Last week, we sat down with Justin Kauszler and ACe Callwood, founders of the web app that produces ambient coffee shop noise—Coffitivity. The app, developed through our business incubator 80amps, was recently covered in Lifehacker, The Next Web and Mashable. Basically, it's helping fight creative block one listener at a time. Here are five things you should know about the app and the guys (and gal) behind it:
1) It's free. Coffee is expensive. Coffitivity is free. Enough said on this point.
2) It’s backed by research. A few weeks ago, ACe read a whitepaper exploring the effects of ambient noise on creative cognition. Coincidently, around the same time, Justin was sitting in his silent office, uninspired. They put two and two together, pulled in Nicole and the rest is history.
3) They're coming to a coffee shop near you. They have recorded at Harrison Street Café, Urban Farmhouse and a café on VCU’s campus. As for those located across the U.S and even around the world, Coffitivity is encouraging users to submit recordings from their favorite coffee shops. So far, they have received tracks from Norway, Korea and Germany.
4) Japan loves them. When the site first launched, the response was overwhelming. They received more than 49,000 hits the first day, 70% of which were from Japan. Though that percentage is down to about 30% now, the Coffitivity Twitter page still receives frequent foreign tweets.
5) It's totally nebulous. ACe and Justin aren't afraid to admit that Coffitivity is a work in progress. They are constantly recording, editing and revising the coffee shop footage. What’s to come? No promises, but the future could include a mobile app that allows you to listen to Coffitivity and iTunes at the same time, brower extensions and an app compatible for Androids. But we’ll just have to wait and see.
Coffitivity was concepted, created and developed by three VCU Graduates: Justin Kauszler, ACe Callwood and Nicole Horton, with help from the Martin Agency-backed business incubator 80amps.
After climbing buildings, riding bikes and attending The Today Show as audience members, Martin’s New York team can cross one more thing off of its bucket list…brewing beer.
In early March, a few members from the digital team—Meghan Riley, Austin Scott, Rachel Bell, Omar Tucker and Chelsea Brett—took a trip to Bitters & Esters, a do-it-yourself brewery located in Brooklyn. They learned the process of microbrewing, bottling and, most painfully, waiting, as the entire process took more than a month.
While waiting for the beer to settle, our creative minds were racing on what to name the pale ale. Though dozens of office-wide emails were circulated tossing out an assortment of ideas, we settled on the winning name, Turd. Some of our creatives, Charles Watlington, William Morrisey and Jason Nuttall, ran with it, designing simple (yet perfect) beer names and labels. While the beer inside each bottle was the same, the label appealed to each drinker’s “taste” in humor.
We unveiled the beer this past Friday at an office potluck lunch, complete with a smorgasbord of homemade food.
The whole experience was a true team effort and fun team builder for everyone—the brewers, the designers, the drinkers. Most importantly, it proved once again, that beer brings people together.
Walking home the other day, behind an elderly couple, I smelled the distinct odor of mothballs. I recognized the odor because I would randomly find them when I played in the closets as a kid. “Anthony, they’re poisonous. Don’t touch them,” my mother would say as I held one and gazed at its snowball-like appearance in wonder.
Who uses mothballs anymore, anyway? I decided to look into it.
Checking online, I found there were a slew of mothball suppliers and manufacturers in China, Taiwan, India, Singapore and only one in the United States.
Then I wondered if there were enough wool sweaters, coats and whatnot around to justify stinky mothballs. I also wondered what kinds of moths eat wool – was it all species? Are they around only in warm months? Are they in Richmond or did the state pest control authority wipe them out? What’s the real story here?
So why am I thinking so much about mothballs, wool and bugs? This process of observing, what ifs, and discovery is what we live and breathe everyday at Martin Decision Sciences—it’s our analytical mindset. This relentless curiosity is as addictive as wool is to moths.
We go about observing our client’s brand and customers with a variety of data mining and optimization tools, looking into digital, social, and traditional media; sales data and Internet presence. Then we ask questions about what the data is telling us and create what ifs based on what we find in the data. (Does anyone use mothballs anymore? Do people still buy wool clothing?). We then confirm or throw out our what ifs based on more in-depth research.
This new approach enables us to look at the various data sources, connect the dots and determine how each affects each other for deeper insights and better decision-making—a holistic analysis.
With all that said, I still had to know more about mothballs. I went to one of my most favorite sites, HowStuffWorks.com. I found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires mothball manufacturers to include a warning on packaging to "avoid breathing in the vapors." Who would want to? That’s one reason why there is only one mothball manufacturer/supplier in the US. And guess what? Apparently harmless cedar wood chips work just as well.
So I wondered if there is a strong demand for pure 100% wool clothing that makes you itch. With all the advances in better materials to keep you warm and dry like lighter Gortex, Polyester, Spandex, synthetic fleece and wool blends, why would someone risk good money for a wool sweater that can be eaten by bugs?
Looking at Google Trends and based on the number of times wool clothing is searched, I found there was a downward trend starting in December 2010 through December 2012, indicating wool was losing its appeal. My hypothesis was right on, so I thought.
Then I found an article in The Huffington Post that stated wool is now the hot fashion fabric for this Spring’s outdoor clothing, according to exhibitors at the world's largest expo for outdoor equipment and apparel: The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, held in Salt Lake City this January.
In addition, The Guardian UK’s leading newspaper, reported last fall that wool is making a comeback in fashion as well.
So what is the takeaway here? You may want to watch the wool markets for upcoming sales and investment opportunities. You may also want to replace any mothballs in your closets or drawers with cedar chips.
All that from just the smell of mothballs one afternoon after work.
Cover Photo by Alex Robertson.
We all love Mike. Check out this site and let him know how much you love him, too.
Last week, the local offshoot of TED came to Richmond in the form of TEDxRVA. The open forum, themed “create,” drew in dozens of speakers and hundreds of audience members, encouraging engagement and the creation of “Ideas Worth Spreading.”
To honor this event, we collaborated with Richmond muralist, Ed Trask, and local branding shop, Release the Hounds, to create a massive chalk mural around the theme of “create.” We used a connect-the-dots layout to design and complete a collaborative mural in just one day, capturing the entire process on film. This time-lapse video, shown below, was premiered as the opening title sequence that kicked off TEDxRVA
Music by Falcon Arrow
Bands are brands. The way they play and present themselves stands for something in their fans’ (and potential fans’) minds. And, just like Fortune 500 companies, bands sometimes require the help of an advertising agency to garner attention for their brand. That’s where we come in.
Def Leppard approached the agency, asking us to design the cover art for the song “When Love & Hate Collide,” which was premiering for the first time digitally. They wanted us to present a modern, relevant image for the band, without losing their sense of heritage as rock 'n' roll pioneers. We presented several ideas, but the band immediately fell in love with the image featured on the cover art. “When Love & Hate Collide” is now available in iTunes and we're hopeful this is just the start of our collaboration with Def Leppard, and other bands as well. Long live rock 'n' roll.
On December 13, 2012, we hosted our first fashion show at The Martin Agency. From account executives to media buyers to creatives, dozens of employees signed up to participate. The challenge? Design and create two outfits for only $75, one representing the team’s view of “Good” and the other representing the team’s idea of “Tough.”
You might be wondering, why “Good and Tough?” When people who know The Martin Agency talk about us, they talk about our work and our culture. But unlike our work, which is on display around the world for all to see, our culture is intangible. It is hard to put into words. But we found three: Good and Tough. Good to each other, tough on the work. Good place to stay, tough place to leave. You get the idea. Through the fashion show, we were able to bring the idea of Good and Tough to life.
No materials were off-limits and the teams were given a month to complete their artistic, humorous, serious, and/or out-of-this-world designs. The teams spent hundreds of hours combined on the designs and the results were phenomenal—but we’ll let you see yourself in the following pages.
So, without further ado, welcome to The Martin Agency Fashion Show, Featuring the Good and Tough Collection.
Check out the story on Creativity-Online.
For those of you who don't know, our President, Mike Hughes, has been living with lung cancer for about fifteen years. And while he’s been doing a hell of a job fighting it off, he recently began to feel worse. Writing frequent posts in his blog, Unfinished Thinking, Mike expressed regret for one to-do list he's yet to complete. And some big hearts down in our ITS department decided to help.
Mike has always said, “Do work you love with people you love.” Well Mike, we want you to know: we love you. Have a superb Valentine’s Day.
Now get back to work and start reading.
We, the mothers of the world, are heartbroken.
We feel helpless, and even hopeless. While attempting to go about our daily routines, we think about your beautiful babies being laid to rest and we burst into tears. We see the faces of your children when we look at ours and we're unable to process what happened and unsure how we should be reacting.
Are we allowed to be this upset when our own children are still alive?
Are we crazy for being petrified as we watch our children get on the school bus each morning?
Recently at my office two mothers came to work without their laptops, one forgot she was having a party at her house that night, and I left our company Christmas cards at home three days in a row. While these trivial mishaps are nothing (less than nothing) compared to what the parents in Newtown are going through, they are a signal that the ripple effects from the shootings are palpable within the world of motherhood.
There's a fog over mothers around the world. Eyes are swollen from crying, hearts are aching from pain and we just can't seem to keep it together.
We look at our children's schools through a different lens now. This week, a mother told me the one thing she noticed about her daughter's kindergarten classroom was the fact that there's nowhere to hide. Another mother told me she began mapping out an escape route while sharing a bologna sandwich with her first-grader in his school cafeteria. Moring drop-off lines stall and back up as mothers crane their necks to watch their children walk into school.
We're grieving for the loss of innocent lives in Newtown.
We're grieving for the loss of our own sense of security.
We desperately want to help, but we just don't know what to do.
Mothers around the world tell me they have something to say, they have messages inside their broken hearts, but they don't know what to do with them. They're telling their husbands, they're posting on Facebook, they're huddling in corners with other crying moms... but what they really want to do is share their thoughts with mothers and fathers in Connecticut whose hearts will forever be broken.
As the parents of Newtown say goodbye to their beautiful children, let's ignite the unparalleled sisterhood of motherhood to show our support and share the thoughts that are running through our minds every hour of every day.
Let's say them out loud, let's share the heartache and let's share the love.
To the parents of Newtown:
We don't know what it's like to lose a child the way you did.
We don't know exactly what to say.
We just want to share loving thoughts from our broken hearts to yours.
The Mothers of the World
*As originally published in The Huffington Post
This past November, several employees participated in movember, joining together to raise money to “change the face of men’s health,” while looking good in the process. With their wide variety of moustaches and facial hair galore, these men raised vital awareness and funds for men's health issues, specifically, prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. Now, lucky you; we have created a lesser-known, eight-month calendar full of moustaches to adorn your walls. You’re welcome.
Download the calendar.
For Christmas this year, we invited the creative department to submit designs for our annual card. The brief: design your own Christmas ornament. A simple circle, that's all. It doesn’t have to actually be an ornament, just something awesome in a circle. We received dozens of submissions and liked them all so much, we decided to create 12 cards, one for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
It’s that time of the year. The tree is up, the holiday songs are on and, once again, hundreds of animal lovers, dogs, and pets of all varieties have gathered around the fountain in Shockoe Slip for the annual Blessing of the Animals. Check out some of the best photos from the event.
When Steven Spielberg filmed his movie, Lincoln, in Richmond, Va., cast members were frequently seen walking throughout the city in everyday garb with hairstyles fashioned for the movie. This gave senior art producer, Anya Mills, and local photographer, Adam Ewing, a brilliant idea: create a collection of portraits featuring extras from Lincoln in everyday wear with beards and hairstyles styled for the movie.
Ewing created 14 portraits in total, all shot in the style of Mathew Brady, a famous 19th century photographer known for his portraits and documentation of battlefields and scenes of the American Civil War.
Our CCO, Joe Alexander, loved the idea and helped create a gallery exhibit last night at the agency, timing the exhibit with the national premiere of the movie. We displayed Ewing's portraits as well as wallpaper created for the movie by the Richmond-based historical wallpaper reproduction company, Carter & Company. More than 250 people attended the event, including a number of cast members from the movie.
Saturday, September 29, four of our employees in the New York office went “Over the Edge” for the American Cancer Society, rappelling 470 feet down the Harborside Financial Center in New Jersey. The team, comprised of Megan Foley, Meghan Riley, Monisha Tripathi and Rachel Bell, GoPro’d the whole thing while we (the loyal “camera crew”) watched in awe 43 stories below. 20 minutes (and zero safety nets) later, the team arrived safely on the ground, grabbed a few beers and cheers to more birthdays. And to surviving their first rappel.
In total, the event raised $271,000 for the American Cancer Society, and our team alone raised $6,000 in honor of Mike Hughes and the American Cancer Society’s fight for more birthdays.
Check out the video and some of the participant’s thoughts below:
Music donated by Big Plastic Factory.
I first signed up for the rappel because I thought it was an awesome idea for a charity event, supporting the American Cancer Society (which is one of my clients) and a great cause. In addition, I wanted to support Shannon Mayer, a cancer survivor that we work very closely with.
When I got to the event, I looked up at the building we were going to be rappelling down, and had some serious second thoughts. I couldn’t believe I signed up for this! But with the help of the rest of the group, I made it to the top and eventually down the side of the building. It was an awesome experience. The views were amazing, and I can’t believe I was climbing down a building that high! I am glad that I did it and helped raise money for such an amazing cause.
I try to actively seek out volunteer opportunities, with the mantra that you don’t have to go out of your way to do something good (though, technically, I went 43 stories out of my way for this event). I have always wanted to try rappelling and “jumped” at the opportunity to participate. It was for an outstanding cause, helping create a world with more birthdays and honoring all the beautiful people in my life who have been touched by cancer. I hope to inspire others to live by my mantra and would happily rappel again…maybe even from higher up!
Going "Over the Edge" for the American Cancer Society was a crazy experience. I never thought I'd be able to say, "I've rappelled a 40-story building.” I love that now I can tell people that I rappelled 470 feet AND that I did it to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. The crisp fall day and amazing views of Manhattan made the experience one that will be hard to forget.
When the team asked me if I wanted to rappel down a building to fight cancer, I think what I heard was: “Have you always suspected you could be a superhero/cat thief/secret agent?” To which my answer was — yes, obviously. I basically thought I’d be gently lowered down a building, while I leisurely took in the Manhattan skyline and got credit for curing cancer. What I didn’t realize was that rappelling was an actual sport and an extremely physically, strenuous one at that; I also majorly underestimated my discomfort with heights. All that said “Over the Edge” turned out to be an amazing experience. I loved that I had the opportunity to put myself in a crazy, scary situation and overcome it with the help of my fellow Martinites! All for one of the best causes out there — to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays!
David Martin, the founder of our wonderful company, died this morning at 3:30. He had been ill with cancer, which had progressed swiftly over the past weeks.
Dave was the living embodiment of the classic, American entrepreneurial spirit. With his partner, George Woltz, he founded the company on July 5th, 1965. (He would have done it on the 4th, but that was a Sunday). He believed that the best service we could provide our clients was to spark dramatic gains in their market share through advertising that was dramatically different; more creative, more compelling. It was a source of great pride to him that this founding principle remains the foundation our company today.
Chairman Emeritus Harry Jacobs and I had the great gift of seeing Dave yesterday, and interviewing him on video for the archives of the agency. I asked him what wish he had for you, and for the people who will join our company in the years ahead. He said, “Be true to yourself. If you’re not true to who you are you have nothing.” He urged you to continue to produce advertising, in all its forms, that is different, vibrant, better.
Let’s get on it. It’s what we do best. There’s a very big name on the front door to remind us.
Between whitewater rafting, trail runs, and snorkeling for crabs, it’s no wonder Richmond was selected as the best river town in America. Check out the article in Outside Magazine to see how we beat out nine other cities across America. And browse through some of our employees' best James River photos, located below.
Above photo by Andrew Campbell
By Warren Foster
By Andrew Campbell
By Ben Eley
By Andrew Campbell
By Riana Lange Bocchino
By Riana Lange Bocchino
Name: Eric Eisele
Position: Associate Creative Director
College & Major: Virginia Commonwealth University, Mass Communications/Advertising
Describe a typical day at work.
Solving problems, guiding work, meetings, laughing with my neighbors, trying to get it all done in time to enjoy a real home life.
Speaking of life outside of work, what are some of your hobbies?
I'm into motorcycles as well as cars. I have a classic Yamaha that's all original, and another one that's being modified. I love video games (PS3 – eiseleman). I occasionally shoot guns and even less frequently go golfing. Is beer a hobby?
What types of driving have you done?
I’ve had all kinds of driving experience. I've taken Skip Barber Racing School, motorcycle road racing school, Michelin's off-road driving school, and recently got training at Team O'Neil, one of the only rally driving schools in the country. I also raced a few races in a series called ChumpCar (real wheel-to-wheel racing in very inexpensively prepared cars). They call it "crap can racing" and it's the most fun I've had in a car.
Working on BFGoodrich has been a happy convergence of my interests in driving and advertising. I've had the opportunity to drive the camera car as well as the star cars in our videos. In fact, this past weekend we did an autocross event with BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 tires (the tire we launched at AWESOMECROSS earlier this year). Check out the video.
What’s on your desk?
My desk has headphones and a BFG sticker. I'm all business.
What are you reading right now?
Recently finished reading Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. It's good, suspenseful writing with lots of pulpy violence. I in no way endorse the upcoming Hollywood adaptation.
Four critters, all "rescues" of one sort or another. Two dogs and two cats.
When I was a student at the VCU Brandcenter, my classmates and I were given an assignment in our final semester: help rebrand downtown Richmond as creative.
For months we strategized, brainstormed and conducted “research” on downtown nightlife. We huddled in our groups for hours on end, surfacing only to eat junk food from a vending machine and bitch about eating junk food from a vending machine. We racked our brains trying to reconcile Richmond’s current equity in history with the ambitious goal of becoming an epicenter for creativity.
Ultimately, we realized Richmond’s essence didn’t have to be an “either/or” situation between “history” or “creativity.” When you get down to it, history and creativity are very similar. You need a lot of courage to make both.
History was made in this town because a few badasses had the courage to envision a future that was better than the status quo. Part of creativity is embracing the unknown and facing the fear of screwing up royally.
Salman Rushdie once said, “Originality is dangerous. If you want to increase the sum of what is possible for human beings to say, to know, to understand and therefore in the end, to be, you actually have to go to the edge and push outwards...This is the kind of art whose right to exist we must not only defend but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.”
In the end, the winning idea was as simple as the assignment itself. Invite creative expression by letting “RVA” serve as a canvas for Richmonders to project what the city means to them.
It was an optimistic premise and it delights me to no end to see my classmates’ ideas come to fruition. But its success depends on the suspension of cynicism. In other words, put down the haterade* and give the city some credit because it’s long overdue.
Am I saying Richmond is going to be the next New York? Or Portland? Or Austin?
No. God, no. I’m not delusional. But I am saying there’s a lot of radness brewing in this town. Radness that I hope finally gets its time in the sun.
Recent radness from RVA Creates:
The thoughts and opinions presented in this blog post are mine and are not necessarily reflective of The Martin Agency. If you’d like to get in touch, tweet atcha gurl: @cabralnow
*Haterade as according to Urban Dictionary: “a figurative drink representing a modality of thought. Those who consume it are themselves consumed by the negativity with which they speak.”
In my pre-Martin life, I ran a media team for General Motors, and it was there that I got very involved in the Olympics. GM was, at that time, an official US Olympic sponsor. I got to work on their planning and activation for the Summer Games in Atlanta and Sydney and the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. I was lucky enough to get to attend all three of those as well. Across the three games, I have attended an Opening Ceremony (Salt Lake), a closing ceremony (Atlanta) and many, many Olympic competitions.
In the lead-up to the Salt Lake games, I learned a lot about the Torch Run. GM was not the lead sponsor of the Torch Run, but they did provide some vehicles, and so I got to learn about the history of the event, the route, etc. Coca-Cola was the sponsor and they decided to choose participants in the run based on community service. My team submitted my name with some information about my involvement in two particular organizations, both dedicated to helping women who were in difficult life situations.
I was living in the Detroit area when I was contacted and told that I had won a spot, as the torch went through Fort Wayne Indiana, a couple of hours away. I got up very early one weekday morning and drove to Indiana to do this. A large group of participants met at an area high school to meet each other, make sure we were properly wearing the official uniform that we had received, and to get instructions about how to properly carry the torch, to accept the light from the previous runner and to pass the light on. At the start of each day of the Torch Run, the flame is lit from the actual Olympic flame which had been flown to the U.S. on a specially-outfitted plane. After lighting the first torch of the day, the Olympic flame was returned to a special vehicle where it resided at all times (if there had been any problems with the torches or passing it on, a special handler would have brought back The Flame — I was happy to hear this, as I had been afraid that I might be the person who messed up and extinguished the Olympic flame!)
The participants in the Torch Run were not chosen for their athletic abilities, so the fact that I am a runner had nothing to do with it. The Torch Run leader actually told me to pretend that I was not a runner and to slow down so that my segment would last longer. Each participant only runs about 1/3 of a mile (at least as the run passes through cities), so it's over pretty quickly.
Getting exposure to the Games gave me an appreciation for many different sports that I had never seen/played before. One of the "sleepers" of the Summer Games is team handball, which is actually a very lively sport and played by guys who seem much more like “regular” people than like elite athletes.
I did get to meet a lot of athletes across the three games, and got to see/hold Olympic medals. I was one of the people who believed in the superstition that you should not wear someone else’s medal, so I never put one around my neck. I did get to see medals up close and to get pictures of the medal winners wearing them.
I've had a great time watching entirely too much of the London Games, and it brought back great memories.
The Martin Agency
Team Martin Agency
The Most Awesome soccer team in our current division at SCOR!
The Martin Agency has a soccer team, a team I have been playing on for two years. It existed before me and will exist after me. My name is Nicole and I "manage" the team. Some people refer to me as captain, or coach, but I prefer to be called manager. I simply organize the roster. I'm not the best on the team. I don't give great pep talks and I don't bring orange slices to munch on at halftime. I am part of the team. A team that a year ago might have laughed in the faces of anyone who said we would win our division in our indoor soccer league. I don't want to say we were bad a year ago, but...we didn't win…hardly ever. We were dedicated and tried our best, and to me, that is all that matters. But to most, having some wins on the board is very important. Over the past year our team has honed in on playing our positions and the individual skill level has increased 10 times over. We are now a team that plays like one. There are no weak links and it's been clear this past season that we are now a force to be reckoned with!
This team has a bond. Sure, we all work for The Martin Agency, but to be honest, our paths may never have crossed if it wasn't for the team. I can now say I have friends that work at Martin Local, are account execs, producers, creatives and even a friend that helps run "Image Now" (whatever that is!). That is the beautiful part about a team sport. You work together, depend on each other and want to put your best foot forward (specifically connecting with a ball that will go into a goal).
I want to extend thanks to the dedicated members of the soccer team and to Allison Mays, Beth Rilee-Kelley and The Martin Agency for funding our team — session to session, year to year. Playing soccer is my favorite thing to do every week. I hate missing games and wish we could play everyday. I know I'm not the only one that feels that way.
We are currently in the midst of our outdoor session. If you want to come out to our games and show some support you can check the schedule here: cvsasoccer.org. And if you want to join the team we'll have openings on our roster for our next indoor session this fall. Just give me a shout!