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December 13, 2017

written by Adam Faust

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Thirteens

Dear Friends and Family,

As the year comes to a close, it’s time for us to take a look at all that has happened in 2017 for our family in Houston. Let’s call us, the Thirteens. It may be cliché to call the people you work with family, but to me, it feels like family. I actually call everyone (excluding my partner) in the office, “the kids.” I know, I know, I am only 36. But, look at in “work years.” If I was ‘born’ in 2003 with my first job out of college, that makes me 14 today – that sounds about right – which makes most of my team, career-wise, small children.

And, what about this partner? What the heck has this Jeff guy been up to anyway? Well, the simplest way he fits into the family is as an old-school dad (yeah, I know what that makes me). He works a lot and actually goes to a different office several days a week. He has devoted all his energy to a supremely valuable and mutually-beneficial relationship with our largest client. He gets up everyday, climbs in his trucks and has a long commute to work at a big, fancy office. He loves what he does and does a damn good job. He’s funny, and kind, and our relationship is founded in respect and honesty. Having a partner is not easy, and before we started this family, I thought I might be better as a single mom. I have been wrong. He’s a sounding board, a best friend, and he holds me accountable if I get too philosophical. He’s an old-school dad.

The oldest, Gabriel, has really come into his own this year. We were worried about all that time he spent with his memes and his Reddits. Well, they led to us creating a new role at the agency of Social Media Manager for Gabe. He is motivated, informed and making a difference for our clients in a big way. Ask him about what he does and he’ll tell you all about. Just make sure you have 40 minutes.

I think Linda is our second oldest? I can’t keep these kids straight. Oh man, this one may be a “kid” but she is wise beyond her years. When we hired her, she had no experience and was afraid to even call a client. But, in under two years she has become the yin to my yang. When I am crazy, she is calm. When a client is confused, she provides clarity. When the kids fight, she finds a solution. She is a big kid now, and I couldn’t do it without her.

Our middle child, Sarah, single-handedly disproves the concept that millennials lack work ethic. Super Sarah does the work of 10 designers. And, she does it at a perfecting level I have literally never seen before. She will never accept good enough. When I try and tell her, “I think it’s fine,” she looks at me as if I am speaking in Webdings. At 25, Sarah (and her design counterpart, Paulina, 24) are responsible for what you see when you see 5 + 8. That’s everything when what you see, is what we sell.

Which brings me to Paulina, our first kid. She was only 20 when we hired her as our first intern in 2013. When I was 20, I was… an idiot. She was working to help pay her way through school. We have watched her grow from a sheepish student to a tattooed-vegan with a fire in her belly. And, for all her talent and hard work, I think her biggest contribution to this family is her heart. I just wish she’d use some of that heart to rinse out her crusty oatmeal bowls.

The newest and youngest kid to enter the fray is Madeleine. Six months ago, another agency owner met Madeleine and emailed me, “I just met a girl who you need to talk to.” Well, she has fit in exceedingly well. Almost, eerily well, like she was here the whole time. She checked all the talent and personality boxes right away, but Madeleine’s most remarkable attribute is her confidence. She is smart and insightful and talented and she knows it. You got a problem with that? We don’t. She’s what the future of this family will look like.

And, then there’s mom. I get on just fine. I’ve got my podcasts, my Wednesday night soccer club, and my actual family – love you, girls! I try and stay busy and up with current events. How crazy has 2017 been? Did you all hear Jennifer Garber and Matt Damon’s friend are getting a divorce? She was so pretty and nice in that 13 going to 30 movie a few years ago. I tell ya, this country is going right in the toilet.

Still reading? I think is the longest blog I have ever written. Which isn’t long by blog standards, but I don’t like writing a lot of words. Except when it’s about my work family. Man, I really, actually love my work family. It’s weird, but cool. Which is exactly how I’d describe us – weird, but cool.

That about wraps up 2017 for the Thirteens. We’re excited about what 2018 will bring! Hopefully another chance to find love for that sweet Jenny Garber.

Love, mom

November 7, 2017

written by Adam Faust

My favorite team is the Houston Footballs

I have a confession: I love the Houston Texans.

It’s a confession because there is something wrong with the Houston Texans. I am not necessarily referring to their lack of success, though it plays a role in any teams’ likeability. It’s not the players. I know Watt is a bit polarizing, but Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins are as likable as they come. I really like Coach O’Brien. We even have a client that played for the Texans who is a great guy, and I sincerely hope I don’t offend him or any of his large friends.

My beef with the Texans is their brand.

As a boy from nowhere, I adopted the Green Bay Packers as my football team in 1993. This was the year they traded for a little-known rookie Quarterback named, Brett Favre. For the next 20 years, I rooted for the Packers as they won two Super Bowls with two different hall-of-fame quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers). In the NFL, there may be no easier team of which to be a fan.

I moved to Houston in 2008. After ten years of listening to Houston sports radio, the Houston Texans have infiltrated my fandom like an unwelcome fruit fly. I never asked for them to preoccupy my time on Sundays or my thoughts on Monday morning. They are, in many ways, the opposite of the Green Bay Packers. They are an expansion team created in 2002. They have no tradition. In the time that only Favre and Rodgers quarterbacked the Packers, the Texans have had 17 starting quarterbacks.

I don’t want to lose too many folks in the football details of this confession. This isn’t about football. It’s about brand.

The Packers are arguably the best brand in the NFL. When it comes to branding, your name is a good place to start. The Packers were named after the Acme Meat Packing Company in 1923. Conversely, the Houston Texans are named after…  being from Texas. Which appears to be a strong name and a sound decision. Here is a quote from Bob McNair explaining the naming,

“We’ve developed a name and logo that fans throughout the area and around the country and world will embrace for years to come… The name and logo embody the pride, strength, independence, courage and achievement that make the people of Houston and our area special.”

And, this is exactly wrong. You can’t be everything to everyone (i.e. “around the country and world”). When name your team after an entire state, and your colors are red, white and blue, you are are the opposite of strength. You are compromise.

Conversely, the original team in Houston was unapologetically Houston. The Houston Oilers had a name that didn’t give a damn if it was nationally-accepted. And, because they didn’t care about being all things to everyone, they were loved all over. And, I can prove it. As the boy from nowhere (New Hampshire is pretty close to nowhere), I had a Houston Oilers Starter Jacket. I liked them the reason any boy loves a sports franchise – they were cool. They were baby blue and had a giant oil derrick as a logo. Even though I had no idea why or what any of that meant, I knew it was unique and not like anything I had seen before.

So, what’s the solution? As someone in the creative field, it’d make perfect sense for me to propose a new name, colors, uniforms, etc… but I can only imagine how many times that has been done to no avail. Instead, why don’t we just embrace the commonplace and even up the ante? Instead of the Texans, why don’t we just make sure we invite EVERYONE from EVERYWHERE to root for our team by renaming them the Houston Footballs? That way an elderly woman in French Guinea will not find the name confusing or inaccessible.

Proposed helmet for The Houston Footballs

We want to make sure every single person ‘gets’ it, right? Because if we don’t dumb this thing down for every person who may or may not care, we might miss out on a potential fan. The Houston Footballs are for everyone, and if I know everyone, then I am pretty sure no one will like this team.



October 25, 2017

written by Adam Faust

How do you taco your taco?

A reasonable and thoughtful question, this is not. But this is not so dissimilar from the inane questions we see from companies on social media all the time.

You all have seen it.

TACO RESTAURANT POST, It’s National Taco Day! How do you like your taco? #tacotuesday

CREDIT UNION POST, It’s National Checking Account Day! How do you like your checking account? #withmoola

NURSING HOME POST, It’s National Grandparents Day! How do you like your grandparents? #ilikemygrandparents

Am I supposed to reply with my preference? What do they plan to do with this information? Do I think they (or anyone) actually care? When I am feeling particularly jackassy I like to go in and reply,

Thanks for asking! I like soft corn tortillas with pork, chicken, or beef. Really any meat will do, LOL. Avocado is always a welcome addition. I will get veggie when I have been really bad earlier in the week. Here’s a free tip: when they give you two tortillas take one off and use it as a landing pad for all the taco fillings that fall out, and voila, free taco! I digress, let me get back to answering your thoughtful inquiry…”

When someone from my team suggests a social media post that I feel underestimates the intended audience, I not so calmly say “How do you taco your taco? #tacotacotaco” My team thinks I am really funny.

If you are in a role where you’re responsible for social media marketing, you have probably asked your audience to engage. You should. Social media is meant to be social. All I am proposing is when we ask our audience to engage, we use our noodle. Let’s not default to the obvious or simply mimic what we have seen before. Let’s think about what adds value, makes one chuckle, or maybe gives them pause.

In my unscientific and inaccurate assessment, 90% of company posts are uninspired, irrelevant or just entirely forgettable. Forgettable is great news for those who aren’t. If social media is full of mediocrity, then there’s heaps of space for opportunity.

How do you social your media? #hashtag


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