• Published in FWD:labs

This year we published 11 articles on film, web, and design, in addition to sharing a few dozen posts on Facebook and Twitter. Here are our favorite subjects covered this last year.

  1. John Goraj 'Adventheart'
    John Goraj “Adventheart”

    We recently produced a music film for a singer-songwriter from South Dakota. It was great to make some visual poetry for his latest album release.
  2. Viral Marketing Videos for Purple, Squatty Potty, and Dollar Shave Club
    Viral Marketing Videos for Purple, Squatty Potty, and Dollar Shave Club

    In an era of social media newsfeeds, what spots make you react, share, and comment? We found a few that blew up and got a lot of positive attention.
  3. Behind the Controversial Budweiser, Audi, and 84 Lumber Super Bowl Ads
    Behind the Controversial Budweiser, Audi, and 84 Lumber Super Bowl Ads

    Some of the 2017 Super Bowl ads were especially polemic, getting a rise out of lovers and haters, which certainly gets their efforts more memorability and air time — but how about customers?
  4. Brand-new website for Allan Havey
    Website for Allan Havey

    We had the opportunity to work with Allan Havey, one of the best stand-ups working today. You also may recognize him as “Lou Avery” from AMC’s highly acclaimed MAD MEN.
  5. One of five spots we did recently for Silk Way West Airlines
    Brand spot for Silk Way West Airlines

    We did all the post on a series of five spots filmed by Wolfe Air Aviation, giving us an opportunity to work with Boeing. Needless to say, we were on cloud nine.
  6. Proof That Money Isn't Everything
    Proof That Money Isn’t Everything

    Guest writer Jackie Lam penned a series of tips for freelancers, ranging from saying “no” to ways to stay distraction-free to focus on the task at hand.
  7. Put a Stake In It: 5 Tips for Building Tension in Your Stories
    Put a Stake In It: 5 Tips for Building Tension in Your Stories

    Guest writer Andrew Lindermann knocked another one out of the park with his story-forward tips that apply to all, using the horror film “Carrie” as an example.
  8. We Need an Open Internet
    We Need an Open Internet

    Our two cents before the FCC voted to dismantle Net Neutrality.
  9. How We Run Facebook Ads
    How We Run Facebook Ads

    Our most popular article of 2017 explored how we analyze data for clients to make Facebook’s messy advertising stats a little easier to understand.
  10. Lin-Manuel Miranda's New 'Music Film' Helps 'Get The Job Done'
    Lin-Manuel Miranda’s New “Music Film” Helps “Get The Job Done”

    Timely with “Travel Ban 2.0” all over the news, this anthem reached Lin-Manuel’s “Hamilton” heavy fan base and gave some of us something relevant for today’s issues.

Got a favorite that’s not here? Browse the archive and comment below.

Finally, check out our 10 best posts of 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

  • Published in Web

We thought net neutrality was safe when it was on the chopping block in 2014, where such a negative outcry convinced then-chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, to flip his vote and save the day.

But it’s back — a major decision is being made by the FCC on December 14th. A repeal of the net neutrality policy would favor big companies over consumers, setting back small businesses and independent filmmakers alike. What’s worse is that, unfortunately, it’s likely to go through thanks to the power of the swing vote, unless we all come together to help make a difference.

Illustrator and animator Louis Wesolowsky released this great explainer video last week and it’s one of the clearest takes on the issue currently at hand.

We’re for net neutrality. It has helped FWD:labs, which began over 10 years ago, as it allows us to keep costs down, speeds fast, and innovations moving forward.

And it’s not just web services and platforms that will be negatively impacted by the impending decision. It also affects independent film, both for filmmakers to deliver and audiences to receive. Can you imagine paying a new fee just to access sites like Netflix, Hulu, or Vimeo? Or having to mess around with package deals or bundles like what cable companies have been doing for years, upselling us on more than what we want?

We each already pay an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or mobile data carrier for a certain non-preferential speed to the internet. (Even that sales pitch isn’t always true with things like speed limiting and throttling.) Now they could actually be allowed to intentionally slow down or lock out certain sites that don’t shell out additional fees, or require consumers to pay for what’s otherwise basic access we have now.

All in all, repealing neutrality will mean higher costs for less services. It will hinder growth and accessibility. It will introduce tiered, “fast lane” services. Comcast, trying a PR stunt to appear “pro” neutrality, has already been caught deleting their promise to not adopt that kind of model, which proves yet again you can’t trust them to do the right thing with zero oversight.

Having the Internet permanently reclassified broadband as a telecommunication service would protect consumers. We need regulation that is pro-consumer and pro-entrepreneur, not more ways to line the pockets of the big guys. The FCC should be benefitting and protecting consumers, not the opposite.

What can you do before it’s gone?

Even though they may not consider it *, and may even be deleting public comments, please file your own statement of support for net neutrality with the FCC via, a friendly redirect from late night host John Oliver to the right part of the FCC’s website.

Click the “+ Express” link on the right. Make sure you’re seeing the proceeding number 17-108, which represents “Restoring Internet Freedom.”

If you’re A-OK being on the record, use your full name; otherwise consider the first name plus last initial.

For the comment portion itself, consider something in your own words along these lines:

“I strongly support net neutrality backed by Title 2 oversight of ISPs. Net Neutrality protects consumers’ rights to have an open Internet, where all traffic is treated equally.”

If you need a hand, you can also call their help line directly at 202-418-0193 or e-mail

Need more perspective? Watch John Oliver’s take on “Net Neutrality II” from earlier this year:

* Ironically, the FCC’s own website claims that they deliberately “seek the public’s comment … (and) the Commission considers the comments received in developing final rules.” If they go against that and unilaterally make a decision that benefits their head honcho, they go against their core values.

Studio + Network

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Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

Creative agency Zulu Alpha Kilo penned an article two years ago that’s still very relevant: “Say No To Spec.” In an industry filled with favors and freebies, it’s a good reminder to weigh the merits of doing work for free:

As we showed in our recent video featuring real people being asked to do spec, diners don’t fork over free meals. Personal Trainers don’t do your workouts on spec or give away their intellectual property. So why are we giving away our ideas? Like the guy in our video says, “Who would ever agree to that?” Sadly, we know the answer.

On the surface it may seem like a good idea for clients to harvest a smorgasbord of free ideas during the pitch process, but it can actually do more harm than good.

Legendary designer Jeff Zeldman recently authored a post entitled “Why Don’t Nonprofit Sites Convert?” He raises a point to ditch the focus on the about/mission/board and instead on giving the visitor what they want first, and the foundation something second:

“[P]ut yourself in the member’s shoes. What does that member wish to achieve on your website? Have you created transactions and content that allow her to do what she came to do? Have you designed and written menus, links, and headlines that help her find the content that matters to her? Forget the organization, for now. Pretend the only thing that matters is what the user wants. (Because, ultimately, it is.)

Do these things, and weave your singular, simple conversion opportunity into each screen sequence with which your user interacts. To optimize your chance of success, place the conversion opportunity at the very point where the user successfully finishes transacting the business that mattered to her. Not before (where it is only a distraction). Not in another part of the site (which she has no interest in visiting). She’s a lot likelier to sign up for your mailing list after you’ve helped her donate food to her neighbors than she is to sign up in an unsolicited popup window.”

Entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk “crushes it” with sales tips day and night. (We even profiled him back in 2008 for standing out from the crowd.) One thing he’s written recently that resonated with creatives is part of an article called “5 Best Tips For Salespeople,” where one is about just creating more content:

In 2017, there is zero excuse not to be creating content around your product, service, company or brand.

Because of the iPhone and the internet, and social media, anyone can produce and distribute. Just 15 years ago, if you wanted to create a commercial to promote your brand, you would need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on media and marketing. Today, you can literally use your smartphone, record a 2 minute clip and run ads on Facebook. The cost of entry has dropped 100 fold.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

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Money cannot buy life by solar22

So when I decided to take the plunge and pursue freelancing full-time a couple years back, I did so with the intention of having time to work on some personal projects, namely a collection of short stories. Now that I’ve been getting this itch to also write a book to help artists and freelancers with their money, and also to carve time for their creative projects, I have even more reason to scale back on freelance business to focus on these projects. And while I have enough beans saved to take a sabbatical of sorts from freelancing, I haven’t done it. Not yet.

Well, why’s that? In short: I’m scared.

This is something I’ve heard time and again. From some of my favorite money writers and personalities such as Jason Vitug of Phroogal and Kristin Wong of The Wild Wong:


Yes, I’ve decided to be liberal in my use of caps and bold.

Quit yer whining, Jackie. Don’t you know there are greater problems in the world? Debt, poverty, wage inequality. Crazy politicians.

But I wanted to make a point. Even if you had that money in the bank to do whatever it is you damn well pleased. There are obstacles. And a lot of them are internal. Sure, there are external obligations, such as taking care of kids or aging parents. But let’s talk about the internal struggle, shall we?


I grew up in a workaholic family. My mom, uncles and aunts, cousins were all industrious people. When we weren’t working to make money, we were busy at home, cooking, cleaning, fixing up our homes, etc. I just visited a cousin in Orlando who was so exhausted while moving that he fell off the pickup truck.

The biggest cardinal sins were to be lazy and self. Make yourself useful!

So naturally, I was a busybody. I was one of those annoying types in high school that was part of 10 clubs and got good grades. But busybody is my go-to. Busyness is a terrible habit. I often find myself losing touch with my values, feel burnt out, stressed, and even more anxious.

It’s hard to say “no,” especially when you are trying to please others. My friend Melanie of Dear Debt just attended the GirlBoss rally, and left with this: Are you doing something just to please others, or are you honoring a value? What are your values?

These habit energies are tough thing to undo. It could take years, or decades. I’m serious. I’m fully aware of my busybody tendencies, and I have to kind of constantly monitor myself. While I am still going to be volunteering and quibbling over how to add value to the work I do, I am going to give myself permission to indulge. Indulge in saying no to social gatherings, to obligations and give myself the okay to work on my creative projects.

Love of Making Money

Money is addictive, like crack. Studies show that when you make money, there’s a part in our brain that activates, similar to taking drugs. Yes, your brain thinks money is a drug.

My good friend Alan has told me, “In 10 years, are you going to look back and say to yourself, ‘Gee, I really wish I worked more?” Nobody thinks that way. And because I try to live a frugal lifestyle, which isn’t hard when you don’t feel deprived and find abundance in your life and take joy in the simple pleasures.

And I’ve never regretted not taking a job. I want to do the best job possible when given an opportunity, but it’s not essential to take on every job? Once again it’s all about value. What is the value for doing something? What’s essential?


Just the confidence that this is the right choice for you. It’s about trusting yourself. There’s the adage, every time you say “no” to something is a “yes” to something else. So you just have to trust in yourself. My fellow freelancing buddy Taryn talks about how just because somebody else wasn’t able to achieve what you want to do, doesn’t mean you can’t carve out your own path to making it work. So be that trailblazer.

I don’t expect to necessarily make a cool million dollars, or write that bestseller. But I am saying “yes” to something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. And it will come in handy. Developing the habit to say “yes” to myself, to engage in deep, focused work, and to give myself permission to toll over something I can be proud of.

Inability to Say “No”

It’s far easier to say “no” to the long-term things, like taking on a full-time job or commitment. But it’s the casual commitments that eat up our time. Attend that mixer? Sure. Check out the new watering hole down the street. Let’s do it! I just finished Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” and he had some great tips on how to gracefully say “no,” such as “You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y” to set boundaries, or “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.”


There will always be fears. If you’re alive and breathing, you’ll be afraid of something. And there’s plenty to be afraid of. I’m not certain I’m even afraid that I won’t get back on the freelancer bandwagon. But you know what? There are a million ways to earn a buck. And you’ll just have to trust yourself and deal with any repercussions, perceived missed opportunities, and the like.


So I’ve been reading Cal Newport’s “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World,” where he talks about how the ability to focus deeply on your work is a rare and valuable skill. Especially in our day and age where we veer toward “shallow work,” such as answering emails, tweeting, meetings, and the like. But the ability to work interrupted and free from distraction is not only about having the time to do so, but the discipline.

Newport goes into detail about creating a regiment, setting time aside each day with a designated workspace. Easier said than done, right? And as we all know, managing money has nothing to do with knowing what to do, but having the freakin’ discipline to follow through.

So I’ll be starting off with 20-30 minutes of solid, Internet-free periods of work, followed by an hour, then 90 minutes, and working my way to two hours. I still need to figure out how I’m going to balance my personal projects with my freelance work, since I will still be working part-time, but that’s something that needs to be resolved.

What I am trying to say is that while money is definitely helpful and gives you options, it’s not everything. When you’re ready to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have enough money or time to do, you better have the habits and mindset in place to actually take the plunge.

If you had enough money to do what you really wanted, what would get in your way?

(Originally published at Cheapsters.)

Jackie Lam
Personal finance blogger helping people thrive in the gig economy

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  • Published in General

Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

Side projects often succeed when treated like real work. When you’re not doing it all the time, Side Project Checklist is a handy site that has things like a marketing checklist, perfect for covering the basics.

They also have some other lists like e-mail marketing tools to remind you that you’ve got options. The author encourages contributions via Github, which is an interesting approach to crowdsourcing line items for lists.

Cartoon Brew’s article, “A Beginner’s Guide To Copyright Law For Artists,” gives a nice breakdown the U.S. Copyright Office and when to lawyer up when it’s not public domain, fair use, and other cases where borrowing flies.

Shopify’s Polaris is their design system, documenting online their rules. On their color page, there’s some nice cases on how they focus attention. Overall, systems enable consistency for a company’s sites. For other web style guides, check out


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

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  • Published in Film

Explainer videos can be predictable. Here’s a look at a few straight-forward products that had out-of-the-ordinary marketing efforts, which in these cases went viral and set them up for success.


One of their recent “Mattress Protector” ad told their product story using a Sasquatch family as the visual hook along with some unpredictable humor.

Big Door made the ad in 2016, which reached 15 million on its YouTube upload. You can also see a behind-the-scenes video for more about it.

Squatty Potty

“This Unicorn Changed the Way I Poop” cuts to the chase. By using unicorns, ice cream, and Medieval characters, you’re pulled into the absurdity of this all, yet learn about the product and its value in no time.

Harmon Brothers made this ad with 31 million views on YouTube. They note that the company had a 600 percent increase in online sales and 400 percent increase in retail sales. As you can see on their site, they’ve done a few others just like it, such as one for Poo Pourri. Quite the niche market.

Dollar Shave Club

In 2012, to debut their company, Dollar Shave Club went with a launch video that took their company into the fast lane:

Paulilu made it with, according to Entrepreneur, a budget of just $4,500. (Ad Age also has a thorough interview.) The video led to thousands of new customers right away and helped boost the company that was recently acquired by Unilever last year for a billion dollars.

Any other favorite viral ads come to mind as oddly intriguing to watch or re-watch?


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

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Hours before the latest U.S. travel ban goes into effect, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “music film” for the popular Hamilton mixtake track, “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” dropped.

According to NPR, the video “was launched to help promote fundraising for the Immigrant: We Get The Job Done Coalition, a group of immigrant-rights non-profits based throughout the U.S. As part of that effort, Miranda is asking fans to post videos of themselves performing songs from Hamilton, in the spirit of the wildly successful Ice Bucket Challenge.” See #Ham4All for some of those posts.

Released yesterday, the video has already passed a million views on YouTube. Despite the video being about appreciating all immigrants, many of the social media comments are understandably political and/or polemic, dealing more with illegal immigration in particular. (The latest travel ban isn’t pro-immigration / anti-illegal immigration, though.)

Director: Tomás Whitmore
Producers: Kimberly Stuckwisch and Melora Donoghue
Executive Producers: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Robert Rodriguez, Kimberly Stuckwisch, and Ian Blair
Production Company: Diktator
DP: Drew Bienemann
Production Designer: Spencer Graves
Steadicam: Alex Kornreich
Editors: Tomás Whitmore and Alexander Aquino
Costume Designer: Christina Flannery
Casting Director: Michael Beaudry
Visual FX: Giant Propeller
Color: MPC LA
Post Sound: Unbridled Sound

[Update: The spot was shot on Cooke Anamorphic/i lenses, according to Cooke on Facebook.]


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

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Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

Music video director Michel Gondry helmed this month’s album cover ad for Pandora, marking their start to a #SoundsLikeYou campaign. Partizan did the production. It’s a great example at keeping your attention in little vignettes: what album cover is next and how’s the person going to run through it. Funny too how online now we have a 1:1 aspect ratio trend — a throwback to the square record cover.

Smashing Magazine shares 16 points on how website form design is better if you have one thing per page. This bucks the trend of having as much as you can now on a single page. The difference in this case is about segmenting complex processes into smaller pieces.

Milwaukee Ballet has a website that garnered a 2017 Webby nomination. BFK made it for them. The use of background video and untraditional navigation stands out from the crowd.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

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(Originally published March 1st on LinkedIn by The Story Source.)

A few nights ago, all of us were taken by surprise when La La Land was incorrectly announced as the winner of Best Picture. The mistake was remedied, but Moonlight‘s win was cloaked with intensity.

With the drama of awards season, I started watching clips of Carrie, the Academy Award-winning horror film by Brian De Palma. In the movie, Carrie does all sorts of paranormal and frightening things. But after a few minutes, I started to wonder: What makes the scenes, and the story as a whole, so engaging?

The answer turns out to be really simple: lots of tension.

To help you keep your audience on the edge of their seats, here are “5 Tips for Building Tension in Your Stories.” You may not win an Academy Award, but you’ll at least never have to watch someone nod off again.

  1. Foreshadow Future Events. Building tension starts shortly after your opening. Once the audience understands the basics of the story (characters, setting and problem), begin building tension by foreshadowing elements of the story that you intend to address later on. The easiest way to do this is to introduce a powerful image – in Carrie, it’s a broken mirror – that offers a clue about the events to come. If your audience suspects that something is awry (i.e. a girl breaks a mirror with her mind), they’ll keep watching.
  2. Subvert Expectations. In order to keep your audience engaged throughout the story, you have to undermine the audience’s expectations and keep them guessing about what’s going to happen next. Here’s a hypothetical scene: a man and a woman are flirting in the elevator of an apartment building. The man eventually asks for the woman’s phone number, but the woman refuses. The man presses her for her number and then all of a sudden a snake comes slithering out of the woman’s shirt. The man screams and runs from the elevator as soon as the doors open. Unexpected, right? All great scenes raise questions about the characters and the situation.
  3. Add Comic Relief. As a storyteller, you can only build so much tension into the narrative before your audience needs a release. The easiest way to do this in stories is to introduce a secondary character who offers insight into the struggle. Consider the earlier example of the snake. Maybe in the next scene of the story we see the woman walking out of the apartment building when a snake slithers out of one of her pant legs. The doorman sees this happen, but instead of screaming and calling the police, he pulls out a live mouse and proceeds to feed the snake.
    Entertaining, right? Good comic relief can momentarily distract the audience while also reassuring them that the storyteller understands the absurdity or tragedy of the narrative.
  4. Introduce Non-Visual Elements. Powerful images aren’t the only way to keep your audience engaged. Sound, smell and touch can be just as evocative (think about theme song from “Jaws”). In Carrie, the sound of locking doors seals the fate of all the students inside while also making the audience curious about what’s going to happen next. The challenge for storytellers is that most stories operate inside a visual medium (even oral stories “paint a picture” for the listener). One way to get around this is to use analogies or metaphors. A good analogy will do wonders.
  5. End with the Unexpected. In all stories, the job of the storyteller is to leave a lasting impression with the audience at the end of the story. The way to do this is often to introduce a new image or offer a final piece of comic relief. At the end of Carrie, the audience sees a hand reaching out from beyond the grave to grab Sue, the sole teenage survivor. The image is chilling and reminds the audience that even though the central problem (Carrie’s revenge) may be resolved, there are other problems that will outlive the story.

Pretty tense, right?

Andrew Linderman
Writer. Teacher. Consultant.

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  • Published in Web

Demo of our in-house tool called Ad Charts, which we’ll be releasing soon as a premium web app

For anyone needing some expertise with tracking the effectiveness of social ads, here are some tips on how we make a better return on investment for our clients. Below we look at two kinds of Facebook ads that are available and share some results that can make a difference, whether it’s a $1 boost or an on-going big-budget campaign.

This insight is based on recently spending and tracking over $1,500 in Facebook ads on behalf of 5 clients with 28 ads total. These ads cumulatively led to 34,738 results, which reached 223,582 people. 31,882 of them took action on the ads including 1,418 link clicks, 292 page likes, and 102 post comments. The average cost per result was 18¢.

The goal for a majority of these ads was for the viewer to click a call-to-action through to a website. While we often have creative control over each ad, sometimes clients asked us to run an ad on something we didn’t do, so maybe it did better or worse in our data set. We track Facebook’s data outside of Facebook using an in-house tool that we call Ad Charts, which we’ll be releasing soon.

1. Facebook’s “Boost Post”

When promoting a post, we’ve found that videos and photos do much better than website links, which do better than plain text posts. These promotions show up in the newsfeed and look like normal page content, often with a “Sponsored” tag added.

Here is our usual format with some suggestions:

  • Keep the text as brief and engaging as possible, usually with one link, and preferably one clear photo or short video
  • Outbound links are limited to the text; clicking the photo or video keeps you within Facebook
  • If outbound links are not important, avoid boosting an image gallery; but go for it if reactions and shares are the goal
  • Choosing a demographics to learn about the client/brand can help with reaching new customers, rather than pay to show the post to existing fans/followers
  • If you’re promoting a video as a post, the reach will often be very high and the cost per result will be very low; this is because Facebook seems to prioritize video right now
  • If you’re promoting a website link as a post, be sure to use all the required OpenGraph markup on your site; for troubleshooting, their debugger is super handy
  • All posts have version control for text that’s visible to people viewing the post, so heads up; needing to change the text in a post after its boosted is possible and goes back into the queue to be re-approved
  • If needing to change the photo or video, just scrap the post and start over

2. Facebook’s “Promote > Get More Website Visitors”

When running an ad for a page, specifically to drive traffic to the page’s website, there is a slightly different format which has more restrictions, but includes added benefits. This kind of boost seems to always show up in the newsfeed on mobile devices and the right column on non-mobile devices. These ads look like a promoted post or a square banner ad.

When creating an ad, here is our usual approach along with some suggestions:

  • The text at the top does not significant max character limit, but keep it as short and clear as possible
    • On desktop, it truncates after 480 characters including spaces and shows up to 6 lines
    • On mobile, it truncates after 210 characters including spaces and shows up to 4 lines
    • If truncated, the text automatically says “Show more…” at the end, which is a link toggle for the remaining text
    • Posts with truncated text, especially any link below the truncation, will generally have very low click-thru rates
  • The text at the top also cannot contain clickable URLs; their error literally says “your text can’t include 2 punctuation marks or signs in a row … please remove these to continue”
  • The “bar” at the bottom (which doesn’t always appear in all ad placements) has a 25 character limit on its headline text, no description/sub-headline, and the URL seems to just look at the domain, not the full path to the deeper page on the site
  • There’s an option to have a “call to action” button here, like “Learn More” and “Get Quote”
  • Having to pause/stop an ad is an option, but needing to edit anything means scrapping the whole ad and its current data set.

The best thing about this ad unit is that clicking any of the image or “bar” content takes the user off Facebook, giving it a relatively large target with no “photo enlargement” distraction.

Other Insights

With both, unless there’s a benefit to brand awareness and not click throughs, we manually disable having the ad run on Instagram. Facebook moves around the disable option — it’s sometimes in a bottom left gear box and sometimes an inline checkbox in the main form.

Approval for ads can often take hours, so don’t be in a rush; Facebook’s interface copy often says 15 minutes or more, but that’s often not the case.

With both ad types, you can choose a demographic to include specific to age and location. (There’s also a power user method to exclude an audience.)

For photos, try to use big landscape image (e.g. 1200 x 628 or 1.91:1 aspect ratio, according to their 2017 social media specs). Having more than a little text on the image makes it ripe for being denied as an ad.

For video, try a 16:9 aspect ratio video or be bold and use a 1:1 square (a trend that may have started so people don’t have to turn their screen on mobile). Skip any music that you don’t have the license for because that’ll likely get flagged or a DMCA take down.

To help with insights on the results of an ad buy that’s bringing traffic to your website, adding a Facebook Pixel on your site — everywhere or at least on “goal” pages like a contact form’s “thank you” screen — help show your ads effectiveness beyond just brand awareness. If you sell something on your site, that’s also one way to track which ads led to actual customers.

Need more choices and analytics? There’s the Facebook Ads Manager which is so advances, it’s really for power users running campaigns needing even more control over goals, placements, demographic exclusions, advanced connections (e.g. users who installed your Facebook app or attended your Facebook event), optimizations (e.g. leads aka pay per impression vs. clicks aka pay per click), and so on.

How do you using Facebook to advertise? Any success or failures that you would like to share?

If you need a hand, we do a lot of social media marketing in our web studio.

Studio + Network

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During the Super Bowl this last month, three ads stood out in touching upon polemic subject matters. For better or worse, they received a lot of love and hate alike. Politics aside, here’s more about who made each one. It’s interesting to see who worked on more than one of these, such as Anonymous Content and Company 3. Each spot cost over $5 million dollars per 30 seconds to air, although a lot of people tuned in for the Patriots beating the Falcons in overtime, meaning mere cents per viewer.

Budweiser “Born The Hard Way”

28 million official online views in February with 48k likes, 16k dislikes, and 12k comments.

According to some press, this was shot in New Orleans over three days.

Director: Christopher Sargent
Director of Photography: Jody Lee Lipes
Agency: Anomaly (New York, USA)
Production Company: Anonymous Content
Visual Effects: ARTJAIL
Creative Director and VFX Supervisor: Steve Mottershead
Head of Production: John Skeffington
Senior Producer: Mike Tockman
Flame Artists: John Geehreng, Margolit Steiner, Chris Memoli
Nuke Artists: Sohee Sohn, Eric Conception, Herculano Fernandes, Dayung Jo
Flame Assistant: Ben Vacarro
Digital Matte Painter: Quimet Delgado
CGI – VFX Sup: Gavin Guerra
CGI – CG Lead: Santosh Gunaseelan
CGI – FX TD: Shawn Lipowski
CGI – TD: Felipe Amaya
Rotoscoping: Trace VFX
Edit Company: Saints
Producer: Stephanie Hickman
Editor: Ross Birchall
Assistant Editor: Nancy Gidman-Latorraca
Color Grade: Tom Poole

84 Lumber “The Entire Journey”

10 million official online views in February with 88k likes, 30k dislikes, and 24k comments.

This short film, shot in Mexico, also had a microsite at, which viewers of the shorter TV ad were led to for seeing the “entire journey.” (More on the U.S./Mexico “wall” elements that led the broadcast version getting cut short can be found on ADWEEK.)

Director: Cole Webley
Advertising Agency: Brunner, Pittsburgh, USA
Creative Director: Dave Vissat
Chief Creative Officer: Rob Schapiro
Associate Creative Directors: Derek Julin, Kevin Corfield
Chief Client Officer: Jeff Maggs
Account Director: Lauren Tedesco
Senior Account Manager: Dana Lucas
Associate Broadcast Director: Kathy Baldauf
Agency Production: FIXER Partners
Executive Agency Producers: John Noble, Brad Powell
Production Company: Sanctuary
Director of Photography: Justin Brown
Creative Director: Matt Wilson
Line Producer: Christopher Cho
Executive Producer: Preston Lee
Heads of Production: Adam Litt, Leopoldo Luisetti
Production Designer: Christopher Lagunes
Editorial: Final Cut
Editor: Jeff Buchanan
Exec Producer: Sarah Roebuck
Producer: Penny Ensley
Head of Production: Jen Sienkwicz
Assistant Editor: Geoff Hastings
Cutting Assistant: Andre Castiglioni
Visual Effects: Method Studios
Executive Producer: Stuart Robinson
CG Supervisor: Boaz Livny
VFX Supervisor: Eliza Pelham Randall
Flame Artists: Stephen Morris, Jared Pollack
Senior VFX Producer: Bennett Lieber
Color Grading: Company 3
Colorist: Tom Poole
Music: Future Perfect
Composer: Victor Magro
Producer: Max Gosling
Audio Post: Heard City
Sound Mixer: Phil Loeb

Audi “Daughter”

12 million official online views in February with 60k likes, 74k dislikes, and 21k comments.

Director: Aoife Mcardle
Director of Photography: Pat Scola
Advertising Agency: Venables Bell and Partners (San Francisco, USA)
Founder / Chairman: Paul Venables
Executive Creative Director: Will Mcginness
Creative Director: Justin Moore
Associate Creative Director: Allison Hayes
Copywriters: Mike Mcguire, Kathy Hepinstall
Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
Senior Producer: Matt Flaker
Head of Brand Management: David Corns
Group Brand Director: Chris Bergen
Brand Supervisor: Justin Wang
Brand Manager: Abu Ngauja
Group Strategy Director: Tonia Lowe
Director of Business Affairs: Quynh-Ahn Phan
Project Manager: Leah Murphy
Production Company: Somesuch and Anonymous Content
Executive Producers: Nicky Barnes, Sally Campbell
Ep / Production: Sueellen Clair
Head of Production: Kerry Haynie
Producer: Grace Bodie
Editing Company: Work Editorial
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Assistants Editor: Josh Sasson, Erik Vogt-nilsen
Executive Producer: Marlo Baird
Producer: Lynne Mannino
Music Company: Human
Music Composer: John Christopher Barnes
Creative Director: Craig Deleon
Executive Producer: Jonathan Sanford
Sound Design / Final Mix: Lime Studios
Sound Designer: Matt Miller
Mix: Matt Miller
Assistant Mixer: Peter Lapinski
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Associate Producer: Kayla Phungglan
VFX Studio: Electric Theatre Collective
Creative Director and VFX Supervisor: Adam Watson
2D Artists: Adam Watson, Tommy Smith, Dave Damant, Jessenia Nauta
CG Lead: Corinne Deorsay
CG Artists: Corinne Deorsay, Nate Lapinski, Remi Dessinges, Steve Beck
EP: Kate Hitchings
VFX Producer: Catherine Y
Color Grading: Company 3
Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld
Senior Producer: Katie Andrews

What did you think of these? Does piggy-backing on a hot topic help or hurt?


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

  • Comments Off on Behind the Controversial Budweiser, Audi, and 84 Lumber Super Bowl Ads

Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

In a world where there’s a lot of prejudice and judgment, TV 2 in Denmark did a promo that takes a look at how easily we put people in boxes. It opens with groups of people organized by looks. It continues by moving people around based on prompts of similar backstories, like they’re step-parents or if they’re lonely. It asks a timely question: “Maybe we have more in common than what we think?” If only we could bridge differences in real life.

Watch on YouTube

(via Connie Richardson)

Design works when we see it in action. Instead of forcing a path or a story or a product, Tom Hulme did a TED Talk called “What We Can Learn From Shortcuts.” It’s about observing how people behave and then accommodating to them based on what they’re already doing. One of his points is “about designing for real needs with low friction, because if you don’t, the customer will anyway.”

Watch on YouTube or Watch on

(via Daniel Landau)

Information is Beautiful hosts a data visualization that looks at budgets for every major film over the last eight years. It’s fascinating to see big budget films that flop charted out and then sleeper hits that really stood out, side-by-side with peers that you don’t necessarily think about. Sorting by genre or script type is also quite eye-opening.

View on

(via UCLA Studio 22)


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

  • Comments Off on [Dailies] Boxes, Shortcuts, and Budgets

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