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Life As A Mintern

The intern. The coffee-wielding, photocopying, frazzled student who works long hours with little–to–no pay. You know the type. It’s Anne Hathaway, missing her boyfriend’s birthday to run a menial task for her evil boss. It’s Will Smith, struggling to care for his son while working an unpaid internship at a giant company. Growing up, movies like The Devil Wears Prada and The Pursuit of Happyness prepared us for internships the way our parents prepared us for real life: with horror stories. 

But just like body standards, apartment sizes in New York, and the probability of a tornado composed entirely of sharks, terrible internships are another unrealistic expectation that the film industry has given us. 

So we’re going to break down a few common tropes and how they’re different at Mint.

It’s not dog eat dog – it’s dog help dog 

Because dogs are pack animals. So it’s more of a dog help dog world. At Mint, working on a brief sometimes involves every department. From accounts to strategy, everyone puts in their two cents to help the creative process. Nobody is stealing your ideas because everyone is part of your ideas. When work on a recent brand-that-must-not-be-named got too overwhelming, we had a cross-department brainstorm to find the best way to make an execution happen. And not only did we win the pitch, we also got a few endorsements for “teamwork” on our LinkedIns. Ka-ching! 

It’s no longer late nights with little-to-no pay

Thanks to a recent ground-breaking Canadian law that deemed interns to be living, breathing humans, most companies are required to offer some kind of salary or stipend. Many agencies have added perks on top of that. For example, Mint doesn’t just help us pay our bills. They also pay our parents’, because we can finally expense our phone bills and get off the family plan. For now.  

Regarding the late nights—sure, there might be a few of them. But late nights and client pitches are often followed by periods of relaxation, which generally make all that work worth your while. That, and the legendary Mint office parties. 

You don’t need to overwork yourself to get yourself noticed

It’s true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But in a time when most of us are still working from home, staying up until midnight overworking yourself isn’t going to get you noticed. Because let’s be honest–we work in a creative milieu. Working yourself too hard will make your ideas worse, not better. What’s actually going to make you stand out is making yourself available when you have the bandwidth so you can give all you can possibly give.

It also helps to work at an agency like Mint that prioritizes a healthy work-life balance. Our Creative Services Manager extraordinaire Gilda is constantly checking in to see if we have too much or not enough work. Because of this, we’ve had the opportunity to pick up work on big clients like Google or Youtube. 

We also only book meetings between 10am and 4pm (2pm on Fridays!) so that everyone can focus on getting their best work done. Because let’s be real—do you like receiving Slack messages at midnight? No? Neither does anyone else.

Interns actually do get work produced

As our biopic has yet to be produced, this one maybe isn’t in the movies. But we felt the need to add this point anyway. 

Plenty of your ideas are going to die on the editing room floor, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because while not all of your projects will add to your portfolio, all of them will add to your experience. Budget constraints? You learned the reality of production. Difficult director? One less person to work with in the future. Shoot cancelled the night before? That’s a day off!  

And while you may not be getting the giant briefs, working on briefs with smaller budgets can actually push your creativity. It may not win a Cannes (then again, maybe it will), but it will teach you to be crafty and cut corners. Besides, cutting corners doesn’t always have to be a bad thing—octagons sometimes look cooler than squares. 

Your mentors won’t ask you to fetch them coffee* 

The only thing expected of you as an intern is that you’re a hard worker and you’re hungry to learn. One of the greatest benefits of working at a smaller, independent agency means there are fewer rungs in the company ladder between you and the top dogs. At Mint, we have the added benefit of creative office hours, time every day where anyone can drop in to get feedback from our ECD, Kim. Beyond that, the senior leadership is always happy to jump on a call (Google Cal-dependent).

And it’s not just feedback on agency work that they’re happy to provide. Mint is filled with people who have different backgrounds and experience, with networks that are happily tapped into. When an intern, let’s call her Joan, wanted to move to Paris to pursue my—I mean her—dreams, she was met with encouragement and provided with plenty of contacts to reach out to. 

Overall, internships aren’t just beneficial to you—they’re beneficial to the company. From Account Directors to the Senior Copywriters, many of Mint’s top talents started as interns and gradually climbed the ranks. Sure, promotions come from hard work. But they also come from genuine enjoyment and self-fulfilment. So in conclusion, life isn’t always like the movies. But as an intern, that’s a good thing. 

*At editing time, Kim has expressed disappointment that we have never fetched her coffee. 

FRESHLY MINTED: Micro trends you should know about this November

Hi, hello and bonjour – it’s already time for the November edition of ~Freshly Minted~, where Mint’s Strategy team gives their hottake on what’s trending and why you should care. And trust us, you’ll care. Don’t believe us? Scroll down and see for yourself.

The Rise of the Parasocial Relationship

Photo credit: Parker Woods for Variety

A parasocial relationship is the attachment we form around celebrities, influencers and even fictional characters. And it’s not a new phenomenon – the term was coined in the ‘50s by sociologists Donald Horton and Richard Wohl. But the introduction and meteoric rise of social media has meant that more and more people are experiencing parasocial relationships (hands up if you also think Harry Styles is your soulmate…or bestie if nothing else).

So What? 

People are constantly looking to form bonds with the content they are consuming. From a brand standpoint, it’s not enough to only focus on fit and reach when choosing creators to work with. We also need to think about the depth of emotional ties and connections they are generating.

The Pantry is Resurging as Another Battleground for Brands

Photo credit: Via MoMA.org

We cannot tell you how many pantry design articles we’ve seen popping up in our interior design feeds lately. We’ve always known the pantry is prime real estate for CPGs, but we can see this becoming an even hotter battleground for products beyond canned beans. Why? Well, more Canadians will be stocking up on pantry items as food becomes more expensive, but the volatile Canadian housing market has people staying put, giving them room to think about every.square.inch. of their spaces.

So what?

Think inside the pantry box. Is there a way for unexpected brands to claim the cabinet? Think Bumble honey pots, Google pantry stocking apps, or JP Wiser’s cocktail kits lining the top shelf.

The Next Place for Brands to Show Up Is Underground

Photo credit: Unsplash

Underground markets aren’t something we marketing professionals talk about often. But we might need to start, with the trust disappearing in public systems, be it government or major media publishers like Facebook *cough cough*. Paired with the cost of living increasing every quarter, everyday people have started to create their own underground networks to get basic services and products.  

So what?

Advertisers need to think about what grassroots really means, and how they can build trust without all the flash. Rather than big guerilla tactics, think about more personal, hyper-targeted and bespoke ways to speak to your audience.

FRESHLY MINTED: October trends you should know about

Welcome back to the October edition of ~Freshly Minted~, where Mint’s Strategy team gives their hot-take on what trends are bubbling up and how they could impact the world around us. This month we explore the return to classics, the pleasure revolution as well as breaking down the metaverse (nbd).

A return to classics

Photo credit: Jon Tyson

Like the Y2K uprising, sometimes the next new thing is borrowed from the past. From classic cocktails to reboots of beloved favourites like SATC, we’re seeing that actually a lot of industries are going back to the classics. Why? Because we’re tapped out from the constant change. Cow Print one week and cheugy the next doesn’t fit into our budgets or our patience, we’ve got bigger fish to fry like the impending apocalypse.

So What? 

People are looking for reliability and familiarity – brands should consider that mindset and what that means for marketing themselves, principles like quality over quantity, classic shapes, textures, colours, or being dual purpose instead of single use.

The pleasure revolution is here, and we’re not mad

Photo credit: Taras Chernus

Fetch the town cryer because self-pleasure is *finally* being seen as a form of self-care. With a lack of physical touch through the pandemic our deprivation seems to be motivating us towards rewarding ourselves all the time, mindful masterbation to reground and recentre, sprucing up bathtime with a curated bathscape, or simply getting pleasure from #smutbooktok and ASMR bread making, either way we’re all looking to feel good.

So what?

Consumers are looking for experiences that look and feel good. Brands should be thinking about ways to elevate experiences and offerings – so if you’re creating a cocktail kit, how do you make it activate every sense to make it intimate and personal.

Welcome to the metaverse

Photo credit: Forbes

Imagine a virtual space where you can bring your physical experiences with you – shopping, exploring, socializing: enter the metaverse. While the concept isn’t new, (with games like Fortnite having metaverse tendencies) our collective need for interactivity and interconnectivity through the pandemic has really catapulted the metaverse forward and we’re seeing big players like Facebook paying attention. With digital experiences ever evolving, this could mean new ways for us to engage with each other through space and time (too far? Who knows, let’s see). 

So what?

Creating digital experiences just got a whole more…well, meta. Not only will microsites and landing pages no longer cut it, but your target personas will evolve too. It’s no longer just the ‘human-me’ or ‘digital-me’, but now we have the ‘meta-me’.

FRESHLY MINTED: Twerking, Space Real Estate, and being a good neighbour, Mint Strategists uncover the sparks of micro trends this August

As culture creatures at Mint, we’re always on the lookout for what wave will come crashing onto our doorstep next and how we believe they’ll impact business and creativity.

Photo credit: Blue Origin

Space is the next luxury market

Yes, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos just went to space in a very phallic looking rocket. NASA spent more than most of us will ever make in several lifetimes on ‘Space Drip’ and they’re looking for applicants to live out their Doja Cat space fantasy on pretend Mars. 

So What? 

For the ultra-wealthy, moving to another planet is an option. So, what does marketing look like on mars? No seriously, we need a strategy 😉.

In or out? WFH forces brands to grapple with what kind of company they’ll be next

As we all transition into a mostly hybrid work culture, companies are being tasked with how they are going to change for their employees. Our inclination is that yoga classes and a snack bar aren’t going to cut it as brands have been forced into having a social conscience. They will make adjustments in the next frontier of workers’ environmental rights.

So what?

Brands and agencies have the opportunity to change the way society operates simply by deciding how they’ll show up back at the office. Will the brand or agency be an active contributor to the neighbourhood that it shows up in?

Photo Credit: Parkwood Entertainment LLC

Black women really are the culture 

Beyonce is coming back to save us from ourselves with a new album focusing on the injustice and change we’ve witnessed this past year. Women at large are still lusting after black women’s bodies as the BBL (Brazilian Butt Lift) becomes the “the fastest growing cosmetic surgery in the world” and has a TikTok persona to match. Last but certainly not least, Lizzo has made her Ted Talk debut on the history of twerking and its roots in blackness. 

So what?

Don’t just check off the diversity box in the casting call. Listen to and embrace black perspectives, craft, and spirit.

Advertising IS going to get ~more~ personal

With every new generation of creative talent, new values come embedded in the work they create. The new generation is surprising us by showing us just how invested they are in their work for the brands that they work on. It’s no longer about all nighters and inside jokes; it’s about mental health awareness, body inclusiveness and connecting on emotions instead of title-cards.

So What? 

We as marketers need to be more emotionally self aware to tap into work that connects.

FRESHLY MINTED: From Pop-punk to Super Moms, Mint Strategists uncover what’s trending this July

As culture creatures at Mint, we’re always on the lookout for what wave will come crashing onto our doorstep next and how it will impact business and creativity. This month the trends we’ve uncovered differ in terms of demographics and industry categories, but the one thing they all have in common is a “re” of some sort: 

A resurgence, a renaissance, a re-definition, a revival.

What does this tell us? That our current world is looking for a do-over anyway it can find it, giving us marketers a second chance at building a media world that’s different and who knows…maybe better. 

A Re-Education on Uplifting Indigenous Voices

Canada is once again re-learning its own history and with the most recent national calling out of the genocide from residential ‘schools’ this time of grief has been accompanied by big brands like Sephora and Air Canada amplifying Indigenous voices.

So What? 

At a time when brands are focusing on more diversity and consumers are watching closely, we have to ask ourselves, is this truly inclusive? Is this brand committed to contributing to real positive progress for the community being highlighted?

Y2K Renaissance is Upon Us 

For all you 90s babies out there, you might have noticed that we’ve entered into a Y2K renaissance. It’s showing up strong in fashion, with nods to Paris Hilton’s signature The Simple Life looks, nostalgic Bratz Doll art, and the famous Ed Hardy resurgence from famous Tik Toker Addison Rae. 

So what?

Nostalgia is no longer limited to those who experienced that time period; sharing and celebrating the best parts of any era can be a major flex for brands to show they ‘get it’. 

Re-re-defining Motherhood Post Covid

The pandemic has put a spotlight on existing gender inequalities in almost all areas of life and this is leading many of us to re-re-define what motherhood really means. We’re seeing political figures take note too with the Biden-Harris team announcing commitments to gender equity.

So what?

Rhetoric around gender inequality has existed for a while now, but cultural expectations are just starting to be redrawn. Let’s talk about parenting, let’s talk about boundaries and let’s talk about how to divide up family work better.

Reimagining what Inclusive Really Means through Fantasy 

Yearning for lighthearted escapism, Dungeons and Dragons rose in popularity during the pandemic, only to discover its’ dark side – a history of non-inclusion. DND created a movement within the fantasy world to ensure people of all backgrounds and abilities could sit at the table with the real stranger things – orcs, half-elves, and tieflings.

So What? 

Made-up worlds are an incredible vessel to create progressive commentary that reimagines our reality for the better.

A Revival of Pop-punk Faces Angst with its Own History   

Pop-punk has historically been dominated by caucasian bands (think Green Day, Blink 182 and Panic at the Disco). In 2021, we’re seeing the spawn of a movement to bring back pop-punk, but made for everyone with singers like Willow and KennyHoopla showcasing that angst expression is universal. 

So What? 

Whenever cultural waves start to resurface, we as marketers and creators should look back to see what narratives have already been played out. By doing so, we can course-correct the stories of the past to better serve everyone now. 

Porn, That’s SFW

It’s 2017, and I’m drunk on a rainy night in Nolita, NY. The glow of its black and orange logo is shining in my face. I squint for a moment as I think my eyes have deceived me. I wipe the raindrops off my face to get a better look. No, it’s real? Pornhub has opened a New York clothing boutique. I go inside to get out of the rain and for my curiosity. My expectations of an empty store with maybe a few curious tourists and single men with such a strong cologne scent that it could burn out my retinas, is wrong. I am wrong.

What I found was a store full of young, affluent Millennials purchasing branded bucket hats and hoodies. I said to myself, “this will not last; it’s just a fad, like skinny jeans.” I purchase my branded t-shirt, leave, to never think about it again…  

That was until Shakedown arrived in 2020. An award-winning documentary by LA director Leilah Weinraub. The film captures the cultural shifts within an underground lesbian club over several years.

And guess what? It was streamed for free on Pornhub as the platform’s first non-pornographic feature. 

Traditional NSFW brands are now producing and housing SFW content. This is not a fad; it’s the future. 

OnlyFans, often cited as the “Patreon for porn,” is now home to one of my favourite podcasts. And it’s non-porn related. The pod’s primary subject matter is a dumpster fire of a reality TV show, 90DaysFiancé. *Maybe it’s a bad habit, but I tend to fast forward to find the best bits.* 

If you’re too afraid to ask your friends and loved ones, what is OnlyFans? It began as a creator-first platform used by comedians and fitness models to help monetize their craft. But now, it’s widely known as a platform for personal, indie, uncensored adult content. Or, as I like to call it, good home cooking. 

So, why are porn sites now the best places to release non-porn content? First, we need to look at the consumer.

Traditionally Millennials have been hesitant to pay for news and entertainment but are willing (more than Gen X or Baby Boomers) to pay top dollar for experiences. A report by the Global Web Index found that millennials care less about finding a low price and are more willing than other generations to pay a premium for convenience, immediacy, and content they care for. Corey Price, vice president of Pornhub, reports that millennials make up 55% of his site’s free users but 66% of its premium users. 

While our mothers and fathers were wearing disguises trying to purchase their marital aids in unmarked, brown paper bags, Millennials and Gen Zs are out in the open. We have helped rub out many of the stigmas around porn and sex work. From the mainstream reporting of former Disney Star Bella Thorn, who earned two million dollars in the first week of starting an Only Fans page, to the TikTok trend of pretending to be “An Accountant.” It’s more than ok to talk about porn and sex work online in a positive way.

Millennials and Gen Z also actively search for porn; a joint Google and Columbia University study found between 2005-2014 that porn sites consist of about 4% of the internet. But also about 20% of all searches on mobiles. *A healthy reminder to disinfect your phone.*

So, you have an active Millennial audience willing to be open, positive and pay for premium experiences. And who are regularly visiting porn sites; why not offer them tailored SFW content. It makes sense. 

Dropping a new album, showing your limited run of couture dresses, crafting an entertaining and engaging blog; don’t expect people to be excited on the traditional media platforms. Come and release it on porn.

History suggests that marketing is always a few steps behind culture, but you’re telling me that a banner ad on the Toronto Star will ever compete with a sponsored post on Pornhub; I think not. 

Culture is shifting; porn platforms are progressing, and marketing (like always) will have to catch up.