To promote Skype’s newly-free-of-charge Group Video Calling feature, we made this documentary-style film profiling an actual two-man startup who used it to keep their business lean, mean, and profitable. I served as co-creative lead on this piece.
Bicycle startup gears up with group video calling
I founded UX publication WANT Magazine with David Gómez-Rosado back in 2009. We wanted to promote the discipline of User Experience, the art/science of making products and services enjoyable to use. It's part design, part psychology, part marketing, and to me, entirely fascinating.
Many in the UX industry agreed with me, including Communication Arts, who profiled it in 2011. I conducted interviews with industry luminaries like Don Norman and Jakob Neilsen. As Managing Editor, I herded a team of writers, designers, and even a cartoonist to the finish line, each issue.
Cordell Ratzlaff: The Want Interview
Jakob Nielsen: The Want Interview
Bill Scott: The Want Interview
The Skype Blog
Working at Skype presented some fascinating opportunities, not least of which was interviewing people who use Skype to improve their lives, careers, or relationships in unusual ways.
Writing for the Skype Blog kept my journalism skills sharp while attracting new audience for Skype via engaging stories you wouldn't hear anywhere else.
"Social Media and You" Video for CA Technologies
The smallest budgets require the most creative solutions.
CA Technologies, a 30,000-employee Fortune 500 company, wanted to create thousands of new company evangelists by encouraging its employees to use social media. To that end, they wanted to distribute a video internally that explained social media's advantages and laid out proper etiquette (i.e. "Don't give away company secrets on Twitter," etc.) The vid needed to be fun and engaging, resonant to the company's wide age demo, and produced by their in-house A/V department on a *very* tight budget.
"Social Media & You" / CA Technologies
The creative solution I pitched them, and which they were kind enough to trust me with, was to make it look like a 1950s educational film, using old public-domain and rights-managed (i.e. free and cheap) footage, coupled with a 1950s-style VO and an extra low-maintenance shoot of a 1950s-ized CA employee as the clueless foil.
This was a virtual hand-off to their internal production team across the country. I provided them with a full animatic, a scratch VO, and dozens of carefully-curated clips. Time-consuming, budget-friendly, and more than a little bit of fun to put together.
I consider it a personal victory that I got the bees in there.
"Zombie Escape" Video Game
How to keep kids off drugs? Zombies.
Created for Partnership For a Drug Free America, this game racked up a whopping 1.5 million plays in its first three months. Earth has been taken over by zombies and it's up to you and your jetpack to save the human race! Part of the PDFA's "Above The Influence" campaign; aimed at teens.
I devised the basic concept with a pair of designers, and fleshed it out into a series of scripts and creative specs that became the basis for the game development. The results are no longer online, but the screen shots below should give you insight into the fun that was ZOMBIE ESCAPE.
ZOMBIE ESCAPE banners
From the display campaign that drove traffic to the online game.
The Ask.com Blog
Since dropping the "Jeeves" from their name, Ask.com has worked very hard to give a faceless search engine a human voice. I like to think I've helped with that, starting with my days as their first Content Manager and, more recently, writing various customer-facing materials for them. They asked me to write their 10-years-later 9/11 post, and having lived in NYC in 2001, I was glad to do it.
Top half of the "Google Pen" post
Another post I wrote for them, "The Latest Google Flatline," made fun of the reliability of Google's free services with the help of a handful of search-industry in-jokes. It was even nominated for a "Semmys" online humor award. So there's that.