Have Siri pour you a beer

The recent release of the iPhone 4S got us thinking about the future and all the wonderful things it has in store for us. Sure, we don’t have jetpacks yet, but we do have Siri.

And yet, while Siri is powerful, she still has a relatively limited set of tasks she can perform – create calendar events, tell us where we are, and play Bassnectar when we ask. Plus, those tasks are limited to the virtual world.

So we tried to imagine what the Siri of the future could do. Why couldn’t Siri pour us a beer, for instance? Well, it turns out she can. And not in the future, but now!

We call it Beeri, and we’re excited to share exactly how it works.

How we did it

We first created the Twitter account @beeribot with my phone number attached. On a 4S we then created a contact called “Tweet Beeri” with (40404) as the mobile number. This is the same process anyone can use to Tweet by text message. Now, if I say to Siri, “Text Tweet Beeri – could you pour me a beer?” a text is sent to 40404 and immediately tweeted out via @beeribot.

The second part is Beeri herself – an RC truck with modified electronics. We needed Beeri to constantly be looking for new “pour” Tweets in the @beeribot stream so we rigged her up an Arduino Uno w/ WiFi shield and set it up to poll @beeribot’s stream via the Twitter REST API every 10 seconds.

When Beeri sees a new Tweet containing the word “pour” she triggers the sequence of preprogrammed pour commands (go, stop, adjust) that interface with the truck’s circuit board to control her movement. Her route is preprogrammed (drive straight) until her two proximity detectors sense her moving away from the puncture wall after impact. This allows her to halt the driving sequence and adjust to a 6 inch depth in order to get the beer to enter the funnel.

With a clean pint glass underneath to collect the liquid gold, the only thing left to do is enjoy your tasty beverage. Now, if we could only get Siri to make us a meatloaf.

Below are some photos from the day.

Beeri is only one of our super-practical lab projects. Here’s a few others: QReo and LikeLight.

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Update: The Making of Beeri

Seek Growth

Seek Growth

We take growth quite seriously around here, but even we sometimes overlook its importance.

Because it’s not easy to talk about growth without sounding like an eye-roll-inducing motivational poster. Along with other terms like “success” and “inspiration,” growth has become one of those words. Words that once held incredible clout but have become lost in the fog of overuse and misconception. Words that, today, feel as bland as the waiting room decor that often surrounds them. 

Fortunately, while the word “growth” may have lost some of its power, the experience of growth has not. 

Which is exactly why we decided to create a film about it. 

With our trusty Canons in hand, we set out to capture growth in its purest form. Our hope? To polish away the tarnish of familiarity and remind ourselves, and others, of just how important growth really is. 

“Seek Growth” is a short film featuring a person who doesn’t just talk about growth, but lives it. 

Richard Baker, a.k.a Triswami, is not in advertising. He’s never created a campaign, pulled together a media buy, or sold millions of anything. What he has done is finished four Ironman triathlons, competed professionally in countless other triathlons, and even climbed a mountain or two. In other words, he’s constantly pushing himself and those around him to do something today that couldn’t be done yesterday. Richard is a living example of growth that we can all learn from.

Take a look for yourself. 

Hopefully you’ll never see (or not see) growth the same way again. 

Real artists ship

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In early 1983, Apple had committed to shipping the very first Mac that coming fall. It didn’t ship then. Actually, the project became months overdue as the software team worked through Christmas break. By the first week of 1984 the team was working around the clock. No sleep. Soon, the new deadline was less than a week away and it had became clear to the engineers that there were still too many bugs for the Mac to ship.

The Software Manager broke this news to Steve Jobs, suggesting that they ship with a demo version of the software and send out the final version a few weeks later. Steve’s response is quoted as “No way, there’s no way we’re slipping! You guys have been working on this stuff for months now, another couple weeks isn’t going to make that much of a difference. You may as well get it over with. Just make it as good as you can. You better get back to work!”

And although an exact day is uncertain, it was around this time that Steve Jobs took an easel and wrote the phrase “Real artists ship.

Towards the end of the final week, the software team was forfeiting sleep all together thanks to chocolate covered espresso beans and “medicinal quantities of caffeinated beverages”. They were producing new release candidates of the operating system every few hours. 

Although not perfect, and with a known bug or two, they shipped on schedule this time.

Being one who over analyzes almost everything, this phrase resonates with me maybe more than any other epigram of Steve’s. In the book “Insanely Great”, author Steven Levy does a pretty good job elaborating on the meaning and power of the phrase.

"It was an awesome encapsulation of the ground rules in the age of technological expression. The term “starving artist” was now an oxymoron. One’s creation, quite simply, did not exist as art if it was not out there, available for consumption, doing well. Was [Douglas] Engelbart an artist? A prima donna—he didn’t ship. What were the wizards of PARC? Haughty aristocrats—they didn’t ship. The final step of an artist—the single validating act—was getting his or her work into boxes, at which point the marketing guys take over. Once you get the computers into people’s homes, you have penetrated their minds. At that point all the clever design decisions you made, all the twists and turns of the interface, the subtle dance of mode and modeless, the menu bars and trash cans and mouse buttons and everything else inside and outside your creation, becomes part of people’s lives, transforms their working habits, permeates their approach to their labor, and ultimately, their lives. But to do that, to make a difference in the world and a dent in the universe, you had to ship. You had to ship."

Real artists ship.

So we wouldn’t forget, designer Andrew Power created a few  visual reminders for us.

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QReo: An Oreo QR code

Can a functional QR code be built out of nothing but OREOs? We decided to find out.

We have a philosophy – like Google’s 20% policy – that promotes internal side projects. It’s called Planned Growth and it breeds some of our most creative work. 

Thanks to Planned Growth and 441 OREOs (and 35 more that magically disappeared during the process), our idea was laid out in sugary goodness before us. QReo works with most of the latest QR apps, but if yours doesn’t, feel free to stop by the pepper for a demo and an OREO.

The product is the marketing. Literally.

Below are some action pics from the day.

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Jane Cigars

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redpepper is the home to marketers, advertisers, brand strategist, designers, photographers, web designers and an array of other skill sets. We love building brands, so when the partners shared their crazy idea about how they wanted to create their own cigar brand we were overtaken with excitement. We decided to call the cigar brand Jane. I’m sure the story of Jane goes something like this… The partner’s are sitting around smoking a stogie while enjoying a sip of Gentlemen Jack and one blissfully says, “In a perfect world I would have an endless supply of the world’s finest cigars.” Boom. The idea was born. 

If we can build brands for other companies, why then would we not do it for ourselves?  Without anything holding us back we set out to do exactly that with Jane. 

We are not in production yet, but the images will show you where Jane currently stands. Don’t be surprised when Jane finds her way into your life after asking your local tobacconist for advice on a good cigar.

Website: janecigars.com

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redpepper in 6 words or less

How can I uniquely describe redpepper to a prospect in 6 words? This has always been a challenge. So I started typing…

Creative Problem Solving For Emerging Brands

We know what works. Mostly.

Know what works and what doesn’t.

Business results in new marketing world.

Deep thinkers for deep problems.

Moving brands into marketing 3.0.

We merge brands with consumers.

Hire us, we get it. @redpepper.

Great design works best.

Great copy works wonders. Choose wisely.

You make. We Market. Consumers Buy.

Your fears + our knowledge = your growth

We study this shit like crazy.

Ask about Scoville. It’s really cool.

Practical consumer engagement strategies. Whoa.

Marketing changes every day. Us too.

ROI? What ever! We’ll prove it.

Fears leaves brands behind. Jump on.

Shitty advertising is easy. Get good.

"Communication is a science"  -  Dr. redpepper

We are hot, join us now.

Humble? Yes, but still smart.

Making money should be this fun.

Please Like us on facebook/redpepper

tdsmecjacajjjgncanrkmrpldjee = initials of 28 hard workers

The in-house creative you always wanted.

Strategy that works in new ways

Creativity with no boundaries

28 = hrs per week we study advertising

Culture -> People -> Clients = you win.

Cheap ideas are just that.

Creative environments are made, not born.

Tackle that hill, we’re with you.

"Bad" ideas kill companies, vote "good".

Me no writer, but you neither.

We know the challenges “corporations” face.

Visit for two days, then decide.

Ok, I am done now, Tim. :)

Why March 16th is going to be huge

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There’s a day between the Ides of March and St. Patrick’s Day, an unassuming little box on the calendar that usually gets short shrift in terms of attention.

 As lifelong fans of the underdog, we pinpointed that day (March 16th), gave it its own holiday name (DragonMaid Day), and have now focused an enormous amount of energy to making it a day we’ll never forget. 

Here’s the plan: we’ve divided the whole company into six special task forces, each commissioned to gain major headway on a heretofore secret project by DragonMaid Day. 

Want to know what these secret projects are? Good, because we’re more than ready to let the cat out of the bag.  

 After 10 years of growing brands in multiple industries for our clients, we’ve gained the insights and inspiration to grow a few of our own. And in true redpepper style, we think we can use our strengths and passions to play the game differently in each industry we choose. After all, we’re just a bunch of ad kids, so we’ve never been told “how you have to do things if you want to sell XYZ product.”

 Without further ado, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be launching our very own cigar, coffee, and wine brands over the next couple of months. You might have seen something about cigars already (If not, go meet JANE now) because it’s been in the works for a while, but the others don’t have so much as a brand name yet. The three teams working on these products have different goals to reach by DragonMaid Day, but these brands are going to be very real, very fast.

 Another team is working on Version 5.0 of redpepperland.com, which is set to launch on DragonMaid Day. This excites us for two major reasons. First, we’re getting the heck out of Flash because we’re sick of not showing up on our own iPads. Somewhat more importantly, however, the site will reflect our company priorities: Culture, People, Clients. That’s all we can say for now, but stay tuned.

The fifth team is working on our proprietary platform that measures the success of advertising campaigns. In other words, this thing is a fun, addictive way to see how good we are at our jobs. By DragonMaid Day, the team plans on having the iPad app available in the App Store. 

As for the sixth project, well, we actually can’t reveal it yet. Let’s just say it’s called The Rec Center, and it’s not at all what you’re thinking. As exciting as community pools and dodgeball are, we promise you’ll find our version even better.

So there you go – six enormous projects, all making serious progress between now and March 16th. You can easily stay updated on your favorite ones by checking back here and following us on Twitter. 

We’re also keeping track of which team gets the most social media love, so cheer for your favorites by tweeting a special message to them that includes their team’s hashtag.

#RPCigar // #RPCoffee // #RPWine // #RPSite // #RPApp // #RPRecCenter

 

To (Storytelling) Mecca and Back

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One fall weekend every year, thousands of silver-haired couples descend on the oldest town in the state of Tennessee, crowd into five enormous circus tents, and listen to hour after hour of nothing but stories.

Of course, the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough isn’t exclusive to the older crowd, but that’s definitely the demographic that embraces it most. As a 23-year-old writer, I was ecstatic to be in attendance with them this year, partly owing to the fact that hardly anyone my age gives a damn about it. But to ten thousand people, this is the biggest thing to give a damn about each year. It’s their Bonnaroo.

And although there are similarities between a storytelling festival and a music festival from the outside, they quickly diverge once you’re inside a tent. Why? Because you can’t carry on a conversation with your friends while you listen to a story. You can’t get lost in background music. You can’t tune out for a while and pick back up whenever you like.

With storytelling, there is only a person and a microphone, in front of 2,000 people sitting in uncomfortable folding chairs for an hour at a time. With storytelling, the art isn’t created by a soundscape. It’s inside the words coming through the speakers, and if the audience isn’t listening the whole time, they’ll never know what the world was like.

The storytellers know how precious a gift that listening is, too. All weekend, every teller mentions how great the Jonesborough crowd is. Everyone comes just to listen, they say. And it’s true – the audience is captive, hung on every word. The reactions are big and varied. Couples traveled from literally all over the country, and parts of the world, to be there. They’re invested. They beg for the smallest reason to laugh, to gasp, to cringe – to respond.

It’s an amazing display of the power of listening.

Among the storytellers, it’s common knowledge that a good storyteller is fundamentally a good listener. That might not sound like a deep truth, but I think it might actually be – especially when compared to other parts of life.

In our industry, you can’t be a good designer if you don’t already pay attention to the world around you.

In any industry, or in life itself, you can’t be a good leader if you’re not first a good follower. 

In terms of family, you can’t be a good father if you refuse to heed wisdom from older men.

Or to say it thematically, you can only inspire actions you’ve already practiced. 

To return to listening, Storyteller Kathryn Windham maybe said it best, although she didn’t say it first – “God gave you two ears and one mouth, and He expected you to use them in that proportion.” 

I heard the audio clip of Miss Kathryn’s shaky, comforting, wonderful old voice delivering that sentiment as I prepared to go to the Festival and was hypnotized by her gift. 

Miss Kathryn actually passed away only a few months before this year’s festival, in June, at the age of 93. She was a master of her craft and a dear friend and mentor to every storyteller at the festival – and many in the audience – and much of the festival was spent remembering her, as teller after teller shared stories about listening to Miss Kathryn.

Listening to her, and reflecting on the weekend, it makes sense why the older crowd is more oriented toward storytelling than anyone else. While we’re young, life is about listening for only as long as it takes to get what we need from someone. We’re too busy going, doing, moving, and building to give a gift as rare as our time – to truly listen to anyone else. 

It’s generally the older crowd that has learned that what counts is what is shared, that stories hold more wisdom than any tricks of a trade, and that we can actually save a lot of time by listening to what others have to say before we try exactly what they did.

Here’s a clip of Miss Kathryn from last year’s festival (her last), about life lessons and the power of listening.

http://www.youtube.com/user/StorytellingFestival#p/a/u/0/QQEI6j9DS3Q

 

Traversing New Territory

I was recently asked to Art Direct a video project for one of our clients. I have formal training as a designer (aka creative problem solver) in print, package, and information graphics; but this was new territory. Feeding off of the adrenaline that came from the opportunity to grow, I happily accepted the challenge, unofficial title of Creative Problem Solver empowering me.

When you have no idea where to start, the most natural starting place is with the things you know. I knew that this ten minute video had to clearly communicate a lot of information. I knew that lots of information is best cataloged with information graphics. So the idea of a colorful, kinetic infographic clearly made sense to me, in a creative problem solving kind of way.

As I familiarized myself with designing for movement, I vastly expanded my wealth of knowledge. I filled my brian with everything I could read, all the tutorials I could do, and all the brain power I could engage with. But I think the real gem in this project was adapting to a new role — that of an Art Director. 

As a semi-recent graduate, I have played a fair amount of roles (Student, Intern, Production Artist, Apprentice, Freelancer, Graphic Designer) but none that gave me the amount of influence of an Art Director. As an Art Director, you don’t just focus on the look of the project, you own the entire thing; the good and the bad. You help guide the process and shape the outcome. After a dropkick lesson from our creative director, I was deemed ready. After all, experience is sometimes the best teacher.

I will share the top three things I learned in my new role:

1. You have to shape the way you share your vision — start where you left off the last time you met with your audience, whether that be internally or with the client. If you jump too far ahead in your thought process without cluing them in on it, key concepts and elements get left out.

2. Let your audience know their roles — You can’t expect a critique if that person doesn’t know they’re a critic.

3. Make sure you communicate the project’s necessities — If the typeface is what makes the project, tell your audience up front. The little things that make it work might get cut if they’re unclear.

Here is the final product. Of course there are things I would do differently (an Art Director is hard to satisfy), but the process and growth I experienced is not one of them. Enjoy!

Working for the Work

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Last week, I attended a seminar where Jeff Graham of Crispin Porter & Bogusky shared his thoughts on what makes successful account people. According to Graham, the driving question for account service should be: “What can I do, to make the work better?” As a department and individuals, we should be product/project focused, with our energy funneled towards making a particular project the best it can be.

Graham says we must “work for the work”, and nothing else. This stance allows us to stay focused on the most important thing: helping clients reach their goals through effective ideas that fuel world-class creative.

So how do we hold ourselves accountable to “working for the work”? Graham says it starts with a creative mindset. Our minds should be wired to continually assess and reassess our accounts for opportunities to improve the work. An account person should be at the forefront of the ideas charge, waving the flag of innovation.

Is what I am doing making the work better? Am I thinking critically about how I can bring new innovations and ideas to our clients?  Food for some serious thought. More to come…

How to create words that work

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Name one outdoor board you passed on your commute this morning.

Tricky, isn’t it?

The average American is bombarded with so many messages a day* that most people tune them out without even realizing it. But, then, if you’re taking the time to read these words, you probably already know that. 

So, how can you make sure your words hit home? 

Don’t just write. 
Yes, it helps to be (or have) a good writer, but these days especially, a good writer isn’t enough. You also have to be a scientist, a psychologist and a devoted student of human behavior. Because making words that work isn’t just about what happens at the keyboard. It’s about what happens in your reader’s head.

In fact, when it comes to creating effective messages, writing should literally be the last thing you do. 

Define your position.
Today, most people’s minds are like supersaturated sponges. There’s just no more room in there. If you want space, you’re probably going to have to take it from someone else, and you can’t do that by chattering aimlessly. 

Take a good look at your competitors through your prospect’s eyes. Now take an honest look at yourself. How can you position your brand in a way that will stick? Maybe you aren’t the first out of the gate, but can you be the first to deliver a specific message? 

In their advertising classic, Positioning: The Battle for your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout point out that, “IBM didn’t invent the computer. Sperry-Rand did. But IBM was the first company to build a computer in the mind of the prospect.”

What can you build in your prospect’s mind? Once you’ve defined your position, own it. Guard it carefully. Make it the foundation upon which every single word is built. 

Know your reader.
A solid position is only half the formula. If you want your words to work, you have to also create an emotional connection with your reader. That being said, when you’re knee-deep in terms like “target audience,” “demographics” and “prospect,” it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re really talking to: people. A good writer knows when to take the research/strategy hat off and put the relationship hat on. 

Author Donald Miller recently said the best writing advice he ever received was, “Love your reader.” 

We may not be penning life-changing books, but this advice is just as smart for copywriters. Soak up the research. Spend time mingling with your reader (online or in person). Get to really know your reader. Then, when you finally sit down to write, think about who’s on the other end of the conversation. Suddenly, instead of whipping out a 30-word banner ad, you’ll find yourself writing a message to someone you know and, hopefully, like.

That’s how real communication works. 

Zone in. 
We’ve already talked about the mass of words that swarms your reader on a daily basis. The only way to cut through the clutter is to sharpen your message. Define the main point and let it fly. Sure, you can add in a few other things here and there, but always lead with a single key point.

Also, don’t just focus on what you need to say, but how you need to say it. Think about how you can deliver your message in a way the reader will be open to hearing. At this point, you should know that reader well enough to determine what will resonate and what won’t.

Start writing (finally).
Once you’ve done all of the above, then and only then begin crafting your words. Sure, you may wrestle with a headline for days or hit a block from time to time. Every good writer does. But, as you struggle to find the perfect words, at least you’ll have confidence in this:

You’ve done everything possible to make them work, even before you’ve written them.


*Statistics vary. Apparently the roar has become so overwhelming, even the specialists can’t agree on the actual volume.  

photo by Jason Taellious

The Birth of a Newspaper.

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As a resident of Nashville in 2007, I had the privilege to watch the birth of a newspaper. You read that correctly. The birth. Of a newspaper. In 2007. But this isn’t your ordinary paper…For most American newspapers, 2007 marked their last 'okay' year. They were already feeling the effects of the internet, but in 2008 they would feel an even bigger punch in the gut when advertisers across the nation slashed their spending due to the recession.

These stories of struggle have been the rule of newspapers over the past 5 years. But as they say, with every rule, there’s at least one exception. Here in Nashville, there exists a newspaper which actually opened its doors in 2007 and grew tremendously during newspaper’s supposed darkest hour.

During its inaugural year, this Nashville paper launched with the printing of 800 copies and just three years later the paper would be printing 100,000+ copies each month. I’m talking about The Contributor, Nashville’s street newspaper, which is the largest of its kind in all of North America. Most people just call it “the homeless paper” because the vendors are people struggling with homelessness. Too, stories are often written by homeless individuals and tell a mostly unheard side of homelessness. Vendors buy the papers for 25 cents a piece and resell for one dollar. So far, 30% of The Contributor's vendors have been able to move off the streets and into housing because of the paper’s success. It’s a heart-warming story of people helping people, and it’s a case-study for why rules were made to be broken.

I’m proud to live in a city that is so philanthropic that it has broken a national media trend.
Halloween Packaging

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I love packaging… to the point where sometimes I buy products I don’t really need because I love the package so much.

When we (redpepper) recently got a chance to design some Halloween packaging for Kirkland’s Home store I was excited to be a part of the team working on new designs (excited might be an understatement… I was over the moon). You can read more about my love for packaging at  Judge a Book by it’s Cover.

Of course, when working on packaging designs there is a lengthy lag time til you actually see the finished packaging in the store. So, my designs were done months and months ago but I finally saw the finished products a  week ago when I visited a local Kirkland’s. I was happy to see my Halloween boxes and tags up front and center. Of course, I purchased a couple items myself but I also stuck around to watch a couple of customers interact with the products and make their own purchases too.

Are you our next intern?

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INTERNING IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT.

As a redpepper intern, you’ll contribute firsthand to something we hold as the highest importance – our culture. We are addicted to learning, collaborating and being actively creative on a daily basis. You’ll learn the ins and outs of the ad world, build relationships in the industry, get a taste of a truly collaborative work environment, and probably even pick up a new skill set or two.

Of course, your days here will largely be what you make of them. You can be part of changing this place if you want, but that comes through initiative, courage, and some elbow grease. And you’ll have a mentor whose brain you can pick along the way, as long as you’re ready to return the favor. 

You might be thinking, how much can really happen in a three-month, 20 hour a week (minimum) internship? Well, that’s exactly our question to you.


CALLING ALL FUTURE GAMECHANGERS.

We’re looking specifically for college juniors and seniors. We designed our program to give undergraduate students some so-called real world experience, and for us to learn from the next generation of superstars. All redpepper internships are unpaid, which means you probably won’t be getting any fancy new cars while you’re here. What you will get, however, is awesome experience and bragging rights for life.

Okay, that was the fine print. We’re really looking for unquenchable learners, big thinkers, clear communicators, self-motivators, and all-hands-on-deckers. We’re looking for inspiring talent more than mere qualifications. And though there are endless ways to get noticed, the quickest way to get ignored is by having a bad attitude. We like happy people, and preferably those capable of quoting Tommy Boy in their sleep.

More specifically, we want:

Design interns with fantastical portfolios that showcase a wide variety of conceptual, well thought out work that is relevant to what we do here at redpepper.  And they should be Adobe Creative Suite wiz kids, too.

Copywriting interns who are strong storytellers and conceptual thinkers, while also able to fit whole essays into 140 characters. They don’t always come from an obvious major, as long as they can submit writing samples that make us laugh, cry, or hit the Thinking Man pose.

Account management interns who take “business-minded” to a new level. They’re excellent communicators with both left- and right-brainers. They’re highly creative problem solvers while being meticulous about details. And they get an adrenaline rush from hearing the word “spreadsheet.”

 
HOW TO APPLY

Make sure you include everything it will take for us to understand why there’s no option but to make you our newest, best intern ever. Here are some things to consider:

  • If your internship warrants a portfolio, reel, or writing samples, please don’t send us everything you’ve ever done. We want to see only your best, most relevant work. Keep it short and sweet.
  • Include a cover letter that explains what you’ll bring to the table in terms of experience, expertise, perspective, and so on.
  • Tailor your resume to include the most relevant experience and information you can give us.
  • Provide at least one relevant reference so we can get a third-party verification of your mad skills.


Email your application materials to Lindsey Armstrong at lindsey@redpepperland.com. In the subject line, specify which internship you’re applying for. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Please contact for intern inquiries and applications only. Looking for job inquiry contacts? Visit redpepperland.com to contact us about other opportunities.

When it comes to promotions, layer it on

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I’d like to propose a rule of thumb that you should always consider when developing offers and incentives specifically for retail brands: the rule of narrow and deep. This rule proposes that whatever your offer/incentive/promotion may be, first start with a simple core idea and then add as many layers as possible. Let’s say your promotion is a sweepstakes game. You want to keep the game simple, but the communication and the ways to play deep. 

For the communication, use every existing media channel you have at your disposal such as email, text, facebook, and your website for example.

Add multiple tiers of prizes such as weekly and even daily giveaways in addition to one grand prize. People are more inclined to participate if they feel they have a real chance at winning something. 

Another consideration should be how easily they can enter. The more steps, the less entries you’ll receive. 

Plus, the more places you provide them access to enter, the higher the likelihood you’ll convert them in one way or another. You might consider a Facebook entry as well as a microsite and possibly even in-store sign ups. This covers most all of your audience, no matter how or where they prefer to interact with your brand. 

Incenting your audience to share your promotion is key to broadening your existing network. The customer is your media now so give them an incentive for sharing. 
We created a holiday promotion for Kirkland’s, a home décor and accessories retailer, that involved a daily gift giveaway as well as a series of videos, all of which were sharable on Facebook. The gift-a-day required you select a product you’d like to win and share your selection on your wall. A person was chosen at random each day and the winner was alerted by our status updates. The short videos prompted you to share on your wall for an instant downloadable coupon. Both of these tactics were very successful and garnered over 21,000 shares and a whopping 150,000 coupon downloads. 

The latest promotion I engaged with was on Target’s Facebook page. They simply posed a question on their status, “What’s the top thing left on your summer to-do list?” This status was the perfect tease for their "Fun Finder" promotion which asks you to spin a wheel to find a fun summer activity which you can then share, invite friends to join you in, create an event for and download a coupon. 
Note the many layers to how you can engage with the Fun Wheel. 

In summary, the rule of narrow and deep can be summed up in a few steps: 

Keep the game simple, but the layers deep.

Make it easy to enter.

Incent the share.

Intersect with their lives. Be where your customers are.

Go Poke Something

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A couple of months ago, I met one of redpepper’s idols, Seth Godin.  Quirky fella, but genius in his marketing and leadership expertise which is showcased in his latest book, Poke The Box.  This book is written kind of rant style and essentially is Godin’s manifesto about starting things.

My biggest take away was:

Poke the Box. Take initiative. Make a plan. Complete the project.

The cool thing about this concept, is you don’t have to quit your job and start your own company to take initiative and make things happen. You can start something right where you are. Godin doesn’t let anyone off the hook for being complacent, waiting to be picked, having an idea but not acting or even making a half-ass effort. 

And you don’t even have to be 100% right in your initiative. Which I, and apparently a whole lot of others, have an issue with overcoming. Sometimes this can be the biggest roadblock and the difference in starting or not.  But Godin reminds us that poking doesn’t mean right, it means action.  It’s in that unknown, “this might not work” space where great things happen. As Godin puts it, “failure isn’t fatal”. And it probably will lead to the next big thing that will be right.

I am fortunate to work for a company who fosters an environment to start stuff.  We like poking at redpepper. We are innovators and thinkers.  But not just dreamers and tinkerers.  We do stuff with it.  We make it happen. 

Like Light. One For Y’all. JANE Cigars. Scoville.

And most of these were not one -person projects. They were team efforts. Poke together. It’s more likely to be a success that way.

For us, once again, like with Tribes and others, Godin took a somewhat intuitive notion and put it into words that we can hang our marketing hats on. The worshipping continues. 

Now go poke. You just might surprise yourself.

There's a new Like in town

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We’re proud to see Ryan has a new article on All Facebook. He writes about the new freedom developers have to customize Facebook’s Like button so they can create buttons that actually make sense to click in context – because who really wants to Like an article about a disaster? Wouldn’t you rather just Read it? And wouldn’t it be nice to express the difference in likes between products you Own and ones you Want? 

Knowing Ryan, he’ll be making buttons that say Whoa and Busted until we physically detain him.

Check out the article here:

http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-likes-2011-12

How to play the ad game

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You’ve probably never heard of the Universal Law of Awesomeness, but it goes something like this:  If you want to be awesome at something, there are only two steps you must take.

1.  Learn all the rules.
2.  Play the game better than anyone else.

If your game is advertising, you might be tempted to argue that there aren’t rules to it anymore. Or at least that the good players break those rules all the time.

It’s a seductive argument, and it’s dead wrong. 

Sure, the ways brands connect with people are changing all the time, and that trend shows no sign of slowing down.

But the basic goal of advertising is the same: to connect with people in hopes of changing a behavior. That’s the game. 

And the reality is, there are more rules than ever in the advertising industry because every new platform has a set all its own. It may be difficult to name the rules themselves, but it’s easy to spot when they get broken.

Like when a brand plasters itself all over your Facebook wall after you decide, against your better judgment, to Like its page. 

Or when an app supposedly designed to make your life easier or more enjoyable allows so many disruptive advertisements, you don’t even want to use it.

And not only does each platform have a set of rules, but there are plenty of other rules a good advertiser still needs to learn. Rules of human behavior, attention span, habits of the eye, subconscious connections, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Really, advertising is one of the most rule-intensive games you could ever learn. It’s just that we’re afraid of the word itself – rules. But doesn’t it feel different when you think of them in terms of a game rather than laws? 

Laws focus on what you can and cannot do.  That’s not true with game rules. In a game, the rules help you understand how to play. 

Some things work. Some things don’t. 

And in our game, you don’t get a penalty if you break the rules. If you look back at the list, “Don’t break the rules” isn’t on there. Sometimes trying something different, something risky, is essential to playing well. 

But it would be a mistake to say the best players break the rules all the time. They actually only break a few rules, only when the time is right, and only with a damn good reason. 

Meanwhile, they’re abiding by a bunch of other rules they wouldn’t dare break because they know what it takes to win.

What rules do you think are important in today’s ad game? Which ones do you find yourself breaking often?

Step away from the Bulldozer.

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Turn off the engine and step away from the bulldozer. Don’t tear down your brick-and-mortar location just yet…

It’s been obvious for a while now that the boundaries between the offline and online worlds are extremely blurred. Perhaps the easiest way to feel the online world interwoven with the offline one is to take a glance at today’s retail landscape. It’s nearly impossible to find a real world store that does not incorporate online.

The internet, the newest of media, has successfully redefined every medium.

Yet with all of the spending power that the internet holds, today there remains an even stronger reason to keep physical store locations.

Stay with me.

The September briefing of Trendwatching.com tells the story of a “Retail Renaissance”. Here, we are reminded that:

1. People like to shop at a brick-and-mortar location because it provides them with a tangible experience. Lots of people enjoy shopping as an activity. And instant gratification is the best pay-off for shoppers. Taking this away from the consumer deprives them of the opportunity to touch the product before owning it.

2. People prefer researching online, but shop more often offline. (According to the briefing, 8 out of 10 consumers research purchases online. While 42% research online and then buy online, 51% still research online and then buy in-store.)

3. Consumers who receive information via multiple channels prior to purchase spend almost double (+82%) compared to those who only shop in-store.

We as retailers don’t have the luxury of choosing the channel that most easily suits our current situation. We must meet consumers where they are active (or would want to be active) and in multiple channels if the opportunity exists.

Recently several online-only retailers have emerged as leaders of the retail world. And many retailers are tempted to just mimic their models. But they have filled a niche, so don’t be so quick to change your own business model. Remember that your consumers still like seeing you in person once in a while. Find a way to capitalize on the offline world to meet both your needs and theirs.

*I recommend reading the full report within the Trendwatching.com site for further examples, research and statistics.*

Everyone is Uniquely Creative - Paper Cut Poster

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Recently, our company did some remodeling and we decided to decorate with posters of our Core Values. Our 5 core values are… 1. We believe everyone is uniquely creative. 2. We love what we do or we won’t do it at all. 3. We actively promote personal growth. 4.We provide creativity with provable benefits. 5. If we aren’t changing we’re dying.

There were five designers that wanted to design a poster. We (the designers) get excited when we hear the words “creative freedom”. To be fair we drew numbers to randomly choose the core value we would work on. I got “We believe everyone is uniquely creative” which is one of my favorites so I was ready to create something cool.

I wanted something that was definitely unique. So, I designed a poster that would be laser cut. When I sent my design to our vendor, I was happy to find out that my print/cut was going to cost less than a pair of designer jeans (that’s how the girls in our office decide if something is expensive or not). Our contact did email some concerns overmy thin lines not holding up - so, I made revisions and sent it back.

Again, I received a message saying they still had concerns over some of the cursive type and the lines not holding up.  I understand that vendors have to cover their own a$$ here but I didn’t want to keep diluting my original design.

I sent an email back and said “Hey we all have to try things that we haven’t done b/f and sometimes we have to push boundaries to make something really good.” I pushed them to move forward with my design and I was very happy when we received the poster a couple days later. It looks cool hanging in a frame with glass but no back so the background is the actual wall and it creates great shadows on the wall. 

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