Category Archives: My Work

Advertising Research: The Loneliest Profession


Sure, it’s unlikely Don Draper could land an agency job today. Still, advertising is a practitioner-oriented field, and this has held true since the Mad Men era… but it’s the distance between university halls vs. the avenues of New York is our primary concern.

Enter the advertising researcher (and a bit of shameless self-promotion). Not to invite myself to the party, but my point is we brought cake. There’s untapped potential for bringing together the different perspectives of academic and creative by putting consumers at the center of the equation. And it’s us nerds who can help make it happen. (Read full article on

I write about advertising and culture from the POV of an advertising analyst for the I Love Charts collection on Medium. More at


New Article: Advertising & Art

Language of brands_Jason Potteiger

Warhol Was Wrong About Advertising & Art:

“Huh, so you make lies for a living?” That was the first question he asked me. It was also the first time I’d told anyone I worked in advertising. I thumbed the glass of whiskey in front of me. Having landed my first internship earlier that day, at just 21 years old it was a bigger question than I realized at the time. It was a question about culture.

Commercial messages and manufactured iconography swirl with, around, between us. Thousands of brands occupy the collective consciousness and command a piece of the cultural pie. This is a story about how, and why… (keep reading on

I recently started writing a weekly column for the I Love Charts collection on Medium. Each week I use charts (and hopefully wit) to explore the synthetic side of culture.

I’m very much looking forward to unpacking some big ideas about advertising and culture. There’s a lot to hate about advertising, but  there’s a lot to love, too–it’s just harder to find sometimes. Whether you play for Ad Busters or Ad Week, the reality is it’s there and it’s shaping us and our world.

Clean & Clear Campaign ‘See the Real Me’

It was a privilege work on this campaign for Clean & Clear, especially because it proves that advertising to women (and especially teenage girls) doesn’t require that brands make them feel ugly. In the insights phase of development we explored ways to engage with girls that was more positive and forward thinking than: you have a zit now use our product to “fix your face”. The heart of the campaign is about encouraging girls not be afraid of embracing their authentic selves and show the world their face (i.e., who they really are). Conceptually, we might sum up the approach as Dove’s “Real Beauty” meets  Nike’s “Just Do It”. In the execution DDB NY has done a great job blazing a new trail and J&J should be commended for their efforts to break the mold.

…Jeff B. Smith, president of United States skin care at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, said Clean & Clear, which is aimed at females from 12 to 24, is shifting the way it talks about confidence to reflect how social networks challenge self-image.

“There is an interesting dynamic with teen girls today that we call the paradox,” Mr. Smith said. “They live in the world of social media and are very much out there and want to be seen, but they’re afraid of being judged.

…Jen Drexler, senior vice president of the Insight Strategy Group and co-author of “What She’s Not Telling You,” reviewed the campaign and praised the casting of nonactors in both the commercials and videos.

“Those girls look like my teenage babysitters who show up on a Saturday night,” Ms. Drexler said. “Clean & Clear has a very authentic and honest place that it’s coming from, and here they feel very much on the side of teenage girls.


Sneaker Museum

Very proud of my friends at Yes.Oui.Si. for getting the Sneaker Museum off the ground. It truly came out amazing! I feel privileged to have been involved for the short time that I was — in helping with the audience segmentation for the business plan I certainly learned A LOT about sneakerheads.


“In the broadest sense, a sneakerhead is anyone who actively enjoys collecting sneakers. They love sneakers as much as a Star Trek fan loves dressing up as a Klingon and trekking to conventions. But, unlike Trekkies, they can be hard to spot. Today, almost anyone could be a sneakerhead as the community has become incredibly broad and diverse over the past two decades. Rich and poor, boys and girls, old and young, it’s clear that anyone is susceptible to the addiction to kicks that defines the sneakerhead archetype.”

Consumer Manifesto

This is a great video that presents a “new” way that businesses could/ should and do approach market research by engaging with their consumers. Communispace pioneered this approach and they’re still innovating 10 years later. I feel lucky to have been part of the process at Communispace realigning/ refining the company’s unique purpose and product. In short, I’m happy to say I learned from the best in the business!

“At Communispace, we believe there is a better way of doing business. For over 12 years, we have been committed to helping our clients collaborate with, and get inspiration from, their consumers.”

A Love Letter to James Franco

Abstract: I wrote this article about my admiration for James Franco’s lust for life. When it was first published it ranked among the most popular articles on the site.

Originally published on TNGG.

As I sit down to write this piece, I have to wonder if James Franco might take a crack at it for me. Of course, he’d probably pee on my computer as part of a performance art piece and possibly make a documentary about doing it. Sounds weird, but coming from a PhD candidate at Yale, maybe there’s something to it.

Much has been written about Franco’s exploits outside Hollywood, and there isn’t a lot left to say. Just about everyarticle on the successful actor, student and aspiring artist* begins with a laundry list of what he’s up to: attending graduate school, writing short stories and novels, directing and starring in documentaries and student films, opening galleries, and a litany of other creative projects, all at the same time.

But my interest is not so much the what, but the how and why.

When you look at what he’s accomplished, Franco seems inhuman. But he’s actually not that unlike the rest of us. Yes, he is intelligent, a quick study and bursting with energy (though frequently exhausted). However, as The New Yorker points out: James isn’t a savant or a prodigal genius either, “he’s someone of mortal abilities who seems to be working immortally hard… Franco’s work gives off a student-y vibe. It exudes effort.”

From what I can tell, it comes down to one simple thing, he gives a shit about life. In fact, I think he might be addicted to it.

This past September, Dave Franco shot an interview with his brother James during Esquire’s cover shoot. There’s an odd chemistry between them, like two friends reuniting after years apart. Here, a human side shines through not captured on The Daily Show or TODAY Show.

The warmth and authenticity of his smile grabs you. His whole body laughs, eyes squinting and cheeks up, with a grin that draws creases across his face–like a camera flash that keeps going off.

But, while Franco’s smile is infectious, his lust for life is an outright bio-hazard. It affects you on a physiological level, like he’s bleeding enthusiasm through the screen. Not the jumping on sofa with Oprah type, more like the relentless calm of a man on a mission.

Keep in mind, at any given time he’s likely just jumped off a plane from a poetry reading in South Carolina and will, right after whatever he’s doing, dash off to LA or NYU or Germany for another job, or lecture, or project. And yet he’s here, and focused. Midway through, his brother asks him about down time.

Dave: “When was like the last time you weren’t working on something? Just sitting there and doing nothing?”
James: “I don’t even know what that means.”

Saturday Night Live might poke fun at Franco’s many projects, “I like having jobs!” But it’s hard to deny that there is something special about his motivation: he’s in it for himself. In a world where we define ourselves within the confines of social scripts and the approval of others, it’s like he’s found a way to break free.

Upon receiving news that he was nominated for an Oscar–perhaps the highest achievement for any actor–Franco chose to attend his class on Byron, Keats and Yates rather than head down to New York for press.

When it comes to male role models for this generation, I’m not sorry to say that guys like Eminem and Diddy are a complete waste of space. Franco matters because he isn’t just cool. He’s like a James Dean who cares about doing well in school.

He’s a rebel with a cause beyond money or fame. He’s a rebel making the most out of every moment of life he’s got, so much so that boredom and downtime and sleep are the enemy.

I know it’s insane. But it’s the type of insanity I can get behind. The type of insanity that keeps you up late and makes you skip showers. The type that says I am going to die so I better live.

Dave: “I get out of bed when I have something to do.”
James: “Don’t you feel like there’s always stuff to do…”

Sending All My Love To You (Boston)

On Monday my best friend Alex Pearlman, a reporter for The Boston Globe and Radio BDC, was in Copley Square when the bombs went off. She penned a firsthand account of what she saw that I’d like to share.

I Was At the Boston Marathon Bombing, This is My Story

It has been very strange to see my home in such disarray from so far away. Boston is a small town and it’s home to 80% of my friends and family. On Monday my Facebook feed was almost exclusively notes reading “I’m okay” and “I’m safe”.  I got texts from friends reading, “I can’t stop crying” and e-mails from others admitting they were afraid to ride the train the next day. But then they did.

It was especially surreal to experience how the friend-driven web can make you feel so close to a place. I could almost feel the worry and confusion through the screen. I was reminded of reading tweets and listening to audio messages (via Google) coming out of Egypt two years ago and how close I felt to complete strangers. This time it was my friends, it was Alex.

Bostonians, not unlike the New Yorkers I’m surrounded by today or Americans in general, are resilient and proud of their home. I imagine the noise, the confusion, the fear and the eerily quiet night that followed the bombing will stay with my community for some time. Though I can’t feel it directly, I know it must hurt, but I’m sure it will only make us stronger, kinder and fiercer friends in the end.

Be brave Boston, I miss you and love you.


PS great article by Chris Faraone: Boston, Through a Crisis Darkly

“I just can’t help but stop every couple of feet to note how drastically the Hub changed since two bombs went off near Copley Square… this landscape is a wholly unfamiliar beast.”