Lesa is the founder of atomic.marketing, where her passion for advertising and design led her to curate compelling visuals that perfectly complement the times of today.
Lesa Deason Crowe, owner of atomic.marketing, LLC of Oklahoma City, Denver and Atlanta, started in the field of advertising at the age of 16 when she began working for her little small town newspaper, the Newkirk Herald Journal. From there it she earned a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma State University (with double majors in Advertising and Public Relations) at one of the most respected design schools (at the time) in the US. Crowe returned to advertising full-time after raising the kids in 1998. Her company has won multiple national and international awards for clients based in senior housing, cannabis, electricity, non-profits and others. Crowe has a video blog called, "WTH Moments with Lesa Crowe" and has been nominated for a Pulitzer prize for her humorous, southern-style newspaper writing.
Originally, I was going to be an attorney, but my folks broke up my first semester at State and I was stuck with a tuition bill. When I realized I needed to get through school with a BS in three years, I asked what was the fasted degree program. The very smart school counselor asked me if I'd been working and I told her about typesetting and selling for the newspaper. She said State had a degree in advertising and I immediately asked, "Why?" To me, advertising was simple. Why did they offer a degree in it? Little did I know that with my terrible know it all attitude, the professors would try to kill me with work at that school. My imagination caught fire at that school and I found my calling - I'm still grateful.
I am head loonie in a bunch of loonies. My COO runs the company so I don't have to. (The daily business is boring.) My designers are smart and bright and come up with work that surprises me every day. My networkers come in with facts and figures, geometrics and details that make my glaze over. In the end, I refuse to micro-manage and let the experts (and they are experts) do their jobs.
Advertising and design is nothing more than a beautiful conversation between you and another person. It's intimate. It's confidential. It's problem solving. It's sexy as hell. When design really speaks to someone (because really, we're not talking to the masses - we're just talking to you) it identifies a problem, it gives you a solution and it does it all in a compelling package.
Man, it really depends on the day, time and what mood I'm in. An innovative use of white or negative space will always catch my eye. Logical and informative layout is always enjoyable. I love the story telling aspect of video. Nothing is more fun than the chance to reach someone through single visual mobile. Wow. Hard question. Asking me to list a favorite kind is kind of like picking out your favorite kid. Hard and it's not going to happen.
A design that I'll look at in 10 years and say, "That didn't age."
It's never a question about my individual design style - it's the style of the target market. When I go see a new client, my first job is to a complete target market analysis. Then and only then will I start to craft a message that is specifically designed around their individual needs. A 45 year old lux brand vaping female with discretionary income of $150K plus needs (and deserves) a message that is far different than a 21 year old skateboarding 1G pre-roller. Our joke around our office is, "Does the target market wear boxers or briefs?" If I don't know, then I can't advertise to you.
The visual is always going to lead me. I never struggle with copy - that's easy because I'm talking to you on paper, or video, or mobile, or billboard just like you're sitting right in front of me. But what image is so important to you, the end user, that I can catch your eye? That's my first priority, always.
My husband is Cherokee Indian, and his culture has made a significant difference in how I view our work. Each individual tribe has its own societal structure, artwork, language and dance, to name a few. Each tribe is truly a sovereign nation. Working with these nations has given me a greater sensitivity to the needs of different cultures and the knowledge that I must be careful in the words I speak and the images I use.
To our clients? It confirms that yes, the work is as good as they think it is. To my individual employees? It's a much deserved pat on the back. To potential clients? Walk in the door holding one of these awards. Not many can do that and it clears the room quick, let me tell you. To me? It reminds me at 62 that my best design years are now and still in front of me - and that there's plenty of room on my mantle for more. It reinvigorates me and challenges me to continue to defy my age and continue to learn, grow and make a difference in this field.
We won for two different projects - an integrated marketing campaign for our assisted living & memory care client and a packaging campaign for a cannabis company. I'm proud of both, but the cannabis project was our most innovative of 2020. Truly, it's looks nothing like any packaging in the display case today.
Gosh, where do you start? This very smart grower was moving (for the first time) into the distribution end of the business. He knew that the very male market was oversaturated with packaging full of pop imagery and that the female market had been absolutely overlooked. (49% of all pot users in Oklahoma are women.) So how to reach them in a case full of graffiti, comic book characters and Jamaican colors? We went with a very classic nod to JOB, with beautiful blues and gold fleck.
I get to walk into a room of ad agencies competing for the same client and put that award on the table in front of me, look the potential in the eye and say, "We have proven success in pot packaging and we've got the silver to show for it. They don't. Let us do the job." I think it's going to work.
My company is chock full of people who have become family. My clients are family and we've gone through thin and thick together. (I love these people.) Third? We all have our own niche and I really respect other firms from my area. There are some real geniuses out there and there's times that I look at the work they've done and regret I didn't get to spend time working for them - I would have learned something.
I have such a global view, I'm not sure I can say where we're unique.
We have become an industry that is heavily dependent on design software only. Our schools churn out designers who cannot write copy. Cannot take a photograph. Can't identify target market needs. Make tictoks versus commercials. And are limited in their scope and abilities. I only see more of that to come. Now see the answer to the next question.
To a person entering this industry? Be a great generalist. Know something about everything. Be a graphic artist who can walk into my office who can write copy. Make a youtube ad campaign. Cut a tiktok. Create an 8 word billboard. You're going to make a lot of money in this industry, but I warn you - stay fresh and stay on trend.
Nothing makes me happier than typing the words, "Best ads for 2020" on Google. Look at other's work. What do you like? What hits you wrong? Dissect. Consider. Question. What makes one design good, another iffy? One ad will lead you like Alice down one path and then another.
My other favorite resource? Get thee to your nearest art or history museum. Inspiration lies in those stories, on those canvases. Let them take you to another place. (And remember, even in the Age of Corona, you can visit online!)
I friggin hate getting old in this business. I usually ask to go last in a room full of agency show and tells. Why? I get to see the dog and pony shows, enjoy the hard body girls in tight suits and the young up and coming lions sell themselves. When they call me, I sit down with my weathered face and years of experience and just ask one question, "What's going on?" Usually a disembodied voice in the dark, somewhere up in the cheap seats will say, "You may begin your presentation." My response? "This is the presentation. Obviously you're looking for new representation because you've got a problem and something's not working. Come down here and talk to me so we can fix it." Some do. Some don't. It's fun being the smartest person in the room but at times, I miss being being the prettiest because back then, I didn't have to ask them to come down.
I have a 24 year old autistic son. He always seen the sunny side of life and the best in other people. When I want to jump to conclusions, I remember him and what he has taught me. He makes me kind.
I understand that business is supposed to be just business, but with me, it's personal. I work with people whose handshake is a promise, who provide outstanding products and are icons in our community. I am so very very very proud to tell others about them.
Nope, I gotta go. I have artwork I have to approve!
atomic.marketing offers affordable and smart advertising, marketing, social networking and PR services.