Mar 2, 2009

Boise Round-Up

As many of you know, I was out in Boise, Idaho last week, speaking at a Boise Ad Federation luncheon and then judging the local award shows.

I had a fantastic time and was very impressed both with the city and with the people I met there. Boise is a beautiful city physically and seems quite hip and forward-thinking for a city its size. The people who live there seem really happy to be there—there wasn’t any of the “oh I can’t wait to get out of here, if only I could live in NY/SF/LA” type moaning you often hear from creative types in smaller markets. And I can see why—in addition to the close-by Rocky Mountain scenery, Boise has a fairly thriving tech community and a burgeoning ad/digital one.

I got to meet a bunch of people I’d only known online, which is always a plus. Tac Anderson, HP’s social media guy and I had (oddly enough) met at a conference here in New Jersey a month ago, and it was great to be able to spend some real time with him. Tac and I had a long breakfast over at Big City Coffee, one of those locally-owned, free wi-fi providing coffee bars my own big city (NYC) is so painfully lacking.

And then of course there was Adscammer George Parker, author of The Ubiquitous Persuaders, the must-read ad book of the year. (As in I must read it, now that he gave me a copy, but just scanning it last night tells me it’s a very good read.)

Mike Romans, an old friend from A&L days had given me a tour of the Rockies after the lunch and we met George, his son Chris Parker and their friend Jack Fund at an outdoor table at the local pub. Which would have been a far more advisable notion had it not been about 40 degrees out. But even the cold couldn’t stop George, ever the gracious host, who is one of the funniest live storytellers I’ve ever met and is far happier (and less vulgar) than his blog would have you believe. Just don’t tell him I told you that ;) We hit it off so well, we had a second, indoor meet-up my last night in town, which you can see photographic evidence of.

Tac , George and Mike were all in attendance at the “Your Brand Is Not My Friend” presentation I gave to the Boise Ad Federation. (Picture courtesy of Tac Anderson) It was an interesting crowd- primarily traditional agency people, and so there were a lot of questions from the audience who were mostly interested in learning how to use and apply social media to what they were doing.

Judging the Rockies (the local Boise award show) was a trip too. While the work spanned a wide range (which it does at every award show I’ve judged) there was some really nice work for clients who didn’t have a whole lot of money, which impresses me far more than really nice work for clients who can spend a small fortune. Judging websites is always the toughest part of these shows for me: the whole form vs. function thing is a tough one, especially for sites whose primary function is to be a digital storefront. (There’s enough fodder in that one for its own post though.)

I was fortunate enough to be joined by three like-minded judges: Rocky Botts and Tom Scherer of Borders Perrin fame and Steve Laing from Tribal DDB. Spend two solid days locked in a room with three other creatives and you’ll understand the bliss of finding like-minded souls with similar senses of humor. (A special thank you to Robbin Gibson for running everything so smoothly and shepherding us everywhere. With Dylan Amundsen in for the assist.) Further thank yous to everyone from the Boise Ad Federation for hosting us and entertaining us: Ed Moore, president of the BAF, Jason Hamilton, and Greg Giersch, who coordinated all my travel arrangements and the entire speaking gig. (And apologies to all the other people I've forgotten to mention... such as Tim Pace, Tom Donahoe and David Jenson who also helped with the entertainment.

Final thank you is to Brian Harrison, who made this whole thing happen. Brian and I have been Twitter buddies for the past six months or so and finally meeting up with him in person was a huge plus. He’s as nice a guy in the flesh as he is on Twhirl and none of this would have happened without him.

Could not have asked for a better week. Thanks again.

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