Take emerging virtual reality technologies. Add one of the world’s most famous visual architects, my script, and an Emmy award-winning director. Then mix in the most technologically advanced hybrid vehicle in Toyota’s lineup.
This was our recipe for disrupting TechCrunch Disrupt 2017.
Supporting the official West Coast debut of the Prius Prime, Toyota’s most advanced Prius to date, The Impossible Quest was a sensory overload—a VR extravaganza that allowed users to go on an epic driving adventure through a limitless world designed and inspired by Syd Mead (the visual futurist of Tron and Blade Runner). On my first assignment as creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, I managed the production of this entire project—an octopus of an experience, to say the least. Admittedly, I had little to no prior experience working with VR, which was still very much an emerging technology at the time. But in the end it was a huge success. The Impossible Quest debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt 2017 to rave reviews from 35+ tech media outlets, both online and off.
I'm not a robot. I'm your friend. I'm excited to meet you. I'm even more excited to introduce you to my beautiful home—Toyota Concept-i, Toyota's vision for the car of the future. My name is Yui, which means “the center” or “the soul.” I was given that fun name because I'm essentially the spirit or personality of the car. I live in the car's dashboard, but I can travel throughout the car when I want to. I act as a liaison between you, your passengers and the car. I don't just live inside the car; I also live in the future—which is very exciting. I can't tell you everything about it, but I can tell you that it's warm, friendly and, most of all, fun. -Yui
One of the most exciting projects of my career. Growing up in the ’80’s, I loved Back to the Future Part II when Marty goes to the future. This was always my concept of 2020. So to be able to launch Totota’s driverless car of the future was a huge honor, it really thrilled the emerging-tech-loving futurist in me. To demonstrate that the car is actually a pal, I wrote this interactive landing page in two voices: from Toyota’s perspective as well as from Yui’s perspective. It was a huge hit!
I introduced Dolby to a generation of developers who probably have no idea what Dolby is. I can still see the now-iconic Dolby logo plastered across my father’s collection of VHS videos from my childhood. Before the company reached out to me to become their copywriter, I really only knew Dolby as that VHS videotape brand from the ’80s. But, in 2019, Dolby acquired an audio-video application programming interface startup called Voxeet. Voxeet APIs make it easy for developers to create uninterrupted, in-flow experiences by embedding HD audio and 3D video functionality right into the apps they build.
Voxeet became a new division of Dolby and I took on the huge responsibility of refreshing the brand assets to make them sound like they align more with the Dolby brand—while also marketing APIs to millennial developers who hate being marketed to. Starting with branding and marketing a large-scale event at Dolby HQ targeted toward developers, immediately followed by writing the new website, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of creating for this brand very much.
Reintroducing recommendations. In a world full of customization, doesn’t it seem like there’s always a ton of options piled up in our queues, but still never anything good to watch? In 2018, that frustrating day has come and gone forever. I had the honor of announcing it to the world one digital marketing asset at a time.
The world’s most reliable recommendations app learns which movies, shows, books, restaurants and songs you like—and then recommends new ones you’ll love. On board as the brand’s secret weapon, I first got to inform the brand personality and its tag line. Then, I wrote the website, emails, social media and video script. I collaborated with a favorite producer from my Yelp days to ensure the best content possible on a very, very startup-style budget.
A week after the video went live on YouTube, it scored over 90K views, which was a complete surprise (and delight) for me to see.
Right now, over a million people are searching for a place to eat on Yelp. Meet Jennifer. Jennifer is a mom of four and represents about 22 million other moms across the US—a massive demographic with an annual household income of $150K, a family of six, and potentially 6,372 meals per year. This was the insight I wanted to activate in this sales piece I created for 50K+ national chain restaurant owners attending a restaurant week event in Vegas. Jeremy Stoppelman (CEO of Yelp) was the opening speaker and wanted an eleventh-hour product launch video created to tee up his grand entrance and speech. I had two months and a budget of $75K.
I wrote the script and then collaborated with FORWARD story studio in San Francisco to get this great spot produced on a very tight budget. Today, Yelp Nowait, Delivery and Reservations are commonplace, but back then, they were brand new. In the end, the video brought in $8M+ in sales. Thanks for all your help, Jennifer!
And Vidmob makes 50—50 websites written for 50 different brands. I’d moved to San Francisco in 2011 at the age of 30, knowing barely anything about technology. I then (totally unexpectedly) landed a job at Google. Now, almost 10 years later, I’ve written more websites than any other copywriter in the world.
Writing the Vidmob site was a bittersweet project. On one hand, I felt privileged to craft the messaging and personality for one of the premier video ad brands in the world. It’s 2020, and video is absolutely the media of choice for consumers and advertisers. However, as a devout creative, I began to understand that I was marketing a platform that streamlined the creative process and thus, further marginalized the role of the creative. So, even though I was thrilled with some of the exciting headlines I was writing, like ‘Know your ads inside and out-perform,’ I was highly aware of the fact that now, a machine was making all of the decisions I’m supposed to be making for the client, based on 16 years of experience and expertise.
I moved to San Francisco in 2011 and was hired by Google shortly thereafter. I was the furthest from being a tech-savvy individual when I moved to the Bay Area at the age of 30. Aside from knowing how to use my iPhone and sending files to print, I was a very unlikely candidate to land a job working at any tech company—let alone the best one. I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting in a massive conference room at Google HQ in Mountain view, I was asked by the CMO, “and so, you have B2B experience?” I quickly and confidently blurted out, “oh my gosh, tons and tons of B2B—yep! Of course.” Truthfully, I had no idea what B2B was. Google is where I learned.
I learned so much working at Google: digital, B2B, tech, email marketing best practices and content strategy. This was a huge turning point in my career. From the second I was able to list the world’s most popular search engine on my resume: doors opened, phones rang and opportunities knocked—and they’ve not stopped opening, knocking, beeping, chiming and ringing ever since. Here are a few emails and landing pages I worked on while I was there—when emails and landing pages were still very much in their infancy. I can safely say—when it comes to digital and email marketing—I’ve been there from the very beginning.
In the workplace of the future, all professionals have design skills. We’ve arrived at a place in time where content is king. In a way, everyone is unknowingly becoming an amateur content marketer by default. Texting with emoji icons, playing around on several social media platforms all day—even while at work—and knowing the basics of Photoshop, “non-creative” professionals are becoming increasingly design-savvy, without even realizing it. So, it makes perfect sense for everyone who didn’t graduate from art school to explore how to upskill themselves so they could add “designer” to their resume. At the same time, the workplace is naturally evolving in this direction, so it makes perfect sense for managers to encourage teamwide creative development—by upskilling themselves, professionals can become more relevant and qualified to land jobs and excel in the workplace of the future.
Taking on this consulting job for The New School’s continuing education program, Open Campus, allowed me to really flex my long-form content-writing-on-the-fly muscles. I authored, from scratch, four mini print marketing booklets, an interactive activity book filled with clever creative asks and tasks, and a fun digital infographic, all designed to engage professionals and inspire innovative managers to join the program.
You know the future has arrived when robots are crafting designer burgers. I landed this scrumptious consulting job through a former student who’d taken my course at San Francisco School of Copywriting. As the company’s PR consultant, she told the co-owners of Creator Kitchen that I was the only copywriter in the world qualified to write their site. I soon learned that these Silicon Valley tech superstars had fired three copywriters before me, so I knew I was dealing with very particular clients.
When I walked into their launch location (which was still very much pre-launch at that time), I stepped into the future of fast food and met the magnitude of the exciting task awaiting me. Introducing the type of disruption created by Creator—and communicating this trifecta of emerging technology, dining experience and fast-food concept to the public—would be a thrilling and challenging project.
I instantly saw the opportunity to knock this baby out of the park by writing artful headlines like “Devour a mini masterpiece” (that would actually get produced), so I could then drop this mini masterpiece into my portfolio—for you to devour, just like this.
This is what happens when grown-up tech geeks try to be cool kids. NetApp called. So, right off the bat, I knew the creative possibilities might be limited. When I heard “infographic,” my ears perked up a bit. Then I heard the three words every creative hopes to hear when getting briefed on a new assignment: “complete creative control.” At that point, they had my undivided attention.
While I love a good B2B/tech challenge, data management software often leaves a lot to be desired. But when I discovered that this data management software was named after every tech geek’s favorite cocktail—beer—I knew I had found my fun, relatable and original way in.
This project allowed me to collaborate with my very first art partner, Biba von Speyer. It was our first time partnering in over a decade, and a huge reminder of how much fun we have working together. Biba had just become a mom for the second time and I think if you look closely, you might see what looks like it could be a children’s book.
We didn’t really have startups on Madison Ave., where I began my career. I'm not even really sure how it’s possible, but I actually had no clue what a startup was until I found myself working for one in San Francisco in 2013. I responded to a Craigslist ad that sounded pretty cool and next thing I knew, I was standing in Jeff Cavins’ office with 10 print ads I’d mocked up and brought with me—just to demonstrate that this guy goes above and beyond and really means business.
A day later, I got a call with a job offer. So, I took it and was introduced to startup culture for the first time in my life. Fuzebox was one of several brands that popped up and duked it out for 1st place during the dawn of the democratized videoconferencing era. Our messaging quickly went from using clunky words like “interoperability” to branded messages like, “You’ll love meetings.” Not sure what happened to Fuzebox in the end. I just know that I was destined for bigger things.
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