Archive for category Art

We won gold for Best Social Media Campaign at NAHB 2015!









#‎TeamCEA started the year off on the right foot by winning a gold award for Best Social Media Campaign at the NAHB International Builders Show in Las Vegas, Nevada! Our “Be a Neal Star” campaign for Neal Communities soared to great heights, and we are honored to have received our FIRST national award!

Our social media contest and campaign featured residents from three different Neal Communities’ developments sharing videos about their favorite parts of life in their communities. The videos were shared on social media, with friends and family being encouraged to vote. By the end of the campaign, we collected over 25 videos, 16,668 page views, 55 organic searches, and 9,623 total votes! Neal Communities was able to create and repurpose content for web, social media, YouTube and blogs which increased brand awareness and improved SEO.

Are you ready to start building your social media presence with the experts? Contact CEA Marketing today!

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Form Over Function (Scratch That, Reverse It)

Do you like pretty pictures, or creative that gets your message across? Great advertising knows how to blend the two into one harmonious image. But at what point does one or the other become too much and no longer works?

Take a look at 5 tips to help ensure you blend form and function so that your message gets to the end user.

CEA FB 11.6

1. Know Your End User’s Perspective – While most of us know what “we” each like, that is rarely the same for your potential clients. Make sure you and your agency know your first and secondary target audience so you can tailor your message properly.

2. Have a Lead for Your Marketing Projects – Someone needs to take charge and be willing to make final calls. Team feedback is good, but know when to listen to your team, and when to listen to your marketing professionals. When your team is reviewing artwork, gather all the changes at one time to send back to your agency. This will not only reduce possible overlap and errors, but can reduce your costs from the agency spending less time going back and forth on similar changes.

3. Determine Messaging Hierarchy – When preparing direct marketing objectives, give hierarchy to the messaging you want in your newspaper ads and eblasts. Give your headlines, subheads and messaging a pecking orde for the agency to follow so they can help tailor the message to the campaign. This can help ensure proper imaging and call-outs to offers that are important.

4. Know When to Cut Back – Trying to stuff the ad full with all your offers? You might just get your marketing overlooked. Stick to one main message and one supporting message. You’ll be surprised how often “less is more” will ring true for you. People are more likely to respond to a marketing piece that conveys one strong message versus multiple weak messages.

5. Be Careful of Friendly Input – Are you unsure of your message or could that headline be stronger? When you ask your friends for feedback, take into account how close they are to your target audience. Revert back to the first bullet, then just ask your agency. Your agency should have years of marketing experience, should know your target audience and will be more that willing to ensure that your marketing will hit the mark. Ask questions! it gets conversation going and helps fine tune your campaigns. We want to be your partners in your sales, not just the people who make your marketing”look” good.

So let’s make your artwork functional AND beautiful. You can do this by creating a strong message first, and then design the artwork to support that message. If you have additional offers you need to convey, just make sure they are on a lower priority level so your materials are still attractive enough to grab your audience’s attention.

Ready to take your marketing to the next level? Email or give us a call at 727-523-8044 to get started today!

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Continuing Education: A Necessity NOT a luxury.

Does one’s formal education end when one walks out of the classroom? The correct answer is of course not!

No matter the profession, in today’s specialization driven world, keeping up with current trends, techniques and technologies is an absolute requirement to stay ahead of the curve, no exceptions.




How does one go about improving themselves, their skills and their marketability once they’ve escaped the formal education system? Well, jump right back in! Pursue a higher degree or specialization by attending grad school or a technical school for an immediately marketable skill-set. Consider shooting for your Bachelors or Masters degree. If you happen to be a programmer like myself, keeping immersed and current within the ever-evolving software world is vital to my success.


1.) The lowdown on Formal Education



  • Structured and paced time blocks devoted to your field of study.
  • Supportive community consisting of mentors/professors and classmates.



  • Lags behind in certain fields
  • Can be costly


Personally, I’ve completed my walk through the halls and fires of my B.S. Computer Science degree. Who knows, perhaps a Master’s lies within my future.


2.) Community driven education



  • More time efficient
  • Learning through community resources can be less intimidating
  • Less Costly



  • Less structured
  • More dependent on self-motivation and commitment


Just this past weekend, my coworker & I attended a local community event, the Front End Design Conference & Workshop in Downtown St. Petersburg, FL. The wonderful speakers, organizers and attendees at #frontendconf were an invaluable resource for the latest and greatest trends and techniques in modern web design.




In many classrooms, the curriculums are often pre-set in advance and most, if not all, of your fellow students are new to the subject material.

In this low cost informal workshop however, I found that both the speakers and attendees were capable of answering questions relating to the latest and greatest techniques of my field!

One speaker giving a presentation on SMACSS (Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS) had to update her slides the very morning of her presentation as a new update to SMACSS had just been released by its developer the evening prior!

Having the knowledge base of the community readily available to you and answers to questions on the brand new Ruby on Rails library update released just days prior is near indescribable.

Sharing is one of the greatest ways to learn! Learn from others and one day give back by sharing what you’ve learned.


3.) Commitment, Commitment, Commitment


Of course, regardless of the path you choose to improve your own skills and toolset, you must commit! Those who don’t keep up with latest trends are often the ones who struggle to stay employed.


Always set aside a block of time each month to maintaining and improving your toolbox.

Keeping technical & business skills current and relevant is a necessity for employers. It’s oftentimes easy for companies to give the go-ahead on training when business is booming and profits are high. It is often a much tougher call when trying to squeeze every dollar out of the bottom line. In today’s ever changing world however, ongoing training isn’t a luxury, but a necessity.

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The Secret To Staying Creative

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Working in the fast-paced world of Marketing can be many things: exciting, fun and ever-changing. However, it can also be very stressful. There’s been many days since I started working in this business that I’ve found myself feeling completely burned out and unable to even remember what day of the week it is.

When you work as hard as we do it can be easy to cross the line from ‘hard-working’ to ‘workaholic’. You know the type; always staying late, thinking about the next day’s work as they fall asleep. When this happens it can be detrimental not only to our health, but to our creativity.

“But I’m Not a Designer”

Even if you’re not the “creative type” and have no clue about gridlines and color palettes, if you work in marketing you need to be creative. Everyone from Account Managers to Interns needs to exercise their creativity in order to excel at their jobs.

So Where Do You Start?

What is the secret to staying creative? It’s simple:

  • Make Time for What You Love.

Personally, I try to make time for my love of DIY projects. I’ll get home from work and spend at least a half hour scrolling through or in order to pull inspiration for my next project. Case in point: these blooming letters that I fell in love with on Pinterest.

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Making time for something you’re passionate about―whether that’s archery, cars or anything in between―is important in maintaining your creativity. Getting your mind off work and focusing on a project you really enjoy can mean coming back to your job with a fresh mind, ready to make amazing things for your clients.

To see some of the things that bring inspiration and joy to the CEA team, visit our 30 Days of gratitude Pinterest board.


Written By: Diana

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3 Simple Steps to Choosing the Perfect Image


When I landed my first internship I was ecstatic. My mind was filled with ideas of all the exciting and challenging projects I would work on, the designs I would make, and what I would learn.

My first exciting task was to search for perfect stock images. Woohoo. I remember spending hours poring through the stock image website trying to find various images that captured a certain spirit or feeling for a client’s website.  My entire first week was pulling as many stock images as I could that fit the requirements, and it was about exciting as it sounds. However, bored as I was, I did learn a few tricks of the trade for finding just the right image for a project.


1. Take Your Time

  • Now, this isn’t an excuse to spend a whole day browsing your favorite stock photography site, but it does mean you should spend more than a few minutes searching for the right image. Depending on which site you’re using, you should be able to shorten your search through a variety of filters including:
    • Size-There’s nothing like finding the right image for your print ad only to see it’s only for web.
    • Format-landscape, portrait, vector, photo, icons, the list goes on and on
    • Image content-Maybe you’re looking for a photo with people, but only families. Wait, only families with two children, but they both have to be under 12. Oh, and they should have a dog. Starting to get the picture? Don’t get too specific or you’ll end up with no images at all.

2. Avoid Clichés

  • You’re searching for that perfect image that symbolizes agreement, commitment, and dedication. Suddenly you see it: two hands shaking in agreement of a job well done. Perfect, right? Before you click download, ask yourself this:
    • Does this photo look familiar?
    • Have I seen it a million times before?
    • Is my ad/blog/website going to look as bland as the multitude of others using the same clichéd image?
  • If you answered ‘yes’, then you should find a better image.
  • With such a variety of images available from a multitude of sites, there’s no reason to use the same old images that your consumers are already used to. This goes back to the first step: take some time to find an image that sets you apart.

3. Keep It Legal

  • It’s easy to search Google images and pull the best picture you find, but it’s also not necessarily legal. Sure, some photographers and artists put their work online for free usage or free usage with proper accreditation, but they are not the majority. Before you start pulling all those great photos, check to see whom they belong to, what the license agreement is and if you’re allowed to use them. If not, you could end up with a cease-and-desist letter or a lawsuit.


Finding the perfect image for your project can be difficult, but with these simple steps you’ll find the right one in no time. Here are some great websites for pulling ‘legal’ stock images for you or your clients:


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What it means to “design.”

When getting an estimate from an agency, you may ask yourself, “What do I get for that “design” fee?”  Is it just some kid who’s good with computers? What kind of marketing experience goes in to it? Why is it taking so long?

First off, we not only look for the best designers but everyone at the agency needs to be creative.

Your account managers have to be able to envision what your ad/campaign/website needs to look like and operate for your potential prospects as well as suiting the look and feel of your company. We research your demographics and stay up to date on modern trends of their habits. Even the simplest web banners take into account our knowledge of how users will interact with websites and how your company has to be seen by them.

All our staff does research on a routine basis for design and demographic research. All this is after gaining their college degrees in marketing and/or design, previous job experiences and other trainings they’ve taken over the years. From here the account managers create a creative brief and meet with the Art Director. This is where the magic happens. A quick creative meeting gets everyone on the same page and then the creative ideas start brewing.

Once an idea is selected, the designers are off to work.

Designers are required to be following current trends in order to stay creatively relevant. What’s hot, what’s not, what’s TOO trendy…or does this job need to create a new trend? Each artist does his or her research differently. Some look at similar works to get their inspiration, others look at completely different subject maters to get the creative juices flowing. Nothing sets off a good campaign like the PERFECT photo or illustration!

Ok, now that we’ve got the creative mojo going it’s off to the sketchbook. Others head straight to the computer and the digital art board.  With a blank art board you start envisioning how the pieces will align together. You start with the main message. How do I make sure this draws them in? Does a graphic need to visually point to it? What about where their eyes travel after they see it?  (Did you know, that visually you could make someone leave your artwork and end up not readying the rest of the message?)

Ok, we’ve got the #1 message looking good. Now you’re onto aligning the rest of the art puzzle making sure all the information the client needs potential buyers to see is set up to have a visual pecking order. The first proof is almost ready. The artist loves the look, they think it matches the client’s look and speaks directly to the demographic the client is going after.

Now print it out, take a step back and give it a good once over. Is anything too crowded? Alignments look good? Is it too blocky? Too loose? After some minor tweaks it’s off to the account rep.

They review per the client’s request, make any tweaks, changes, or the dreaded…start over. It happens, sometimes that inspiration we found didn’t lineup with what we thought was first described…back to doing more research. That’s one of the MANY reasons the account rep is there for- to make sure we get it right before the client sees it.

It’s proofed again, and off for client review…phew, just a day in the life of a creative.

- Eric Gwatney


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The year of the Orchid


Radiant Orchid, that is. Pantone, the self described “global color authority,” recently revealed the captivating color as their pick for 2014 color of the year. Every year, Pantone scours the world to find the perfect color before making their selection, and this year’s color is a lively pick. With it’s rosy undertones, Radiant Orchid gives off a warm and healthy glow that translates well across a variety of mediums.

Already, various fashion designers, such as Juicy Couture and Yoana Baraschi, are using this shade of purple as they plan their spring collections, and there’s no doubt that the rest of the creative world will follow suit.

As they state on their website, the “Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.” We’re excited to see where the design world goes with this color.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this is the right pick?

Written by:  Diana Aguilar-Flores


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Why Should I Hire a Professional Photographer When Uncle Charlie has a Perfectly Good Camera?

He just got it last week and it has 8,000 megapixels.

While “Uncle Charlie” might be a super-duper nice guy with shiny white teeth and great smelling breath; his experience with photography is at an amateur level.  Sure, he’s captured several really good moments and gets super artsy with all those great filters available now, but chances are he’s lacking in three key areas: consistency, technical skills, and creative vision.

A professional photographer will deliver a consistent product every time. If you are shooting product on a white background, you can rest assured that your background will be the same color as your collateral so you get the seamless result you want. If you are shooting home interiors, the light on the inside will balance with the light on the outside. Colors will pop and the entire story will be told.

The consistency clients get with professional photographers is largely due to technology. A pro will have adequate equipment for your job and will know how to use it. Uncle Charlie might have the nicest new Nikon on the market, but if he has no idea how to adjust a shutter speed or set the white balance for tungsten lighting, those camera features are virtually useless. A pro knows and that’s how they can consistently deliver a quality product.

The third thing that a professional photographer can do that Uncle Charlie can’t,  is to listen to what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing and photography and then deliver a product that will work with your message. Properly executed, it will create a synergy for your campaign that will help your investment generate powerful results.  A professional’s creative vision will be the difference between  ‘pretty good’ and ‘amazing’.

Written by : Gayle Hill

If you’re considering a professional, contact CEA Marketing for help in determining which photographer is the best fit for your product. 727-523-8044 or


Photography by:
Grey Street Studios


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Real Life Instagram

Brazilian artist Bruno Ribeiro has taken his twist on the popular photo social media and added a flare of modern art into the mix. He launched his project entitled, “ Real Life Instagram” in which he installed physical filters around London’s most popular tourist landmarks. The filters were designed to mimic the style of a real Instagram post.

The idea is that people will take photos using these filters with their smartphones. AdWeek said, “ it seems easier to use real Instagram if you have a smartphone, though of course then you’d be missing the deep commentary on real vs. virtual worlds.”

Also, the brilliant catch of his art project is if you take pictures of the “Real Life Instagram” installations with this camera, the world will explode. In his non-free time, Ribeiro works in advertising—currently at AKQA in London, though he also worked on the famous $73,000 bar tab project at Ogilvy Brazil. Via PSFK.

Information from


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A Picture is Still Worth a Thousand Words

The world sees ads quickly flashing across the television screen or while flipping through the morning newspaper.  Companies only have four to five seconds to grab the reader’s attention with an advertisement and keep them interested to read on.  Since a photograph can bring a product to life without one single word, advertisers believe in its ability to attract consumers.  Think about the Got Milk ads.  Yes, they have the celebrity appeal, but even the ads portraying the more common folks posing with milk mustaches invokes emotion and draws us into the image.  People of all walks of life can appreciate the pictures that have brought the sexy out in drinking milk.

Putting a photo shoot together is one of the ways advertising agencies can create a picture that is worth a thousands words.  Photo shoots can help a company express passion and inject emotion into a product.  Demands are high in photo shoots, since cost and time constraints are always contributing factors so the client and their agency must agree on certain expectations.

Below are tips for a successful photo shoot:

•    Leave the actors on the acting set.  Use real people like actual customers or employees, rather than models.  The photo shoot itself is more natural this way making the picture more genuine.
•    Don’t skimp on retouching.  An audience can be captivated by the added special effects.
•    Lighting is everything.  Natural lighting versus stage lighting is going to determine the mood of the photo whether it’s going to have a natural feel or an abstract artsy feel.
•    Don’t forget the details. Little details like sprinkles on an ice cream cone or lipstick on a coffee mug give the visual accents needed to round out the mood of the shoot.
•    Location, location, location.  The world is your backdrop.  If an exotic location is not practical, have the creative team create it in the studio.

Creating an advertisement using a less is more approach to copy along side an eye-catching picture is the start to a successful campaign.  Remember pictures have stories to tell, but it takes a good photographer to paint the canvas.

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