Five Things – Ed. 3

By Scottie Lantgen
  • 05.16.18
  • Min Read

Well folks, here I am again with another list of things I find really cool. I’ve managed to sift through endless waves of mediocrity, take a closer look at the often overlooked, and talk to a really, really weird guy to bring you this edition.

COMEDY NEWS

I understand that real news with a comedic twist is nothing new. It’s been around since the advent of late night talk shows and variety shows such as Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update section. But it seems like over the past couple of years the comedy news format has really blown up. You can now find prominent members of the comedy community on multiple channels, every day of the week, giving their unique twist and delivery on current events.

Now, I’m sure some of you reading this are starting to bubble up with rage and have your fingers ready to tear me to shreds about a political stance of some sort. But fear not (my employers), this topic interests me for another reason: how we connect with an ever-changing world and set ourselves apart in oversaturated markets.

Think about it – you can find news sources everywhere. There are TV channels dedicated to 24-hour news, local news, national news, newspapers, news companies on the internet, “news” on social media, the HBO’s hit series “The Newsroom,” “Newsies” on Broadway, Huey Lewis and the News and so much more. Which source do you choose? Well, Huey Lewis, duh. But, after that, how do you set yourself apart from the rest (aside from writing “The Power of Love”)?

People love to laugh, and these comedy news programs are giving them what they want. Just because you have information to give doesn’t mean you have to deliver it drier than a $5 steak ordered at 3 a.m. from an all-night diner. And as a creative, this clear over-analyzation about the news has changed the way I’ve written. You don’t even need to be funny (trust me, I know) to write this way; you just need to find some way to connect and humanize yourself.

KFC’s Spicy Fried Chicken Ads

Have you ever seen an ad that was so good, it almost made you mad? Have you ever seen something so simple yet so brilliant, you’re upset that you didn’t think of it? Do you hate it when writers start an article with a rhetorical question? Well, me too.

If you’re anything like me, and you’ve seen this KFC campaign, then you, too, must be hotter than a thousand spicy chicken strips. I mean, it’s just so stupidly brilliant to me. When I was in ad school, one of my favorite things was to take myself outside of normal. Use the look, feel, texture, idea and/or taste of something, and try to repurpose it. So, when KFC took the texture of their Hot & Spicy chicken and turned it into this series of print ads, I went into full-blown self-loathing. Everything fit too well (unlike your pants after binge-eating fried chicken because you got depressed about not thinking of a really clever ad concept).

The ability to clear my head

Gather ‘round, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to learn a little bit more about Scottie! I know this will be difficult, but please try to contain yourselves.

Though I am relatively new to a legitimate advertising agency, I still have plenty of work experience as a writer. From 2012 to 2016, I found myself employed as a copywriter for a digital marketing agency. And this place was much what I like to call a “turn and burn operation.” I was finding myself writing four to eight copy tasks a day, which included Facebook landing pages, PPC landing pages, SEO content, complete websites and a lot more. Needless to say, I had a lot of work to do without a lot of time to do it. And this is where I obtained the incredible habit of speeding through everything I was writing. I couldn’t think; I just needed to write to get the “content” out.

When you’re in a more creative role, you need to put out the best work possible, not just “hurry up and put this garbage on the internet, ya dummy.” (I think I might have some residual bitterness about how that company treated the creative team. Who knows?) But, much like John McClane, old habits die hard. In an attempt to “impress” my bosses, I tried to spit out copy projects as fast as my agency fed them to me. And after sending out my umpteenth piece of mediocre copy, my boss politely (not being facetious, she’s just really nice [please consider what I just said when I’m eligible for a raise]) came up to me and said, “Hey, I appreciate you getting this out so quickly, but you need to just take some time and really think about what you’re writing. Walk around, take a breather, clear your head.”

This really resonated with me. I’ve always put myself under so much pressure to just “get the job done,” I never really thought if it was really any good or not. So, not only have I taken my time on a lot of my projects, I’m trying to really let the ideas come to me. And I think it might be working. I don’t know, I’ll probably never admit it anyway. I’m just happy to know that I have time. And THAT part really blows my mind.

McDonald’s Weather Forecast Outdoor Ads

Oh man, do I love the idea of repurposing well-established ideas and turning them into something completely different. And these McDonald’s outdoor ads are a perfect example. Not only are they creative – they’re also helpful.

The idea of taking actual up-to-date weather forecasts and repurposing the icons into fast food menu items is just so simple and beautiful. How they’ve managed to turn a French fry with ketchup into a thermometer or a burger with a crinkled wrapper to resemble a partially cloudy day is nothing short of genius.

Since one of L&S’s clients is also in the fast food game, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities as to what we could possibly do with the items. But, I guess this doesn’t even have to be limited to food, either. I just love to see what kind of puzzles we can solve with the wide variety that our clients have to offer. It should be neat. All I know is that this is the second fast food restaurant I’ve talked about in this blog, and I’d really like to use their items to solve the unique puzzle that is, “how can I not be hungry anymore?”

The Stranger I Met At Falls Park

I’m assuming you know that L&S is located in the beautiful city of Sioux Falls, SD, but then again, maybe this blog is so hilarious and well-worded that people from all across the country come to this site just to read it. If that’s the case, I will say, welcome and that the winter season in this area has been exceptionally long. And when you go through a very long winter, you latch onto any kind of nice weather you can get as soon as possible. So, when we were hit with the first 65-degree day, you can bet your bottom dollar that I was out in full force, without sleeves, and exploring my city.

And this is where my story begins, I was taking a leisurely stroll along the Big Sioux River, listening to podcasts through my headphones. Eventually I ended up in Falls Park, because I’ve never been, and I wanted to check it out. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had this idea, because the place was PACKED, but I still powered though and played tourist anyway. I reached the main area of the park along the falls with railings, where an older fella approached me. And here is a verbatim transcript of what happened next.

Guy: *points to my tattoo* What’s that?
Me: Oh, it’s just a giant robot destroying a city.
Guy: Oh cool. You know, I believe that’s happened once or twice.
Me: What?
Guy: I believe robots have destroyed societies. Thankfully the aliens have helped us rebuild. I’m a big believer in ’51. They have one alive in New Mexico, and one died on the way to Denver. I’ve been all over the world. *Walks up to railing, spits* I’m going to Israel next.
Me: Oh cool. Well man, good luck with your trip. *I walk away*

No matter how weird you think you are, someone will always be weirder. I don’t know really how this relates to creativity, I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and really wanted to share this interaction I had with all of you.

Well folks, this has been another five things. I’ll see you around… unless our society has once again been destroyed by a robot.