The Low Specific Heat of Internet Celebrity

Sand has a rather low specific heat.  That’s why a burning desert becomes so frigid when the sun goes down: sand’s temperature changes easily with the application or removal of energy.  Water on the other hand, has a high specific heat; it requires a great deal of energy to heat up or cool down, thus helping regulate both our ecosphere’s and our own body’s temperature.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingThis metaphor becomes relevant when you consider the internet celebrities 2010 gave us: Eduard Khil, Antoine Dodson, and Jimmy McMillan.  Each exploded from obscurity into a well-known and widely traveled web meme, based on little more than momentarily capturing the attention of a society ever hungry for distraction and entertainment.

Neither ‘the rent is too damn high’ nor ‘trololo’ nor ‘we go’n find you’ stayed in the collective cultural consciousness longer than three or four months, but each hit like a supernova, lighting up the Immedia to fuel standup routines and t-shirt sales.

That’s the way internet celebrity works; it burns hot and intense and then, like the Canfield’s Diet Fudge soda craze, quickly fades into well-deserved obscurity.  Non digital celebrities like The Rolling Stones or Stephen King couldn’t build a career this way–even worthwhile internet sensations like Captain Sully Sullenberger get only one halcyon moment instead of a long, sustained career.  Whether that’s a result of our restless attention spans or the way we parse out recognition, today celebrity burns brighter and faster, then cools much more quickly than any sort of fame that came before it.

Once celebrities built careers…today internet celebrities capture moments.

Kind of like how once advertisers built brands…today, they try to build quarters.

That’s neither right nor wrong–it’s just how it is.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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This Is Not An Ad for the Worcester Wreath Company

Chances are, beyond their website and a blog, the Worcester Wreath Company doesn’t advertise at all.  Instead, they work their very seasonal business in the classic manner, controlling their natural resources to deliver a quality product while building loyalty through hands on contact.  It’s one way you grow from selling 500 wreaths in 1971 to over 500,000 wreaths last year.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingTheir website is decidedly homespun and Maine-centric. It freely references the Bible. It’s anything but corporate.  It is, however, a pretty fair reflection of Morrill Worcester, thc company founder.  And that’s why you may have noticed their major annual moment this Holiday season–the laying of memorial wreaths at Arlington Cemetery.

Back in 1992, Morrill had a surplus of balsam wreaths.  He also had a powerful memory of a childhood trip to Washington DC and the 624 silent acres of Arlington National Cemetery.  So he contacted his state Senator and worked out a way to lay his extra wreaths in a largely unvisited section of the cemetery as a token of appreciation for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country.  It was nothing more than that–a heartfelt gesture leveraging the unique gifts of one appreciative man and his company.

But Morrill’s idea touched a nerve.  And that interest led to the Wreaths Across America Project which encourages similarly inclined people to honor the nation’s fallen in their local communities.  This year, Morrill and over a thousand volunteers placed wreaths at Veteran’s gravesites all across the country, including 24,000 at Arlington.

Sadly, most corporations are incapable of this kind of idiosyncratic gesture; there are too many sensibilities that might be offended, too many constituencies with warring agendas, too many risk-averse levels of approval.  And so we all lose something, even if we don’t recognize it.

Humanity is an individual, deeply-personal quality.  To create it on behalf of an international corporation is an uphill struggle.  But one well worth the fight.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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One Final Round of Thanks for 2010

It’s been fun to think about all the unique and interesting qualities that each and every person who works at Element 79 has as individuals and how that ladders up to give the entire agency a distinct character.  Because it certainly, certainly does…

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingI’m thankful for Neal Stamell who loves what we do and is ever-ready to suss out new ways to do it even better…  I’m thankful for the one-woman pep squad that is Lindsay Stevens, who—as someone put it so perfectly on Facebook—has a remarkable ability to make you feel affirmed simply by agreeing with you through her trademarked “I know, right?”…  I’m thankful for the Japanimaniac Dave Straus who first with the crushingly-original Futagoyuro and now with the fantastic Gold Giant, pushes the boundaries of creativity and inspires everyone with his prodigious and singular talents…  I’m thankful for the delightful Tracy Tran who I can trust with any project and know both the client and the creative team will walk away very, very happy…  I’m thankful for Donna Tropp who just keeps getting better and better at getting things done while laughing and cracking wise…  I’m thankful for the ever-game Maria Van Etten whose smile alone improves every assignment…  I’m thankful for Jason Weinberger who can dive deep and write voluminously and well on everything from hairstyles to interest rates…  I’m thankful for my boss Brian Williams and his leadership that ensures we’ll be keeping the doors open and the lights on despite the continual upheavals in this advertising business…  I’m thankful for Josh Witherspoon who embraces new forms of creativity and pushes the boundaries of work our clients expect…  I’m thankful Ashley Wohl recently joined us to bring her new and unique design perspective to all of us…  I’m thankful for Lih Min Yuan for his broad imagination, his discriminating palate, and candidly–his durability after this Fall’s potentially-ugly car accident…  And I’m thankful for the skills and charm of Colleen Zazzetti who brightens mornings and only through getting married a few years back and giving up her “Coleman” name lands in the final position on this list…

I truly am thankful for all of these wonderful people.  I’m thankful for so many more who’ve been at Element 79 for a while before moving on to other workplaces and opportunities.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingI’m also thankful for the helpful network of Chicago production–all the post houses, film houses, audio studios, design and animation and editing experts who help us turn thoughts into wonderful, shining things.  As a local community, we are truly lucky to work and partner with so much talent.  I’m also thankful for the larger production community on the coasts, in Texas and around the world.

And finally, I’m ridiculously thankful for all of our clients who make it possible to earn a living making things up for them.  That’s a truly wonderful gift.

Thank you for making 2010 better and here’s to a wonderful 2011 for all of us.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Yep, Still Lots More Thankfulness for 2010

The people you work with at an agency define the success of both that enterprise and your own daily experience within it.  Through good times and tough times, I genuinely enjoy the people I’m lucky to work beside every single day…

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingI’m thankful for Kate Napleton who embraces creativity in all its forms, building it for every audience, client and agency alike…  I’m thankful for the calm surety of Tom Napper who steers all of us through the raging waters of convergence and innovation…  I’m thankful for the dapper Prashant Nashi whose creative mind is like a mental popcorn popper…  I’m thankful for the pop culture genius of Canice Neary who regularly slays me with both his wit and his online Halo skills… I’m thankful Jayne “Jay-Jay” Nesheim came in from NY to help keep us accurate, which makes her pretty awesome despite being a Mark Sanchez fan…  I’m thankful for the ceaselessly productive Jennifer Niccum whose infectious laughter reverberates up and down the halls, particularly after five…  I’m thankful for the detail-oriented Christie Nichols whose witty and insightful competitive tracking reports do so much more than just list what the cellular big boys are up to…  I’m thankful and happy for Kim Noles as she goes off to explore a whole new life with her very lucky family…  I’m thankful for the tasteful eye of Zulema Orozco who makes all of us look exquisite with her discerning designs…  I’m thankful for Alex Piechocki who jumped in with both feet from the moment she arrived, ever quick to find an answer or suggest an alternative…  I’m thankful for Linda Poe whose tight control over our budget makes it possible to still be thanking all the people on this list…  I’m thankful for Vin Quach whose hard work ethic is matched only by his quick laugh and smile…  I’m thankful for the multi-threat Susie Rashid who champions the agency tirelessly in the brutal trenches of corporate finance without losing her humanity…  I’m thankful for Rob Ray our ever curious, ever hip, long distance tech master… I’m thankful for the wonderful Liz Rettger and her remarkable creative output, even if she always makes me feel like I talk too damn much… I’m thankful for the discerning ears and gentle manner of Jason Rizzo whose skills have redefined many creatives’ expectations about in-house production…  I’m thankful for the ex-Warden Amy Rogers whose artfulness touches a wide range of client work, along with transcendent in-house performances like the Chilean Mimers…  I’m very thankful Bill Rogers joined us this Summer bringing both his side-armed wit and seasoned writing craft…  I’m thankful for the diligent and remarkable Lynn Ruedger and her professional-life-saving proofing skills that keep all of us looking smart, no matter how crushing the volume of work…  I’m thankful for the constantly inventive Anita Salomon who continues to expand her wide range of writing voices to suit any sort of situation…  I’m thankful for Adam Samara who continues to grow as an ever more accomplished writer through his willingness to rewrite, sometimes even for good reasons…  And I’m thankful for Sarah Sharon who brings her tri-athlete’s dedication and focus to every project she touches…  I’m thankful for Chris Shen who works the same way he rocks: hard…  I’m thankful to have the superlative Brad Simpson back, along with his immense design skills and unmatched productivity…  I’m thankful for Toby Smalley who loves the work and so endures the whole long and circuitous process it takes to sell and protect it…  I’m thankful for Jennifer Smith comes in and helps us crank out keylines galore for CDH…  I’m thankful for the professionalism and capability of Cathy Snarskis but I’m even more thankful she is such a wonderful audience for any presentation…  I’m thankful for Sam Sommers who dedicates herself to every agency pursuit with a winning, single-minded focus…  I’m thankful for the daily editorial efforts of Lynda Spence without which no one at the agency would ever check out this blog…  I’m thankful to work with one of advertising’s most gifted minds in Alan Spindle who acts like a creative Vince Lombardi, championing and celebrating his team with a singular charm…

People can surprise you in so many ways.  To be surprised and delighted in a new way every day makes this job a unique pleasure.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Still More Thankfulness for 2010

At year’s end, it makes sense to take stock and reflect on what truly matters.  In a people business like advertising, those you share your professional life with truly make a difference…

Element 79, Chicago Advertising, Dennis RyanI’m thankful for the incomparable Mary Killen who creates order out of chaos with casual aplomb…  I’m thankful for Gillian Kindel who has made herself invaluable in short order, and not just for her willingness to wear swimwear out of season…  I’m thankful for the casually gracious Monica Klasa who creates art and beauty with wondrous consistency…  I’m thankful for Rosanna Klusmeyer who has mastered the art of replacing a slow-burn with a determined smile…  I’m thankful for the redoubtable Michael Kurbejeweit who brings remarkably fresh creativity to metrics, extracting gold from mounds of informational ore…  I’m thankful for the endlessly-resilient Chris Laubach whose creative forbearance endures even incivility to serve agency and client alike…  I’m thankful for Sandy Leib who eliminates risk while only rarely eliminating fun…  I’m thankful for Cheryl Lindquist who explores far and wide for the best way to turn our thoughts into things…  I’m thankful for AJ Livsey who approaches planning like it’s a full-contact sport…  I’m thankful for the designs and artfulness of Allison Lutze (and her helpful discretion)…  I’m thankful for Jo Lyons who can explain benefits simply despite the fact that they are never simple…  I’m thankful for the skills and commitment of Tom Macek who is always willing to stretch into new areas to keep helping the agency…  I’m thankful for Ronan Marra who lives the art of modern theater while classing up the joint with his charming brogue…  I’m thankful for Megan McCann who can juggle critical details without letting any of them fall and splatter all over us…  I’m thankful Alexis Miller just joined us to help out on CDH…  I’m thankful for Elizabeth Miller, particularly for ensuring the agency enjoys a rich and rewarding social life…  I’m thankful for Gina Muffoletto who defines creativity by mastering just enough Photoshop skills to make her monthly birthday announcements eagerly anticipated works of comic art…  And I’m thankful for the peripatetic Lisa Muzik who proves everyday that producers make Herculean tasks appear stunningly routine…

It’s hard not to be thankful when you work with so many people who make the work better.  And definitely a lot more fun.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Some More Thankfulness for 2010…

As we enter our tenth year, it’s kind of remarkable to look back and think about all the good people who’ve come and gone through Element 79 (luckily, as an advertising creative, I’m blessed with a short memory for the less-than-good ones).  But it’s even more remarkable to think about the ones currently working here, the people who make showing up each day a constant adventure.  Those are the ones you’re truly thankful for…

Element 79, Chicago Advertising, Dennis RyanI’m thankful for Lisa Dauderman, who is both incredibly focused and simply a hill of fun as a traveling companion…  I’m thankful for Katy Denny who keeps everything wonderful on Central DuPage Hospital even as she balances work with her wedding plans…  I’m thankful for Ali Dolan who has grown into her producer role with a gracefulness few could achieve…  I’m thankful for Amie Dowker whose prodigious intellect is matched only by her warm humanity…  I’m thankful for Stacie Dunn whose easy wit feels like a comfy old glove…  I’m thankful for Ken Fill who cares deeply for his clients with a good-hearted infectiousness that impacts the entire team…  I’m thankful for Justin Frosolone not simply because he’s a ridiculously handsome man but also because he’s a ridiculously warm and attractive person (and Sox fan)…  I’m thankful for Michael Gabriele whose knowledge of film making comes first hand and thus is hard-earned and personal in a way that is difficult to teach…  I’m thankful for Phil Gant whose prodigious experience and knowledge makes me count my blessings to have him impacting the department simply because people want to learn from him…  I’m thankful for Gus Gavino who makes movies and reminds me what it means to be dedicated to your craft not only because it’s your job but also because it is the passion that fuels your soul…  I’m thankful for Marzena Grecki whose hunger to learn the American idiom fueled her desire to work at E79 to the point that she learned English from a five year old boy as a Polish immigrant…  I’m thankful for Lisa Groot who knows much, fears little and keeps her team thinking positively whatever the workday throws her…  I’m thankful for Jess Hanebury simply because I can’t imagine a world where her biting wit didn’t exist…  I’m thankful for Konrad Hedrich who handles both the mundane and the exotic work requests with equal aplomb…  I’m thankful for Jill Hefner who in less than a year, handles Harris with a sure-footedness of a seasoned pro.  I’m thankful for the smiles of Amy Henning who remains irrepressibly positive through the most challenging times…  I’m thankful for Cindy Hicks whose diplomacy and sharp mind encourage her team’s arched eyebrow irony without veering into the sardonic…  I’m thankful for Amanda Hogg who can make anyone laugh even as she moves mountains of work…  I’m thankful for Julie Howard who in any truly accurate org chart, would be in whatever position is just above ‘Grand Royal Potentate’…  I’m thankful for the charming Rick Janusz who knows the great mysteries of computer code and translates them freely and deftly for all of us…

I truly am thankful for all of these wonderful people.  And I’m not even halfway done…

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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As The Year Winds Down…

It’s only natural to pause for a moment and take stock of things, to assess what worked and what didn’t, and to call to mind all the things that make you thankful.

Element 79, Chicago Advertising, Dennis RyanThat’s a pretty easy one; because advertising is a people business, the best part of my job are the fascinating, engaging and hilarious people I work with each and every day.  So if you’re looking for insights or commentary on advertising, you can skip the blog this week; I’m just gonna be giving thanks…

I’m thankful for ever-affable Victor Alonzo who somehow keeps my laptops from getting the best of me…  I’m thankful for the genuine Amy Anderson, whose commitment to her clients is only matched by her ready laugh with her team…  I’m thankful for Carrie Baker, who deftly meets her daily professional challenges by making her sense of humor ever more twisted…  I’m thankful for Leah Barret, whose optimism and enthusiasm brightens every room she enters…  I’m thankful for John Barry, who attacks every writing assignment with a vigor and thoroughness matched only by his keen and joyous wit…  I’m thankful for Brian Battle, who despite starting maybe two weeks ago, has already displayed a willingness to throw aside his personal dignity on behalf of the agency and our Holiday videos…  I’m thankful for Nancy Bauer, whose intellect embraces open-mindedness without countenancing naivety…  I’m thankful for Alana Beseau whose effortless ability to generate soul-shaking laughter makes it easy to miss how hard she works…  I’m thankful for the game and smiling Kira Bigwood, whose writing captures intelligence without forsaking deep and abiding empathy…  I’m thankful for Kristine Black, who jumps in with both feet to get things done, juggling the multiple perspectives of a team without losing the singular vision…  I’m thankful for Ryan Bloecker, who jumped into a stampede and somehow roped his steers into a semblance of submission without losing his ever-present Nicholsonian grin…  I’m thankful for the clever David Boensch who somehow makes stolid reliability continually fascinating and artful…  I’m thankful for Jen Burak who steadily moves mountains of work with the understatement of a kung fu master…  I’m thankful for the moments when I work with Tracey Button, who somehow acquiesced to part time instead of retirement…  I’m thankful for the MacGyver-esque Ryan Carlos who makes stuff with a casualness that belies his voluminous output and prodigious skills…  I’m thankful for Tim Cerullo who graduated from intern to full time writer this year simply because his amazing attitude and nascent skill made those who worked with him unwilling to let him go…  I’m thankful for the big-hearted Jerry Conner who best exemplifies that transcendent and magical quality of curiosity…  I’m thankful for Dan Cosgrove who assignment-by-assignment, grows his art direction chops and lays the foundation for a stellar career…  I’m thankful for Todd “ST5K” Crisman who truly is 50,000 watts of heavy action, possessing that elusive quality of making everyone around him better–or at least gigglier…  I’m thankful for Tom Cutler who jumped into a hot LZ with remarkable aplomb, organizing, analyzing and setting a path forward that restores energy and hope…

I truly am thankful for all of these wonderful people.  And I’m just getting started…

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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