A print campaign for The Scribbler was named Best of Show in the 7th District ADDY Awards in New Orleans (the 7th District encompasses most of the southeastern United States and includes Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Lousiana). The campaign of small space ads for a Birmingham-area stationery boutique was created by ACD Roy Burns, designer Holly Cook and senior copywriter Kathy Oldham. The accolade also marks the second consecutive Best of Show District win for Lewis Communications.


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.

The Branding of Paula Deen
The Branding of Paula Deen

By now people all over the world have heard at least some part of the scandal that Paula Deen is embroiled in. Whether or not you’re pro Paula, one thing should be taken away from all of this. Her brand is now tarnished.

Paula Deen is much larger than her individual self. She’s a brand. She worked on it, cultivated it and watched it grow into the empire that she now enjoys….or did.

Branding works on feelings, perceptions, images and beliefs. There are certain expectations behind a brand experience. As we tell our clients, your brand is everything. Perception is reality. End of driveway talk, social media and a myriad of other things can make or break a brand. How people view your brand can hurt or help you. Brand trust or believability, in this case, has been damaged.

A brand is an inherent promise to consumers. There is a saying that “your word is your bond”. It’s the same for a brand.

Will Paula come back from this debacle? She probably will but it’ll be an uphill battle. The take away from this? Protect your brand, shape it, mold it and above all, guard its integrity.

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.

The Real Winner of the 2012 Presidential Election
The Real Winner of the 2012 Presidential Election

Regardless of your political preference, the upcoming 2012 election has been fascinating to watch on Twitter. Think back to the 2008 election. Hardly anyone knew anything about Twitter. Yes, Facebook was growing and so was the concept of social media, but Twitter only had around 1 million Twitter users during the fall of 2008. Today, Twitter has over 500 million and counting. Big difference.

Fast forward to October 2012. Since the first debate started on Oct. 3, Obama’s campaign Twitter handle, @BarackObama, has gained over 847,000 followers. @BarackObama now boasts over 21 million followers and is in the top 10 of all Twitter accounts. A 4% increase in just three weeks. A side note for those who care—Lady Gaga has the most Twitter followers at 30.6 million and counting.

On the other side, Mitt Romney’s campaign Twitter handle, @MittRomney, has gained just over 310,000 followers since Oct. 3. @MittRomney now has over 1.5 million followers—a 20% increase in three weeks.

No matter which side of the political fence you sit on, Obama and Romney are in a tight race. Yet, Obama has the opportunity to tweet to almost 20 million more followers than Romney—nearly the population of the state of Florida. While his following is considerably smaller than President Obama’s, Mitt Romney has more followers today than total Twitter users from 2008.

So why bring up all these stats? Brands who are seeking to influence groups of people, small or large, need to consider the best combination of media to generate conversations about their respective brands. Twitter is a fascinating and non-invasive social media outlet in that users can pick and choose whom they follow. In essence, they can easily manufacture the type of content (or people) they are interested in.

The social media impact on the Presidential Election of 2012 has definitely provided a huge awareness boost for the two candidates when compared to previous elections.

A book a number of us in the agency are reading right now is Fascinate, by Sally Hogshead.

In Fascinate, Hogshead identifies the seven triggers that power all human behavior:


She demonstrates how every brand on the planet uses some combination of these to affect the way we feel about products and services.

A superb example she uses in the book involves “Jagermeister – the most popular drink that nobody likes.” Hogshead describes how Jagermeister used the Mystique trigger to allow rumors and legend to spread about a brand that used to be little more than an unpopular German working-class apértif.

She also shows the perils of misusing a trigger. She offers recent research demonstrating that the $1 billion DARE program — so widely lauded for bringing police officers into classrooms to talk with kids about drugs — is a failure. In a misguided attempt to activate the Alarm trigger, the program actually increases kids’ interest in drug use by activating the Vice trigger – you know, “forbidden fruit.”

Here’s a great, simple way you can experience the seven triggers right now: Take Hogshead’s F-Score test. By answering a few simple questions, you can identify which triggers define your personal brand.

Sally Hogshead worked with me as a young copywriting intern in Atlanta, and went on to become one of the most award-winning creatives in America, working at agencies like Fallon Worldwide and Crispin Porter + Bogusky. She’s brave, bold and insightful — and so is her book. Pick it up!

Social Media as Conversation
Social Media as Conversation

While people spend countless hours each day checking social media sites, their reasons for doing so aren’t always as “cutting edge” as those of us in the marketing world would like to believe. A recent study published by Pew Research Center found that 91% of people active on social media sites say that simply staying in touch with friends is their motivation to use.

Too many marketers refuse to acknowledge that the way those of us in the communication industry use social media isn’t typical, as compared to the average consumer. If companies and brands using social media are really looking to drive ROI through these channels, they need to start offering information as valuable as a post from a friend.

Early in October, I received a call asking me to handle the marketing for an event at The University of Alabama. Seven UA departments were collaborating to bring Soledad O’Brien to campus, and if you haven’t guessed already, the first issue brought up was how social media needed to be the main component in our marketing strategy.

The primary social media channels being used were UA Ferguson Center’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, which had significant followings of more than 3,000 students. My challenge was to figure out how to engage students with the Ferg to drive the desired result: a packed house for the night of Soledad’s speech. I did a little research and found that most students were looking to feel like they got some sort of one-on-one time with Soledad during her visit.

After this discovery, I made two very simple additions to the marketing strategy that drove positive results on both social media accounts—not to mention a standing room only crowd on the night of the event:

I. We asked students to submit questions for the Q&A session held after her speech via Facebook and wound up with hundreds of submissions.

II. We set up and promoted a Twitter hash tag so students who weren’t able to attend could still participate. We had over 50 students tweeting on our live chat the night of the event.

These simple tweaks were not only effective in engaging students for the Soledad event, but have served to revitalize the Ferg’s social media presence. Tweets per day are at their highest level ever, Facebook comments and unique page-views are higher than they have been in months and we even had students solicit our team via Twitter asking to write a post on the Ferg Blog, which rarely sees any activity outside of UA employees.

Why not take this example to heart and show your online community that your focus is on what they want rather than what you’d like to tell them? Try sharing information they see value in rather than the self-serving, one-way marketing updates we are all guilty of sending out far too often.

Five feet high and rising
Five feet high and rising

The headline in Monday’s Tennessean read simply, “Overwhelmed.”

Fourteen inches of rain in two days will do that to a city.

And it’s easy to feel that way yourself when you see entire neighborhoods under water. When a grotesquely swollen river swallows your city’s most recognizable landmarks. When the inventories of entire lives sit ruined at the curb. When you learn that at least eighteen of your neighbors have lost their lives, swept away by the unstoppable water.

In Lewis’ Nashville office, we feel incredibly fortunate that everyone here came through this catastrophe relatively unscathed. I’ve never felt so lucky to have a leaky roof.

As the floodwaters recede, the clean up begins. Despite the once-in-a-thousand years nature of this devastating flood, my hope is that what we remember is how the people of Nashville and Middle Tennessee came together to care for each other.

My fellow Tennesseans apparently have the same hope. Volunteer organization Hands On Nashville’s website has crashed several times this week because so many people want to sign up and help. On Monday morning, the Davidson County Animal Shelter let it be known that they needed food for animals rescued from the flood. By Monday evening, the pile of donated pet food blocked the halls and reached the ceiling. And, this being Music City, shows benefiting flood victims are popping up at venues all over town. The Volunteer State has never deserved its nickname more than it does right now.

But we can always use a few more extra hands.

To donate your time:

Hands On Nashville
All Metro Nashville relief efforts are being run through this organization.

Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest needs volunteers to sort food and transport meals for the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. They also need monetary donations.

To donate money:

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee Red Cross
Text “RedCross” to 90999 to donate $10 to flood relief. This charge will show up on your phone bill.


Stony Brook University Medical Center captured the Gold Award for best total campaign for an Academic Medical Center at the 2009 Aster Awards. Individual honors went to Stony Brook’s microsite and print advertising. Clients Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Medical Center and the University of Virginia Health System were also recognized for a total of nine Aster awards. In addition, Lewis clients received ten honors in the 2009 Healthcare Marketing Awards.