THE BLOG

08
Mar

Diversity and the Creative Bubble

Oishii’s Kate Canada Obregon was recently asked to talk about diversity for The Drum News. As you might expect from Oishii, she challenged peers to break creative conceptual bubbles, the safe zones for creating content for audiences. That’s because Diversity demands rich and textured storytelling. Diversity is an ever-expanding story, our collective bundles of history bound together under a geography, country, government and values. Like many stories, diversity contains unexpected twists, turns and has multiple voices. By its very definition diversity, of races, class, religions, genders, experiences don’t simplify neatly into self-satisfying fairy tales.  Diversity is a big story, told in bold compelling ways.  Americans increasingly look to advertising, media and television with a critical eye when it comes to depictions of us and our lives.   No matter how creatively we wrap old stories, audiences want what’s real, varied and different.  Here’s to telling better stories.

09
Feb

As Technology Evolves, Humans Still Want A Good Story.

Recently, our Co-Founder and CCO Ish Obregon shared his thoughts on the state of our industry for POST Magazine’s January print issue. Read on as Ish explains why he thinks our industry is being “compressed”, even as it grows, and how we can best wield technology’s power. 

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If I can describe the state of our industry in one word, it would be compression. The high-end quality VFX once reserved primarily for feature films and TV shows is now a mainstay in other sectors, such as commercials and on-air promos. Financially, it’s become cheaper, faster and easier to create a blockbuster-level VFX for smaller projects.

Recent college grads and others who didn’t have access to the latest technology before are now able to command top VFX jobs, while clients are demanding high-end creators to work at a lower-end pay scale. Everything is increasingly being compressed into this middle ground; however, I see this as a positive. There’s a push for innovation that goes above and beyond the standardization of what was once considered leading edge technology. It forces our industry to develop more practical creative processes, tools and systems, and embrace promising new means of content and platforms, such as VR, AI and data mining for design, and propel the evolution of creative culture.

Promax_Conf_Final PROMAX LOGOS _6_09_16.00_01_40_05.Still007One major area of growth is our deeper understanding of human behaviors, regardless of what technology we use. It’s important for companies to understand the viewer, user or participant’s POV and their psyche, because it all comes back to how you tell the story. You can create a beautiful sci-fi film using the best tools available, but when you combine these visuals with a well-told story, it becomes a much deeper experience that far surpasses the luster and gloss of new technology and VFX. Audiences want to be swept away not only visually, but emotionally. Now, we’re masters of those techniques, but the question is, what are we going to do with them?

I think most companies do a good job of keeping up with technology. However, in order to best wield its power, we must remember that technology can never replace our story — and that tools and tricks should never be our crutch. Only after you’ve established a strong foundation that distinguishes who you are and what you stand for, will technology enhance the narrative journey you create for others. True innovation happens when the forces of culture, creativity and consumerism collide. We’re still telling the same stories we always have, but we’re just using new tools to tell them in a different way.

26
Jan

Mary Tyler Moore and Broad Girls: Why Culture Needs Funny, Strong Women

Broad City

We were saddened to hear of the recent death of Mary Tyler Moore. The following is a previously posted article.

 

This week saw the season finale of two different series about women whose story arcs have been surprising, fresh and appealing, not because they’re shocking in their bad behavior, but in how realistic it is, especially to a Millennial audience that desperately craves authenticity. HBO’s Girls and Comedy Central’s Broad City may not be on-air ratings smashes, but you can be sure that their target audience is binging — perhaps on their laptops or with their parent’s HBO Go passwords; most likely with a second screen in hand, but they are tuning in for the kind of authentic, experience-driven content that marketers should take note of.

Even as ad sales models are shifting in our ever-changing industry, audiences will always be drawn to television, so long as the content feels culturally relevant and speaks directly to them.


Forty years ago, America’s Sweetheart on the small screen was Mary Tyler Moore, a traditionally beautiful good girl, who’d risen to fame playing the eternally patient wife to Dick Van Dyke on his title show, before being granted her own namesake series, which lasted seven seasons and won, at the time, a record-breaking 29 Emmys. From 1970 to 1977,
The Mary Tyler Moore Show appealed to a wide audience of women, especially those who were young and working full-time, because it was one of the first shows to portray an independent, childless working woman who, on top of everything, was succeeding. Mary was smart, driven, hard-working, kind and gorgeous. She had the career, a love life on her terms and strong female friendships, to boot. Mary had it all.

But where Mary succeeded — in both her fictional life and the very real network ratings — by being aspirational, creating something today that appeals to this generation of young working women must be approached differently. Instead of searching for role models, today’s Millennials want authentic and complicated, experience-driven characters.

Which is why the girls of Broad City and the broads of Girls are so appealing to this generation.

They defy inherited expectations about career, clothes and relationships. Which isn’t to say  Abbi and Ilana are dismissive of looking good and having glossy ideal lives, they certainly want careers and love. In their sketch comedy humour is used to hilariously pick apart these expectations.

Unlike Mary, none of them are in truly successful careers, relationships or even necessarily well-dressed. On Broad City, Abbi, the straight-laced of the two, is desperately trying to work her way up at a SoulCycle stand-in that doesn’t fully embrace her, while Ilana, her sexually fluid, polyamorous best friend drifts from job to job as she’s asked to leave each of them. They drink, they get high, and they navigate dating in the era of Tinder and “Hookup Culture” in a way that all feels fresh, and, most importantly, real.

It’s no coincidencegirls that both series were developed by their stars, who took their real-life experiences to parlay them into fictional versions of themselves. In Girls, show creator and star Lena Dunham’s main character, Hannah’s, friendships are as dramatic, if not more than her romantic relationships, something Dunham has said was important to portray in contrast to shows like Sex in the City, which had previously set the standard for portrayals of female friendships among young working women.

Says Dunham, “I kind of also felt like it was aspirational about friendship… for me, that kind of friendship is elusive. I feel like a lot of the female relationships I see on TV or in movies are in some way free of the kind of jealousy and anxiety and posturing that has been such a huge part of my female friendships, which I hope lessens a little bit with age.”

Millennials defy our expectation. Their lives are complicated, messy, exciting and unique. They don’t want to be spoken down to, they don’t even want our encouragement; they want to see themselves, or at least recognizable version of themselves, in their entertainment and even marketing. And as the business of television and how we reach our audiences continues to change, now, more than ever, content of any type has to be more than just marketable and engaging. It has to be real.

26
Jan

Mary Tyler Moore And Broad Girls: Why Culture Always Needs Funny, Strong Women

 

 

Broad City

This week saw the season finale of two different series about women whose story arcs have been surprising, fresh and appealing, not because they’re shocking in their bad behavior, but in how realistic it is, especially to a Millennial audience that desperately craves authenticity. HBO’s Girls and Comedy Central’s Broad City may not be on-air ratings smashes, but you can be sure that their target audience is binging — perhaps on their laptops or with their parent’s HBO Go passwords; most likely with a second screen in hand, but they are tuning in for the kind of authentic, experience-driven content that marketers should take note of.

Even as ad sales models are shifting in our ever-changing industry, audiences will always be drawn to television, so long as the content feels culturally relevant and speaks directly to them.


Forty years ago, America’s Sweetheart on the small screen was Mary Tyler Moore, a traditionally beautiful good girl, who’d risen to fame playing the eternally patient wife to Dick Van Dyke on his title show, before being granted her own namesake series, which lasted seven seasons and won, at the time, a record-breaking 29 Emmys. From 1970 to 1977,
The Mary Tyler Moore Show appealed to a wide audience of women, especially those who were young and working full-time, because it was one of the first shows to portray an independent, childless working woman who, on top of everything, was succeeding. Mary was smart, driven, hard-working, kind and gorgeous. She had the career, a love life on her terms and strong female friendships, to boot. Mary had it all.

But where Mary succeeded — in both her fictional life and the very real network ratings — by being aspirational, creating something today that appeals to this generation of young working women must be approached differently. Instead of searching for role models, today’s Millennials want authentic and complicated, experience-driven characters.

Which is why the girls of Broad City and the broads of Girls are so appealing to this generation.

They defy inherited expectations about career, clothes and relationships. Which isn’t to say  Abbi and Ilana are dismissive of looking good and having glossy ideal lives, they certainly want careers and love. In their sketch comedy humour is used to hilariously pick apart these expectations.

Unlike Mary, none of them are in truly successful careers, relationships or even necessarily well-dressed. On Broad City, Abbi, the straight-laced of the two, is desperately trying to work her way up at a SoulCycle stand-in that doesn’t fully embrace her, while Ilana, her sexually fluid, polyamorous best friend drifts from job to job as she’s asked to leave each of them. They drink, they get high, and they navigate dating in the era of Tinder and “Hookup Culture” in a way that all feels fresh, and, most importantly, real.

It’s no coincidencegirls that both series were developed by their stars, who took their real-life experiences to parlay them into fictional versions of themselves. In Girls, show creator and star Lena Dunham’s main character, Hannah’s, friendships are as dramatic, if not more than her romantic relationships, something Dunham has said was important to portray in contrast to shows like Sex in the City, which had previously set the standard for portrayals of female friendships among young working women.

Says Dunham, “I kind of also felt like it was aspirational about friendship… for me, that kind of friendship is elusive. I feel like a lot of the female relationships I see on TV or in movies are in some way free of the kind of jealousy and anxiety and posturing that has been such a huge part of my female friendships, which I hope lessens a little bit with age.”

Millennials defy our expectation. Their lives are complicated, messy, exciting and unique. They don’t want to be spoken down to, they don’t even want our encouragement; they want to see themselves, or at least recognizable version of themselves, in their entertainment and even marketing. And as the business of television and how we reach our audiences continues to change, now, more than ever, content of any type has to be more than just marketable and engaging. It has to be real.

06
Jan

7 Reasons Why Introverts Are Your Secret Weapon

Although businesses, especially creative ones, are full of myriad personalities, when talking about how to manage, we tend to group people into two main types – extroverts and introverts. And, while every strong team can benefit from a balance of both, we tend to value and admire the outwardly expressive personality types, projecting them with positive qualities such as warmth, confidence, and intelligence, overlooking their more introspective peers.

That’s big mistake, according to our Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder Kate Canada Obregon, who shared her insights with Everyday Power in her article “7 Reasons Why Introverts Are Your Secret Weapon.” Read the full article here and find out how introverts can capitalize on their secret strengths.

22
Dec

Relax Your Brain with a Staycation in Style

It’s the holiday season and the end of another year. You’ve probably got loads of work projects waiting for your attention in 2017 and meetings stacked and scheduled deep into January. The client wants your ear, while office problems demand your know-how and problem-solving skills.

But, the supply chain, the creative teams, the leadership retreat and the new product release can wait. Now is the time to stop and retreat. Yes. Retreat into the waiting outdoors or, if weather’s an issue, take a tumble into the inviting coziness of your living rooms. The adventure of quiet awaits.

Your whirling and multitasking brain needs time doing little beyond daydreaming, pausing and refreshing. The neuroscience and cognitive benefits of time away from our overthinking work lives are clear. Your brain requires quiet, calm and loads of free space to revive and look at things differently.  So, hunker down with family, friends and binge a few shows, but don’t forget to overindulge in nothing in particular.

We’ve curated some of the great aesthetic escapes of the last couple decades as our way to inspire you to do nothing, albeit always with style.

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01
Dec

Better Together: How Introverts and Extroverts Can Leverage Their Skills for a Stronger Workplace

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you get your best ideas while talking to others or do you prefer quiet time processing your thoughts? Whatever your personal disposition, if you’re charged with leading others, or you want to move into managing others, you’ve got to understand introverts and extroverts, and how they do their best work.

Let’s define what we mean by Introverts and Extroverts. According to Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs, and their now-famous Myers Briggs [Personality] Type Indicator, we tend to fall along a spectrum of personality and behaviors called Introverts and Extroverts. As the names imply, both use their inner and outer worlds differently in their thinking, learning and interaction styles. Introverts are more inclined to delve into inner worlds of thoughts and feelings while extroverts prefer outside stimulation with activity and talking. Introverts prefer less outside activity and draw meanings in their minds from these experiences. Extroverts focus on feeling experiences and figure out meaning in experiences.

Many psychologists and organizational behaviorists tell us introverts and extroverts don’t always understand one another’s communication style. These confusions can lead to unproductive meetings, unnecessary conflicts and decreased productivity.   

If you’re managing or leading teams, understanding personality and knowing the value of introverts and extroverts, will not only garner you respect from employees, but it can also increase productivity, and improve the quality of work products, and conflict resolution.

Consciously appealing to different personalities also improves morale, because we humans work best, and are happier, when we feel understood and respected. And the bigger truth is that we can’t avoid it.  All of us are born somewhere on the introvert / extrovert spectrum and the key is making the most of how these two personality types can best work together.

We carry with us stereotypes about introverts versus extroverts. Sometimes, the reality in every meeting proves our bias. So for instance, extrovert-oriented talkative types speak often, displaying confidence while quieter types listen, conveying inactivity in meetings or brainstorming work sessions.

As Susan Cain argued in her bestseller, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” introverts are forced to work against the “Extrovert Ideal — the omnipresent belief, the gregarious, alpha (who is) comfortable in the spotlight.” It’s easy to buy into the Extrovert Ideal and default to idealizing their personality as the best approach to leading initiatives. But, while extroverts can provide a burst of energy and take the initial reins, introverts have equally valuable contributions to make.

We need extroverts to kick things off and bring a fresh energy to the room. If you’ve ever sat in a meeting where no one wanted to speak up, then you know what a relief it is to have that person who’s willing to go first or just “spitball.” However, it’s important to remember that while introverts may be sitting there quietly, they are actually quite engaged. The truth is they may just be taking it all in. Introverts are internal facing, meaning they can absorb and consider facts, and combine ideas in their head, which they may verbally express at a later time.

Another way these personalities balance each other out is through their approach to thought. While extroverts tend to express their ideas as they think of them, often trying to get a better grasp on what they’re actually saying, an introvert can listen to what an extrovert is saying and summarize what they’re really thinking. Sometimes, an extrovert is able to inspire an introvert, and an introvert is able to give the extrovert focus and structure.

As stated earlier, we often look to extroverts to jumpstart the energy of a meeting, but during long meetings or brainstorming sessions, extroverts can sometimes extend themselves into exhaustion. It’s the introverts who can save the day by swooping in and bringing energy back to the room.

It can be challenging to operate in a business environment where we tend to default to the loudest or quickest ones to talk to lead the conversation, but it’s important to remember that both extroverts and introverts have their own unique advantages and resources. They can actually strengthen each other. In the end, we’re all just trying to make ourselves heard, even if we go about it in different ways.

28
Oct

Goodbye Vine: What We Learned from Vine Sensation Ian Padgham

In honor of yesterday’s news that Twitter will be shutting down the 6-second video platform Vine, we wanted to revisit our interview with Vine artist sensation and Twitter animator/producer Ian Padgham, where he gave us insight into how we can all be more creative, even in 6 seconds. 

At Oishii Creative, we believe design thinking can’t be constrained; it fuels innovation and helps us think big. In our Think Like A Tourist series, we explore life at the intersection of creativity, thinking and technology. We recently asked Vine artist sensation and Twitter animator/producer Ian Padgham about what inspires him, and how he makes six seconds feel so dramatic, engaging and big.

What artists or music inspires you in your work? Why?
Albrecht Dürer, M.C. Escher, Bill Watterson, Bob Ross.

When did you start working on the Vine platform? What attracted you to it?
The day it came out. I liked the ability to produce content immediately and share it just as fast. Nothing saps the creativity and joy out of a project like months of meetings and revisions.

How does Vine compare to other mediums?
While Vine is little more than animated GIFS with sound, there is something truly special about the platform. This is partly due to the community, and partly due to the fact that, at least initially, it was a production toolkit with incredibly limiting parameters. That has since changed, but I think the ethos of DIY ingenuity continues to set the tone.

Which project do you find most inspiring and creative?
Projects that have no precedent and no goal other than creating something delightful and different.

What inspires you as an artist? Where do you find your stories to capture/tell?
I’m not a huge fan of the word inspiration. It feels like it’s saying that something out there is giving us a hint of what is cool, like we need to find a muse that will show us the way. I think stories and ideas just come from letting our minds off their leashes and letting them roll around in the park.

In 2013, observers pointed out that Vine was built on “constraints.” It allows you make edits and stitch them together for a story. You’ve worked out Vine’s constraints and taken shots and motion into a new medium. What does your process look like?
It depends on the Vine. Some Vines I make up as I go along, literally letting the animation flow out frame by frame without forethought.

20
Oct

Clarity Builds Strength: How Brand Transparency Builds Consumer Loyalty

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Reviewing their inspiration board. Via CNBC.

We loved working with the Flex Watch founders and their investor, Marcus Lemonis, on a recent episode of this season’s CNBC’s series “The Profit.” When we met with team Flex, our role was simple — re-aligning the brand, which was faced with a tangle of confusing advertising and slumping sales. Like many businesses, Flex launched strong, but lost its way in the clutter of market competition. When they launched in 2010, the company, whose tagline is “Time to Make a Difference,” had a clear vision and purpose-driven direction. They offered 10 colors of watches, donating 10% of the profits to 10 set charities. A straightforward and well-defined approach that saw strong company growth for the first two years. But as Flex caved to market pressure and begun expanding their offerings to include more expensive items and redirecting their market to a newer “hip” consumer base, sales began to falter.

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Flex Watches pitching Flip Flop Shop. Via CNBC.

As the episode showed, the team struggled to find solutions; however, with renewed focus and outside help, the team was able to connect back with its authentic, essential brand, telling its story with purpose.

The Flex team problems aren’t unique. Losing sight of brand story and an overarching vision and mission aren’t just the problems of early days of frenetic start-ups, they can happen at any stage of growth. Take for instance, behemoth brand McDonald’s. With weak sales and sluggish growth, the fast food giant needed a way to re-shape public perceptions. With the launch of the global digital campaign, “Our Food Your Questions,” the company hopes to remind customers of its original brand promise of quality fast food. Will today’s nutrition-smart eater trust the brand to deliver its promise? It’s probably too soon to tell. But we can generalize that messaging reminders and repeats of brand values or promises do not pivot a brand for growth or spark nutrition, dietary or food conversations the public cares about.

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Marcus Lemonis and the Flex Watches team. Via CNBC.

Some companies align brand, story and message tightly, gaining competitive advantage without sacrificing history, essence and identity. Southwest Airlines, for example, has built its brand around trust from its niche origins as a low-cost air carrier. By positioning itself outside the mainstream largess of other commercial airlines, the company has developed loyalty and trust while also using brand story to broaden conversations beyond ticket prices. With its “Transfarency” campaign, Southwest adds layers into its brand history while leading a conversation people want and care about.  

These case studies illuminate the importance of aligning brand fundamentals. Cast your brand story too far away from your vision, mission, values, and personality, and you’ll soon lose your place with audiences. Maybe McDonald’s can afford a “do-over” in the public’s mind, but not all companies have unlimited talent, money, and resources to create a cultural reinvention. Besides, consumers today tend to see right through such messaging-cum-brand story. Athletic clothing line Lululemon has yet to regain the trust of its once passionate brand loyalists. Once its CEO lashed out at his target consumers about the “right” kind of bodies fitting into its yoga pants — poof! He went all the way “downward dog” and lost brand trust (and his job), while the company’s stock and its brand story took a hefty hit and has never fully recovered.

That’s because we’re living in an age of brand transparency. Consumers expect a real partnership with companies, more than marketing. It means doing research and matching core brand offerings to what consumers want, need and value. They’ll buy from you so long as you make their lives better, even a teensy weensy bit. It means giving consumers key information about the brand, company, and products, which is often achieved through the brand personality. It’s giving a peek into not just how the business “works,” but long exchanges with the values and passions of the founders and the company. And if this isn’t authentic or genuine or transparent, like the Flex Watches before their brand pivot episode, you’ll find yourself adrift amidst the competition.

07
Oct

Five Minutes With – Kate Canada Obregon, PhD

As the Co-Founder, Partner and Director of Strategy and Research of Oishii Creative, Kate Canada Obregon has been with the company from the beginning, since co-founding it with her business partner, and now husband, Ish Obregon, in 2006. Read on as she offers her insight into what the company’s philosophy, “Think Like a Tourist,” means for her, what inspires her, and what she really does all day.

How do you “Think Like a Tourist” (how do you embody that philosophy for yourself)?
For me, “Thinking Like a Tourist” is not only our company mantra, but truly my experience coming into this industry. I had such an outside background that I feel I’ve been able to bring some fresh perspective and understanding to the world of branding. I originally studied political philosophy and culture at university. The more I studied and researched, the more I began to see the small, but powerful, tools people used in culture, language, and perspective — how culture and institutions in society are in a perpetual conversation.

While working in a basement library archive, researching and examining a replica of the Bayeux Tapestry and William the Conqueror’s attempt to win over his new English subjects after defeating the beloved King Harold in 1066, a friend gave me career advice. “You should try out the field of brands,” she said. I looked at her, and we both had a good laugh. “Why not apply your knowledge to different kinds of problems? You know history and science,” she urged. “You should think about applying your skills and passion to more contemporary problems.” And as I completed my PhD studies, I began meeting with creative agencies doing interesting work in strategy, and I was curious and inspired. Around this time, I met Ish, and we immediately clicked. He wanted to shape “branding” into a standalone and serious discipline for his clients, separate from the function and process of marketing, and I wanted to apply social science to study audiences and culture. I wanted to be a “social” scientist, not just study culture for science.So, luckily for me, I still apply my background and outside approach to the industry, and I get to “Think Like a Tourist” everyday — creating actionable strategy and insights using science and good data for companies and brands committed to understanding what their audiences or clients like, want or value.

What do you do when you’re feeling creatively blocked?
Get outside! Even if it’s just for a short walk, getting yourself moving and exposed to fresh air, sunlight and a new environment can jumpstart your creativity.

What three elements would a perfect day include?
Definitely time with my family, a project that I can sink my research teeth into, and maybe a really good cup of coffee.

What do you do all day?
Today, my days are spent working on the strategy and research side of projects at Oishii. As each client comes in, I study their brand, goals, and needs, and help them figure out where they want to go. It’s been a great fit, because like any academic, I’m obsessed with pursuing good knowledge whatever the project or outcome. In my former academic self, I couldn’t have understood English history using hearsay or bad science, and today, my clients deserve no less. Strategy for me is the ongoing pursuit of what makes companies and brands pleasurable for audiences, and that should always involve history, science and rigor.

Do your family understand what you do all day?
Well, my co-founder, Ish Obregon, is also my husband, so I would hope so!