Archive: September 2015
September 11th, 2015

An Idea for Philanthropy: Don’t let the rich people just stand around the pool.

San Francisco, and the Tenderloin in particular, is a melting pot of experience. But it’s not always parades and bacon. For the city’s vast population of homeless and underserved, that experience is a daily nightmare.

The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (that’s a mouthful so we’ll stick with TNDC), have some amazing ideas to help the forgotten communities in a city where the journey to gentrification is a rapid, but often ignorant, force.

Through various means the TNDC raises awareness, provides housing and creates support services for the Tenderloin’s less fortunate population.


Their annual Pool Toss event sees local celebrities and supporters gather for an evening of awareness. And don’t worry, we’re not gonna let this just be rich people standing around a pool – someone’s going in the drink (pretty great idea we think, wanna help us throw them in?)

The sobering effect of getting thrown in a pool comes second only to the that of remembering those without a pool, or food for that matter. So when they approached The Mortar Foundation to be a sponsor, we were eager to support.


September 3rd, 2015

Can we teach elephants to dance?

Among the many cool ideas coming out of VMworld this week is the ongoing question of how long big business will continue to allow small, nimble and fast-moving start-ups like Uber and Airbnb steal their market. 

Much has been written on Uber’s rise to ascendancy in personal transportation—most of which has been gained at the expense of the taxi industry. But Uber owns no cars. 

Likewise Airbnb, an organization that owns no hotels, also threatens to disrupt the multi-billion dollar international hospitality industry.

VMware’s CEO Pat Gelsinger, is asking an interesting question: now that the same technology (cloud and mobile technology) is available to all, surely big business—the proverbial elephants in the headline—will learn to cha-cha?

Because if they don’t sashay their way to innovation, Gelsinger predicted, they will die: pointing to pundits who predict that 40% of the Fortune 500 will be replaced by 2025.

Indeed, perhaps the most interesting question of all is why big business cannot innovate like a start-up, despite obvious advantages in the delivery department.

We’ve spent the past year with our heads deep in VMware’s world (all the pun intended), and are more convinced than ever that change will continue to disrupt all we know to be true. To be honest, it’s working with this kind of change that gets us up in the morning.

There’s a beer with your name on it if you can spot the touches we added.

September 1st, 2015

Seeking Senior Copywriter with Mind Like a Machete.

We’re Mortar, a San Francisco advertising and branding agency dedicated to shaping smarter conversations between people and brands. And we say there’s no way in hell the pen is mightier than the sword. Could a ballpoint Bic chisel a block of ice into a life-sized replica of Michael Keaton’s face? Such a staggering feat isn’t unlike what you’ll be doing here. As senior copywriter, you can sculpt, mold, and whittle words until they glisten like Cartier diamonds. And your creative ideas are razor-sharp enough to cut through those inescapable piles of clutter labeled “been there done that,” “expected,” and “tried and true.” If your mind resembles a machete, come join Mortar in unearthing provocative, head-tilting ideas and putting obsolete adages out to pasture. (Who uses pens in the digital age, anyway?) 

Core responsibilities:

  • Concept campaigns across all media: print, digital, outdoor, broadcast, experiential, radio, and B2B
  • Write and edit compelling copy in all forms, from a detailed, long-form brochure to an eye-catching headline or tagline
  • Work with art directors and/or designers to brainstorm ideas and execute a polished product
  • Develop ideas that are out-of-the-box as well as strategically sound
  • Follow creative briefs, and take direction from creative directors
  • Prioritize workload, and deliver exceptional creative on time
  • Collaborate regularly with account managers, strategists, and new business teams—we’re no fans of department walls here
  • Create captivating presentation decks
  • Present and defend work in front of clients, in person and by phone
  • Proofread work for grammatical clarity and brand consistency
  • Begin to take an interest in nurturing junior talent

Required skills and experience:

  • Portfolio that demonstrates original creative thinking and exceptional writing in a wide range of media
  • 5+ years of copywriting experience in an ad agency
  • Proven ability to understand complex information and translate it into effective copy
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects—and maybe a sword on occasion
  • Willing to collaborate with others, and take constructive criticism
  • Excellent verbal communication (written communication is a given)
  • Versed in speaking to both consumer and business audiences
  • Strong interpersonal skills, and a positive attitude—no egos, please
  • Mastery of Microsoft Office and Keynote; you should be Mac-friendly

To apply for this position, please send your portfolio and resume to