WILLIAMSBURG – — The economic downturn and a lackluster summer tourism season took a toll on Colonial Williamsburg last year, according to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s annual report. The 2008 report, which was released Tuesday, showed the foundation’s revenue dipped by $15 million from 2007. The foundation, which is the governing body that operates Colonial Williamsburg, earned $210 million in total revenue last year, which included budgeted endowment support, the report said. In addition, Colonial Williamsburg’s expenses totaled $249 million last year, which was a $13 million decrease from 2007, and its operating losses rose by $2 million from the previous year. Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Colin G. Campbell blamed the revenue declines on the national economic slowdown, high gas prices and a plummeting stock market. “The economic downturn took its toll in 2008, on the nation and on Colonial Williamsburg and its employees,” Campbell said in a news release. “At a time when we were on track to achieve revenue gains and a reduced deficit, it was particularly disappointing to experience revenue losses and an increased deficit.” General admission ticket sales, which totaled 707,000 tickets in 2008, declined by 9 percent from the previous year, the report said. CW’s retail stores, following a trend of retailers nationwide, saw sales drop by 15 percent. Room occupancy and overall hospitality revenues were down by 9 percent because of price competition and promotions for lower rates to attract overnight guests, the report said. The foundation’s endowment was $611 million at the end of 2008, which was a decline of $209 million, including the impact of the negative investments performance. Colonial Williamsburg dealt with its financial challenges through 2008 by reducing some employees’ work hours, employee layoffs, furloughs, salary reductions and closing some hospitality facilities during the off-season. But all the news in the foundation’s report wasn’t bad. There were revenue increases in some areas. According to the report, ticket sales revenue, which totaled $18.5 million, rose by $250,000. Officials said that while the number of tickets purchased decreased, visitors were often opting for the more expensive multiday and annual passes. Donations to the foundation also increased by 2 percent, to more than $42 million, which is the highest the result in years, the report said. The annual fund received a total of $14.6 million. The report also noted several highlights of the past year, which included the groundbreaking for reconstructing Charlton’s Coffeehouse and that CW was the location for a two-hour live broadcast of NBC’s “Today” show. Local tourism officials said Tuesday that all of Williamsburg as a tourist destination had experienced a tough 2008. Linda Stainer, spokeswoman for the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, said the past few months have showed promising signs for the tourism industry. “We’re seeing consumer confidence is up, but we know the economy isn’t out of the woods yet,” Stainer said. “People want to vacation but are looking closer to home so we’re trying to attract those potential visitors.”

I visited Colonial Williamsburg around the Holidays… a major time for the colonial capitol. In the past, Jason and I would celebrate his birthday at a tavern. We love the food. It’s expensive but we know it’s a good meal by candlelight. Before we went I decided to go online and look at the menus. All of the taverns were reported to be open. When we got there, it was a different story. Shields was closed. Christina Campbell’s Tavern was closed. The local hotel had a “tavern fare” menu. That’s it. Nothing else. We were pissed. I called the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor’s Center and was told they decided to shut them down because of the economy. After bitching and hanging up the phone, I saw other people looking at the menu and then the dark tavern in confusion. The sign didn’t say “closed” instead it said “Private Function.” There was no one inside. This situation has happened before where we had to leave the Historic District to find another restaurant.

I love CW. I have always since I was a kid. It used to be so lively (I had Redcoats chase me in the Palace Gardens once). The place is a ghost town now everytime I go. Unless it’s July 4. I understand why the sales are down. They brought it onto themselves. Their advertising and marketing is great. Too good. The campaigns make the Historic District look like a lively place where a meal at a tavern is just one of the small things you can do. The experience for the customer isn’t engaging. I’d hate to be one of the fools who buys a pass for the day to discover nothing is open, all the interpreters are clocking out early and all the taverns are closed. We ended up eating at The Whaling Company, near Busch Gardens. Well worth it. But it didn’t make up for the missed experience at CW. The news of the $15m drop made me giggle a bit. But at the same time makes me embarrassed that Virginia offers a half-ass experience for its visitors (and in my case, its residents).


When your world is full of strange arrangements

And gravity wont pull you through

You know youre missing out on something

Well that something depends on you

All Im saying, it takes a lot to love you

All Im doing, you know its true

All I mean now, theres one thing

Yes one thing that turns this grey sky to blue

Thats the look, thats the look

The look of love

When your girl has left you out on the pavement (goodbye)

Then your dreams fall apart at the seams

Your reason for livings your reason for leaving

Dont ask me what it means

Whos got the look? I dont know the answer to that question

Wheres the look? if I knew I would tell you

Whats the look? look for your information

Yes theres one thing, the one thing that still holds true

(whats that? )

Thats the look, thats the look

The look of love

If you judge a book by the cover,

Then youd judge the look by the lover

I hope youll soon recover,

Me I go from one extreme to another

And though my friends just might ask me

They say martin maybe one day youll find true love

I say maybe, there must be a solution

To the one thing, the one thing, we cant find

Thats the look, thats the look

The look of love

Thats the look, thats the look

The look of love

Thats the look, thats the look

Sisters and brothers

Should help each other

Oh, oh, oh

Heavens above

Thats the look, thats the look, hip hip hooray, ay

Thats the look, thats the look, yippee ai yippee aiay

Thats the look, thats the look

Be lucky in love

Look of love


VCU Brandcenter consists of 60 weeks (give or take). When I first set out in August 2007, I thought I knew everything. I told myself I wasn’t there to make friends. I wanted to be the best art director. In less than 2 years I would emerge with an education that many would envy to have. I set out what I intended to do, except I learned early on that I had plenty to learn. What I thought would be easy was hard. What I thought would be hard, was easy. Knowing much about VCU Adcenter before enrolling in the program, I thought I had a 1-up. I used it in my first couple of weeks. Who knew that 4 am would become a normal bed time? Or worrying at 5 am wide awake was normal? Or realizing 5 minutes before a presentation that the work was off strategy? Or that everything I was doing had been done before? Or that the unexpected proved to be the best work? Growing pains. Mini victories. But who knew the pain and happiness would make up a unique education and experience? It was after my internship that I started to get a handle on things. Worry about the things worth worrying about. There were people I grew close to. More importantly, there wasn’t one person who I could honestly say I didn’t like. I would gladly go out my way any day for anyone from my class. Everyone meant something to me. Rick Boyko mentioned at the graduation ceremony that we were the closest class ever to emerge from the Brandcenter. I’ve never felt what I’ve felt to this many people. They are all like brothers and sisters to me. An amazing feeling to have. The faculty and staff at Brandcenter are so true and human. I’m so glad I gave up my full-time job to go to this school. It was the right decision. I needed it after all. It’s funny how the universe has plans in mind for us. Everything happens for a reason. I’m just glad I met so many wonderful people and I will value their friendship for the rest of my life. I’m excited for what’s next. Whatever that may be. I think it could be something really good. Fingers crossed. Will post once I know for certain.

What an awesome issue this month of Paper Magazine. In the past, I found the magazine a little too hipster (ya know… not knowing what the hell you’re reading or looking at). The focus this month is rebranding America and instead of call for entries, Paper enlisted top creative thinkers. Even Alex Bogusky was on the list (forever a household name in advertising). The last 8 years were rough. A corrupt President. Old crow Republicans running the show. They ran the economy into the ground. Knowing that George W went to bed no later than 9 pm every night was a sign that America’s future was not his priority. Perhaps the role of President was more important than he chose to regard it is. The world hates us because of it. Americans are good intentioned. Just represented unfairly. I think a lot of the work in Paper to redesign/rebrand America only scratches the surface… but it’s a start. We have a lot of work to do – and creatively. Here are some work samples from the issue I like most…


What Obama’s Done for America’s Confidence \ Huffington Post

What is a recession? What constitutes a bear stock market? In both cases, it’s nothing more than perception. It’s the collective belief by consumers and businesses alike that things are bad and getting worse. And it’s mostly a self-fulfilling prophecy. Americans stop spending, corporate profits turn to mounting losses, and massive layoffs follow. And it’s a vicious circle. We therefore create the very things we fear most. When that happens, nothing can turn it around except a very different perception. The shifting sentiment that things are looking better.

Which brings us to a new ABC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday indicating that 50% of Americans now believe the country is headed in the right direction, versus just 8% in October, before the presidential election and three months before Barack Obama took office. Additionally, the Consumer Confidence Index released Tuesday showed a significant increase to 39.2% in March vs. 26.9% in February. Throw in Obama’s approval rating, which hovers around 65%, and it’s a pretty safe bet that Americans are starting to feel much better about the nation’s leadership and the overall direction of the economy and the country.

When consumers start feeling better about things, they spend. It starts with little things like clothes, toys, books, etc. They take extra trips to the mall. Then they slowly return to big-ticket items. They buy electronics, cars, houses, take vacations. And when they spend, it fattens corporate earnings. And that leads to job growth, reinvestment and spending on capital improvements. Pretty soon, recession turns to prosperity. Of course, I’m over simplifying, and an economic recovery can take a long while to achieve any appreciable measure of growth. But all signs point to a bottoming, and that would mean the crawl back upward begins. Whether we experience a V, U or L-shaped recovery is anyone’s guess. But it would appear that a recovery, however slow, is at least underway.

Obama’s critics can bark as loudly as they wish and continue playing the partisan rhetoric game, but the simple truth is that his first 100 days have achieved major progress in turning around the economy, restoring consumer confidence, and curbing the hemmoraging in both the banking and housing crises. Not bad for 100 days..

Milk-Bone 100th Anniversary


Charm City Cakes, located in Baltimore, is quite innovative, to say the least, when it comes to cakes and cake decorating. They are featured regularly on Food Network. I caught an episode yesterday of when they were tasked to design and make the cake for Milk Bone’s 100th anniversary celebration in NYC back in May 2008. Not only did they do a bang-up job (see pictures) but it made me think why more ad agencies aren’t going after cake artists like the crew at Charm City. Cakes create the focal point of any party or celebration. These artists take EVERYTHING into consideration and totally understand branding. I was impressed that Duff actually pressed the letters (made out of foam) into the oversized Milk Bone cake to make it look like an actual Milk Bone. For the large box cake, they handpainted all the type, illustrations, and disclaimer type so that it was an edible, 4 feet + cake. Incredible. A win for both Charm City Cakes and Milk Bone.