It’s that time of year again. Filmmakers, musicians, thought-leaders and entrepreneurs gather in Austin, Texas to share their talent and ideas, all while keeping Austin weird.
Here at GSD&M, we take SXSW seriously. We throw an enormous party, attend countless panels and participate in as many events as possible during the week. This is a conference that reflects so many values our company stands for – curiosity, restlessness and community, just to name a few.
So, I wanted to invite you into knowing why SXSW is so valuable to us. Here are some notable reasons why we remain involved in the conference year after year.
Drinking from Firehoses
“SXSW is one of the things that makes Austin, Austin. It’s an incredibly unique time that brings together minds that can solve the world’s biggest problems, create Oscar-winning feats in film and unite generations with music. It reminds me that there’s no one right way to solve a problem and that our little advertising world is barely a fraction of what’s interesting in culture. No other festival gives you such a varied Austin experience or a ‘drink from the firehose’ dose of inspiration.”
–Elizabeth Thompson, Strategy Director
Not your Average Trade Show
“It’s never the same experience. Some years I’ve left wanting to leverage new technologies and some years I’ve incorporated new thinking into things we are already doing, or been armed with information that brought about change. For me it’s the best week to really absorb what is happening in the digital space.”
“For the agency, we benefit from having a flood of energized employees with new ideas. There is always a great vibe after SXSW and you can really see those individual takeaways make their way into the work for the remainder of the year and beyond.”
“As for Austin, it’s a huge economy boost. However, I think there is also a sense of pride that comes with being able to say that for two weeks the best, brightest and most talented people in the interactive and entertainment space choose to come to our city and share knowledge. I’ve been to various trade shows but this isn’t that. It’s a platform for knowledge and talent sharing that I’ve never experienced elsewhere.”
–Amy Torres, Digital Producer
It’s in the Bag
“SXSW means the best concentration of innovation, music and film from all over the country. For the agency, it means all of this is in your backyard, so embrace it and dive in. For Austin, it’s a mixed bag. It means traffic woes, long lines, next to impossible dinner options and a shit load of tax revenue. One of the best parts of SXSW is the discovery of things around the corner. You have to get out and wander to find it but it’s always new and different. Walk around the convention center and listen or join in on conversations taking place inside or outside the many panel sessions. Walk around outside the convention center and do the same. Walk down 6th between Congress and 35 and see the freak show spectacle during music. It’s guaranteed to be more exciting than the last Mad Max sequel.”
–David Rockwood, VP/Community Relations
“SXSW is the one time of year where the internet shows up at our front door in person. Literally, the people you watch, read, and enjoy online end up roaming around town for a week. A lot of the time I get more out of the conversations and relationships that are built than the panels themselves (though they can be great too).”
–Rye Clifton, Experience Director
What happens at SXSW wakes up the minds of all involved, from panel participants to concert goers. It’s fuel to GSD&Mers who take away ideas that shape their work and lives.
*Editor’s Note: Dorian Girard, SVP/People at GSD&M, is chief steward of the agency’s culture. She has worked at GSD&M for 27 years, illustrating her appreciation through her loving and contagious hugs. Dorian is part of the heart that keeps this agency smiling.
There isn’t anything here I’m going to share that will come as a revelation or something new, and hopefully is a thought or feeling the GSD&M Employees experience often too.
But today I want this to be shared outside of my head and express the continued awe and gratitude for such good-hearted, smart, caring people at GSD&M. Truth be told, this feeling actually happens to me throughout the day, during or after most interactions with GSD&Mers.
The goodness at times is overwhelming – and I am saying good with respect to so many facets – talent, smarts, dedication, heart, passion, compassion, and caring about the right things. Really a few words sum it up for me – the humanity that exists.
I am not talking perfection people. We are an imperfect bunch who make mistakes, have quirks and sometimes different ways, but still a beautiful group of human beings. No I haven’t been smoking anything and I am not trying to be or get existential on everyone. I simply want to validate and reinforce what I experience and observe because I believe it is special. I believe it is worthy of our reflection, acknowledgment and gratitude. And despite our differences, GSD&Mers unite in things that matters.
So thank you to every single one of the GSD&M family, for we are the sum of all our parts.
On June 4, the world lost one of its quintessential typographers with the passing of Hermann Zapf. A prolific letterer and trailblazer in his field, Zapf created around 200 typefaces, including classics like Optima and Palatino. We are truly impressed by his many additions to the designer’s toolbox. And though I personally don’t plan on using Zapf Chancery from said toolbox, I’m going to make a special effort to use Kompakt in an upcoming project, just in his honor. The world needs more people that share his dedication to making words beautiful.Credit to GSD&M’s kick-ass Design group: Marc Ferrino, Ben Harman, Greg Thomas and Dustin Coffey.
Hey, health isn’t everything. You’re missing the second half of the equation. Health and happiness are not exclusive of each other, they are inclusive. They need each other. They feed off of one another. There isn’t a better example of that than Red Nose Day. A true embodiment of “Happy and Healthy”, Red Nose Day is about having fun, raising money and changing lives in the process (www.rednoseday.org).
And as a perfect example of being “At the Corner of Happy and Healthy”, Walgreens saw the opportunity to play an integral role of Red Nose Day – be the “Corner” where Red Nose becomes real, tangible and personal. As the exclusive retailer, Walgreens became home to the noses and the start of the Red Nose Day movement. Through an intense social, digital and omni channel effort, Walgreens brought Red Nose Day to life. We developed a campaign encouraging consumers to come to Walgreens, buy your nose, donate a couple bucks and be a little funny for money. And with 5 million noses sold, thousands of selfies shared and close to $10 million dollars raised at Walgreens alone, Red Nose Day is here! Tonight we celebrate Red Nose Day with a 3 hour live, comedic telethon event on NBC.
So grab your nose, your remote, your family, your favorite knock-knock joke and see how the power of happy and healthy comes to life with a good laugh for a good cause – Red Nose Day!
As we say in our :60 second spot you’ll see tonight… It’s funny how a little red nose can have such a big impact.
Red Nose Day, Live on NBC, Tonight, May 21 from 7-10pm CST.
I attend a lot of project management seminars and continuing education classes. I do this to maintain my PMP credential, but also for exposure to other industries and PM methodologies. At a seminar I attended recently, a single word put years of effort into perspective for me: Organic.
Generally speaking, I was guilty of perceiving the fluidity of a creative-driven industry as an obstacle to my project management endeavors. It’s no secret that process is a bit of dirty word in advertising. How on earth can we as project managers be successful in streamlining agency process when the very nature of our environment feels, at times, in direct opposition to what we do?
Then the seminar leader introduced the idea of Organic Project Management, a method focused on experience, insights and judgment – not heavy process – and it hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s MY environment. I’m already where the future of Project Management is headed.
Until this point, I’d always felt like a bit of an outsider at these events, trying to figure out exactly “how do I make that work in my environment?” What I’d always considered obstacles – lack of process and loads of flexibility – I suddenly realized were tremendous assets. The lack of rigidity in a creative agency environment allows for unlimited opportunity to try new things, and for knowledge, people and connections to flourish and grow.
Creativity and process are not mutually exclusive. One supports the other and allows each to thrive, and, like all things organic, they do so to achieve a healthy, beneficial, sustainable and ever-evolving life source. And that’s what I love about my job. This organic approach is how we’ve always operated at GSD&M– smart people exploring new and creative ways of solving problems. Until the seminar, I’d perceived it as messy – when it’s actually liberating. Process is necessary, but with an organic approach, it can be enabling, not constraining. It can provide the seamless foundation where ideas can still be king.
So for all you PMs out there trying to make an impact in a creative industry and feeling like the square peg in the round hole, take heed. Don’t fight what makes your culture unique – embrace it, celebrate it and utilize that flexibility and lack of rigidness as an opportunity to do amazing things. Try something different. If for no other reason, simply because you can!
by Ben Harman, Associate Design Director
“Frankensteining” is a fairly common term in the advertising business. Even if you’ve never heard it before, you can probably figure out what it means. It’s used to describe feedback from a client presentation that inevitably goes something like this: you present a couple of options and the client likes these bits of Idea A but those bits of Idea B and that little bit of Idea C and can’t you just mix those bits up a bit? Most of the time the results are a bit ugly, but every once in a while you’re left with something magical. Undiluted transcendence. Flawless fontitude.
Enter Comic Papyrus. But before I go off on the nubile perfection that is Comic Papyrus, let’s talk about how it was created. Because “Frankensteining” doesn’t really do it justice. The word “Frankensteining” implies dismembered body parts, sloppy lab assistants/interns, pitchforks, and plenty of moaning.
That’s not what happened with Comic Papyrus (except maybe the moaning). You see, Comic Papyrus was a love affair. Not a love-at-first-sight kind of fling, mind you, but one that started timidly with a similar x-height and, through trust, patience, and considerate kerning, finally reached its glorious potential.
And to think — when I first introduced Comic Sans to Papyrus, I wasn’t sure they’d even get along. Besides their obvious age gap, they had completely different personalities. Papyrus was exotic and excessively proud, spending all of its time at the spa. And Comic Sans frankly lacked the maturity to be in a relationship.
Furthermore, they were both dominant Alpha Fonts, used to sitting alone at the top of the font set. After all, these were the go-to fonts of ace designers and common folk alike. But all this unlikely pairing needed was a little bit of time and proximity. Casually being plopped on top of each other in a Word doc. A few late nights working together on a pitch. And a gloriously breathtaking first date, crammed together on a business card, just millimeters apart and buried deep within the dark musty folds of a gentleman’s wallet.
And so emerged Comic Papyrus. The font to end all fonts, melding the whimsical letterforms of Comic Sans with the timeless texture of Papyrus. Being the literal best of the best, and possessing what you and I can never claim: perfect parents.
Just leave your pitchfork at home.
It’s been a busy few weeks here in Austin, with SXSW Interactive and the 4A’s Transformation conference taking place back to back. While attending these events and learning about the latest-and-greatest in technology, innovation and creativity, I must admit I did the unthinkable — I let my phone die.
I’ll start by saying that “let” is a loose term. My phone is on its last leg, and perhaps I’m not quite careful enough about charging it. Point being there were dozens of areas around the conferences to plug in and charge back up if I wanted. But I didn’t.
At first, my decision not to recharge seemed questionable.
Oh no, how will I get this free t-shirt if my phone is dead and I can’t tweet about it (the requirement for getting the t-shirt)?
Turns out, the girl running the contest was quite understanding. Since I couldn’t tweet about it we chatted instead, and I ended up “pinky promising” her I would tweet later. Definitely haven’t pinky promised since 2001 (win).
How will I look up the panel information ahead of time?
With no phone, I couldn’t re-read up on the speakers and panels. Instead, I was excited all over again as each speaker and topic was introduced. While other people texted, browsed, or posted throughout the talks, I gave my full attention since I had no distractions. I even took some notes…using a pen and paper.
What time is it?!
Asking strangers for the time may not be an ideal conversation starter, but it led me to meet some interesting people. I wound up meeting a guy who managed to sneak into all the SXSW badge-only events without a badge, and a woman who lived on the same city as my sister.
Ok, so my phone died twice in one week, big deal.
But it was kind of a big deal. At these conferences about interacting and connecting, there is wonderful technology everywhere and a lot of people using it to connect. But for me, disconnecting was an unexpectedly positive experience. In my last panel of the day at SX the speaker stated: “Our cell phones know we are all in this room.”
Everyone’s did except for mine. Because it was dead. Which turns out was, actually, kind of cool.
By Summer Ortiz, Studio Artist
SXSW can be overwhelming—one moment you’re having your mind blown by an insightful panelist and the next you’re walking by a giant squirrel reading a book. Sometimes sketching things out is the best way to take it all in. Here are some visuals about life, liberty and the pursuit of SXSW by first-time attendee Studio Artist Summer Ortiz.
A photo posted by Summer (@signifyingnot) on Mar 14, 2015 at 10:34am PDT
A photo posted by Summer (@signifyingnot) on Mar 15, 2015 at 10:42am PDT
By Ayeshia Toy
Sunday marks International Women’s Day, a day intended to not only celebrate women’s achievements but that also serves as an annual call for greater equality for women across society and within the business realm. These are lofty goals to be sure, but necessary ones to ensure an ongoing focus on the inclusion and retention of women in the business world. And not just because “it’s the right thing to do,” but because the inclusion of women is essential to the growth of a company’s bottom line and for a better economic climate for all businesses and nations. I genuinely believe that continuing to elevate the importance of a female presence on all rungs of the corporate ladder should be at the top of any discussion about talent both in human resources and at the executive level.
As a human resources manager here at GSD&M, I have been grateful to witness our own award-winning efforts of keeping an eye on the prize of diversity overall, including being the agency of record for ADCOLOR, a 501(c) (6) organization whose mission is to celebrate and champion diversity in the advertising, marketing, media, PR and entertainment industries. But specifically, I am heartened by our acknowledgement of the gender gaps still evident in modern advertising long after the era of Mad Men. I’m happy that we were the first agency in Austin to host a 3% event onsite in addition to sending employees to the formal conferences, and that we take pride in sending employees to the local Bertha Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy to educate future female workers about the potential careers in advertising and marketing. We also nurture a monthly women’s group to support employees across departments and functions with monthly speakers and content focused on the myriad issues uniquely faced by female professionals.
Ultimately, whatever your industry or job title, I hope that International Women’s Day can be a time to launch or renew interest in the critical importance of gender diversity for the sake of not just your own organization’s future, but for our collective future. Man or woman, the pay-offs of a balanced workforce are equal.
By Brandon Curl, Copywriter
Would it really be Valentine’s Day without a love story?
This year, GSD&M is helping Southwest share its heart with the city of Atlanta with a campaign that features the new heart logo in TV, print and more.
Atlanta is a city that Southwest has had its eye on for a while. Now thanks to the completion of the AirTran merger, we’re ready to show Atlanta what Southwest is all about.
In a word—heart.