Sunday, July 29, 2007

(New) work: Scratchproof DVD

Direct mailing for TDK Scratchproof DVD

The scratchproof DVD mailing is actually not new. I made it already during my quarter away in Stockholm and it even won a prize for the best work of that quarter (called Ze Award, see But the presentation still needed some improvement.

We wanted to communicate that the data TDK Scratchproof DVD's is safe for scratches. You can even clean this DVD with steel wool and still there's no data lost. So sending it by normal mail without protective cover would be easy. We simply put a stamp and the adress on the DVD itself and send it without envelope to the target audience. When you put the DVD in your computer, you can read a message that the DVD is still working.

I sent this idea to only one blog to see what the reactions are and within a week other famous ad blogs took the picture and started to publish it as well. A sign that we must have done something right. Nevertheless, any comments to improve the idea or the presentation are welcome.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Special offers and antioxidants

If I'm not in a hurry, New York is. And then you have to run to keep pace with it anyway. Yes, everything goes fast here, but after being here for two weeks I'm getting quite used to the situation. It seems ages ago that I was sitting in a cab on my first day, gazing at the Manhattan streets with a mixed feeling of anxiety and intrigue. Right now I'm standing every day in the subway (standing, cause you can't sit) and go to work like every other slave of the working society. I'm even getting used to the crazy people over here. This morning I noticed I wasn't surprised anymore when I saw someone talking loud to himself.

What still amazes me is the advertising here. One out of two commercials on television is from some car dealer. The ads are always the same. The first 20 seconds they lure the viewer into the commercial by showing spectacular shots of a car doing a slalom and driving in a curve. An intriguing sounding voice over tells about all the specifications of the car. When the potential car buyer is almost drooling in front of the television...BAM. They trap the viewer by casting an enormous amount of prizes, special offers, mandatory messages and restrictions. Every inch of white space around the car is suddenly filled with copy.

Over here they like copy so much that they fill entire packages with it. In the beginning it took me over an hour to do groceries cause I couldn't find the right product. There are no packages that just say 'BUTTER'. If you want normal butter you have to find this butter between the soja butter, macrobiotic butter, fat-free butter, unsalted butter, flavoured butter and lactose free butter. There's even a brand called 'I can't believe it's not butter'. Well, if it's not butter, I don't want it. Another piece of copy, on a cereal package:

'For anyone who wants to celebrate their 50th birthday. As the halfway point'.

This is the lamest piece of copy I've ever seen on a package. Yet it's so strange that it makes me laugh. Talking about strange, the keyword on every package here is: ANTIOXIDANT! That tea and apple juice contain antioxidants doesn't surprise me. But they even put the line 'contains natural antioxidants' on a chocolate bar because there are raisins in it (!). Some copies are just plain bizarre. Like this line that was in a big font on a can of salt:

'This salt does not supply iodide. A necessary nutrient'.

So...let me get this straight: you bring a product on the market, leave out a vital ingrediënt and put that prominent on the package? Well, at least it's honest. Luckily, I figured out which products I have to buy and doing groceries goes faster every time. Which is good, because I love New York and I didn't fly all the way from Holland to waste my time in the local supermarket.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Excellent concepts please

"You know what it is guys and that counts for all of the ideas that you've showed me..."

If you hear this sentence at the end of a review, you know that you haven't made the award winning concept yet. On Tuesday Menno Kluin looked at our ideas for Luerzers Archive and he said about all our ideas that it's just not good enough yet. Julien and I knew that we could do better as well. So we had to go for a second round. One campaign made it through the second round, but the creative director who saw the ideas wasn't satisfied yet. Luerzers Archive is a prestigious client and every idea that's less than excellent is going in the garbage bin immediately. They wanted a third round with new concepts.

So to do this assignment right, we had to work in the weekend as well. On Saturday and Sunday we spend hours to think of new ideas. "We just have to come up with ideas we haven't thought of yet", I said to Julien and we laughed because we already showed about 40 pieces of paper with scribbles on it and even that was a selection. But even though it was really difficult, we made at least the same amount of ideas as we've made last week. And I have the feeling that they are better as well. When you've already made the obvious, the only hope is to think different.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Transformer explosion in New York!

The police is wearing masks against the danger of asbestos

One of the barricaded streets in the disaster area

Wednesday there was a riot in midtown Manhattan over an exploded steam pipe. 26 people were wounded and one person was killed because of the explosion. Mud was flying hundreds of metres in the air and smoke covered the buildings in the neigborhood. A classmate of mine told me people were running in the streets in fear of another terrorist act.

The police confirmed there was no terrorism involved. I didn´t notice anything of the explosion. That day there was a lot of rain so from the window at the agency you couldn´t see the difference between the clouds and the smoke.

New York has almost 20 million inhabitants, so you must be very unlucky if you´re exactly the one who's a victim in this accident. I think the chance to get shot in this city is a lot bigger. Nevertheless, a lot of people from school were concerned. We got an e-mail from Miami in which they asked us if we're allright. And a classmate of mine called me to hear if I was still alive. Quite some difference with Alkmaar, where there was a shooting at the trainstation and afterwards everybody just thought: 'when is our train leaving?'.

Today I went to the disaster area to make some pictures. Although nobody was allowed in the area, it was already impressive to see how much police, ambulances and firemen were on the streets. There seems to be always something happening in this city. I've got a pretty good idea that when I go back to Holland after 2 months, New York is going to leave a long lasting impression.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Saatchi & Saatchi

The magnificent view from the 18th floor

This city is intense. New York is like a noisy friend that grabs your attention and sucks up all your energy. At Saturday I wanted to have a little stroll in Manhattan. But I found out there's no such thing as 'a little stroll in Manhattan'. Everywhere there's noise, salesmen, markets, street musicians, cars, limousines, tramps or capoeira dancers. It's like a big open air theatre. Yes it was fun, but this 'little stroll' also got me totally exhausted.

Friday was my first day at Saatchi & Saatchi. It's by far the most impressive agency I've ever worked. The building has nothing less than 18 floors and almost all of it is from Saatchi. I work on the top floor on one of the corridors. Everything in the building reminds you of the fact that you´re walking through a top agency: the shining marble floors, the elevators that are totally made of mirrors, the beautiful view over Manhattan and last but not least the press Grand Prix and the agency of the year award that they won in Cannes.

There wasn't a lot of time to enjoy all this, because we wanted to get to work immediately. My art-director Julien and I promised each other that this quarter we're going to make work that will win a Cannes lion. This might sound ridiculous to some people, but we're absolutely sure that we can do it. Despite the fact that we've got four days less. Being in an exciting environment like this motivates me even more. New York gives me wings like a bat out of hell. Give me a couple of weeks and I will fly.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One night in New York

"I'm at fucking Madison Square Garden..."

This is what I thought when I walked up the stairs at Pennsylvania station, New York. Everything what could go wrong went wrong at the airport. I had to wait 2,5 hours longer because there was something wrong with my visa. Because of that my luggage wasn't there anymore and I had to give my address so they could send it to my house as soon as they've found it. It was 21.00 U.S. time, but for me it was 3.00 in the night. I was totally exhausted after all the chaos, but when I saw the huge entertainment centre in Madison Avenue (which I only knew from television), I was totally impressed and I forgot all the non-stop panic that I was in for the last few hours.

I thought that going to New York would be like living for the first time abroad all over again. Like when I went to Hamburg for the first time. I was totally right. Except this time my parents weren't there to support me if anything went wrong. I was on my own... And I couldn't call Julien at the house, because I didn't seem to have any reach in the U.S. So I took my hand luggage (the only luggage I had still left) in a cab and asked him to drive me to the street where my new house hopefully would be.

It was already dark and I opened the car window. I didn't mind the wind blowing in my eyes, because I wanted to take a better look at the giant buildings and the lights that were passing me. Whatever street the car went in, everything looked the same in every direction. Still I couldn't help thinking about my luggage. What if something happened to it? All my clothes were in there! Then the car went over Queensborough Bridge. The millions of lights that drew the skyline of New York seemed like a solar system on earth. It was so breathtaking that it made me forget about all the problems I had that night. For a moment, it left me totally paralyzed.

After driving along some 34th, 33th, 32th, 31th Avenues, I arrived at Crescent Street. My teampartner Julien was smoking a cigarette outside and I was really glad that he was there. Now I knew for sure that I was at the right address. At least that couldn't go wrong anymore. That night I had a really good sleep. When I woke up in the city that never sleeps I heard to my surprise that my luggage arrived.

At least these coming weeks won't be as chaotic as this first night in New York. Nothing is comparable to a first day abroad in a new city. It feels like jumping into the deep water and making your way to the surface again. But I made it. These coming months I'm going to discover the city and make a lot of work at Saatchi. New York, I want to be a part of it and I'm gonna!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

If you can make it there...

A year ago some friends of mine thought I was bragging when I said I wanted to go to New York. "You want to go to New York," they'd say ,"dream on!". They did not want to make me feel demotivated, it's just very Dutch. People in Holland are really down to earth and New York doesn't seem down to earth. In fact, for a lot of Dutchmen it sounds the same as: "Hey guys, I'm going on a trip to Mars next year".

In reality, New York is not such a big deal on our school. On the first day of the quarter people from all over the world come straight from the airport, still carrying their suitcases. As if they've taken a train. This quarter more students from Miami Ad School than ever are going to New York. Most of them are doing a school programme there, some of them got an internship.

What ís a big deal is the agency I'm going to do my internship. Saatchi New York has become the agency of the year in Cannes. Already the best teams from Hamburg went there before me, so it's going to be hard to be outstanding. And thanks to the long visa procedure, I'm already four days later.

Of course that doesn't demotivate me. I asked my teampartner Julien to send me the first briefing so I can start working already. Working at Saatchi is a big opportunity and I'm going to grab it with both hands. I received my visa in time and on Thursday my plane is leaving. I feel really excited, like I'm going abroad for the first time all over again. It was great to be back in Alkmaar, but now it's time to rock in the Big Apple.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, I got him!

"Let's see, you're here for a student visa for your internship?"
"Wow, this internship must be a really good learning experience. Saatchi and Saatchi is a very good agency!"
"Yeah, I know"
"Well, you're visa application is approved"
"Oh, great!"
"We're going to send you your passport with your visa back by mail. You'll receive it on Tuesday or Wednesday"
"Good, can I already book a ticket now?"
"Yes, but you won't be able to leave the 10th of July. Just to be sure, buy a ticket for later in the week"
"Okay, thank you"

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Visa preparations

Friday morning I have an appointment at the US embassy for my visa interview. To get a student visa for the US, you have to plough through piles of forms and everything has to be filled in perfectly.

Although I see no reason why they shouldn't give me the visa, I'm still quite nervous for Friday. I will already be 2 days later at my internship. So if something happens that makes the procedure take longer, it could cost me the internship I always dreamt of.

But I shouldn't worry yet. Right now there's a lot to do about the Knirps umbrella campaign that I made with Andres. It's published on the blog and the reactions are hilarious. Never before was there so much controversy about one of my campaigns, which is a pretty good sign. Look at: