Author Archive

Old Spice Guy Applies to Emerson College

March 1st, 2011

Recent reports say that Isaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice Guy, is going to Emerson College to receive his Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications. Apparently, he found this program so remarkable, at a college that is among the elite, that he has decided to ride backwards on his horse into Boston Common to start the educational journey this Fall.

Actually, he didn’t apply to Emerson, but what if he did? What would his application essay look like? The essay prompt is as follows:

Explain your short-term and long-term professional goals. How will an Emerson education assist you in achieving these goals? Reflecting on any relevant work and educational experiences, describe how you would contribute to the program and to the profession.

Mustafa’s response would probably be something like this…

“Greetings Graduate Admissions Committee of Emerson College. I have traveled great distances on the interweb with my platinum encrusted keyboard and mighty hamster powered computer. Through my travels I came upon your campus of learning and knowledge and decided that I must court you, right here, right now.

Do you see these abs? No? Let me send you a mental image of them. Now, understand that each mouth-watering ab represents a Bachelor’s Degree I have earned in the past 150 years I have been alive. Look, from my top left to bottom right, your top right to bottom left, I have a

  • B.S. in Smelling Like A Man
  • B.S in Nighttime Scuba Diving
  • B.A. in Stealthy Cow Tipping
  • B.S. in Inception
  • B.S. in Space Exploration
  • B.A. in Seducing Talking To Women

Clearly I am beyond qualified to sit in your cute little classrooms and discuss scholarly topics with scholars such as myself. My primary short term goal is to spread the manly ways that come so naturally to me and teach the young lads at Emerson College how they could smell like a man, like myself. Your institute of learning teaches many of the brightest minds in a city that has true heart, this is why I choose your school as my starting point. First Emerson College, then Boston, then the East Coast, then the West Coast, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, world smells like man!

As my six abs represent my unique education that you can only dream about, I am forming two more abs to reach a toe curling, heart stopping, romance inducing eight pack. These two new pals of mine must represent only the highest of educational honors! My seventh and eighth abs should be fully formed in three months, that’s two years in your time; the seventh shall represent a Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications, and the eighth, a Master of Arts Wildlife Taming While Under Attack. I don’t often voice these words, but, I need you Emerson College, for the ab.

What will I contribute to your program and the industry? Well, just take a look at the attached photo of me in a towel.”

I am positive this essay would have been written on a royal parchment with a Bald Eagle feather pen that uses Octopus ink.


If you happen to live under a rock and also just learned that GEICO can save you 15% or more on car insurance, then you probably don’t know much about this Old Spice character either. Here are a couple quick reads from to help explain how the Old Spice Guy almost broke the internet last year.

I also encourage you to check out some of the Old Spice Man Internet Responses and enjoy a few good laughs.

I am in no way affiliated with Old Spice, Wieden+Kennedy, or Isaiah Mustafa. I simply wrote a fictional piece under the personality portrayed by Isaiah Mustafa as “The Old Spice Guy”.

Bryan Ricard Random Thoughts, Social Media , , , , ,

5 Study Tips from a College Graduate

January 20th, 2011

College can be tough. Endless homework assignments, semester-long projects, and heavily weighted tests are all on your mind while you work your full-time job and try to maintain a respectable social life. While procrastination is probably the #1 GPA killer in colleges and universities today, anxiety from important tests also cause a lot of trouble.

There are many test structures used in a variety of classes in an assortment of fields of study, so one set of study guidelines that can be used for all would be hard to put together. Hopefully, at least, you can use one of my 5 study tips below to help you on your next big test.

1. Print It Out
Most tests are still done with a good ole pen and paper. If you’re going to be testing on paper, you should study on paper too. I believe that you can maximize your studying efforts by mimicking the style of the test and the surrounding environment while you study. So if you’re test outline is on-line or it’s based off of many power-point presentations, print them out and stop staring at your computer screen. What also may be of help is a way of organizing the material so you can study more efficiently. For me, I found it a pain to constantly flip from one page to another in a continuous search for what I needed to study at that moment in time. To fix this problem, I laid out all of the material, in order, on my bed so I could easily scan all of it. This helped me get the big picture of the entire test and also saved me time because I never had to search for anything. (Studying for my last exam at Rhode Island College)

Studying2. Trust Yourself
Sometimes the depth of one test is overwhelming. This is when too much time is spent studying on unnecessary material. If the test is going to cover 6 different topics and you’re already strong in 2 of them, don’t focus on them! Dedicating time to the areas in which you are weakest should be an obvious move. You may be taking a test that involves a lot of information, definitions, and understanding of multiple ideas that will need to be applied, not just repeated, come test time. This was the case in my Organizational Behavior class in the Spring of 2010. Instead of devoting time to making sure I knew how to apply definitions and concepts to different scenarios, I studied the definitions and concepts alone. I knew that if I thoroughly understood the material at hand I would be able to apply it correctly when I needed to. Had I worried about the application part, a lot of time would have been spent reading examples and I would not have had the time to get a full grasp on the basic material.

3. Turn Up The Volume
This is something that I use all the time now for test preparation. Once I have studied all of the material and believe I have an understanding of everything I need to know, I put my earphones in and turn the iPod on. Say you need to define the term marketing–whoever your professor is or whichever textbook you are using the definition is probably a little lengthy. Or say you need to list 8 styles of management and briefly describe each one. When you’re at the point of being able to do this, try it with your iPod volume on high in your ears. Try repeating the definition or list in your head; the higher the volume, the more difficult this is. It requires a lot of concentration to focus your thoughts on what you are trying to repeat in your head while disregarding the beat of the music and voice of the artist. Try this with a song that you know you love, making it more difficult to resist enjoying it. This is why before any test, you will see me with my iPod on, sharpening my knowledge. What’s the point of this? If you can remember definitions, concepts, lists, etc. while you can barely hear your thoughts, imagine how clearly you will think in a silent room while you take the test.

4. Eliminate Unnecessary Stimuli
When you’re studying…study! Get off of Facebook, stop watching Mad Men, and quit teasing your cat with a laser pointer. Get down to business, it will save you time and improve your results. Even on test day, it doesn’t hurt to review key material, and no I don’t mean last minute studying. So instead of surfing the net in the computer lab or chatting with friends in the hall…focus. I even go as far as wearing the hood of my sweatshirt so my peripherals are blocked. If my mind is taking in the visuals of only what’s in front of me, rather than all that is around, it has more room to concentrate on the test. Scientifically that statement may be completely incorrect, but it works in my reasoning.

5. Lucky Something
We’ve all heard of lucky pennies, lucky socks, and just about anything else you can think of. For my last two semesters at Rhode Island College, whenever there was a big test, I donned my black RIC hoodie with an anchorman (school mascot) and text that has just about completely faded away. Is it really lucky? Does Lady Luck help me write down the correct answer? Don’t think so! What the hoodie does is give me confidence. Having a great deal of confidence doesn’t mean you can lay off the studying and expect the same performance. However, where there is confidence, there isn’t anxiety. I’ve seen way too many people stressed out of their minds about a test and I have to believe this affects their performance (not thinking clearly, second-guessing answers, rushing through questions, etc). Grab your lucky cap and walk tall!

Different techniques work for different people, maybe one of these will help you with an upcoming test. I know that when I take my GMAT next month I’ll be wearing my black hoodie and my lucky lobster boxers.

How do you prepare for tests? Do you have any study methods that you would like to share?

Bryan Ricard Life Lessons , , ,

Why be Mayor if You Aren’t Treated Like One?

November 18th, 2010

Black Friday: A day where manners, good citizenship, and personal hygiene all take a backseat to the overwhelming desire of the masses to save a few bucks.

I shopped on Black Friday of 2007 and was first in line at the local Target. I arrived 3 hours before the stored opened, 3:00 am, and while I wasn’t the first maniac to arrive, I was the first to exit my car and start a line. Why? Because now I can say I was first in line at Target on Black Friday once.

Whether it’s the economy or the current trend of retailers spreading out deals throughout the year, the deals don’t seem as great as they used to; maybe it’s just me. foursquare mayors.foursquare logo Regardless, this day of Holiday shopping and line ninjas is a perfect opportunity for the big brands to reward their loyal ambassadors. Many businesses have become active in the realm of social media realm and have taken part in rewarding their. However, I haven’t caught wind of any “mayor specials” from any of the big retailers.

New Balance South Florida is just one example of a company understanding location-based marketing. They are taking it a step further this Nov. 26th by changing Black Friday into foursquare Friday; basically a social meetup that entails raffles, New Balance ‘schwag’, and an actual game of foursquare. This is a brilliant idea as it engages their customer base at an off-site location and rewards them while carrying out activities related to their business.

I want something more though! I want to see a flat out DEAL for at least one lucky foursquare mayor. How about we just throw some ideas out here for our mayors:

  • A $100 gift card
  • 30% discount off entire purchase
  • Become first in line upon arrival; don’t have to wait in line for X amount of hours
  • Get the Black Friday discount a week early
  • A Black Friday survival kit (pillow, blanket, candy, energy drink, store map, etc.)

These ideas can be extended as well – reward your top 3 visitors, or direct a promotion to anyone who checks-in to your store that day in the wee hours of the morning. The point is: Smarten up and reward your brand ambassadors – this social engagement will deepen current loyalty and breed more loyalists.

What do you think? As a foursquare mayor, what kind of Black Friday deal or VIP treatment would you like to receive?

Bryan Ricard Marketing, Social Media , , ,

Joining the Sharks: What I’ve Learned About the Ad Industry

October 5th, 2010

The following is a guest post from my friend Brook Johnston:

My name is not Bryan.

Actually, it’s pretty close. Except the last few letters are different and I live in a country that runs rampant with rogue moose and poutine.

But aside from these minor differences, Bryan and I are pretty similar.

See, when I’m not busy training beavers and drinking maple syrup, I attend St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Much like the owner of this fantastic blog, I’m a young adfreak that’s about to hopefully – nay – definitely break into the ad industry.

So when Bryan asked me to write a little diddy for Trail Blazing, the answer seemed obvious: a retrospective on the lessons I’ve taken away from college as I get ready to throw my hat into the industry ring.

What have I learned?

I’m not that good
I recently interviewed the incredibly accomplished author/copywriter/guru Sally Hogshead about writing, portfolios, and idea generation. She sent me a document with the 800 headlines she created for a BMW print piece. 800 headlines for one ad. And guess what – they were all good. Even her scraps were great.

In other words – I’m nowhere close to being where she is. And that’s fine. I’m not supposed to be. That’s the difference between an entry-level person and a senior writer with a wealth of experience and insight.

But keep that skill-gap in mind; so many people are better than you. You can get there too, but it’ll take work. Don’t drink your own kool-aid. Stay humble and work hard to get to that 800-great-headlines zone.

Great creative is the backbone of all advertising.
You can yammer on about marketing strategy and media selection and all that jazz and it will always be very true. The back end of advertising is crucial to success. But guess what? Advertising only works when the creative is brilliant. Maybe it’s smart or hilarious or emotionally powerful – it all can work in its own way. But it has to be incredible. People must take notice.

You can perfectly peg every demographic, medium, positioning strategy, and all of  the 4567 other terms in the back of your textbook – but if it doesn’t make people stop their friends and say “Hey! Have you seen that ad……”, then it didn’t work. Creative rules. Everything else is just setup and teardown.

Obvious is the enemy
First-level thinking is the worst thing that you can fall into as an advertiser.

When faced with a new problem, sit down and let all the answers come rushing to your head. Record everything that pops into your mind. Brainstorm wildly. Write it all down.

Now light that piece of paper on fire and never think any of those thoughts ever again.

Bad advertising is bad because it’s stupid. Literally, stupid – as in, the opposite of smart. It doesn’t reward the consumer for thinking and it doesn’t entertain. Bad advertising is obvious. It’s overdone and redundant and doesn’t require any critical thought.

Stay away from that stuff. This means throwing away a lot of early ideas. Dig deeper. Think harder. Fill up the trash can. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Simple is best.
Ideas aren’t explained – they’re understood. If you have a cool message that you can’t accurately convey to anyone, it’s dust in the wind; one of those trees in that metaphorical forest everyone talks about. Make sure the thought is simple and easy. That doesn’t mean it can’t be big – just don’t turn your 30s spot into Lost.

In his book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, Luke Sullivan recommends boiling down a brand to one adjective – a single word that identifies its persona. Volvo is safe. Coke is classic. BMWs are fast. Find your word and make sure that everything fits accordingly.

Little fish. Big pond. Lots of sharks.
This industry is hyper-competitive. Only the best make it into prestigious agencies and their jobs are on the line every day. After all, you’re only as good as your last campaign.

Even more daunting though, is the thought of breaking into such a fiery industry as a bright eyed, bushy tailed entry-level underling. How will you distinguish yourself from the swarms of graduates that are all hunting for the same positions as you – especially those that attend prestigious outfits like Miami Ad School?

The answer lies away from the discomfort of your lecture chairs. Extra-curricular involvement is the key to your success. I love my school and I can’t say enough about my professors – but the bulk of my learning has taken place at home. Connecting with industry experts, blogging, keeping up with trends, viewing the best (and worst) work that comes out every day. School is primarily meant to lay the foundation – the theories and principles that you absolutely need to be successful. But that’s the bare minimum, isn’t it? Everyone can define a few terms and explain a couple concepts. But what will you do that none of your classmates can?

I can’t tell you how to stand out. That’s your job. But if you start looking, you’ll find it. For me, it was a starting up a dorky blog. It got me paying attention to the ad world like never before and became a living resumé for people that wanted to check out my writing skills and industry savvy.

Here’s the bottom line: advertising is wicked awesome. It’s an industry that allows for boundless creativity and intelligent thinking. You even get paid for it. So work your ass off. Find something that will set you apart. If you’re passionate about the world of advertising, it will reward you.

Now I gotta get going. The heat coming from my laptop is beginning to melt my igloo, and I need a place to sleep tonight. Big hockey game tomorrow.

-Brook Johnston | | @Brookjohnston

I would like to thank Brook for stopping by and doing an exceptional job at laying down a foundation of great tips for those who plan on entering the advertising industry.

What do you think of Brook’s 5 tips? Do you have additional advice that may be useful to us entry-level underlings?

Bryan Ricard Advertising, Guest Post , ,

Welcome John Antonios

September 30th, 2010

I would like to formally welcome John Antonios to the blogroll!

John is a creative, passionate, and dedicated marketing consultant. That’s straight from his website so trust me it’s true. I met John through #brandchat and have kept in touch with him ever since. He always provides a great point of view and sparks great discussions on his blog. His passion is clearly shown when he talks about what he loves, and that’s personal branding and social media.

Be sure to check out I promise you won’t close your browser without having learned something.

Bryan Ricard Blogging, Networking , , ,

Stoli Raises an Important Question

August 17th, 2010

Would you have a drink with you? Think about it.

A new ad campaign for Stolichnaya Vodka by Ogilvy & Mather asks this very question. (Launched on May 24th, 2010 with print ads and TV spots)

This celebrity-driven campaign is set to run into 2011 and began with a powerhouse; Hugh Hefner.

Stoli Campaign: Hugh Hefner

“With the launch of this new campaign, Stoli recognizes originality, creativity and passion in a call to action to the consumer,” says Andrey Skurikhin, partner at SPI Group, brand owner. “Stoli has a history of venturing into unchartered territory and the new campaign will spotlight real originals, people who take chances without asking for permission. Hugh Hefner exemplifies these shared qualities with Stoli and is the perfect individual to kickoff our new campaign.” –

Stoli has always been the original type. The tagline, “The most original people deserve the most original Vodka. Stoli. Lead On.” definitely puts them on some pedestal that many can admire. Clearly, Hugh Hefner is a great starting off point because 1) He appeals to a wide, relevant audience and 2) He is a leader.

“I’ve always tried to live my life on my own terms, with sophistication and style, and this Stoli campaign reflects those same beliefs,” says Hefner. “I was intrigued by the concept of having a drink with myself, and I’m very pleased with the final results. I think fans will get a kick out of the spots.” –

The 2nd TV spot features Julia Stiles, apparently a “Hollywood Original”. I don’t know enough about her to say whether or not this is a good fit, but here is the ad:

Let’s look beyond the celebrities, beyond the connection between their personalities and that of Stoli Vodka’s. This campaign has a lot of potential, but in order for Stoli to reach full potential they will have to do more than produce commercials and print ads.

The most successful campaigns for alcoholic beverages, in my opinion, incorporate one of the following:

  1. A positive feeling, or lifestyle, that can only be experienced with that particular alcoholic beverage.  Example 1: Spirit of Bacardi – Island TV Spot Example 2: Grey Goose – Discerning Taste: Oysters
  2. The brand engages the consumer by giving names and meanings to existing rituals or events that occur where alcohol is present, or simply starting them. Example 1: Budweiser commercials that gives names to how people handle a load of beer cans or bottles; the sherpa, labrador retriever, and the praying mantis. (Can you find the video?)

The most valuable part of this campaign is the question at hand, “Would you have a drink with you?” This is the beginning to a connection between the brand and their consumers. This is a very thought-provoking question, and the more Stoli plays around with it, the more times their brand will be shot into the consumer’s head.

Here are some ideas for the expansion of this campaign:

  • Stoli Celebrity Originals gives a profile of each of the celebrities used in the campaign and explains why they are original. It only seems right that they do the same thing for non-celebrities. Hold a contest and allow people to compete to be part of the campaign, maybe 3 total winners? It can be as easy as an essay contest where the participants explain why it’d be so great to share some Stoli Vodka with themselves. The 3 winners get their profile put up on the website, they get a claim to fame, some free stuff, and a one-of-a-kind, personalized bottle of Vodka.

Stoli has a sub-par social media presence, only their Stoli Vodka Facebook Page is showing some popularity with 17,169 liking it. On July 27th, Stoli asked their fans “If you were paired up with yourself like Stoli’s Celebrity Originals, what’s the first thing you would say?” This is a great start, but only 12 comments were received. How can the social media presence be improved with this campaign?

  • Keep engaging your fans! Don’t ask them that question on Facebook just once, ask them once a week with a different twist each time. How much would you spend when buying a drink for yourself? What flavor Vodka would you buy yourself? Would you rather have a drink with yourself from 2010, or the you in 2020? Would you accept a free drink from yourself? How many drinks would you have with yourself, just one? two? or until you’re passed out?
  • @Stolilife is doing a poor job of maximizing Twitter’s potential. Check out the feed, they aren’t talking to anyone.  They’re only following 8 people, and have a mere 254 followers after 4,000+ tweets. Even worse is the fact that there is another twitter account, @Stoli. Only 115 tweets but 600+ followers, and they are actually talking to people! First step: terminate @Stolilife and run just one account. Second step: I know it’s hard to start a trending topic because it’s really not up to the creator, but why not start. Bring the Facebook conversation over to Twitter. Have tweeps use #drinkwithme as the conversation anchor and encourage them to explain why they would or wouldn’t have a drink with themselves.
  • Stoli’s YouTube Channel is also far from special. I don’t even know if it’s their official channel or not. If you do a Google search for “Stoli Vodka YouTube Channel” the first result is ABSOLUT Vodka’s YouTube Channel. Here’s another simple idea, throw up a video encouraging people to film themselves having a drink with themselves. This would obviously take some effort by any participant, but it is sure to create some humorous videos. All of these videos would be in response to a Stoli video which would increase traffic, increase brand awareness, increase campaign awareness, and increase clicks to Facebook and Twitter accounts, provided that links are easily located.

Yes, the above ideas are SIMPLE. The point is that they are simple, and EASY. Come on Stoli, show some life. Capitalize on your clever campaign and complement it with social media efforts.

And no,  I would not have a drink with myself.

What do you think Stoli can do to improve this campaign? What celebrity do you think would be a good fit for the next TV spot? Would you have a drink with yourself?

Update (8/17): This post was in my drafts for a week while I searched for that Budweiser commercial to no avail, but it turns out Stoli is already extending this campaign: Are You Stoli Original Material?

Bryan Ricard Advertising, Commercials, Marketing , , , ,