere from 1 to 50 shots a day. And I truly feel that it has helped me become more creative, which carries over to my commercial photography assignments.

The purpose of this story is to get you shooting. It doesn’t matter if you are using your camera phone or a Hasselblad with a 50-megapixel digital back. The more you shoot, the better you will be. And it will show in your photos.

Every year, I play center field on a team with about 13 other past-their-prime athletes in an over 35 baseball league. Keep in mind, this is not softball. This is real baseball with umpires, uniforms, 90 foot base paths, sliders and stolen bases. We play about 25 nine-inning games each season, and we play them pretty well.

Many of the guys in the league played in college, making the level of play very competitive. Granted, none of us are as good as we used to be, but there is always a play or two in each game where you cant help but be impressed. And for me, it is still incredibly satisfying to run down a fly ball in the gap or turn on an inside fastball and rip it down the left-field line. Those little individual moments keep me coming back each year.

But those moments wouldn’t mean as much without the camaraderie in the dugout. I consider most of these guys friends, and I’ve played with several of them for almost 15 years now. What we all have in common is our love of baseball.

In that time, I’ve gotten to know these guys very well. Many of us come from different hometowns and backgrounds. The educational level ranges from a couple guys who didn’t go to college all the way to two guys with PhDs. One of our outfielders is a sheriff’s deputy. Our first baseman works for the city of Birmingham. One of our pitchers is a law clerk, while our catcher is a self-employed house painter. There are opposing political affiliations, alternate social viewpoints and even different tastes in music.

For the most part, I know what is important in their lives and their families. And having this insight helps me in the way I approach my job as an art director. We certainly strive for awards in advertising, but awards don’t really matter if your message doesn’t reach the people its intended to. In addition to just enjoying them as teammates, these guys practically serve as my own private focus group. Whatever project or campaign we’re working on, someone on my team usually falls within the target audience.

Now it’s not like I bring my presentation boards to the ball park and go over concepts and layouts in the parking lot before the game. And I’m not on this team as some sort of social experiment. I’m on this team because I like playing baseball and being with these guys.

Having this added level of understanding of the people we’re working to communicate with is most certainly a bonus. In the end, I believe it helps me do my job that much better.


On December 1, at the Annual Recreation Vehicle Industry Association International Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, Lewis Communications helped Tiffin Motorhomes unveil their newest model, the Allegro Breeze. The Breeze is a 28′ Class A diesel-pusher that isn’t just a new product, but creates a whole new category in the RV industry. Just as luxurious as Tiffin’s high-end models, the Breeze is smaller, more maneuverable and fuel efficient.

In an industry where in the past bigger almost always meant better, a teaser campaign was developed with the tagline, “This is BIG.” The campaign targeted dealers and industry media letting them know Tiffin would soon be unveiling something brand new. The Tiffin website homepage included a countdown clock promising something huge at the industry’s leading annual show. Direct mail and social media posts also helped spread the word of Tiffin’s big news leading up to the show.

The actual unveiling at the RVIA show included an oversized curtain with fake wheels pushed out to create the impression of a vehicle almost twice the size of the Breeze.

When the curtain was dropped attendees were surprised to see a luxury RV half the size of what was expected. Miniature pocket-sized brochures were handed out and the wording on the side of the display changed to say “Small is Big.”

The Breeze was named Best of Show for the RVIA Expo and was featured in RV Business and MotorHome Magazine.
Clarity hurtling towards you at 21,000 mph
Clarity hurtling towards you at 21,000 mph

According to some British scientists, on May 19, 2031, an asteroid about the size of Manhattan is predicted to center-punch the Earth, effectively eliminating all human life within a few months.


So, we probably don’t have to put quite as much emphasis on that global warming issue. (What is Al Gore going to do?) Not to mention those who are currently building a house don’t need to opt for the more expensive 30-year roof.

21 years left.

So does knowing the exact amount of time you have left change anything? Does your list of “somedays” take on a newfound urgency? Are you now going to quit your job and go help the less fortunate around the world?

I say if that’s what you want to do, you should pursue it with unbridled vigor. For me, knowing now I will never retire actually provides a little more clarity. How many times do you attempt to look way off in the future and you feel like you somehow won’t live the life you have at present. Well, no need to worry about that anymore I suppose.

Now we all have something in common to worry about: May 19, 2031. So let’s all just stop worrying about everything else that is suddenly not so important: the economy, our 401K’s, the death of advertising, or TV or NASCAR. We’re all going to be just fine. You know how I know? Because if you’re reading this, you are probably in the advertising (uh, sorry…the “communications/social influence”) business. Which means you’re in the greatest, most exciting and interesting career on the planet. You make a living on ideas. That is NEVER going to change. Sure those ideas will manifest themselves in new ways, but who cares? Great ideas will always be great ideas up until that fateful May Monday in the not too distant future.

So take a look at what is on your desk right now. There are a million excuses not to make it the best it can be: “I don’t have enough time,” “I’ve got too much on my plate,” “It will cut into my Facebook time,” “The AE is clueless,” “The client won’t like it,” “The creative director is stupid,” “The strategy is wrong,” “There is no budget,” “They’ll never buy it,” “I can’t make a difference,” “The category is shunned by the shows,” “My computer screen is too small,” “I am a hack,” (okay, I admit I still believe this one). The difference between good work and GREAT work is the unwillingness to give in to the voices. So just take things one at a time. Pick your projects, clients, etc. that will most help you make a difference. And have fun. Most importantly, make whatever you do GREAT. Make it memorable. Make it funny, or serious or compelling. Just make sure to get it done by Sunday night, May 18, 2031. I can promise you, this time there’s no way you’re getting an extension.

District Addys

Creative projects from Lewis Communications received four Gold and three Silver ADDY awards at the recent District 7 ADDY Awards Competition, which includes Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. Lewis won for Vanderbilt Sports Medicine, Brannon’s Restaurant, Scribbler Stationery, Aquila Game Preserve, Upstate University Health System — and Best of Show in the Broadcast Television category for Alfa Insurance. Gold award winners from the district competition automatically advance to the National ADDY Award competition next month.