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Need a Creativity Boost? Spend Some Time With The Creative Show

CMI creative director Joseph Kalinowski contributed to this piece.

In just 10 episodes, CMI’s The Creative Show has completely rewritten the rules for live streaming, visual storytelling, and conversations about creativity.

Maybe we’re exaggerating a tiny bit. But we’re creatives, so we reserve the right for a bit of good-natured hyperbole about the impact of our show.

We’re excited for season two, which debuts at 2 p.m. (U.S. ET) Friday, Jan. 28, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. If you haven’t caught every episode (or any episode), look back with us as we share some behind-the-scenes observations and highlights from our creative conversations in the first season.

Origin story

First, a little background: I met JK Kalinowski in 2012 at the Content Marketing World Health Summit. JK is CMI’s creative director. I’m a health-care content strategist by day and a comic book writer by night. We were destined to become fast friends.

FUN FACT: Our first conversation was about The Six Million Dollar Man TV show and toy line.

Over the years, we’ve written together for CMI, including:

In 2021, JK flew to New Jersey to participate in my Comic Book School panels at New York Comic-Con.

During the pandemic, JK approached me with the idea for a monthly 30-minute live show where we’d talk about creativity. The Creative Show was born. We started broadcasting – live from the deepest corners of the marketing internet, where no tactic goes uncovered, and every episode begins or ends (sometimes both) with Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe trivia.

Every month, #TheCreativeShow streams 30 minutes to talk #creativity. Go behind the scenes of its debut year via @BuddyScalera @jkkalinowski @CMIContent. Share on X

The Creative Show Season 1 Episode Guide

Use these show summaries and behind-the-scenes glimpses to decide which episodes to catch up on before joining us live for season two when we can read your comments in the live show.

Episode 1 – The Debut

Streamed live: Jan. 29, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: Monina interviews us to dig into the secret origins of our creative power and set the stage for the show.

Behind the scenes: We hadn’t quite mastered the art of the short answer, and the audio has a lot of bounce and echo. Despite a few switching glitches, we managed our way through live learning.

Content takeaway: Both JK and I talk about how almost everyone uses creative thinking in the way they approach their jobs. JK shares how his wife applies creativity in her job teaching children with special needs:

FUN FACT: JK once designed and produced a treasure map and sent it as a message in a bottle to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville offices in hopes of landing the singer’s new alcohol line as a client for a Pennsylvania-based advertising agency. After sending messages in a bottle five weeks in a row, the agency finally scored a meeting with Jimmy’s manager.

Episode 2 – What Is the Greatest Movie Poster of All Time?

Streamed live: Feb. 26, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: We dive into the indisputable greatest movie poster of all time, breaking down why the visual promotion of JAWS is so iconic. We also look at less effective and exciting movie posters and discuss why they fail at differentiating in a noisy marketplace.

Behind the scenes: Our super-slick montage intro and our recurring What’s in the Box segment debut. (Spoiler: It’s Rolling Stones memorabilia in this episode). Spot a few clumsy moments as we try to figure out how to communicate with our engineer.

Content takeaways: Here’s a meta takeaway: We took repurposing content to the next level to give our livestream audience a new take on the Jaws movie poster that we wrote about in 2015.

The episode takeaway is how creators easily assume people are more familiar with your brand than they are. JK talks about the poster for the movie Joy and tells nothing about the movie except it stars Jennifer Lawrence. I liken this approach to a brand skipping an about page because they (incorrectly) assume everyone knows all about the brand. That approach fails people in the early part of their journey, where they’re looking for information. Follow our discussion here:

FUN FACT: JAWS is considered the first summer movie blockbuster.

Episode 3 – Marketers and Their Toys

Streamed live: March 26, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: Nurturing creativity means celebrating the spirit of play. We open up our toy boxes and talk about toy lines that benefitted from story-based content marketing.

Behind the scenes: We improve some of the production, including sound and engineering. And we repurpose more articles into this livestream experience, including:

It also gave us an excuse to talk about Star Wars, Marvel Comics, GI Joe, and He-Man. And JK shows off an issue of Vox Teen Beat from 1967 as an example of early content marketing.

Content takeaway: Hasbro created a content feast in the form of comic books to support GI Joe and taught kids how to play with the toys. That’s an important concept – marketers can use content to teach your base how to use your product. Here’s the clip, which includes lots of examples from my collection:

FUN FACT: Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary shows The Beatles reading multiple versions of Beatles Fan Club magazines like Vox Teen Beat. (Bonus content: JK recently wrote about the creative lessons you can learn from the Get Back documentary.)

Episode 4 – That Sounds Creative

Streamed live: April 30, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: Impact of sound and music in videos and films – and how music helps you get into a creative groove. We share a couple of clips that show how music can change the tone of even familiar images:

Music can change the tone of even familiar images, says @BuddyScalera @jkkalinowski via @CMIContent. #Creativity #Storytelling Share on X

Behind the scenes: Ironically, we discover we don’t know how to run sound just yet. Spot a few technical and linguistic challenges before we pull through in the end.

Content takeaway: Sound is its own language in cinema – and that translates over to marketing. Understanding that language is important to conveying your message. Here’s where we explore how that idea applies to explainer and other content marketing videos:

FUN FACT: Stanley Kubrick relied as heavily on music and sound as visual imagery for his horror classic The Shining.

Episode 5 – Designed to Work

Streamed live: May 28, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: Website design, general usability, and functional design of devices are discussed. We compare and contrast the Verizon and Roku remote controls. A little closer to home, JK explains how he creates the posters for Content Marketing World with thematic designs.

Behind the scenes: When I invited JK into the show … he doesn’t appear. (He had just lost power.) Quick-thinking Monina jumps into the conversation because, hey, we were live. Experiences like this help us prepare for future technical difficulties. We haven’t had another major glitch, but we have had a few minor ones that the audience probably didn’t even notice.

Content takeaway: Too often, design is considered ornamental, but it’s really a foundational element of any content project. That’s why the design team should be involved from the beginning.

FUN FACT: According to MRO Electric, Maine has the most power outages per year, with an average of 3.9 per customer each year.

#Design is a foundational element of any #content project. The design team should be involved from the beginning, says @BuddyScalera @jkkalinowski via @CMIContent. Share on X

Episode 6 – Inside Creativity

Streamed live: June 25, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description:  Finding bright spots from this otherwise terrible global experience. Bo Burnham’s Inside special on Netflix is an entry point. I discuss my Comic Book School project. (Since that time, Comic Book School has won three awards, including a Content Marketing Award.)

Behind the scenes: We finally learned how to play a clip (with audio) exactly as we mean to – only to realize there’s an F-bomb in it that we didn’t warn the audience about. (Consider yourself warned.)

Content takeaway: The pandemic uprooted our usual ways of working. But Bo Burnham took the tools he had at hand (an iPhone, a camcorder, lights, microphones) and documented the moment. He showed how to use limitations to inspire new types of storytelling. You see him try and fail ­– and document the whole thing. The pandemic didn’t pause his creativity, and it doesn’t have to put a stop to ours. Here’s the segment I’m talking about:

FUN FACT: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, leisure time increased by an average of 37 minutes per day for men and 27 minutes for women between May 2019 and December of 2020. This increase partly reflects a decline in average work time (as the share of employed people fell during the pandemic) and a decrease in the average time people spent traveling.

Episode 7 – The Creative Toolbox

Streamed live: August 27, 2021

Engineer: Amanda Subler

Description: We talk about the tools we use to create, including software, snazzy notebooks, an industrial T-square, a scaling wheel, and an X-Acto set from the old days of physical magazine layouts.

Behind the scenes: We welcome Amanda Subler as our new engineer. Though Amanda chose not to be on camera, she finds clever ways to interact with us during the show.

Creative takeaway: I share an unusually organized look at the tools I use in creating, delivering, analyzing, reporting, and collaborating. Here’s the clip where I show that and talk with JK about following a creative project all the way through these stages:

FUN FACT: Adobe Inc. got its name from the Adobe Creek that ran behind co-founder John Warnock’s home in Los Altos, Calif. His wife Marva designed Adobe’s stylized “A” logo.

Episode 8 ­– The Idea Etherverse

Streamed live: Oct. 1, 2021

Engineer: Amanda Subler

Description: We talk about The Idea Etherverse, a shared consciousness of ideas that we can all access. Existential? Sure, why not? More practically, we discuss capturing ideas on notebooks, scraps of paper, and even in voicemails, and other strategies for capturing, saving, and improving ideas that just come to you from the ether.

Behind the scenes: JK’s custom-made shirt featuring The Creative Show logo makes its debut.

Creative takeaway: Talking through an idea can help flesh it out. Just don’t be discouraged by the initial reaction. Take the input and give the idea more time to grow. JK and I talk about our experiences with that approach:

FUN FACT: Field Notes brand was co-founded by graphic designer Aaron Draplin, who was inspired by promotional memo books given to farmers by seed and agricultural companies over the past century. JK grew up on a farm and received several memo books from his local farm co-op.

Episode 9 – The Iron Maiden of Marketing

Recorded Oct. 2, 2021

Engineer: Amanda Subler

Description: We explore the band Iron Maiden’s incredible career as an example of audience- and community-building. JK and I share the albums that we loved as teens but would have been embarrassed to share without friends. Today, we share them with pride.

Behind the scenes: This and the 10th episodes were recorded. We planned to go live from Content Marketing World, but at the last minute, I couldn’t attend. We scrambled and recorded both episodes the same day, which happened to be JK’s birthday.

Content takeaway: By building (and owning) their relationship with their community through a fan club, Iron Maiden never has to rely on earned media, which is subject to the whims of current pop-culture preferences. Iron Maiden owns its mailing list, so they communicate directly with fans. Talk about not living on rented land: They even own and fly their own plane. Here’s the segment where we talk about the creative freedom this brings:

FUN FACT: Iron Maiden’s lead singer Bruce Dickinson is doing a spoken word tour of North America.

Episode 10 – UX in the Real World

Published: Nov. 5, 2021

Engineer: Amanda Subler

Description: We talk about design, UX, and real-world experiences, including some great and some poorly conceived interfaces.

Behind the scenes: We find our rhythm. Things are a little looser, a bit less scripted, and (we think) a bit funnier.

Content takeaway: User experience is important to content’s success. Here’s JK explaining the Interactive Design Foundation’s definition of UX followed by our discussion of what it all means:

FUN FACT: Toast was invented by the ancient Egyptians. Scorching bread on hot stones beside an open fire preserved bread and prevented mold from growing.

Tune in

So that’s the debut year of The Creative Show. We’re grateful to have a platform to interact with our fellow creative thinkers and content marketers. We’re tinkering with the show all the time, and we hope you’ll take this ride with us.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 7 Ideas To Get Your Creativity Unstuck
Drop a note in the comments with your ideas and thoughts about any of these episodes. We look forward to seeing you on the upcoming shows – the last Friday of every month at 2 p.m. ET on LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute