Yearly Archives2014

Creativity, Volatility, and Serendipity: My year in advertising standard

I graduated from Wayne State University a year and a half ago. I spent four years (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) studying, settling on a degree in English. During that time, I ended up getting an internship at a small ad agency. It was an eye-opening experience, not because the work I was doing was amazing, but because it showed me that the creativity I was expressing writing stories and poems could be harnessed to, well, pay the bills. While I was interning elsewhere after graduation, I sent an email out to that agency, and they hired me. It was the dream: not even a year out of college, and working as a junior copywriter. I learned ...

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Reflections on the Midterm Election standard

Lessons successful brands can teach politicos. All the posturing and partisan antics once restricted to our semi-annual election cycles now permeate everyone’s daily lives, thanks to 24/7 cable and online news coverage and social media voices by the quasi journalistic opinion setters.  State and national legislative business as usual appears to be “my way or the highway, never back down, never compromise, never listen or consider another point of view” as an increasingly accepted political norm.  One-sided belief systems drive wedges and then major gaps in families, communities and countries.  They shift us away from the roots of what a democracy is supposed to operate upon. Basic brand and business principles like listening; exchanging ideas and views to achieve thoughtful ...

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SMZ welcomes Nia Martin standard

SMZ welcomes Nia Martin to the team as an account coordinator. Nia is a 2014 graduate of University of Michigan-Dearborn with a degree in business administration/marketing.  She was a collegiate athlete for five years and a member of the American Marketing Association.  Nia worked at Magneti Marelli as a product marketing Intern in 2013 and most recently at the Detroit Tigers as a community/public affairs intern. In her free time, Nia loves playing volleyball, listening to music, and food—Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo to be exact! She is a Detroit sports enthusiast: Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions and Detroit Red Wings all day.  

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The Weeks that Were standard

SMZ has been in business since 1929, 85 years.  In an industry that is often dramatic, very few weeks were as dramatic for us as the last few. We moved offices for the first time in nearly 30 years.  It was a herculean staff effort.  Combing through decades of work to determine what to keep, store or toss is a physical, mental and emotional challenge.  To then unpack, reorganize and get back to work in one business day was rather, well, exciting. Coinciding with the move, we said goodbye to our Executive Creative Director, Gary Wolfson and welcomed into that position, Michael Corbeille.  That change alone is also a very big deal for an ad agency. SMZ’s client mix is ...

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News flash: learning never goes out of style standard

Is it still possible, even after decades of experience, to recapture the enthusiasm, curiosity, and fearlessness to take on new challenges? Technology changes corporate landscapes and entire industries at an alarming pace, often making experience a curse. Careers stall, innovation stops, and strategies grow stale. Being new, naïve, and even clueless can be an asset according to Laura Wiseman’s new book Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work. These days, constant learning has become more valuable than mastery. It’s not that expertise isn’t helpful, but what’s interesting about this book’s theory is that success comes from constantly approaching work as a rookie.  In the author’s view, working perpetually on a learning curve can be a ...

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A few minutes with SMZ’s departing Chief Creative Officer Gary Wolfson standard

For over five and one-half years Gary Wolfson called SMZ home. He started here at a time when Detroit and the country were facing some of their most challenging times in recent history. The advertising business fared even worse. But thanks to his hard work and dedication to our clients, we persevered. We kept our most treasured accounts and added more. We did work that got the attention of our clients’ customers and our peers. Gary leaves us happy in our new home full of exciting possibilities. But I had questions and stole a few minutes of his time to squeeze out a little more wisdom on his last day in the office. So Gary, why have you decided to ...

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My Off-Work Hobby: Equestrian standard

“There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.” —Winston S. Churchill Horseback riding is my sport, passion and therapy. I started riding at the age of five, bought my first horse when I was 10 and have owned my current horse, Apollo, for eight years. Time management and responsibility are two of the many qualities I learned at a young age from riding and working with horses. These qualities have helped me succeed in other aspects of my life such as college and work. I have competed on various levels all over the state of Michigan and on Michigan State University’s Hunt Seat Equestrian Team for four years. Working in the advertising ...

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SMZ Welcomes Michael Corbeille as New Executive Creative Director standard

Jamie Michelson, president of SMZ, announced today that Michael Corbeille is joining the agency as Executive Vice President / Executive Creative Director. Michael comes to SMZ from McCann Detroit.  Previously, he was one of the original five who opened the Goodby Silverstein & Partner’s Detroit office. He has also worked at BBDO, Leo Burnett, JWT, and CME Detroit, working on brands like McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Nintendo, and Miller Lite. “We are thrilled to have Michael as our new Executive Creative Director. His skills and passion are directly aligned with the vision we have for the agency,” said Michelson. “Michael said he moves at the speed of retail. His focus on design and strategy will help accelerate our results.” Corbeille’s work has ...

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Our Patron Saint of Recycling standard

It really is remarkable the mountains of paper, plastic and stuff that can accumulate over nearly three decades in the ad business.  For months now we’ve been purging proposals, scripts, samples, reels, cassettes; you name it, we’ve tossed it. Amidst all that tossing and dumping of paper, plastic and numerous other unknown substances, the world has been protected, no watched over by SMZ’s own guardian of green, Susan Rae Smith. Susan’s been our conscious and moral compass when it comes to all things that can be put back into useful service to humanity and earth versus cluttering up already over-crowded landfills in or around metro Detroit.  It’s people like her who make it possible for discards to become resources and one ...

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The moving game standard

Amazing how much useless stuff one company, one family or one individual can collect after nearly three decades of nesting in a location.  For the better part of three months now, SMZ has celebrated “throw away Thursdays,” shifting into full disposal mode shedding documents, print samples, ancient broadcast reels, collectibles and piles upon piles of media plans and proposals that date back to the Reagan presidency. I guess it’s human nature to somehow think that once we push it into a basement storage bin that we’re capable of finding and identifying a critical sample or essential document once its relegated to a “banker’s box” status.  These are indeed tearful times for hoarders and the paper people who now must fully ...

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