Design from a New Vantage Point
Design from a New Vantage Point

I am an aesthetics over analytics girl any day, and I always have been. I pursued my degree in interior design because I love to be surrounded by a purposeful beauty, but in my final year in the interior design program at the University of Alabama, I realized I yearned to experience something more.

I had become trapped in the idea that the only choice I had in my career was whether to go “commercial” or “residential,” and I was suffocating. I was on the UA Greek system’s governing board, as well as an active member of the Student Government Association, and I adored planning our big events and being a part of all the small details that take something from good to great.

And then entered Lewis Communications and the world of advertising.

It was a conversation that was had often during that final semester. The summary goes like this: “I have no idea what I am going to do. Help.” Then, during one of those conversations with a mentor and dear friend, I learned about summer internships at Lewis Communications. I had never thought about taking my love for aesthetics in the advertising direction, but I was quite intrigued by the idea.

Here I am today, fresh off a photo shoot for Tiffin Motorhomes. In my role assisting the stylist, I have served on both the creative side and the account side, and I’ve been able to combine my love for visual beauty with my organized, detail-oriented nature. Though it may seem like styling a photo shoot can’t be that different from designing an interior space, I have learned there are so many little things that go into photography that engages consumers. It’s about creating the right shot list with the right colors for each unit for the right medium. Scale and proportion that seem great in person may not translate well in photography, and I have loved taking on design from this new vantage point.

I’m now off the shoot and in the office, and I can’t wait to see what all the work we’ve done thus far will turn into. Already I’ve learned how captivating various images can be for different audiences, and I can’t wait to learn more.

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.

 

 

 

A Film About Sex Trafficking: Hard To Make & Hard To Watch
A Film About Sex Trafficking: Hard To Make & Hard To Watch

Once the initial shock wore off from what I was hearing, the question was “Okay, just how on earth do you tell that story and do it right?”

I have to confess, when I heard Interstate 20 was one of, if not THE largest sex trafficking corridor in the United States, I was skeptical. Shocked and horrified, but mostly skeptical.

I live in Birmingham, Alabama. Not Las Vegas, or LA or New York. There’s no way this could be going on in Birmingham or even Atlanta for that matter. We are in the Deep South. No one treats another person like that in the South.

But once we began doing the research and talking to people who were actually experiencing it, the horror and realization began to set in. How on earth do you tell this story? And is there any way to make it believable?

The first hurdle our production team needed to cross was trying to get someone to go on camera and talk about it. The people involved in the business won’t say anything to you—if you can even find them. They are so good at hiding in the shadows that if you show up to film anything, you’d be spotted by any number of lookouts they have posted well before you pulled into the parking lot. Most of the customers helping fuel the industry won’t talk to you. Why would they? They have a new 16 year old just waiting for them at the next truck stop, which is sad, but true. A few brave truckers talked to us about the inside details and gave us a starting point for what we needed to capture. And we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.

Finally, that leaves the victims themselves. After a few initial interviews we quickly realized that trying to get the victims to tell their stories is a lot like asking a soldier fresh from a firefight to describe his experience. Just like soldiers in combat, these victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and are unable to emotionally recall their ordeal. They can talk, but they seem so disconnected from everything they are saying, it is hard to do it with meaning. We decided the best we could do was capture their stories and re-create them for the purpose of the film.



So, with cameras and chase cars in hand, we hit the road. Turns out, of all the elements in the video, the road was the easiest. The road doesn’t talk or try to hide. So our group spent weeks driving up and down the corridor between Birmingham and Atlanta to capture footage we needed. With a Red Epic, Canon 5D’s, GoPro Heroes, and a motion control rig, we were able to capture this part with relative ease. Only an occasional curious state trooper or motel owner even noticed us.

In the commercial ad business you always look forward to creating imagery to help tell your story. For the first time in my 30-year career, however, this was not the case. Every scene we captured in the film left an impression on our crew. Working in an old theater to recreate the “pimp” and “torture” sequences was as distressing to shoot as it is to watch. Some so distressing, we ended up using still photos rather than moving pictures to keep from crossing a line of taste somewhere. I don’t think “taste” and depicting sex trafficking even live in the same universe.

It took more than a year to capture and stage every scene for the film. Some of this was because of the schedule we needed in order to use key locations, and some of this was because the entire project was produced pro bono and had to be filmed after hours and on weekends. The time-lapse sequences were captured by going out just about every weekend to different locations along the interstate.

I hope the story we’ve told does justice to what we discovered. If we can prevent just one little girl from falling into this trap, we will have done our job. And if we can help give the victims back the life that was stolen from them, then every second of effort poured into the film was worth it.



Director
Spencer Till

Copywriter
Stephen Curry

DP
John Pope, Charlie Brown Sanders

Photographer
Jeff Williams

Time Lapse sequences
John Pope

Editor
Charlie Brown Sanders

Flame and finishing
John Pope

Audio and sweetening
Barry Brooks

Producers
Jacob Garner, Leigh Ann Motley and Ben Fine


history
history

The Birmingham chapter of the American Advertising Federation held its annual ADDY Gala at Soho in Homewood. Lewis captured 11 Gold ADDYs and 22 Silver ADDYs, more than any other agency. In addition, the agency won Best of Show/Broadcast for its “Never Saw It Coming” TV campaign for Alfa Insurance. Stephen Curry was honored as Creative Director of the Year and Copywriter of the Year, while Joel Wheat was named Art Director of the Year. In addition, being one of Lewis’ youngest employees didn’t stop Holly Cook from making her mark at the show. Holly was named Designer of the Year, Illustrator of the Year and her work from Auburn University was named as Best of Show/Student. This represents an unprecedented three major honors for a fresh-out-of-school designer.

Beer and Beef Jerky: The Intern's View
Beer and Beef Jerky: The Intern's View

As we’re watching some video footage about a fancy medical procedure for a client one Thursday afternoon, one of the creative guys asks if we want anything to drink. Assuming he would be coming back with a Coke, I said no thank you. When he came back from the fridge with Yuenglings, however, I knew I was going to like it here.

I’ve been an intern at Lewis for about a week now, and I see this culture is about more than the stockpile of beer and beef jerky in the fridge. And I see advertising is about more than making cool posters. I’m not sure what I expected agency life to be like, but this definitely isn’t it. I think I imagined people being bossy and on-edge all the time, and I think I imagined every meeting and conference call being a calculated battle. This imaginary office I built in my head couldn’t be farther from the truth, at least in Lewis’s case anyway.

People wear skinny jeans, colorful scarves and hip glasses, and they make me feel cooler just by being around them. Every cubicle is decorated with cool artwork and/or pictures of adorable children. As much of an oxymoron as it may seem, the thing I’ve found most odd about the agency is how normal every interaction and meeting is. The way people communicate with one another and with clients is just so relaxed, so easy, so normal.

This simple, understandable communication style each member of the Lewis team seems to possess is the reason I have already learned so much. Just in the few days I’ve spent following people around here, I’ve realized how complex, compelling and fun the advertising industry can be.

Caroline is a summer account service intern. She graduated from the University of Alabama in May, and she will be continuing her education at the University of Missouri in the fall. Follow her @carolineemurray.

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.

20 Big Wins At Healthcare Marketing Awards
20 Big Wins At Healthcare Marketing Awards

At Lewis, we go to great pains to remind people that we’re not a “healthcare agency.” After all, we work with RV manufacturers, insurance companies, energy utilities and other businesses, and we’ve won awards in every one of those categories.

But at the same time, we are especially proud each year when the Healthcare Marketing Awards roll around.

We like healthcare.

It’s consumer branding. It’s an expensive, important decision in people’s lives. It’s research-driven and yet highly emotional in its execution.

We find like-minded souls at the helm of many of the nation’s top teaching hospitals. They value research, as we do. They have substantive, real product differences that consumers deserve to know about. And creative skills we tend to be good at, like storytelling and craftsmanship, make us a good fit for the category.

Nearly 4,000 entries were received in this year’s competition–and Lewis walked away with 20 major awards, including one Best of Show.

This is on the heels of the nation’s other significant healthcare marketing competition, the Aster Awards, where Lewis also won a Best of Show and other honors.

We work hard at this stuff. So, it’s gratifying when the industry notices. I’m proud of our teams in all three Lewis offices for such a great showing.

You’ll find the complete list of wins below.

 


 

2011 HEALTHCARE MARKETING AWARDS

BEST OF SHOW – Newspaper Advertising
Memorial Health
Savannah, GA
Beach/High School Football/Field Trips

GOLD
Logo/Letterhead
Louisiana State University Health System
LSU Corporate Identity

GOLD
Magazine Series
Medical University South Carolina Medical Center
Fisherman/Girl in Car/Grandpa & Grandson

GOLD
Outdoor
Memorial Health
Heroes/Cancer/Preemies

GOLD
Television Series
Memorial Health
Midnight/Hello Summer/Chances

GOLD
Newspaper Series
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

GOLD
Special Video
Stony Brook University Fundraising Video

GOLD
Employee Communication Program
University of Virginia Health System
UVA EMR Campaign

GOLD
Newspaper Series
Vanderbilt Health Primary Care & Walk-In Clinics
Family Doctor/Fever/Check Up

SILVER
Television Series
Medical University South Carolina Medical Center
Distance/Independence/News

SILVER
Newspaper Series
Memorial Health
Beach/High School Football/Field Trips

SILVER
Television Single
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
Money

SILVER
Radio Series
Stony Brook University Medical Center
Remember/Different/The Choice

SILVER
Special Event
University Healthcare Consortium
Poster/Microsite/Brochure/Video

SILVER
Special Video
Upstate University Health System
Cancer Video

SILVER
Total Advertising with TV
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Knowlege Campaign

BRONZE
Newspaper Series
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
This Isn’t

BRONZE
Radio Series
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
McPherson/Pietenpol/Thompson

BRONZE
Total Advertising with TV
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Branding Campaign

MERIT
New Media
University of Virginia Health System
UVA Holiday Greeting

 

2011 ASTER AWARDS

BEST OF SHOW – Total Advertising Campaign
University of Virginia Health System — Charlottesville, VA

Award: Best of Show
Entry Name: UVA EMR Campaign
Category: Total Advertising Campaigns

Medical University of South Carolina — Charleston, SC
Award: Gold
Entry Name: 2010 Magazine Series
Category: Magazine Publication – Series

Medical University of South Carolina — Charleston, SC
Award: Silver
Entry Name: 2010 Total Ad Series
Category: Total Advertising Campaigns

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt — Nashville, TN
Award: Gold
Entry Name: Newspaper Series
Category: Newspaper Advertising – Series

Stony Brook Children’s Hospital — Stony Brook, NY
Award: Gold
Entry Name: Development Ad ’Sandbox’
Category: Newspaper Advertising – Single

Stony Brook Children’s Hospital — Stony Brook, NY
Award: Silver
Entry Name: Stony Brook Children’s Logo
Category: Logo Design/Letterhead

Stony Brook Children’s Hospital — Stony Brook, NY
Award: Silver
Entry Name: Fundraising Video
Category: Other/Misc

University of Virginia Health System — Charlottesville, VA
Award: Bronze
Entry Name: UVA Beyond Surgery
Category: Service Line – Surgical Services

University of Virginia Health System — Charlottesville, VA
Award: Gold
Entry Name: UVA Branding Campaign – Spine
Category: Service Line – Orthopedic Services

University of Virginia Health System — Charlottesville, VA
Award: Silver
Entry Name: UVA Branding Campaign – Pediatrics
Category: Service Line – Children’s

Vanderbilt University Medical Center — Nashville, TN
Award: Gold
Entry Name: 2010 Magazine Series
Category: Magazine Publication – Series

Vanderbilt University Medical Center — Nashville, TN
Award: Silver
Entry Name: Anthem :60 TV
Category: TV/Video Advertising – Single

 

#GoMobile
GoMobile

Let me ask you a question: Where are you reading this?

Chances are, you’re on your desktop computer, and by desktop, I’m including laptops. What about a tablet? Okay, maybe. But mobile phone? Not likely. It’s not that people don’t use mobile devices for entertainment and social purposes. It’s that they’re more likely to use their mobile phones to take action. Find a restaurant. Get directions. Make a phone call. So the fact that you’re probably on a desktop says more about where you are than who you are.

This is a fundamental shift in thinking for those of us in the business of marketing and communications. When it comes to the mobile space, the most important consideration is no longer demographic, it’s geographic.

That’s just a taste of some of the yummy tidbits we feasted on at the Mobilizing Mobile event put on by Google the other night here in Mobile, AL. The event featured Jason Spero, Director of Mobile at Google, and Edward Boches, Chief Innovation Officer at Mullen.

The main takeaway for agencies and their clients is that we must stop treating mobile websites like the kid brother who wants to tag along with big brother desktop website and his buddies, TV and Print. The mobile web is its own thing and needs its own strategy and implementation.