Archive for April, 2011

Meeting Nicole Milici

April 30, 2011 - 1:28 pm 2 Comments

I absolutely love being around creative people – definitely a perk of working at a marketing agency where great ideas and talent are readily accessible. It’s the whole notion of a creative journey that starts with a figment of an idea and leads to something both new and tangible, a manifestation of hard work and imagination. Gets me every time. After coming across a valuable article on how to ignite your creative spark, I started musing about how personal the entire design process is. Everyone works differently – and it’s downright fascinating to see the diverse ways in which designers go about creating their pieces.

Screen shot 2011-04-30 at 4.16.06 PMLuckily Nicole Milici, the mastermind behind Spada Media’s creative flair, permitted me a glimpse into her realm of innovation. Known for her eye-catching designs, Nicole incorporates the true spirit of her clients into every piece she makes, valuing the winning combination of aesthetics and corporate messages. Let’s see how she does it!

How would you sum up your creative process?
Listen, research, brainstorm, and create.

What are the things that inspire you to create?
Other amazing artists, musicians, dancers, and creative people…even one of my 5-year-old twin boys, who won an art award for his incredible rendering titled “Ladybug” in his Kindergarten class. He inspires me every day!

What time of day do you feel most inspired?
Middle of the night or in a car. Always when I don’t have a pen!

What kind of music do you like to listen to when working?
Opera…weird, I know. I think Andrea Bocelli is a hottie.

How do you get your creative juices flowing when you’re feeling stuck?
When I’m stuck, I play hooky and leave whatever I am trying to do or wherever I am. I just vanish. I’ve felt prolific again in an aisle at Stop & Shop or in a shoe department. Amazing how a sweet pair of stilettos can get you out of a rut.

Any specific trends you’re noticing in design work?
All design work is turning Mobile. If you are a graphic designer, figure out how to make a good design in a digital 3×4 inch area for a phone. It’s the wave of the future!

What’s your favorite part of designing a piece?
Each one is unique and contains the essence of the organization, product, or person, reflecting it visually. That’s powerful.

Check out some of Nicole’s most recent designs!

C&F Annual Report

Child & Family’s 2010 Annual Report.

VNS ChocBrunch

Program book for the 2010 Chocolate Brunch hosted by the Visiting Nurse Services.

C & F Too Marvelous

Child & Family’s 2010 “Too Marvelous For Words” event invitation.

The Art Of Preppy Branding

April 24, 2011 - 8:40 am 8 Comments

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For most people, a polo shirt is just a polo shirt. While I don’t entirely disagree with that claim, it is impossible to ignore the innovative and painstakingly consistent branding that top sportswear designers have used to create their special niche in the preppy world. Take four brands: Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Brooks Brothers, and Vineyard Vines. Each company has had great success with its line, even though some have been around longer than others. To the objective eye, they all manufacture colorful polo shirts with critters on the left breast. However the branding each company develops transmits a specific message to the masses, making each stand out its own way and attract people accordingly.

In honor of polo shirt season, I’m going to bestow some special honors on these four preppy contenders based on their recent branding campaigns.

The Classic Award Goes To…The Pony. Blue-blooded American is the best way to describe Ralph Lauren’s advertisement for BIG PONY, the new men’s fragrance line that’s been popping up in every. single. fashion. magazine. Rekindling the root of what RL the brand was founded on, the iconic ad features four incredibly good-looking polo players. Each fresh-faced male is appealing in his own way, just as each scent offers something different, yet they all look effortlessly classic – like it’s intrinsic to their very being.

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The Chic Award Goes To…The Crocodile. For decades, French brand Lacoste has made its mark with European chic sportswear. As their most recent advertisement illustrates, Lacoste isn’t afraid to be a little quirky while still remaining high-end. The “Unconventional Chic” ad stars model Anja Rubik, sporting a slinky, shimmery evening gown with a simple white polo shirt on top – certainly unusual, but undeniably a blend of luxurious apparel. “We wanted a campaign that was an affirmation of the brand statement as a whole,” said CEO Christophe Chenut. “We’re showing that you can be chic in a different way, not just when you are dressed up for a party or for the office.”

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The Old School Award Goes To…The Golden Fleece. The 2011 Suprima Collection from Brooks Brothers ad campaign is as old as the Greek myth that inspired the logo. Depicting conservatively dressed friends at an outdoor gathering, the atmosphere generated by the ad is undeniably stuffy, appealing to those of traditional values and country club lifestyles. The Brooks Brothers website is of the same caliber, featuring tips on “Proper Etiquette for Golf” and “How to Dress When Attending An Outdoor Event.” Emily Post would undoubtedly approve.

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The Laidback Award Goes To…The Whale. Vineyard Vines is all about the Good Life. Inspired by summers growing up in Martha’s Vineyard, the clothing incorporates colorful patterns of sailboats, beach chairs, crabs, etc…, all evocative of summer’s finest moments. Every catalog contains photos of smiling families, friends, and wedding parties wearing the brand, firmly instilling the feeling that Vineyard Vines brings people together. Instead of using professional models, Vineyard Vines selects college students, sailors, their own employees – anyone who enjoys the Good Life really – to represent the brand in the catalog pages. Each person has a story (and wears Vineyard Vines while telling it). Right now, Vineyard Vines is in the middle of its Spring Tour, road tripping all over the East Coast in this brightly patchworked vehicle.

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The Delicious Taste of a Discount

April 16, 2011 - 5:56 am 3 Comments

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Restaurant Week. For food connoisseurs and gastronomical enthusiasts alike, these two words are magic to the ears. From Baltimore to San Francisco to Kansas City and all over, participating restaurants feature a prix fixe menu that gives diners’ pockets a small reprieve from the standard prices.

This is the ideal marketing opportunity for restaurants. For one week, the promise of three delicious, discounted courses incites people to put away their pots and pans and eat out for a special meal. And all the kitchens partaking in Restaurant Week are on the same playing field since expenses become irrelevant due to the prix fixe.

During Newport’s delightful week of “less is more”, I noticed specific marketing strategies according to the kind of restaurant in question:

The dependable favorites. Their reasonable prices, well-rounded menu, and comfortable atmosphere make them your standbys. During Restaurant Week, however, the prix fixe is actually higher than the amount you’d typically spend on a sandwich or burger. In order to motivate diners to a) pick their restaurant and b) make selections from the prix fixe menu, the more low-key, family friendly places advertise monumentally generous portions and their nicest entrées for a relatively low cost.

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The quirky spots. Usually have funky décor on the walls like old record covers, large murals, or stuff you’d find at Pier 1 Imports and the dishes consist of unique blends that you’re either going to love or hate. Because it’s undeniably a risk trying unusual food, the more whimsical restaurants use the prix fixe menu to showcase their best offerings in the hopes of attracting a larger clientele. Their marketing technique is to put it all out on the table and hope their diners will respond enthusiastically. Go big or go home.

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The exclusive restaurants. These are the restaurants you go to once in a blue moon. You make a reservation at least a month in advance, dress up considerably more than usual, and enjoy fancy food and impeccable service. But on Restaurant Week, they become – gasp! – affordable. This is the perfect time for glamorous hot spots to host people who wouldn’t usually be able to afford a night of luxury. However, the elite depend on their name to get people in the door; they are less invested in their menu and don’t by any means offer their best selections because, frankly, they don’t need to.

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Despite the type of restaurant and the marketing strategy employed, Restaurant Week is a win-win for all involved. All establishments do everything in their power to make themselves appealing to customers; yet ultimately, it’s out of their hands. The people decide: status over menu, portions over prestige, or innovative, “I hope it’s yummy” cuisine.

For a list of Restaurant Week participants and dates, please visit Open Table.

Best In Show – Home Show Booths, That Is!

April 3, 2011 - 1:09 pm 1 Comment

This past weekend, the Spada Media team worked the RIBA Home Show at the RI Convention Center in Providence. We were constantly busy setting up, assisting cooking demonstrations, and making sure everything was running smoothly, yet our marketing minds were more engaged than ever. Due to the volume of local vendors present at the event, booths were everywhere. And as a vendor in a tightly packed setting, such as the Home Show, it is absolutely crucial to stand out and attract people to your booth, or you could be forgotten in the crowd.



As I was perusing the vast array of booths on a raw and gray afternoon, I came across a lovely booth that instantly made me forget that a) I was in Providence and b) it was cold outside. Set up like a rustic farm stand, the Sure to Grow Strawberries booth successfully embraced its theme of fresh produce and was like a breath of fresh air in the large and crowded Convention Center. They also distributed packages of dormant strawberry seeds that become fertile when you plant them, allowing my mind to fast-forward to summer and the heaven of fresh, garden-grown strawberries.

Tip: When envisioning your booth, use aesthetics to create an atmosphere and your product will stand out. Also, free is good!

just grill it

While walking down an especially crowded aisle, I caught a delectable whiff of what could only be grilled fare. That perked me up straight away and I quickly bypassed the remaining booths to see what was cooking. Located in a coveted corner booth, Just Grill It was surrounded by people enjoying the fantastic aroma and the mouth-watering sight of sizzling veggies, meat, and fruit “on the barby.” The on-going grilling action kept the audience’s interest piqued and the promise of delicious samples kept them coming back for more.

Tip: The way to most hearts is through the stomach. With food, keep it simple – just cook! People enjoy watching the action and the promise of a treat at the end.

hometowne prints

People from all over Rhode Island come to the Home Show every year to enjoy the best of our state’s vendors. One exhibitor, however, brought Rhode Island to life with hand-drawn pictures of our 39 towns and cities. Her images depicted the features that make each town unique, which appealed to many people. Hometowne Prints from Donna Ide had a booth that was beautiful in its simplicity, mirroring the charm of her art.

Tip: When you’re displaying something so visual as artwork, your booth needs to be understated while also complementing your pieces.

embrace home loans

Walking down the aisles of the Home Show, it can be hard to differentiate one vendor from another. Somewhere down aisle 400, this was not the case. My eyes latched on to some guys wearing vibrant orange polos over by the Embrace Home Loans booth. Though mortgages aren’t the most fascinating subject, the loud shirts combined with the display of bright oranges and pineapples made it impossible to walk by them. Embrace Home Loans was shooting for a “fresh approach to mortgages” and they definitely hit the nail on the head.

Tip: With something mundane and a bit scary like mortgages, incorporate an inviting visual display that will draw people over to your booth.

mike bryce

While I was checking out the art aisle, I noticed that most artists were all doing the same thing – showcasing their masterpieces. One painter, however, dared to be different. Surrounded by his bright, detailed artwork, Mike Bryce spent most of his time behind an easel, creating new paintings. He was very friendly and loved explaining to Home Show guests how his pieces evolve from start to finish. People were drawn to his booth because they enjoyed watching him at work and got to see firsthand the sheer effort that goes into each painting.

Tip: As an artist, it is so important to give people a reason to connect specifically with your art over anyone else’s. Demonstrating your talent does this like nothing else can.

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