The problem with the problem with advertising

A banner ad call to action. Get it?

Something that’s been weighing on me since Google launched their Contributor service is that it’s not the answer everyone wants it to be. If you’re not familiar with Contributor, it allows the user on certain sites to pay monthly micropayments to suppress banner adds. People are happy with this because a lot of the internet long-timers have been saying for years that micropayments are the future of a world without annoying advertising. The thing is, they’re not.

We need advertising. It’s how our entire culture runs. It’s how we find out about services, and how we think of new ideas (and yes, get sold crap). It is so much deeper than a banner ad. Hiding banner ads (by Google, an advertising network) only pushes sponsors and ads below the surface where they can actually do more harm to the content. No, the problem isn’t the advertising, it’s how we’re advertising online. And we need to create a new format.

If you’re interested in taking up the charge, go read my full thoughts on Medium. 

The Next Chapter

The last few weeks have been, well… interesting. If you’ve seen the press release (or if you follow Struck on Twitter), you’ve likely heard that we’ve named a new CEO. And, as awkward as it is to type it here, I am the new CEO. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings and ideas about the transition and about what’s next for Struck. I’ve also spent some time trying to figure out what it means to go from creative director to CEO. I certainly haven’t figured it all out, but I’ve written down a few things over on Medium. If you have a minute, you should check it out.

I hope to write a lot more about what’s happening at Struck and how we’re pushing to make this agency even more incredible than it already is. So stay tuned. Thanks.

Struck Announces New CEO

Struck promotes Executive Creative Director Matt Anderson to CEO

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – November 18, 2014 – Creative agency Struck is pleased to announce the promotion of Executive Creative Director Matt Anderson to CEO. The move of creative leadership at the helm is a direct reflection of the company’s commitment to unique and digitally savvy work for its clients. Anderson succeeds Daniel Conner, who is leaving the agency after five years to pursue a senior management role with a health care innovator.

“It’s a humbling and inspiring responsibility. I can’t thank Daniel enough for the great work he has done here,” said Matt Anderson, Struck CEO & executive creative director. “Struck has always been an outstanding agency, with the most passionate team members you’ll ever find. Personally, I’m excited for the next chapter in Struck’s history. The work we do can, and should, connect emotionally to drive results for our incredible clients—and it’s my job to make sure we live up to that ambition and that potential.”

Anderson joined Struck in 2008 after spending seven years as a copywriter and client-side creative director. He initially took on the role of creative director and was promoted to executive creative director in 2013. Over the last six years, Anderson has helped fuel the agency’s growth, building relationships and helping to win business with some of the agency’s most high-profile clients across a wide variety of industries and projects including branding, traditional advertising, packaging and digital. In his new role as CEO of Struck, Anderson will also retain the title of executive creative director, continuing to guide agency creative efforts while working directly with clients.

As part of this transition, Struck is proud to announce that Pauline Ploquin will take on the role of chief relationship officer—overseeing client relations, new business and marketing at the agency. Ploquin had previously held the title of COO. Also, Ethan Heugly—who serves as Struck’s CFO—will add operational efficiency to his list of responsibilities. Heugly and Ploquin will also sit on the agency’s board of directors. Brent Watts will continue in his role as executive creative director and co-founder, and he will remain on the board of directors.

“This is a great day for Struck and our clients. Our operations have never been more stable and we are uniquely poised for greatness under Matt’s leadership,“ Ploquin said. “His vision will drive us to be even more responsive to our clients’ needs through innovative solutions that truly connect with today’s customers.”


Struck is an insight-driven creative agency with offices in Salt Lake City, Portland and Los Angeles. Struck believes in making brands “Greater Than” through forward thinking, breakthrough creativity and interactive innovation. The agency develops powerful brand solutions and experiences for clients such as the Utah Office of Tourism, Lennar Homes, Deer Valley Resort, Jack in the Box, ASICS, Sinclair Oil,, PROBAR, Creminelli, ZAGG, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., Universal Studios. For more information, please visit


Jennifer Hughes
(801) 531-0122

I <3 Strategy


Just four years ago, I entered the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an advertising major because I liked the idea of “advertising” generally. Both the college major and professional industry seemed creative, quirky and overall glamorous.

At this time, I also thought “ads” were whipped up by a copywriter and art director out of thin air. I’ve never watched a full episode of Mad Men, but the imagery of that era influenced my understanding of how it works. Fortunately for me, this understanding was wildly inaccurate and my ultimate destiny would lie in something totally different: strategy.

During that first semester on campus, I was lucky enough to get involved in the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). This experience allowed me to quickly see the many, many possible paths within this crazy industry. Account! Creative! Media! PR! Experiential! Strategy!

I’m quickly realized I’m not organized enough to be an account rock star and being a creative may have driven me crazy. Strategy was different, though.

In high school, I enjoyed numbers, but wasn’t a huge fan of algebra. I had always enjoyed writing, but didn’t always love writing about 12th century European History for 10 pages (single spaced). I loved Psychology, but didn’t know how to explore that without being a vague Psych major in college. But, strategy!

Strategy allowed me to connect and utilize these seemingly disparate skills and interests neatly into an exciting career as a brand strategist. (It also made having glasses seem even cooler.)

Since that time, I’ve found new and exciting reasons to love what I do. While interviewing for my current position at Struck, I was asked, “why strategy?”

Read More »

XOXO 2014: A Drone Inside a Rift Inside a Hug Inside the Internet

xoxo welcome image

XOXO Fest, a three-day festival in Portland celebrating art & technology makers (and a lot more) wrapped up with a final big hug on Sunday the 14th. A few lucky Struckers got to attend – tickets are only obtained through lottery – and here are some highlights, and of course, feelings, which is what XOXO is all about.


YouTube Preview Image



No XOXO writeup can be complete without a mention of the drones (or, ‘camera enabled quad-copters’ for those who don’t appreciate the military industrial complex connotation) and how much they disturbed the local goats, who alerted everyone to the issue via Twitter.



Ah Portland, You just give and give.


Anita Sarkeesian

As if to contrast the core philosophy of XOXO by tangible example, Anita’s presence at the festival prompted even more harassment by the Gamergate community, including a death threat and dissemination of the exact kind of ‘conspiracy fiction’ she discussed as being one of the many methods employed to discredit her. For those who haven’t been following the controversy, Anita, who runs the blog Feminist Frequency, has been the subject of severe harassment for her erudite critiques of male-dominated gaming culture. Her talk was both an index of the various personal assaults she’s endured as well as a rallying cry for basic human dignity in online discourse.


Camera Lucida

Creators Golan Levin and Pablo Garcia spoke about their hugely successful Kickstarter campaign to resurrect a long-dead 19th century technology that calls into question (quite controversially) whether many of the Old Masters utilized technological shortcuts in creating their masterworks. The project sits at a fascinating intersection of Tim’s Vermeer and Manufactured Landscapes in that it poses intellectual, artistic, and economic questions all at once….all because of a tiny prism on a stick.


Darius Kazemi

Creator of many magical and absurd ‘bot experiments on the web, Darius wove a thoroughly entertaining tale about his successes and failures after years of working the Web that has resulted in a staggering 72 experiments and projects. If you want to feel lazy, or need a reminder that that weird idea you had once could actually be cool to make, look no further than @tinysubversions.

Read More »

Social Media is a Channel. And That’s It.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 8.16.48 AM

Cue up the “get off my lawn” mood – we need to talk social media. I’ve been in digital marketing since 2000, so I’m definitely a geezer by many definitions. But that means the early part of my career was defined by traditional brand advertising, where you had exactly 4 mediums to advertise in (radio, TV, out of home, print). It was a simpler and less-fragmented world, but it also shaped my point of view for years to come on realistic ways to build brands. Then about five to six years ago, a groundswell of buzz (how’s THAT for some lingo?) started around social media. media and evangelists were touting it as the next great thing, the equalizer for all brands, the great driver of the economy … THE SILVER F’IN BULLET!

Don’t get me wrong, social media has done wonderful things. It’s given voice to people with great ideas that need backing. It’s connected people on so many levels for their career, their friendships, their romances. But what it hasn’t done, is be the be-all, end-all for brands. Brands approached this new world with trepidation, which was made worse by “social media strategists” insisting that only they could guide them through the weeds. These “specialists” (who likely had only been in business for 2-3 years) made clients even more leery and cautious, feeling only a self-proclaimed “guru” could help them navigate and that this medium demanded its own particular approach. Brands were trained to think that if they went alone, they’d be doomed to fail, their business would collapse and the internet would implode upon itself. /hyperbole

A very smart man, Augie Ray, wrote a great article here about this specific topic. The upshot of the article, even brands with spectacular social media “flame-outs” are doing just fine, financially, thank you very much.

You know what all these brands really should have focused on? The good old Golden Rule … “do unto others.” That’s it. Treat people as you’d like to be treated, and you’ll do fine on social media, particularly if you’re realistic about how your audience is truly willing to interact with your brand.

Alright cranky guy, are there brands following this advice and doing well? I’m so glad you asked – there absolutely is. Of course these are all my opinions, but as a cranky old ad guy, I feel entitled to get up on a soapbox:

  • GE/Instagram – an amazing example of taking a platform and a seemingly uninteresting product line and making it work extremely well. They don’t try to do too much, but do just enough to keep people coming back.
  • Delta on Twitter – One of many examples of getting the most out of an “engagement” channel and actually providing value back to their audience.

And who’s failing? Well, pretty much any brand or entity foisting a hashtag on their followers, expecting it to be used “organically.” Let’s list just a few, shall we: #myNYPD, #McDstories, #RIMjobs, #WTFF. It’s sad to say, but one can sit back and watch brands fail on social media pretty much every day of the week, likely doing so on the advice of these “gurus.”

So, that silver bullet that social media was going to become, allowing message magnification for free and exponential audiences … not really working out as expected. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and more are all implementing monetization models, acting more and more like TV, radio and print (you know, the “old school”), developing content with brands subsidizing content delivery in the hopes of getting their message in front of the right person at the right time. Hakuna matata, no? So there is no need for a social media specialist. Find people that are incredibly good at telling your brand story regardless of the medium.

You wouldn’t pay a “TV specialist” to dole out advice solely on broadcast advertising advice, would you?


Always Included

Not too long ago, our good friends/comrades/clients at launched a new approach to buying glasses online—get the brand-name frames you love, with free lenses. Some of us may have gone a bit crazy (Ray-Bans! Persols! Free shipping!), but we still found time to craft a couple spots taking a playful shot at the traditional retail shopping experience. If you’ve ever bought glasses, you’re familiar with the shock of exorbitant lens prices and add-ons. You probably should also clickety-click your way over to

And, now, the spots:


YouTube Preview Image


YouTube Preview Image


Voltron…and Grace, our amazing intern.


Grace. Where do I start… I feel like interns are most often associated with constant time management and monotonous tasks. You’re busy, you need their help and also want to make their internship worthwhile by sharing your craft with them, but so much time is spent managing tasks and projects it becomes a detriment to both of you. 

However, this is not the case with Grace. Her colorful personality, coupled with her ambitious attitude and ability to efficiently manage her workload, make her the type of intern you dream of. What really makes her shine though is how she naturally became one of the team, immersing herself in our culture, which is not always easy to do. I mean, if you can befriend Pixel Panther you know you’ve made it. (Sorry Dave, I had to…)

Anyways, time flew by, as it always does, and here we are in August with Grace heading back to school. Before she left we had to know what she was going to relate her Struck experience to this time. Last year we were  Seabiscuit and I was truly curious what she would peg us as this time. Of course she didn’t let us down. This go-round we have transcended the legendary racehorse and now embody Voltron.

You see, this is why I love Grace. Keep reading and you may just fall in love with her too:

As a repeat summer intern for Struck, it was déjà vu when I was asked to write a blog post to wrap up my time with the creative agency that stole my heart. Last year I likened Struck to a powerful racehorse, graceful and unbeatable. How was I supposed to top the imagery of Seabiscut this year?  I was having a hard time finding something to compare Struck to this time, so I bribed Dave Bunnel with some green apple Hi-Chews to help me out. Turns out Hi-Chews have a mystical power because Dave introduced me to the perfect combination of my favorite things: retro anime, teamwork, and rocket-powered big cats. Without him I wouldn’t have found the perfect image that illustrates Struck to a tee: Voltron. Now if you’re like me and happen to be uneducated in the awesomeness of this OG Power Rangers, you should check this out. 

Pretty sweet, right?

Like the black, red, green, blue, and yellow lions combine to become a giant super lion-appendaged robot that protects the planet from evil; Struck combines it’s creative, advertising, design, technical, and strategy forces to create such a powerful brand experience that they might well save the world from the forces of bad marketing.

I was once again graced with the opportunity to join the team, and I used this as a chance to draw on everything I learned from my time as Pauline’s shadow. Armed with an arsenal of business appropriate dresses, a list of all the Strucker’s names and photos, and lemon sweet tea from my favorite glass office mug, I joined the Strategy team to research everything from light bulbs to weddings to organic hams. I walked into the office every morning with the goal to save the world and while I wasn’t a robot-lion fighting evil, I was lucky enough to witness the ways Struck transforms the brands that walk through its doors. I never realized how much thought and effort goes into simple brand decisions and I was quickly educated in the inner working of the well-oiled machine Struck is.

I can’t express how grateful I am to have met the kind, intelligent, welcoming, and creative people at Struck and to have worked alongside them. If it wasn’t for Tosh calling me Horse Whisperer, Stevie helping me navigate the Struck server every day, and Scott actually using my name, I wouldn’t have felt as at home in the brightly colored office as I do now. I’m going to miss Chelsie and Susan greeting me every morning, the smell of Brent’s cologne as he went back and forth past my desk and his creativity permeating every room he entered. I’ll miss having a tech master like Jon to help me with every Mac related question I had, and constantly stopping by Jennifer’s desk or emailing Ben for advice, assignments and discussions about what I was discovering in my research. Glancing up from my keyboard to have Pauline and Jeff right across from my desk gave me inspiration to work hard and succeed. I got to work with all the wonderful people of Struck who are the best role models I could ask for.

I’ll hopefully see the wonderful people of Struck next summer, and in the meantime I’ll take everything I learned and apply it to becoming a robot-lion set on saving the world.


Lennar Next Gen


Multigenerational living is a growing trend. Economic challenges, aging parents, the want and need to have family nearby… whatever the motivation, 51.5 million Americans are living in multigenerational housing, and this trend is expected to grow as baby boomers get older.

Lennar recognized a need and created a pretty incredible solution for today’s multigenerational family: Next Gen® – The Home Within a Home. Lennar has enabled families to have the best of both worlds with this concept: a family home built around a separate suite featuring a private entrance, bedroom, bathroom, laundry, eat-in kitchenette and living room, sometimes a separate garage. The benefits of living with your family seem obvious, right? The opportunity to share a mortgage payment, split utility costs, capitalize on a live-in babysitter, have care nearby for an aging parent—the list is endless.

Frankly, though, you’re talking about emotional, life-changing decisions. Some of the most significant decisions you’ll ever have to make in your life. Relocating not one, but two households. Acknowledging that your father isn’t as spry as he used to be. Or that your daughter isn’t yet able to be totally independent. And the decision isn’t something that can ever be sold based on financial benefits, numbers and spreadsheets. That can’t be the “why”.

The differentiator of the Next Gen home is that its been holistically designed to house two families acting as one, not as a glued-on space or a mother-in-law apartment in the basement. Next Gen homes are purpose-built from scratch to be lived in, together.

And so, we arrived at a simple truth: it’s the smallest moments that make the biggest changes worth doing. It’s not the numbers. It’s having your mom teach your own daughter to make the cookies that you’ve loved your whole life. It’s reading quietly together on the porch while the sun sets. It’s getting to have help close by, while also being allowed the dignity of your own living space.

Read More »

3 Minutes with Jill De Haan


Hi everyone! We recently caught up with one of our designers and talented hand-lettering artist, Jill De Haan. Get to know her below and make sure to follow her on Instagram. (Psst…she just got back from Europe and her photos may just be the extra inspiration you need to finally book that European vacation.)

Your work is beautiful. How did you get into design and hand lettering?

Thanks so much! I’ve been drawing and writing things since I could hold a pencil. One of my favorite surfaces to write on? Ballpoint pen on a banana. Seriously – try it before you make fun of me. I have notebooks from high school filled with words written over and over in different styles and I transformed my regular handwriting style three times when in high school. It was fascinating to go to school for design and learn the anatomy and history of the letter – and that passion just continues to grow every day.

Describe the style of your work.

I try to dabble in a bunch of different styles – it forces me to try new mediums and to step out of my comfort zone. But if I had to describe the style that I am most comfortable with, I’d have to say that it falls somewhere between elegant and adventurous. I really enjoy starting with a classic scripty style and then applying an organic medium to it, like pencil, watercolor, or dry-brush acrylic paint.

Where do you draw inspiration?

I am deeply influenced by historical typography and nature and find that the colors and textures of the different seasons make their way into my work quite often.

Is there anyone in the industry in particular that you admire?

Too many to name! There are so many incredibly talented lettering artists out there – I especially love the ones that aren’t afraid to try new things and really hone their craft, like –  Erik Marinovich, Dan Cassaro, Mary Kate McDevitt, and Nathan Yoder, to name a few. But tons more, seriously!

What has made the biggest impact on your work?

Being able to do freelance work has really impacted what I do because it’s always a new challenge. But along with that, I think that doing my own personal projects has helped me explore and build my own personal style, which translates to everything else I do.

Tell us about a favorite project you have worked on recently.

I would have to say the Lululemon mural at Fashion Place Mall. I had tons of freedom and had the opportunity to take the design from the first sketches and concepts to painting it on the brick wall in the store! Such a blast!


Favorite typeface….go!

That’s like asking what your favorite movie is – It is always changing. (But I have to admit, the ultra-nerdy 5 hour Pride & Prejudice will always be in my top 3 movies).


So you recently went on a European adventure for nearly 3 months . What was the most inspiring part of your trip? 

For me, most inspiring part was all of the incredible scenery. I got drunk on scenery every day!