#StrongerforLi: Finding Hope in Uncertain Times

After being laid off for the first time in my career, my eight-year-old son (Li) grew obsessively worried about what I did exactly to bring money to the family.

His obsession with our wellbeing, obviously without fully understanding all the implications, turned into an obsession with “What the heck does dad do?”, as he often asks mom.

After kind of grasping the big picture, he said to mom, “Maybe dad can help me advertise my March for Babies walk, so I can help babies live a long time!”

Clearly I couldn’t turn him down, even if I still had to desperately figure out how to feed my two boys and soon to come baby girl. (Wondering about mom? She’s an independent lady. “She can take care of herself.”)

My son had managed to turn the third worst day of my life into the most inspirational.

So… we got to work.

Li established his goals, mom handled shooting the interviews and providing content, and I worked on teaching Li what “I do” for a living.

Even baby brother decided he wanted to be part of the movement.

The outcome

The #StrongerForLi campaign was born. Three videos were built for social. And, Li insisted on doing a follow-up customized Thank you email marketing “campaign.”

The work

The “campaign” is now live, and Li has already reached $500 of his $3500 grand total. (Thank you, donors!)

The past month and a half has been a crazy time in my life. Yet, it’s great having such precious love and positivity from my family.

Paper | Paste | Change the World

It has been quite awhile since I posted last. I have not stopped writing, actually, I have been writing more than ever. You can see some of my work here.

But that is not why I am writing here and sharing with you today. I am writing because of this outstanding quote I recently heard from JR.

“You’ve been here studying this piece, discussing it with your peers for hours. On the meantime, you haven’t thought about what you’re eating tomorrow. That’s art.”

Powerful. I leave you now to experience this wonderful project verbalized by the creator himself. Enjoy.

Stay cool, stay connected, stay balanced.


Amazing Reach | Fabulous Frequency

I will have to say that a year can really be flipped upside down, drilled sideways and built back stronger than ever thought possible.

This brutal semester has finally come to an end. And guess what?


Masochist? Maybe. But after learning Media, Digging into Account Management, Playing Account Planner and finally getting to solve real problems as a Creative, my love for advertising has actually grown so much more.

I wanted to share two recent advertisings that hit me hard. One was so brilliant I only saw it once and I was hooked. Saw it on TV, went to YouTube, played it four times, shared it on Facebook, then watched it four more times there.

What was this magical advertisement? Michael Jackson The Experience video game for the Wii and XBOX Kinect, of course!

I say no more, here it is:

The second one made me appreciate media planning, placement, buying, creating, managing and PR – and everything else advertising for that matter – to the next level.

I saw this awe inspiring video/commercial on a random website; I then YouTubed videos for almost 15 minutes (I have a 4-year-old, you see); then I was totally hit by a 10 minute interview with Jim Dooley, composer of the video game’s music, while listening to NPR News’ The Record on the radio on my way home from school.

This was such a perfectly executed advertising campaign, I cannot wait to learn who put this brilliant campaign together.

But, I will just let you see the brilliance that was that original video/commercial.

And FYI, I am absolutely “getting the game for my son” this Christmas.


Stay cool, stay connected, stay balanced,




22 And Counting | Managing Relationships

My USF ZAP class interview assignments keep my interest for the ad agency world ignited.

This time I luckily got to chat with 22Squared’s Frank Morales, Hispanic Account Director for Publix Super Markets. Frank, a ten year veteran with an impressive brand repertoire to his name, was engaging and more than willing to share insights about account management, the Hispanic market and even took some time to talk about opportunities for me in the copywriting field.

Frank recently moved to 22Squared from Zubi Advertising, where he managed their entire SC Johnson brand portfolio. He sounded excited and enthusiastic about coming to Tampa and helping 22Squared and Publix expand their advertising to the Hispanic market in the region.


“Jack of all trades; master of none.” “Be a mile wide and an inch deep.” – Frank Morales

Frank shared his day to day life in a macro and micro level. He said that the big picture of his day is filled with casting, creative concepting, checking on his teams and hiring. Then, he told me that his day is also filled with electronic messaging; preparing meetings, presentations and calls; attending meetings; developing strategies; researching and working with the creative team.

I was glad to hear most of the many details I have learned in my classes literately coming right back at me. The fact I was able to have a 45 minute conversation with an ad professional and understand everything he said feels like a #win for me.


After the “interview” was over, we talked about great advertising books and what I could do to become a legitimate bilingual copywriter. The passion in his voice and the general willingness to even help me really made me respect Frank.

He told me “E Book,” “Where the Suckers Moon,” “Hispanic Marketing” and “Art of Account Planning” were must reads, if I was serious about getting into the field. (Looks like I have tons of reading ahead of me.)

He also advised me to go to portfolio school, Miami Ad School to be specific, which I got to tour last week with the USF Ad Club. I am glad my passion, inspiration and love for this field keeps getting stronger and stronger. People like Frank and my professors at USF keep giving me more and more reasons to want to get into the ad world. Thank you.

And if you are a student in advertising or you are thinking about getting into advertising, make sure you supplement your school learnings with real conversations, shadow days and internships.

Stay cool, stay connected, stay balanced,

Alex Santiago

Once a performer…

This past Monday I got to finally speak in front of the USF Ad Club. I was invited to speak while in San Francisco and it was a little strange because since then I had become part of their exec board and had been working with them for awhile. But, I had a blast doing it.

Our own Jordan ‘YouSleepWhenYouDie’ Zimmerman dropped by and surprised the club, which was really great and added a nice level of reality to our presentations. He definitely made everyone nervous, which made us spend more time than allotted, but I still think we all did okay.

There were four of us presenting: Sarah Page, PP+K Tampa; Erica Novak, Zimmerman Advertising Ft. Lauderdale; Julia Powling, The Creative Farm NYC and I spoke about my 4A’s MAIP McCann Erickson San Francisco summer experience. We all had great stories to share, so I think we got through some people.

I had to rush through the presentation, but I guess once a performer, you are always a performer. If you would like to see the visuals, the presentation is hanging out below. And if you would like me to share the presentation with your organization, send me an e-mail.


It is strange being asked to hopefully influence or inspire your own peers. Most people probably think were are nobody’s, but hopefully I am wrong. Needless to say, I think we all represented our companies and experiences very well.

Expand Your Margins

In the middle of my presentation, I shared this document I created earlier last week during a quiet moment filled with inspiration. It was honest. It was pure. And I am really hopeful that some people got it.

And since I have this nifty tool to express and converse with those interested, I would like to share the document and ask for your opinion.

Am I right, wrong, kind of close? It is a personal experience, so I understand if it is not fully relate-able, but I believe it speaks in many different planes. I am just curious about your opinions.

Expand Your Margins

Thank you for reading.

Stay cool, stay connected, stay balanced,