Nonprofit organization, Blue Bear School of Music, a San Francisco staple since 1971, was given a grant to advertise on the city-wide bus public transportation line, MUNI. They were given the opportunity to run three interior and two exterior queen ads, with the intention of driving awareness to the school and its programs for a new generation, push more traffic to its website, and to increase enrollment.
This project started off with a clean canvas, and I began by brainstorming some catchy taglines based on musical puns. The intention was for the interiors to be ‘fun’ and playful, using memorable language, taking advantage of the reader having more time to appreciate the message (not to mention, a nice way to brighten their day- we all know how painful a commuting bus ride can be).
I proposed three different styles of campaigns, and the client picked one of each- the first used my own photography of a musician in concert, the second a black and white testimonial showing an older demographic, reintroducing themselves to music, and the third was a playful action shot of a youngster, rocking out on the guitar. Here, an interesting challenge presented itself in that the client, not being well versed in the typical creative process, chose all three, and while I explained my initial intention was to expand further into just one of these styles, they decided they liked the range, as none of them would be circulating on the same bus. We were able to perfect these comps mostly as they were.
The exteriors needed to be large and eye catching, legible at a glance so that a viewer could absorb it while waiting at a bus stop, and the client provided me with a list of impact words to use as a jump off point for this. I decided to use this idea as it was, and played with variations on color for emphasis.

This was the first time I got to see a finished product on such a massive scale and so frequently in person on something like public transportation, and it was incredible seeing the first round of ads in rotation. I still get excited when a bus passes by and look to see if my ad is running.

Due to the success of the first campaign, once they received the grant for another year, Blue Bear returned and asked for a specific round showcasing their electronic music and DJ programs. Having already established the typography choices and most assets finely tuned, the new challenge was coming up with a new set of taglines and incorporating the sponsor’s logo, famed SF club Monarch. It was an incredibly quick turnaround time, as I was given 14 days total to come up with concept, copy, and solicit two rounds of feedback and approval from their team, but due to our established relationship it was a very streamlined process.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this project was knowing I was doing my part to help this heritage San Francisco organization adapt to the new tech boom it finds itself among, and to reach the ever-changing population of the City. I continue to be involved with the school, lending my photography skills to their events, and am excited to continue to develop our relationship over the coming years, ensuring music education survives in this very tech-heavy ecosystem.