Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I know, this is WAY overdue

Okay, so I haven’t updated this in awhile. I lost my motivation because I haven’t been doing anything REALLY exciting lately.
So past two weekends I’ve just been hanging around Wellington, but I’ve been making the most of it. Two weeks ago I walked up Mt. Victoria and saw some amazing views of the town. Until then I didn’t really realize how small Wellington really was. From up there I could see where I worked, where I lived, the airport, etc, etc. Pretty much everything really looked so close together. Of course when I think about more and more Wellington is really only the size of Grand Rapids.

After walking down Mt. Vic instead of going home I walked over the New Zealand War memorial. It was pretty cool, I didn’t know very much about New Zealand’s history until then.

When I saw the tomb of the Unknown Soldier I thought it was interesting that they didn’t have a guard or rope or anything around it. On my 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. on the things I remembered very well was the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There was an elaborate ceremony of the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery.

Then, last weekend my agency was invited to an industry party that was being put on by a post-production company. It was a lot fun going out with people from work, what wasn’t fun was waking up the next day at 8:00AM and getting in a car to Martinborough. Martinbourough is a town in the Wairappa, which is one of the largest wine regions in New Zealand. Although I’m not a hue fan of wine, it was a perfect day to be driving around and taking in the scenery. The wine was also very good, and on top of that we went to an olive rove. Apparently New Zealand olive oil is supposed to be a bi deal. We tasted many different kinds of olive oil, and I tried olives too. I usually HATE olives, but these were so good. First I tried the dessert olives, yep dessert olives. They’re black olives that are soaked in balsamic vinegar and some kind of fruit. They were nothing like that nasty olives I was used too. Then I tried the green olives, these were the smallest olives I had seen. They didn’t have that red thin in the middle, which explains the size. So these olives savory and salty, and just good, I can’t really explain why these were so good.
Tomorrow is my last day at MEC. Its pretty sad, the time went by really fast. I’m not totally sure, but I think my next internship isn’t going to have much to do with media. Which bums me out, but it will be good to see the other side of things in the industry.
Something I have to look forward to is that I leave for Sydney on Sunday. I’m really excited, right now I have no idea what I’m going to do there, I’m just going, but that’s pretty much how all my trips have been like so far.
So this weekend I was hoping to go bungee, but its not going to happen. I feel like I missed out big time but not doing it in Queenstown. I’m not going to look back and regret any longer though. Now I have even more reasons to come back. Oh yea did I mention I’m coming back to New Zealand. Haha, I don’t know when but someday I’ll make it back here and “relive” my the experience I’ve had.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Work, Work, Work

This past weekend I got to witness the All Blacks obliterate the South African Springbacks in rugby. Apparently this is a huge deal, South Africa is supposed to be very good. I guess New Zealand is now favored to win the Rugby World Cup next year.

This week work has been pretty good. The guys and I have been taken out to lunch twice this week, and Friday Matt, Grant, and I are being taken to the Phoenix game. The Phoenix Wellington’s football team, but they play in the Australian A-League.

One of the campaigns that just finished apparently went above and beyond the client’s initial expectations. So Grant asked me to compile all this data into a neat format for him to use in his entry report for an award. I felt pretty good about myself that he asked me to do something. Then after going through the week after week after week of post analysis reports I understood why he asked me to do that. The client was the Ministry of Health, and the campaign was about flu shots. I think looking at so much data about flu commercials and web traffic gave me the flu. The next day I did not feel good.

Well that’s really my week so far. I know this is a short post, and I have no pictures to go with it, but my life hasn’t been too exciting the past couple of days. On the brighter side, I did buy plane tickets to Sydney the other day. I’m really excited for that trip, I’ll be spending four days of my last week there. I still need to book a hostel and find some stuff to keep me occupied while I’m there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rotorua and Thensome

After a delayed flight and wrong directions from a crazy ass bus driver, Kendall and I met up with Wes and Amanda in Rotorua. We finally found them at our hostel Thursday night. Once we were situated we explored the town a little then went to the grocery story to stock up for the weekend. Since our hostel was equipped with a kitchen, we all decided to cook for the weekend instead of eating out a lot.

Over dinner we tried to plan our weekend in “Rotavegas.” We didn’t get very far, and when we finally made some decisions it was way to late to book anything. So after breakfast on Friday morning we talked a little more and when Sarah arrived we finally decided to book some stuff.

Friday afternoon we ventured to Hell’s Gate Thermal Park. The funny thing about Rotorua is that it is in the middle of the thermal area of New Zealand. So there are a lot of geysers, and also the entire place smells like sulfur. Walking around Hell’s Gate was pretty cool. The sun was out and it was a nice day, but boy did it reek walking around that thermal park.

After we walked around the park, we went to the spa. The spa was all right; we went there thinking it was going to be a thermal pool and crazy mud pool. Well the spa looked like a collection of hot tubs. The mud pools had some privacy walls around them, but they were filled with borderline hot water that had some mud at the very bottom. Then the sulfur pool was this large communal hot tub-ish like thing. To sum up, Hell’s Gate wasn’t really worth my time or money. I wish I had spent my afternoon doing something else, but whatever it probably could have been worse.

Rotorua has a very large Maori population (the Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand) so Friday night we decided to do a Maori cultural dinner. We went to the Mitai Village where we learned about their culture and enjoyed a traditional Maori meal.

The meal we had was called a Hangi. Hangi is the Maori word for oven. The Hangi is a pit that is dug out of the ground then filled with some wood then large stones. The wood is set a flame and the stones act as coals. They use the hangi to cook the meat and some vegetables.

Saturday was simply an incredible day. We rented a car and drove out to Waitomo, which is about 2 1/2 hours from Rotorua. There we did a cave tour, which involved abseiling down a small cliff, floating around a pitch black cave on a inner tube, crawling through cave holes, seeing glow worms, and rock climbing the cliff we abseiled down. However, because I was walking through a river in only semi-water proof boots I ended up with a case of frostbite. When was the last time you got a case of frostbite in July? It was so much fun, I don’t even car that I got frostbite on my feet. It was totally worth it.

The scenery on the North Island doesn’t seem to compare with that on the South Island. Usually that’s how people describe both islands, but my trip last weekend on the South Island has really shown it to me now.
It was another good weekend for me. Sadly it was the last trip that my friends and me planned. I’m sure there will be at least one more though, especially since my boss gave me my last week off. Right now I’m trying to decide what I’m going to that week. I don’t really want to stay in Wellington; maybe for a couple of days I’ll try to get out to Australia or somewhere. Depends if anyone is willing to go with me.

Right now work is getting pretty intense. I’m working on two big projects along with my usually mundane duties. Then on top of that, during a meeting today my boss asked me if I was willing to help out with a brief. Me being a retarded intern I said, “yes.” I guess I’m not at that point where I can tell my boss, “Sorry, I already have a ton of shit to do.” I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point at MEC though. It’s hard to believe, but I really only have less than three weeks left. I kind of wish I could stay in Wellington and keep working for MEC. It’s been a sweet experience so far, sadly I’ll have to return to reality eventually and…graduate, ugh, just typing it makes me shudder.

I think I’m all caught up on the blog!! This weekend the gang and are going to see a rugby match. New Zealand is playing South Africa in Wellington. OH, and next week I’m going to the Wellington Phoenix game in Matt and Grant. Steve gave me his ticket, and here’s the best part, we’re going with some media reps, so every thing is going to be paid for. Next few weeks are looking pretty sweet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Queenstown and More

Waking up at 5AM wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and check in at the airport was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. All I had to do was put my name into a kiosk, select my flight, and then hit print. That was about it, there was no security, no questions, nothing.

I brought two books with me thinking I’d finish one on the plane and read the other on the bus. The flight was incredible, and I didn’t need to open a book. I was too distracted by the sunrise on the snow peaked mountains.
The weather on the South Island was perfect. The sun was out all day Thursday and Friday. I don’t think I’ve seen that much sunshine since I left the states. Apparently the people in Dunedin also had not seen the sun in a while either.

When we left Dunedin on Thursday for Queenstown, I thought it was a pretty cool town and I looked forward to spending Sunday there. There are a lot of cool old buildings there; it was like we got off the plane somewhere in Europe.

The bus ride to Queenstown from Dunedin was long, but also very scenic. We saw amazing snow capped mountains the whole way there. I have to admit though, I’ve seen so many mountains lately that they are starting to become less and less interesting.

Queenstown wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I didn’t really know what exactly to expect, but I wasn’t expecting the busiest ski town I’ve ever seen. All the buildings were fairly new, and they were filled with ski rentals, cafes, and expensive shops.

Thursday night, after the long day of traveling, we all signed up for a pub crawl. It was probably the best deal I’ve bought in New Zealand. I paid $25 to go to six bars with this crowd, and got six free drinks. Some were pretty good, others not so much, but it ended up being a lot of fun. Ironically it was Canada Day, so a lot of the bars had Canadian Flags and maple leaves everywhere. The Canadians sure were proud to be there.

Not going to bed until 3:30AM didn’t make the next day very easy. I woke up really early hoping that I would be able to sign up for a bungee, but we missed the first shuttle into town. Because of the Lord of the Rings tour a few others and I booked we couldn’t do any other bungee that day. So bunging was put on hold for a while I guess.

To kill time before our Lord of the Rings tour Wes, Sarah, and I walked around town taking in the scenery. We boarded the skyline gondola up the mountain where the views were incredible.

The view of the town next to Lake Wakitipu beneath The Remarkables can’t really be described with words. We couldn’t of asked for a better day either. The sun was out shiny bright and keeping us warm too.

We eventually met up with our tour guide for The Lord of the Rings. His name was David, and he wasn’t very bright. He couldn’t really tell us a lot about the scenery we were looking at, he mostly just referred to his book and read aloud from it when we had a question.

Towards the end of our tour I was talking to David about my bungee problem and he asked if we wanted to try paragliding. Wes and I jumped at the idea and David booked it for us right over the phone.

Paragliding was a lot of fun; it was a good time of the day to do it too. Seeing the sun set over the mountains while in mid air was definitely something I’m not going to forget. The best part of it all was going down. My guide made a hard left turn and we circled our way down. We got going pretty fast too.

Our last day in Queenstown wasn’t really spent in Queenstown. We had to get up even earlier than the day before to catch our bus to Milford Sound. It took almost five hours to get there, granted to stopped in a town called Te Aneu and many other places along the way to take pictures.

Milford Sound is tucked away in the Fiordland National Park. Besided hiking, the only way to get there is by taking the Milford Road. Thankfully, because we had booked spots on a tour we didn’t have to drive.

The Milford Road takes you past 14 fiords and below the 45th parallel, which is the 1/2 way line between the equator and the South Pole. Only 10% of the world’s population ever goes below it, and now I’m part of that.

Milford sound was mistakenly named, it’s actually a fiord. A sound is formed by a river and a fiord is formed by a glacier. All the fiords we past were amazing, but they had nothing on Milford. When we finally got to Milford we took a boat out to the Tasman Sea turned around and returned to the pier. Everything about Milford was amazing, the water, the mountains, the waterfall, everything. When we were coming back it began to rain, and then even more waterfalls began to form. We couldn’t go very fall with out spotting a few waterfalls.

After we returned to the pier, we got back on the bus and returned to Queenstown. Without any stops on the way the drive was much shorter. The remainder of the day was not very exciting. We all got some food and I basically passed out afterwards, but a good nights sleep is what I needed.

Once again we had to wake up early the next morning, this time we were catching a bus back to Dunedin. The bus ride was pretty fun, I sat next to this cool guy from California. He’d been living in New Zealand for six and a half years. His wife is a kiwi that he met on some skiing trip or something.

This time around Dunedin was pretty boring. We’d basically seen everything so we ended up just walking around trying to kill time. We found our way to the world’s steepest street and successfully climbed our way to the top.

Overall the weekend was one of my better trips. Not bunging was a big bummer for me, but I know the opportunity will arise again. I know this post is really late, but I’ve been busy at work I swear. That’s another story though.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First 4th of July in an Airport

As of today I’m half way through week four. That means I only have 45 days or seven and a half weeks left here. AHH. I guess I might freaking out a little too early, after all I do have a lot of interesting plans happening right now.

This Thursday Wes, Sarah, Kendall, Amanda and I are getting on a plane at 7:05AM and flying to Dunedin. We get into Dunedin at 8:50AM then we wait for our bus to leave at 2:25PM. THEN at 6:15 we arrive in Queenstown! The self-proclaimed “adventure capitol” of the world.

Needless to say I’m really excited for this trip, and the five of us have hardly any free time there. We only have two full days in Queenstown so we all have to make the most of them.

On Friday morning Sarah, Wes, and I are starting early with a Lord of the Rings tour. We’ll be seeing the river where the fellowship past the big stone statues, the river where Arwen drowns the ring wraths, a battle scene that I can’t remember, and the delta where Faramir attacks the elephants. It’s going to be sweet to see all that cool scenery.

Friday afternoon I may very well be doing a bungee (sorry mom). I’m having a hard time justifying which bungee to do. Mom, this is where you skip the rest of this paragraph. I can do the big bungee, which is roughly 140 Meters (450 feet) or the lame cheap 40-meter bungee (131 feet). That last sentence makes it sound like an easy decision, but the really cool bungee is really expensive. I’ve already spent a pretty penny on plane ticket, lord of the rings tour, and on Saturday (next paragraph).

Saturday I will be seeing one of the most amazing places in the world, Milford Sound. Milford Sound, which is actually a fiord, is in the middle of Fiordland National Park on the west coast of the South Island.

So before I say anymore I will explain what a fiords and sounds are. A sound is, “a slim passage of water connecting either two seas or a sea and a lake. A fiord is a long, narrow inlet of sea tucked between high cliffs.” The story behind Milford Sound is some glacier formed it way back when. Then after years and years of this glacier sitting on top of the fiord, the glacier…left, or melted, or something.

Milford Sound is covered with peaks, waterfalls, and other cool New Zealand scenery. This is a trip the group and I have been looking forward to for a while. I wish I could spend more time in Queenstown, or go in summer. But I’m here in winter and I have a job, so I’m going to do the best I can. Sometimes I forget I’m not here to travel. I’m here to do my job and learn about advertising. Though I can’t explain how long the weekend feels like, in the sense that I don’t think about work at all over the three-day weekend. When I return on Monday it feels like I haven’t worked in weeks instead of days. Don’t get me wrong I do like my job, the people I work with are great, and all the people I’m introduced to are all really nice too.

Speaking of work, I have a big project in my lap now. I am doing my own media plan for a pie shop! Pie being along the lines of potpie. This plan is not for a client, it’s more of a tool for the agency and I’m building it for them. To do this plan I need to select a target market that I believe is the best choice, and find the best way to reach them. I’m little tempted to do a full marketing plan for this project. I could easily form a mock full service agency with some of my fellow interns. Then again, that might be biting off a little more than I can chew.

I really want to knock this thing out of the park, especially since I have to present it to Grant, Steve, Matt, and probably Jason and Rowena. This is my big chance to make them go, “Damn, this kid is good.”

Here’s another exciting thing about work, a second intern is starting soon. This Monday, after my amazing weekend in Queenstown, there will be another American intern at the Wellington office of Y&R and MEC. Her name is Jenny and she is from Colorado. This is the fifth Coloradan to join us in New Zealand, where the hell do they keep coming from? I shouldn’t be talking though, if I count as a Michigander then there are four of us here in NZ scattered around. Jenny is either an account management or creative intern. I’m thinking she is an account management because she is working on my end of the office and not with the creatives.

So with all that the next 4-5 days are going to be pretty exciting. It pains me a little knowing that I’ll be spending my 4th of July traveling back from Queenstown. It’s the first time I wont be in New Buffalo celebrating on the beach with my Shady Lane family accompanied by smores and fireworks, but I think the gang and I will make up for it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Good Things Happen to Good People

On one of my last days as a waiter at Blue Plate Café I had a one top table. It was this really cool lady and she made my day. She asked me about the restaurant and how long I had worked there and what not. When I told her I was leaving for an internship oversees she became very excited for me. Before she left she said to me, “thank you for being so accommodating, when I was about your age I was traveling like you’re starting too. My aunt said to me that good things happen to good people, and its been proven true to me time and time again.” She left me a very generous tip that day, but her words are what I remember most.

Its only week three of my internship, but I have arguably learned more about relationship marketing than advertising. The funny thing is that people keep telling me about how different the media industry is here in Wellington than it is in Auckland. Yesterday while I was out to lunch with Steve and a TV rep named Donna, Donna basically said she doesn’t take care of her Auckland clients the same way she does her Wellington clients. It sounds as if media planners in Auckland are more demanding of their media reps, and vice versa.

A heard a similar story today from another TV rep. His name is Andy, and he is basically Donna’s competition. When Andy, Steve, and I were out for coffee Andy started telling me about this media planner he used to know. The guy was from the UK, and he was supposedly one of the best media planners in London. Andy was having a meeting with him one day, and the planner said to him, “this is the rate I want, and it’s the rate you’re going to give me” or something along those lines. Andy was a little appalled, and he thought about it for a moment then he wrote down Donna’s number and gave it to the planner. He told him to piss off and that he didn’t want to do business with him.

I guess the planner from the UK was confused, this had never happened to him before. Andy described him as nice guy, and they did do business together but I don’t think Andy ever went out of his way to help him like he the way he helps Steve. If this planner simply had said to Andy that he needed to impress this client or his boss he would of given him the rate without any questions.

It seems like when Grant, Matt, or Steve try teaching me something it all comes back to relationship marketing. Andy gives Steve a lot of good rates, and in return Steve spends more money on Andy’s network than he has to. Andy’s not the only rep who’s like this either. The other day I did my first brief with a rep, her name is Annabelle, and she works for a company that run’s the New Zealand equivalent of Ebay. I told her about the brief and what we wanted to do. It turns out our budget was too small for Annabelle to make our plan work. Even though she wouldn’t do what we wanted, she emailed me with a couple of other good ideas that can potentially accomplish what we want to do. I suppose any planner would expect this of a rep, but because of Annabelle’s ties with Grant she went out of her way to help us out.

All of this makes me think about ethics. I had a marketing teacher who preached ethics like no other. He even planned a conference about ethical leadership in business. A point this teacher often made was that people succeed in business because of their ethics. Its simple really, people don’t like to do business with other people who aren’t trustworthy or respectable. I would be very interested to hear what he has to say about Andy’s story.

I don’t know if I’ll be a media planner for an agency after I graduate. I had never really thought about that job until I started working for Grant. I like working at MEC, and so far I’ve learned a lot from the guys. If I do find a job back in the states as a planner I hope I can build the kind of relationships that Grant, Steve, and Matt have. I definitely don’t want to be the kind of media planner who has to beat up a rep to get the right rate.

It’s a little weird that I’ve only been here for three weeks and I’ve come to realize this. I don’t know if media planning in Chicago is like Wellington or Auckland, but I know either way what kind of person I am and what kind of ethics I have too.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Little About Work

Today I realized that I had been mostly writing just about my traveling and drinking escapades. It made me think that I was avoiding a huge part of my trip, my internship after all that is the reason why I am here.

So what’s been going on at work? Well so far I’ve just been learning. You really have to know a lot to be a successful media buyer. That includes knowing the client, the different mediums, and the software. Last week was one huge training session that my mind has just combined into one long day. I learned how to used three different programs Pegasus, which is used to clock hours and bill clients. Asteroid, this giant database that can tell you almost anything about consumers and different demographics, and Arianna, this is an AGB Nielsen product that deals with TV ratings and campaign monitoring.

So I learned about all those programs, and with that my boss is teaching me about New Zealand and the ad industry here. So last week we spent and hour talking about TV. Pretty cool huh? Lol When working in the ad industry though you need understand all the mediums. So we talked about the different channels in New Zealand, who owns them, and what’s their target market. I was baffled when I found out that the New Zealand Government controls channels 1 and 2, but I guess they don’t abuse that. They pay people to be unbiased when it comes to news and content. Personally I don’t think that would work in the U.S.

By the time Thursday came around I was ready for the weekend, crazy to think that I’m that dependant on a 4-day workweek. Anyways, I get to work and I find out that Steve, Matt, and I are being taken out to lunch. So I’m pretty stoked, I usually eat a sandwich everyday for lunch. So I did the work I had that morning and at 12:00 we left. We didn’t come back until 3:30, and that was after 5 of us drank three bottles of wine, and I had two rum and cokes. The two guys who took us out where from some company in Auckland that is like the equivalent of Clear Channel. These guys were pretty hilarious. They gave me the nickname Capone because I’m from Chicago. One of the better nicknames I’ve had.

I guess media planners get taken out to lunch like that a lot. That’s not even the end of it though; we got back to the office at 3:30. I had no work to do so I’m waiting for Matt to give me something to do and he tells me that we have to go downstairs to the café for another “meeting.” So that was the rest of my day, at least until 6:00. Then I find out that the reason that we have two of these in the same day is because there were all these media reps down from Auckland that day. There were two parties that night for media planners in Wellington, so I went to one with Matt. It was at this bar, that I can’t remember the name of, but it was sweet because it was an open bar. So I talked to a few people, as soon as they found out I’m American they all wanted to get to know me. That’s making me sound way too cool, it was only about two or three people I met at the party before I left. This was all on a Thursday too, and there was another party going on too. I can’t believe all those people went to work the next day. I wonder if that’s an industry thing or a Wellington thing.