Shop Smart + Small.

At the Creative Café, we don't offer everything for everybody. Our menu of services isn't a tome like you'll find at a giant marketing firm or a chain restaurant. We're specialists. We do one thing exceptionally well — brand new products, services, and companies. We're not a boutique or a conglomerate. We're a Creative Café. We serve fresh ideas daily and lunch periodically. 

You can always go big — and go slow and go expensive. However, we believe there's a smarter way. So, if you want to 86 blasé service and uninspired creative, give us a call. We're currently accepting reservations. 

Café textures: free download.

The creative team is counting down the days till October 8th. This date marks our happy homecoming to 3707 Butler St. Unexpected repairs have kept us apart from our beloved building since mid-July and we’re eager to be reunited. Beauty Shoppe Coworking has welcomed us in the interim, but the truth is we really miss our space. Who can blame us? From the café’s tin ceilings to the second story hardwoods, it’s the little things that make us feel at home there.

To commemorate our much-anticipated return, I put together a free texture pack for creatives and café lovers alike. Included are closeups of textures found in the agency from floor to ceiling that I’ve collected over the past year. Hopefully these come in handy for your own projects, or simply give you a magnified look inside Elisco’s Creative Café. Enjoy!

Included in download:

  • 11 café textures (JPEGs at 300dpi)

To download the texture pack, click the button below.


 
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LAURA SHIRLEY, ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR

Laura is a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania where she earned a B.S. in Graphic Design. While at Cal, she led the campus’ vanguard student-run design firm Studio 224. Laura is a member of Pittsburgh’s AIGA chapter.

 

CaféLife issue 1.

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Last week we said farewell & arrivederci to our four summer interns. If you’ve been keeping up with our café blog, & we hope you have, you’ve seen some of their work first hand. Theresa (Copywriting), Brandon (Graphic Design), Joe (Business Development), & Sydney (Account Management) brought us fresh perspectives & impressive work all summer long. Today, we’re thrilled to share a taste of what they created for the Elisco’s Creative Café brand.

The CaféLife story started in early Spring; the initial intention being to send a simple newsletter to clients & friends of the agency. It dawned on us that we hadn’t sent out an email like this in ages. By the time our interns arrived in June, the project pot had been simmering on the backburner for months with an ever-growing list of ingredients to add in. Since our new interns had the bandwidth, we were eager to brief them. Theresa quickly pointed out that this was shaping up to be one lengthy email. This realization led the team to move to a new medium: Elisco’s own digital magazine.

Issue 1 includes updates on our unexpected construction, up & coming Artichoke Productions, & even a few family recipes. We’re proud of the work that went into the magazine & hope you love it as much as we do:
 


 
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LAURA SHIRLEY, ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR

Laura is a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania where she earned a B.S. in Graphic Design. While at Cal, she led the campus’ vanguard student-run design firm Studio 224. Laura is a member of Pittsburgh’s AIGA chapter.

 

Finding Paris in Pittsburgh.

 
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I have recently been haunted by a certain Facebook video poking fun at study abroad students. The blonde caricature student rambles again and again, “when I was abroad…” filling in the blanks by longing for every European cliché from a more relaxed lifestyle to a different drinking culture.

This is a stereotype I may just fall into, but with a tiny bit of pride. This past spring semester I studied abroad in Paris. And yes, for four months I got to bask in espresso, sidewalk café terraces, and croissants galore. Sometimes clichés are beautiful. 

At the beginning of my study abroad program, we had a week-long orientation that included presentations on cultural and academic differences. During one of these sessions, our presenter lamented that while she loves the laid-back business style of the French, she often craves American efficiency. 

“Americans are just so efficient. They respond to emails; they have quick meetings. When I work in France everyone wants to get coffee or have a two-hour long lunch before anything gets done.”

I have to admit that I had noticed a difference in my day-to-day activities in Paris. Things take a bit longer in France. They aren’t rushed quite like they are here—unless you’re walking through the metro.

Americans really do value efficiency and convenience. We have quick meetings. We snack all day to keep from getting hungry. We don’t use all of our vacation time.

I was surprised to learn there was no online portal for my university and that professors most likely would not respond to my emails within 24 hours. I was also shocked by how often my host family had off work/school for a national holiday. 

And then there was the food. My host family made the most delicious dinners. In the early evening or sometimes even late afternoon, the smells would begin to waft through the house. Each night we sat down at the dinner table—no take-out or rushed fifteen-minute dinner. Sometimes it was just three or four of us, sometimes all six people. And we always had an appetizer or dessert along with our entrée. 

While I’m at school, I barely make myself three real dinners a week—and that’s a good week. I love how people in France take the time to enjoy food, from taking hours to eat, to shopping for fresh food at specialty stores, to spending hours in a café just to have a coffee. In the majority of cafés, you don’t see laptops and people working. They just sit, talk, and enjoy their espresso or café crème.

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I thought a lot about which style I preferred. The truth is I like a little bit of both. I wanted to bring some of those French traditions back with me, especially when it comes to food. But would it really be possible for me to live like that in the U.S.? How would I find time to cook each day?  Where even is the closest bakery? 

I realized that while I may be able to add some crepes into my diet, I would have let a lot of the other things go. If I have time to go to a farmer’s market, great. But the way I live at home just isn’t conducive to spending hours each night cooking and eating.

In the midst of this culture shock, the time came for me to apply for summer internships. Elisco was the first one I applied for and the first reply I received:

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I started to stress out because I realized how badly I wanted this internship.

“We’re reviewing your resume over espresso & croissants.”

It was only one sentence, but it made me really, really excited. I realized there might be a place where I could have the best of both worlds.

I enlisted my roommate’s help for my project. We spent the next few days running around Paris searching for the letters to spell out “Elisco.” Once I had photographed all six letters, I combined them into a photo collage that I posted on Facebook. A few weeks later, I was offered and accepted the position with Elisco. 

Sure there may not literally be any croissants, but I had found a place that had the American friendliness and efficiency I missed while in France, and also valued food like the French. We understand that food is more than just fuel, but an experience, a ritual, and an important part of life.

In the Elisco office, I’m surrounded by photos of food, the people are passionate about food, and every catered lunch is wonderful. The neighborhood helps too. I can help finish a proposal template before noon and then enjoy lunch on any one of Lawrenceville’s restaurant patios. Some days the people-watching rivals Paris’.

Because maybe how you get things done has less to do about where you are on the map, and more to do with what you value. A good meal doesn’t have to be sacrificed to squeeze in a meeting. Why not have both? Maybe we can forgo the formality of a corporate French lunch, but keep all of the flavor.  

And lucky for me, there is a French bakery right up the street.

 

SOURCES:


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Sydney Brown, Account Management Intern

As a Strategic Communication and French Studies student at the Ohio State University, Sydney seeks opportunities that allow her to combine her interest in communications with her passions outside the classroom. At OSU, she works on marketing and campus engagement for student organizations including BuckeyeThon and She’s the First. Sydney recently studied abroad in Paris, where she was able to improve her French; she hopes to keep advancing her language skills in her future career, or simply through her love for travel.

 

Artificial intelligence: outsourcing thinking.

 
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As advancements in technology rapidly push us further into the future, businesses will continue to utilize the latest tech to optimize their day-to-day functions. Artificial Intelligence systems, or AI for short, are enabling computers, gadgets, and machines to learn, think, and react to data in the same manner that humans do. AI systems are already beginning to have an imprint on the way we live. Do you remember that Uber you called last Saturday night? An AI system was used to determine the ride fare. How about the spam filter in your Gmail account? Yup, that was also a product of machine learning. Have you ever noticed how Facebook can recognize faces in uploaded photos? That’s because they taught a computer how to look for them. Don’t panic though – robots that can think and act on their own accord are still a product of fiction. However, marketing agencies are beginning to delegate some of their daily tasks to AI systems.

Big Data

Big Data is the gathering and storage of large amounts of information from various sources at various speeds and in various formats. Needless to say, big data is big – too big for humans to process and utilize without the aid of a computer. AI systems can be used to identify trends, analyze them, and then rearrange the data into comprehensible reports that marketers can then use to make decisions. Advertisements are now smarter than ever before. Let’s say that Tommy is the owner of a successful local pizza shop. He’s making a killing on deliveries, but he wants people to start coming to his physical restaurant. Tommy could utilize Big Data in conjunction with an AI system, such as Google AdWords, to get online customers through the door. Here’s how it works:

  • Tommy wants people to dine-in at his pizza shop, so he creates a mobile coupon for 20% off any dine-in order.
  • Tommy creates his AdWords campaign, and targets the coupon to mobile users, within a 10-mile radius of his store, that search for things like “pizza,” “food near me” and “Italian food.”
  • Users that fit his targeting criteria see an advertisement Saying “20% off! Dine-In at Tommy’s Pizzeria!” which can then be redeemed for a discount on dinner.

You might be wondering: How does he know that the advertisement reached his target? Well, that’s because Google AdWords took care of that for him. In return, he saw a 15% increase in dine-in customers that day. While it’s not as cut-and-dry as Tommy had it, the process is simple. Marketers create their ads, place a monetary bid on the advertising space, and then add extensions (location, call, mobile, etc.). Google AdWords combines all of this information, and in real-time, creates a ranking of display ads based on which ones are most likely to result in a conversion.

Speaking our Language

While the idea of a computer writing an elaborate novel with plot twists and character arcs may be years in the future, AI systems are already able to have simple conversations in real-time. Online customer service chatbots are almost entirely artificial now, allowing for nearly instant replies to customer complaints. The credibility of these bots is questionable; however, they can be used to help customers solve basic problems. It is estimated that around 20% of all business content will be machine-written. Google has taken the idea of a customer service chatbot a huge step forward. Enter Google Duplex: Google’s brand-new language interpreter making its way to your Google assistant device. While Google has its sights set on a fully automated speech robot that sounds natural, and can understand and respond to genuine speech, right now Duplex is an awesome way to schedule reservations and appointments without manually doing so. Duplex uses a combination of several text-to-speech (TTS) engines to control is intonation to sound as natural as possible. It even says filler-words like “hmm” and “uhh” whenever it’s calculating its response. If you know that you’re hearing Duplex and not a human prior to listening, it’s easy to tell that a robot is talking. However, if you’re on the other end of a staticky phone in a busy restaurant, you may not even think twice about it when Duplex requests a table for 2. You can listen for yourself here.

Looking to the Future

No, you don’t have to update your resume and start job hunting just yet. For every action that can be done by AI systems, a human has to oversee, analyze, and approve it. Every time an AI system is used to analyze a set of data, a marketer must interpret and apply that data to a project. For every Facebook post written by a machine, a Director of Social Media must evaluate the content, edit, and post it. AI systems, while already very advanced, are still in their infancy, and are tools that marketers can use to their advantage. Think of all this data as a foreign language and the AI system as a translator – there still needs to be humans, like the ones here at Elisco’s Creative Café, on the other end to translate to. Is this a good time to mention we’re Google certified?

 

SOURCES:

 


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Joe Novak, Business Development Intern

Joe is currently working toward a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing at California University of Pennsylvania. He is the President of the Student Marketing Association at Cal U—a group that he has been an active member in throughout his undergrad career. Now entering his senior year, Joe is looking to the future; he hopes to one day have a career in advertising, working in an agency setting.