Sow: creativity

Besides gluttony, the reason I’ve been enjoying growing stuff on the urban farm is that I have to use a bit of ingenuity to outsmart Texas’ weather patterns and to counter my own lack of knowledge. Luckily making something out of ether is something I’ve been doing professionally for years.


watermelon vine being held up with netting used to keep birds from eating vegetables or fruit

watermelon vine being held up with a type of netting used to keep birds from eating vegetables or fruit (it was purchased for the tomato plants)

You might see a stick. I see a stake for my weak and windblown brussels sprouts.

You might see a tomato cage. I turn it upside down and it’s adding support for the romanesco broccoli.

You might see a garden statue of a little pig. I see it as an anchor to keep the frost cloth down one more night.

a quick "fence" made to prevent George from lounging on beet seedlings

a quick “fence” made to prevent George from lounging on beet seedlings

I often don’t know I need a tool, a support, a cover, or something else, until it’s 7 pm on a Sunday. Or in the case of a spontaneous cold front, 9:30 pm. And at that point I don’t really want to go anywhere. So kitchen items, yard ornaments, burlap, beach towels, bits of string, get pressed into service. It’s not always an elegant solution, but it’ll do until stores open, weather changes, or harvest time comes.

Creativity is just about looking at things differently. Trying to figure out a solution when there’s none in plain sight. It’s not always about a big idea. Sometimes little ones save the day…or in my case, the plants.

"trellis" made for pole bean crop

“trellis” made for pole bean crop

This year as I plan the spring garden, I’m hoping to increase the amount beauty while decreasing the McGivver-ing. Don’t worry, I’ll post photos.


So: Judging

Personal preference has no place in advertising. When reviewing the work and deciding if it’s “good”, you must think about it’s intended audience.

Or so they say.

In my meetings with clients this week, I had to gently remind one that a color disliked was actually a brand color and it was being used in a manner that the brand agency prescribed. And in another meeting, I heard, “I don’t like it.”

That’s not exactly keeping the target in mind. Our client does not fit the profile of the person we’re trying to reach. And while I can appreciate not liking a brand color (it’s not my favorite either), it is our responsibility to uphold the look of the brand and protect it from dilution.

So today I am in the judging seat. I’m reviewing creative for an advertising contest. Some of it is very good and does the job that it is intended to do.

Other things fall short because they look nice or the copy is well written but the concept doesn’t make sense. And unlike the reviews I have with my team, I can’t talk with anyone about my changes that could improve it or ask why the team made the decisions they did.

Today I must put myself in the mindset of the consumer: sometimes a college student, a young mother, a customer of a bank, a homeowner, maybe a soldier. And each time I must ask myself: does what I’m seeing meet my needs as that viewer?

It’s hard to put aside my own personal biases and petty dislikes. But to be fair to each entry, I must.

Like the folks I work with, the people who made these pieces, ads, posters, tv spots, promos, radio ads, websites and stands put a lot of effort and thought into their work. They did their best to solve the marketing problems they were given.

But I also can’t discount the more technical aspects of the work. Were the rules of good design followed? Was it printed well? Was the photography well shot…and retouched? Were the voice overs clear and easy to hear, not rushed? Was the music complementary to the message being presented?

I always enjoy judging because I like to see the creativity and ingenuity of the work. I like being surprised and delighted. I love seeing the student work and thinking about the amazing things these kids will be doing in their first jobs.

Even though it’s volunteer work, judging pays me back. For the price of a few hours on a Saturday morning, I recharge my batteries. See work I wouldn’t normally see. Witness the promise of amazing interns. Meet some nice people from other agencies.

One of the agencies I worked at years ago said that the work they did was provide “truth well told.” Volunteering to judge on a Saturday is time well spent.