Top Four Places to Get Creative in the Quad Cities

Top Four Places to Get Creative in the Quad Cities

The Quad Cities is home to some awesomely creative and inspiring places! So, next time you’re looking to get inspired, be sure to check out one of these top four places to get creative in the Quad Cities—courtesy of the TAG team.

QC Co-Lab
The QC Co-Lab was established in 2010, and provides an excellent space for creative minds to make meaningful masterpieces! Promoting the areas of technology, science, engineering, art and music, the Co-Lab houses detailed project rooms, including industrial and electrical workshops, a library and classroom and a state-of-the-art AV studio. QC Co-Lab is available to non-members, as well as special events, workshops and a regular Open Houses every Saturday. A QC Co-Lab membership is $30 per month, but provides you access to any and all equipment or rooms you need for your project—what a great concept!
QC CoLab

Quad City Arts
Quad City Arts is a non-profit arts organization that focuses on advocating for local artists by providing the Quad Cities community with educational performing arts programs and services. What’s great about Quad City Arts, is that they offer year-round programming, so you can stay creative all year long. Whether looking to be inspired by up-and-coming artists, or wanting to take a more hands-on approach with visual workshops and events, Quad City Arts offers everything you need to channel your inner creativity and have fun.
QC Arts
Figge Art Museum
The Figge Art Museum is a premier art exhibition and education facility, located in the heart of downtown Davenport. Home to one of the Midwest’s finest art collections, and host to world-class traveling exhibitions, the Figge is one of the best places in the Quad Cities to get your creative juices flowing. If looking at art isn’t your thing, the Figge also offers a variety of interactive art classes for both youth and adults. And, if you’re looking for a fun place to take your kids on a rainy springtime afternoon, their Artica Gallery / Family Activity Center offers a great imaginative spot to hang.
Figge
Crafted Quad Cities
Do you like to craft? Then you’ll love Crafted Quad Cities! Not only can you shop for adorable, hand-made items at Crafted Quad Cities, but they also host a variety of crafting classes—available on nights, days and weekends. If you’re ready to make stuff, they’re ready to help!
Crafted QC
Wherever you choose to get creative in the Quad Cities, all that matters is that you are finding a great place to express your inner creativity. Where are some of your favorite spots in the Quad Cities to get creative? Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

TAG Employee Highlight: Brian Buckles

TAG Employee Highlight: Brian Buckles

A creative problem solver, Brian Buckles, Director of Design Services at TAG, works with our clients to help build their brands.

Brian is a Bettendorf native and a graduate of Iowa State University.

“I always knew I wanted to do something with art. My high school art teacher here in Bettendorf was a huge factor in my career path. He was an awesome teacher and taught us at a college level. He showed me different career opportunities for artists and encouraged me to pursue graphic design at Iowa State.”

Art has been his passion since he was little—but not his only passion.

Buckles Shark“When I was little I went back and forth between wanting to be an artist and wanting to be a marine biologist because I love sharks. Shark week is one of my favorite times of year. I even have tapes from when I was a kid of recorded shark shows.”

In fact, he loves sharks so much that if he were a superhero, he would be Shark Man.

“I’m not sure what my powers would be. I could have a great sense of smell, because sharks have an awesome sense of smell. But my powers would probably be to save the sharks from over-fishing somehow.”

When he’s not working, Brian’s time revolves around his family.

“Family is the most important thing to me. I love spending time with my three kids, and I really enjoy playing and watching basketball, too. We don’t have Netflix or cable anymore, but when we did I used to binge watch shows like New Girl. ”

His attention to detail and creative eye makes him fantastic at his job. His favorite part about working at TAG is getting to work with people who are specialists in their respective fields.

“I try to use whatever God-given abilities I have to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Of course, designing to produce effective communication that ultimately leads to increased sales for our client’s is incredibly important, and I take great pride in helping them accomplish those goals. But that moment when they first see something we’ve created and their face just lights up; that little moment makes all of it worth it.”

How does Brian sustain the energy to produce such amazing works of art? He can’t live without coffee!

Learn more about Brian and his talents by visiting our website portfolio.

Best Things about Spring

Best Things about Spring

So, it’s time to say goodbye to those lingering winter blues, and hello to all the beautiful things about spring! What are your favorite things about spring? Here’s what the TAG Team is most looking forward to.

  1. More Daylight: Hands down the best thing about spring is Daylight Saving Time, which means we get more time to enjoy the outdoors! There’s nothing worse than leaving the office after a long day to find out the sun has already set. Now that spring is here, you can enjoy the sunlight for a few extra hours after work—yay!
  2. Outside workouts: Put your gym membership on hold and dust off those running shoes, because the perfect outside workout weather is back! So, pull out your running shorts and queue up the perfect playlist, because you’re going for a run!
  3. Spring cleaning: Spring gives us the perfect excuse to de-clutter our homes, and reorganize our lives after a long, long winter. After all, how will you make room for all that adorable spring fashion if you don’t de-clutter what you have?
  4. Open windows: There’s nothing better than a spring time breeze flowing through your home. Now that warmer weather is here, pry open those windows, and let in some much-needed fresh air.
  5. Spring candy:  For whatever reason, spring candy seems to be the best! You have Girl Scout cookies, Easter chocolates and an endless assortment of jelly beans! Moral of the story, stock up on candy during spring to enjoy the rest of the year—you won’t be sorry.
  6. Colors: From pretty pastels to the vibrant, lush colors of blooming flowers, spring time brings a whole wheel of beautiful colors!And after winter’s monochromatic color palette, these colors are a welcomed change of pace.
  7. Smells: There’s flowers blooming, grass growing, people grilling— the smells of spring are downright addicting!
  8. Spring break: What’s better than spring break? The kids are off of school, the sun is shining, you can go on vacation, or even take a few days off of work to enjoy to beautiful weather.
  9. Spring fashion: It’s time to ditch those cozy winter layers, and stock up on some stylish spring fashion! I mean, who doesn’t need 25 pairs of flip flops or 40 spring skirts? The correct answer is no one!
  10. Outdoor parties: Spring brings the perfect excuse to gather your friends and host a BBQ or outdoor party! Crack open a cold one, swap some stories and enjoy the beautiful, warm weather—it doesn’t get any better than a day in the sun with the ones you love.

Now that winter is officially over, get out there and enjoy all the wonderful things springtime brings … you deserve it! To join the TAG Team conversation, be sure to check out our Facebook page today!

St. Patty’s Day Partyers

St. Patty’s Day Partyers

St. Patrick’s Day is when everyone is suddenly Irish. It’s the holiday everyone celebrates like they’re in college again, and it’s socially acceptable! No matter where you are, you are sure to run into some of these people when you’re out celebrating!

The Pinchers
There’s always that one person who is obsessed with whether you’re wearing green or not and will most definitely pinch you if you aren’t. When did assaulting someone for not wearing green become okay? If you’re one of these people, it’s time to reevaluate your celebration strategy.

St Patricks Day2The Over Achievers
These are the most obnoxious. They can’t limit their celebration to merely wearing a green shirt. They’re decked out from head-to-toe in green, even going as far as to wear green wigs and tutus. They’ll encourage you to “get into the spirit,” but at the end of the night you can generally find them passed out in the middle of the bar with their glass still full of green beer.

The Pros
Sometimes the pros can be mistaken for over achievers. While they embrace the spirit of the holiday and wear green, they don’t go overboard. And they have tricks up their sleeves to make sure they’re not the ones passing out mid green ale.

Party Poopers
These non-participants refuse to wear green and are the epitome of the Grinch for St. Patrick’s Day. However, friends seem to force these people to come to the bars with them in the hopes that they’ll enjoy themselves and learn to love the holiday too.

Actual Irish People Green Beer
If you’re hitting up the local Irish pub, you’re likely to run into someone who is actually Irish and would have likely been at the bar anyway. While some Irish folk get offended by the rest of us taking over their holiday, others don’t mind at all. Especially because they know that if they tell someone they’re Irish, it’s probable they’ll get a free drink out of it—but they probably prefer beer that isn’t green.

 

Keep in mind, if you can’t spot them, you just might be one! And remember that leprechauns can’t be trusted.

 

 

Top Five Super Bowl Ads of 2015

Top Five Super Bowl Ads of 2015

The best part about the Super Bowl is always the commercials. The Super Bowl has given us commercials like the E-Trade baby, and the VW one where the kid is dressed like Darth Vader and turns on a car using “the force.” To get us excited for this year’s commercials, we took a look back at last year’s commercials and picked our top five, as well as three honorable mentions.

 

Top Five Super Bowl Ads of 2015

Budweiser’s Lost Dog Commercial

Budweiser has perfected the emotional roller coaster. This commercial played off of their commercial in 2014, which included puppies and sentimental music making us all go “awwwww.” After a car accident, the yellow lab and his horse friends are separated when the puppy runs away. He starts his journey to get back to home when the horses come to his rescue.

“Like a girl” Like a Girl

P&G’s feminine care line, Always, took advantage of the popularity of their commercial, #LikeAGirl and shortened it for the Super Bowl. And it was just as impactful. The commercial asks adult men and women what it means to do so something “like a girl.” Then they asked young girls the same question to show the difference, and ask “why” and “when” doing something “like a girl” became an insult.

Dorito’s “When Pigs Fly”

When told he could have some Doritos “when pigs fly,” this commercial’s protagonist thinks #challengeaccepted, and gets right to work. He engineers a jet pack for his pig and sends him soaring across the farm, and finally gets his Doritos.

Microsoft’s “Braylon”

Super Bowl 2015 commercials really tugged on our heart strings. Microsoft tells us the story of a little boy with two prosthetic legs who, with the help of Microsoft-technology, can run relays and play like every other kid. Heartwarming and a little tear inducing, this commercial was awesome.

Coca-Cola “#MakeItHappy” Coca Cola

Soda spills in a data center and sends an electric shock to computers everywhere, taking negative messages on screens and turning them positive. Coca-Cola is taking on cyber-bullies everywhere and sending a message to everyone that bullying isn’t cool and to #MakeItHappy.

 

Honorable Mentions

Nationwide “Invisible”

No one notices Mindy Kaling, which leads Mindy to the obvious conclusion that she is invisible and therefore can do whatever she wants. Mindy walks down a grocery aisle eating ice cream out of the container, walks through a running car wash, and then learns that she is actually not invisible when she smells Matt Damon’s neck … and he is not happy with the unwanted attention.

Esurance “Walter White”

Brian Cranston, as Walter White from Breaking Bad, plays a pharmacist in this Esurance commercial centered on their tagline “Sorta you isn’t you.” The commercial would have been better if the show was still playing on TV, making it feel less than relevant. But all the same, it was a pretty clever commercial.

Minions

Who doesn’t love the minions? This movie trailer stood out from the various others because it themed their commercial around the game rather than it being a shortened version of their usual trailer. The minions are seen in stadium seating, up to their normal antics and enjoying the game … when havoc breaks loose.

 

All of us at TAG enjoy watching these commercials, and are excited to see what advertisers are preparing for us this year! Be sure to follow us on Twitter as we live-tweet our favorite commercials during the game!

 

The holidays are good for these three things

Say hello to the most wonderful time of the year—the holidays are here! While we understand that the holiday season brings different traditions and meanings for everyone, we’d argue that there are a few holiday festivities that are loved by all. Here’s a list of the three best things all of us at TAG look forward to each and every holiday season!

Binge watching holiday classics
December is the one time of year you can snuggle up with a warm cup of cocoa and binge watch your favorite holiday movies—without feeling guilty about all the other things you “should” be doing instead. Come December 1, all agendas go out the window. The only thing that matters is catching that seven o’clock premiere of Miracle on 34th Street, followed up by Elf on ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas! Face it, there’s no way not to smile while watching these holiday classics.

Elf

Sippin’ some seasonal delights
It’s time to get those taste buds ready, because the holidays are known to produce some killer drink combos. Peppermint mocha lattes? Eggnog … with peppermint schnapps? Warm apple cider? Yes please! One sip of these seasonal delights is all you need to instantly embrace the holiday spirit. Some restaurants are even taking their love for holiday beverages to the next level by adding a little festive flare to their menus—like eggnog flavored pancakes and peppermint milkshakes. We approve!

Brace Yourselves

Spending quality time with the family
All joking aside, the number one thing to look forward to during the holiday season is the quality time you get to spend with your family and friends. Holiday parties bring the perfect excuse for everyone to get together, eat good food, drink good drinks and create wonderful memories. No matter the traditions your family chooses to follow, it’s always nice to spend this time of year with those most important to you.

Griswold

 

All of us at TAG wish you and your family a very happy holiday! May you watch too many holiday movies, drink way too many holiday drinks and spend some much needed quality time with those you love. Cheers, everyone!

Summertime in Dubuque

Hey, guys—guess what? It’s finally summertime! If you’re looking for some ideas of things to do in Dubuque on a fine summer day, I’ve got you covered.

We're On A Boat

River
One of my favorite summer activities is being on the water. Whether boating, kayaking or canoeing, being outside on the Mississippi River is always a day well spent—just don’t forget your sunscreen! Can’t swim and prefer to stay on land? No problem—enjoy the water from one of the many waterside establishments in the area! My personal favorite, with a view that just can’t be beat, is The View Restaurant and Bar on the marina at Mud Lake just north of town—breathtaking!

You can rent kayaks, stand-up paddle boards (SUPs) and canoes from Fever River Outfitters and even take SUP lessons from Big River SUP. Renting boats is easy, too! Just visit American Lady Cruises—they rent pontoons and charter ships for dinner cruises! Looking to buy? Visit Hawkeye Boat Sales and you’ll be cruising the Mississippi in no time.

Music

The summer is alive with the sound of music in Dubuque! My friends and I take advantage of all of the live music opportunities throughout the summer—especially when they are outdoors and on the weekends! Dubuque Main Street and the Dubuque Jaycees put on Dubuque … and All That Jazz!—a monthly concert series on Friday nights with local bands at Town Clock Plaza. Summerfest Dubuque follows suit with live music at the Town Clock Plaza for all to enjoy, with an added bonus—it’s a fundraiser for the Dubuque Area Labor Management Council.

Farmer’s Market

What’s better than eating healthy? Eating fresh, healthy foods that support local businesses and growers! Spend a Saturday morning supporting local vendors at the Dubuque Farmers’ Market—a market that extends more than three city blocks on Iowa Street. I’ll share some of my favorite finds with you:

  • Freddie’s Popcorn (need I say more?)
  • Anything from The Food Store! You MUST try the eggrolls!
  • Fresh produce (tomatoes are my personal favorite)
  • Hand-made mittens—that’s right, the Farmer’s Market stays open through the end of October

Local Businesses

Paradise Distilling Co—Locally owned and operated, Dubuque’s very own distilled rum is a treat, like having the tropics in our own backyard!

L. May Eatery—Who doesn’t love a brick oven pizza and a glass of vino on the Main Street sidewalk? Feeling fruity? Check out the sangria! L. May is a must in town!

Dubuque Marina & Yardarm—This is a great place to visit by land or water, day or night! They offer a courtesy dock for boaters, a great deck to enjoy the sun during the day and a menu for lunch and dinner. Raining? No problem—a spacious covered bar and indoor seating keep the good times rolling because at night, the Yardarm hosts rockin’ bands!

 

These are just a few of my favorite (summer) things! If there’s something that you love about summertime in Dubuque that I’ve left off my list, share it with us in the comments!

Five ways to [really] be more content in your professional and personal lives

Be realistic about your habits

The first step to successfully balancing your work and home life is to be honest with yourself. Will you really have the energy to get in an after-work workout? Do you really think you can stop yourself from blowing your weekly calorie count on beer at that work function this weekend? Will you actually ignore your email once you settle into the couch to watch Netflix with your family/roommate/significant other?

disapproving Jake Gyll

That’s not to imply you can’t stick to your guns. However, it’s highly likely you won’t. And that’s okay. Just keep that in mind when you’re telling your wife that you totally have the time mow the lawn tomorrow—right between your P90X workout and picking up your daughter from soccer practice. If you can be straight up with her about what you can actually accomplish in one night, she might be straight up with you about how long it will actually take her to get ready for the company holiday party.

Likewise, if that report can’t be on your boss’s desk first thing in the morning, it’s time to own up and say so before he schedules a 7:30 a.m. meeting with the client.

Foist responsibility—have someone else keep you accountable

Our collective lack of self-control is what leads to the second piece of advice—ask for help. Or, when you’re too proud to admit you might be in danger of eating an entire package of Oreos after lunch or binge-watching House of Cards instead of cleaning the bathroom, trick yourself—and others—into keeping you on track with just the power of your voice.

“Does anyone want some Oreos?” or “I think the mold in our shower has a life of its own,” are examples of phrases that will somehow, magically, recruit others to hold you accountable.

time to clean the bathroom

Bringing people on the bandwagon, like convincing a coworker to join you in doing exercises over lunch, is another way to help keep the promises you made to yourself. And it makes you feel less silly for doing squats in the empty conference room.

Whenever possible, kill two birds with one stone

You don’t need to waste another hour of your down time yammering on about your insecurities and criticisms. Tell your coworkers a story about that time your six-year-old walked to the grocery store alone without telling anyone where he went. When your coworkers chime in with their own crazy stories, you can all judge each other together.

bambi telling stories

In their effort to one-up you with awful parenting stories, you’ll not only feel more secure in your parenting tactics, you’ll also have gained valuable advice, entertained your office and successfully mingled your home life with work in one fell swoop. This also works with complaints about in-laws, harping about your boyfriend leaving the toilet seat up and proclaiming your love of food.

Doesn’t it feel good to get that off your chest? Don’t take that kind of thing home with you. Besides, your hands will already be full carrying that pile of work crap you didn’t do at work.

Work hard, play hard

As good as a beer tastes after a long day at work, it will taste even better after a long, hard day at work. A reward always feels better than a consolation prize. Turn your after-work activities into first place ribbons instead of honorable mentions by putting some pride into what you do from 9 to 5.

Work isn’t the only place you can use this strategy. If you know you can’t keep yourself from eating a piece of cake at your best friend’s wedding—and your other friend’s wedding, and your boyfriend’s sister’s wedding—then tack on an extra couple miles of jogging to your summer workouts and forget about that body-con dress from college you thought you might reuse for all these damn weddings.

healthy Mindy Kaling

Accepting that it takes a level of responsibility to enjoy any level of luxury will lead to a happier, healthier balance of your professional and personal lives.  All of the indulgence, none of the guilt.

Remember why you do what you do

Besides absolutely loving what you do every second of the day, as we all do, remember those special moments that make work worthwhile. That time the CEO remembered your name. That time your content went up on a high-traffic billboard. That time the client finally admitted you have better ideas than they do. That time your raise allowed you to escape to the beach with your family for a week.

As well as keeping you from giving up and getting fired, remembering your reasons for working in the first place can restore your zest for what you do. In the same way, remembering why you fell in love with Mr. Never-Does-Dishes in the first place can convince you to get off your email and indulge his Walking Dead obsession for a night.

child and dog are friends

The truth is, both your professional and personal lives should make you feel proud, valued and successful. They both allow you to achieve your goals, and you should respect that. Balance should not be about putting them in their separate corners and building a wall between them—instead, try to tactfully integrate them. Combine them when possible, enjoy them and always give it your best.

New trends in digital billboards allow for greater message targeting

Digital billboards provide exciting new opportunities for businesses to fine tune marketing messages and content that is relevant in that exact moment to consumers, based on the time of day, weather and user feedback.

New digital billboards equipped with technology allow advertisers to change messaging based on certain parameters. For example, a car dealership can set its messaging to change to an ad about windshield wipers whenever it is raining.

The creative possibilities are endless for the new options in outdoor advertising that are coming into our marketplace. The new features will make outdoor advertising more effective by changing the digital billboard messaging instantaneously.

Here are some of the new digital billboard trends and options available:

Weather triggers

Weather Triggers

This option is ideal for businesses that offer weather-related services. Messaging can be changed based on the temperature, current forecast and other weather conditions, such as wind speeds.

For example, a restaurant owner that wants to sell ice cream can change its message to feature a sundae when the temperature is 85 degrees or higher.

Countdown

Countdowns

Generate hype for a new product launch or store opening with the countdown option. There are automatic and manual countdown options that allow the advertiser to automatically count the days, hours and minutes to an event. The countdown updates automatically without the need to continually update the art.

Day Parting

Day Parting

Cater messaging based on the time with day parting. Day parting allows advertisers to change the creative based on the day of the week, time or by including a text box that can be updated at any time with relevant information.

Social media

Social Media

Create synergy between outdoor and social media marketing campaigns. Digital boards can pull real-time photos, status updates and more from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare.

User-generated content

User-Generated Content

Research shows consumers trust their peers when it comes to brands, so let customers do the talking with user-generated content in outdoor advertising. Digital boards can be programmed to pull user-generated content from a microsite created for a specific campaign or from social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Kerry Johnson

 

Kerry Johnson is the Vice President of Media Management at TAG Communications. She has 18 years of experience in media sales, buying, planning and research.

Salesman or Spokesman?

Social media means something to everyone, even if you aren’t an active user. For some it’s a social hangout, to others it’s a way to publicize business. For advertisers, social media is a tool that changed the industry. Honestly, it changed the world, but that’s another story.

Facebook, Twitter, Google Paid Search, Pinterest, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, Foursquare, etc. What do they all have in common? Well, they all have the potential to generate sales. Yes, sales. The purpose behind social marketing can be seen as two fold; to build an audience while also building brand loyalty and to drive sales.

Steps for Social sales success:

  1. Strategy: As advertisers, we start with a strategy – first priority is to identify what platforms fit our clients need. Why do you want to use social media for your business? How can you use social media to sell your story?
  2. Platform: Which social media platforms are right for your business? There are multiple ways to reach your customers. Don’t limit yourself to the traditional Facebook and Twitter platforms.
  3. Delivery: How will you tell the story you want customers to hear? Connecting the dots from brick and mortar to virtual and back again. Aiding in a clients understanding of the work we do for them also helps connect the dots to the success of their business.

Take a company like Patagonia. Their Facebook page doesn’t have advertisements for products they sell; it has stories about the people that use their products. The stories they share depict a lifestyle that lives and breathes their mission. By sharing these stories Patagonia grows their own customer base. People read the stories and become inspired to live their life along the mission of Patagonia. This inspiration should be every company’s goal when it comes to implementing social media.

At TAG, we understand the value in a social presence for your business. We also understand the complications that go along with having a social presence. Lucky for you, we’re here to help! Check out our white paper on social media for your business by clicking here to get you started.