Care to Create engages with other creatives that share the same passion. Please review the paths I took to successful campaigns. If you would like the opportunity to work with a network of trusted creative talents, let’s talk.

Tennessee Literacy Coalition – Designathon 2013

As the Creative Director during this twenty-four hour crowd-sourcing event, I’m amazed at not only the quantity of work produced, but the high level of creativity that is executed. It’s incredible! Now in it’s third year, Design-A-Thon is becoming a well-oiled machine. With over thirty volunteers, ranging from designers, copywriters, strategic marketers, PR folk, web developers and more, what we have created is an overnight ad agency, literally. I’m proud to say I worked with all of these talented people representing agencies and organizations such as Cabedge, Gamma Blast, Civic Actions, Nossi College of Art, CJ Advertising, Nashville Social Media Club, and tons more. These guys make my job seem easy.

The challenge: To bring awareness to the ever growing seriousness of literacy in Tennessee and the nation and how it effects us all. Create messaging that speaks to corporations for funding, providers for information and support and to anyone who may wish to donate or volunteer to help.

The strategy: Develop key deliverables that would educate and inform the public and providers that TLC is the key to making change to the issues of literacy in the state of Tennessee. By creating collateral materials for corporate giving opportunities the organization would have a way to directly speak to those who are directly effected by this epidemic with healthcare and productivity issues. Next was to create PSA ads for broadcast, outdoor, youtube videos and print to help communicate the problem of literacy with a means to further communicate the message credibly to corporations, volunteers and providers by way of mass media. Finally, to overhaul their online presence with viable ways to share the message to others and to provide proper analytics to monitor the success of their efforts. Providing TLC with content and a written strategy to further maintain successful consistency.

Below is just a sampling of the work we did for TLC. To see the list of all the deliverables, see here.

TN infographic

TN Bus bench
TN website

All in one night: After just twenty four hours of creating a list of deliverables, TLC is already seeing results with online engagement and awareness. Working with local media channels to allow for the PSA ads will be key to communicating the brand’s credibility and they are hard at work shoring up these relationships by the Design-A-Thon’s volunteers and their personal resources. It’s to early to tell the impact that these deliveables will bring about but my hunch, if past Design-A-Thon experiences prove the same, is that they have just made a huge improvement to their marketing efforts and ultimately willbe be able to make a difference to change.

White bar

Nossi College of Art – Changing the perception of a brand

After 37 years, Nossi was ready to make some bold moves – both mentally and physically. From the “mental” side of it, the brand needed to reset a perception that the quality of the programs at the school weren’t held to a high standard. Admittingly, the perception had some validity. However, with some curriculum, faculty and enrollment changes the privately held institution was evolving. From the “physical” aspect, the college was building a new campus. A 55,000 sq. ft. creative Oasis. Giving the college a location that would provide a sense of ownership to students, faculty and alumni.

The challenge: To reshape the brand, help change a perspective from a negative to a positive and to make the brand believable – a competitive art college and a choice for higher education in the field of creative professionalism.

How we rebirthed a brand: We first wanted to change the brand mark (logo). The old one was dated and didn’t portray the college as a serious institution. Plus there was a pronunciation issue – it’s pronounced, Nossi with a long O. So we came up with a solution. (see logo copmparison) We then had fun coming up with clever language using the long O and built messaging around creativity and positive action towards seeking growth in education. Note: we had to be bold at first to help reset the perception that the changes in the brand were serious. (see tv spot)


Next was a thought out marketing strategy that involved every aspect of communication. From traditional media to online initiatives(website), including using social media, to promotional campaigns reaching high school kids and potential students returning to college to events and PR plans to get exposure of the transformation.

The results: Well, the  jury is still out. We launched the new brand in September of 2010. There were some experiments that didn’t go well, and many that did. The brand continues to march forward with communication strategies that focus on consistent contact to audiences that are young and challenging. We have had great responses from the Art Community and high schools that now support visits to the school in larger numbers and more frequent. Channeling traffic from direct mail, personal recruitment tactics and traditional media initiatives are proving well with opportunities to share content online and promote activities through events. On the scholastic side of things, the programs, with the help of new faculty– both on staff and in the classrooms, are showing great improvements in the quality of instruction and how we’re growing and attracting a more serious student. This is definitely a brand to watch.

Safe Haven– Designathon 2012

The Situation: – After a year, the founders of Designathon, Ian Rhett and Jessica Murray called me up for another shot with a new nonprofit client, Safe Haven. They had been around awhile and already had some branding in place and were in need of a integrated marketing campaign that also included an updated fundraising strategy. We quickly called up the volunteers from the last event and then added some new members of the team according to the specific needs. We had learned a lot from the first event and were excited to streamline some processes.

Safe haven is an organization whose main mission is to prevent families from becoming broken when entering the “system” of transitional living from homelessness. Most families are broken up and children are raised away from parents and siblings as they are taken into foster care. Husbands and wives in most assisted programs are split up and therefore lesson the chances for the family to succeed in the transition. Safe Haven is the only alternative in Tennessee, and one of few in the country, that keeps the family together. Safe Haven also provides Vocational and social skills training while trying to relocate the families into housing.

The Objective: – Deliver a comprehensive integrated marketing campaign that helps companies understand the needs and how they can get involved, provide communications for homeless families to get informed and include necessary vehicles for communication to the public and attracting volunteers. Again, the 24 hours produced all these and more.

The Execution: -The event did come with a new challenge. At midnight we presented the campaign concepts to the client and after a long discussion with the leaders of Safe haven, we knew we had to head in a different direction. We had missed something in the strategy concerning the apathy for these homeless families. By 2am we had adjusted the concepts and came up with an even better solution. Here are just a few of the deliverables that were finished during the event.



Safe haven deliverables-2

Safe haven deliverables-3

Safe haven deliverables-4

Safe haven deliverables-5

These are just a few examples of the hard work our team developed. Others include, press releases, testimonial videos, marketing plans, social media strategies, corporate presentations and more. Once more we had a successful event and volunteers that were proud of their accomplishments. Not to mention a client who was overwhelmed with all of its new tools to do their job better.

The conclusion: -We had recognized that there was something different about Designathon that frustrates most brands when trying croudsourcing –disunity, creative responsibility and commitment. Thus leaving the brand to complete the assignments and make all the final decisions. Here is an info graphic that explains.
Info graph for CNM

Youthturns– Designathon 2010

Having some success with these kinds of events (CreateAthon), I was asked to be the Creative Director for the shindig and I gladly accepted – staying up all night with a bunch of creative people doing branding…hell yeah! After some pre-planning meetings, the CoLab of Nashville graciously donated their space and off we went.

The Objective: – Deliver a solid brand identity and branding campaign that would help distinguish this organization as a professional entity to help get awareness for funding. We started with a brand name, “YouthTurns”. There ahd been several pre-planning meetings so that we could do research and secure the name and urls of the brand, including trademarking. All we needed was a logo and a positioning line – tagline.

The Concept: Take an American ideal and turn it upside down – Children don’t want their parent’s wealth – the unexpected truth when it relates to generational incarceration. The truth can be hard to swallow, especially if it is preachy. However, the truth can be very effective if you avoid cliche’ messaging like young Americans being treated unfairly due to their parents bad decisions. Instead puling on heart strings with clever communication that get people to listen long enough to understand what’s really going on.

The execution: With that many many people in one location the key was to establish the strategy and messaging so everyone could be aligned working on their individual assignments. With team leaders in place, decimating the information as it was developed was important. The process was about working off a time calendar. Planning for group presentations with the client and each other to allow for refinement and evolvement. Not to mention the sleep factor. The deliverables list:

1. brand Identity
2. Brand Tagline
3. Identity package–stationary kit
4. Website
5. Video
6. Marketing Plan
7. Social Media roll-out – Facebook page and Twitter account with content
8. Trifold Brochure
9. 64 page Booklet for Reconciliation- their parent company
10. PR for the event

Identity Package:

Trifold Brochure:


-You can read about the event on this blog post here . It covers the entire night, including some antics. There is an excellent case study that was developed by Ian Rhett, Civic Actions, one of the coordinating leaders at the event. And is an inspiring group dedicated to social change.

Below is the event mapped out from the time we entered the CoLab facility to the time we left. There were many people who held responsibilities past the event to make the initiatives successful – a task most fail to recognize during a crowdsourcing event until it’s to late.

It is estimated that the event generated over $60,000 in marketing hours alone. Not to mention all the donated printing and other items such as the facility we were in and food for the entire night by local restaurants.

YouthTurns has been invited to attend conferences and events spanning from Boston to Seattle and New York. At this year’s BarCamp Nashville, The founder of the org was asked to attend the TED conference to speak about his mission to help end generational incarceration.

Civic Actions is now exploring opportunities to hold this Designathon event model again in Nashville and in other cities such as Seattle, and Chicago of next year.

As a Creative Director at redpepper I had the opportunity to lead some talented people. Here is a collection of work that was created by digital scientists, designers, writers and artists under my direction. This is some of the best work I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of. In the end, it’s people that we are communicating to. To be fearless in how you do that is what made this work so fun.

This work was successful due to the extreme effort that was put forth during the life of these projects: the research and insights that led to great strategies, the experimentation that allowed for heroic ideas and concepts to evolve, and the respect for measurement that helped to adjust for better results. That said, I’ve included a summary before each project to help you better appreciate the commitment that went into all of them.

John Deere Boots– Sales video and Dealer boot catalog

When John Deere decided to enter the footwear industry, they had high standards. Creating a sales video and product catalog for one of their brand’s division, John Deere Boots, was serious business and the first level of communication to their dealers and retailers.

The objective? For the sales video, we focused on their Johnny Poppers boot line – the hottest boot in their arsenal. Getting the attention of prospective buyers and publishers in the industry was a must. Getting contracts with dealers and retail brands was what we were after. The boot catalog needed to reinforce what we were advertising in the markets – durable, rugged and stylish boots from a brand you already trust.

The Strategy: Develop a “story-like” video for the Johnny Popper line that was captivating, playful and innovative. For the dealer catalog it was simple, capture images of their boot line in their natural environment where consumers use them – in the fields, farms and construction sites where they work. Then display the product’s high quality features in a comprehensible way and present the information about the boot’s qualities in a way for dealers to use easily.

The executionbeganwith scheduling a weeks worth of product photography and retouching for showcasing the boots in their best condition. The next step was in finding the right talent for animation and video editing, as well as script writing and voiceover recording. Choosing animation to tell the story was perfect for the brand’s personality. The boot catalog required a full day at the farm shooting captivating photography for the catalog’s sex appeal.

The results helped John Deere Boots professionally leverage their brand in a very competitive industry, converting dealers to the belief that John Deere’s commitment to high standards in farm equipment was just as important as the manufacturing of their boots that are worn by the consumers who drive them.

Kirkland’s – My Kirkland’s Community site

One of the nation’s leading home decor brands came to us with a project. They were wanting to add on to their e-mail initiatives and in-store promotions. After further research, what was really needed was to transition their large consumer base to a bigger communication playground. The internet.

The strategy was to connect a loyal consumer base of almost 3 million, currently engaged through an e-mail marketing initiative. Research showed us that the target audience was a demographic already active in social media like facebook. These customers also love to be inspired by others when decorating and choosing home decor products.


The concept? To create, an online community where users could share ideas, engage in promotions and contests and get advice from interior designers and make comments.

The objectivewas to gain new e-mail addresses for future direct marketing, by asking users to create a profile and submit their e-mail address. Each promotion and contest encouraged the members to ask others to participate, thus capturing more addresses. Facebook allowed members to connect with their friends and to get them involved in the online community and contests.

In a series of promotions, the first one led the community to vote for their own Kirkland’s Designers. Once the 5 designers were established, members could ask advice and get tips on how to decorate and choose decor – all for free. Every contest included designers and some were as simple as uploading a picture so members could vote right on the spot, right on the site.

The resultsgenerated over 50,000 new e-mail addresses and included more than half a million unique visitors to the site. The community is still gaining momentum with new contests, user sign ups and engagement tactics through facebook, which currently has over 23, 000 fans.

For the latest results of this ongoing campaign, see redpepper’s recent case study video:

Casemate – The Complicators Campaign

The client came to us with a new product for the iphone. A snap-on case that would allow for your ID card and credit card to slide into the back. Our audience was anyone who didn’t want to carry a wallet or purse. Further research showed us that our best audience for this product was the night club goer.

The strategy was to engage our target audience where they lived. Both in the clubs and online in their social settings.

The conceptwas that the product made your life simple – decomplicated, if you will. Thus the idea of the Complicators – those that try to complicate your night arose making our product – the ID case, the Decomplicator.

The execution included creating characters that our audience could relate to and allowed them to identify with their friends online, with a website that connected them with facebook. The user could choose a Complicator that reminded them of someone and post a message on that person’s fb wall. Twitter feeds were introduced to give the user updates to the clubs where street teams were handing out the ID cases. You could also view the product on the site and link to CaseMate’s website to purchase.

The results generated buzz and sold more items then any other product CaseMate had produced.


CMT– Camp Nashville campaign

When CMT asked us if we wanted to help with their new reality camp contest involving average Joes getting a chance to make country stardom, of course we said yes. We loved helping folks live their dreams. Not to mention that it is was a pretty cool concept involving social media.

The show’s concept involved a week long camp where participants went on tour with celebrities and had to build their fan based in order to win the contest. Certain milestones allowed contestants to win prizes, etc. The challenge in entering was that you had to shell out $10,000. Not an easy task.

The strategy was to first find our reality show players, and funnel them to a website where they would be entertained by the show’s concept of celebrity endorsments and learn all about how to get involved. Next was to reinforce the hype by promoting the camp through radio stations and record shops in key markets. Then to engage folks with disruptive tactics at their hang outs where they were already dreaming about being a star, down on Broadway in downtown Nashville.


The concept? “Country Star Yourself”. Feel what it’s like to be a star for a week and if you win the game, you have a chance to actually take your fame to the next level with a possible record deal.

The executiondidn’t even seem like work. A series of print ads, posters and out-of-home tactics along with PR, scheduled radio, TV and press conferences with country music celebrities were all set in place to drive traffic online.

The website included a widget, the country star generator that allowed users, without signing up, to upload pics of their faces and friends’ faces into cliche’ pictures of country musicians. Once done the widget also generated your new country star name. You could then send these images to your friends via facebook with a cool message.

The site’s content was full of messages from country music celebrities encouraging them to join and explained what was in store for them after entering the camp. Once joined, creating your new star profile and ways to start generating your fan base, were all at your fingertips from the same website. This also ensured that viewers watching the show could get involved and could play along with comments, etc., thus virally spreading the news of the program.

Once the camp started, the site would be where contestants would receive updates on their performances with rankings within the contest.

The results generated a lot of buzz and is still gaining momentum for a soon-to-be season launch in 2010.

Southern Pine Association Network – Woodaholics campaign

Imagine a natural product like wood having a hard time (no pun intended) with perception. Well, that was the case when SPAN, Southern Pine Association Network asked for help, specifically for the treated lumber sold for outdoor use. Seems the “fake wood” competitors were using chemicals used in the treated lumber as a weapon to convert consumers. Not safe, they said.

The strategywas to leverage the fact that wood is still the number one building product on the market. Using existing followers to the natural wood material was a matter of reconnecting them to the love of real wood, along with educating them about the safety of the product. The objective was to slow the conversion to the faux-wood products and remind builders and consumers that wood is still the preferred choice.

The concept, Are you a woodaholic? Tapping into the consumer’s affinity to real wood, it’s smell, touch and other emotions allowed us to strengthen the perception in the market.

The execution involved creating an online diagnostic game using images of wood and asking users to tell us what they see in the patterns of the grain. Each answer focused on the attributes of real wood and not fake. Every step of the game diagnosed you as “real” or “fake”. No one likes to be fake right? Each result determined your level of addiction and and gave tips as to how to get help.

There existed a “Get your fix” section to the site that allowed for project video downloads, a photo gallery and educational info on treated lumber.

Using social media such as facebook and twitter, users were able to connect to friends and spread the word of other Woodaholic connections. Contests were introduced and a Backyard Oasis makeover was given away to one lucky winner for signing up and giving us their email address.

Print and other in-store tactics were used to reinforce the campaign.

The results included thousands of new facebook fans and twitter follwers. Tens of thousands of diagnosed Woodaholics and over 100,000 signed up to win the Backyard Oasis, thus capturing new consumer contact info. for future engagement.


CAO Cigars– Escape Campaign

CAO is known for being one of the hippest cigar brands in the industry. When they came to us and asked us to come up with something unique, we knew we had an opportunity to step-up not only their game, but to set a new bar for the whole industry.

Research showed us some interesting insights. First was that people smoke cigars to relax, take a break and escape from everyday life. Or in some cases reminisce about how great life can be. Either situation eluded to an emotional connection with smoking a cigar. “Escape with CAO” became the concept.

The strategy was pretty simple. Redesign the brand’s print ads and website to communicate the new concept and build the perception of a cigar brand that has empathy with why people smoke – To escape. We also knew we had another opportunity with how we executed the design due to the over-saturated cliche’ art direction out in the market.

Tim Ozgener, the founder of CAO, is also somewhat of a celebrity in the industry and we wanted to allow consumers to communicate with him directly. Setting up a blog right from the website gave users access to Tim and way for him to connect with others about news in the industry and updates from the CAO camp.

The concept – Escape with CAO. It is an emotional connection that  people have while smoking a cigar – a connection with the cigar and everything else in their lives.

The execution idea was to not show any product. Yep, no cigars, no boxes of cigars and definitely not to show the father and son of CAO standing in the fields of Central American tobacco fields smoking cigars while surveying their crops. Instead, show only the bands that represented each cigar line of CAO. This is how most cigar smokers identify the brands they smoke anyway. Not to mention, CAO was known, and still is, for some of the coolest designed cigar bands in the industry. Lastly, we showed the smoke that a cigar makes while smoking. Different than cigarette smoke, cigars have unique smoke patterns and smokers take great pride in their ability to puff a good one. These efforts along with some pretty clever copywriting led to some stand-out advertising in an industry that desperately need some rejuvenation.

The results led to CAO’s first ever centerfold spread in Cigar Aficionado magazine, some fantastic PR and a new platform for branding their cigar brand’s image. Soon, other brands were trying hard to emulate their new class. But no one has ever been able to top CAO’s hip coolness of what it means to be a cigar brand.


Trevecca Nazarene University– More Than

Trevecca has always been a university with high Christian standards. However, their liberal views of empowering students to own their own destiny and to find purpose in life, is a cut above the rest. Their campus life and fellowship of student support and camaraderie differentiate them from other competitive schools. They also have a high conversion rate once they get prospective students on campus. Their struggle was getting potential candidates to be aware of these attributes out in the market.

The strategy wasn’t an easy solution. The challenge was to appeal to not only high schoolers coming in as undergraduates, but also students wishing to finish college, and returning students possibly wanting to transfer from other schools. The insights from our research told us that students, especially those with a spiritual foundation, wanted more from a college than just an education. The concept started out as “More than a college” which became our tag line instead. Making “More Than” our actual one. What made it unique was that we treated it as a noun, defining everything that was “more” than most colleges had to offer. It allowed us to use it as an umbrella for all of Trevecca’s audience needs and to describe all the university’s individual programs.

The execution started with a welcoming package that described all the fun and exciting things the school had to offer as it pertained to the individual who was applying. Next we included a microsite that would engage students with fun downloads, ways to connect with the college and social networks such as facebook connect, and other ways to share information about the school with friends and family. And complete with videos of current students sharing their own definition of “More than”. From Out-of-home tactics, print ads and locker posters to broadcast tv/radio, mobile phone inspirational text messages, and promotional event giveaways, this campaign covered all aspects of where our target lived.

The results produced more undergraduate applications the school ever had from one campaign, converting to an increase in enrollment. It also created a rally cry that generated buzz on campus and around other schools about the differences that Trevecca had on students and their pursuit to finding career purpose. Finally, for the first time, the university was able to reach other religious programs outside of the Nazarene following – more than ever before, with a video contest that ended with award recognition at an event held at a Nashville Predators NHL game.

In the end, it established a platform for the school to distinguish themselves and embrace a brand perception that was aligned with who they really are, a Christian university empowering students seeking purpose in their lives.


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