It’s our favorite time of the year–Launch Scholarship Season! Every spring, we proudly honor two rising design students from UNT Communication Design with a $1,000 scholarship. And while 2020 has sent many students into the virtual world of studying, creating, designing and working from home, that didn’t stop this year’s recipients from coming through with an amazing lineup of inspiring work.
After an online portfolio review of selected junior design majors, we have selected Taylor Hill and Hana Snell as our 2020 Launch Scholarship recipients. Both were honored on May 17 at the first virtual home graduation ceremony in the history of the College of Visual Arts and Design. Taylor was recognized for best art direction and Hana was awarded for best design portfolio.
Launch established the annual scholarship in 2007 to inspire creative excellence and make a positive impact on the caliber of graduates who will, inturn, positively impact our design and advertising community.
Hana Snell – Winner Design Portfolio
Taylor Hill – Winner Art Direction
Congrats to Taylor and Hana! May their talent continue to soar!
Launch takes off at Addys
Every year, AAF Dallas hosts the American Advertising Awards honoring the best in TV, digital, print, OOH, experiential and more. This year’s celebration did not disappoint! We’re still buzzing from a great night highlighting outstanding work created by all our favorite advertising friends and family around Dallas.
Our Baylor Scott & White Health “So Much Better” TV Campaign racked up several awards, including the coveted Judges Choice Award for Film, Video & Sound, as well as a bronze in the regional/national TV campaign category, individual TV category and sound design. Special thanks to Director Jaci Judelson and our friends at Charlie Uniform Tango for helping us bring these beautiful spots to life.
High fives to AAF Dallas for hosting such a wonderful party honoring all the talented ad agencies, production houses and clients that make Dallas great!
Rallying The Troops For Your Brand
The advertising war room – far less aggressive than it sounds (although there are occasional battles within) – is Strategy Central at Launch. It’s here we conduct a full brand audit and assessment of “enemy” territory. What are our client’s greatest strengths? How well does their product or service differentiate itself in a sea of sameness? Vital insights are drawn here, insights critical to informing the planning process.
We discussed the role and history of the war room with Launch partners and Creative Directors Diane Seimetz and Dave Wilgus:
What exactly is a Launch War Room?
It’s one of the few truly private places in the agency…no windows, a real door to close. We find this helps our squirrel-prone brains to focus. Inside, the walls are covered with pinnable material, which becomes home to a wide variety of our client’s and their competitors’ marketing, brand and social media assets, online reviews – almost anything digital and physical we can unearth. In the end, it’s a 360-degree deep dive, providing a unique, all-in-one glimpse into the customer experience.
What led Launch to establish this practice?
Surveying the competitive landscape has always been intrinsic to our discovery process. While we think we know what the others in the category are saying and doing, our recollections can be dated, confused or just not the case. Things change quickly in the world of consumer brands, and there’s really no substitute to ensure you’re working off the latest information than gathering it for yourself. We felt that designating a dedicated space to collect, view, compare and share this intel would encourage and facilitate this key effort.
What do clients gain from this process?
A date with the War Room is always a highlight of the brand strategy process. Our clients are extremely busy, and they appreciate this unique glimpse into their customer’s journey – all under one roof. It’s immersive, interactive, and has impact.
How does a war room get built?
It really does take an army to locate/source the large amount of content required to outfit the effort. A typical war room can include everything from website pages, Instagram feeds, video, print and promotional samples, menus, packaging, paid digital, search. We have people who have become expert at organizing this content on the walls in an easy-to-understand way.
Do you have any tips for building an effective War Room?
The key is to represent all relevant channels, so you get a really good idea of each brand’s story, who they are targeting, how they are attempting to position themselves, how they talk about their company, mission, unique benefits. It also helps to have at least one tall person on your team to pin things nice and high on the wall:)
How else does Launch fight the good fight for clients?
Spending time learning what’s going on in the competitive space is just one of the many ways we prepare to go to war for our clients. It’s part of our four-stage Launch Sequence® that combines strategic process with creative prowess.
Building a powerful brand starts with insights as the foundation, which inspire work that’s relevant, engaging and meaningful. Often highly entertaining, too. Creativity used in this way is the marketer’s ultimate trump card, prevailing over clutter to cut-rate pricing.
Memorable, shareable ideas not only differentiate a brand, they drive its success.
Can’t Launch without a Boost
Recognition in the workplace comes in many forms, a high-five or simple thank you. Here at Launch, we show our appreciation by giving “boosters” with our own Bonusly program that invites team members to give each other booster points whenever they’ve created outstanding work, had a great presentation or simply helped to do something outside the norm. When Launchers post a Bonusly booster “shout out” via Slack, everyone in the agency sees it and piles on the praise.
Principal Diane Seimetz tells us how the program was introduced to the agency and what it has done for the culture.
What gave you the idea to introduce Bonusly to the agency?
My daughter was working for a company that offered a similar
program. I could see how excited she was to receive appreciation from her peers
and management, and I started looking into something similar for us.
How many different options did you look at before deciding on Bonusly?
different programs were considered. The one we ultimately went with was a
start-up at the time, and I’m always drawn those. I reached out to the CEO, and
we had a really good conversation about the company mission, and his vision for
the organization. They aligned closely
with our own, making us a good fit.
What do you like most about Bonusly?
The ability to customize is a great feature. We were able to name the program, “Boosters,” in keeping with our rocket/Launch theme. The company offers a catalog of rewards (Starbucks cards, big-box retailers, specialty stores, etc.), but we are also able to modify to include local favorites as well as charities, where employees can donate their points. The program also integrates perfectly with Slack, our collaboration software platform.
What do you think Bonusly has done to the culture at Launch Agency since being introduced?
Launch is already a family culture; people genuinely care about each other and want to make the agency a better place together. These small tokens – “micro-rewards” – have cultivated the practice of “noticing” extra efforts or a job done especially well and providing the opportunity to show meaningful appreciation for them. It also allows leadership to recognize those who go above and beyond in real time, versus waiting months (or years!) for a performance review.
Summin’ up the Summit
Earlier this week, Launch sent two of our brightest young stars, Alexa Perez and Alejandro Hernandez to Digital Summit Dallas, one of the biggest digital marketing gatherings in the country. They came back full of tips and insights from some of today’s most talented digital marketing leaders and visionaries.
Topics covered not only encompassed trends in our industry, but also ways to improve productivity. Workshops focused on everything from “Moving Prospects through the Consumer Journey with Solid Content and Digital Marketing Strategy” to “How to become a Pop Marketer.”
“This event emphasized that you always
have to stay on top of the trends. The digital world is moving faster than we
can imagine, you have to break the rules to set yourself apart,” said Launcher
Alexa and Alejandro plan on sharing all these inspiring new insights and learnings with the agency at one of our upcoming Launch & Learns.
A Writer Unblocked
Writer’s block was just the excuse Launcher Alex Slotkin needed to join National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For Alex, this month-long experiment to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days turned into an eight-year project. We recently asked him to tell us about the novel he’s been working on for the past several years and elaborate on what inspires his writing in and outside of work.
What inspired you to start writing your novel?
I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, and have tried to pen the Great American Novel several times, only to give up after a few chapters. Several years ago, I heard about NaNoWriMo and the idea of writing 50,000 words in 30 days as a way to get unstuck. I thought it was the perfect excuse to give it another go.
How do you fit writing outside of work into your schedule?
I’m not going to lie, it’s tough to fit writing in outside of work. I usually just steal whatever time I can, whether that’s at a coffee shop before heading into the office in the morning or holed up at home in the guest room after my kids go to bed.
What keeps you going?
I love to write. It’s one of the few things I’m actually pretty good at, and when it’s going well, it brings me a lot of joy. There’s nothing quite like being so deeply engrossed in a writing project that time seems to stop and everything else just drops away. It’s like a runner’s high, but without all that inconvenient exercise.
How do you think writing outside of work influences your job at Launch?
It sounds like a cliché, but I view the act of writing as akin to flexing a muscle. It gets stronger and more versatile the more you work it, and employing different modes of writing can only strengthen everything you do.
What does the future of your creative writing look like?
Right now, I am deep into the revision process on my novel—which is taking considerably more than a month to complete! I’ve learned that writing a first draft isn’t nearly as challenging as shaping it into something truly satisfying. I hope to get this novel finished and out into the world soon. In the meantime, I have had a short piece published in a zine and also produced a series of roleplaying game supplements. I have a few other projects in the works as well.
Which writers/authors inspire you?
My reading tastes tend toward the fantastical side of the spectrum. I’m a huge fan of Tolkien, Poe and Lovecraft, as well as more “literary” writers, like Steven Millhauser, George Saunders, Vladimir Nabokov and Italo Calvino.
What does NaNoWriMo mean to you?
NaNoWriMo is all about imposing a rigid constraint on your time in order to silence your inner critic and free yourself up to create. As Gustave Flaubert put it: “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
Soap Star Spotlight
Over 16 years ago, Diane Seimetz opened her own advertising agency with Michael Boone and David Wilgus. In 2016, this little entrepreneur decided she wasn’t done entrepreneur-ing just yet, so she launched a soap and skincare company called A Joy Forever Bath + Body. This business, along with her agency, continues to thrive today. Hear how Diane runs a full-time business and a side business without missing a beat.
How did your first business encourage you to start the second?
As an employee for more than 20 years, I never saw myself as business owner. But the thrills, occasional spills, and unique kind of satisfaction that come with creating something from scratch turned me into a bit of a startup junkie.
What inspired you to start your recent side hustle?
I’ve always loved to make things. Whether it was tiny cakes with an Easy-Bake oven; knitting with my mother’s old clackety metal needles; Mod Podge plaques and popsicle stick Christmas ornaments – you name it, my hands were in it. Ultimately, my professional career led me to advertising, where I could be a maker, too.
Why bath and body products?
I have an incurable condition where my immune system attacks my own cells. The resulting inflammation causes an array of symptoms, most commonly joint pain and rashes. So, I decided to take my health into my own hands becoming vegan and reducing everyday toxins by making my own personal care and cleaning items. Within two years, I was off all medications, and experienced few, if any, symptoms. As an unexpected side-benefit, I found crafting my own soaps and skincare to be enormously satisfying. Just taking in the healing fragrances of the essential oils infused into my creams, balms and butters inspired me to attempt more challenging, intricate creations.
These caught the attention of family, friends and coworkers, who began asking for the same products I prepared for myself. By 2016, I decided to formalize the arrangement and turn my healthy hobby into a small side business. This past year, I expanded to add a men’s shave and shower line, Tumbleweed+Thyme, and pet care products as well. All are Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free and part of the GoTexan program supporting native Texas businesses.
Where can we find your wares?
I love handmade markets, because they provide the opportunity to really talk with people. That’s hard to do in an e-commerce environment. I am particularly fond of the Boho Market at the Dallas Farmer’s Market and The Shacks in Plano, as well as V-Market pop-ups – held at cool venues around DFW throughout the year. It’s always gratifying to see customers – many of whom have become friends – drive a fair distance to buy my products and share their experiences with me. That keeps me going and growing in my work. But if markets aren’t your thing, I also happily take online orders at ajoyforever.com.
Get the recap
Launch was proud to co-host the first-ever AdEdge 2019 event last Friday, November 1, 2019. This all-day event, held at the Statler Hotel, was developed by Dallas advertising agency professionals who were hands-on at the event, speaking, advising and mentoring soon-to-be-college graduates.
“This ambitious event was a way to give students a giant step forward in their careers and spotlight leading agencies in the area. Professionals from various agencies and job disciplines shared their POV on how to break into the field of advertising,” said Michael Boone, principal of Launch Agency and 4As Dallas Council Chairman.
Topics covered included everything from “A Day in the Life of A Typical Ad Person” to “Understanding Which Aspect of Advertising is Right for You” to “What Agencies Are Looking For In A New Hire” as well as discussions on the impact of technology on our industry. Students also had chance to “Ask the Ad Execs” during several round-tables in the afternoon.
“This was beyond a job fair. It was chance to start a dialogue between current and future ad professionals,” said Boone. “Initial feedback from students and faculty has been very positive. Many found the first-of-its-kind event to be extremely helpful and informative.”
In 2017, Launch and longtime client Park Place Dealerships collaborated on the first-ever Luxury & Supercar Showcase—the region’s only all-luxury dealership car show and lifestyle event. So in 2019, the third year of this now-annual tradition, the time was right for a campaign that pushed the limits.
We worked with acclaimed illustrator Stephen Selzler to create a distinctive look. This energetic and modern style was the perfect reflection of the sleek, sophisticated cars on display and the high-end vibe of the event. We brought it all to life across a wide range of materials—everything from print ads, billboards and digital executions to the official event poster and program.
But not only did this year’s 2019 Luxury & Supercar Showcase campaign look fabulous, it also drove incredible results. Park Place shattered all attendance records, welcoming over 4,500 guests and completely selling out of VIP passes. They also raised over $140,000 for the event beneficiary, Baylor Scott & White Irving Foundation.
Take a look at how this year’s creative work brought a new level of excitement to Park Place’s iconic car show.
Meet our resident sketch artist
You might say Launcher, Richard Wezensky is a little obsessed with sketching. After all, he’s been drawing for the past 31 days as part of Inktober, a social challenge that gives you a different prompt every day to inspire a different illustration for the entire month of October. But Richard’s had a pencil in his hand way before that. Recently, we sat down with him to find out what drives all this doodling.
What inspired you to start drawing?
After the HOW Design Conference, where I was inspired by many great industry leaders, I decided to take some analog breaks from my digitally driven days and just make things.
How do you fit sketching into your schedule?
I try to give my best time to myself—which is usually in the mornings. Sometimes, I get so into a sketch, that I take some of my lunch or evenings to finish. Occasionally, inspirations will strike and I find myself starting a rough sketch between layouts. I always keep my sketchbook available for when that happens.
What keeps you going?
Sketching makes me extremely happy. I almost forgot the joy making something for myself. It’s certainly a nice way to break out of a creative rut and it’s even more satisfying when I see other folks getting inspired to make things.
How do you think sketching helps
you be a better art director?
This creative reset has given me a fresh perspective on the projects that I work on for my clients. I’m open to try more visually challenging solutions.
How does your future sketch out?
had a desire to create a graphic story—perhaps one about riding my bike, which
is my other passion.
Which artists or illustrators inspire
I follow a lot of great illustrators on Instagram. Among them, Jake Parker, who started Inktober – a grassroots challenge for artists to improve their drawing skills. I just finished participating in that challenge, which happens throughout the month of October – 31 days, 31 drawings.
Why do you dig drawing so much?
I truly love doing this because a ‘maker’ has to make. The greatest side effect is seeing people around me starting to make things as well. I shared a great evening with my son, where we just sat at the kitchen table, drawing together.
Have you received any high fives,
awards or pats on the back for your work?
I was offered to do a show, but I’m only working out of a sketchbook, so I really don’t have anything to display yet. I’ve also picked up a couple of commissions, which I thought would never happen. And maybe the most surprising thing that’s happened is that one of my drawings became a tattoo. On a person I’ve never met. Kinda flattering in a weird way.