July 24, 2008

Black Turtle 101: Interview with Dr. Douglas Lawrence

Please describe your current position.

I am the Chair of the Communication Arts Department at Marywood University and the Owner of Bright Day International Productions.

What schools did you attend and what were your areas of focus?

I studied Mass Communications at Antioch College, Advanced Directing at HB Studios, NYC and Communication Arts at Marywood University. I also received a Ph.D. in Health Communication from Union Graduate School.

Please describe your work experience in advertising, media and/or film?

As a Documentary Producer my projects included work for The Department. of Education, commercial clients and my latest Documentary shot on HD, titled “Sacred Rituals” .

I'm also a music composer and producer. I received a Grammy nomination for Music in the Spoken Word Category. I've also completed numerous scores and compositions.

What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned about the industry?

Make sure to meet as many people as you can. Always, maintain a high level of quality to every piece of work you do. Take a business class.

Please name one person in the field who has influenced your career and why.
Miles Davis. He was a personal mentor and shared a great deal of experience with me.

What direction do you see the industry moving in the next decade?

Faster and more accessible ways of delivering product to consumers including virtual three D programming.

What are the major changes that have impacted the industry in your opinion?

Without question the access to affordable production equipment.

What classes do you teach at your university?

Advanced video as film production. Audio production, Media scripting, Leadership in Communication, Media Performance and Media Management.

What are the most important things that students must do to be a success in the field?

Present themselves as professional and maintain a sense of honesty and integrity. Practice interviewing and gain good communication skills. Do good work that is competitive and marketable.

What are your opinion on user-generated advertising and film? How do you advise your students on this trend?

Any where messages can be created using media is an opportunity for another voice to be heard. However, research is an important part of creating user generated productions. It is important to develop the story-lines and make sure the message is clear.

What advice do you give to students who are looking to break into the field?

Network, Network, Network. Join groups such as Black Turtle and create a honest representation or your skills. Never promise something you cannot deliver. Stick to what you know for know and do it well.

What kind of projects do you encourage your students to pursue outside of the classroom?

I am a big advocate of research.

What is the most important thing someone should know if they decide to pursue a career in the field.

The competition is growing but there is always work. People choose this industry not only for the money but for the passion it delivers to the human spirit. It is exciting and engaging. Hang in there, work will come soon.

July 15, 2008

You and Europe: Featured Contest

Win a trip for 2 to the European country of your choice! All you have to do is make a video and upload it at to enter and win.

Please tell us a little about your contest and why it was created.

We are representing the European Travel Commission, which is, which are the thirty member countries. We do different marketing things whether it’s advertising or a newsletter or something else. One of these things is online advertising which we’ve done previously.

For the campaign itself, of “You and Europe”, to kind of push the “You and Europe” theme further, we came up with this video contest. We worked with Compulsive Traveler before on other projects for PR. They filmed with a couple other clients. The contest is a great way to draw people in because we’ve had other sweepstakes previously in the past few years, and it’s just something a little different. With video logs, blogging, and other things like that, which are bringing more people online, it makes sense to make things more interactive. The contest appeals to people who have either been to Europe or are going there because it runs through the end of September. It doesn’t have to be great; it can be shot on a cell phone, or a digital camera, or something like that. It just should be something that tells your story of Europe.

Has your company or Visit Europe tried user-generated advertising in the past? What was the response?

We’ve done some advertising before with Visit Europe but we haven’t done a lot online because of budget reasons. Obviously with things like that there are some budget restraints. This is the biggest online campaign we’ve done in a while for them,

Have you seen other contests that have reached out to consumers and amateurs? What are your thoughts on these contests? How does yours differ?

I think in the last year or so we’ve seen a lot of people doing more things online. We did something else that had an online component but it didn’t do anything with video. With the whole craze in Youtube and such it now makes a lot more sense. There were a few contests that we’ve seen before. We saw Travel Channel did one with Anthony Bourdain which I heard didn’t go well. I think Conde Nast Traveler did another travel video contest last year or the year before, so that helps kind of figure out how we need to format it, what works and what doesn’t.

How are you attracting attention for your contest and getting the word out to potential entrants?

Right now, since it runs through the end of September, we are still in a process. I believe we are going to be doing online advertising but that hasn’t started yet because we are waiting for our sponsors to come on board. We don’t want to draw people to the website even more if their logo isn’t up there yet, but that should be all figured out in a week or two.

We also have the contest under the Visit Europe homepage. There is also a consumer newsletter that goes out to 200,000 every month and it’s featured there as well. There is also a PR component of it. It was picked up by USA Today so it was on their website. It was picked up on a bunch of other places including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, St. Petersburg Times, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Seattle Sun Times, and Yahoo Travel.

What sort of response do you hope to have from the contest?

We’re still trying to figure that out. I mean, we don’t necessarily only want people who upload videos, we want people who are interested in seeing those videos. If they’re looking for ideas to travel or they’re interested in what the people in videos are doing. It’s more of a reason to get traffic to the site. Obviously we want to get people to upload videos but obviously not everyone has a video of Europe,

Who are you hoping will participate in your contest?

For the contest we are hoping tourists. But let’s say you do video for a living and you go to Europe on vacation; that would be great. We’re not specifying that you can’t be professional.

How is the winner of the contest decided?

The winner is decided by a judging panel. We have on the ETC an executive committee and I believe they are judging it. We are going to narrow it down to twenty or thirty of the best ones and they are going to judge from there. The judges will pick winners based on the following: originality, creativity, suitability for advertising, and production quality.

What do you think the winning entry will say about your message and brand?

We want the video to be your story of Europe, from your point of view. What was your point of view for? What did you really enjoy? Some examples can be found on our site such as a guy dressed up as Mel Gibson from Braveheart and the pigeons in Venice.

How will you measure the success of the contest? Total number of videos or the number of people that come to your site?

I think it’s a little of both. We want videos uploaded but we want people just to watch the videos as well.

Do you think the European Travel Commission will continue to use the user-generated platform? Or is this a one-shot deal?

It all depends; we like to do something different every year for Visit Europe. But if this is a great success, I think we will definitely continue it.

July 11, 2008

What He Does For a Klondike Bar: Interview with David Burrows, Senior Brand Director

Please tell us a little about your contest and what led Klondike to create it?

"What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?" is a question of iconic status, and we want to encourage Americans to answer the questions for themselves in new and creative ways.

The "What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?" contest is an online video short contest inviting consumers to share with America the lengths they're willing to go for a Klondike Bar. The four contest categories - Laughs, Flaunt It, Did You See That? and Everything Else - will give Americans their 15 minutes of fame. The grand prize winner will receive $100,000 and a one-on-one digital short consultation with Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone of The Lonely Island and "Saturday Night Live" fame. In addition to the contest, by simply selecting your choice for the finalist, one lucky voter will be awarded with $25,000 in cold hard cash.

Was this contest created and managed in-house or was it developed with your agency?

Klondike is working with several of our marketing agencies on the "What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?" video contest. They include Story Worldwide, GolinHarris, DDB Worldwide, Mindshare World and Mindshare Interaction. This is an innovative venture for Klondike into the online video contest space.

Has Klondike tried user-generated advertising in the past? What was the response?

We have not, in the past, utilized user-generated advertising but we are being incredibly proactive with our online advertising for this contest. This online advertising includes homepage takeovers on AOL and YouTube, as well as various ads on several Web sites.

Have you seen other contests that have reached out to consumers and amateurs? What are your thoughts on these contests? How does yours differ?

There definitely have been other contests for consumers and amateurs in the past. The trend in contests is moving towards "asking" your audience to engage with the brand versus simply "telling" your audience about your brand. With the Klondike video contest, we are leveraging the familiarity and nostalgia of our iconic question and inviting our audience to speak for themselves about what wild and wacky things they would do for the ice cream treat.

How are you attracting attention for your contest and getting the word out to potential entrants?

Promotional support for the "What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?" video contest launched on May 15, 2008, on two popular NBC network television shows. Klondike was featured during the May 15th season finale of "My Name is Earl." During the episode, Earl's brother Randy shows some of the crazy things he would do for a Klondike Bar. Klondike also advertised in two spots during the show. Additionally, Klondike was the featured brand in a live television commercial on the May 15th airing of "The Tonight Show," and also advertised in two spots during the show.

What sort of response have you had from the contest?

The Klondike contest has been tremendously successful with videos submitted from all corners of the United States. We've even heard about consumers conducting casting calls for their videos!

Who are you hoping will participate in your contest?

We hope to generate entries from a wide range of Klondike fans - a broad variation in participants will create a more interesting pool of videos. We want food lovers, dessert connoisseurs, movie directors, students, actresses and your neighbor who goes to extreme lengths to get his or her hands on a Klondike Bar! Contest entrants must be 18 years and older as of the date of entry and legal resident of the 50 U.S. states or Washington, DC

Who is the final arbiter of the winning selection (i.e., popular selection or judging panel)?

The semi-finalist and grand-prize winner judging panel will be made up of a team from Klondike, supervised by an independent judging panel. During judging for the grand-prize winner, The Lonely Island will join the judging panel.

All eligible entries will be judged based on the following criteria:
i. Semi-Finalist Judging: originality and creativity (30%); communication of the “What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar?” theme (30%); and overall appeal (40%). The public vote will determine 10% of the entrant’s score. The official judging panel will determine the remaining 90% of the entrant’s score.
ii. Finalist Judging: finalists entries will be re-judged by the same criteria as above. The entry with the highest score will be named the grand-prize winner.

What do you think the winning entry will say about your message and brand?

There's no telling what the winning entry will be or what it will say about our brand, but we're confident it will come from someone who is very creative and who is willing to do anything for a Klondike Bar. The “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” advertising slogan has become an American icon and is commonly referenced in pop culture. We believe a video contest that allows Americans to showcase their talent and creativity by answering the question is a perfect fit and we hope the winning entry will deliver!

What value do you feel user-generated content brings to your brand and your message?

Klondike is reaching out to our tried and true fans, as well as the new generation of ice cream enthusiasts through innovative campaigns on primetime and online, and we hope that these campaigns will drive the belief that "being square" is cool – and delicious!

How will you measure the success of the contest?

The success of the contest will be measured on various levels including media impressions, online chatter about the contest and the Klondike brand and quality of submissions. Most importantly, though, Klondike believes that a successful contest is one that is well-received with Americans and allows them to express themselves.

Can you discuss with us your thoughts on the trend towards user generated content as a marketing message?

Again, consumers are looking to be involved at every level with their favorite brands - they want to hear what other consumers have to say -- and they want to be heard. Blogs are great examples of consumers looking to interact with people "in the know" who have insights into a variety of subjects. Contests like the "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?" contest are just one way to invite the consumer to share their point of view.

Do you think brands will continue to use the user-generated platform? Or is this a one-shot deal?

Brands will continue to invite user-generated media into all aspects of their product because again, it's all about the consumer in the end.

July 8, 2008

Portfolio Center from a Student's Perspective: Guest Post by Andrea Foster

One fine spring day, I found myself in downtown Atlanta examining the walls in a dimly lit underpass. I came armed with several cans of spray paint, camera, tripod and a mission. Fortunately, I was never stopped and asked to explain my mission. For most students, defacing public property for a poster about a personal philosophy on God was not a typical solution for a project. However, this was not a typical assignment at a typical school, and typical solutions are not the way Portfolio Center student think.

I didn’t always think this way, and it took a while to get there. My steps toward the dimly lit underpass can be traced back to the previous decade, when I first entered college. At the time, I was not sure what I would do after graduation and not very concerned either. I focused on my passions and left with a degree in Fine Art. After graduation I went on to find unfulfilling work in both small and large corporations where I had little opportunity for creativity. It became apparent that a lifetime of such work would turn my brain to bland mashed potatoes. I had to make a change.

The idea to return to school was an enormous decision. I now had a spouse, fulltime job, and a mortgage. My actions would affect more than just myself. This time around, my education had to be the bridge to a satisfying career. I researched endlessly, read student blogs, and contacted alumni of many different schools. After two years of serious consideration, I finally made my jump. On January 2nd, 2007, I found myself nervously chatting with 14 fresh faces at Portfolio Center’s new student orientation. Five days later, I pulled an all-nighter, and the following year and a half has gone by in a whirlwind.

Despite the typical stories of cut paper posters and “sleep when you die” mantra, I’ve found that every student has their own unique experience. Likewise, I quickly learned that the diverse experiences are as diverse as the students who come to Portfolio Center. Whereas art students typically have a preconceived stereotype of some form, I found my new classmates to be unexpected and intriguing. Beekeepers and architects sat side by side. Degrees meant little; the desire to work hard and think critically became the new requirement.

While Portfolio Center has been dubbed a factory because of its ability to produce great designers, it is far from an assembly line for creative minds. Instead, the school reaches inside and pulls out the details and experiences that make each person an individual, and shows students how to apply these unique characteristics to their work. In two years, one is shaken, stirred, cracked open and turned inside out. The original ingredients remain but result in a new concoction that is now ready to conquer the creative world.

During one of my early quarters at Portfolio Center, I was in a class called “Storytelling and Metaphor.” This class instilled one of the core values of the school: let your work tell a story. After several writing assignments (yes, even design students have to write), I took elements of personal stories and translated them into a visual image. I feel this little drawing was a turning point. In one simple illustration, I learned to tell the story of myself in the world and my experience at Portfolio Center.

Some say the snail is the strongest creature in the world, as it carries its home with it everywhere. I too have had to find tremendous strength to reach my seventh quarter. Exhaustion and stress have been overwhelming, but I keep lurching forward. Curiosity about people and places brings me out, but I still have my shell to retreat into when needed. Maybe by the end of my Portfolio Center life I will be completely out of my shell, but I don’t intend to change that much. Instead, I hope to grow more confident about the concoction I have become and what I am capable of accomplishing.

I am anxious to see where this experience will take me, as the past year and a half has often differed from the student blogs and alumni stories I read before attending Portfolio Center. Sometimes fear and doubt about the future cloud my perspective, but I remind myself of all the knowledge, sincerity, and passion that I have absorbed from instructors and peers. The life-long lessons of thought, heart, and fearless energy will undoubtedly guide me as I take the next step and enter the creative work force.

July 1, 2008

Featured Artist: John Merritt

John Merritt finished second in Black Turtle Media’s Portfolio Review Challenge. His portfolio can be viwed at

What kind of background do you have in photography?

I started shooting seriously in April 2007. Prior to that, I had no real background in photography other than that I had spent several years working in advertising as a Print Production Manager, many moons ago I might add. I have always been a creative egg, I guess. I have dabbled with many different mediums over the years but nothing grabbed me the way photography has now.

Did you have any formal education in photography?

No formal education in photography, only in as much as online courses and reading many, many books. And of course lots of observation and study of the great photographers out there.

What motivated you to enter this contest? Have you entered similar contests in the past?

I was prompted to join the website and the contest after somebody had spotted my work elsewhere on the internet. This was my first official entry into a contest like this.

How do you get the ideas for your photographs?

I have a warped imagination at times; a situation, dream or person triggers that. A lot of my work relates directly or indirectly to life experiences, both past and present. I get my inspiration from so many great artists, life situations.

What kind of equipment and software did you use?

Just over a year ago, I scraped money together to buy a used Nikon D70 SLR camera and I still use that same camera today. I use Adobe Photoshop primarily in all of my post-production work. I love them both!

Describe your shooting process.

I like to think of myself as a down to earth and personable person. So I like to sit and chat with models prior to a shoot; it creates a more relaxed atmosphere. We get to learn more about each other’s goals and dreams. Most important is that we have fun! It has to be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved; I believe this will result in a much better collaboration.

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I am always working on something; there are too many ideas and concepts, and not enough hours in the day.

What are your future aspirations in the field?

This a hobby for me right now. I normally only shoot on weekends and I spend most evenings working on my images when I get home from work. You could say that I have been working my tail off this last year or so to make my dream a reality.

My dream is to be able to quit my job in construction and become a full-time photographer. I want to break into the world of editorial and fashion photography with my twist on things. I would also love to continue on with more fine art photography too. I’d like to thank you again for everything, this has just given me more encouragement to continue on with this.

What advice would you give to other people entering creative competitions?

For anyone else entering such contests my suggestion would be to include as much variety in your portfolio as possible. Show the full scope of your talent.

What are you going to do with the prize money?

The prize money will go towards upgrading my camera equipment. I have had my eye on a specific lens for a while now and will put the rest towards lighting equipment. Thank you so much!