Thursday, January 29, 2009

Size Matters

Just a quick note about grabbing a Rolling Stone magazine at the newsstand the other day. I've never been a subscriber, nor have I been a frequent peruser of the rock-and-roll rag... but whenever I would see it on the rack, I would be drawn to the strong brand, compelling imagery, and skillful design that always graced the publication's cover. But more than that -- I think the size caught my eye. Rolling stone was big. "Was." The former layout would dwarf the other less outrageous offerings around it by sheer dimension -- but I noticed that this most recent issue had shrunk. Who knows, it may have shrunk months or years ago and in my oblivion, I just never noticed... but now it is small. Or, at the very least, it is the same boring dimension as the offerings all about it. The magazine being big made sense. It covers big personalities. Big entertainment. It demanded big attention. I think the change is a big mistake. -- JA

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blessed To Be Among the Best

Proud but not prideful. That's how I felt when I discovered that Baltimore Magazine had voted ADG as one of Baltimore's Best Workplaces. Proud of the work that we do... proud of the clients we serve, and the relationship that we've built with them over the almost two decades that we've been around... but prouder still of the team members who make up the ADG organization. When Karen and I started this firm in 1991, we had no idea -- nor expectation -- that we would be connected to such stellar individuals, and be so blessed. Thanks to each of you for making ADG what is -- and for being part of what we will become. I'm proud to call you our creatives. -- Cheers, JA

Baltimore Magazine's article from the February 2009 issue follows.
For more information on the release, visit ADG's web site at

ADG Creative
Location: Columbia Employees: 29
Who they are: An advertising, design, and corporate identity firm
What we love: Inspiring leadership, cool space, fun work

When you walk into the nondescript corporate office building that houses ADG Creative, the first thing you might notice is the space itself—it’s sleek and funky in a way that most corporate office parks can’t pull off, no matter how hard they try. Inside, there are all the elements you’d expect from a creative company: comfy collaboration spots where employees can trade ideas; the foosball table; the dart board (which is frequently in use).

What you might also notice, though, is ADG founder Jeff Antkowiak, a fixture in the operation. You’re more likely to see him huddling next to an employee’s desk or pitching in on a video shoot than commanding an executive meeting in the boardroom (although he does that quite well, too).

In ADG’s culture, collaboration is the key word, and Antkowiak, the chief creative officer who says he’s “still a producer in the company,” leads by example. Although ADG attracts those with a passion for work—and long hours aren’t unusual—“we don’t crack the whip,” says Antkowiak. “It’s a culture of ‘how can I help the people I work with?’ And that’s rare.”

Those who thrive in that culture are also a rare bunch. And ADG is frank about that upfront. Instead of simply subjecting would-be hires to personality tests to see if they fit, ADG leaders give candidates the results of those leaders’ own personality tests. “So they can see how nuts we are,” jokes chief operating officer Craig VanBrackle.

Once new hires are in, ADG focuses not just on getting work out of them, but also on “their skills and their development,” says VanBrackle. “The expectation is that everyone in the organization is a leader.”

Along the way, ADGers get to do some pretty cool work, whether it’s creating web applications, dreaming up clever ad campaigns and branding messages, or creating videos onsite. Clients are large and small and come from a variety of fields (which is one reason Antkowiak says ADG should fare reasonably well even in a recession). Sometimes those clients are really big: In 2008, one ADG employee was asked to demonstrate a software application for then-President Bush.

"I'm a Creative"

ADG provides an environment where all of our team members -- be they accountants, designers, developers, or interns -- are all viewed as vital parts of the collective "creative." We talk about our organization being like "gumbo" -- each ingredient has a distinct flavor, but only when you mix it all together does the magic start to happen. Take a look at the video above to be introduced to a few of our favorite creatives, and visit adg|creative's web site to get a closer look. Enjoy!

Technology that Teaches

I've always been a bit resistant to the notion that computers in classrooms were necessary for students to learn. Mark Twain said that "...learnin' can happen with a teacher on one end of a log, and his student on the other." That said, I believe that technology -- while not learning itself -- provides incredible tools that assist in the teaching process. That's why when ADG was presented with the opportunity to donate some slightly-used technology to the Foinix Center, we jumped at the chance.

The Foinix Center is a place where at-risk children are given access to computers, the Internet, computer-based training, and other technology resources to increase their opportunities to develop into positive and successful citizens. The center is located in the Juvenile Justice Center in Baltimore City and it serves as a tribute to fallen friends and as a safe haven for children.

For more information on how you can help, please contact our friend Mike Veronis.

Confessions of a Dormant Blogger

Bloggers, forgive me...
for I have sinned. It's been 1 year since my last blog. At least my last "public" blog. Oh, how the ideas bounce about in my noggin. I've written dozens of posts in my head, inside thoughts flying faster than I can type (which isn't saying much.) But alas, I have returned. Committed to blogging, as I have asked our clients to commit to as well. So, I hope that I'm forgiven... this post hereby gives permission to hassle me if the blog begins to collect cobwebs again. I look forward to having the brainjuice show itself on these pages again. It's good to be back. -- JA