Break it down with the cool kids

This rocks the long socks. It’s about time we got a whole lot cooler with idea-generation and these kids totally did! The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Choir used the allure of pop culture (no doubt isnpired by the success and the glitz of Glee) to get other kids thinking – and enrolling. A flash mob makes for a radical change from the usual graduate recruitment desks-and-brochure bore. If YOU were thinking about where to study, this would definitely speak to you.

Right message. Right audience. Good job.

Get clever. Get educated. And then you too can ask one day: ‘What was I thinking before I was thinking?’

© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

FCKH8 – The Teachers Can’t Talk

What goes against the laws of nature / where choice fits into the whole melee / what church’s say about the whole thing and even the dialogue approved for teachers in Tennessee… These are just a few of the foolish issues that have inspired the FCKH8 movement, represented by these beyond-kooky viral videos.

Sure, I thought they were a little loud at first too, but the irony of who is saying what is being said should be enough to keep you going. And when you hear of some of things this movement is looking to overturn, you might even consider turning browsing to wardrobe-buying.

I did.

Join the movement.

© Dylan Balkind

Want to know what this is all about?

A Tennessee state Senate committee has passed a bill to make sure teachers don’t mention homosexuality in classes below ninth grade. The “don’t say gay” bill got it passed 6-3 after some legal wrangling, and it now moves to the Senate floor. It states: “No public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.” Reference.

All in all; “It means they can’t talk about gay issues or sexuality even with students who may be gay or have gay family.”


We deal with enough criticism all day long. It is part of how we earn our stripes and salaries for doing what we do. It’s also apt punishment for wanting to earn the stripes and our salaries for doing what we do. So in a time when so much contentment is derived from the failures of others, we could probably all do with a little more warmth.

Forget the food. Forget the fat. Just take a moment to imbibe this expertly crafted visual delight. Watching is an absolute privilege as we are taken through the beautifully-spirited moments born from a couple in love, rewinding from where they are to how they got there.

This is so clearly the successful collaboration of committed imaginators – from embryo through evolution. What better remedy for a jaded industry than the power of romance?! So… I hope you don’t mind if I put down in words that this is by far the most memorable and encouraging ad I have seen in a long time.


Credits: Advertising Agency: Ogilvy, Johannesburg, South Africa; Executive Creative Director: Fran Luckin; Creative Director: Mike Martin; Art Director: Alexa Craner; Copywriter: Irene Styger; Agency Producer: Liske Van Tubbergh; Production Company: Bouffant; Director: Erik Van Wyk; Producer: Shannon Gloyne / Melina McDonald; Executive Producer: Melina McDonald; DOP: Tim Pike.

© Copywriter Dylan Balkind

People like us

Unique creatures were never popular in high school. That’s just the way it works. Unique creatures have different talents, different interests, different friends – and maybe even and all too often, none. Popularity was a haven with its dark and unfeeling gatekeepers who wanted to keep you out if you were out or in if you were in. It was in that struggle to find a happy place where people like us met chagrin.

From teen torment and insecurity to a secluded self-assurance alive within the theatre of another world, this preserved place is one I spent a lot of time in as a child … just to feel okay about me because of how I was designed. Why? Because it is far too easy to make fun of people. It’s a bad habit that we are all guilty of. It’s not fair but it is happening, and for those bearing the brunt, there may be few ways to validate the vent.

For some people, the uphill-both-ways struggle suffocates. Not everybody is Kurt from Glee, Jack MacFarland from Will & Grace, Cam or Mitchell from Modern family or even Edward Kinear’s Simon Bishop in As Good as It Gets. Some don’t have a happy story to tell because no matter how hard they try, they just never find joy. Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Cody J. Barker, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Harrison Chase Brown, Felix Sacco, Lance Lundsten, Tiffani Maxwell, Caleb Nolt, Jaheem Herrera, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, Simone Back and James Bassett; a register of the beautiful lights now dark because of the desolation in unacceptance and the loneliness of a broken spirit.

These were very real people who lived very real lives – just like you and I. They got dressed every morning hoping they looked nice and went out to do what they had to do to get through the day – just like you and I. They had mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, teachers and friends – just like you and I. Unlike you and I however, each of their journeys ended too soon… two of them were as young as 11 when they took their own lives.

Hope is rising however. More and more international media attention works to make bare the beauty of uncertainty and individuality, while people with power are getting behind the fight to expose this epidemic and foster a better, healthier tolerance. James Bassett found solace in the pageantry and eccentricity driven by his individual-expression, and brought to the fore for him by performing artist Lady Gaga. And because of the power available through online communities, James’ mother hopes to be able to fulfil his final wish.

People can be nasty. School kids can be horrifying. The actions we inflict on people that share the paths of our lives can be so ghastly, it’s a miracle we humans have survived at all. We seem to have forgotten the glory of love – however and wherever it finds its space to grow. To anyone suffering in any way because of the negative feedback you get from other people – know this: It Gets Better. Trust me, I know.

Whether you are a boy or a girl, man or woman, gay or straight, there are happier days in store for you. You are more than okay! There is no other you.

Love what you love – wherever you find your celebration.

“Things will get easier. Peoples minds will change. And you should be alive to see it.” – Ellen Degeneres.

© Dylan Balkind

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