Why You Should Stop Brainstorming Immediately.

“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible,”said Pablo Picasso

Brainstorming has become the play for just about every corporate problem. It’s a feel-good and purposeful reason for people to gather. And it’s fun because we get to say crazy things. But lately, we’ve been hearing arguments against the practice.

  1. Groups coalesce around obvious solutions first.
  2. Worse, the group gets anchored in the initial discussion, and can’t make the jump to alternatives.
  3. Loud mouths disproportionately influence the discussion, and the most introverted personalities are not heard at all.
  4. Groupthink sets in, especially the closer it gets to five o’ clock or lunch. The group becomes self-congratulatory, and the members tell each other they’ve got it nailed.
  5. There is little accountability for actually devising interesting solutions, or getting them to work.
  6. Artificial time pressures, e.g. “we have a half-hour” to crack this, shut down creativity.
  7. We are told to be uncritical of ideas, and therefore every idea no matter what its merit needs to be considered.
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Creatives: Beware of Your First Job

Unless you weld your inner creative compass on true north, your first real job might be the crappiest thing that happens to your career. Right now student work fills your portfolio. That’s what you have to show, and, fair or not, that’s the crux of an agency’s hiring decision. No, it’s not your GPA, a sweet note from your mom, or anything else (unless you were incarcerated) on your resume. We care about you as a person and what makes you tick, but awesome work makes us slobber like dogs.

So here’s the rub. If your work is crap, only crappy ad agencies will hire you. Or an okay agency will hire you to clean their stables. Same thing, right? After a stint at that crappy agency, what will you have in your portfolio? More crap. So you won’t be any closer to working in a place that does great work than you were as a student.

This isn’t why you endured four (or five) years of school, is it?

You know great work when you see it, so don’t interview with crappy agencies. It’s not worth any salary, or the blackening of your soul to take a crappy job.

So now what to do? Ben Shahn would say, “Get a job in a potato field.” I’d say take a quick bartending course. Or, do something that’s useful that won’t freeze dry your creative juices. Of course, you’ll want to continue your education, soaking up cool work, reading, and plugging into an internship or two.

Meanwhile, your real job will be working on and improving your portfolio, and getting feedback on it from anyone in the field you respect.

Take time to steep yourself in great work online and off. Read. Try to understand something new. Reverse engineer work you like. How did they get the idea? Why was this design chosen? How does it make you feel? Challenge yourself with made-up assignments. Design campaigns for your favorite products and services. Try media you haven’t explored before. Learn code.

Let your non mixologist friends toil away in the stables, while you build a killer portfolio and get a real job!

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Hammered Mint Julep: A Smashing Derby Cocktail

Ideopia's Ben Singleton with Mint Julep

Whether you’re off to the races or watching the Kentucky Derby at home, you can bet on Ideopia’s Hammered Mint Julep. Watch Ideopia’s PR pro/mixologist, Ben Singleton, craft this ‘ole standby. Odds are, you’ll love it! The hammer? Optional.

The Hammered Mint Julep Recipe

  • 1.5 teaspoons Demerara sugar
  • 7 mint leaves or so
  • 2.5 ounces bourbon
  • ½ cup crushed ice (it’s hammer time!)
  • ¼ cup club soda

Gently muddle sugar with mint leaves. Mix in bourbon and let it percolate for five minutes. Add crushed ice and top with club soda. Garnish with mint, if you’re feeling fancy. Cheers!

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Right Message. Choppy Delivery.

How you deliver a message is just as important as the message itself. Just ask Doug Hughes, a 61 year-old retired postman from Florida. Hughes’s mission was to deliver letters to all 532 members of congress regarding the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision about campaign financing.

A rural letter carrier in Florida since 2003, Hughes didn’t trust his former comrades to deliver the mail. Instead, he took it upon himself to pilot a one-seater gyrocopter and landed on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building.

Hughes found himself in a world of hurt he could have avoided by heeding Marshall’s McLuhan’s insight: “The medium is the message.” He confused the medium, the gyrocopter, for the message. The ensuing media coverage sucked the air out of anything Hughes had to say. All of it was about the breach of White House security, the flight that even NORAD couldn’t detect, and endless hand wringing by security consultants.

So heads up, fellow marketers. We make this mistake every day. We lavish attention on “the message,” but we delegate or ignore the delivery medium.

Media is like a package that wraps up your precious communication or product. The result determines how you interact and feel about the content. Subtract the packaging and gold foil from Godiva, for example, and it would taste like chocolate byproduct. The type of envelope you choose for a direct mail effort might be more important than the brochure inside.

Similarly, if you’re using the same video on TV as pre-roll on YouTube, you might as well put a down payment on a gyrocopter.

I admire Hughes. He lost his son to suicide, which undoubtedly clouded his judgment. But I still have a soft spot for creative forms of protest that aren’t violent or destructive.  For all the trouble, though, I do wish Hughes’ message had been delivered.

“The Medium is the Message.” Tattoo it on your chest.

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Ideopia Reforests the Planet, One Print Job at a Time

Cincinnati, Ohio (April 21, 2015) – Ideopia, a B2B and B2C integrated marketing agency, celebrates its 25th year in the advertising business by launching the Treebie Initiative, a program designed to replace trees for every print project completed by the agency for its clients.

For every print job ordered by a client, Ideopia makes a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Cincinnati Nature Center or Great Parks of Hamilton County. The client is then presented with a Treebie award, printed on 100% post-consumer fiber, with earth-friendly toner instead of ink, and processed chlorine free. The awards are suitable for hanging on the official Dano the Squirrel Treebie Display Peg.

Treebies Package


“Any time we can make cool work and help the environment in a big way, that’s a win in my book,” said copywriter Eric House. “It feels even better to support these great organizations, and pass Treebies along to our clients, friends and families.”

Giving back to the community has always been a part of Ideopia’s DNA, long before Corporate Social Responsibility was a buzzword,” said Bill Abramovitz, CEO and Creative Director. “We’ve been involved in projects from helping keep at-risk students in high school so they graduate, to making home ownership a possibility for lower income families. We’ve built marketing campaigns for agencies that provide services for critically ill children and helped non-profits with programs that make it possible for low-income students to earn college credits right in their own neighborhood. We even created a video game to raise awareness of the necessity of having pets spayed or neutered.”

More information on Treebie and an infographic on the Treebie Effect available at www.ideopia.com/eco/

About Ideopia

Founded in 1990, Ideopia is a B2B and B2C integrated marketing agency that partners with clients to achieve long-term goals through interactive marketing, web development, social media, public relations and advertising. Ideopia recently announced the creation of its new medical division, designed to meet the specific demands of companies in the medical and healthcare fields.

Headquartered in Cincinnati but lives in the cloud at www.ideopia.com and www.IdeopiaMedical.com

For behind-the-scenes photos of how Treebie came to life, check out our facebook page at www.Facebook.com/ideopia.

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The Five Commandments of Beer Marketing

Your beer packaging could look like this!
Your beer packaging could look like this!

In between trips to rehab, the beer group at Ideopia has been searching for the ultimate beer client. To fully establish ourselves as thought leaders in the field, we have created the Five Commandments of Beer Marketing: a guaranteed recipe for selling even the worst swill.

1. Carefully pick a name  like “Madtree’s Psycopathy,” “Skull Splitter” and “Rogue’s Dead Man Ale” that zero in on the benefits of your brew. When in doubt, use this time-tested formula [MOTHER’S NAME] + [WORD ASSOCIATED WITH DEATH OR NEAR DEATH]. For example, “Betty’s Woodchopper Pilsner.” Then turn it into a cool bar call, like “Gimme another Bad Betty!”

2. Packaging. The bigger the brewery, the more handmade (trashier) you should make your package look. Reliable standbys include monsters, vikings, maidens, skeletons, ninjas and skulls. Use a sheaf of wheat at your own risk.

3. Don’t forget tons of social media links, and a clever story about your first batch. We’re all about building communities, because that’s where the parties are.

4. By the way, nobody drinks a 12-ounce beer anymore. Not even hipsters. Think cans, and supersize from 22 or 32 ounce to mini keg. Encourage more sloshing at a single sitting, and lower your packaging costs per ounce.

5. Marketing: While your beer has that homey, slightly illegal look, you need to back it up with heavy data mining, and a serious marketing automation system. Goals: Identify heavy users and deliver coupons to them before they run dry. Use social media. And start a conversation by posting their drunken selfies, twerking and breakup pics. (Got one? post it to our Facebook page.)

Pricing: Craft beers should be priced at least 150% more than the common crap beers. That’s how consumers know it’s good. For you big batchers, the general rule is 100% over cost plus the percentage of alcohol.


Remember the Five Commandments of Beer Marketing, and you can sell just about any rotgut that comes out of your basement.

If you need additional help with your beer marketing, though that’s highly unlikely, give Susan Abramovitz a call at 513-947-1444 x10. Planning a tasting? We’d love to come.

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Custom Emoji’s Add Depth to Brands

You know what emoji’s are : They’re the  little, sometimes annoying smiley faces used to punctuate email and social media posts. Their purpose is to clarify the tone of what’s said or to  extend it’s meaning. We believe that custom emoji’s or a set of custom emoji’s will serve a similar purpose for brands.

Logos anchor brand identity over long-spans of time, while custom emoji’s might come and go. A simple example would be a green brand using a tree to along with its logo symbolize environmental consciousness . We’re excited about the  possibilities. So take a look at a giant version of Ideopia’s emoji and see what you think. Quick translation: eye represents our singular vision of creativity, the clouds are ideas while the many hands reflect our hybrid approach. Tell us  what you think? Have tried anything similar? Feel free to post.

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Earth to Creatives: Where are Your Websites?

Web education for students isn't happening.

Student website are missing in action.

This  became painfully apparent over the past month as reviewed more than a dozen portfolios from senior art directors and entry-level. The process was exhilarating, discouraging and, at times, enraging.

Of the 21 portfolios I reviewed, only one showed any digital work of consequence. And now that person works for us.

Maybe we give the younger people a pass on creating for the web, because they’re the victims of their school’s curriculum. But why? Hasn’t the younger generation grown up with all things web and mobile? Why don’t they have the curiosity to explore digital even if it isn’t in the course description?

Working in a web of denial.

One probable explanation: The old fogies are designing the curriculum, and they themselves have not adapted to the new secret ways of the web. Like many students they’ve convinced themselves that digital design is just an extension of print, and thus not worthy of much attention.

Of course that’s not true. And poor slobs like me will spend countless hours explaining why a web page can’t weigh-in at 20mb, how web visitors scan pages, that our pages foldup responsively for mobile devices, and that meaning and accessibility trumps artifice. Even if they can’t execute the basics, they should understand them.

The old salt art directors are another story. They don’t exactly act like the Internet is a fad, but neither do they embrace it. What I saw their work were hobbyist websites that looked OK, but t wouldn’t pass a basic usability or technical test. Their M.O. is to design a pretty interface and hand it off too a developer to make their mess work.

I can’t understand why any creative person wouldn’t dive into digital, poke around, learn, and bring new ideas to the party. We can’t kid ourselves any longer. Knowing the basics of print design and the joys of type ligatures prepares you better for a job in food service than web design.

Hip teachers and students are already embracing digital. If you’re not seriously into web, mobile, app, games and responsive design, get there. Maybe you’ll get a job at a cool, progressive shop instead of serving happy meals.

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More. Better. Faster: The New Age of Marketing.

The world is running faster, and marketers need to get ahead of it. By the time a conventional marketing plan is created, it’s quite possible that the ground beneath it has moved. Our brands still need strategic gyroscopes, but they need to be created on the fly. It’s time to shed the old rules and approaches, and get fast! Here’s how:

Write long-term, realistic business objectives. But keep the strategies to achieve them shorter term and fluid.

Knowing who you are, why people are excited to come to work, and why your customers do business with you: That’s the core of your marketing not the ad du jour.

Inhale information to feed your brain. Download a good RSS reader. Keep track of your reputation, the competition, consumer and technological trends. Follow your customers and the information they chase. How can you turn it into action today?

Build your content distribution network. It’s the key to achieving ROI with content marketing. Create engaging, informative, funny, shareable content and adapt it to every social media platform you have. If people in your group can’t create content, make it their job to share it.

Accept more risk. Deploy tactics quickly to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Learn what you can from failures and move on. Thinking is good. Acting is better.

Communicate more often across more channels. Content matters, but so does frequency. Tweet, Pin, blog, Friend, and Follow as often as it makes sense.

Be relevant. Concentrate on engaged fans, customers, and potential customers. Tailor content marketing to their needs and wants.

Recruit people within your company but outside the marketing group to join forces on social media.

Have more meetings to share information within your group, but make them shorter. Ten minutes is best.

Get good intel. Spend less time on conventional research, but more time with analytics and monitoring. They tell you what people are actually doing in real time, as opposed to what they might do in the future.

Use the Internet to speed up cycle time for research. Put online focus groups and surveys to work. For even faster response, recruit a panel that’s familiar with your industry.

Be tactical in the short term, but never stop searching for the big idea that could crystallize your brand and catapult you to the next level.

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The Truth About Creativity and Booze

It’s no secret that people who sustain high levels of creativity occasionally take a swig from the bottle. Others are drunken sots. So does booze improve creativity or not? Turns out it, it does.

An article published in “Consciousness and Cognition” explains that “test subjects intoxicated at a blood alcohol level of .075, which is the equivalent of two pints of beer, performed better under tests designed to examine their creativity.”

The theory is that alcohol relaxes the brain so it can guzzle more visual information. But just in case you’re tempted to a binge, don’t. Higher levels of alcohol diminish the its effectiveness as a creative enhancer, and raise your chances of getting pummeled in a bar fight.

If you need to sneak booze into the office for creative reasons, copywriter Eric House recommends hiding it in your beard. Hirsute challenged? Don’t worry, you can cloak an entire six-pack under the beer beard.

Let us know how that works out for you.

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