All posts in Squeaky

How Suerte Tequila Is Made

The tequila-making process is a lot more involved than some would think. Our friends at Suerte Tequila gave us the low-down on just how much work goes into producing their tasty tequila. Now that you know how it’s made, go put your knowledge to test with a nice tall glass of Tequila. Salud!

Ever wonder how tequila is made? Now you know.

Ever wonder how tequila is made? Now you know.

[INFOGRAPHIC] ALS #IceBucketChallenge

Over the past few weeks, social media has been overrun by the #icebucketchallenge, the viral campaign meant to raise awareness for ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). As digital natives, marketers and social media-addicts, we’ve been enthralled and intrigued by the virality of this campaign.  Now that it’s settling down and our newsfeeds are going back to cat videos and Buzzfeed articles with The Most Overdramatic Headline You Will Ever See In  Your Whole Life Ever, we’ve spent some time looking at the numbers and created an infographic that makes it easier to understand the magnitude of the #icebucketchallenge but, more importantly, the devastating effects of the disease that it has shed light on.

ALS-infographic-part

Some say that it is narcissism masked as philanthropy, others say that even if that’s true, it shouldn’t matter because it raised millions of dollars. Did everyone who dumped water over their head donate? Probably not. Is it unethical to waste perfectly good water when countries all over the world have no access to clean water? Well, we wouldn’t be shipping that water to them anyways, so…probably not, but maybe the California drought could use some more. You could always do as one of our sales team did and go run underneath some regenerated water…or pull a Matt Damon and head straight to your toilet. 

We say that whether you love the #icebucketchallenege phenomenon or you hate it, it’s worth talking about because it very may well change the course of charitable fundraising from here on out.

Shedding Light on a Century-Old Craft: Neon Lighting

New signage in the Squeaky Loft.

New signage in the Squeaky Loft.

Living in a digital, connected world means we all have near-instant access to almost anything. Want to plan a trip? There’s a site for that. Want to order a pizza? There’s an app for that. All of this “connectedness” can sometimes make life feel as if it’s speeding by – causing us to forget to stop and admire the craft and perfection that goes into everything that surrounds us, especially art.

That’s why when we recently commissioned our friends at Manhattan Neon for a new neon sign for our office, we decided to take the time to find out more about their historic craft. These guys have been in the neon lighting business for 30 years and are known for iconic  installations like the Coca-Cola sign in Times Square and the Macy’s ‘Believe’ sign.

For our sign, we chose the phrase, “Always Be Nice,” as it closely parallels our ethos and is at the core of our agency culture. We chose to hang it above the conference room so that it can act as a centerpiece of the office as well as a way to inform everyone when meetings and conference calls are in session.

DSC_2055When it was nearly complete, we went to check it out and sat down with the artist who crafted it (a strapping Irish fellow named Steve) to learn more about the history of neon lighting, the industry and his craft.

Neon signage is all done by hand

Neon signage is all done by hand

Q: When did neon lighting first come about?

A: Neon lighting was first created for the purpose of illumination. Europe was competing with the likes of Edison and others for a practical form of lighting and neon lighting was unveiled at the Paris Expo in 1910. In 1923, Georges Claude introduced neon signs to the U.S. with the sale of two signs to a Packard automobile dealership in LA. Upon displaying these new signs near the highway, drivers were intrigued and slowed down to check them out—causing a traffic jam for hours.

Q: How does Neon lighting work exactly? It’s basically running electricity through neon gas and because it’s in glass it allows the light to escape right?

A: Exactly. Primarily you use two gases to create neon signing: Neon (Ne) which produces red and Argon (Ar) which produces blue but variations of gases produce different colors.

Q: Being around for over 100 years now, neon signage is seemingly archaic in the digital age, but surprisingly there is still a demand for it. Why do you think that is?

A: With the rise of technology, modern signage became almost too accessible thus, inadvertently catapulting neon signage into more of an art form.

This sign was used in the film, "The Departed"

This sign was used in the film, “The Departed”

Q:What is the most popular or well-known sign you’ve created at Manhattan Neon?

A: Signs in Times Square such as the Coca-Cola bottle are probably amongst the most well-known signs we’ve produced.

Q: What is the strangest request for a sign you’ve had?

A: Neon signs became popular amongst peep shows and strip clubs and the old 42nd street used to be teeming with them. (Manahattan Neon actually has a bunch of vintage signs from this era)

Q: Is it dangerous if these gas-filled glass tubes drop and break?

A: No that wouldn’t be dangerous but like any job there are dangers in neon sign crafting. I’ve accidentally burned and electrocuted myself in the past. DSC_2159Q: What is your favorite part about the neon lighting business?

A: What’s not to like? I come in, wear what I want and get to do what I love.

We had a great time getting to know Steve and learning more about our talented neighbors at Manhattan Neon.  Next time you stop by Squeaky, be sure to check out our new signage and let us know what you think.

 

 

Don’t Compromise Culture

As you may already know, the culture of an advertising or digital agency is usually far from your typical corporate experience – pizza Fridays, summer hours and office trips to a nearby wine bar for happy hour are common for shops of all sizes. But in stressed economic times, the smaller agencies are left with a decision to make: Do we compromise these morale-boosting activities in order to save a couple bucks? (Hint: No way!)

For us, our agency culture isn’t something that we’re willing to compromise. We recognize that our culture is what enhances the quality of life for all of our employees (read: team members). Let’s face it, happy people are creative people and creativity is the life force of agencies like ours.

So if you’re a small shop looking for ways to raise morale and grow your company culture (without breaking the bank), here are a few simple ideas to experiment with:

Promote Health

exercisecollage_570

Healthy people are happy people and exercise not only benefits your body physically but mentally as well—improving memory and overall brain function.  Who says you need to have an in-office gym to exercise during the day? At Squeaky, many people spend their lunch breaks going for a run, bike-ride or stroll along the Hudson River (thankfully we have a shower). We also offer free in-house yoga classes twice a month.

Leverage Your Resources

clientscollage_570

When discussing payment with a client, (depending on the client) think about how your employees could benefit and consider asking for a partial amount of barter to share with them. It helps everyone in the agency feel connected to all of the clients and ongoing projects, even if they were not directly involved.

We like to reward our hardworking staff with fun things like bowling trips to Bowlmor, client products like the finest Tequila compliments of Tequila Avión, tasty beverages from National Beverage and healthy pet food items for our furry friends from WellPet. We keep them styling with cool shades from NYS Collection and on occasion we even send them off to MetLife Stadium for Giants and Jets games (ok, so they might not be our clients but it’s still an awesome perk compliments of our CEO).

Give Back to Your Community

Giving back to the community

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a heavy workload and with today’s technology it’s often very hard to disconnect from these stresses. Give your employees the opportunity to make a difference and feel good about themselves in a non-work related context.

It isn’t very difficult to find easy, inexpensive ways to give back to your city and your community. Not only will you enhance the way people view your agency and better your community, but you will also strengthen the leadership and interpersonal skills of your employees, all while helping them put their work-related stresses into perspective.

At Squeaky, we’ve collected donations and helped those in need during Sandy; sponsored a well in Africa through Charity Water and worked with St. Francis workshop in Jersey City to help feed the homeless. We also believe in the positive power sports can have on youth, which is why we sponsor the Roberto Clemente Little League every year and even pioneered and partnered with Jersey City Kickboxing to create the After School Anti-bullying campaign—helping kids build self-confidence through hard work, discipline and teamwork.

Keep Employees in the Loop

Squeaky's Annual Offsite

From executives to interns, having your employees educated and well-informed is a key component in making sure the wheels are always spinning (pun intended). Keeping your employees up-to-date on projects and company news can make everyone feel connected and more like part of a team. We host a company-wide offsite every year to look back and plan for the future as well as weekly staff meetings to make everyone feel more involved.

Your employees likely come from different cultural and educational backgrounds, therefore offering unique perspectives and insight. Try to organize staff brainstorming sessions for their input. The more ideas offered, the better it is for the process. There are no wrong answers and great ideas can come from anyone. Also, don’t be afraid to take team members outside to discuss business in a new environment to spark fresh ideas.

Team Bonding

squeakypeepscollage_570

Some larger companies offer team bonding activities such as a smartphone scavenger hunt or outrageous games, where everyone participates and has a great time with some friendly competition. Don’t worry, if you’re a small agency, activities like taking a trip with co-workers to happy hour, a holiday party, or even a bowling trip will easily help bring you and your team together.

These are just a few tactics that we utilize here at Squeaky. Knowing that there are so many more options that can be employed, what are some ways your company approaches team building and boosting morale?

The Adventures of Chippy Part 3: The Dog Days of Summer

It’s been a gajillion degrees out and the dog days of summer are upon us, so we figured it’s about time for some fun. Even Chippy, Squeaky’s top dog, gets to partake in the fun from time to time. Ever since he explored his inner hipster in Williamsburg and caught up on his Spanish lessons in Washington Heights, he’s been itching for another adventure with a member of the Squeaky fam. So when Squeaky designer, Olivia, said she was headed to Fire Island, Chippy quickly packed up his sunblock, towel and hopped in her beach bag.

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