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A note for our readers

If you are one of our six regular readers, you might have noticed that the post count has been lacking lately, but we have an excuse. Fortunately for us, all of us here at Zag have been working our tails off on other projects. And as the Blog’s manager, there are some things I have to deal with outside of the office, like attempting to pass my classes so that I can actually graduate in 17 days. I digress.

Like we were saying, Zag has been busy, so unfortunately for you, the blog will enter a short hiatus. Don’t fret; we will be back in a few weeks, after things settle down.

On another, slightly somber note, Collin, Ligia and I will not be returning to Zag in the summer. Each of us will send our regards during the hiatus through X.Y.Zag and Facebook, so keep checking back here to see what we have to say about our experience at Zag.

After the hiatus, expect to see some fresh faces. The new staff, along with Elisa and Kelsey, will continue to update you, the reader/blog stalker, about the agency’s happenings as well as their own views on the marketing world around them.

I’ll go into more detail when it’s my turn to spill my guts, but I would like to say it’s been an honor to be a member of this staff, and I simply wish the best to the incoming Zag class.

04/22/2010 at 2:14 PM Leave a comment

Old Spice: a brief study in rebranding

If you watch any TV at all, odds are you have seen an Old Spice ad recently. To me, the Old Spice brand has made a remarkable shift this decade, killing the old stereotypes that went along with the name.

Back in the day, it used to be that when I heard the name “Old Spice,” I would think of the signature cream-colored aftershave bottle—it is the king of the generic supermarket aftershave, joining the likes of Brut and Aqua Velva.

The products and marketing efforts Old Spice have made in the past five years have really changed the brand’s perception and reached an entirely new audience.

This year, Old Spice took a multi-campaign approach, like Geico, and released three different advertisements for its body washes—all catering toward a younger audience, more hip audience.

The first ad is clever, the second is slightly disturbing, and the third, well I don’t even know what to say about the third one. Just see for yourself:

“Look at Your Man”

“Armpit Mountain”

“Odor Blocker”

04/06/2010 at 3:13 PM Leave a comment

Cue the ominous “future” post

The other day a few of my friends and I were discussing our expectations for the future. We didn’t talk about our far-flung desire for flying cars and self-lacing shoes (I just had to throw in a nod to my favorite movie Back to the Future). Instead we talked about what we really want to do with our lives and the directions we all would take. Naturally our conversation revolved around topics like our plans for employment, family and more.

As a senior that’s feverishly getting my ducks in order before graduation, it’s really a bittersweet junction of my life. I’m going to be ecstatic to finish my final exams and (hopefully) never have to take another one again, but I will also truly miss the people and places that I have come to associate with my time at TCU, because after May, I will be stamped with the “alumnus” tag and move along to another stage of life—the proverbial “real world,” as they say.

Over a month away from walking across the big purple stage, you would think that I have a direction carved out for myself. The truth is that I don’t—the tough job market has really put me in a funk defined by stress, terror and a very small pinch of exhilaration. These factors made the conversation I had with my friends very interesting, yet insightful.

Not knowing the direction I’m moving in, and having the “living at mom and dad’s house” option breathing down my neck, I was forced to come up with a plan for my future on the fly.

These are a few goals in my life that I really hope I can stick to after graduation:

I will write. I love being a copywriter. That is one thing, among many others, I learned at my time in Zag. The power of word and language, coupled with graphics, in advertising are truly enormous. On the other hand, I also I have passion for literature as well. Eventually I hope my writing will develop to a point where I can write a novel or an interesting non-fiction piece.

I won’t stop learning. I will be more than happy to never take a test again, but I will always try to improve my work. I’ve been soaking up advertising history and attempting to grasp concepts in design and type on my free time, which has been sparse this semester. It will be nice to graduate and have the opportunity to dive right into these subjects on my own.

I will not sell out. No, I’m not taking jabs at the account side of the business; I just want to stay in the creative realm—simply put, it’s what I’m good at.

I will (hopefully) work on my own terms. By this statement I don’t mean I will be the rogue in the office. I want to be able to express my creativity on my own terms, that is, write and conceptualize with as much freedom as possible within an agency environment.

To be quite honest, I have never been a “five-year plan” type of person. I believe we live in a society that moves so quickly that you don’t know what to expect in a year, let alone five. This is why I hope the declarations I have made to myself will stick.

03/25/2010 at 3:45 PM Leave a comment

Olympics draw gives brands a chance to shine

Worldwide sporting events will always draw a large audience. It was reported that the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champion’s League final that pitted English giants Manchester United against Spain’s Catalonian club, FC Barcelona, is now the most-watched annual sporting event, surpassing the Super Bowl on a “world-viewer” base.

Though I am thoroughly biased to “the beautiful game,” the biggest viewer draw today is the 2010 Winter Olympics being held in Vancouver.

As the Winter Olympics are celebrated every four years, it carries long-developed stories of athletes dominating their respective sports at the national and pre-Olympic world level. Combined with strong national ties and the inevitable dramatics, the Olympics will be watched.

Here in the U.S., we have to watch them. We are force-fed Olympic coverage because NBC is reportedly losing $200 million broadcasting it—they severely overbid to secure exclusivity rights, another smart move by the Peacock.

Moving back to the topic at hand, opportunities like the Super Bowl. The UEFA Champion’s League and the Olympics have art directors frothing at the mouth and media buyers preparing for client-side tongue-lashings. Buying ad-space is more expensive for a draw like the Olympics, but, ideally, you will also have more viewers to receive your messaging—it all comes down to what risks you are willing to take.

Here are a few examples of Olympic advertisements that have really struck a chord with a creative like myself.


Proctor & Gamble


Tim Hortons – The iconic Canadian brand produced a commercial that really hits the heartstrings. Unfortunately, because of the WordPress’ inflexible video embedding capabilities—it will take a little work to view the spot. I highly recommended it, so if you’re interested, catch it here!

02/19/2010 at 2:19 PM Leave a comment

Simple tips for applying for jobs

Snow certainly makes things difficult for Texans. My friend from New Jersey asked if anyone possessed an ice scraper here. The short response is typically laughter. With that said, the remnants of mother nature were certainly memorable—I have never seen that much snow in D/FW, 12.5 inches, in my life.

This unexpected weather made getting to the office difficult as well; my car was literally covered in 5 inches of caked-on snow and ice, so today (because I was the one laughing at the ice scraper comment), I’m writing from my humble abode at TCU.

On another note, we apologize for the sporadic posting over the last two weeks. Things have picked up very quickly for Zag, so we’re sorting all of the cards in our deck and we will be back to our regularly scheduled postage soon!

Now, onto today’s post:

Now that it’s February, graduation talk is getting hot and heavy for a senior like myself. Along with that, the notion of finding a job upon entering the “real world” is a bit terrifying. Here are some measures that I take that make the process as calm as possible:

Make a list. Scour job search engines, Google and postings from your school’s career center. Then, make a master check-list of potential companies you want to send your resume. Put it up somewhere—mine is directly in front of me in my room. A large visual reminder really helps to keep me on track.

Set a goal. In addition to the check list, setting a goal for the number of resumes I send out each week helps to keep the search moving along. For myself, I try to send out at least two resumes per week—I think it is a nice, reasonable goal that I can hit each and every week—but obviously you can send out as many or as few as you want.

Tailor yourself. For cover letters and resumes, you want to tailor everything to the potential employer. This takes some research. The easiest way for me to do this is to work with a large master resume and portfolio. With all my work in one place, I can pick and choose what to give to an advertising agency compared to a more conservative public relations firm.

Clean it up. Spell check is your friend, but please use it wisely. By that I mean, look at the context of everything spell check is “correcting.” For instance, there is a big difference between there, their and they’re. Simple spelling and grammar mistakes can really hurt your chances of landing an interview.

Send it off. This step is always the most difficult for me. Once your resume leaves your hands, or your e-mail outbox, it is out of your hands for the most part. Make sure you follow up with your contacts—showing the extra effort really can help.

02/12/2010 at 5:28 PM Leave a comment

Patience is a virtue, but not for NBC

It’s tough after a hiatus to hit the ground running, but today I’m going to step on my soap box and talk about a recent issue in entertainment that has left me baffled, and, frankly, a bit angry — don’t worry, it is also relevant to advertising.

Recently, NBC declared that Jay Leno would reclaim his 10:30 PM time slot to host a 30-minute-long show and basically leave current Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien with a few options; he can either leave the show altogether and earn a settlement, move to another network or bite the bullet and take the later time slot.

The kicker: the change was announced just five months after O’Brien took over the Tonight Show. To me, this is like the time columnists were criticizing Barack Obama over his performance just weeks after swearing him into office.

As a big fan of Conan O’Brien, I’m as angry as (I’m sure) he is.

Granted, the ratings of the Tonight Show have dropped off significantly since O’Brien took control of the show, but you have to look at the history books to know that the decision to move Leno back was hasty. When Conan grabbed the reigns of Late Night in 1993, he was critically panned for years, but things eventually turned around. He gained a foothold in the late night television time slot and earned a reputation, which eventually gave him the ability to succeed Leno.

I guess this situation can serve as a lesson: the tough thing about advertising and television programming is predictability, or the lack thereof.

In advertising, the unpredictability of the typical consumer is mitigated through countless methods of research.

Television, on the other hand, lives and dies by ratings. Shows that are critically acclaimed can be axed because there are simply not enough viewers to sustain a healthy profit. This form of media, however, has to rely mainly on primary research whether it’s pilot episodes, focus groups or test audiences — and these methods can only take you so far, which is why NBC is now in this situation.

The current situation also poses the question, “Will there be new advertising content to reflect the changes in programming?”

Leaving O’Brien and Leno in this predicament is a public relations nightmare for NBC and its executives, and who is to say that moving Leno back to his old time slot, albeit a more condensed show, will shoot ratings back to the top?

Then again, we do live in the world where fast cash and fast returns are the be-all and  end-all of business decisions. In five months, Leno could be canned for his poor form — predictably is boring, isn’t it?

01/11/2010 at 4:15 PM Leave a comment

The holidays — a time for the timeless

For the company holiday card, I was posed the question, “What is your favorite thing about the season?” That’s like asking me what my favorite song or movie is, and that provokes two tiny problems. There’s either the fact that the list of holiday traditions is seemingly endless or that I really didn’t have a tradition growing up — my family is from Vietnam, it’s a surprise we even celebrate the holidays.

Though my familial traditions are suffering, there are quite a few things that make the holidays unique to me. For one, I will only watch the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve — I simply refuse to watch it any other day of the year. Another piece of the season that I absolutely adore is the timeless nature of certain brands. Like we always say at X.Y.Zag, we can make advertising pertinent to almost anything (except for maybe the CIA, or the Patriot Act — you can never talk about that, unless you’re prepared for the consequences).

My favorite example of a brand’s Christmas campaign that holds its own year after year is Coca-Cola. The brand definitely has some things going for them (i.e. nostalgia and its pinpoint execution of, for lack of a better term, holiday goodness).

What I find interesting is that Coca-Cola had three distinct holiday campaigns when I was growing up, each carrying a different time period and overlapping one another. In the end though, whenever someone thinks about a sensory-overload inducing Christmas caravan or fun loving, CGI polar bears, they think Coke.

First there is, “The Holidays are Coming” campaign. Long been a tradition for Coke, the campaign disappeared in 2001. It was later replaced by the cuddly CGI polar bears, and, strangely enough revived in 2007 when Coca-Cola cited numerous phone calls from customers saying the campaign marks the beginning of the season for many.

Next, here are the aforementioned polar bears. Back when the campaign was introduced, it was truly state-of-the-art.

And finally, there are the nostalgic print advertisements that feature Santa. I absolutely love these because I am a fan of advertising in the 50s and 60s, where illustrations ruled.

To me, these advertisements really do epitomize the holiday season. And because of Coke’s perverse awareness throughout the world, it’s easy to assume that these ads really do enforce the brand name.

12/11/2009 at 3:16 PM Leave a comment

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