Friday, April 22, 2011

Miss Turkey and the community college system

After years of listening to my wife complain about the simple fact that her online community college students do not believe in reading their textbooks nor wish to take advantage of the online study tools that will make it easy to pass, it seems to me that a little bit of marketing might just speak to the minds (and stomachs) of her students.

It is really quite basic. She needs some corporate sponsors. is a thought. But then again, Carl's Jr. hits her demographic so well that it is a much better match.

Textbook study questions should feature a small banner advertisement announcing they are proudly sponsored by the Carl's Jr. fast food chain. The recommended promo tagline would be "Read this, eat that" with a big picture of a Carl's Jr. turkey burger. Any student who completes a chapter in their textbook just has to answer a few simple study questions. Once they get the answers correct they would be sent a coupon for a steep discount on their Turkey Burger. Of course they would have to register in advance to take advantage of this "read to eat" program.

Surely if the concern over failing the class doesn't motivate them, perhaps free food and a chance to see the big cardboard cutout of Miss Turkey standing in the lobby of most Carl's Jr. restaurants will get them to read.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Always thinking...

Let’s face it, creativity is not a 9 to 5 thing. Brilliant ideas don’t necessarily track with one’s social calendar. I learned this lesson many years ago, and so did my clients.

I don’t know how they figured out that I was thinking about their projects even when not connected to my Mac. And I’m thankful they did. For some strange reason when I get a new assignment my brain starts exploring solutions, no matter whether I’m on the tennis court, wandering through South Coast Plaza or sitting at my desk. Perhaps it’s like the musician who hears the melody of their next song in the clicking of the windshield wipers.

One never knows where inspiration will hit.

I guess I’ve just realized that the sooner I can let my mind start working on projects, the faster solutions will come to me. And that has been the way I’ve run James Klein Creative.

In many ways, we are always thinking. Midnight epiphanies aside, this does not mean that we are staring at our Macs around the clock, however we are constantly looking at the issues from different angles. “What’s the right visual metaphor? The best twist of phrase? Is this just another me-too approach, or have we made things memorable and easy to understand without sounding like everyone else?” This even carries down to the best approach to produce a specific project or assembling the best team of consultants.

So when you ask us to work on a project, you know that you aren’t just getting some time slot on our schedule, rather you’re getting a share of our brain, and the desire to find a unique solution that works…and something that makes us proud.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Using transit to market transit assistance!

It made perfect sense to the OCTA marketing team.  Why not use buses to promote and support the regional rollout of 511 service.  After all, anybody who needs to navigate their way across Orange County can now receive real-time traffic and bus transit information by simply dialing 511 or going online at 

James Klein Creative worked with OCTA to developed a series of bus wrap options that built upon the branding efforts and primary message developed for the regional campaign.  Our goal was to address transit riders and those in cars who want to avoid traffic.  To accomplish this, we used all four sides of the bus to address the multiple audiences.

The street side reaches out to people in cars.  Those who would use 511 to plan a trip or re-route their travels because of road closures or an accident.  Street side messaging focused on outsmarting traffic by receiving free real-time traffic updates.

The curb side of the bus targets transit riders.  It is the ideal way to direct those using the bus or Metrolink to 511’s free transit planner.

The tail of the bus is prime real estate and offers longer exposure to the message.  While ideal for those traveling behind in a car, the message was designed to address both audiences.  Again we used the outsmart traffic message while promoting the free traffic updates and transit planning features of 511.

In the end, all the messaging and 511 branding needed to be easily readable while negotiating all the windows, doors, flanges, signal lights and exhaust grates on a 40 foot LNG bus.

All five buses are now on the streets and fitting nicely into the marketing mix of billboards, online advertising, bus shelter posters and radio spots.

You can find more views of the 511 bus, and some of our other bus wraps on the James Klein Creative website.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Enamel Pin Design: Graphic design for those collectable lapel pins.

Sometimes the designs that bring out the most “buzz” are those tiny enamel lapel pins developed for special events.  James Klein + Associates has worked with a number of companies such as the Orange County Transportation Authority and the Registrar of Voters to create collectable pins that are produced in limited quantities and handed out to dignitaries and poll workers.  The trick is fitting all the required information such as dates, logos and event names in a very small area while working under restrictive manufacturing constraints, being creative and making sure it is easily readable.


Each pin we create typically begins its life as an icon that we’ve design for use in print and electronic marketing material.  During the creative process, we plan ahead for the potential use of the icon as an enamel pin and develop design options that allow for a thin metal separation that serves as a barrier for the different colored enamel.  At times the gold or silver metal is used as a large patch of color, or texture is applied to the metal.


Our goal is to develop a cool-looking pin that is a visual extension of the marketing material developed for the campaign.  If it becomes collectable, that’s an added bonus.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Not all winning proposals weigh this much!

I guess when you're asked to bid on a $5 million plus contract for a new high-tech transportation project in the state of Washington, it's not the weight of the proposal that counts, rather the content. Although there were page limits and tight specifications for the proposal, the DKS Associates bid was pound-for-pound the better submittal.  We helped the project team put a visual face on a hefty (and sophisticated) proposal using infographics and other additional organizational visuals to demonstrate solutions to complex problems.  More information can be found on our website.  No backs where thrown out in the preparation of the proposal.  Although we went through a can of midnight oil.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Christopher Roddy. Concierge–Guardian Building, Detroit

Sure, you can walk into the Guardian Building in Downtown Detroit and realize that you've just entered a impeccably preserved example of Art Deco architecture, but what you really need, if you want the inside scoop, is a personal tour from the building's concierge that most of the tenants know by name—Christopher Roddy.  For years he has been manning the revolving doors at the entrance to this "cathedral to finance" on the corner of Congress and Woodrow, and passing along his knowledge of the building.  

I had the opportunity to spend 30 minutes with Christopher on my recent trip to Detroit and was given a basement to rooftop tour that included the massive basement vault that once held most of Detroit's fortunes, the impressive original 1929 board room, and a skyline view from one of the vacated offices on one of the highest floors.  But if you only make it to the lobby, you'll stand there, like I did, in stunned silence as one of the most spectacular examples of Art Deco architecture surrounded me.  And if that didn't fill your need to experience Detroit's finest buildings, there is the Fischer Building and the Penobscot as well.  

Thanks Christopher for a great tour!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Seriously good food in the Fun Zone!

It happened early in the morning hours on Labor Day weekend.  While Shannon was preparing for another wonderful weekend of burgers, fries, caesar salads and minestrone soup, her new website was being uploaded to the server.  The launch of her new site was done in conjunction with James Klein + Associates, Clever Marketing and Ben May of Fresh Interactive.  The Bay Front Café promises "Seriously good food in the Fun Zone," and Shannon is taking her digital relationship to the community seriously as well.  Along with getting more information on the Bay Front Café website, you can also follow her on twitter, and join the restaurant's Facebook fan page.  In designing the site, we wanted to provide key information for this newly opened café while connecting people to the Fun Zone vibe in a playful way.  This was the first phase of a site that will continue to grow.