Choose to be Great!

25 06 2008

Allison Stulpin
Graphic Designer

Doing my daily surfing expeditions into the World-Wide Web I came across a statement that got me thinking about myself as a designer and as an over all human-being.

“Arrogance without humility is a recipe for high-concept irrelevance; humility without arrogance guarantees unending mediocrity.” – Clay Shirky, New York University Interactive Telecommunications Program.

More often than not I’m fighting the urge to be self-loathing of my creativity while quietly, and often in the same breath, giving myself a pat on the back for a job well done. The struggle, I have found, is striking the balance between awareness and acknowledgment. I am very aware, on the basest of human levels, that there will always be room for improvement, while I continue to fight the urge to prove my greatness to others. I know I’m not alone.

This concept of humility and arrogance intertwined to guarantee greatness is not limited to one profession, gender or race. However, not everyone will seek to be great or humble much to the chagrin of others. For those who do seek to be great however, success can be found in the awareness and acknowledgment that both qualities are necessary. It is that awareness and acknowledgment that will ultimately separate the mediocre from the great. So, be aware of the need for improvement, and be ready to acknowledge your greatness in every aspect of your life.

Be great today!

Camp Rock – Marketing Brilliance, Once Again

24 06 2008

If you have kids (especially girls) between the age of 4 and 14, you probably know what Camp Rock is. For those of you living on an island somewhere without any sense of connection to the media world, it’s the latest marketing success by Disney Channel. Following the hugely successful (twice) High School Musical phenomenon, Disney, once again, hit it big with Camp Rock.

I was completely blown away when I became aware of the first High School Musical a few years ago. I happened to be in the presence of about 35 girls from kindergarteners to seniors in high school when a HSM song came on the radio. EVERY SINGLE GIRL IN THE PLACE started singing this song – so I had to know what it was.

When they told me that it was from the soundtrack of the High School Musical Disney movie and that the movie was a REAL musical, it first took me back to thoughts of Grease! But, I soon realized that this was no Grease. Disney had created a marketing juggernaut with HSM, and then HSM2 (and soon to be released HSM3)! Here’s what was included with the first movie…and I’m probably missing some of the elements:

  • The movie itself – debuted on Disney Channel (and then aired many, many, many times after; and on ABC Family, too)
  • The soundtrack – which just so happened to go on to become the BEST SELLING album of the year
  • The DVD – which includes 2 versions of the movie…one with the lyrics to every song displayed keroke-style and one without
  • The merchandise – WOW, the merchandise…sold everywhere!
  • The solo music careers of several of the movie’s stars (most of which were first timers to this)
  • The interactive web site
  • And so much more…

Then, they did it all over again with HSM2 last year. My then-turning-9-year-old daughter scheduled her August birthday party around the movie and invited several friends over to watch the premier. My wife had burned copies of the soundtrack – which was conveniently made available about 2-3 days prior to the premier – to hand out to all the girls after the party. And, we weren’t the only ones having a party. Just about everyone we know with kids in that age category were either having a party or attending one that night to watch!

SO, that brings me to Camp Rock. The premier was this past Friday night. And, again, people’s schedules were planned around the show. My neices were coming to visit their grandparents, but had to be back home in time for the movie. My own kids were showered and ready to go (without complaining) by the 8:00 start time. Our neighbors were going to a friend’s house to watch. And, do you know what else? My daughter and her friend watched it again the next day (we DVR-ed it of course)!

You can think of Disney whatever you want. But, what you can’t argue with is their extreme sense of marketing success. The best part about it, in my opinion – well there’s actually two things…1) the movies are not bad – meaning they are decent to watch as an adult (I can’t tell you how many times I sat and watched HSM1 with my kids…sadly, I probably know all the words, too!); and 2) the kids enjoy it and are sucked in to the marketing trap that we so boldly create for our own clients on a daily basis. And, I mean “trap” in the nicest way possible. Disney (and The Impact Group) effectively grabs the attention of its audience and creates a response in them. Impressive!

Now, I have to get home to watch Camp Rock again!

Matt White

$4 a gallon gas = Campaign Rhetoric

24 06 2008

Thanks for the donation, I'll need to fill this bus up!Martin Moleski

I’ve always wondered just how much gas our country uses unnecessarily. I’ll start with, of course, NASCAR. Never a fan of watching cars go around in circles for four hours while sporting a fashionable farmer’s tan, I can’t even begin to imagine how much gas is wasted at just one NASCAR event. Before becoming a political science major, I took a few business classes, including economics, so I think I understand supply and demand.

The more we use… the more it costs. I know there is more to it, but I  like to think it’s that simple.

As I thought about it further, and with a presidential campaign now in full swing, I wonder how much gas each presidential candidate is using as he campaigns across the country? My research shows most coach buses get about 9-14 mpg at best. Naturally, not everybody can fit on the bus so support staff, reporters, photographers and protesters travel around in separate cars to get to campaign events. I imagine it looks much like a soccer game between five-year-olds. Everyone is running around following the ball and not really accomplishing anything (rest assured, your kid is an All-Star).

So each candidate tells us he has a plan to bring the cost of fuel down, yet each has spent the last 17 months travelling around the country using up massive amounts of gas and limiting the amount that’s available to Americans trying to go to work and make something for themselves… thus driving costs up.

With a little more than four months until Election Day, imagine if the candidates made a pact to use less gasoline as they travel around the country. Not only would the candidate show the American people that we all need to cut back on our fuel consumption, but it would change the way candidates campaign from here on out. Because by not driving to and from campaign events – or at least driving less – the candidates would naturally turn to social media, video integrated marketing and other creative ways to reach out and communicate with voters.  We have seen how social media can severely impact a campaign (see here) but think about all the positive ways social media could be used throughout the campaign. Candidates could blog with supporters, join a web video conference or send web video to their e-mail list. Each of these tactics connect with the voter on a more personal level than another flyer stuffed into the mailbox or sitting at the top of an arena after waiting in line for six hours. And while candidates can never really get away from traditional campaigning, increasing their use of social media marketing is certainly in their best interest.

If for no other reason than it helps out the campaign treasurer fill out those campaign finance reports.

New media takes over Ohio…

23 06 2008

While we may be behind on fashion trends and winning any sort of bowl, championship or series, Ohioans ARE among the first to embrace new and social media. Prove it? Attend PodCamp Ohio this coming Saturday, June 28.

First launched in Boston in September 2006, PodCamps have spread to various US and international cities, and have built a stronger community of podcasters, bloggers and other new media enthusiasts. 36 events have been held in the United States and abroad since 2006 and nearly 20 more are scheduled for 2008.

PodCamp Ohio will provide geeks, like myself, a perfect opportunity to learn, share, and grow their new media skills. Whether you’re just interested in new media or an experienced veteran, PodCamp Ohio will have something to offer.

“It’s all about learning, getting hands on with new media and spending time with folks that make up your online community,” said Angelo Mandato, coordinator of PodCamp Ohio. “By attending PodCamp Ohio, members of the blogging, podcasting, marketing, academic, and business communities will lead the charge toward embracing and effectively utilizing new and social media in our area,” he added.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Participants can attend informal sessions, created and driven by participants, about podcasts, blogs, digital music, web video and related aspects of new, Internet-based media. The format allows both beginner and expert media producers, as well as listeners, watchers and readers, to participate, discuss and network.

The event is presented by the ITT Technical Institute in Hilliard, Ohio and is open to the public, but registration is required. To sign up or learn more, visit Experience with podcasting or blogging are not requirements to participate; professionals of any industry, hobbyists and students are encouraged to attend.

So while we might spend a lot of time crying over lost games and out-of-date hairstyles, at least we’ll know how to post video blog re-caps of the one that got away, tweet Tribe smack talk and track Joe Blow-rowski’s public perception online.

Until next time,


Bold Action Applauded

22 06 2008

The time for economic development talk without action is over. Our economically-embattled region requires a truly revolutionary idea driven forward by a group of bold and action-oriented leaders. Just such an idea has recently taken shape in Northeast Ohio in the form of the much discussed Regional Economic Revenue Study (RERS).

We applaud Mayor William A. Currin (Hudson), Mayor Mike Lyons (Richfield Village), Mayor Bruce Akers (Pepper Pike) and the many others who have championed RERS.  We have had the opportunity to serve with these distinguished mayors as members of the RERS Ad-Hoc Committee and have been impressed with their spirited dedication.

The goal of the RERS is to increase economic growth and create new jobs in Northeast Ohio in a way that communities may collaborate to share in, and benefit from, that growth. 

For too long, communities in our region, large and small, have competed with one another for economic growth, new employees and jobs and maximum use of resources. The current scenario in Northeast Ohio creates a destructive “winner-take-all” mentality where cities must compete among each other for jobs and businesses.

The first phase of this study provided recommendations for land use planning and revenue sharing systems for our 16 county Northeast Ohio region. We strongly encourage NEO leaders to become familiar with the study. Research it! Get under the hood! RERS is preparing to move into Phase II. Those guiding the study have stated that they desire additional creative input from community leaders. Please provide that input.   

It is time for action-oriented solutions. There are many people in our region who are quick to shoot holes in new ideas and initiatives. They readily state why things CANNOT be done to improve NEO. Let’s refocus the discussion. Let’s engage in a meaningful dialog about what CAN be done to improve our region and use RERS as the basis to do so.    

You may find more information on Regional Economic Revenue Study at   

Tom Speaks and Don Polyak

KISS (No – not the American rock band easily identified by their trademark face paint and stage outfits)

20 06 2008

The KISS principle is a basic design rule that is most often forgotten in this overstimulated “make the logo bigger” day and age. KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. Now don’t be offended–it just simply states a concept that good design should be clean and void of unnecessary complexities. The best way to avoid this is through initial conceptualization and planning. Taking the guesswork out upfront eliminates the need–or more accurately the want–to add unnecessary details.

The ultimate goal of a good designer is to convey their message with as few elements as possible with a balance of creativity and interest. There is a tendency in advertising today to load up a layout with a lot of ostentatious features that add little or nothing to the overall power of the composition thus compromising any elegance the design once held. Planning ahead might seem like a lot of work, but in the long run it saves you time and frustration. Initial brainstorming/thumbnailing creates a blueprint for your layout. This eliminates any extras right upfront that might over complicate the concept. The objective is to stick with the beginning groundwork and avoid the extras that creep in. So just remember to Keep It Simple Stupid.


Holly Davis

Regional Cooperation

19 06 2008

Regionalism. Land use planning. Tax sharing. Cooperation. Collaboration.

We have heard these terms used over and over again by political leaders, inter-governmental organizations, state elected officials, non-profit think tanks, and, above all, the media.  Some of the terms are used interspersed with grandiose ideas, while other times they are applied directly to an initiative, such as sharing of water, fire or police protection, and economic development initiatives.

Then there are bold ideas and initiatives which truly address the core ideas, goals and objectives of “regionalism”.  Not simply an academic exercise or theoretical study, but an aggressive and revolutionary approach to joining forces as a region and establishing a viable, sustainable, cooperative arrangement where all communities benefit from the success of the region.  A prime example of such a revolutionary approach is the Regional Economic Revenue Study, or RERS.  This initiative is the result of work by key leaders of the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association, chaired by Hudson Mayor William A. (Bill) Currin.

Over the past 18 months, The Impact Group has worked side-by-side with leaders across Northeast Ohio in developing the concept and approach to a region-wide planning and revenue-sharing program.  In establishing this effort, the goal is to bring the 16 county Northeast Ohio region together in order to compete in a truly global economy for new jobs and growth in our business community.  For too long, cities, villages, counties and other jurisdictions have competed against one another for economic development in a “winner-take-all” environment.  We need a new environment, whereby the region cooperates and shares in our growth, an environment critically important to the successful growth of our region overall.

I will continue to update this blog with information and developments of the RERS and the leaders across our region involved in the process.  I would also recommend reviewing the RERS web site to learn more:

I am excited to be part of this initiative.  In fact, the very process we are undertaking through a collaborative of The Impact Group, the Mayors Association, Lorain County Community College, Cleveland State, Team NEO, The Fund for Our Economic Future and others is a direct example of regionalism; We are all joined for a united purpose to achieve success together! Check back for updates.  Let me know your thoughts as well.

Regionalism:  What a concept!!



Green Design

18 06 2008

By Allison Stulpin
Graphic Designer

With all of the talk lately about going green, I decided to contemplate how this might affect design as we know it.

We’re all touched by design on a daily basis from newspaper and magazine ads to billboards and flyers. And with all of this paper floating around it can’t be good for the environment. So, I went searching for some statistics to put things in perspective, because, after all, it can’t be that bad … right? Wrong. The Clean Air Council states that businesses use approximately 21 tons of paper each year, and 1/3 of the waste that Americans toss is from packaging. Those numbers are staggering to say the least, and the thought of my personal contribution is a bit depressing.

You may be wondering, why in the world a designer would discuss the negative aspect of the design world. After all it’s what she gets paid to do. Well, I have to admit I went back and forth quite a few times, weighing the pros and cons of this subject, but ultimately decided that there is an up side to this information.

As a designer, I am constantly searching for new and innovative ways to get a business’ message to the masses, and with the spotlight on being greener, I was energized in my search to find ways to design while decreasing my environmental footprint.

Lettuce BillboardOne site I came across contained a plethora of information about being a green designer. Its tips ranged from recommending tree-free paper stock options like sugar cane waste and straw, to using green ink and reducing the amount of ink used in each project ( I even found an example of what some may think is the extreme of green advertising: a lettuce billboard from McDonalds promoting its healthier food options.

Let’s not stop there though. Because of the push to reduce paper design and printing, there has been some exciting developments in the world of design. Web sites and web videos are becoming a more popular advertising method, along with social networking sites and email campaigns designed to hit a specific market. With new technology emerging every day, it might not be long before I’m back here writing about the latest in hologram advertising.

So you see, it might not be easy to go green in design, but it is possible with research and a bit of creativity. If you’d like to see a few examples of greener designs, check out our web site at

Tim Russert Tribute

17 06 2008

In this photograph provided by \'Meet the Press,\' Luke Russert, son of Tim Russert, touches the empty chair that was his father\'s on the set of \'Meet the Press\'\' Sunday, June 15, 2008, at the NBC studios in Washington. (AP Photo/Meet The Press, Alex Wong) By Martin Moleski

I was shocked and saddened to learn of Tim Russert’s sudden death on Friday afternoon. As you can see from my bio, I am an avid Meet the Press viewer. I had a tremendous amount of respect for Tim and his preparation, tenacity, professionalism and true love of all things political. Throughout the weekend I watched many of his colleagues, interviewees, friends and loved ones discuss Tim’s career and life. I was moved by the tribute paid to him on Sunday morning when Tim Brokaw hosted a forum to remember and celebrate Tim’s 17 years on Meet the Press.

What I think helped in my own grieving process was being able to read the  blogs and message boards on various news sites and learn what other fans of Tim were going through. I found that so many people respected Tim for how he lived his life, remembered where he came from and appreciated the responsibility that came with his position. 

The image of Tim’s son, Luke, standing over his father’s chair reminds us all that life is a gift to be treasured. In an interview with the Today show, Luke showed us that he was, in fact, Tim’s best work.

Tim, you will be missed.

Storm Chasers

13 06 2008

So, I’m watching Larry King Live last night, and they are showing a web video from these two guys who sat right in the middle of a tornado in Iowa or Idaho or something like that on Wednesday morning and recorded the whole thing as it was happening.

Here’s the link to the video: Amazing Tornado Video

Of all the possible first things that could come to mind…Wow, how crazy? Man, what a cool experience?! How do they do that?…you know what my first thought was???

They’ve gotta be selling ads like crazy on that web site!

After watching more of the report with Larry King on the recent tornados, it ends up that these guys are really in this for the education and support of the National Weather Service. So, that kind of messes with my “selling ads” concept.

BUT…I know I’m not the only one who had this come to mind. Here are two guys, dead center of a tornado, and you have to believe there are at least 5 million people who would be interested in watching this 30 second clip. And, those 5 million viewers are purchasers of toothbrushes, VCRs, fast food, and any number of other products and services out there.

What’s my point? I have two:

  1. Even though these guys don’t seem to be doing it, EVERYTHING is for sale. Paula Abdul holds up a Coke cup (with the label facing the camera) on American Idol, and Coke pays millions for that. That’s just one example.
  2. The web and video have truly come together in an amazing way here (and in many other applications). is using it for education and safety. Plenty of sites use it for bad stuff. But, the bottom line is that video on the web is a great tool to communicate (and sell), no matter what you do.

My name is Matt White, and I approve this message.