Big Ideas from a Small World

Moving to C-level pastures.

If your reading this there is a way bigger party in town.

I’ve joined the ranks of the business owners and opened up my own shop – Switch Advertising.

You can follow us on Tumblr TwitterOn Our Blog

Or head right to our website and send us comments on the main page though facebook.

To the 10,000+ people who have read this blog thank you.


Make Videos – Get Job

Posted in Blue States, Get High Fives, Going somewhere?, Make Friends, Shop Talk by Ryan Thomas on August 11, 2009

Advertising Week in NYC above and beyond the best event for our community. From cocktails to talks with some of today’s best minds it’s an investment.

Print yourself about a 1000 extra business cards and head down. You’ll need them,

And if your a junior creative, the opportunities abound,  Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Ogilvy in New York, Proximity Atmosphere and Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness to create a value ad for juniors.

Check out the video to find out more:

For more contest info: click!

For more on Ad Week NYC: click!

More on BioShock2 – virtual to real world marketing

Posted in Change Something, From Canada, Get High Fives, Global Outlook by Ryan Thomas on August 9, 2009

Back when I posted about the BioShock2 website, people all over the internet guessed at where the marketing team behind the project was taking this event.

Now there is more on the BioShock2 ambient and digital advertising.

Long story short it’s brilliant:


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Change-vertising: Why it’s ok to make Dungeons and Dragons Jokes

Posted in From Canada, Get High Fives, Global Outlook by Ryan Thomas on May 27, 2009

This morning a good friend of mine and talented writer here in Toronto sent me the following e-mail:

I’ve been reading Goodson’s blogs and articles for days now, and analyzing case studies on the Strawberry Frog site. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the exact notion of Cultural Movements and how you would go about sparking one.
And also how you could project the success of your idea without actually having to execute it in order to sell the idea to a client.

I’m hoping you have some knowledge about this and could provide some insight?

Insight I have. Dental and Medical I do not. So without further ado…

Step 1:


Think of a closed culture as a log cabin. They are structurally sound, tightly packed and cozy – but above all they keep the outside out. We all belong to closed cultures or have at one time. Your family is a closed culture, your work place, your hobbies and interests make for great closed cultures.

Well before advertisers stumbled onto the idea of starting cultural movements, closed communities have been breeding them. Jazz spawned whole new way of looking at music, addressed racial barriers, and spawned some of the greatest cultural movements of the 20th century. Remember the beatniks were proto-hippies.

Now it’s important to make a distinction here.

Open Cultures are: Represented in mass media

Closed Cultures are: Not represented in mass media

For this example though, we are going to use one of the strangest closed cultures ever to grace North America:

Dungeons & Dragons

In the mid seventies there was nothing quite as geeky or socially ostracizing as Dungeons and Dragons. Groups of young men limited to 5 or 6 would sit in basements and spend entire afternoons fighting imaginary creatures and playing pretend. The game itself worked on a rules system that was totally inaccessible to people outside the community. To purchase books or products you had to find a store, a rare jewel where often the owners knew you by name.

In short if you were a member of this community you felt a sense of belonging and ownership – yet you were also an outcast.

Step 2:


Closed cultures over time build up vocabulary, preferences and commonalities between its members. The stereotypes often associated with the gay community did not start that way. They developed as a cultural short hand. A way of seeing and speaking that told others that you were a member if they also spoke the same short hand.

Skateboarders did the same thing, though were far less persecuted. If you didn’t know what a heel flip was, you did not belong to the community. It was a simple test and you were a tourist.

These communities developed well in advance of the internet and today closed cultures dry much more quickly. Meme’s can now race through a community over night, developing what once took years in a matter of days.

In our Dungeons and Dragons example cultural short hand revolved around the rule system already packaged with the game. A great roll on a 20 sided dice would let a character do amazing things. Members of the culture announcing “I roll twenties” is a kin to rappers promising “I’ll make it rain on these hoes“. Once a closed culture has developed a cultural shorthand, brands have an opportunity to partake in the culture.


Nothing is more tragic than when marketers start fires with wet kindling. Free running never had a chance to really develop before it started appearing in marketers’ pitches. It never got the opportunity to call something it’s own before it was sold back to its members.

Step 3:


So you have a culture that is under represented and perfect for your brand. It has its own shorthand. But how do you know if your culture is big enough to really get a good cultural fire started?

Look for trees around the cabin.

Many people may be associated with a closed culture by virtue of personal relationships. You many never have played D&D yourself but that boy you dated in university did. There were always sharp dice on his floor, his bookshelf embarrassed you at house parties. Or you had a Magic the Gathering phase in high school. You knew some of the terms associated with D&D but never really got involved yourself. In many articles about the death of Gary Gygax one of the founding fathers of Dungeons and Dragons his reach is estimated at 20 million players over 30 years. If the average person has upwards of 100 personal contacts, the question begs to be asked: how did D&D stay out of mainstream media for so long?

The same goes for jazz, street racing, guitar hero and about a million other closed cultures.

Your trees have reach and are well connected, if you start a fire big enough, they burn too and you’ll have a fire lit under the ass of a much larger culture.

Step 4:


Use what you have learned about a culture. Borrow its language and images and bring it to mass.

Why mass media?

In an age where everyone is talking about social media, why would starting a cultural movement be about mass?

The answer is simple: To open a closed community’s doors.

Television represents the collective everyman. Even in a market of 1000’s of specialty channels, if it’s on television or on radio or on the side of a billboard, surely you’re not alone.

The community is bigger than you think.

  • Skateboarding is not a crime.
  • He’s a hip cat.
  • I have a plus one to social rolls.

That’s the best activator of social media you will ever find. Suddenly people are willing to say ‘I did it’ or ‘I used to know someone’. The closed community grows and with it your brand and the connections you have made.

It’s high risk and still requires great creative, but sparking a cultural movement means your brand is no longer simply jumping on trends but helping people to connect and recognizing their passions.

Here are some of the closed communities growing in Toronto today:

  • Fixie Bicycle Riders & Slow Bike Gangs
  • Amateur Burlesque & Sideshow groups
  • Stictch n’ Bitchers & Square Foot Gardeners
  • Web & Indy Comic Readers

Given time any one of these could develop into a brand new touch point to help grow people’s personal interests and your brand.

Happy Rolling D&D Image

What an insanely wonderful idea!

Posted in Get High Fives, Global Outlook by Ryan Thomas on April 7, 2009

If the idea of award shows is to promote your best work, attract the best talent and praise great clients, then what are we gonna do with this.

I don’t know how I did not hear about this earlier:

radio1The London It Didn’t Air Award. Awesome.

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Looking for work! Get signed in!

Posted in From Canada, Get High Fives by Ryan Thomas on April 6, 2009

Talent Egg is a new(ish) Canadian company, dedicated to getting new grads in the door. If you’re educated, talented and lacking a way in:



Writers & Artists raise a glass: Today is the anniversary of the pencil eraser!

Posted in Get High Fives by Ryan Thomas on March 30, 2009

A big thanks to the Smithsonian, who have found digital content to reward history buffs with.

Now write or draw or stick it up your nose. Today is all about the eraser.

Get a tan, Get a job, Get a six pack.

Posted in Blue States, Get High Fives, Shop Talk by Ryan Thomas on March 24, 2009

Goodness Mfg in Cali is hiring a junior copy writing intern for a 2 month contact. The agency was started by 5 ex-CP+B’ers, is located close to surf and cocktail locations… oh and their website is ball’n:


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Taxi wins new business!

Posted in From Canada, Get High Fives by Ryan Thomas on March 16, 2009

Shine up that portfolio, Canadian golden boys Taxi have just scored a sweet new piece of business. Heineken has selected Steve Mykolyn, Paul Lavoie and the talented Taxi staff as their agency of record.

If Taxi produces work as good as this (click, click, click) it’s gonna be a fine year for beer advertising.

This also means it’s gonna be Taxi vs. Zig, Hineken vs. Molson. At least I won’t run out of things to write about this summer.

As an added bonus here is the case study for an entire year of Mini work by Taxi.

BurgerKing Studios – Audience Insights In Action

Posted in Get High Fives by Ryan Thomas on March 16, 2009

So BK studios is a few months old now. In case you have not heard Mess Marketing is trying to turn the king into a new kind of customizable cultural icon.

Here is the mission statement from BK Studios:

We get it. You like things the way you like them. Your playlists, your ringtones, your calling plans, the cartoons printed on your debit cards, the tricks that trick out your ride—You want it your way.

From customizable t-shirts and merchandise to one of a kind events, Burger King Studio is all about the things that are “uniquely you”.

Now tell me that does not sound like the account side delivered the perfect brief? This site has been offering up custom tees in association with American Apparel and cool indie artists and even offers customers a customizable tee shirt design app.




So whats next for the Studio?

In celebration of the opening of the World’s First WHOPPER™ Bar, we at the BURGER KING℠ Studio were asked to design and build a boutique store at Universal CityWalk® in Orlando, FL. It had to come together fast, but we think you’ll dig what we were able to put together. We’ll have a bunch of your favorite shirts for sale, some new stuff that you haven’t seen, plus as a special treat, we’ve ported our little t-shirt creator from this website to some 24” touch-screens and updated the art library. If you’re in town, you’ll be able to design your own t-shirt and we’ll print it for you on our shiny new DTG (Direct-To-Garment) printer right at the BURGER KING℠ Studio Kiosk.


I have to figure that this whole project is a dream to work on. It’s so deep into culture that very little of it feels like advertising – and considering the target market’s head space, that’s not a bad thing.