PepperMill December 2018

Tim’s Got a Great Gift

As another year comes to a close, I wanted to share something that might give you not only a great holiday gift idea, but also provide a personal kick start to 2019 and beyond.

Through a mutual friend, I was recently introduced to Mark Repkin. When he visited my office, he immediately walked over to the bookshelf and started scanning the selections. We made some small talk about how we all own more books than we’ve ever read. I swear, someday I’m going to take a sabbatical just to read for weeks on end.

After just a few minutes Mark and I had connected on a lot of levels, just by talking about books. He asked if I’d ever read The War of Art. I said I hadn’t, and we went on to other things. Wouldn’t you know it, just a few days later I get a package from Amazon. Mark was so convinced that I would enjoy the book, he gifted it to me. And what a gift it was.

Author Steven Pressfield has put together an easy read that is chock full of golden nuggets. Although from the title you might think it’s about art, it’s really about the creative being in all of us—and how to break through the blocks to win our inner creative battles. Whether you are a writer, musician, painter, entrepreneur or builder of any kind, like no other book I’ve read before, he puts it all in perspective.

Pressfield first addresses the enemy of creativity, which he calls Resistance. Then he goes on to describe how to Turn Pro, outlining the difference of an amateur and a professional approach. And lastly, it’s about Inspiration.

If you have someone in your life, whether a creative type or not, this is a great gift. It should almost be required reading by the time you’re 21—oh, what time and frustration I could have saved!

Make this one of your easiest gifts to give this season. The thanks you’ll get will be heartfelt.

Be Jolly!

Tim Padgett

We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.
—Frank Tibolt

I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up—they have no holidays.
—Henny Youngman

The Awards Keep Rolling In

The secret behind doing award-winning work is having great clients that make it possible. Our newest set of awards come from Graphic Design USA and the Davey Awards. Here’s a detailed look:

American Graphic Design Awards

For 55 years Graphic Design USA has sponsored competitions that spotlight areas of excellence and opportunity for creative professionals. The American Graphic Design Awards is their original and the flagship competition. With over 10,000 entries and a highly selective 10% recognized, Pepper Group is proud to have seven entries chosen as winners.

Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition NA, Food Solutions Division
“Eat Well. Live Well.”
Brand Story Brochure

The Edlong Corporation
“The Scientific Art of Authentic Taste”

The Edlong Corporation
“The Scientific Art of Authentic Taste”

Hitchcock Design Group

RedMane Technology
Trade Show Booth

RedMane Technology

Pepper Group
“Seasoned Greetings!”

Davey Awards

The 14th Annual Davey Awards recognize the best in web, design, video, advertising, mobile and social from small agencies worldwide. This prestigious awards competition was designed specifically for the “Creative Davids” who derive their strength from big ideas, rather than stratospheric budgets.

Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition NA, Food Solutions Division
“Eat Well. Live Well.”
Brand Story Brochure

Thank you to these and all our clients for allowing us to do work that stands out.

10 More Great Employee Volunteering Ideas for Your Company

Talent Marketing™ is our term for enlisting marketing to help your organization win the talent wars. One of the eight areas in our Talent Marketing Framework is community involvement and employee volunteering. We’ve found this to be very high impact and relatively easy to execute. In fact, we have become experts in helping our clients do that! Last month we published 5 Great Employee Volunteering Ideas for Your Team. Here are 10 more!

1. Lincoln Park Zoo
Roll up your sleeves and make a positive, immediate and restorative contribution to the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo landscape. Volunteers will weed, rake or mulch, depending on the season, under the guidance of trained horticulture staff. They can accommodate groups of 10-50 volunteers at one time, and are seeking help on select Tuesdays from March – October between 8am and 11:30am. Learn more here:

2. United Way of Metro Chicago
United Way of Metro Chicago will work with you to find a volunteer opportunity that advances your company’s philanthropic goals, while supporting your community and strengthening your team. You can complete a volunteer services form, or view their new volunteer calendar showing group projects needed from United Way partner agencies.

3. Safe Humane Chicago
Safe Humane Chicago’s volunteers invite you to come to meet, socialize and relax with the dogs (and cats, too, if you choose) at Chicago Animal Care and Control at 2741 S. Western Ave. They can accommodate small groups of up to around 20 volunteers at various times and dates. They also request donations at your discretion. To learn more about the volunteering opportunities for groups, visit

4. Little Brothers | Friends of the Elderly
LBFE’s Corporate Volunteer Program is an opportunity to advance your corporate or group philanthropic goals while supporting elders in your local community and strengthening your team. There are a variety of opportunities and all can be customized to suit your group's needs and availability. LBFE provides colorful, hand-decorated bags packed with treats, small gifts and, depending on the holiday, warm meals to elders throughout the year. Your team can support our elders by creating these gifts of friendship. Groups of any size can be accommodated. Learn more at:

5. Cradles to Crayons Chicago
The Giving Factory at Cradles to Crayons, which can easily accommodate groups of up to 80 employees, is especially suited for corporate volunteering and team-building programs. The result is a meaningful, productive and fun employee experience. A two-hour volunteer shift in The Giving Factory warehouse involves hands-on processing of the donated goods that flow in on a regular basis. Each station in the warehouse includes inspecting, sorting and packaging donations to ultimately be distributed to the children they serve. Learn more and schedule a shift here:

6. Clearbrook
Clearbrook is committed to being a leader in creating innovative opportunities, services and support for people with disabilities. The organization offers a number of corporate volunteering opportunities throughout the year. Among them, your group can participate in Clearbrook Jelly Belly® Days, passing out signature packages of Jelly Belly® beans and collecting donations at intersections and/or storefronts throughout the city and suburbs in two-hour shifts every May. To see all the opportunities Clearbrook has to offer, click here:

7. HandsOn Suburban Chicago
HandsOn connects volunteers to serve in more than 150 area nonprofits and schools through its online volunteer matching database. Follow the link below to find many group volunteering opportunities in the West, Northwest and North suburbs.

8. Bookwallah
Every child deserves the hope of a happy story. We bring the magic of storybooks and safe inspiring havens to orphans and children of trauma where their sense of possibility, hope and imagination can come to life. Bookwallah helps to heal, empower and transform these children so they too can believe and rebuild their lives.

9. Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
In an innovation economy, there are no traditional paths to success. To activate the entrepreneurial mindset in young people, NFTE’s Pathway begins with igniting the imagination and takes students through the journey of creating and refining an original business concept. Students are guided by NFTE’s expert entrepreneurial Teacher Corps, and supported by entrepreneurs and successful business people. Students then take the stage in NFTE’s renowned business plan competition series, presenting to esteemed judges. Throughout the Pathway, students earn recognition of the skills and concepts they are mastering, ultimately having the opportunity to earn the first-ever industry-recognized credential to certify entrepreneurial mindset and startup skills.

10. Aspire
ASPIRE is committed to making a difference in the lives of under-served and low income young adults and their families. ASPIRE is dedicated to inspiring and educating young adults so that they may create healthier lifestyles, practice integrity and self-respect, build valuable relationships, sustain stronger communities, and have fulfilling lives.

If you’re interested in recommendations on how to implement a volunteering program, or if you want to talk about improving your overall Talent Marketing effectiveness, send me an email.

Want to see how your company stacks up within the bigger picture of the Talent Marketing framework? We’ve created a quick 3-minute self-assessment. Take the survey and see!

George Couris

Why You Will Remember This Post

We copywriters and designers like to think of ourselves as artists.

We sell product, but we do so with the artful placement of visuals and copy, with the tasteful and delicate dropping of copy points, with the masterful balance of color and weight.

But there’s also a science to it.

I recently ran across an article on, a social media management service, about the science of copy, and how to write ad copy in a way that provokes curiosity and makes readers and users more likely to read and remember.

One of those points jumped out, and reminded me of an article I read about two men, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, who wanted to resell cheap knickknacks on eBay. Rather than merely describing the products, they wrote personal stories about them.

They were testing a theory that emotional stories increase the value of an object, and so they could sell the products for more money. They purchased around $130 worth of thrift-store items, like a ceramic horse bust. Accompanying the ceramic bust, for example, was a rambling story that took place in Paris during the mid 1970’s about the author’s drunken father being sewn temporarily inside a dead horse’s belly, which inspired her mother to paint that ceramic horse years later.

They sold every item and netted nearly $8,000.

Which brings me to the scientific point of the article I first mentioned which is this: story-telling activates our brains. An ad (or anything) that tells a story is much more likely to be remembered. For example, you are much more likely to remember this blog post because of that horse story I just wrote about. Telling stories to make a memorable point is true on the political campaign trail, in a TV commercial, and in a B2B print ad. As reported by the Harvard Business Review, Nick Morgan, author of the book Power Cues says, Facts and figures and all the rational things that we think are important in the business world actually dont stick in our minds at all. Stories create sticky memories by attaching emotions to things that happen.”

And, from an article in Inc. magazine: “A story can make a complex business or technical issue much easier to understand and comprehend at a deep level even by a lay person. … It is ideal to create a visceral reaction in your audience—they can actually ‘feel’ the pain associated with the problem, and that they feel the ‘relief’ associated with your solution.”

Here at Pepper Group we’re always looking at new and better ways to promote businesses, get them noticed, and compel customers into action. When we do it well, our clients have their own stories to share—success stories.

Allan Woodrow



YouTubin’: Falling Water

Amazing effort for a 30-second ad!

There are times when inventors simply blow my mind. I recently learned that Gatorade® created an entire electronically controlled system from scratch to produce this jaw-dropping ad for their G Active water. Combining motion-capture data with 2,500 switches opening and closing within milliseconds, the technique used to create this piece is simply brilliant. None of it is computer-rendered, it's filmed entirely with stop-action cameras!

This video includes a nice behind-the-scenes description of how the technique was developed and the incredible efforts that were required to pull it off. Enjoy!

Got some YouTube videos of your own you’d like to share? Just send them my way!

Todd Underwood