June 1, 2010 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Comments Off on  

February 26, 2021 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

So we have picked a name and a direction. Now it’s time to start thinking visually.
From our meetings, I can get a concrete sense of the message you want to articulate and its tone.
Visually, finding the style it’s wrapped in is a little trickier. Everyone has their own subjective tastes and styles.
Refining the message is the logical part of the process. Discerning the style is intuitive.
Some clients leave it up to me to get a feel for this based on your current communications materials, your presentation*, your current website, and other ads, brands, and logos that you admire.
So once I review those materials, I ask for other logos you like.
The don’t have to be in the same field, or even the same industry. For instance you might be drawn to the cleverness of negative space—see the white arrow in the Fed Ex logo?
Fedex logo selection
You might like the safe, trustworthy styles you find in insurance.
Aviva Max
Or straightforward but modern like pharmaceutical logos.
advil logo
Is there a semiotic specific to your industry? For instance, medical clinics often use the staff and snake imagery and the medical cross. Lawyers like their scales of justice. Sometimes this can be cliché. Sometimes this can lead to new places.
Medical logo

Snake cult or tapeworm twirlers? You decide.

Do you have a preference on type? Serif, San Serif, classic or modern?
Logos I Like
I’ll get the ball rolling.
For modern minimalist, I like Tangerine.
For more of a classic look, I like Versace’s Medusa.
I’m a fan of logos that tell stories.
BMW used to make planes.
BMW go brr.

Props to this logo designer.

Chupa chups commissioned Salvidor Dali to design their logo. He opted to put the name on the very top of the wrapper, changing the entire way it was displayed in-store.
Chupa chups
The MLB logo is both a left and right-handed batter.
MLB logo

I love stuff like that. If you can think of a unique backstory, it might be cool to have some elements of it in there. Nods to history, origins, tradition, etc. are always interesting.

Insurance as we know it started in Scotland with a snail in a bottle of beer.
Caesarian sections link back to the Roman Empire.
Lamborghini was a company built out of spite. It’s bull logo reflects its hard-headedness.
I named 43K Wilderness Solutions based on the first trail they ever built, which was the North Coast Trail. It’s 43 kilometres long.
Once I know the cut of your jib, I translate this into design-speak, prep my designers, and even take a few crude stabs on my own, before bringing in the experts to make it pretty.
*Your presentation is how you dress. It’s what your office looks like. It’s the way you do your hair, what you drive and what you eat. It’s the way you talk, or how you hold a coffee cup. It’s your tie, or lack of one. It’s your sense of humour. Your values and judgements, manners and idiosyncrasies. It’s your sense of flow. It’s the way you show yourself to the world.
Every piece of communications that leaves your office needs some of your presentation captured within it. That’s what your brand is. It’s unmistakably you.
Like your favourite pair of shoes, they fit just right because they’ve formed to you as much as you’ve changed to make them fit.

The Process of Making A TV Ad

February 1, 2021 | Filed Under advertising, Immersion Creative, Vancouver, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

Making a good TV commercial can seem really daunting and complicated. Just like anything else in life, the trick is to break it down into simple, smaller steps and do them one at a time.


TV ad for paramedics with a stunt










STEP ONE: Timing

I like working backwards from deadlines in just about every area of my life. If I need to be up at six, I work backwards from how much sleep I need to be functional. So bed by midnight. Therefore, last tea at noon. It’s how I organize my life and it’s how I organize my shoots.

So first things first is we look at when it’s due at the stations, and then take away a week for clearing censors at TVB and any last-minute tweaks they might require. Then, working backwards, another week for post-production and colour correction. Then, back, another week and a half for editing. So if you’re doing something on a fairly big budget, like we did for the Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia, you want the shoot date to be about three to four weeks from the launch date.

Once we have the shoot date in place (ideally as far as possible from the day you receive the brief), then we start moving.


STEP TWO: Murphy’s Law

If you are making television advertising in Vancouver, you’ll need a rain date or two around it.


STEP THREE: The Concept

Nothing kickstarts the creative process like a deposit and a deadline. I like to have about two weeks to get together with my Art Director, Designers and Director Of Photography to start fleshing out the ideas. Usually my first pitch is just me talking to the client. Nothing fancy, just a discussion. Sometimes a cave drawing or two, but usually we just talk about what we plan to do. I’ll present about three or so ideas, and the one that gets us all excited is the one we make. We sign-off on a concept we move forward with storyboards, scripts, and the production of the thing.


We wrapped the front cover of the Metro newspaper and had a two-page advertorial inside. These were distributed at Skytrain stations by people in paramedic jackets.



The Director Of Photography (aka a cinematographer) is responsible for the visual aesthetic. They work closely with the director in every stage of the planning and production. A DOP will work out a shot list and help with storyboarding each shot.

They are key in assembling a crew and gathering gear as they will want the right grips and lighting technicians to give the production the look they are envisioning.


STEP FOUR: The Casting

Talent (the actors) bring an idea to the next level. So once we know all the characters, we reach out to casting agents to help find the best people to bring them to life. We often hold auditions either at my office or at the studio with the client. (We get sushi and make an afternoon of it.) When we have our final list of selects from the audition, we pass these on for discussion with the client. When we are happy with the talent we’ve picked, and they fit our schedule and budget, we move ahead with booking them and making sure they know their scripts. We get their sizes from the casting agents, and then we move ahead with wardrobe, props and styling.

STEP FIVE: Wardrobe, Props and Styling

For a bigger production, we often bring on a professional stylist at this point. Their job is to find the costumes and wardrobe (clothes) that fit the era, style and budget of the piece. They have the measurements of the talent to work from, and they know where to source items from all over the city that will fit the vision of the ad. We might also bring in Set Decorators and Art Directors, who help us find props, and items that will add to the reality of the shot and reinforce the concept.

When we shot the scene with teenagers doing drugs in a suburban basement, our set dec team had crap scattered all over the room: skateboards, bags of chips, video game consoles, magazines, backpacks, etc. At first I was like, this is way too unrealistic, no one hangs out in a room this messy, but they assured me that teenagers are in fact that disgusting, and sure enough, when I actually started looking at rooms from a set dec perspective from then on, I realized how right they were! A good set dec, is constantly taking in all the little details of each room, and bringing those observations to life by adding another layer of believability to a production.

STEP SIX: Location Scouting

I love location scouting. I am always running around the city as is, and I have a huge database of places I think would make great spots to shoot an action sequence, or a classy photoshoot, or a dream sequence. That said, there are also professional location scouts I work with as well when when do big productions. They help find everything from homes to shoot multi-day productions to places to park, bring in trucks, store gear and set up tents for the crew. Some of my favourite location moments have been shooting a terrifying traffic jam sequence in an abandoned parking lot in Burnaby and blocking off traffic in North Van to shoot an overhead crane sequence of a car accident, complete with an upside down vehicle, glass everywhere and a lifeless body.

We recreated a traffic jam with a few cars in a parking lot.












There is an enormous amount of paperwork that goes into doing a production. The biggest headache though, is getting all the right permits to shoot everywhere. You can find the best locations, but you need to jump through all the necessary hoops to film there. There are a lot of rules to follow. For instance, when we shot this ad, we were awfully close to CN Rail, which meant that we had to be super careful not to get too close, and we were just on the line.

You know you’re serious when you break out the 70-foot crane.



We once had a stunt man fall off a tall roof and onto a concrete walkway forty feet below for the opening scene of one of our ads. It was a super fun stunt to do. I was amazed when the stunt coordinator used a stacks of cardboard boxes as opposed to crash pads. Our stunt man had to do the fall three times, but it looked great on film.


APBC paramedic commercial stunt.


We flipped this car upside down for our haunting texting and driving ad for the paramedics.


flipping car upside down for paramedics ad


STEP NINE: Gear Rental

This is the DOP’s territory usually. My attitude is, if they want special gear (like the anamorphic lens we used in the APBC 2017 ad), or a Steady-cam to shoot the entire ad on one continuous shot—by all means. They want a scissor lift? Sure. I’ll even throw in a 70-foot crane to get a fantastic overhead shot of our freezing model down below. If that’s their vision, I make sure they get what they need to do just that.


TV ad for paramedics BTS










STEP TEN: Keeping On Time And On Budget

For smaller productions, I do this myself, but once we are doing larger television commercials that have 75 people on set and a lot of moving parts, like the APBC TV ads, we’re going to need a Production Manager and a 1st AD.

The role of the director (usually me) is to focus on the here and now. The action. What is going on in front of the camera, and nothing else. There should be no other distractions in the back of your mind around the other great variables in the world of film: time and money. There are two people who’s jobs are specifically to deal with those two things.

The 1st AD handles time. He makes sure that everything is happening when it should be happening and that all the shots are being done, in the order they need to be done. He takes on the stress of herding the cats so the director can breathe.

The production manager handles money. They makes sure that we are keeping on budget. They can foresee the traps and dangers, and know all the rules, from labour laws, to union requirements to common sense. They say “no” to me a lot, and that’s what keeps the production from going off the rails.


STEP ELEVEN: Assembling A Crew

There are a lot of unique skill sets that go into making a piece of cinema, even if that piece is only 30 seconds long.


Hair & Make-Up

For a bigger production we’ll source maybe 2-3 HMUs, and they will often bring assistants, depending on the size of the cast and the complexity. Sometimes we will order prosthetics such as gills or severe wounds. Special effects makeup is a specialty for some artists that we bring in. My rule of thumb for a regular shoot is one hour in the chair per character, so we have to build the production schedule on the day of the shoot accordingly.

Even after the actor has left the chair, out makeup artists help behind the camera, catching and covering shines from the light, flyaway hairs and making touch ups.

LE Dye Pack TV ad



For a bigger production, we’ll bring in a professional caterer. They coordinate everything to do with feeding the crew, including snacks. Actors are notoriously fussy with diets that range from vegan to paleo to keto and more. They’ve heard it all and they find a way to keep everyone fed and happy. I keep out of the food part of things. Realistically, whenever I’m on set, I barely eat anything but gum as I’m too busy.


Craft Services

When sets reach a certain size they need Snack Land, and that’s where crafty comes in. If you need a quick veggie, nuts or candy fix, this is where you go.

First Aid

Every crafty I’ve ever worked with has also been our first aid on set.

Stills Photography

Print is one thing, but it’s also nice to have a behind-the-scenes photographer to get some stills for social media and the website.


Location Manager

This guy handles everything from traffic to security, to neighbours and parking and permits.


An invaluable human that helps in every way possible on the day of the shoot. The PA could be doing anything from directing traffic to running for tape or batteries, to fending the public off set.

This is not to mention all the other specialized talents on set: the lighting crew, the sound crew, the grips and ADs, set dec, art directors, and production managers and more. There are a LOT of moving parts.



This is the day the magic happens. These days are long and drenched in caffeine. But always fun. The client often comes out to the big shoots to observe. I’ll have a million things going on in my head on shoot day as I’m directing. The First AD is there to help with TIME and free up that space in my mind. The Production Manager is there to help with MONEY, and he takes that component off my plate so I can focus on the shot in front of me, and nothing else.


I like to do all the editing ourselves with our own designers. Usually they work from the notes made from my DOP and myself, and piece them together in the format that is more stringent than any big budget Hollywood production: the thirty-second ad. It’s amazing we can create an emotional arc in such a limited amount of time, but it can be done, and that is what makes television advertising such an interesting medium. It has so much potential.


STEP FOURTEEN: Colour Correction, Sound Design and Close Captioning

This is one of the best cities in the world to make film and television (and television commercials). Because of all the movies we make here, we’ve got it all. There are separate studios for everything: sound, audio effects, colour correction, special effects, close captioning, you name it.


STEP FIFTEEN: Media Buying and Launch

Once the ad is ready it’s time to buy your media. I’m a big fan of Sports and News because no one PVRs it. We can discuss the media buying process in more detail in another post.

Creating A Radio Campaign – The Process

February 1, 2021 | Filed Under advertising, copywriting, Immersion Creative, radio advertising, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

This Is How We Radio

Most radio ads are either forgettable or annoying. Making something humorous or catchy enough to cut through the mindless din takes some planning, and the right people.

Start with the creative brief.

First, always, is the creative brief. When you fill that out, I have the background I need.

Then, I write nine scripts. My magic number is 70-80 words for every 30 seconds (although I do tend to speak quickly).

You pick the three scripts you like and then I fine-tune those.

I usually write for two characters and an announcer. But this varies.


Next: Production. What I like about radio is that every part of it is fast. You can go from brief to air in a couple of days.

First, I’ll send you some options for voice over talent. We pick the ones we like and book them in studio.

I’m a little bit like David Lynch in that I don’t own a comb. Also, I like to collaborate with the same artists over and again. You’ll hear a lot of Mike Daingerfield and Rhona Rees in my work because they’re awesome and they have great range and talent.



Second, we set the date and book a studio. I usually work with Paul over at Studio X. He’s an award-winning sound engineer with a golden ear, furious fast fingers and all the chops.


On the day of recording, things happen quick. Each actor is booked for one hour, so we might stagger their arrival in studio. Depending on the scripts, we either record one or two on mics at a time in the soundproof recording area. Paul and I sit on the other side of the glass as we mix and I patch through my direction from there.

Once we have our takes, mix-master Paul begins the assembly. We splice together our selects and send them off to the client via .mp3 “rough cuts” for approval and feedback from the client. Again, this all happens quickly in the radio world, as we usually have talent for only an hour, and studio time is a premium. Just like my man, Jack Kerouac, we’re going for a “first thought, best thought” style. Quick decisive decisions are often straight from the gut, and you can trust that feeling more than your brain most of the time. This is what makes radio unique. If print advertising is air-tight planning and control, radio is living in the moment and letting the chips fall where they may. Different styles. Different results.

I’m consistently amazed at the happy accidents you find working with talented folk in a fast improvisational environment. You can go in with three scripts, and the one you thought would be the boring one, suddenly takes on a life of its own and becomes your new favourite. You never know what will happen.

Either way, if we are efficient and move quickly we can get the talent to do their pickups based on client edits while still in the same one-hour session for each actor.

We record each actor in turn in this manner.



Once we have the rough cuts, the crowd disperses and Paul and I go to work on mixing and mastering. Paul has a huge library of sound effects that we can add, as well as free needle-drop music to add some emotion and texture to the piece.

Free is nice, but if music is important and budget allows, I always prefer to bring in a composer for an original score.

In the past we have worked with the multi-talented Marc Wild for unique and interesting compilations, such as APBC 2015 (notice the subtle variations of the song from  one ad to the next), APBC 2017, Durum, and my favourite, Sempio, which I co-wrote and he sang!

Once all the pieces are in place, we master and give it a final polish. Did you know that de-ssssing is a thing? (Think snake jazz.)

After sign-off of the finals, the ads are sent to the stations. Radio stations only need about 48 hours of notice to get the ads into their logs. And then BAM, a couple of days later, and your ad is on the radio in Vancouver, just like that.

Like I said, radio advertising in Vancouver is fast.





Consulting – Our Process

February 1, 2021 | Filed Under advertising, Immersion Creative, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

When communications are organized, everything is more efficient.

Immersion Creative Consulting










I like to do set, weekly calls with clients. Say 15-20 minutes every Wednesday at ten. This gives us the opportunity to stay focussed without wasting time on multiple emails back-and-forth.

On the production front, we can make sure that everything is running smoothly and check in at where we are at with ongoing projects.

On the media side, I keep you up-to-date on how our media buy is looking, as well as the latest sales and opportunities in the market from TV to transit.

On the creative side, we have the chance to throw around some ideas about upcoming campaigns.

On the strategic side, we can discuss everything from how to handle changes in the market from an operational perspective to what’s going on with your competitors.

On the research side, we can examine how campaigns are being received and how to fine-tune them going forward to generate greater results.

On-call SEO consultation is included with Social Media Kit #3. Clients can call up at any time to discuss how their campaign is going, evaluate content, and strategize next steps.

Having a fresh set of eyes on a problem that you have been over-thinking can be a huge benefit. Through Immersion, I’ve been consulting clients for over 12 years now, and I’ve helped with everything from speech writing to courting advice to counter-surveillance. Never a dull day in the ad game.

I’m a problem solver by nature: advertising and otherwise.

An in-house consultant with a crew is essentially the crux of what Immersion is.

So let’s set up your first free consultation, and then go from there.

Immersion Creative Consulting

Twelve years in. Same jacket. Same tie. New wrinkles.

Vancouver Print Advertising: Our Process

February 1, 2021 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Print is a great place to start your campaign.

Once you have a visual that can tell the whole story, the rest just builds from there.

The process for producing a print advertising campaign goes a little something like this.

We put a law firm on horseback




  1. Rough Sketches

The first thing I do is present three or so rough sketches.

Now, I admit, my drawings are pretty terrible, but they get the idea across.

Here are some examples of how we take a rough sketch from concept to completion.

Every sketch contains a concept, which tells a story, because ads that tell stories are memorable. The more you elaborate on an idea, the more likely it is to embed itself in the long-term part of your brain (recall memory). Take a journey down the rabbit hole to the intersection of Elaboration and Memory, just past 303 PSYC and the cluster of trees.

Rough sketch to show the layout


  1. Mood Boards

Next, we present a page or so of imagery to give the idea of tone and feel.

When you are happy with the art direction, we move forward with production. This begins with a photographer that fits that style.




3. Pick a Photographer

Each one of the photographers we work with introduces a unique style to the production. Peter brings the epic. Matthew has the gift of stylish fashion (and sports). While Christoph brings a professional, more corporate/governmental feel.

Here’s a mood board of some of my best work with the talented advertising photographer Peter Holst.

This was from a beautiful, award-winning shoot I did with the always-stylish Matthew Chen.


Chistoph Prevost, the consummate professional, was the eye behind this uplifting campaign for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Peak 102.7 Host for Celebrate Everyday Victories


4. Casting

Picking the right talent is huge. It will make or break an ad. We find our fit though a few channels: casting agents, our social media, even just talking to people on the street. Our criteria is that we start with experts where experts are needed (martial artists, acrobats, stuntmen, etc.) then we go for character over glamour (unless the spot specifically calls for glamour). For bigger shoots, we’ll do auditions. The client is welcome to come along (they’re pretty fun). Then the photographer and I make a short list of our favourites, and together we pick the best fit.

Vancouver print advertising

Continuing Education Advertising


5. Location Scouting

I love location scouting, and I am always keeping an eye out for interesting places for shoots. If I didn’t work in advertising, I’d try to be a location scout for big budget film productions. It’s one of my favourite hobbies.

There are also some great studios in town that we like to use depending on the size and complexity (read: COVID safety measures) of the shoot.

Here are some places we have shot on-site:  FishSafe – Steveston Pier, MS – Muddy fields in Langley, CMHA – A high school in Surrey

Here are a few in-studio shoots: Miller Titerle – Post-apocalyptic lawyers, CCE – Experience Transformation, Shearwater – Scuba diving ninjas

Sometimes it’s a mix of both: RCABC – Father / Son. (Finding the right perch to shoot Vancouver out of a balcony with no glass was no easy task.)


6. The Plate

If we’re shooting in studio on a white screen (or green), we’re going to need a dramatic plate (static photo) for the background. Sometimes we shoot this. Sometimes we hire a retoucher to artfully assemble a beautiful post-apocalyptic wasteland. Shearwater is a good example of this. Miller Titerle too. Once we have sign off on the plate, then we build on top of it.


7. Props

In the past, I have tracked down a real ball and chain, had a blacksmith forge an iron trident, built a giant, green, fuzzy YES, (with Snuffalufagus-like fur), found a grappling hook, had a real armourer build a functional set of chain mail armour (he had never built armour as a film prop before—the idea was completely foreign to him). He built functioning, historically-accurate armour for… battle I guess? I don’t know, I tried to stay on his good side.

Vancouver magazine advertising


8. Styling

Wardrobe is a huge component to any shoot. And if you are doing a bigger production and the costuming is key, it’s always best to bring a professional stylist onboard. A stylist not only brings the eye, but they also find whatever clothing options are needed (from leather and spikes and sporting goods a la Road Warrior to marching band uniforms).

A stylist is also key on set. It’s one thing to dress your talent, and another to dress them professionally, and be on-hand for any eventualities, be it wardrobe malfunctions, popping collars, or steaming and tapering shirts.


MT Apocalypse BTS




9. Catering

People gotta eat. There is also always an abundance of coffee on set. And sushi. Always with the sushi.

Legendary adventures ad.


10. Hair and Make-up

I’ve worked with a bunch of HMU artists over the years, most notable among them has been Marie-Helene Babin, the artist body-painting wizard behind some of our best work. Hair and make-up takes it to the next level as you can see here, and here, and here.

Marie Helene Babin


11. Creative Direction

I work with the photographer to get the best shot. There are a lot of moving parts on a print advertising shoot, when the talent is in front of the camera, though, that’s all that matters. We take the attitude, “anything for the shot.”


12. Assistants

I wouldn’t dare do a bigger shoot without an assistant behind the camera, helping with gear, setting up the skrim and lights, and being an extra set of hands. Sometimes you get out there and you’re missing a cable, or a battery, or (most commonly) duct tape. Instead of shutting down the set, you have someone to run to the store or back home without losing any time. Also, getting the right lift to billowing hair is better done by a human waving a large piece of cardboard than any fan out there.


Shearwater Peregrine will light the way.


13. On-Set Photography

This is the photographer’s time to shine. They set the lighting just right. They coach the model. And they bring their vision to life. After working for weeks (sometimes months) closely with a photographer in the pre-production stages, I’m always amazed at how the image I had in my mind is suddenly materializing before my eyes exactly as I saw it. That’s the sign of a good photographer. Intricate prep, good communications, and a mastery of lighting. We try to rely on post as little as possible, so we get it all right there and then.

Peter Holst behind the scenes




14. The Selects.

The photographer and I will comb through the thousands of shots we take, and find the gems. We’ll assemble these as our best ‘selects‘ for use to choose from. These are un-retouched, straight out of the camera shots, usually still unmasked from the green screen.

Law firm advertising in Vancouver


  1. The Layout

Once we have our best shots of each talent picked out, it’s time to lay them out on the background. We will do a rough ‘mock-up’ first, to get an idea of how the spacing looks, then once that is agreed upon, we move into the polishing.


Mock shearwater


  1. The Retouching

We work with high-calibre retouchers that add that final, final layer of polish. It’s one thing to look at a website at 900×600 px and think, yeah, that looks great. Retouchers get right in there at 5000px and straighten every wayward hair and uneven hoodie string to make the final product look immaculate. It’s all in the details.

Shearwater Esme


  1. The Design

Once we have everything looking great from a photography perspective, we move into the graphic design. (Realistically, I usually have design working on this from the layout stage, sometimes even earlier to keep the train on track.) Font choice is huge. Kerning. Tracking. Serif (or Sans)? Wingding. You’re into a whole new language with designers. As with every other professional on this list, I usually let them do what they do best and leave them to their Wacom devices—with minimal interference.

Advertising for Roofers


  1. Final Edits

With every job that we do, the client gets one round of free revisions at each stage. As you can see, there are several stages in the production of a print ad, so there’s plenty of room for the client to have their say if they are concise and organized in their feedback. By the time we get to the final edit, there are no huge surprises, but it’s always nice to see the final outcome of something that we have been working so hard at for so long.



  1. Voila!

The final artwork is now ready. We can resize it to whatever mediums we like, and send this thing off into the world. It’s always a proud and slightly melancholy moment, like sending your kids off to school, or finishing the last page of a good book.

NOTE: We can move through this process in as quickly as two weeks (I think 10 days is our record), but ideally we like four to six weeks.

Let’s make some print advertising. Let’s do this!

Tug of War ad for the MS Society - BC and Yukon Division



Immersion’s Approach to Media Buying

January 29, 2021 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Media rate cards used to be in GROSS

Now they are in NET.

The difference is a 15% agency commission. This is industry standard. At Immersion, we don’t treat it like a commission though. We put it to work through our all-inclusive services for media planning, strategy, coordination, negotiating and resizing

Advertising for roofing companies in Vancouver online.

The greatest value is in the creative planning. In 2015 we effectively doubled the Imagine A World Without Paramedics media buy with the addition of the fourth ‘911 is for emergencies only’ ad. This generated an enormous amount of free media for us. I still saw some 2015 ads running when the 2017 campaign launched.



The strategy of the campaign is actualized through creative and media working in tandem. For instance, in 2017 we had tri-boards that would rotate between our current reality and a world with More Paramedics. We coordinated television spots that would create the tension in the first ad of a stop set (two minute commercial break) and then, relieve that tension with a dramatic paramedic rescue at the end of the break with another 30-second ad. Combining the message with creative media buying like this is a part of the strategy.


We negotiate the best value we can from a fixed, predetermined budget. This translates into more bonus and pre-emptive spots, more time, more exposure, and better placement.


Coordination involves resizing the artwork to the multiple specs required in a campaign. For instance, the print ads may be sized to billboards, however rebuilding the design to a supertail can be laborious as the new specs have lights, windows, decals, signs, and unusual angles to navigate. We also coordinate everything that goes on behind the scenes regarding station transfers and making adjustments for network censors. 


Transit Specs Supertail Lamar Low Res

Resizing artwork to some specs can be tricky.


Some agencies charge hourly for all these services and pocket the commission. 

We just treat the 15% as our fee to handle everything*.


Same goes for digital. There’s a lot of labour in a digital campaign, from monitoring its progress to making snap decisions and running damage control. There are a zillion issues that can come up. We don’t bill for all the time that goes into our project management and design tweaking and file sourcing and copywriting and troubleshooting and setup and resizing and fine-tuning of these campaigns. We just take a flat fee. The industry-standard 15% commission. Some agencies charge an hourly rate for maintenance on top. We don’t.

News years resolution ad for Dr. Bernstein

An oldie but a goodie for Dr. B.











*Note: This applies to large media buys only. Toe-in-the-water campaigns are great, but for a small amount of tester media with substantial setup, we need to charge hourly. 

Our Website Design Process

January 27, 2021 | Filed Under advertising, Vancouver, Vancouver advertising, websites | Leave a Comment 

We’ve streamlined the website process into a few steps to make it simpler.


We ask you to send us samples of websites you do and do not like and the reasons why. That gives us a good starting point. Also, it’s good to see your current advertising materials to get a feel for the main message you are trying to convey.


What words do you want to best optimize for search engines? We have been doing SEO in Vancouver since Immersion began in 2008, and we know from experience that it’s the best advertising you can do for your business. In the first six years or so, it’s how Immersion got every one of its clients, by being number one on Google for Vancouver advertising agency and Vancouver advertising.

Properly optimizing for keywords begins with a best-practice internal optimization. In fact, the words that you pick as you main keywords are so important, they guide the architecture of the entire website.

Don’t know what the best keywords for your business are? Then let’s go on a FISHING EXPEDITION on Adwords to find out. (Click the link to find out more about that.)

Either way, once we have your keywords determined we can start structuring how this thing is going to look.


Now that we have signed off on the best three keywords for your site, we need to lock down the skeleton. This is basically how the site will be structured. The architecture, if you will.

It usually looks something like this:








That’s a pretty simplified version, but you get what we mean.


Once we have the skeleton locked in, we move onto copy. Note, whenever I talk about copy, ever, I’m referring to text. All the words on this page are copy. I started off in advertising as a copywriter. I still am a copywriter. But I do a bunch of other things too. I edit copy too. But I never copy copy, copy? (I couldn’t help myself.)

Either way, copy is the words. In the world of advertising (or website) copywriting, it is making the words interesting, easy to understand and persuasive. Some clients like to give me a list of things that they want to say on each page (or copy points, or bullets) and I take these points and give them some poignancy and panache.

Examples of Copywriting:

I turn features of your product or service into benefits.


We only offer our services online.


Our services are available to you anywhere, anytime, night or day.

I also edit, simplify and clean up redundancies and make it easy for your clientele to navigate.

Another component of copywriting for the web is SEO copywriting. Again, always cognizant of your keywords, we make sure to pepper in just the right about of keywords, link appropriately, and tag and build around those words to best optimize you on search engines.

Some people think this is just a matter of repeating the same keyword over and over again in the copy because the same keyword multiple time is all you need to do with that same keyword and Google’s search engines will love seeing that same keyword in your text. Don’t do this. This is a bad idea. You’ll get flagged and possibly even banned.

There’s a proper way to pepper keywords.

There’s a proper way to frame content.

There’s a proper way to utilize URLs (ie somekeyword.com).

Domain names (URLs) used to be a gold mine (for instance business.com sold for something outrageous like USD$350 million). While it helps, it’s not the be-all-end all of SEO. There’s a lot more to it.

It starts with internal optimization of your site through Keywords, Architecture, and Copywriting. Which brings us to WEBSITE DESIGN.

Oh yeah, and if clients would rather provide the copy, that’s fine too. (A lot of law firms prefer this for some reason.) We can always optimize and edit client-provided copy without changing the nuance. Sure. I have to say though, most legal copy is as dry as dirt, and if you are a law firm, I strongly recommend taking your hands so firmly off the wheel when it comes to communications copy and let us add some flavour, otherwise you’re just like every other law firm out there with copy that will never get read.


Once we have the copy doc signed off, we move onto the look of the site itself. Usually what we’ll do is present you a couple of options for the first couple of pages. You pick the one you want, and we use that as a template to build out the rest of the site.

With site design, just like everything else we do, you get one round of revisions per stage, for free. Just please keep them all in one place.


Okay, so once you’ve signed off on the look, we move into the mechanics of the thing. At this point our developer goes into his programming cave and makes sure that all the wires behind the scenes are set up properly.

In the old days, we gave clients the option of either a website with HTML or a WordPress backend for content management, our new thinking is that every site needs to have the capacity for the client to run it on their own if they desire. So all sites that we make are fully turn-key, once we are done, you can edit the copy, images, pages, etc. on your own.



In regards to websites we can do CUSTOM sites like this:




Or super simple THEME ones like this:




As well as everything in-between.




Keep in mind, it’s built around a theme, so we don’t have any flexibility in design or functionality.


It’s basically a ‘what you see is what you get’ option.





If you want a custom site, it would be built to whatever look and functionality you want, exactly the way you want it.


Custom looks professional because it is professional. As they say, buy cheap, buy twice.





Now we are ready to show you a Beta Version of the whole website and all we need to do at this stage is test it. We’ll do one last pass over the site on both sides. We’ll check that all the links are working properly, do a final copy-edit. We make sure that the photos are all correct. You, know, quality control before launch. We check mobile versions, iPads, iPods, iTouches, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Internet Explorer 8 (shudder) and all the browsers and devices we can think of to make sure everything is just right for launch day.


Now, we’re ready to deliver our baby to the world. We press a button, hold our breath and shed a little tear as she spreads her wings for the first time and takes flight.




It’s one thing having a site that you can have complete control of as a client and another thing to know how to do it! So we offer a one-hour workshop with our developer to teach you everything you need to know about WordPress. In no time, you’ll be adding your own photos and captions and copy and then, you too, will be off to the races.

We made this website in 48 hours.



Your website is the storefront of your business.

You want it to be easily accessible (fast load times and ranked well on Google), interesting (well designed) and intuitive to navigate.

We build websites that are best-optimized for search results (SEO). This is only half the battle, the rest we can provide for you with ongoing content. Our social media kits will provide you weekly blogs to post, daily tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram images and whatever else you need to climb to the top of Google and drive traffic to your site.

We build websites with WordPress backends. This allows you turnkey access, so you can change photos or text, and manage the content all on your own. Of course we are always available for technical support if need be.





Four Reasons To Produce Quality Content

January 24, 2021 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

(Originally published June 6, 2012.)

If you want your business to be seen on the Internet – you need to write. A lot.

Why all the content? Here are four reasons.

1 – To spread branded messaging. People love to share interesting blog posts and columns. They pass them on to their friends and they go viral. Here is a column I wrote about Lights Out Hong Kong that got over 13,000 views. Anthea’s blog post Vancouver real estate has 3818 page views. Through Facebook, you can share a post of a picture and have thousands of people attached to your name in only a few hours.

2- To improve your position on Google. SEO and social media are closely linked. It’s one thing to have a well-optimized site, but another to bolster your search rankings with fresh material. For example, I made Simmons Mattress Gallery the #1 Vancouver mattress store through a steady online campaign. Mattress Choice is the #1 Victoria mattress store for the same reason. I am currently the #2 Vancouver advertising agency. (I was #1, I slip to 2 or 3 when I don’t have time to produce content!) And Anthea Poon is your Chinese realtor in Vancouver. I also have the top spots for English copywriter, Native English teacher and about a dozen more – all through consistent content.

3 – Online real estate. It’s one thing to have your website on the first page of Google. It’s another to dominate the whole front page. Every blog post, Twitter link or LinkedIn account you have taking up space for a keyword is a link back to you and a space your competition isn’t occupying. For instance if you search for mountain bike leg armour, you will see that Iron Mountainwear (and posts about IMW) they take up 3 spots on the first page alone. That’s a lot of prime, beachfront property.

4 – To catch unexpected keywords. When you go to a hockey game, the last thing on your mind is probably your Rogers cell phone. But that doesn’t mean that sponsoring the stadium is a bad idea. Same goes for the businesses that sponsor the news – it’s a little hit of branding that frames a wildly popular event. When we create content, we often build it around things that people are searching for online. For instance, every Daylight Savings people get confused, and look it up on Google. We capture some of that search by writing about the event on that day. Same goes for the exact dates of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other current events in the city. For a while, we were writing about all the popular things to do in Vancouver on Simmons’ blog.  It’s like having your own local magazine, without having to buy ink by the barrel.


Creating consistent content is one thing. Having it done by professional, local writers is another issue altogether. Immersion Creative employs only educated, professional writers (most of the writing is done by me, actually). And unlike content farms overseas, we understand our local market.

To find out more about our social media advertising campaigns – click here.

Digital Advertising in Vancouver—What’s Our Process?

January 24, 2021 | Filed Under advertising | Leave a Comment 

We spend more time on screens than we do sleeping. Or talking to our family. Or doing literally anything else in our lives. It’s kinda scary. Especially when you think that every little click, hover, and emoji is meticulously tracked by algorithms to ultimately be used against you.

So, on that note, what’s our approach to digital advertising?





If you’ve seen the Social Dillemma, you’ll know how advertisers use the enormous amounts of data they have on us to pinpoint pitch-perfect ads.


Facebook, Google, Reddit, Twitter, Youtube, they all have these intricate formulas to best reach your target, by understanding our circuitry better than their own. They’ll say that they know which image you’ll click on before you do.




The future is here. With a few clicks, a Facebook Business Manager-Machine will spit out reams of hard data and slick reports showing increased clicks, impressions, and engagement achieved through their algorithms. It’s a marketer’s dream.


Not only that, digital is the most measurable form of advertising out there. Number crunchers in suits love stats. Shareholders love stats. Stats are safe.


Instagram ad for Roofers




These algorithms have become so sophisticated that they have even started doing the creative as well. At some point in the campaign, THEY start telling YOU which stock photo would work best, or how the headline should be written to garner the best results. Imagine that, robots playing art director and copywriter like they’re people! It would be adorable if it wasn’t so ominous.




There are a zillion little “icon and logo” digital advertising agencies in Vancouver out there right now, listening to their robot masters and treating advertising like a paint-by-numbers exercise.


As a result, I see a lot of stock photos and dry headlines. I see a lot of dead boring advertising. And I don’t see anything that gets anyone excited anymore in any way.


There needs to be interesting, creative and memorable branded messaging or you’re looking at a sea of bleh which isn’t doing you any favours in this never-ending war of attrition.



roofing advertising social media




So, all that saiid, do WE do digital advertising? Of course we do. We’d be crazy not to offer it to our clients.


The question is, how do we offer what everyone else is offering—but better?


One (and it’s a big one): We keep our digital costs lower than anyone else. After all, it’s the robots doing the heavy lifting. So No Hourly Billing: just a 15% markup on the media. That’s it. Industry standard. No surprise bills. No headaches. Just simple, lean and clean accounting.


Anyone can punch numbers into a machine and dance to the robot’s tune. So why not go to the best-priced operator? I’ll take a loss on digital if it means saving the rest of your campaign, and our world, from more garbage.


Two, we’re a natural fit to build the rest of your materials. Outdoor, print, radio and TV complement digital nicely. Why not go with a one-stop agency that can do it all? What does the real-world portfolio of your digital shop next door look like? Ooh, yeah, I thought so.


The robots may be boring, that doesn’t mean they don’t have pearls of insight. We use those pearls to make your message and presence in the real world more precise.

paramedics advertising social media

As the Father of Advertising (Not a Robot) once said:

Some individuals use statistics as a drunk man uses lamp-posts—for support rather than for illumination.

(David Ogilvy was a fanatic about research by the way.)


Let’s face it. You come to Immersion for ideas and production. That’s our thing. We’re as good as the next guy when it comes to digital. The robots see to that. But we’re cheap in that department. Why? It gives us a chance to take what we learn and make anything but ordinary campaigns that will give your brand a shimmering razor-sharp edge in a sea of dull grey duds.

Our SEO Process

January 23, 2021 | Filed Under Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

Vancouver SEO

This Is How We SEO

If you type in Vancouver advertising agency, Immersion Creative is consistently at the top of Google for organic and Places.

About 17 years ago I figured out how to optimize keywords to the top of search engines and I utilized this to great effect.

I got a job as a copywriter in Hong Kong by optimizing the names of the creative directors I met and linking them back to my blog.

When I first started Immersion, I did the same thing to optimize my company website so that I’d have the top spots for Vancouver advertisingVancouver advertising agencyVancouver marketing company, etc.

When people first came to me, that’s all they wanted. 

Hey, Mike, you got Immersion to the #1 spot for Vancouver advertising. Can you do the same thing for my business, but with these keywords?”

Sure enough, I did. For the first six years or so of Immersion, all of my clients found me through my SEO. 

To get clients organically to the top of Google, I have kits. It takes a while to get results. 

Everybody and their carpet cleaner thinks they know how to optimize now. Everyone’s a lawyer these days as well. And a doctor. Google and the Dunning-Krueger effect have created an entire generation of overzealous keyboard ”experts.”

Until they’ve had a highly contested term like: Vancouver advertising, Personal Injury Law or Vancouver real estate, I’d take their advice with a grain or eight of salt.

Either way, here’s how we do it.

FIRST: You Pick Your Keywords 

These are whatever you want to move to the top of Google for your search.

One of the first things we’ll ask you when doing website design is what are your keywords? We build the whole site around them, properly, so it’s important.

TWO: We Optimize Your Website Internally 

Despite what Wix and all these off-the-shelf themes will have you believe, there’s a lot more to SEO than just filling out the SEO section of a DIY website, or tags. We get down into the weeds and rewrite everything from page architecture to captions and copy to make it work with the right keyword weight and frequency. We do the proper linking. Basically, we just do it right. 

If you want a copy edit and internal SEO overview of your website, that’s where we start. If we are building your site from scratch, we just do it right the first time from the beginning.

THREE: Pick Your Kit 

Internal optimization is for best practices only. Basically we will take your as far as you can go, and you will be prepped as well as any professional with expert help can be without the necessary ongoing maintenance to keep you on top. 

With Kit One we’ll take one keyword to the top at a time. My favourite way to do this is by writing blog posts. Blog posts are great content and they provide many benefits beyond just SEO.

We have our professional writers to write these for you. They are all local, highly-educated Vancouverites. We don’t farm out content overseas. It’s quality content over volume that works 

There are two ways to do weekly blogs for content.

We can either give you a list of topics in advance that you can sign off on and edit, OR you can provide the content and we edit and fine-tune it for SEO best practices and post. Just as a heads up, everyone who was ever opted to write their own blogs has ultimately let it fall by the wayside and it just never seems to get done. 

You’re better off having it written by a pro. You wouldn’t believe his much time you can waste procrastinating before just getting down to write if you’re not in the habit of writing every day. You have a business to run. Focus your attention on that and leave the blinking cursor to us. The other things we do is manage your social media channels. We put these articles up on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.

 We can also build lists and put you on them (I was doing this way back in 2009). Now everyone with a keyboard is doing the same thing. My gut tells me that all these directory sites are going to get de-listed soon though.

So what’s the next big SEO bandwagon everyone is going to jump on? Well, you can either follow the followers to find out—or get back into the lab with me. 


Our Approach To Theme Websites

January 22, 2021 | Filed Under advertising | Leave a Comment 

Sometimes you don’t want a fancy website. Sometimes you just need something quick and dirty for the time being, so you can focus on other things.

Theme websites are cheap and fast to build. We can crank them out less than two weeks if you’re organized and for under $1500 if we keep it no-frills.

It will be simple. Like us helping you host on a platform like Wix, or if you want us to build to a theme like you’d find on Themeforest – sure.

It will get the job done—for now.

But bear in mind…

Poor people spend more money on boots because they cant’ afford good boots out the gate. I keep saying this over and over, but now, I give up. You want a fast, simple, functional website you’ll probably need to replace in two years, who am I to stand in your way?

We will oblige.

Here’s our process:

First, we get you a domain and hosting. More on that later.

The next steps are:


1. Site skeleton / SEO keyword – sign off.


2. Copy points for each page – just rough bullets are fine, or links to existing pages, I’ll do the copywriting and SEO once they’re in.


3. Imagery – please send us as many high-res photos as you can. We’ll set you up with a Shared Drive so you can upload to the Cloud.

4. Stock photography – we can fill the gaps with stock photos if need be. They’re about $15/credit, so custom or original photos is preferable.


*This would be the time to look into getting professional headshots. We can set that up.


5. Design of first two pages. We’ll show this to you once we get the photos and copy in (give us a few days after). If you like the direction, we’ll do one round of edits and sign off on those pages and build out the rest with these first pages as a style template.


6. Final design delivery. One round of edits.


7. Hosting setup. 


8. Beta launch. Bug fixes.


9. Launch.

And that’s it.


theme websites with Immersion Creative



Doing It On The Cheap – 4 Pitfalls That Might Haunt You Later

January 22, 2021 | Filed Under advertising, design, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

There are sites like Fiverr and Looka where you can get your branding for offensively low prices.

I get it, you’re starting out and money is tight. I’ve been there.

Now, you get what you pay for in terms of quality, obviously. However, even if you accept that compromise, there are a few other pitfalls that you might want to consider that might not be obvious out the gate.

First of all, never go through Fiverr or Looka. Just don’t.

You can get a cheap, but half-decent logo for $300-400 if you roll the dice with a third party site like 99designs.com (this is what I did with Immersion, it’s true). Sometimes I even point thriftier startups in this direction. What I do for some clients is just book a few (3-5) hours to help them with the setup and creative direction, and then we build a ‘contest’ and guide the entries towards what you want.

Holden’s first stab at the Immersion logo when he was 7. Kid’s got promise.

















4 Pitfalls of Being A Cheap Ass

1. You might end up with a logo that’s already out there. 

That’s a big expense and a potential lawsuit down the road. You can’t count on dudes churning out logos for contests overseas to put in the any degree of due diligence.

2. You are playing designer vs. having a professional designer do the job.

Sure, you can represent yourself in court, or you can remove your own appendix, but is it really a good idea?

3. Buy cheap, buy twice. 

Chances are you’re going to want a better logo, website, and overall branding down the road. So the money you are saving in the beginning just gets tacked onto the expense at the end. Rich people buy better boots and they save money in the long run (it’s an interesting read). Your brand is your boots, so you better make sure it fits right.

4. You’re wasting your equity.

I liked my logo, but when I ask professional designers what they think of it, I get a lot of eye rolls! I probably should have done it right the first time, being an ad agency and all, but you live and learn. We are remaking it now for my new website launch (2021 Year of the Phoenix Holla!). Reprinting everything (especially metal business cards at $5 a pop) can be expensive. Not to mention all the signs, stationery, pens, mugs, collateral, and all the wasted years building equity in brand that’s no more. So take that for what you will.


I’m the Ghost of Advertising Yet To Come, do not make the same mistakes as me, Ebenezer, for it is not too late.

Our Own Devices

January 17, 2021 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

When it comes to working together with a group of people that have specific talents and experience in their department, I take the philosophy that it’s best to leave each specialist to their own devices.

Umbrella Shop campaign that won Gold at the Summit International Awards

Who’s that grumpy guy?











Graphic Design

Anyone can slop around on Adobe Illustrator. But good graphic design is a rarity. This is an art form that takes talent to get established in the first place, and then years and year of expertise to get it right. When it comes to design, I don’t have that talent or expertise, so I take a back seat. I usually let them do what they do best and leave them to their Wacom tablets—with minimal interference.


RCABC Beam ad





















Like most things in the creative world, most people have a ‘know it when I see it’ approach. This is great when it comes to judging what works, and terrible when it comes to refining. Take lighting, for example. There are styles of lighting that I love, but I don’t have the faintest idea as to how to create them. That’s why I bring on experts. Looking through the portfolios of the amazing advertising photographers I work with, I know exactly what to expect. So I take my hands off the wheel and let them work their magic on their SLR Canons. And viola, everything works out.


Applied Arts winner MS

Epic and moody are Peter Holst staples.
























Hair and Make-up

I barely know how to apply sunscreen. So who am I to stand in the way of a hair and makeup artist that has years of talent, expertise and dedication to the craft? This is definitely one area where I keep my hands well away from their Morphe bronzers and brushes.












Building a great print campaign is a collaborative process—but it’s not creative by committee. There’s a difference. Ideally, the client has a vision, and it’s well-articulated, and then they leave us to our cameras, and tablets and brush-like devices to do what we do best: make anything but ordinary advertising.




When left to their own devcies

A good creative never blames their tools.

Influencer Acquisition

January 17, 2021 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

The Canadian Mental Health Association was looking for mental health advocates to promote the BounceBack campaign in 2019.

We put together a list of public figures we’d like to see help us, from the cast of Riverdale, to local sports teams and radio hosts. The client ran with the idea, adding big names to the list like Justin Bieber, and Ellen, and Her Majesty The Queen. Worth a shot. In the end we had 70 or so names and contacted each one, no matter how big or how small.

We put together a nice direct mail package, and decorated them with original artwork (a la MAD magazine).

Oran really knocked this one out of the park.

No we never got Deadmau5…

…but not for lack of trying.

Here are some others:

Love these designs by Katie.

Maria had some cool ones too.

We even contacted Ellen. She wrote the nicest ‘no’ back.


In the end, after contacting over 70 people, Mike Reilly (quarterback of the BC Lions), two radio hosts Arran Henn (QMFM) and Casey Jo Loos (Peak) and rock band Mother Mother agreed to be mental health advocates for Canadian Mental Health.

Not a bad return for a direct mail campaign, especially considering the people we were trying to reach.

6 Reasons For Production Fees

January 13, 2021 | Filed Under advertising, clients | Leave a Comment 

Production Fees. Disbursements. Markups. Expenses. Whatever you want to call them, they are a part of the billing structure of an advertising agency or production company. The industry standard is generally between 10% to 30% of whatever needs to be acquired by the agency to move things along.

However… why do they exist? Why is there this fee system in the first place?

Here are six reasons:

There are a lot of moving parts to a production. Focus on your business and we’ll handle where you get all this gear.


1. Knowing Where To Go

Chances are, if you tried to book your own actors, or hair and makeup artists, or source your own props, or whatever, you won’t really know where to begin. Sure you can Google these things, but without existing knowledge, you’ll be paying a premium, and taking a chance on people you don’t know.

2. We’ve Made The Rookie Mistakes So You Don’t Have To

Murphy was right. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And these hiccups often come at a price, either in time or in money. The best thing you can do is live and learn. That’s what we’ve done over the last 12 years, and it’s the learning part that is the value here. We won’t make that mistake twice, be it forgetting to bring spare batteries when you’re shooting in a swamp in Port Moody, or anticipating changes in usage down the road.

3. We Get The Best Price

The best way to negotiate is by knowing the true value of everything involved. If you’re new to booking a production, or you’re not familiar with specific industries such as armourers, or gear rentals, or illustrators, you won’t know where to begin in the negotiations. Coming in too low is insulting and it’s guaranteed to shoot you in the foot later. Too high? Well, chances are you won’t discover that until much later.

4. Reliability Is Important

You can book creative services off Craigslist all you like, and you might find some great deals. Realistically though, you don’t really know if half those people are going to show when the day arrives. And you can’t really afford to have that uncertainty. Knowing how to build a reliable crew that won’t waste time or flake out is one of the reasons you pay an agency to handle this part of the process.

5. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

No one loves this part of the job, but we’ll handle it. The process is enormously streamlined when you are dealing with an agency that has done this for years, whether it’s navigating actors’ unions, managing payroll, or just finding the most efficient way to get shooting permits on short notice.

6. Risk

It’s the agency’s credit card that’s on the line. If something goes horribly wrong, it’s not yours. That extra night or two of restful sleep is worth every penny if things go awry.

I could go on, but you get the idea. There’s a lot of value to bringing in an experienced agency with a lot of industry know-how. It just simplifies the whole process. That peace of mind, that better rate, that reliable delivery, that’s why that 10-30% gets added on.

From Concept to Execution

December 1, 2020 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

All of our ads start out as simple little sketches.

When I pitch concepts (usually three at a time), my drawings usually look like this.

However, once I get the designers and photographers onboard – the magic happens!

Shearwater Research Inc (2018)


FishSafe BC

Miller Titerle + Company LLP


MT - Trailblazing - Proof

Loan Express



Sketch: Loan Express Ad - no one re-gifts money. Shot of guy holding up extra large Christmas sweater

Loan Express Ad - no one re-gifts money. Shot of guy holding up extra large Christmas sweater

JRoss Recruiters




Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia

Hyde Park


MS Society

APBC 2015 Behind The Scenes – Falling Stunt

November 17, 2020 | Filed Under advertising | Leave a Comment 

This spectacular 30’+ falling stunt from a rooftop set the scene for the first of three harrowing TV commercials around the concept of Imagine A World Without Paramedics. Click the link to see the stunt.

TV advertising stunt for the paramedics

TV advertising stunt for the paramedics

Who knew? Cardboard boxes make for great crash pads.

TV advertising stunt for the paramedics

TV advertising stunt for the paramedics

Yeah, sorry, we’re going to have to shoot that again…

Behind The Scenes – Celebrity Influencers

November 17, 2020 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Mike Reilly, quarterback of the BC Lions is an advocate for mental health, as is Casey-Jo Loos, writer and radio host.

They were both great to work with on the Canadian Mental Health Association campaign for Celebrating Everyday Victories.

Vancouver print advertising shoot


Peak 102.7 Host for Celebrate Everyday Victories



Vancouver print advertising shoot

Mike and Mike.

Vancouver print advertising shoot


BC Lions Quarterback for Celebrate Everyday Victories














For Coquitlam Continuing Education, we worked with the “Oprah of Afghanistan;” singer, actor and talk show host, Mozdah Jamalzadah.

CCE photoshoot 2017 CCE photoshoot 2017





























Vancouver Advertising - Lenticular Poster campaign Mozdah Jamalzadeh



APBC 2017 – Behind The Scenes – Crashed Cars and Camera Cranes

November 16, 2020 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

What an intense shoot this was for the Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia. We had a 70′ crane camera and we crushed a car, flipping it upside down, as a haunting, hyper-realistic prop for the scary texting and driving ad.

Cameron and Bronwyn on set.

Me on set.

Haunting scene for the APBC texting and driving ad.

The crew working their magic on the 70′ crane camera.

70′ crane camera.


February 8, 2020 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Stick-to-it-iveness is possibly my favourite word in the dictionary. It pretty much sums up Immersion a nutshell too.

For the last twelve years, we’ve gritted our teeth and muscled our way through one setback after another: a major recession, a housing crisis, and a global pandemic.

It hasn’t been the easiest conditions for an industry that’s run on hope and ambition.

There’s a reason we’re still standing even after all this time, however.

We keep our costs lean. Our work’s not too bad either.

We also have a sense of humour. We’re real (you won’t find generic stock photos for robot algorithms, or paint-by-number social media plans here). Plus it doesn’t hurt that we’re dependable as the sun and stars. We say what we’ll do and we do what we say.

We make plans and we stick to those plans. So what’s the new plan for your business?


MS Society BC & Yukon Division 2013 – Behind The Scenes – Tug of War

February 2, 2020 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Pro Bono Work

August 12, 2019 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Homes For Heroes

Peter Holst heard about the thousands of homeless veterans in Canada on the radio and decided to do something about it. He asked if I could help out with location scouting and art direction and I was all in. I love location scouting, and this pro bono assignment had me exploring some of the shadiest, and scariest, places in Vancouver where many unfortunate homeless end up. Peter did a beautiful job with the photography, and hopefully the impact will bring some more attention and support to the Homes For Heroes organization.



You wouldn’t judge a diabetic for needing insulin. So why should anti-psychotics be any different?

These ran as transit shelters in Vancouver in Fall 2018.


APBC – Easter Eggs

August 8, 2019 | Filed Under advertising, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

The Ambulance Paramedics Of British Columbia strive for a response time of 8 minutes and 59 seconds.

This is a number that we repeat over and over in the campaign.

Here are a few of places you’ll find that number.

See if you can catch them all!


TV ad – Choking


The microwave is set for 8:59 in the very beginning. She then finds her infant daughter choking, calls for help, and the paramedics arrive in time to intubate the child – all before the final beeps to show it’s done.


TV ad – Overdose



There are 8 minutes and 59 seconds left to play in the hockey game still on behind the comatose teens. The paramedics are able to revive the children before the final buzzer.

Also notice the cards on the ground.

Print ad – Car Accident

Check out the graffiti in the tunnel.


Print Ad – Overdose

And the clocks…



Cruise Comp: Tired Of Counting Trees The Hard Way?

August 7, 2019 | Filed Under advertising, clients, design, Vancouver advertising, websites | Leave a Comment 

CruiseComp is a timber cruising software created by Industrial Forestry Services. It is designed to make the timber cruising process easier and more efficient. To highlight the program, we created a website, a trade show kit and made a series of videos to explain how it works. A favourite was our homage to Subterrania.


IFS Cruise Comp Website Design by Vancouver Advertising Firm- Immersion Creative


IFS Cruise Comp brochure Design by Vancouver Advertising Firm- Immersion Creative

Ximen: Website Design

July 7, 2019 | Filed Under design, Immersion Creative, websites | Leave a Comment 

Them Thar Hills

Real Estate was the number one industry in BC for years. However, with housing sales cooling in the past year, we’ve changed focus, back to our roots, really, with an eye on natural resources. Ximen Corporation needed a website that was sleek, responsive and most of all turnkey. We created a site with a Content Management System that gave them full control. It turned out well.


June 7, 2019 | Filed Under advertising, Awards, design | Leave a Comment 

A Poorly Made Roof Is Just Inviting Trouble Down The Road

If you want to be respected you need to do respectable things: like work that holds up over generations. With shared values like these, choosing a roofer is easy.


It’s Chaos Without Us

With every pitch document or proposal they submit, the client can show the building in question, and how it would look with their RoofStar Guarantee shielding it from the elements—with this customizable template.


Lawyers At Sea

May 7, 2019 | Filed Under design, Photography, websites | Leave a Comment 

If you have been in a horrific accident, the last thing you need is having to learn how to navigate a whole new, complicated world of law. David Doig + Associates have been doing this for decades, and they are the trusted, experienced professionals you need when it comes to charting a path from chaos to order. With navigation as the theme, we shot Dave and Ty at sea by starlight, on the famous Midnight Sun. Photographer Matthew Chen did a beautiful job of this.

Based around the photoshoot, we redesigned the website into a sleek and information site.


Canadian Metal Health Association

May 6, 2019 | Filed Under advertising, design, Immersion Creative | Leave a Comment 

Celebrate The Everyday Victories

For this campaign we wanted to highlight the Everyday Victories that you can do for your mental health, such as leaving the house, taking a break from screens, or getting a proper sleep. These achievements may seem small, but they are instrumental in positive cognitive development, and they should be celebrated.

We were very fortunate to get some celebrity influencers onboard for this campaign. BC Lions quarterback Mike Reilly is an advocate. With two young children at home, eight hours of sleep is certainly something he gets excited about. Radio host Casey-Jo Looswas a part of the campaign as well. On social media, Mother Mother advocated for Canadian Mental Health and the BounceBack® program.

Vancouver Advertising -Non-profit Mental Health Campaign for youth. Vancouver Advertising -Non-profit Mental Health Campaign for youth.

New Print Ads

July 29, 2018 | Filed Under advertising | Leave a Comment 

MT + Co
After putting the entire firm on horseback two years ago to receive their award as one of Canada’s Top Boutique Law Firms, they decided this year’s announcement needed to be more subdued.

This was a full page print ad in Canadian Lawyer magazine.

MT + Co Lawyer Ad

Hunter West
Pressure makes diamonds. We had one week to turn around this movie poster from scratch. I think it turned out great.

Platinum Denture Clinic

Immersion Creative New Advertising Work - Platinum Dentures - Take Comfort

Immersion Creative New Advertising Print Work – Platinum Dentures – Take Comfort

Immersion Creative Advertising Agency - New Print Work for Platinum Denture Clinic

Immersion Creative Advertising Agency – New Print Work for Platinum Denture Clinic

Vancouver Eye Stickers

June 1, 2018 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Now you too can enjoy your very own set of Vancouver Eye Stickers.

To download, simply click this link:

Vancouver Eye Stickers 

To print simply fill out this form*:

Printed Stickers Form 




Vancouver Eye Stickers

*subject to printing fees

What Is The Immersion Experience?

May 11, 2018 | Filed Under advertising | Leave a Comment 

Method actors throw themselves into their characters and drive their co-workers crazy. Gonzo journalists write themselves into their stories and shoot their cremated ashes from cannons.

There’s a system to the madness. The goal is intimate, authentic realization of their subjects.

Immersion advertising is pretty much the love child of these two approaches.

The concept behind Immersion Creative is that I submerse myself in my clients’ environments to “work from within.”

The result is communications that reflect your style, and your style alone.



Escott Sportfishing Lodge

My latest Immersion was with Captain Danny Escott, master fisherman, up in the Haida Gwaii. Escott Sportfishing flew me up there to see the lodge, meet the guides, check out the chef and support staff, and of course, fish. We worked from within, and built out the foundations of his new branding and website while we were there. Experiencing the lodge firsthand, we got an in-depth understanding of the unique differences that only Escott Sportfishing has to offer. Now, as we build out his communications, we will bring those differences to light.

Wolfes Combatives

I did an Immersion with Wolfes Combatives. For six weeks, I learned hand-to-hand and knife defence techniques used by special forces units like JTF2, culminating in an intensive 4-day CORE course. Afterward, I felt like I understood the brand inside and out while I built their creative.

You can read about that Immersion here.


Dr. Bernstein Diet & Health Clinics

For Dr. Bernstein Diet & Health Clinics, I did the program myself. I lost 34 lb in 30 days and still maintain a healthy weight thanks to the insights I gained. This gave me a unique perspective into their system. And man, does it ever work.

Day One - 214 lb

Day 30 - 181.4 lb


Mattress Choice

I worked for four months on the pillow tops of a mattress store, learning firsthand from the owners while creating the Mattress Choice brand from scratch. Logo. Branding. Print. Radio. Online. We did it all – based on the insights gleaned from watching the sales process firsthand and integrating it into the advertising.


Events & Adventures

I’m a family man. So with the singles club Events & Adventures, the Immersion was done by my chief copywriter, Jeremy. He spent 23 weeks as a member. He wrote about the events he attended, which we leveraged into an in-depth understanding of the brand.

You can read about that Immersion Experience here.

Alpine Credits

I spent time in the offices of Alpine Credits. Everything from the way they answered the phone, to sit-in meetings with their new clients, found its way into the look, feel and tone of a brand we refreshed from the 80s to now.

Before & After


With DVIBZ, I spent a couple of whimsical afternoons with the incomparable Miz. D. She introduced me to the fascinating subculture of vapour bars, smoke shops and medicinal marijuana clinics. (Only as an observer, I’m more of a whisky guy.) It’s a political and dynamic forum and Miz. D has a unique vision and stance. When we built her brand, we knew exactly where she was coming from.



I spent a week with CampbellCare Plumbing Heating and Air. Working in their office, I got a feel for the humour and style of the owners, and I was sure that the ads we made reflected it.



Pardon Services Canada

I worked six weeks on the office of Pardon Services Canada. In that time, collaborating with the owner every day, we completely reinvented the brand based on one-on-one discussions, and observations of their sales staff, secretaries and general office flow.


Customized Creative

The Immersion Experience is about understanding your brand completely.

Only someone who has absorbed the day-to-day operations of your business can truly represent you.

Because there’s a piece of you that shines through in everything your company does, and it needs to be experienced to be expressed.

Your passion becomes your company’s passion. Your drive inspires everyone around you.

I want to take that magic and let it grow. I want to encapsulate your winning spirit, and tailor it beyond your immediate business and employees, and infuse it into your communications as well.

How is that even possible?

Immersion. It’s just you and the source. No other distractions, suits, meetings, middlemen, or padded costs. I’ve been doing this for almost six years and it works.

Let’s Do It

To book an Immersion Experience for your company, call Mike at 604.551.1682.


Vancouver Transit Advertising

May 2, 2018 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 


We have been doing a ton of Vancouver transit advertising lately. On almost every bus I look at, there are some of our ads. Here are a few that are currently running now.



Immerison Creative Lamar Transit - CJ Campaign 2018 - DSCN7000-blog Immerison Creative Lamar Transit - CJ Campaign 2018 - DSCN7004 -blog Immersion Creative - Lamar Station Posters - CJ Campaign 2018 blog

Transit Bus Advertising in Vancouver and LowerMainlandVancouver Advertising Transit Bus Campaign

2017 - Immersion Lamar Transit Campaign - CCE Supertail Photo -2017

2017 - Immersion Lamar Transit Camaign - CCE Seventy Poster photo 2

Vancouver Advertising - Lenticular Poster campaign 2017 - Immersion Creative - Lamar - Coquitlam Continuing Education Platform Poster photo 2 2017 - Immersion Creative - Lamar - Coquitlam Continuing Education Platform Poster photo 3


Immersion Creative Advertising Agency Transit Advertising on Buses

ITPC – 2017 Transit Campaign


Immersion Creative Advertising Campaign


Tan More. Save More. Vancouver Advertising Agency, transit campaign

Vancouver Advertising Agency- Transit Campaign - 70s

Vancouver Advertising Agency - Transit Campaign - Cocoa BeansVancouver Advertising Agency - Transit Campaign

Vancouver Advertising Agency - Transit Campaign - JAVA


The Long Form Christmas Letter… We’re Bringing It Back

December 25, 2017 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 


The Long Form Christmas Letter… We’re Bringing It Back

Most holiday emails are short, flip and dumb. Do you remember the classic Christmas form letter: photocopied, faded, narcissistic, and sent en-masse? That’s what we’re doing here. So settle in – we’re bringing it back.

Everyone wants to hear about Johnnie, so let’s start with him and his crazy beard net.

It was all it took to send him on a journey of self-discovery. He danced and sang while his nametags blistered, and his polyester uniform coughed caustic black clouds overhead. And we all weathered the phase. Credit due – he hunkered down and he did what he had to. He’s an engineer now, and he’s got the white hardhat and the blueprints in tubes to prove it. Just ask anyone at CCE – the man has made a name for himself. He worked hard and we’re proud of him!

All the kids are doing great.

Years of swimming lessons went nowhere. All it took was a gentle nudge (and a fancy timepiece) and “It’s Too Cold” Michelle transformed before our eyes. Suddenly she was half fish or something. And… our girl is swimming! Who would have thought? Now, without even blinking twice over a single sideways pupil with that creepy extra translucent eyelid, she’ll jump into the icy murk. Totally nonchalant too.

As I watch these guys transform (way too quickly) before my eyes – I can’t believe how fast everyone is growing up.

With time racing by it’s easy to get ahead of yourself. Where am I? What are we doing here? That was a bit of a cold open – but it fits the season, no?

So. For those who might be interested in what we’ve been up to… Here’s a little about business, family, life, all the stuff you’d expect from the…

Immersion Creative Happy Holidays Form Letter















Our friends over at DBM Law in the Tri-Cities keep growing their family as well. Every time I go there: more floor space, new renos, more faces, new files. I’m proud of these guys. They rolled the dice with conceptual over traditional. The croupier froze. We all held our breath. A far-away second-hand tocked. A slow exhale… and the game kept on going as usual. But somehow we were ahead. It worked! No one looks pro and local like these guys do. Maybe you’ve seen them at White Pine beach, the Pitt Meadows Pier, and Buntzen Lake? Maybe on your street? They live there. They are a part of your community. I love these shoots. I could spend all day with lawyers on beaches… but why stop there?

We had a mission at sea with our other lawyer clients David and Ty. Not to be outdone by lawyers on horses, or lawyers on beaches, or lawyers near geese, and on mountains with fleeces, we set sail on a still September night with a prestigious fashion photographer and carefully-picked crew in tow. They navigated our boat. They navigated within the sun and stars to get the perfect shot. Cognizant of light, time, morale and fuel, they navigated the parameters to make it work. When Harbour Traffic questioned our position. They navigated the conversation. Out on that boat, we didn’t see lawyers in an office. We saw masters in their element with decades of knowledge on their minds. Those are the shots we got.

Our North Island family has now grown to Strategic, 43K, Strategic Wildfire, BC Parks, Escott Sportfishing, and Raven IT. It’s been great working with these guys. I find it amazing we click so well with so many folks from that part of the world. The interior too. I’m from a small town myself. So maybe it’s a 250 thing?

Speaking of which, Shaun and Ben and the gang over at 43K have been super busy. I haven’t had a chance yet to do the knuckle rub on the shirt-front about the branding we did for them. It looks good, huh? Modern and professional and, dare I say… hip? They’ve been doing some great work. Did you know that we named them 43K because their first project together was building the North Coast Trail and the trail is exactly 26.72 miles! Pretty catchy, huh?

It hasn’t been all rainbows and lollipops though…

Unfortunately 2017 wasn’t without some tragic news as well. Our little Jasmine was in a car accident!! Don’t worry, she’s okay now, but she was bruised up pretty badly. She flipped my car and everything! I am happy to say that thanks to the amazing Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia they were able to get her to the hospital in under nine minutes and she’s just fine now. No more texting and driving for you, young lady.

I have to say, I’m stoked about the campaign we made for the paramedics this year. It was a wild media buy – a horror intro, followed by ads for trucks and Grape Nuts, and a spectacular rescue 60 seconds later. Heart-stopping stuff. Check them out.

It’s been such a busy year, I can’t complain about anything on the business-front. We’re always growing. I won’t bore you with the details, but some of the new clients are always fun.

I have to hand it to realtor Edward Zhang. He’s a sharp-minded agent who is a master of the deal and has a next-level understanding of modern business. I can say this, because, in my 14 years in advertising, I have never met someone who gets the best value from the way I roll quite like Edward does. He likes me on retainer and he makes the most of it: A creative force available by text or call or meeting – whenever insight strikes. Imagine if your lawyer was like that, or your doctor, or your tailor? Answers a text away. Immediate ideas on call. Edward has it figured out. He has a Merlin in his Court, or perhaps a mad scientist. Either way. Don’t ask me if this works. Ask Edward.

Patrick spent the summer carving sculptures in Van Dusen Gardens. His exhibition this year was excellent (as always). We went down and wandered the gardens (and got lost in that maze) and saw dozens of his pieces all throughout. He has a real talent. He had other carvers from Zimbabwe exhibit their work and people would stop to watch them carve in the shade. Nice work, Patrick. I look forward to seeing more of your art on display next year.

Russ is doing so well. He was already a household name, and one of the most recognizable voices in radio here in Vancouver, but now he’s also helping out the good folks at Dr. Bernstein. If you look at most celebrities, endorsements are the way to go. Just look at Tiger Woods! Gillette, Nike, Tiger Balm (Tiger Balm? Probably.) Hopefully our man can keep those home-wrecking vixens at bay to keep his endorsement family friendly! (I’m talking to you, Russ.)

If you think Sally’s looking slimmer, you’re not mistaken. Who knew she had that in her! Unbeknownst to us, she’s been doing the Dr. Bernstein Diet on the sly! I could barely recognize her. She lost 20 lb a month, for a month or two, and what a difference! Either way, we had a chance to shoot where the magic happens in our very own version of Dr. Bernstein Cribs – POW!

I normally hate it when people brag about how great their neighbours are, and how wonderful their neighbourhood is. But this is a Christmas letter after all, and looking out at all the beautiful lights lining my street, I can’t help but say how happy I am that everyone in our family is doing so well.

Enough business! Onto the crew…

Seann is doing well. We’ve been making ads together for almost a decade. He welcomed in a new baby boy this year. He likes to surf a lot. He’s in arctic waters off Tofino. He has another toddler daughter. Remember those busy times? Put it all together. Kids, cold, reflection, experience, no-nonsense – that’s all fortitude, focus and brass tacks stuff. His art direction is getting better each year – and I think that’s why. He turned a course catalogue into a magazine, that was cool.
Jaclyn has it in her to write the next Kahuna Burger interrogation scene. Lucky for us she’s not famous yet (that does sound kind of horrible to say). BUT! What’s better than catching a rising star at just the right time? Did you know Salvador Dali designed the Chupa Chups lollipops logo? The genius was in the placement btw – on the top. Do you think they’ll ever change that? No way! Jaclyn is our very own Chupa Chup, sweet and poised, no wait, she’s our Dali, sans moustache and ocelot (to my knowledge).
Dennis is a rare animal known as ‘the programmer who doesn’t hide.’ He is incapable of camouflage. He is incapable of not following up, and following through. He shouldn’t be a developer. He isn’t condescending, rude, or unreachable. As talented as he is, Dennis may be in the wrong position – he’s simply too approachable to be around computers. The secret to finding a prodigious programmer isn’t in knowing a language – it’s in knowing their language – and if you don’t speak CS, and it’s not in your car, and you don’t live on CS, and it’s not in your veins, you are not getting the most of your developer, and Dennis is a star.
Katie has been mastering the art of illustration and design in the Taoist tradition. Actually she’s mastering Taoism – without her knowledge – which is how, I think, Taoism works. Truth be told, I know nothing about Taoism. But I suspect it’s super competitive. But back to Katie – unassuming spiritual advantage and all, Katie is a person that you feel lucky to work with. Conscientious. Talented. Viciously, brutally, savagely Taoist: Katie is a superstar, whether she is designing, consulting, or walking away from explosions in slow motion and throwing her Taoist trophy in the garbage and calling it meaningless, she’s a great person to work with. (I think throwing your Taoist trophy in the garbage might be bad luck, Katie, so I don’t recommend it, but what do I know? What do I know?)
Peter continues to dazzle and amaze. Just look at this portfolio of work. We won gold for our Lawyers on Horses  shot last year when Miller-Titerle was recognized as one of the Top 10 Corporate-Commercial Law Firms In Canada.  An amazing shoot. Those were actual lawyers, on horses – and insurance was a nightmare.
Jeremy is our super-seasoned blogger. He’s probably written a thousand blogs on mattresses over the years (no joke). And he’s still restless but a blogging star.

Oran is our art director on call (see the Edward Zhang note above). The modern world is ready for artists like Oran.

Matthew is a true pro. The full package: talent, savvy and social skills. He’s going to go far. Don’t forget us.

Hope is running an ad agency. What a star! She’s the real mastermind behind all of this. That said, she did approve this sprawling, rambling rant of a Christmas form letter – so she’s still learning…
Me? I’m just happy to be working with such a great crew. I’m nine years in with Immersionnow. Fourteen in the ad game. The best part is complimentary clients. Working with people who get me, and my style, is awesome. It’s a dream for any creative person actually. So that’s pretty cool.

Enough crew! Back to the little people front…

In other news, my twins are in Grade Three. They are doing great! We practice our math every morning. Ask them what Pi is to five digits. How to find the surface area of a sphere. Space/time relativism. You can even ask them to multiply single digit numbers when you’re in the mood for a correct answer that makes sense.

Hold is selling subscriptions to his Diaper Dog comics and Olive got an electric typewriter for her birthday that she’s using to write stories about cats.

Click here or here to subscribe. All proceeds go to inner-city kids. My inner-city kids (Holden and Olive).

In Other, Other News

Maria and I did an adventure this summer where we visited various ghost towns in BC. Some had gift shops, some were gone without a trace, so it wasn’t really the tin type theme we were looking for, but we still had fun doing it.

More Work Stuff!

Seann’s been crushing it on the logo front. I love what he did for Raven and Refined.

Speaking of Raven, check out these cool business cards we made. Did you know that your camera in your phone and on your computer can be used to spy on you? Pretty creepy, huh? Even Mark Zuckerberg covers the camera on his computer. And that should tell you something! Worst. Sextape. Ever. Either way, we made cards with little raven stickers that you can use to keep your life private from voyeurs and freaks.

The Refined logo and name. I love it. It was great working with Marc and Rob on this. The whole process was so… granular… meticulous… polishing… ah, I can’t think of how to describe it, but we worked like a giant machine of a team on this guy, and I think it turned out awesome.

I did a few radio scripts for Alpine Credits for nostalgia’s sake, but they never saw the crackle of air, I was pushing real hard to bring back that old jingle. Kurt was like, no way, it didn’t work for him. So be it.

Don’t throw your trash in my backyard, my backyard’s full. I’ve always wanted to do a radio campaign about campfire songs. They’re super catchy, everyone knows them, and they bring back a certain nostalgia of crackling flames, marshmallows, hot chocolate and recycling bottles – in your own damn yard. TOMRA ran with this idea, and we had a fun launch of their new bottle recycling machine down in Burnaby. We had the incomparable Casey Jo Loos on site for the Peak 102.7 FM and we had a barbeque and made an event out of the launch. It was great.

We were all over the Tri-Cities this year. Between DBM and CCE – wherever you went around Coquitlam you’d see one of our ads. My favourites were our lenticular posters in the Skytrain Stations in Coquitlam. Visuals that move as you move by them. I used to get rings like this at the dentist when I was a kid.

I’ve been helping out Hewlett Packard and Iron Mountain with some copyediting too, so happy holidays to you too!

Industry and environment are not usually the first two words that come to mind when you think of BCEIA (my go-tos would be “acronym” and “mouthful” – but to each their own) – but that is exactly what the British Columbia Environmental Industry Association is hoping to combine. A sustainable approach to business in BC. I’ve been working with these guys for years, and recently we made a new logo for BEST – shna! Check it out, it’s pretty great.

A Little About My Cat

Gato is doing well. She does this thing where she takes the cat toy that we have hanging by a suction cup on the downstairs door and she brings it up and leaves it in my bedroom. I don’t know if it’s a sacrifice or a sign that she wants better food or toys. Who knows!? But I find it pretty adorable. She hates it when I work out. Whenever I do P90x, she loves to bite my legs. What’s the deal with that, Gato? She has an intuitive sixth sense as to where the next place of attention will be. If you are planning to wrap a present, she’ll be sitting on the paper, if you feel like sitting down, she’ll be in the chair you want. If you are going to bake a ziti, there she is, in the oven! Kidding. But she does have an incredible ability to always make herself the centre of attention (you should see her Instagram account – insufferable!)

OMG! Are we really talking about my cat now? This truly is a rambling Christmas form letter. Did you know there is a parallel universe where cats just watch videos of us?

The Box of Fun

Your twenties is experience, your thirties is expertise, you forties is money. That was my plan anyway. When I meet someone who’s young I want to say drop it all and forget your debt and get on a plane and roll and ride and run as far as you can because you’ll only be in your twenties once and you’ll heal so much faster and you’ll look so much better and you’ll land on your feet in a way that you never will again. So you have to tumble with it and ride and see where it takes you… that’s what your twenties is.

We have a Box of Fun at home. We made it because the kids got bored. We had one when we were teenagers in a small town with nothing to do. So you need to draw a suggestion for fun out of the box of fun – and everyone needs to chant ‘box, box, box!” and then you draw the paper and you have to do whatever it says. Well say you don’t want to play road hockey in the middle of the night, or drive to Grand Forks, then you had to pick up the phone, open the Yellow Pages, and call someone, anyone, and ask them for permission not to do whatever it was you drew from the Box of Fun.

What Is The Point?

The whole point of this ranting, rambling, rave was for you to get a better idea of how we roll and who we are – who are these people? Who’s this guy? I’m a thoughtful person. I’m a bit off kilter. But I am whimsical, and intuitive and even kind, and also vengeful and old-fashioned and I have my flaws. No one is perfect, that’s for sure. I can be the Arch-Angel. A shift-shaping trickster. Or  somewhere in-between. Like a sardine. A singular, solitary, sardine. Given the option, I’d rather be melted down into a button.

This is just a long wrecking crew rant from a band of pirates. We’ve been in this game a long time, but we’ve always been outsiders. We don’t have the prestige of peer-reviewed rewards and awards because our peers don’t know what to make of us. People buy our style. They like what we do. They know what we do makes money for them.

That’s an important difference – we don’t do what we do to make money. We do what we do – and we make money.

In the wake of all these boring and pointless Happy Holidays blips on your screen, here’s a long, meandering update with what I hope’s a little flair. If you’ve got this far, we might just have something in common. Let’s make something!

I hope you enjoyed our lengthy and rambling Pre-Facebook, family Christmas form letter.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. And all that to all of you.  Enjoy!

– Mike and the Immersion Crew.


Tear Sheets

March 7, 2017 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Vancouver Advertising  Tear Sheet : Mermaid Advertisement for Shearwater

Summit International Awards

June 8, 2016 | Filed Under Awards, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

Yay, we just won a Silver and Gold at the Summit International Awards for these two campaigns.

FishSafe BC Ad 1 - close up of a fishermen - Vancouver Advertising firm

FishSafe BC Ad 3 - fishermen and flares - Vancouver Advertising firm

FishSafe BC Ad - hands and rope - Vancouver Advertising firm

Photo credit: Peter Holst


Umbrella Store Ad 3: Woman opening up lit umbrella -Immersion Creative - Vancouver advertising agency

Umbrella Store Ad 1: Man and woman with lit umbrellas - by Immersion Creative - Vancouver advertising agency

Umbrella Store Ad 2: Man and woman under an umbrella - by Immersion Creative - Vancouver advertising agency

Photo Credit: Matthew Chen

Project Credits: Fishermen helping Fishermen
Creative Director: Mike Catherall
Photographer: Peter Holst
Graphic Designer: Seann Einerssen
Copywriter: Suzanne Pope
Make-up Artist: Marie-Helen Babin
Client: FishSafe, BC


Project Credits: It’s Your Turn To Shine
Creative Director: Mike Catherall
Photographer: Matthew Chen
Retoucher: Steve Pinter
Stylist: Crystal Martines
Makeup: Tianna Tran
Models: Emmaline Zien & David Chin
Copywriter: Emily Louie
Graphic Design: Flora Leung
Client: The Umbrella Shop


Laser Eyes!

May 31, 2016 | Filed Under clients, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

This crazy billboard shot to the first page of Reddit worldwide and was featured on CBC Adweek, Buzzfeed, the CHIVE, and Mashable generating enormous buzz for the client.


CBC article

Adweek article

Reddit Post

Buzzfeed Post



It also made into: Adweek June 6, 2016 – Ad of the Week !




Laser Beams  -Fun Real Estate Agent Ad by Immersion Creative

 Reddit users having fun with the ad:


fun-version-of-ad (1)





Spec Work

October 13, 2015 | Filed Under advertising, design, Spec | Leave a Comment 


Spec work from Vancouver Adverting Agency, Immersion Creative

Continuing education spec campaign from Vancouver Advertising Agency, Immersion Creative

The Umbrella Shop

July 8, 2015 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Here is a whimsical campaign I made with photographer Matthew Chen and a supergroup of local talent.

Creative Director: Mike Catherall
Photographer: Matthew Chen
Retoucher: Steve Pinter
Stylist: Joanna Kulpa
Hair: Crystal Martinez
Makeup: Tianna Tran
Models: Emmaline Zien & David Chin
Copywriter: Emily Louie
Graphic Designer: Flora Leung

Umbrella 1

Umbrella 2






Umbrella 3

An Immersion In Haida Gwaii

June 12, 2015 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

I just got back from doing another Immersion Experience, this time in Haida Gwaii.

Danny Escott is a master fishing captain with over 24 years of experience. His lodge, Escott Sportfishing is perfectly located in Masset to take advantage of salmon runs when the fish are largest and most abundant.

He is planning a rebrand and asked me to do an Immersion Experience to fully understand his company before moving forward.

My art director and I spent four days working from within, experiencing the adventure like guests would, taking pictures, talking to the staff and guests and of course, fishing, to get a feel for the best way to position Escott Sportfishing in the crowded fishing resort market.

It turns out that Escott definitely has a unique point of differentiation, and it was one that we wouldn’t be able to truly appreciate or articulate without experiencing the adventure firsthand: Danny has the best guides. The experience is intimate. Personal. And it’s all about the fishing. After spending hours on the water, and surveying the areas around Masset, we could confidently move forward with a positioning that more personal and professional than any of its competitors.

Taking Initiative

June 2, 2015 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Vancouver Real Estate Advertising

May 28, 2015 | Filed Under Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

Some of the work we have made for developers includes:

For Zenterra Developers

We did a creative campaign with custom photography for Hyde Park. We wanted to articulate their main point of differentiation, that being you had a whole forest to enjoy as an owner there. The campaign was featured on the backs of buses in the Lower Mainland.

For Bonds Group of Companies

Print, transit shelters and billboards for their Tate Downtown development.




For Genica Development

Print, TV, postcards, web.


For Greci Development

Social media, website, print, outdoor signage.

This print ad ran in the Georgia Straight to attract a young and hip demographic. The website was great but unfortunately it’s down now. We also made a giant wrap on Scotia and 6th.

We ran a social media campaign that included a Twitter feed and a weekly blog.


I used to write ads for Sun Hung Kai Properties while in Hong Kong, working for Ogilvy & Mather.

Also, I have written copy for high-end real estate brokers Manhattan-Miami – helping them to sell properties just north of USD $80 million in New York.


Real Estate Agents

We have also done work for several REALTORS including Anthea Poon and Patricia Houlihan.

Anthea’s campaign was featured in the Georgia Straight’s Best Of Vancouver.


Anthea In Transit

This is one of my all-time favourite campaigns. It ran in the interiors of buses and Skytrains as a spoof on Poetry In Transit. The Poets were livid! They kept writing us to complain – in rhyme! The campaign was mentioned on the famous comedy Podcast ‘Stop Podcasting Yourself’ .

Anthea In Transit







We are not your average real estate marketers. We take a different approach with conceptual and outside-of-the-box ideas.

All Over The Internets

June 23, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

We’re all about the World Wide Web here at Immersion Creative. We build next-level Hypertext Markup Language Websites and tackle integrated campaigns across a mind-bending myriad of mediums like it ain’t no thing. So I figured it was nigh time to create a database of the Vancouver advertising, street art, and oddities that we like, and post it up on our dazzling array of social media channels.

Catch up on:



Vancouver Advertising Tumblr

Vancouver_Advertising Instagram





Vancouver Advertising on Google+

The Quintessential Vancouver Advertising Directory

June 20, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Years ago I started a blog that acted as a compendium of Vancouver advertising agencies.

The idea was, if you were looking for a Vancouver advertising agency you could find the contact information as well as samples of their work. After all, it’s the product that really matters and you can’t see what you’re buying from a black and white directory.

It’s pretty convenient, I figured, as well as a chance to get my own Vancouver advertising agency listed. (After all, it was my initiative.)

Well, that was over five years ago, and since then the landscape of advertising in Vancouver has changed quite a bit.

So, I’m looking to update the ol’ Vancouver Advertising blog. If your agency has changed address, or if you have new work to show, or, if you aren’t featured at all – let me know, and I’ll add you to the list.

If you own a business and running your own advertising campaign is taking over your life, then this is the place to start looking for a small agency to handle the creative coordination on your behalf.

It’s Time to Get a Vancouver Advertising Agency When…

June 19, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Trying to put together an advertising campaign is a lot like herding cats.

If you have plenty of time, and money to burn chasing suppliers, the DIY route is certainly do-able.

However, it’s like anything. You can extract your own teeth, or represent yourself in a court of law, but at the end of the day, why not save yourself the heartache, and just hire a professional to do the job?

If you think Vancouver advertising agencies are expensive, look to the smaller shops. They can get the job done, with comparable service, for a fraction of the price of the big guns.

If you’d rather do it yourself, and herd those cats on your own, here are a few warning signs to watch out for.

It’s Time to Get an Advertising Agency When:

1. You are spending half your day chasing down the designer who vanished, the printer that won’t return your calls, and the illustrator that skipped off with your deposit.
2. You’ve had to learn the basics of Photoshop to get things the way you like them.
3. You ask for revisions and they look at you like you’re crazy.
4. Only one of the 100 resumes you receive from Craigslist doesn’t have a typo.
5. The logo they give you looks like clip art.
6. Your copywriter returns your call on the same day and it seems like a miracle.
7. You find yourself tiptoeing around feelings, when you have a business to run.
8. AWOL has become a part of your everyday vernacular.
9. Sales have flat-lined.
10. Nobody knows your ads.

Running a successful campaign is a lot like building a house. You need many skill sets as well as people who know how to oversee an entire operation.

Like a contractor, an advertising agency will coordinate the entire effort to ensure that you don’t have to. Service goes hand-in-hand with the final product, because you need work that you like, without pulling out your hair in the process.

The size of the agency you choose will affect the cost, but not always the final product. So when you are hunting for the best Vancouver advertising agency, judge from the work you like, first and foremost, and then go from there.

To get great service, however, you will need more than just that creative team. Writers and designers can be aloof creatures (back to the cat metaphor), and “service” doesn’t always top their list. After all, that’s the reason agencies exist in the first place.

So bearing in mind cost, reliability, service and final product, it’s time to look around.

Here’s a good place to start. It has all of the most prominent Vancouver ad agencies laid out, as well as some of their work, so you can pick the one that best suits your needs:

List of Vancouver advertising agencies .

If you are looking for a small shop that gets the job done, look no further than Immersion Creative. Because when it comes to herding cats, we have the can-opener.

Wolfes Combatives Immersion

May 9, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 1 Comment 

When you are confronted in a dark alley by a homicidal killer with a knife, you don’t react like you think you would. You hit fear. And you panic. Traditional training goes out the window.

Look, a shortcut.

Chances are, no matter how much karate you’ve done, you’re going to try to grab the knife with both hands. And that’s okay. The difference between Wolfe’s Combatives and other self-defense is that they acknowledge that, and they build their moves around natural human reactions.

HOW many times does it have to save my life to pay off again?

Wolfes is self-defense for Special Ops soldiers, not athletes.

They only have so much room in there.

The reality is – when you are attacked, you hit a fear state. The only way to simulate the fear state is exhaustion.

If I keep this up I'll get as ripped as my shorts.

And that’s exactly what Wolfes does. They will drive you to the point where you can barely raise your arms, and then pit you against four attackers, one of whom has a nasty sharp killing instrument.

The friendly face of your average assailant.

It’s a realistic fighting scenario – taking into account your fear – and the fight or flight that comes from first encountering extreme danger.

Palm strikes double as eye gouging opportunities!

The techniques and tactics they’ll drill into your head over four days come out sloppy when you are so overwhelmed. But they’re there. And looking back at it – you survive. It works because it’s simple. There are only 65 moves, compared to thousands in martial arts.

'Uncle' ain't gonna cut it on the street.

For the last month and a half I have been training with Wolfes Combatives as an Immersion. Last weekend, I completed a four-day CORE course. The objective was to make me a “hard target” by immersing me in the hand-to-hand and knife defense fighting used by Special Ops units in Canada.

Nothing worth having comes easy!

If you want to learn how to fight for your life, you need to make it realistic.

Wolfe calls it Tachy-Psyche – how you train is how you react. And that’s what I learned.

I found out how to defend myself from men 30 to 50 lb bigger than me, and from threats wielding knives – using WWII armed forces tactics in real-life scenarios.

That's one way to do it.

Bill Wolfe believes in going full-force in the training. We were burning 800 calories an hour over 6.5 hours a day. I don’t think I could eat enough to make up for the weight I was shedding. I sweated so much my name went from “Sweaty Mike” to “Slimy Mike”. I was disgusting. But it was actually a tactical advantage… I was hard to grab!

Wolfe's got a grip

But it’s not all physical. During the CORE experience, beyond the non-stop fighting, there are lectures. These are given by Bill Wolfe and are incredibly insightful. They discuss everything from legalities, to confidence, to how to turn your fear into power.

As well as the advantages of having no hair.

Case in point: There are certain patterns to look for before an assault and ways to handle them. We learned go-to maneuvers for everything from defending against the traditional Canadian hockey grab (strike the elbow, then the throat) to the bar-room push (lock the elbows and attack) to the classic choke (grab, shake, strike the knee). Seriously, there’s something for everyone.

Hey, watch the shirt, pal.

It was probably the most physically and spiritually challenging thing I have ever done. It was harder than a marathon. More demanding than P90x. It made digging ditches seem easy and Tough Mudder like a walk in the park.

I hate it.... But I LOVE it!

CORE is designed to drill in a series of fighting techniques used by JTF2 and other special ops units. They call it Hard Target Training because once you know even the basics, you become exceptionally dangerous to your assailants.

Mullets & Snake Fighting optional.

It’s a style of fighting known as Defendo. It was designed for WWII soldiers and has since been adopted by other elite tactical units.

Even Centurion soldiers used this effective little number.

It’s all about attacking the eyes, genitals, throat, liver and kidneys with kill-or-be-killed fighting moves. No nonsense. Nothing sporting about it. It’s dirty, nasty, survival fighting that works.

Still scary 70 years later.

Wolfe’s system is designed for war. Or any apocalypse coming our way. His mantra is K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple and Savage.

Prepared for anything?

This is Bill Wolfe. He is a Canadian Special Forces Commando who has served all over the world. Since then he has been an ERT (Emergency Response Team) officer and police officer in New Westminster. He learned Defendo from the source, and has been practicing it for over 40 years.

Even the suit says badass.

After the course, I feel ready to defend myself effectively in life-threatening situations. I feel less threatened by men much bigger than me. And I know I have tactics to bring them to their knees instantly.

I tell ya, this one really works.

It’s reassuring to think that, as a medium sized guy, with bird-like wrists and ankles, I could still be taught to eliminate threats, immediately and effectively with tactical force and violence. It’s one thing to know what to do, and a whole other thing to be comfortable striking & kneeing someone as hard as you can, repeatedly, so you are ready when the time comes.

How you train is how you react.

Wolfes has been a life-changing experience and a skill set every soldier & civilian should possess.

Special Ops Training

April 24, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

I’ve been working with Wolfes Combatives for a month now.

It’s a full Immersion Experience, so I’ve been attending the courses and absorbing everything I can. Tomorrow, I will start my 4-day C.O.R.E. combat training course.

After this, I will have more hand-to-hand and knife training than most JTF2 and soldiers.

Week Two With Wolfes

April 3, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Yesterday I went in to do an Intro class and watch the Advanced class immediately afterward, but I ended up just doing both classes. I was exhausted! It was fun though. We learned how to defend ourselves from the ground (basically when you are getting boot stomped).

I learned some great tricks. It’s counter-intuitive how you protect yourself when you are down. But it works. It’s really effective.

Wolfes Combatives is not a sport. It’s true self defence. It’s the stuff that Joint Task Force 2 uses. It’s for commandos and special forces.

Bill Wolfe’s motto is Keep It Simple and Savage. Once I get familiar with the moves, and they become automatic, I will definitely feel way safer when travelling to dangerous countries (which I have a habit of doing).

An Immersion With Wolfes Combatives

March 31, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

I have started my latest Immersion Experience with true self-defence masters Wolfes Combatives.

Last week, I attended my first class. I learned how to stop an aggressor (even one twice my size) from pushing me, how to break a choke hold, and how to turn the tables on an assault from being a victim to being the one in control.

The course was very exhaustive and exhausting, but that was only because I was doing it wrong.

If I was calm and relaxed, as Bill Wolfe instructed, I would not have broken a sweat. As it was, I became tense and apprehensive while fending off Adam, who is 40 lb heavier and 4 inches bigger than me. It was like battling back a mountain. My tension translated into wasted energy.

Of course, as I get more comfortable with the moves, I will have an easier time defending myself. Last week there was not an inch of me that was not covered in sweat. It was hard! But I learned an enormous amount of self-defence knowledge in a very short time.

This week, I will continue my training, and hopefully, be a bit more natural on the mat.

Deep Inside The Vancouver Singles’ Scene

January 24, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

For our latest Immersion Experience, we submersed ourselves in the Vancouver club for active singles, Events and Adventures.

As a family man, I was out this time, so we selected the most active, eligible bachelor from our ranks, and immersed him completely in the program.

He attended his first event in October. From there, it’s been a whirlwind of wild events and zany adventures.

Extreme trampoline

Olive oil tasting

Christmas sweater bowling

An evening with Mary Poppins

Exotic dining

Gourmet cooking classes

Golfing on Burnaby Mountain

Night tubing on Cyprus

Latin-themed comedy shows

Wacky wallyball

Each week he writes about his experiences, and offers some insight on what it’s like to be single in Vancouver. We promote these posts through E&A’s Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook pages.

On its face, this is a way of promoting Events and Adventures’ interesting group events to the world via social media.

From a communications standpoint, working from within allows Immersion to fully understand the brand and create customized, creative communications that suit Events and Adventures, and Events and Adventures alone.

To read more about our adventures with E&A, check out Jeremy’s blog at:

Single In Vancouver, BC

Find out How An Immersion Experience Can Revolutionize YOUR Brand.

5 Ways An Immersion Experience Can Revolutionize Your Brand

January 24, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Here’s what we learned about the Events and Adventures brand from a rock climbing gym in Coquitlam.

1. New Members

One of the most encouraging elements of attending events is seeing new members. It means our work with Events and Adventures is paying off. At the Cliffhangers there were two new members out of the seven that attended. Their enthusiasm was awesome to see.

2. The VIP Experience

The benefit of experiencing an activity with an organized group is the amount of personalized instruction and attention you receive. The Cliffhanger gym had allocated three staff members to handle our seven-person group. They were excellent about explaining the equipment and making sure each one of the members was comfortable and secure before climbing. The staff tied all the knots and preformed 100% of the belaying duties. They were encouraging, super friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Did we mention there were three of them?

3. Unique Features

The Cliffhangers climbing center has employed a number of auto-belayers. These unique devices allow climbers to ascend without an actual human belayer. Our writer has a background in climbing, but had never come across an auto-belaying system. Using the auto-belayer took a literal leap of faith, but it was something new and different that added a little extra to the experience.

4. Other Singles

Of the group that attended, five were guys (including our writer) and two were ladies. Though there was a range of climbing experience in the group, every member was physically fit and excited to climb. Our writer noticed a number of other single lady climbers at the facility and talked to a handful of friendly fit people outside of the group. Going to an engaging physical activity like rock climbing presents an opportunity for our members to meet other active singles in an environment that is ripe with single Vancouverites with similar interests: staying fit, enjoying life and inviting challenges.

5. Constructive Criticism

As a member, we are also able to see where the company needs to improve.

Jeremy has been immersing himself in Events and Adventures since October. You can read about his experiences here.

Bernstein – Progression

November 20, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

This is what Immersion Creative is all about.

I often spend months immersing myself in my clients’ businesses.

The latest is Dr. Bernstein Diet & Health Clinics.

This is me, on the Bernstein Diet.

30 days. 32 lb. And plenty of posts in terrible track pants.


Bernstein Diet - Immersion Creative on Make A Gif

To see the real progression, click here, and scroll down.

Day 31 – Mission Accomplished

November 8, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 2 Comments 

I weighed in today at 181.4 lb. That means I’ve hit (surpassed) my goal weight (185) and I’m ready to start maintenance.

I lost 32.6 lb in exactly 30 days on the Bernstein Diet and I’ve never felt better.

The plan now is to slowly re-introduce my normal diet. I can eat all the vegetables I want, so I’m going to start with Gorilla Food. Everything there is raw, vegan and delicious.

To see the full progression click here.

Day 30 - 181.4 lb

Day 29 – The Last Shot

November 6, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Today I got my final injection as a part of the weight loss program. I clocked in at 187.2 lb, which means I am down a total of 26.8 lb since I started 29 days ago.

The last few pounds have been a lot tougher, that’s for sure. My healthy weight is 190-200 lb, although the doctor did make an allowance for me to go to 185 lb based on a pinch test.

The way I see it, I have two days to get down to 185 before I start maintenance on Saturday.

As a part of the four-week program, I get four weeks of free maintenance, which is nice. Maintenance is only one, half-shot a week. It also makes a few concessions about the amount and types of food I can eat. Unlimited vegetables. A few more starchy vegetables like kale. 100g a day more protein. Although my fruit drops down to one a day for the first week or so. (I’m going to miss that afternoon apple.)

So the heat is on. Can I lose 2.2 lb in 2 days? My plan: no salt for 48 hours. Let’s see if that makes a significant difference.

Day 27 – New Habits

November 4, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

They say it takes 28 days to develop a new habit or break an old one. Here are a few I can thank the Berstein Diet for.

1. Lemon squeezed into water. It’s supposed to be good for your liver. Also, if you are craving sweets, BAM!, the craving is instantly gone. It’s weird. It’s easy to do, and lemons are cheap. Now that I’ve started this habit, I’ll definitely keep it up.

2. New breakfast. 3 boiled egg whites. A cup of coffee with milk. And half a grapefruit. It’s the perfect breakfast. It takes minutes, will fill you up until noon, and is super healthy/low calories.

3. Rationing my food. Planning what to eat hours in advance not only makes the meals you are going to eat that much more enjoyable, it is also kind of fun. Most importantly, it keeps you from over eating. Or eating mindlessly.

4. Weighing myself daily. Once you stop weighing, you stop caring.

5. White fish. This is the best bang for your buck, protein-wise. I plan to pretty much drop all processed meat and red meat for good. (Except for Saturday Steaks.) Trout’s pretty much my favourite meal, anyway, so this works out well.

6. Say no to bread. Rice and grain is terrible filler food. I’d rather eat healthy stuff that actually contributes.

7. Limit my dairy. The best things in life are dairy. French Vanilla ice cream and yogurt. Brie cheese. This will have to be strictly treat-stuff. Dropping milk was a good idea, though.

8. Minimal sugar. I had to look away and grit my teeth when my kids got Reese’s Pieces in their Halloween candy. That was one of the toughest temptations of the diet so far. I haven’t eaten sugar in 27 days, and I want to keep this habit up. But like dairy, the odd piece of candy would be nice.

9. Beer. I blame beer for making me 214 lb in the first place. My work and life is pretty social, so I’m constantly in beer-drinking situations. The trick will be to keep it to a minimum.

10. Keeping track of everything I eat. I like this habit, and I’m going to ask the nurses if I can get extra sheets once I go on maintenance.

11. Vitamins. I’ve never felt healthier than when on this diet. I think I must have had a vitamin deficiency from before, be it the B6 or B12 in the shots, or something the potassium pills or daily multivitamin is taking care of. Either way, I feel great. I’m running faster. I feel sharper.

Not sure if it is the vitamins, the weight loss, the lack of bread, booze, dairy, sugar and red meat, or a combination of all of the above -but I feel good.

I will probably keep up these new habits into my new life once I hit 185 lb and go into my maintenance mode.

Update: Just weighed in at the clinic. I’m down to 187.8 lb. So I’ve lost 26.2 lb in 27 days. Only 2.8 lb to go.

Day 27 - 187.8 lb

Day 26

November 4, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Here is how my first diet sheet looks after 26 days of recording every single thing I’ve eaten. Running back and forth to work with this thing in my jacket pocket did some serious wear and tear.

Bernstein Day 23 – Setback!

November 1, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Oh no. I’m moving backwards! I weighed in today and I was as 192.2 lb. That means I’ve gained weight since Wednesday.

My ketones are still +2, so the doc said I’m still burning fat. I am just retaining water. The nurse busted me actually, I’ve been hitting the hot sauce and miso soup pretty hard these days, and she was onto me.

This is the third time I’ve seen the doctor in three weeks. He had to check me out to make sure I am good to go down to 185, because normally they’d like to see me settle at 190. They do a pinch test to make sure I have the right kind of fat to burn. Turns out I’m good to 185. So another week or so (or at this rate – never!).

Setbacks are frustrating. It’s tempting to throw up my hands and say, “To hell with it, then. I’m having a burger!” But I ate a sandwich at Gorilla Foods instead. All raw, vegan, healthy stuff. No nuts. No bread. Pretty filling though. Now I feel better. I’m back on track.

I got the results back from my blood work. My uric acid is a little high. Probably from my previous life of being overweight and drinking too much beer. They suggested I get retested next week now that I’m closer to my fighting weight and drinking water over brew.

Bernstein -Day 22

October 30, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Today I weighed in at 191.8 lb. Which means I’ve lost 22.2 lb in 22 days.

Yesterday I talked about my dietary regime. Today I’ll talk about my exercise regime.
It’s the same as it was before the diet. The big difference now is that I’m not over-eating my exercise routine.

I’m faster, lighter on my feet, and much more nimble now. It’s amazing how much better I perform without packing around the equivalent of one of my children strapped to my body.

Monday -Friday
Every day I run to work. It takes me 23 minutes to run down Main Street and to my office.
Often I look like a madman running in my jacket with a black briefcase in my hand, but that’s how I roll.
Every evening I run home. It takes me 27 minutes to get up the hill.

Wednesday Nights
Gym – Free weight curls, bench press, shoulders, lats,
Swim – A few laps followed by a sauna, steam an hot tub

Saturday Mornings

Sunday Mornings
Gymnastics with the kids. I get my stretch on with the other dads.

When you’re active and you are not overeating, and especially when you’re not drinking booze, the weight just falls right off you.

I needed Bernstein to give me the kick-start to get me going.

Day 22 - 191.8 lb

Bernstein Day 20 – Daily Eating Routine

October 28, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Weighed in today. I am at 195.6. So I have lost 19.4 lb in 20 days. Not bad.

Here’s what I eat on a usual day.

3 boiled eggs (yolks removed)
1/2 grapefruit
cup of coffee with milk

6 pieces of tuna and salmon sashimi
Miso soup
1 tbsp of soy sauce

Snack (4 pm)
6 veggie mini thins

150 g of Halibut
Dijon mustard
Salad made of
100 g of spinach
50 g of salsa (peppers, tomato, garlic, onion – we make our own)
1 tsp of flax oil
80 g of broccoli, celery, cucumber and cherry tomatoes

Evening Snack
2 triscuits
Beef broth

If you space it out right, it’s a pretty good healthy meal plan.

Bernstein – Day 19

October 27, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Halloween was actually surprisingly fun considering I wasn’t drinking anything but water.

After 19 days without a drink, a clear healthy mind is just as intoxicating. It definitely makes me sharper. And as long as I’m hosting a party and can move and mingle – I never felt like I needed a drink to loosen up one bit.

There is no edge when you’re grounded.

One thing that sucks about not drinking though is that it can alienate your friends. No one likes to drink around someone who’s not keeping pace. Your own friends actually start to distrust you and question your motives. It’s silly. It might even be subconscious. But it’s there.

Not drinking at the same watering hole, be it booze, or plates of nachos, or birthday cake – creates an us vs them effect. If you don’t eat with your allies, then you are not truly an ally.

Cultures are centred around food. So it can be hostile to reject a culture in pursuit of a personal goal – like losing weight.

There is definitely a dark side to the Bernstein Diet – and that is the animosity, envy, and tension caused between you and those closest to you as change begins to manifest.

I am lucky to have a tolerant wife and close friends who know me as the guy who is always doing experiments, always trying new things, and immersing myself in new cultures and ideologies.

For those with a negative environment, be it a jealous spouse, or insecure friends – one of the hardest parts of the Bernstein Diet would be the social resistance.

Bernstein Day 15 – Halfway

October 23, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

198.6 lb. Hey, not bad. That’s 15.4 lb in 15 days.

So far so good, I’m half way! If I can keep this up, I’ll be at my goal weight by November 7th.

Day 15 - 198.6 lb

Bernstein Day 14 – Improvements

October 23, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

The more weight I lose the more I see small improvements in every area of my life.

Every day, I run home from work. I always have. This entails running straight up Main Street from Hastings all the way to 18th. It’s all uphill. Normally, it takes me 27 minutes to run from my office to my home. I usually stop a few times on the steeper sections. When I ran home today, I didn’t have to stop at all. It was great. I had more energy, and the big difference – I wasn’t carrying an extra 15 lb. Being that much lighter made it easier for me to run.

I also notice other things. I don’t get heartburn anymore. I don’t sweat as much. I feel like I have more energy throughout the day. My mood is better. I am sleeping better. I have better concentration.

These little improvements are like bonuses. All I wanted was to lose weight. The effects of losing weight are pluses in their own right.

Bernstein Day 13 – Localized Fat Burning

October 21, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

I never knew you could burn fat in specific areas on your body. You just can’t do it with exercise.

But you can do it with Bernstein.

I got my latest vitamin shot in the stomach. It turns out wherever you get the shot, that’s where it starts burning fat first.

I remember going to a personal trainer and asking which exercises would help me burn love handles specifically, because that’s where I tend to gather fat. If you exercise, you can’t localize fat burning. ie if you do tons of sit-ups you will not reduce your belly fat. You just burn fat all over.

With the Bernstein shot, it actually starts working in specific areas. This is amazing to me. I can start taking fat off the areas I care about. Am I bothered with a bubbly butt? Not really. Stomach fat? Yeah, get rid of that.

So now, I’m getting my shots in the front. This is an interesting development.

I just found out I can’t eat pumpkin seeds. Ah, too bad! I was munching on those all weekend. Oh well, back to sashimi and egg white omelettes (which are delicious by the way).

13.4 in 13 days. Not bad.

So far so good on the Bernstein Diet. I did my blood-work this morning (these guys are really thorough), saw the nurse this afternoon, and I see the in-house doctor again on Friday. Medically supervised is an understatement.

Day 12 – Cheating On Dr. Bernstein

October 20, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Well, as of Friday (Day 10) I was down 12.2 lb (201 lb) and at +3 ketones, which is pretty good for 10 days. Today is Sunday. I think I’m about the same.

After almost two weeks, one thing that you start to notice is ‘no cheat days’. I find I’m looking a bit more longingly at cupcakes than usual as my kids eat their spider icing. But I keep my head in the game by reminding myself of two things.

1. They KNOW.

I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow where they are going to take my blood work to make sure all is going well. Also, 3x a week, I submit urine tests and the nurses measure ketones. No ketones = cheating. (I have stopped metabolizing fat, and therefore I am running on booze, bread, dairy or starches. All bad.) Knowing they KNOW keeps me good. For me, shame is more powerful than guilt.

2. “If you are hungry, you are cheating.”

One of the nurses told me this the other day. And it’s true. I have a confession. I ate some vegetable broth the other night (Friday). Vegetable broth is terrible. I was so disappointed in it that I decided to have Campbell’s Vegetable Soup instead. What’s the diff, I figured? Either way, after I cooked it, I realized it had potatoes, peas, carrots and even (*gasp*) pasta alphabet shapes in there. I ate it all. I used to love vegetable soup in my old life. But basically everything in that soup is on the ‘no’ list. Later that night, I felt hunger. It was the first time in 10 days, but that aching gnawing animal was there. Blinder than rage. Wanting to overpower me. I ate spinach and drank water until I pushed it back into its cage. But with that potato and pasta tease, I had opened the gate for just one second too long, and the wicked bit was in its mouth.

Today has been okay. I bought my kids cupcakes after gymnastics and once again my mind wandered to cheating. I wonder if that soup had set off a chain reaction. I kept my mind on the prize. If I’m going to reach 185 lb by November, I need to stay focussed.

Bernstein Day 6

October 15, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

The holidays are tough. For Thanksgiving everyone got to gorge on turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, peas and red wine. I sat there with four brussell sprouts and 100 g of turkey breast.

The trick to this diet is preparing your own food and pretty much eating alone. Sushi. That’s the one exception. You can go out for sashimi and seem quite normal when you eat 6 pieces of tuna, ebi and swordfish and then devour the radish and lettuce garnish like a mad animal. Other than that, it’s easier just to avoid the social construct known as dining out.

It’s funny how such a natural thing can be so unhealthy. One thing you really learn on the Bernstein diet is an education in food. Most things are simply not that good for you – dairy, butter, bread. You really don’t need them. Meat is good, but only in small doses. I run, so I’m allotted 200-300 g of protein a day. When you think about it, that’s almost a pound of meat a day. That’s a fair bit. Our caveman ancestors would love such generous portions.

I’m on Day 6 now. I weighed in at 206.6, so I only lost 1.4 lb over the Thanksgiving long weekend. 🙁
But when I read that sentence again, it makes me feel a little better. How many people lose weight on Thanksgiving?

Bernstein Day 3

October 11, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Weighed in today at the clinic. I’m off to a good start. I’m already down to 208 lb. So that’s 6 lb in 2 days. Not bad! The nurses grumbled something about how losing weight is easier for men. I’ve heard that before, actually, but still, sweet! I was at a +2 keytone, so that’s apparently good too. It shows I haven’t been keeping shortbread off the sheets.

I got my next shot and the nurse told me that I needed to take my potassium during the afternoon – not at night – and that’s why I haven’t been able to sleep well.

I talked to the doctor. He said I’m doing well. There is nothing like supervision to keep you on track. He’s great. He asked me where I wanted to be, and I said that I’d be happy at 185 lb. He gave me the okay, and that’s my new goal weight. We’ll see.

I really don’t mind eating sashimi and eggs and spinach salad with horseradish. That, broth and some apples seem to make up my diet and it’s not so bad.

Because I exercise over an hour a day, I also got a protein boost! Excellent. I’m allowed to eat 300 g of protein 3x per week now as long as I’m exercising. I celebrated with an extra 6 pieces of sashimi today at lunch. I know, I should have spaced them out, but portion sizes are my enemy.

I realize that boredom is my #1 cause of eating. Whenever I’m in my office and I have nothing to do, I instinctually reach for nuts. Packaged nuts. But no more for me, no sir. Bernstein has nuts right up there with booze and bread. Meaning none. So I’m really into drinking Club Soda at the moment.


October 10, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

The trickiest thing about this diet is knowing you only have so much protein to eat in a day, so you need to space it out strategically. There’s nothing worse than being hungry in the evening, knowing the only thing you can do is drink chicken broth until you fall asleep.

I make sure I leave enough food for when I get home. An extra egg, spinach, horseradish, flax seeds, and my crackers await me, if I can get through my afternoon on water and celery sticks.

It takes some planning.

In the future, I’m going to ditch celery. They are bad value on a weight to filling-ness ratio.

Bernstein Day 2

October 10, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

The secret is eggs. I had six eggs (no yolks) with hot sauce, salt and pepper for breakfast. Throw in a coffee and a half grapefruit and it was pretty filling actually.

I’ve been burning through my vegetables all afternoon and tonight I’m planning on having a sliver of chicken, spinach and horse radish. And broth, always with the broth.

I’m running to and from work (50 min total each day), I went to the gym last night (30 min) and today I did kettle bells with Zuzanna with Maria (5 min). So I might be exercising too much.

Strangely enough, the thing I miss most at this point is wasabi.

But feeling good!

Dr. Bernstein Diet Day One

October 9, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

I recently picked up Dr. Bernstein Diet & Health Clinics as a client. I am doing an Immersion Experience with them.

Today was my first day on the Bernstein diet.

I weighed in at the clinic, I can’t believe I am now 214 lb. I would like to lose 10 lb in the next two weeks. I was given the food list and a de-briefing as well as an injection in my bum. Vitamins B12 and B6. It didn’t hurt too much, but I walked out feeling energized and ready to go grocery shopping like an animal.

The plan is to prepare all of your meals in advance so you don’t slip up and start eating Snickers. I meticulously made my way through the list of acceptable proteins, bread replacements, drinks, etc. and wrote down what I thought would be the most filling. I picked a lot of hot things – jalepenos, Franks hot sauce, horseradish. I figured that would help to curb the cravings.

My first meal on the plan was 6 pieces of sashimi, a tablespoon of soy sauce and all of the lettuce and radish that comes with it. I’ll have to go back tomorrow to see how much that stuff weighs.

Yes, I bought a food scale. They sold it to me for $10. And I need to weigh out all of my vegetables. Did you know three cherry tomatoes weigh 50 g? One stick of celery 33 g? Fascinating, huh? Either way, I am allowed to eat a grand total of 230 grams a day of vegetables. And I plan to weigh them all out on my handy scale.

Then I went to Nesters and bought $60 worth of fruits, veggies, crackers, sauces, and flax seed. I think I’ve found a loop hole in that you can eat flax seeds as a “supplement”, aren’t these things loaded with protein? Ha! Also, you get to drink all the broth you can handle. Booyah! Broth was on sale. I took this as a sign.

Either way, I am still planning to run to and from work and go to the gym. They doubled up on my potassium pills (I take 4 a day instead of 2) as well as a multivitamin. But we’ll see how I feel tomorrow. I may be burning too many calories that I can’t replace with broth. We’ll see.

Wish me luck. I’m on my way.

Click here and scroll down to see the whole process.

To skip right to the end and see the results of 30 Days on Bernstein – click here.

Day One - 214 lb

Advice For New Copywriters

March 13, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Here’s a word or two for young copywriters from the owner of a small advertising agency.

Group your ideas into five clusters:

UNUSUAL MEDIUMS – Once upon a time, no one dreamed of putting ads on buses or elevators or tattoos. Now it’s commonplace. Find the next bus. New mediums make for newsworthy and award-winning ideas.

UNTAPPED ART DIRECTION – Always keep an eye out of undiscovered ways of laying out type. Anything that can be used to spell out words. Since the age of art directors, almost everything has been used, but every so often a unique, ‘undiscovered’ way of writing words pops up and blows everyone away ie Moss Letters.

CLEVER PLAYS ON PHRASE – Makes Pasta Fasta won a Clio at one point. It’s cute, and it probably wouldn’t win today. But people still love clever turns of phrase. When you think of them, write them down. One easy way is to go through idioms and then twist them. This is also the laziest form of copywriting, because it’s not hinged on a solid idea. However, pair it with a human truth or insight, and you have a great ad. This should be the last stage, not the first.

PRODUCT INSIGHT – Get good at this and you will never need to look for work. If you can articulate the benefit of your client’s product, and it is particular to that product, and that product alone – you have mastered the art of copywriting. “It tastes awful, but it works.” was/is one of the world’s most successful headlines (for Buckleys). “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.” dramatically increased Alka-seltzer’s sales. (Because people used twice as much as before.)

HUMAN TRUTHS – Make note of things that you notice in your day-to-day observations that aren’t attached to an idea or product yet. For instance, you perform better when being watched. File these insights away. They make for the strongest ads. If you watch Mad Men, this is Don’s trick. He is very astute about human interaction, and weaves his discoveries about behaviour and emotion into his ideas. This technique made (Bernbach) DDB very famous and successful in the 1960s even though they were selling German cars to post-war Americans. They always strove for the human truth.

When you are given a brief, start with the product insights you get, but then bring in ideas from the other four clusters. When things start coming together like puzzle pieces, you have a great ad.

iPhone Snaps 2012

February 8, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Underground Tape

Poster Children

Sun Script

Obscure Photos 2012

February 8, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 


Talk To This

Call Them All!

Wash Your Own Goddam Dishes

Speaking Of Trash

Random Photos From 2012

February 8, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

I read somewhere that if you want to keep your creative energies up, you should take a picture a day.

I’ve been doing that with my iPhone for a while now. But most are garbage.

Here are a few of the more interesting ones from last year.


Buenos Aires Playground

Bum Park - Mount Pleasant

Modern Family

Hot Hot Pizza Delivery

Sign In New West


Door in Argentina

Scrap Counselling


Small Businesses

December 14, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Immersion Creative has a soft heart for the self-starter.

It was only four years ago that I hatched my plan from a kitchen table in the burbs. But it worked.

I have utmost respect for those who chase their dreams and flick non-believers on the nose and say, “Ha!”

But to get there you are going to need the basics. A lot of startups contact Immersion Creative, which is cool. But if you don’t have any money, what do you expect me to do?

To save everyone a whole lot of back and forth………………………….

If you are poor – start simple.

99designs – Get your logo made in a contest of international designers for $300. You get what you pay for. But if you don’t want to spend money on a proper agency – it’s your cheap-out option.

Mailchimp – Great service that allows you to send e-newsletters to all of your fans and friends. For free. The best part is that you can track everything. You didn’t open my email, Uncle Garth? Coal in your stocking, yep, that’s happening.

WordPress – Make your website a blog. If you do it right, no one’s the wiser.

When you finally scape together enough nickels to contact an agency, let’s talk. We can take all of the above and make it 10x better.

Immersion Creative Contest Winner Announced

July 31, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Immersion Creative recently held a contest to win Free Transit Advertising.

The winner was Wonderlust Photography in Vancouver.

See the contest details here: Vancouver transit advertising newsletter.

Four Fantastic New Things

July 13, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

There are two more than two and one less than five incredible new goings-on at Immersion Creative.

Click here to see our latest advertising newsletter.

Four Fantastic New Things

For The Creative Job Seeker

June 27, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 1 Comment 

So, you want to work in the wonderful world of advertising? That’s great.

However, take note, even little ol’ Immersion Creative gets a resume a day from people willing to work for free. I can only imagine how many the big shops get. Competition is tough and jobs are scarce. So you’ll need to stand out.

Here are eight things you should DO.

1. Know what you want. Do you want to write, art direct, strategize, deal with clients, sell work, build business, or what?

2. Build a great portfolio. Gather your favourite ads and dissect what you like about them. Find ads that you hate and make them better. You are going to need about 10 that show your creative thinking. Use a few different mediums – print, social media, outdoor, guerilla, etc.

3. Find out who makes the ads you love. Not just the agencies, the people behind them. Once you know which creative director is where, start approaching them. Be sure you tell them you’re a fan of their work. This is a good place to start: Ads Of The World.

4. Think of an interesting approach to get a creative director’s attention beyond a generic email. I’ve sent agencies golden goose eggs, skis, telegrams, piles of dirt, swim caps and singing picture frames. I once optimized all the names of 20 Hong Kong creative directors to lead them to my blog. I’m not saying you should send a bunch of useless crap to my office, but try to stand out beyond an ‘I’m looking for work’ subject line.

5. Hustle. Nothing worth having comes easy. Be persistent. Just because you’ve tried one creative director, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try five more. Keep trying. Go for new angles. Make meetings. Just ask them to see your work even if they are not hiring. Be on time. Get your face out there. Get your ideas known. Never give up.

6. Toughen up. Some people go to ad school and breeze their way into an internship, and then a job. If you are that talented/lucky/connected, that is great. For the rest of us, finding a job in advertising can be one of the most soul-destroying experiences in your life. It took me 35 meetings with creative directors to get my first job. 25 meetings for my second job. It takes a lot of persistence. There’s a lot of ego-lashing. Even after hanging the Immersion shingle, I still have to hustle. Every day I need to find new clients, new work, and new opportunities to keep my family fed. It never gets easier. So get used to it.

7. Read these books

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This
Pick Me
The Copywriter’s Handbook

Also read:

Flyers, labels, small print, instructions, disclaimers, children’s books, niche magazines, newspapers from other countries, legal documents, graffiti, obituaries, best of Craigslist, the worst of Craigslist, I saw yous, lost and founds and set lists.

8. Go to these websites

Freelance English Copywriter
Ad Teachings


1. Send every agency out there your crappy copy and pasted resume. No one reads them.
2. Call us. Unless you have something hilarious to say.
3. Follow the rules. Even these ones.
4. Give up. And it will happen.

That’s a lot of work. Is it worth it? If you want to get paid to bring ideas to life, it most certainly is.

It can be frustrating, I know.

There Is No Inflation In Vancouver

June 25, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

The Cambie

Buck-a-slice pizza.

How To Choose Your Copywriter

June 15, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Copywriters From A Mixed Background

If you are in the market for a freelance copywriter, you might want a writer that has experience working for both large and small agencies.


A blended background provides a balance between the results-focused urgency of a small agency and creative perfectionism found in the larger shops:

1. You are getting the best of both worlds (see the two posts below)
2. You have a well-rounded professional with a dynamic understanding of your business needs (see below once again)
3. You will be working with a writer with a healthy dose of entrepreneurial spirit, offering an authentic, passionate voice to your product.

Copywriters From Large Agencies

Large agencies act as a filter. They only hire the best that there is, so the quality of the writer is assured. This will work to your advantage because:

1. Your project will be handled by a professional
2. You will have a writer that is familiar with the same tactics used by some of the world’s largest brands
3. Your writer will have a strong understanding of good creative

At a large agency, writers are also pushed to produce ideas that break from conventional solutions to produce creative work that can do the job of ten ads.

4. Innovative thinking

Copywriters at big agencies are also familiar with big clients. They have worked on global accounts, so they are familiar with the freedoms and restrictions of large brands with big budgets.

6. They get you

Copywriters From Small Agencies

At small agencies copywriters often handle more than just the writing. They have to wear many hats, including production, strategy and accounts. A bit of experience in these departments is nice because:

1. Your project will get finished on time and on budget
2. You will have creative that reinforces the strategy and not the other way around
3. Your writer will have a better understanding of what the client wants
4. Client-focus and reliability

At a small shop copywriters also have less luxury to be offbeat, so they focus more on concepts that will build business, immediately.

5. Results, results, results

Copywriters at small agencies are also familiar with small clients. The demands of a startup are much different than those of a multi-national, and their communications has to be as well.

6. They know where you are coming from

So if you are looking for a versatile advertising copywriter for a project, give us a call at 1.800.785.1958.

We have both large and small agency experience under our belts.

I was a copywriter in Hong Kong from 2006-2008.

Immersion’s Philosophy Towards Advertising

June 6, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

People hate ads.

Worse – they ignore them.

But they like ideas.

They respect originality.

They are drawn to controversy.

And they want a good story.

People want ownership of a good, original story.

People out there in TV/Internetland want to be the first to tell a good story they’ve heard. To be the centre of attention. With all eyes on them. And all mouths silenced, eating out of their hand. Whether it’s at the water cooler, the break room, or at the dinner table.

By being the first to tell, you have something to say.

They like a good backstory. Every movie that comes out today has a story behind it. How much weight the lead actor lost, or the squabbles on set.

It’s intimate knowledge. It’s special.

By nature of sharing an idea – they share your brand’s story.

And more specifically, your backstory.

When Immersion Creative comes up with advertising ideas for its Vancouver brands, it tries to create a backstory to the campaign. A story within a story to add layers of interest and ownership to the campaign.

For instance, we were the first to do a transit ad completely in Chinese characters – a reflection on the true real estate market in Vancouver.

The Holy Grail of Advertising

June 6, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

This is how I judge what differentiates a good ad from a merely okay one.

1. It needs to be unique

2. It needs to tell a story

Originality is key. No one is interested in seeing someone else’s idea re-hashed. Here are some ways that an ad can be fresh in my mind.

1. It makes use of undiscovered mediums.

Ads on buses, trains, benches and beaches have been done. But a ten-foot vending machine? Now that’s interesting. Clever placement can catch an audience off-guard.

Two-for-one Cokes. But you'll need a boost from a friend.

Here’s a great example of using billboards and blotches to get a 3D effect.

For Ariel stain remover.

2. It bases its art direction on visual phenomenon you are familiar with, but have never seen in ad form before.

Ad for Playboy.

3. It employs an original sales concept. A new approach to a better benefit. For the ad to tell a story, it needs a unique concept.

You might forget you have pets. (Febreze)

3. It twists the copy with familiar but rarely used plays on phrase or ideas.

Let your husband date a younger woman. (Belesana antiage centre.)

The Importance of Storytelling.

If one image can capture your attention long enough to spell out a beginning, middle and end of a scenario, then it is successful. It is often said that advertising is a competition for attention – and time. The more elaboration spent on an idea – the more likely it is to be committed to long-term memory. This phenomenon is known as the Elaboration Likelihood Model or ELM. I wrote more about this psychological theory here: Advertising and the Elaboration Likelihood Model.

Children get headaches too. (Ad for children's aspirin.)

This is only one side of the Holy Grail: The perfect marriage between a strategy and a creative execution. It looks good on paper, or tacked up on cork boards in meetings.

The other side is the reality. Does it make the phones ring? Does it make any money? That is the true test of a great ad. It’s creatively perfect… and it works.

That’s what we’re trying to do here every day.

The work above is what we aspire to do. Also, we hope to find clients that appreciate this style as well. Or there’s no point. All these examples are from advertising agencies in Brazil and Argentina, by the way. Some of my favourite work  in the world.

Your Two Options

June 6, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Every business owner has a choice.

1. Do what you’ve always done and expect more of the same.

2. Try something new to get the results you want.

Stop running that tired advertising campaign that no one is excited about. And do something new.

Why I Got Into Advertising In The First Place

June 6, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Cynics will tell you that advertising is full of runners-up.

They say that everyone in this biz really wanted to be doing something else. They had this desire to direct movies, or write screenplays, or play music – but they failed – and now their creativity is consumed coughing up comps for clients.

It’s not true.

I always wanted to be a writer – but I realized a long time ago, that the only way to become a writer is to write – all the time. You need practice. And I wasn’t about to sit around at a computer churning out stories in my spare time without making any money. So I thought I might as well get paid to cut my teeth. Every day. Who pays you to write? Journalists – hardly. Agencies – handsomely.

I’m not the first to have this idea.

But, it’s how I ended up in advertising. I heard it’s the second most lucrative form of writing (after ransom notes). So I headed straight for it.  I didn’t want to be poor – I wanted to write, and improve, without worrying about money in any way.

My only financial goal? To make enough money that I didn’t ever have to think about money.

Now, after 10 years of getting paid to write professionally – am I any better? It’s hard to say. I’m better at writing ads – but stories? It could have been a huge waste of time: a colossal, greedy, misguided disaster. However, I do find that I am better at isolating concepts, sticking to a central idea, and all in all being more focused.

So there’s that.

Beyond that, I learned to love the ad game. Not so much the big agency politics and meetings and nonsense. I like to make ads, and see them come to life. It’s a glimpse of reward most writers never see. And that happens all the time when you have a small Vancouver advertising agency like Immersion Creative.

So it’s been fun. I didn’t get into advertising to run my own company – but it must have been in my blood, because here I am.

Being Julia

May 28, 2012 | Filed Under copywriter, copywriting, Full Circle Debt Consolidation, Immersion, Immersion Creative, Vancouver, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

Whose opinion would you trust more: a complete stranger or an old college friend?”

You would put more value in the opinion of the person you knew, rather than a random off the street.

Writing in the first person is another option for creating web content. As a creative content writer for Immersion Creative, I have the most fun with these story articles.

For Full Circle Debt Consolidation, I took on a number of characters and wrote weekly accounts of their struggles with debt. I explained how they fell into debt, how they heard about Full Circle and how Full Circle helped them move towards financial independence.

Julia was one of our popular characters. She had amassed a considerable debt while engaged in post-secondary education. Julia graduated with a Bachelor of Education, but was unable to find work. She started waitressing to pay the bills. Unfortunately, the limited income that waitressing supplies, was not enough to pay her minimum payments. Full Circle was able to negotiate a repayment plan with her creditors that were tailored to her current income.

It was a feel good story, that was entirely fictional, but at the same time, entirely believable. Immersion Creative, Vancouver’s branding agency, had created an honest character by building a figure that the regular citizen, struggling with debt, could relate to.

By writing in the first person, I create a report with the reader. They get to know the background of a character like Julia and when it comes time to plug the company, they are all ears.

Buy Local

May 28, 2012 | Filed Under copywriter, copywriting, Immersion, Immersion Creative, Simmons Mattress Gallery, Vancouver, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

How do you attract a local audience? You hire a local Vancouver marketing agency to write about events that locals are engaged with.

As a content writer for Immersion Creative, I dedicate a portion of our article output to writing about current events in the City of Vancouver.

For our client, Simmons Mattress Gallery, I write about concerts, the Vancouver Canucks, writer’s festivals, art institutions – anything that has a strong contemporary tie to Vancouver.

Our articles find their way into a variety of Google search results, attracting the most unlikely customers.

Two years ago, a piece I wrote on the Vancouver Canucks caught the eye of Brent Seabrook, a professional hockey player and B.C. native. Seabrook read the article and by chance, needed a new mattress. He bought one from the Simmons Coquitlam store a week later.

The story goes, that the mattress salesman didn’t recognize his name and refused to let the young man pay by cheque. In the end, his mother came to the store to pay by Visa.

Local health issues are another subject that is often searched for. I have written three blogs on the bed bug issue in Downtown Vancouver. The amount of hits these articles receive is incredible.

Narrowing the focus to current events increases the likelihood that locals will view your content.

Just for fun:

Type in Mattress Vancouver into your Google search bar. What company is at the top of the page?

Now, type in Mattress Vancouver Canucks. How many articles at the top of that list are connected with Simmons Mattress Gallery? All of them.

Writing For a Purpose

May 27, 2012 | Filed Under advertising, copywriter, copywriting, Immersion, Immersion Creative, Immersion Experience, SEO, Vancouver, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

The Google machine loves content. It devours it whole, like a mother bird, and then regurgitates it back to its young in the form of search optimization.

As a content writer for Immersion Creative, a Vancouver advertising agency, I create content that will educate, entertain and inform the casual browser. I create content that Google deems appetizing; content that fits the search requests of its users; content that will lead potential clients back to your homepage.

I create this content in the form of weekly blog articles. These articles are simple, but concise pieces, that contain backlinks, key search terms and direct links to your company’s website.

The articles range in topics and formats and are tailored to suit your potential clients. They provide product information, local and global interest and perspective.

Once published, each article is tagged with different search terms that relate to that specific piece. These words are like breadcrumbs for Google. Leave the whole loaf and Google will ignore the post for something more edible. Choose the right words and Google will recognize the article as valuable.

But in the end, it all comes back to content. If the piece fits the demands of the search user, then Google will give it priority.

I write articles that match these demands.

Take The Virtual Hike

May 10, 2012 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

New website for Cape Scott Park and the North Coast Trail.


Hello Neighbours

December 8, 2011 | Filed Under advertising | 1 Comment 

I slid these postcards under the door of every office in my building this morning.



Using Google+ To Affect Search Results

December 7, 2011 | Filed Under Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

One of the advantages of Google+ is that it puts the articles you write on the first page of search results.

If you write about Vancouver, you’ll be on the first page for a Vancouver search amongst your followers.

The repercussions of this are huge.

Follow these 4 Steps to see what I mean

1. Go Google.ca and search for advertising.

There are over 2,480,000,000 results.

NOTE: Advertising is just one example. Some of the topics my clients have written about have been: loans, debt, mattresses, Vancouver, etc.

2. Now, log in as: Jon Smith with Gmail



Jon is just a test account. He is an example of any one of the followers of my clients’ Google+ accounts.

3. Search for advertising again.

The first page results have changed for Jon Smith. He is friends with my clients, and I have written about advertising. Because of that, we are on the first page.

4. Repeat the process for Vancouver, loans, debt and mattresses.

These are things we write about – but it could be potentially anything you want.

Everyone Jon follows affects his search. He follows Harvey Wipp (Alpine Credits) and Dorian Blinko (Full Circle) and Neil Wurst (Simmons). So any search for loans, debt or a mattress related matter will go to the first page.



Whatever you write about will get put to the first page of your followers.

It is the consistent content that makes the difference.

We post 3x per week. We write about BC Sports. So any sports, ie Canucks related search will put them first page too.

We also write about Things to Do In Vancouver – so searches for that will find us first page too.

This will affect the search of all of your followers.

Unlike Twitter, your followers on Google+ will have a direct affect on search.

Google+ the new way, but it’s still in its infancy. So it’s easy to get mass followers early on (ie they let your follow up to 250 people at a time through Circles).

The trick is to get as many followers in Canada as possible. You can do this through Region-specific Circles (ie Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, etc) which I have already created.

The Caveats

It only affects the people who follow you.

They need to have a Google+ account



  1. Time. It takes a lot of time to write blogs, post updates, build followers and build a Google+ account. Most business owners just don’t have the time to do this. It’s easier to outsource to a company like Immersion.
  2. Quality control. We have professional writers on staff to ensure that your columns and articles are to journalistic standards.
  3. Building followers. You will need thousands of region-specific followers to make the most of these search results. It takes time, and expertise to build these groups properly.
  4. Innovation. The search landscape is constantly changing. Immersion is not worried about sharing its latest findings (such as this) because there will always be more. The Internet is always changing. So your agency must be as well. We are constantly innovating and adapting, and providing your account with the latest expertise.

To find out more about how to put your business on the first page of Google search, contact mike@immersioncreative.com

Need Better Dreams?

November 29, 2011 | Filed Under advertising, Immersion Creative, Mattress Choice | Leave a Comment 

Cold? Call Campbell Care.

February 2, 2011 | Filed Under clients | Leave a Comment 

Here is our new campaign for Campbell Care Plumbing, Heating and Air. If you need your Vancouver furnace fixed, call Campbell at 604.946.1000.




Sticky Note Sketch

July 5, 2010 | Filed Under Immersion Creative | Leave a Comment 

Underwater Business Meeting at Immersion Creative.

Courtesy of Brian Allen at Wax

Mattress Choice

June 1, 2010 | Filed Under advertising, Immersion Creative, Mattress Choice, websites | Leave a Comment 

The new website for Mattress Choice has officially launched!

If you are looking for a mattress in Victoria, be sure to come to their Grand Opening to save up to 60% off your new mattress.

Or, if you have a dream that you need analyzed, ask Dr. Floyd (click on the red tab on the bottom left corner) – he will give you the interpretation you seek.

Right Place, Wrong Time

May 15, 2010 | Filed Under SEO | Leave a Comment 

On August 30th, 2006, while on a job hunt in Hong Kong, I sent 20 creative directors an email that went like this:

“Hello Mr. Creative Director. Search for your name and agency in Google.”

When they did, I had the top spot with their name already taken. It directed them to my blog.

The next day I had an interview with Publicis and I was hired.

Here’s the blog post: http://mikecatherall.blogspot.com/2006_08_01_archive.html

I thought it was a rather clever tactic at the time.

I just found out today that the same idea (although with Adwords as opposed to SEO) won a Gold Pencil at the One Show and a CLIO.

Here’s the link – I’ll be damned.

If You’re Not On Page One – You Don’t Exist

April 30, 2010 | Filed Under advertising, Immersion Creative, SEO, Vancouver | Leave a Comment 

Don't disappear into obscurity.

Find out how Immersion Creative can get you on the first page of Google.

Read our Spring newsletter here: Vancouver newsletter, or, sign up at mike@immersioncreative.com

The Lion’s Share

April 24, 2010 | Filed Under CRNE, Immersion Creative, PRIMED, SEO, Simmons Mattress Gallery, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

The Internet is all about territory. If you have a claim on the first page of Google, you will command the highest traffic to your site.

If you are not near the top of Google on a search, you will most likely never be found.

It’s a constant, ever-evolving jungle, but SEO has also been one of our strengths here at Immersion Creative.

For whatever reason, only a few Vancouver advertising agencies are interested in playing the game.

Our clients have asked us to take them to the top, and so far we have, to great success.

Here are a few of our most recent accomplishments:

We took Simmons Mattress Gallery to the #1 spot for mattress Vancouver.

We took DF Psychological Services to the #1 spot for Toronto Psychologist.

We took Alpine Credits to the #1 spot for Home Equity Loans.

We took PRIMED Educational Associates to the #1 spot for CRNE Prep Vancouver.

We even took Immersion Creative to the first page for Vancouver advertising, and this has been an ongoing struggle against some worthy and knowledgeable competition.

In each case, these were the exact search terms they were gong for. We determined most people search first for the product, and then refine their search to the region.

In the wild unruly world that is the interwebs, only those that play the game, and adapt and fight their way to the top can claim the lion’s share.


Internet Gurus vs Celebrity Chefs

April 20, 2010 | Filed Under clients, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

Everyone can cook. But just because you can cook well – that doesn’t make you a chef.

To be a top-notch chef, you need to devote years of your life to one thing : running an immaculate kitchen.

Same goes with the Internet. Notice how every second person is an Internet guru these days?

They set up an inane twitter account and blog laced with typos and grammatical errors and nonsense, and they call themselves an expert.

Then they try to charge you for their services.

I’m running across these guys every direction I turn. All of my clients want SEO. No one reads the Yellow Pages and if you aren’t on the first page of Google, you don’t exist.

The way these ‘Internet gurus’ get you is that they put you on the first page of Google, but for terms that no one ever searches for.

Say, you’re a mattress store in Vancouer.

You need to think like your audience.

They are going to search for either “mattress in Vancouver” or “mattress store in Vancouver.” If your Internet guru is as good as they say, they should be able to snag these words, through months of hard work and labour – producing quality content.

Anyone who says it is easy, is lying, or cheating. It takes up to six months of constant, steady optimization.

However, if you are with a company and they’ve told you that it’s going to be a year, you just need to be patient. Then I would move on.

Everyone claims that they can optimize your website and get you to the top of Google.

Maybe they can, for some five-word sentence like: “Mattress store on 8th Street in Vancouver”

That is not impressive.

What you need are the exact words you want.

These so-called Internet gurus won’t be able to get them for you.

Leave it to the chefs. The experts that have spent years of their lives and tens of thousands of hours optimizing sites.

Recently, I won mattress Vancouver for Simmons Mattress Gallery – the exact two words he wanted. It took six months, but that’s how long it takes to cook up a masterpiece.

Gordo only makes it look easy

A look inside a Vancouver advertising agency

April 20, 2010 | Filed Under Immersion Creative, Vancouver, Vancouver advertising | Leave a Comment 

Immersion Creative is a different kind of shop.

I’m basically one guy, a writer, who immerses myself in my clients’ environments to help them put together communications solutions specifically tailored to them.

I don’t do off-the-shelf stuff. Everyone has a different style and a different sense of humour, so you need to cater to that. Every market is different. Sometimes only the owners of businesses that have been selling to one group for years understand this.

Either way, what I would like to illustrate with this blog is the inner-workings of Immersion Creative. To see how I tick, and how it operates.

If you are thinking about hiring a Vancouver advertising agency – this blog is a good place to start, as it hopefully will show a little bit about the process that you would go through, with me, anyway.

I will post here as often as I can, to give you a better look what it is like switching over from doing it yourself, to putting your campaigns in the hands of a professional crew.

This is me.