Category: blogposts

02
Jul

Step 2: Why Your Company Needs to Build a Brain Trust

Now that we’ve talked about creative entrepreneurship, let’s build a brain trust, shall we?

It takes more than one person and half an idea, which is why entrepreneurs need to set art, imagination and design loose into the company. One’s particular if not unique talents are small in comparison to a generative, empowered brain trust. By setting talent into motion, they can systematize imagination and let art and strategic design help solve problems collaboratively.

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A company is only as good as its people. For imaginative and capable people, everything is a canvas for the imagination, to paraphrase Thoreau. But with not so capable people, ideas are a punishment to be endured. So, cultivating great talent means not only finding the right people, but also planning and building out a brain trust. As Steven Johnson has argued, most of us walk around with half ideas in our heads; and we need others to test our assumptions, put them into practice and, ultimately, accomplish our visions.

Talent who can create, spread and adopt ideas are integral to a brain trust. They animate the organization’s environment and shape its culture – no wonder creative teams need to be intellectually, creatively and temperamentally diverse. From loud to quiet, left to right-brained, logical to free-form, a blend of perspectives and skill-sets is what makes an exceptional creative team. While the process is a raucous bustle and tussle of talking, arguing and sharing, it’s how truly innovative ideas take root and grow.

We’ve built this into our culture. Transcending the design discipline to include social scientists, MBAs and humanities graduates, our brain trust is unconventionally dynamic and collaborative.

It’s not unusual, for example, for one person to question the purpose of the traditional upfront while another deconstructs a logo from a different perspective or investigates the history of lower thirds, transitions or swipes. As Johnson puts it, “chance favors the connected mind.”

17
Jun

The State of the Industry Remix

Can you see your humans in the clutter of brand work? Photo courtesy of Thomas Brault via unplashed.com

Can you see your humans in the clutter of brand work? Photo courtesy of Thomas Brault via unplashed.com 

While waiting for the venerable Lee Hunt and his annual New Best Practices talk at PromaxBDA, a quote came to mind:

“Branding is the manifestation of the human condition.” –– Wolff Olins

How can a vague psychological term relate to the future of television, let alone programming, bumpers, IDs and promos? But we see a connection between this concept about the human condition and Mr. Hunt’s strategy-oriented observations and analysis of our industry.

The truth is, industry best practices and the state of design spool out from the invisible thread of us humans. It always starts with a curiosity and drive to aggregate and distill information into something usable.

People want to be more than facial hair. Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire via gratisphotography.com

People want to be more than facial hair. Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire via gratisphotography.com

The future of television depends on how well we understand all that is knowable about us humans, particularly the ways science, technology, education, social science and demography tell the story of us.

Do you know how to untangle the thread?

08
May

Get Lost: How Thinking Like a Tourist Can Reset Your Creativity

Paying attention is a radical act in a busy day.

Paying attention is a radical act in a busy day. Photo courtesy of Unsplash/Joshua Earle

Stanley Kubrick once said “Observation is a dying art.” Kubrick was urging artists and creatives to do the increasingly impossible in our cacophonous worlds—pay attention. Sit quietly. Look and observe the small details in our day-to-day lives. Simple, but profoundly difficult.

And, it’s not just external distractions causing us to lose focus, but our own impulses. Ask any artist and they will tell you its the texture of their lives—everything from popular culture, art, television, social media, and nature to the urban life inspires them. But so much possibility for inspiration drives an innate fear of missing out on something that could spark our next idea, innovation and campaign. So embedded are we with sensory overload, we often jump to the next stimulating thought before fully processing the present.

This isn’t a phenomenon specific to our industry either—it’s built into our brains. Neuroscience research confirms that when processing information, our minds are wired to take cognitive shortcuts, we make snap decisions based on what we know. Or rather, what we think we know. So, while, say reading an interview with a creative whose work we admire, our brains are instantaneously cataloging, discarding and scanning over any information they think we already know, causing us to rush through, never really taking in the whole picture.

Henry David Thoreau saw the skill of observation as a matter of will, one that requires our attention to how we see. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Look at the smallest of details, it will yield any number of patterns.

Look at the smallest of details, it will yield any number of patterns.

Inspired by these thinkers and this perspective, Oishii Creative developed an ethos that encapsulates how we brainstorm, create and execute ideas: Think like a tourist.

Think like you are new to a city. Put yourself in the mindset of mild confusion, in an unfamiliar place, perhaps lost and in need of an espresso. Sounds a little overwhelming, doesn’t it? That’s the idea. Thinking like a tourist forces your brain to take in and process new information as it comes rather than skipping over the familiar bits, because, if you can truly put yourself in that mindset, none of it is overly familiar. Outsmarting your thinking habits, the short-cuts you take is key to change your patterns.

Think like a tourist is a phrase and toolkit for us. It’s our pre-whiteboard mindset and process. It’s how we organize our internal process before we upload, work or collaborate with others. We believe the subtle and often overlooked details of how we see, perceive and interact with the world around us can make us better storytellers, innovators.

Let’s go back to the metaphor of travel because it’s an ideal way to explain thinking like a tourist. When most of us travel, disorientation and exhilaration script our movements. We’re contentedly confused, even with GPS, as new patterns and pathways merge into our consciousness. The New York Times “Cultured Traveler” writer Eric Weiner describes the best travel moments as “losing our bearings and finding new ones.”

And what can become activated during travel are our powers of acute observation. As a ‘tourist,’ your attention is amplified, if even for a short time, by everything new around you. From the trees to the people to the graffiti on the buildings, it’s a new din powerfully able to pique your senses.

Once you get acclimated to places, your brain settles back into making cognitive shortcuts as it routinely does when you’re not on vacation. But for those first ineffable hours, all bets are off, jolted from the old and into the new. This is the perspective we apply to ideas.

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Auguste Rodin said it best when he quipped, “I know nothing, I only discover.” Whether you’re in a creative industry, using the world around you to make something new, the keen powers of observations are critical strengths. Art is the constant reinvention of new narratives, layers and meanings, and paying attention is no fool’s errand; it demands your whole person and intelligence.

So, before the next pitch, meeting or brainstorming session, spend some time as a tourist in your own head. Go sit somewhere and get lost, even if it’s just the park around the corner. Take in your surroundings. Embrace the unfamiliarity. Bring it back to the boardroom. And, if you need further inspiration, follow the words of poet Mary Oliver.

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Other photos courtesy of Deathtostock.com

24
Apr

Oishii Creative Welcomes EP Danixa Diaz

Danixa Diaz at the Oishii Los Angeles offices.

Danixa Diaz at the Oishii Los Angeles offices.

Oishii Creative Welcomes Danixa Diaz as Executive Producer

Los Angeles, CA – (April 23, 2015) – Oishii Creative is excited to welcome Danixa Diaz as Executive Producer. She joins the company with two decades of creative, production and design industry experience. In 2012, Diaz founded representation firm “iartists” after spending seven years leading business development at Imaginary Forces. The addition of Diaz represents the next growth phase for Oishii, which has proliferated from a traditional design studio to a multidisciplinary full-service creative solutions studio since it launched in 2002.

“The natural ebb and flow of our industry requires us to constantly adapt,” remarks Ish Obregon, president & chief creative officer, Oishii. “Having known Danixa and her admirable work for many years, I know her blend of energy, vision and direction will compliment Oishii well. She brings invaluable experience and understanding to our team. It’s built on her appreciation of great art and design – and a keen sense of what’s happening in our industry now and what’s on the horizon.”

Likewise, Diaz has long been familiar with Oishii’s award-winning pedigree. She got to know the team better after experiencing their “visually arresting” multi-platform branding package for last summer’s PromaxBDA Conference — an organization for which she served on the board while fostering many professional connections through the years. Pointing to recent branding projects for television networks The Hub and E!, she is eager to parlay Oishii’s talent and capabilities for even more visibility and future success.

“Oishii offers clients a truly collaborative partnership,” adds Diaz. “That comes with not only exceptional creative, but also depth of knowledge and experience in brand strategy. Their long list of repeat clients, like the NFL Network, are a testament to their success in design, but also their ability to merge the disciplines of branding, design and business strategy. As more and more people recognize Oishii as a go-to name for the kind of big-thinking, top-notch creative that elevates brands, my goal is to keep getting that message out.”

From executive producing to business development, Diaz’s deep industry experience spans commercials, broadcast, feature film, gaming and experience design. Her career began in Miami in the mid-90s and took off in Los Angeles when she became Executive Producer at Three Ring Circus. She fondly remembers this period as the birth of today’s mixed-media companies, as they were combining creative solutions from motion graphics to live action – all across new media platforms.

“I simply fell in love with the design and production geniuses who were reshaping our industry back then, many of whom are still leading it today,” says Diaz.

Continuing to align her career with industry pioneers, Diaz went on to lead business development for Imaginary Forces. During her seven-year tenure with the award-winning creative studio, she remembers taking the first call with “Mad Men” Creator Matthew Weiner, who was looking to commission the show’s now legendary, Emmy-honored title design. Diaz would eventually sit on the Emmy Title Design Executive Committee.

Other highlights from Diaz’s diverse and accomplished career include an American Express campaign via Ogilvy, which introduced her to Joan Gratz – one of her biggest influences. The Oscar-winning artist would go on to participate in an all-women creative panel that Diaz organized for the annual PromaxBDA Conference.

In 2012, Diaz spread her wings and launched iartists, which focused on business development for mixed-media clients, including longtime colleague and design luminary Kyle Cooper, (founder of Prologue and co-founder of Imaginary Forces). Following three successful years at the helm of her own company, Diaz found herself eager to return to the stimulation of a collaborative creative environment and fully embed herself within a collective.

“I wanted to go back to my roots and work with a team that had excellent strategy, branding and creative talent, which is what I’ve been invited to be a part of with Oishii,” she concludes. “Between all of our creative goals and mutual perspectives on the industry and its future, Oishii was the obvious partner for my new journey.”

About Oishii Creative:
Oishii Creative is a full-service creative solutions studio. From ideation and strategy to design and production, we distinguish our clients through the relentless pursuit of the next BIG idea. While no ambition is too big or too small, it all boils down to the RIGHT idea for your brand. Our award-winning team is ready to dream with you and create with you.

http://oishiicreative.com

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10
Mar

Think Like A Tourist: Yurt Style

photo courtesy of ChoongChing, Flickr

photo courtesy of ChoongChing, Flickr

Think Like A Tourist: Find A Yurt

Creativity often flows through us and into our projects, campaigns and ideas. Part mystery and part an ability to focus intensely, creativity in popular consciousness remains a murky mystery to most. We may not know what creativity is exactly, but we do know we want it.

Neuroscience continues to pull apart what was once the mythical and peculiar brain activity of ideation, imagination, and creation. Early results suggest a small but powerful shift in our thinking. We should frame creativity through the lens of  “skill” rather than a character-based temperament, nature or disposition. Creativity isn’t something people epitomize or resemble, but a tangible skillset with corresponding characteristics.

And given our traditional definitions, thinkers and educators have focused less on how to sharpen creative thinking skills and more on the best ways to “funnel” our chaotic emotions, thoughts and unconscious snippets.

What cannot be studied or scanned in the neuroscience lab is curiosity. That quality we humans should always have; the desire, interest and hubris to tromp into our world and explore every crevice, and piece of technology or experience around us. #thinklikeayurt

Stepping out of the everyday world of deadlines, habits and our curated digital lives is a vital part of staying curious and interested. Oishii designer Amanda Trovela recently stepped out busy L.A. life and dropped into a yurt in Malibu. Yurts are tent-like structures that come from the ancient Turkic peoples. And while going nomadic isn’t necessarily what we should — or could — be doing full-time, yurt-living is an increasingly popular mode of escape as it is a symbol of individual freedom and clear-headed thinking in an age of enforced distraction.

We think yurt life is an excellent tool to Think Like A Tourist.

Are you ready to reinvigorate and #thinklikeayurt?

 

20
Feb

Clean, Simple and Effective: Five Visual Design Lessons from Edward Tufte

Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Working in visual creative is our profession, so how people see, think and process is at the core of our business. We are devoted to merging design with technology and how people relate to the world. So, of course, we are continuously inspired by data visualization expert Edward Tufte, or the “Galileo of Graphics,” as Businessweek once dubbed him. “ET,” as he calls himself, is an artist, statistician and artist, and Professor at Yale, who’s written, designed and self-published four books on data visualization. He’s worked with everyone from IBM to The New York Times to NASA, all in an effort to better deliver information.

Although ET primarily works in numbers and charts, at the heart of his analysis and lessons, is the universal language of creativity — storytelling. ET may specialize in beautifully expressing data, but at its core, it’s still telling a story, something we’re striving to do every day. And the similarities extend from there. Ultimately, ET has many theories on good design, especially this one, from his book Envisioning Information: “Clutter is a failure of design, not an attribute of information.” Here are five more lessons we can apply from ET’s teachings:

Edward Tufte Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Edward Tufte
Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Allow for Solitude
Tufte is a champion of forcing audiences to “see without words,” which he explains requires a clear mind. In order to achieve this empty state of openness, sometimes, we need solitude, or at least quiet as our brains aren’t very good at multitasking while engaging in deep, contemplative thought and communication. So deep seeing requires a fairly certain serenity of one’s self, but also a serene environment. And in that way, all the brain’s processing power can veto into seeing.

Don’t Dictate How Others See Things
Tufte warns that designers and marketers often underestimate their audiences, and thus attempt to over-explain with their design, which results in unnecessary clutter and labels that stop the audience from having their own reading of the art, instead only seeing what’s been presented to them. Trust in your audience and let them explore your design on their own. You’ll both be much happier.

Don’t Follow The Trends
Tufte has spent his life pursuing the documentation of “forever knowledge,” or guiding principles for design and data visualization that are not dissimilar to scientific principles in that they can be tested and stand the test of time. Tufte doesn’t believe in following design trends; instead, he encourages you to pursue classic designs that can stand the test of time. This isn’t to say that trends are without merit in our industry, but we should carefully pick and choose which, and how, to integrate.

Approach Design from the Outside In
Good design, according to Tufte, can speak to anyone. As mentioned earlier, this doesn’t mean that we should underestimate our audience and present a watered-down version of anything; alternately, we should consider what they really need and design from there, rather than letting the technology dictate the design. So, just because you have access to Oculus Rift doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for all projects.

Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere
ET cites Swiss Alps maps and traffic controllers’ hand signals as two of his favorite, most inspiring visuals. Okay, so maybe for a numbers geek like Tufte a map makes sense, but the fluorescent cones? They’re a language unto themselves; visual communications parsed down to the most clean and simple level allowed for. You never know what’s going to speak to you, so don’t rule any experience out. You may think you don’t have time to go for that morning surf, but when you’re out on the water, rolling with the waves might just be when the much-needed inspiration strikes.

13
Feb

TV & Modern Art

FP_MainTitle_60In the 1940s and 1950s, broadcast television design was very much influenced by art and art movements, popular culture and innovation. Design teams contributed to what Professor of Television Lynn Spigel has called the modern taste wars. Television, in its own mass appeal way, crushed distinctions between high and low art, brought together themes from museums and the streets, and blended new visual experiences altogether into American living rooms. Networks hired renowned pop art and graphically-inclined artists, wanting to project scale and “good taste” to audiences. Early TV pioneers knew the power of television: not only was it a storyteller, capturing and speaking to the American collective consciousness, but it’s also a visually dense medium that has the ability to tap into emotions and engage the senses.

In the 1970s, motion graphics operationalized “taste” culture and art into its larger brand. Graphics and technology became a tool to create identities and compelling ways for audiences to experience a television brand.

With this sort of active art legacy, we already have a throughline into art and popular art movements. That’s why we’re so loving broadcast design that looks back to the roots of art and television while thinking forward. We’ve partnered with E! on many occasions; most recently, for one of its popular series “Fashion Police.” In the show open, the chaos of abstract expressionist and pop art blends with fashion and awards season. We love playing with the legacy of television, sharing so much rich history and inspiration along the way.

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02
Feb

Dare to Aspire: Working at the Intersection of Creativity and Ambition

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

As creatives, we’re always working toward to the next great thing — the next project, the next pitch, the next award. But with our packed schedules and competitive industry, it’s easy to get to caught up in the day-to-day of meetings, deadlines, and output, that we often aren’t able to stop and ask ourselves, “What are we really aspiring to?”

Recently, we completed a new show open for E!’s hit series, “Fashion Police,” and found ourselves focusing on the aspirational nature of fashion for the open’s theme. The fashion industry is driven by an unabashedly honest mandate to be aspirational. As much for designers and brands as for the consumers they create for. Aspiration, along with motivation and inspiration, is a key part of the trifecta that’s essential for any company to grow, but it’s not where we usually place our emphasis in our industry.

As brand marketers and designers, we operate at the intersection of business and creative, equally influenced by both industries. In the business world, the focus is on a very outward, but down-reaching goal of how to increase motivation from interactive programs and books to motivational speakers. In the creative world, we put so much emphasis on where we get our inward inspiration, via conferences and award shows, design annuals and publications. Both have their place, certainly, but without the key ingredient of the forward-thinking key of aspiration, we’re losing an opportunity to focus on long-term change.

We focus so much on motivating employees and inspiring good ideas, but do we really focus on our own aspirations for our company? Maybe we should take a cue from that industry and as entrepreneur Curt Hanke puts it, be a little more “naked with our ambitions.”

But to really be sure we’re incorporating aspiration into our company’s mandate, it’s important to understand how motivation, inspiration and aspiration differ. Motivation is a complex driver that governs much of our life, especially our basic needs. It can be summarised as “the desire to do things.” It can be biological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I’m hungry and need to eat.”) or psychological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because it was due last week, and I don’t want to get fired.”) Within this context, aspiration can be seen as a “long term hope” or “goal.” Your aspirations can motivate you to work hard and get things done to achieve your further reaching goals (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I want to start working on the idea that will make me the next Leo Burnett.”). While inspiration is a sometimes fleeting injection of some higher reaching creative that we’re trying to make accessible on our own level, budget, time or talent-wise.

Aspiration is about raising the bar from within. That’s why it’s important to revisit your aspirations on a regular basis, whether for your career or your company. And, by keeping your aspirations as goals at the forefront of your company’s mission and feeling proud enough to share them with your partners, employees and collaborators, you’re essentially broadcasting your confidence in your own brand. So, even if our wardrobes haven’t changed much since the ‘90s, maybe we should all aspire a little to be more like the fashion industry and reach a little higher.

23
Jan

Think Like An LA Tourist: Slideluck LA

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At Oishii, we believe in philosophies that promote acting more than thinking. Over the years, we’ve come to the conclusion that actions in the world make us better thinkers. Thoughts don’t motivate us to move.

We’ve worked to embrace and build on this ideology through various hashtags — #WriteOutdoors and #ThinkLikeATourist — that immerse us in communities of art, design, writing and science. We like “dense” events where lots of people come together from different disciplines and industries.

Recently, we started off the year attending an event we think could work in Los Angeles: Slideluck. It’s already popular in New York, as well as in other cities around the world.

This past Saturday, Slideluck, which is part slideshow and part potluck, returned to the “Best” Coast for a night of food, fun, music, and art in Hollywood. Slideluck LA VII; joint-curated by Krista Martin, Photo Curator for American Apparel, and Michael Hawley, art collector and former President of the Photographic Arts Council, Los Angeles, found a home at Joan Scheckel’s The Space at 6608 Lexington. Walking into a hexagon-shaped corridor, we experienced a display of lights, images, and movement from perhaps an unexpected inclusive crowd over 300 strong.

At first sight, it looked like a scene-y underground hipster loft party, but a few more steps inside and we found ourselves in front of laughing young children of famous photographers ordering IPA’s for their dads, to fashion-forward elders telling us how gorgeous we are (sweet!), to our curious Uber driver/emerging singer-songwriter who asked if it was cool to participate. He didn’t want to just attend; he wanted to interact, which is exactly the community-building movement behind Slideluck LA. It’s a representation of our creative community in all of its beautiful colors, shapes and flavors. The event was a communal canvas built around a showcase of the photographers’ work and more importantly, provided a judgement- and pretentious-free environment, allowing for first-timers at an underground art scene to feel warmly welcomed.

Events like Slideluck are important for us because we know the value of immersion. Immersion and conversation keep us motivated, sharp and engaged. Scientists call these meetups “collisions” with purpose. Group interactions help people challenge their assumptions. Coming together, even if to listen to music and see art, increases the flow of information into your brain and stimulates neurons. If you discuss work, all the better. Most studies of innovation strongly suggest that talking about your work with others, even if informally, helps you move hunches or ideas beyond early stages of superficial thinking. A place called “initial biases” are where many people often stay, go out and talk to people. Dare yourself to think differently.

L-R: Loro Piana Interiors' West Coast Account Executive Caitlin Griffin & Oishii's Head of Business Development Carlos Penny

L-R: Loro Piana Interiors’ West Coast Account Executive Caitlin Griffin & Oishii’s Head of Business Development Carlos Penny

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16
Jan

The Future of Television

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Jiri Zraly

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Jiri Zraly

Television was once lauded as a groundbreaking medium, but as we’ve entered an age of seemingly exponential growth in media technology, that status has become questionable. Surrounded by competition being broadcast on every screen imaginable – from sources that were previously unimaginable – to some, the perception today is that television has become slow to adapt to technology, and media companies are more interested in competition and gobbling up competitors, or monetizing views rather than charting the future of entertainment.

There are glimmers of truth in these observations, but gleams do not illuminate the totality of change going on in broadcast and cable television. Let’s step back for calculated pause. Perhaps the issue isn’t television’s tepid use of technology, but more our FOMO and impatient mindset as it concerns digital media. Our impatience is blocking our full appreciation of market conditions.

We are bombarded with hourly news about the latest digital and television content deals. We attend industry conferences where everyone is busy speculating about digital and television competition and convergence. And the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is, “when will television catch up with new models of distribution?”

But by focusing on this question, we’re not appreciating the fact that television’s history is still active and ongoing. Also, in our excitement to move forward, we may be overestimating the success of new distribution platforms. Netflix has not shared ratings for its hot shows House of Cards or Orange Is The New Black, but the buzz nevertheless, quickens the tempo of conversations. Our impatience tells us that the content is out there, but . . . what? The buzz amplifies our impatience, which feeds our prevailing mindset.

There are two ways of understanding the future of television, first from the technology side: how to best deliver content whether through VOD, SVOD or over-the-top services. Secondly, through the targeted content side: understanding what type of programming people want to consume. Most consumers are not deeply concerned with the hardware companies that control the physical gadgetry; most would also rather consume interesting and meaningful programming.

From this perspective, it’s the content that seems everywhere, and media companies are the competitive foot-draggers. At a recent New York Television week, a panelist said that there’s endless programmable content out there, but this may be a bit of an overstatement. What is out there are silos of niche audiences. The prevailing logic is that the mother brand, the larger company where television’s legacy still makes it king, is what ties them together.

And while we’re placing so much emphasis on the evolution of digital media, i.e. the second-screen, studies show that, so far, at least, viewers are using new technology either as supplemental or in partnership with traditional viewing, not as a replacement. If we look back in American economic history, during every epoch of industrial transformation, the successful companies made strategic moves while the losers acted too quickly. Caution is not always a losing strategy.

From a brand perspective, television shouldn’t lose sight of audiences, who they are and what they want. Media empires, broadcast and cable companies must forge relationships with audiences, create conversations for smart and busy viewers using new demographic, trends and ethnographic research.

Needless to say, broadcast and cable television is cautiously charting its future, and that future it is happening right now. At this moment, companies are thinking, planning and iterating how to deliver content to anyone, anywhere and across any screen. Amazing opportunities exist. You’ve got to know where to look.


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