All the World’s a Stage, or an Ad Agency:

All the Worlds a Stage, or an Ad Agency:

Three reminders from a graphic designer turned theatrical director for a week

The first two things I say when someone asks me to tell them about myself are 1) I’m a graphic designer, and 2) a theater kid. Yes, these jazz hands design, and last week, I was able to switch from the screen and pick up a script to co-direct a production of Madagascar Jr. in Seattle, Washington. Together with the creative team, we piloted a group of 13 young performers through acting, singing and dancing for this production. 

This was the first time I have directed since beginning to work full time as a graphic designer. I was able to look at the world of theatre, something I’ve known my whole life, with a designer’s eye. Reflecting on this experience, here are three things I rediscovered that hold true in both the Theater and Advertising world. 

The Influence of Clear Direction

More often than not, mounting any kind of theatrical production requires a rigorous schedule in order for the show to go on. In that rush of creation and direction, it is too easy for your brain to run faster than your words. 

Last week, I was directing a young man in a scene. I was in the zone, and the scene was coming together nicely in my head (and was working out reasonably well on stage too). During the final lines of the scene, I told him to run off stage left, while pointing to the right. 

He didn’t move. 

He was doing the thing where a spooked deer stands in the middle of the road and won’t move out of the way and it started to make me a little frustrated.

I told him again to move left while pointing right, sure this time he would do exactly as I said, but he looked to his left and right and then to me, the headlights getting closer and closer. 

It was at this moment I realized my failed communication. We laughed for a moment, I apologize, gestured to the left and he went on his merry way. 

I wondered how many times at my desk I haven’t taken the time to make sure I was clear. In advertising, it’s easy for everything to feel like it needed to be done yesterday. If I would have taken 30 more seconds with that email, or thinking through my question, I bet I could have saved 30 minutes of confused emails or phone calls. Plus, I would avoid deer-in-headlights confused co-workers trying to decipher my direction. Win win for everyone. 

Know Your Audience

Can you be eight years old and steal the whole show by knowing your audience for one scene? Absolutely. She was a little old lady that entered, hit the main character with her purse and sauntered off the other side. That was it. But she didn’t treat it as a small role. She took her sweet old lady time, swinging her hips and wobbling the cane as she took the longest, most hilarious time to walk off stage. 

She knew her audience. 

She knew that with the right timing, the right choices, and utilizing her props, she could find the best placement for comedic impact. See the connection? There is an instinct when it comes to performing for an audience. The funniest comedians know more than what their audience probably likes and dislikes, and listens to the reactions in the room to foster deeper laughter.

In my experience, the best designers do the same thing. Designers that intentionally think past what they might like or dislike and instead focus on the response of their target audience communicate much more effectively. This makes their audiences stop and process their work. Now if you get applause for an ad you make, let me know what you’re doing, because you’ve done something magical, but accolades and awards or not, it truly pays to think about your audience. 

Be on the Same Stage

One of the biggest lessons we try to teach young actors: Be on the same stage. 

What this means is to be aware of the actors on stage with you and recognize that everyone on the stage should be working towards the same goal of a successful production. No one should try to upstage, sabotage, or do anything they are not supposed to. By emphasizing teamwork and collaboration, kids become aware of the people on stage with them, and less angry when accidents happen, because it’s up to everyone to fix it. 

In the same line, being on the same stage as your co-workers gets rid of comparison, competition, and builds community. If there is a problem that happens, we are all ready to jump in and help when asked. This doesn’t mean solving other people’s problems all the time. It means that they know you are in the wings. It means you have their backs and get through the show together. 

It takes all the actors to make the show work. It takes all the team members to make an agency work. 


Jessica Cale

Author

Nick Bringhurst

Drama-Free Designer

The Time Where Jessica Went Camping

The Time Jessica went Camping

It started in April when my fiance texted saying that he was thinking that we should go camping sometime. “It will be fun,” he promised. “You’ll love it.”  

Or maybe it started last May when I agreed to go on a date with the aforementioned Idaho boy. 

Either way, it was happening. And this indoorsy girl was equal parts excited and nervous about the entire endeavor. I wasn’t sure how my dog, another deeply indoorsy creature, was going to react to a deeply, in-the-great-outdoors-this-is-actually-bear-country sort of situation (spoiler: she was more bugged by the other humans than the moose that was 30 feet from our campsite). 

On a Friday afternoon in June we packed up the 4Runner and headed up to Teton Canyon Campground. We stopped at Huck’s in Swan Valley for square ice cream cones and spent a good chunk of the ride saying, “Look at that!”, “ooh, that’s really pretty”, and “What! World! You’re showing off!”

After camp was set up, a process that was pretty quick when you’re just setting up a two man tent and an air mattress in the backseat of the car, then the best part of camping started: the still quiet of rustling aspen leaves and nothing specific to do. I worked on making peg people crayons that I quickly decided to gift to everyone in the office upon my return. I read from a novel. I relished the fact that my phone was off and in the glove compartment, enjoying the break from relentless sound from the world. We made delicious food and probably ate a few too many s’mores. 

Saturday was very much the same, quiet and still, with a few games of Canasta mixed in for good measure when it wasn’t too windy or drizzling. We were just about fully settled in when the Camp Host came up our little hill and told us that there had been a bear in the campground last night and with an abundance of caution they had decided to close for the night. 

Apparently Smokey the Bear wasn’t about preventing forest fires that night and instead was about knocking a guy out of his hammock and trying to get into a tent. With those details in hand, we were more than okay to pack up our things and get back on the road home. 

1000 unplugged hours check-off chart I spent the drive home contemplating how to give myself the serenity of camping, that space of disconnection from notifications and social media stories, in my everyday life. For some people, it might have been enough to say, “I’m going to stop being on my phone so much.” and that would be enough. 

I am not one of those people. 

I need something more. I considered building a little diorama with a small tent where my phone could go when I needed a break, a physical reminder that I was out of the connected-to-everyone-and-everything office as it were (this still isn’t entirely off the table). I’m starting here though: a commitment to spend 1,000 hours unplugged in the next year, with a poster to track my progress and keep me accountable. 

I’m not sure about what exactly I’ll do with those 1,000 hours, but I imagine that there will be more books read, better conversations with the people I love the most, time to create instead of consume, and more looking up and around the world. If you want to play along, we’ve included the poster for you here. 

Overall, this very indoorsy girl ended up loving her time in the Tetons, even if there are bears who sometimes push people out of hammocks. And in the indoorsiest of days and months, I’m committed to find that same camping tranquility tucked into fifteen minute moments and lazy Saturday afternoons. 


Jessica Cale

Author

Jessica Cale

Designer/Fontographer extraordinaire

Sieze Summer by the Horns

SEIZE SUMMER BY THE HORNS

To say summer is short in Idaho is an understatement [wasn’t it just spitting snow?] Making the most of every minute is what it’s all about! Luckily, we get to work with some of the coolest people on the planet, and if you’re looking to make this summer one to never forget, read below for the myriad of ways we’ve been inspired by them to seize summer by the horns.

Engage in the true meaning of Memorial Day and head to Freeman Park in Idaho Falls for an indelible experience for you and the entire family. Walk among one-thousand American flags at the 10th Annual Field of Honor and also visit the Vietnam War Memorial. Brought to you by our friends at the Bank of Idaho and volunteers at the Exchange Club of Idaho Falls.

The sky’s the limit: Explore Idaho with help from our outdoor loving friends at Rexburg Motorsports. They have identified some amazing trails and areas that are within a day’s drive. There’s so many trails to ride in Eastern Idaho that the fun can go on forever! Getting started is the hardest part, but you’ll get real-deal help from folks who know the Idaho backroads like the back of their hands. Dirt bikes, four-wheelers, or side-by-sides, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy during long summer days.

There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting around the campfire and telling stories. If you LOVE to head to the high country like we do, Iron Horse RV and Trailers can put you on the path of family traditions where you can finally unplug and recharge your own batteries. 

The employees at Bank of Idaho are always finding ways to enhance summer and the memories that go with it. From baseball, to rodeo and everything in between they’re grabbing that Idaho outdoor spirit and making it accessible for all. 

The takeaway? Summer is here and gone in the blink of an eye. Get out there and live your best life! 

JORDYNN SHAW

Author

Jordynn Shaw

Digital Media Coordinator

MCS Mixtape: Saucy Spring Mix

MCS Mixtape: Saucy Spring Mix

We don’t know about you, but we are very ready for warmer weather and sunnier days (if Idaho will allow it). And what better way to embrace these next few months than to queue up a fresh spring playlist to jam out to during your next spring cleaning project or outdoor gathering.

Listen to the playlist here, or check out individual tracks below:

Jordynn: It’s Gonna Be Me by NSYNC

Jessica: Sun by Two Door Cinema Club

Stephanie: Toes by Zac Brown Band 

Lisa: Avant Gardener by Courtney Barnett

Dave: Stickshifts and Safetybelts by Cake

Steve: Chaise Lounge by Wet Leg

Nick: On and On and On by ABBA

Kayla: Highway Tube by Greta Van Fleet

Matt: Indestructible by Disturbed 


MCS STAFF

Authors:

MCS Staff

2022 GEM Awards

2022 GEM Awards

Team MCS banded together with a game strategy in mind, and for this round at least — came out alive. We were able to navigate the challenges, and even fared well enough to be offered a full buffet of food for our efforts. [iykyk]

Squid Games aside, the annual Idaho Falls Ad Federation Gem Awards help set the barometer for great creative on the eastern side of Idaho. We were proud to have taken home a pile of awards (most awarded with 11 trophies!) and pick up some great ideas (logged away for next year’s comp.) Thank you to IFAF for hosting a great event, and to our fellow challengers for pushing to new heights — we’re honored to be included among the other game survivors.


MCS STAFF

Authors:

MCS Staff

MCS’ Big Night Out

Big night out

As a local business, we love to get out and support our fellow small businesses when we can. We had the best time at our latest MCS outing at a recent Idaho Falls Symphony Red Dress Concert: Rhapsody in Blue.

We dusted off our party pants and made a group outing to the Idaho Falls Symphony’s annual Red Dress Concert. It was their first time in front of a live audience since the beginning of the pandemic and it was a doozy.

Here’s a tip: if you ever get a chance to see a live performance of Rhapsody in Blue, jump on it. Guest pianist Roberto Plano fronted the IF Symphony, and together with Maestro Thomas Heuser they absolutely burned the house to ashes. It was office buzz at MCS for days after.

As a creative agency and a local business, we’re lucky to have such inspiration so close at hand. It has us all looking forward to our next big night out.


MCS STAFF

Authors:

MCS Staff

7 steps to swagcess in 22

7 steps to swagcess header image

7 Steps to Swagcess in ‘22

A how-to list

  1. Start Early
  2. Way early. This allows time to order samples and get a true feel for the product before placing an order. The development of creative design that includes a great item accompanied by a strong campaign can take much longer than it looks from the outside. In the land of swag, the early bird gets the best merch and isn’t forced into a corner because of availability and production time.

    1. Seek Items Trending in Pop Culture…
      or it’s okay to stick with a “Tried-and-True but better/i.e. current”
    2. This Year’s Forecast: Personalized Ice Cubes (any bar-ware for that matter), wireless chargers, custom blankets, a tilemate e-tracker, and even balaclavas are FASHION this year

      Tried and True Coming to Clients Near You: latest styles of hats/hoodies/jackets in slim designs & athletic fabrics, mugs, water bottles, and chapstick — but elevated to next level, expanding wearability and keep-ability.  

      Past Hits: Wrist-bands, pop-sockets, fleece vests, facemasks …

      1. Know Your Demo

      Listen carefully and your audience may even walk into your business and tell you exactly what they would love. If the swag isn’t something your audience will embrace and use, then you’ve missed the point. Use what you know about your clients and teams to choose the swag that they’re missing. Solve a problem for them or make something about their everyday lives’ easier.

      1. It’s an Investment, Not a Throw-Away

      Change your mindset on swag. A meatier budget will not only increase the recipient’s positive impression of your business, but it will also allow you to be more creative and original with your choices. 

      1. Swag, but With a Twist

      Be creative with the treatment of your logo within your brand guidelines. Don’t be afraid to utilize all of your brand elements, including textures and patterns. Your standard logo is great and is often an excellent choice, but consider alternatives as well.  Elevate your item by digging deeper into the possibilities available within your brand vision.

      1. Delight Employees & Clients with Kits

      Kits are a clever compilation of multiple gift items based around a theme; think of a theme and run with it. An example: maybe your night crew could use an extra nod of appreciation with a bespoke and fully-branded kit including a sleeping mask, herbal tea and mug, honey, woven blanket, heated pillow, lavender oils and a foot roller massager so they can catch up on good sleep during the day.

      When it comes to employee welcome and retention packages, go all out. Use the swag as a chance to genuinely say thank you to the crew that shows up for you day in and day out. This same principle applies to client gifts. Ask yourself, “what would make this really stand out?”

      1. Presentation is Part of the Process

      You might be surprised at what a difference a printed box or even brand colored tissue paper can make in the experience of receiving swag. Excellent swag not only speaks to the audience when opened, but when wrapped as well.


      Jessica Cale

      Author

      Jessica Cale

      Designer/Fontographer extraordinaire

Problem Solvers Pandemic Edition

 

MCS Blog header - Wearing our Victory Cape

Problem Solvers: Pandemic Edition

Businesses come to a full-service agency like ours for creative out-of-the-box ideas. Necessity is the mother of all invention, right!? Some of our best, and most creative work happens within constraints caused by the highly specific needs of our clients — let alone while reacting to recent challenges caused by the pandemic. This last year we’ve worked with our clients in innovating, exploring and tackling each new challenge as they manifested. Seeing the results of our efforts and success for our clients fuels our desire to wear our victory capes every day. A whole-hearted thanks to them for entrusting our MCS Advertising team. 


Rexburg Motorsports: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Rexburg Motorsports thumbnail image: Snow machine on sand

Problem: No Dirt Vehicles in Stock During Dirt Season

Solution: It’s Christmas in July! Nothing says fun and unexpected like mountain sleds on the sand dunes in a creative video showcasing available snowmobile stock. This video campaign allowed Rexburg Motorsports to offer what they did have available, despite snowmobiles not being “in season.”


Community Family Clinic Logo Community Family Clinic: Rebrand, signage, There’s a Doc for That

Problem: New Building, Needed More Patients 

Solution: We created a new look, media plan, website and awareness campaign offering a full-spectrum of medical services driving patients with little or no insurance coverage to the Community Council of Idaho’s newest 5C3 non-profit clinic. The next problem to solve: where to park now that people know There’s a Doc for That.


Modern Home: Look 4 Less campaign Modern Home

Problem: Supply Chain Challenge 

Solution: Pivoting from pushing potentially frustrating specific price and item specials that were in short supply, we opted to show how full of merchandise Modern Home is; taking the pressure off of individual furniture pieces by featuring storewide interior footage. While folks were stuck at home, re-integrating fresh video into the advertising strategy helped propel Modern Home to a happy ending for 2021.


Shepherd's Inn: Win the WHOLE Cow Shepherd’s Inn

Problem: Reach & Exceed Fundraising Goals

Solution: After our 2020 virtual campaign raised a little over $12,000, we were determined to reach the $15,000 goal for 2021. We freshened up the campaign look and used everything we had learned last year to reach our goal. We felt like we had won the whole cow and more when Shepherd’s Inn exceeded their goal this year.


MCS STAFF

Authors:

MCS Staff

Cultivating a gratitude attitude

 

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude

Overheard at MCS HQ on a gray and gloomy Monday afternoon as October slipped into November: 

“I just really think we should send them a thank you card. I know that technically they hired us and we work for them, but they’ve been so great to work with, and I just want to say thanks.”

I’m fairly new here, and hearing that brief exchange while my co-workers finished their lunches gave me yet another reason to be sure that these are my kind of people and working here is exactly where I want to be. 

Gratitude is scientifically proven to increase our satisfaction and happiness.

thank-you card illustration

While most of the conversations around gratitude that happen in November circle around our closest relationships, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if gratitude became a foundational piece of the relationships we form with our employees and customers. How would employees who get daily practice in expressing gratitude feel about showing up to work? What kind of impression would it make on our customers if we decided to intentionally thank them for their support? 

I have my hypotheses about the goodness that would follow- the loyalty that would be shored up, the relationships created. I know from experience the way that joy would increase and the perspectives that would shift on a tectonic level simply from practicing gratitude.  

We have all sorts of ideas of ways you could thank your people, from social media shout outs to the coolest swag this side of the Mississippi, we’ve got you covered. We’re also pretty big fans of taking a moment to just sincerely say, “thank you” no frills or bells necessary. 

So to you, our people, thank you. Thank you for being part of our MCS family. We love that we get to be part of this community and are so excited to cheer you on as you achieve your goals and watch your business grow. Thank you for being here with us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Jessica Cale

Author

Jessica Cale

Designer/Fontographer extraordinaire

Avoid Woke-washing

Avoid Cause-washing

Cause-Washing animationAs different causes take the center stage for their respective seasons, it can be tempting for brands to maintain relevance by applying a splash of color behind their logo for pride month or slapping a pink ribbon on their social media posts in October. The practice of “cause-washing” starts down a slippery slope into losing consumer trust, ending on the cancellation express. Performative allyship is out. Accountability and action are IN!

So how do you market and interact with the general public while steering clear of the inevitable muck that follows painting yourself a different color every time the opportunity arises? 

Know Your Brand Values

Consider your current business practices, then evaluate to see if your current choices are in alignment with your values. If you value conserving resources, what are you currently doing as a business that reflects that? Is there something that you could adjust to be in better alignment with your values? Choose your causes based on your values.

Only Highlight Causes that You Are Actively Doing Something About

You might actively contribute and support a cause by having a donation jar, donating portions of proceeds, or hosting some kind of fundraising event. The possibilities are endless. Just be clear about who and how you are contributing before popping that pink background onto your marketing materials. 

Be In Conversation with Your Target Audience

Make sure to take the time to educate your audience about the causes that you support. Seek to highlight the voices of people who are experts in those areas. Use social media, email lists, and other points of contact to help increase awareness and share resources during the month and throughout the year. 

As you authentically engage with your audience both in conversation and marketing, you will foster a community of loyal consumers and increase your ability to create a positive impact for those causes you care about.


Jessica Cale

Author

Jessica Cale

Designer/Fontographer extraordinaire