Some Reflections

Posted July 31, 2006 by briantakesontexas
Categories: Uncategorized

This is a picture of me with Stan Richards. For people who haven’t met Stan, he’s just one of those people with a presence that commands the attention of a room. He’s done so much with his life that so many industry professionals aspire too… he’s an icon. But he’s so down to earth and humble. Someone I have truly come to respect.

I’ve come to respect a lot of people, and I’m not just saying that. I’ve been going to lunch with so many people at The Richards Group. I’ve been talking to them more, asking them about what they do and why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I really see myself working as an account planner the more people I talk to. I owe much of this to Jason Donahue for taking a chance on hiring me for this internship. I don’t come from the Miami Ad School or the VCU Ad Center, which are almost becoming prerequisites to go into planning these days. The times when Jason says to me “this is what planners do!” in reference to the things I’m working on… these are the times when I think, God… I could be really good at this! It’s exciting.

I’ve learned about account planning and advertising a lot, but I’ve learned about myself too. If you ever need to re-evaluate who you are, spend three months 1500 miles away from home. Everyone you meet will be meeting you for the first time. You’ll learn your strengths and weaknesses in terms of how you make connections and convey to others who you are. I guess most of all I learned the value of trusting my own instincts in terms of going out on a limb. I’ve always done what I felt and believed regardless of how popular it was, and here, I learned that that’s such a key part of who I am, because the less I do that here, the less people understand me. I’ve had great things happen by just going for things- from walking up to strangers in bars to asking Stan Richards for a photo with him to speaking my true thoughts in a meeting, I’ve only become more confident and understood by going for the things I think or want. It’s a great principle to follow. You’re not really contributing anything to your own life or anyone elses when you’re just repeating things you’ve done before within the limits of your comfort zone- challenging your mind to think differently or even just doing something new can be so valuable.

Finally, I’m going to end this post with my answers to some questions that will be included when the 2006 Stickell brochure comes out. I think it sums up some of what I’ve learned here:

How has this internship been beneficial?

From working on new business pitches to Spherical Branding presentations to creative briefings, the internship gave me so many opportunities. I not only learned some of the finer points of account planning, but also gained a better understanding of all parts of the agency structure.


What was the most exciting/interesting project or event you worked on?

Leading a team of interns on a pro-bono Spherical Branding project to benefit poverty-stricken children in India was a really fulfilling experience. Working with students from across the country incorporated diverse perspectives into the project, and the freedom we had in approaching it gave us a chance to combine our knowledge and creativity. I made new friends and saw first-hand how advertising can play such an active role in improving our world.


What advice can you give to future Stickell interns who might work at your agency?

Never hesitate to make connections. So many people have great stories to tell. The Richards Group is a great place to intern because everybody is respected, regardless of titles. There are no secrets, since all that matters is the work. You can go up to anybody, even Stan Richards himself, and ask them what they’re working on, and you’ll learn something.


When and what made you first interested in Advertising/Marketing?

I was a broadcast journalism major for almost two years before I decided I wanted to do something where I could be more creative and idea-driven. But all along, being on a diversity committee, I was pitching ideas and offering insight to university administrators to help them better understand how students’ needs could be met. My personality and passions better suited me for a career in advertising. Also, I realized that I’ve always had an affinity for advertising- maybe all those things I ordered off of TV infomercials were signs all along!


Baal Dan has officially been Spherically Branded.

Posted July 28, 2006 by briantakesontexas
Categories: Uncategorized

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We presented our intern project this week, and it went really well. I’m glad I decided to take this on, even though sometimes I thought it was too much in addition to everything else I’m doing. But it turned out that this helped me in everythinig else I’m doing here. We were briefed, and then worked really hard for 2 weeks, sometimes staying late into the evening to really understand the Spherical branding process by trial and error. Then, finally presenting it and coming full circle with our combined thought processes, I realized that this process is a balancing act. How much does what we think matter vs. what the client thinks? At what point can you say you buy more into one idea than other when working with a very diverse team?

Ultimately though, I walk away feeling totally empowered to do this again and again, which is good. I wanted to be involved in this in the first place for two reasons. One was to learn and gain experience, and the other was to help Tanya and help Baal Dan. And I think thanks to our combined efforts, I got both. And Tanya now has a vision for Baal Dan: feeding the needs of children in poverty.


Posted July 18, 2006 by briantakesontexas
Categories: Uncategorized

This is a picture of our team, ChariTRG.  We are a group of Richards Group interns who volunteered to compete in an intern project.  We are working hard on research for Spherical Branding presentation for a pro-bono client, Baal Dan (more info can be found in prior blog entries).  The project has been quite an adventure so far- but it’s great experience, particularly for Temple and myself, the two planners leading the team.  I would say that it’s really nice to be getting to work so hand on, and it is, but I feel that’s the experience I’m getting more and more everyday with both this project and the actual clients I’m helping work on.  It’s so reassuring, I guess in a bit of a twisted way, when I talk to my friends interning in New York and LA who are stapling things and writing peoples’ emails all day, that TRG entrusts us to do the things we do.  Plus, the opportunity to share knowledge and skills with different students from advertising programs across the country- that’s just priceless.

I can’t give away too much about our research techniques for the Spherical Branding project, as we’re competing against another team, but I will say that it’s going well, and the energy that’s building up is really motivating.  Also, I just found out yesterday that I’m going to get to work again with Jason Donahue on a new business pitch- this time to a very large client, who, shall remain anonymous now for confidentiality purposes.  I guess after winning uControl, they think we’re not half bad, if I don’t say so myself. 🙂

Yesterday I got to go driving around peoples’ neighborhoods taking pictures of home security yard signs- this came about as a result of some questions that lingered from a packaging meeting in which Jason and I attended.  I’m really getting to see how many different uses a planner can be of- and that’s what I love about doing this.  Research and sitting behind a computer is fine, but getting out and getting to do something new and fun- whether it’s being a photographer or employee in a store or even pretending to be a customer- taking on a new role to gain insight is definitely one of the coolest things about planning.


Posted July 14, 2006 by briantakesontexas
Categories: Uncategorized

Sorry all- my update is long overdue! What a great week this has been. The internship seems to get better each week. Tuesday was the 30th anniversary of The Richards Group. In addition to going to the Rough Riders minor league baseball game to celebrate, we all had a giant meeting where Stan talked about the unique profit-sharing program that TRG offers. Some creatives put together a hilarious video to introduce it- including images of everyone who works at the agency floating around dollar bills. Plus, everyone got Stan Richards bobble-head dolls to take home, and seriously, what’s better than a Stan Richards bobble-head doll? I’ve been so busy working on research, a SWOT analysis, and other things that lead to the Spherical Branding session for uControl, the brand I’m working on, that I’ve not been able to update my blog as much as I’d like to. Jason (the planning group head I’m working with) pointed this out to me today. He would also like (I think) to be on here more. So I’m going to make an effort to include more updates on what I’m doing at The Richards Group and who I’m working with.

Every day is so exciting- it’s been a balancing act recently between working on creative briefs and message strategy research for uControl, with the intern project on Baal Dan, which I talked about in a previous blog entry. Temple Ruff (another planning intern) and I are leading a team of interns who are working hard every day to put together a spherical branding presentation and workshop for this pro-bono client, which happens to be led by Tanya Pinto, who works in band management (an AE) on Nortel. She sits right next to me. More updates on our progress will come. I actually had the opportunity to do a group interview over dinner with Tanya, two of her friends who have given to Baal Dan and helped her direct it with ideas, and two interns working on our team: Zac Pritchett and Rachel Brooks. Pictures appear below.

You know, If I could put video clips of me running around all day, that would be awesome. I’m making new connections all the time. In fact, yesterday I had lunch with Katey Porter, who was a Stickell Intern last year. Katey now works at TRG in brand management on Home Depot. Kind of encouraging to see someone who was more or less in my place a year ago with a dream job sitting about 30 feet away from me. Oh, and lastly, and I promise I’m almost done, WE WON BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE! We have been waiting for this for awhile- sitting next to Klaire Hensley (who works on new business here) and also trying to get more involved in new business projects here, I know how hard they’ve worked and how much we deserved their business, and now we have it. Stan called us all together for a stairwell yesterday to tell us the good news, and to share the giant baskets of fruit that Bridgestone sent for us. That exitement of standing in that stairwell and the anticipation that lead to it… that was one of the coolest things I’ve seen here so far. Kind of makes me consider starting out in new business when I graduate vs. planning… but they go so hand in hand, I think it’s a good thing to think about. That’s all for now…. stay tuned!

The Stan Richards bobble-head doll we all got (we got tee-shirts too!)

At the Rough Riders baseball game

How many baseball stadiums have swimming pools in them? Welcome to Texas!

The Rough Riders mascot

How do you celebrate your agency’s 30th anniversary? With an inflatable horse race of it’s employees, of course!

Can I just please say how cool and strangely fulfilling to see your brand’s advertising front and center? (I help plan for MetroPCS). It’s kind of like seeing your child on stage at the talent show or seeing a family member on the news- you just get excited in a personal way about it.

This is Charles, Tanya’s friend who supports Baal Dan and helped us by doing the group interview.

This is Christine, who like Charles, supports Baal Dan and helped us with an interview. She used to work in TRG, but now works for a prominent local nonprofit client.

And here’s the whole gang! Going counter-clockrise around the table, there is Christine, Rachel, Tanya, Charles, Zac, and me.

My Trip to the Texas Country!

Posted July 7, 2006 by briantakesontexas
Categories: Uncategorized

These are images from my recent trip with some great friends i met here to the middle of the Texas country- a place called Goldthwaite.  Farmer Bill was so grateful to take me on a spontaneous Mule ride through the hills and rivers surrounding his farm.  This was definitely an experience I couldn’t have had if I interned in New York!  This trip was more like what I pictured when I first found out I won the scholarship placing me in Dallas… everything about this felt like I was a live piece of a children’s storybook- from meeting the farmer to riding around the farm with the animals.  It was so relaxing and I’m so grateful to have been able to stretch my limits of what I’m used to doing on the weekends!

At the Cystic Fibrosis Fundraiser

Posted June 27, 2006 by briantakesontexas
Categories: Uncategorized

This was last night at the M Street Bar, a great benefit that another Richards Group Intern, Mary LaDriere helped organize.

What if…

Posted June 25, 2006 by briantakesontexas
Categories: Uncategorized

What if our society's massively growing population is making it more challenging to differentiate ourselves as individuals?  What if people are finding new and formerly trivial ways other than words to speak who they are?  What if a brand isn't just a relationship, but a solid vehicle of communication used to speak to our own selves and to others in this world?

I raise these questions because of the current planning work I'm doing in a certain industry, and because of a wonderfully influential professor who taught me the power of what it means to "change the rules."  So, I'm drawing on multiple sources of inspiration to try and do just that.  

Why change a brand so it can meet the standards of an industry, when we can change the entire industry to meet the standards our brand can set?