Category: LOHAS
April 30th, 2014

Why Can’t Every Problem Be Solved By a Bulldog in a Hawaiian Shirt?

At Mortar, getting a number wrong usually results in us trying to order a pizza from a dry cleaner at 2 a.m. But for healthcare providers like Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, the ramifications are much more serious – after all, 50ccs of a medication is a far cry from 15.

Taking basic steps, like saying “one-five instead of 15” makes a surprisingly huge difference. And that’s just one of the techniques that can be used in the hospital to eliminate preventable harm.

The question is, how do you communicate these somewhat mundane-yet-crucial rules to staff in a way they’ll pay attention to (after all, these are some of the brightest and busiest doctors and nurses in the field) while staying consistent with the warmth and care you’d expect from a children’s hospital?

Our answer: Punimals!




Pairing adorable bespoke animal illustrations with equally adorable and punny headlines allowed us to communicate life-saving information in a manner people wanted to engage with. And, we gave employees plenty of opportunities for doing just that – through posters, mouse pads, training cards, magnets, screensavers and even direct mail postcards sent to employees’ homes.
























Saving lives and keeping children healthy was clearly the most important goal of the campaign, but we have to admit to grinning when we heard people were going out of their way to collect all 10 characters. Now, if only that dry cleaner would arrive with our deep dish pie.

March 15th, 2013

Saving Limbs Through Science? There’s an App for That.

Sometimes, and only sometimes, we think it’d be nice to clone people.

Take, for example, Avinger CEO Dr. John B. Simpson. He invented a revolutionary tool called Ocelot that’s able to cut through plaque in patients with peripheral artery disease, which prevents doctors from having to amputate patients’ legs. Thanks to Doc Simpson, our client Avinger has saved 7,900 limbs and counting. Like Manfred Selenschik’s. He lives in Muenster, Germany, and can now walk pain-free.

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 5.01.10 PM

Click to hear Manfred’s story.


Ocelot relies on a real-time intravascular imaging technology called Optical Coherence Tomography. Basically, it uses a camera as thin as a strand of hair to give doctors a direct view inside the artery they’re working on.

If you’re feeling horribly confused, imagine being the doctor who’s about to use this thing. As you might guess, learning to use Ocelot is a tad bit trickier than tying Velcro shoes. In the past, Dr. Simpson would be present at every operation to ensure it went smoothly. Now if we could clone the man, we would in a heartbeat. (We would also clone Jon Hamm a couple times.) But these days, an app seems to fix everything. So we built one.

The iPad app, called Avinger Beam, is a series of tutorials that teach you how to interpret OCT images. Which is basically a giant video game and makes us feel like we’re submarine captains in WWI. Captains fighting arterial plaque, of course. Beam shows you how to identify where the plaque is; then you get quizzed and it tells you if you’re right. (Or wrong, hopeless slackers. You are so not getting recess today.)

The interface is Avinger-slick, black, bold, and extremely easy to navigate. Not bad, eh? In the meantime, we’ll work on 3D printing Dr. Simpson.



March 15th, 2013

Mortar Wins an Addy; Receives Awkward Paperweight.

What’s that you say? Our work for Carondelet Health Network won a Gold Addy in the Out-of-Home category? Well, sheesh. We don’t know what to say. Besides a happy, humble thank you. Thank you for this irregularly shaped hunk of Plexiglas that we can’t possibly share among the 17 of us who worked on the campaign. Thank you for filling Jenni and Jonny’s stomachs with free-flowing whiskey, gin, and meatballs at the awards gala. Without your help, there’s no way we could have sat still during that 1.5-hour PowerPoint in a dark room.

45 agencies and individuals submitted nearly 300 entries in this year’s San Francisco competition, and 20 Golds were awarded. We saw a lotta good work in that presentation (though we probably didn’t need to see it three times). Our heartfelt congratulations to all the winners.

Our client Nick at Carondelet was so excited to hear the news, he jumped up and hit “Purchase” on the order of Handerpants that had been idling in his shopping cart for weeks.


Truthfully, we have no idea why Nick bought these. Unless you’re a baby octopus, or you want to draw attention by, say, being featured on your agency’s blog, we can’t think of one defensible reason for purchasing this product. We hope you’re happy, Knickerpants.

Beeteedubs: What kind of bully came up with the name “Addy”? Is that a cruel joke, giving people awards while simultaneously implying that their ads are small, inferior, or (God forbid) adorable? Ohh, look at the cute little Addy! Aren’t you a good boy?  

Just kidding. We’re beaming, on the inside and out.


Jenni, Jonny, and Awards Night Emcee. Remember when Jonny was just an overworked, underappreciated intern whom we almost kicked out onto the streets? It’s hard to believe how far he’s come (not to mention what d-bags we were).

September 26th, 2012

Mortar Gives Healthcare Advertising the Defibrillator.

Typical healthcare advertising tends to focus on the hospital and its staff, and how shiny and perfect they all are. So for Carondelet Health Network in Arizona, we knew the typical campaign wouldn’t cut it.

See, what really matters to people about hospitals, is the ability to stay out of them. And that’s exactly what our new campaign, “Be well,” gives them.

It’s like this. We all know the big secret to avoiding skin cancer: Wear sunscreen. Does that mean we dutifully slather on that viscous, chemical-scented cream every time we step outside? Of course not. Which is why it’s helpful to have a friend like Carondelet give you that extra little nudge – a reminder to do the stuff we already know we should be doing.

Be Well is a call to action, your personal cheerleader, and a high-five from a stranger rolled into one. It gives people a reason a smile, whether they’re filling up…

going up…

or shopping for dinner.


“Be well” gives mall shoppers a reason to take the stairs…

or compliment a stranger on the bus.


And this summer, “Be well” gave Olympics viewers a break from traditional Olympics ads.

The campaign has already made an indelible impact on Southern Arizona, and established Carondelet as the resident guardian of wellness. It’s scored attention from the press, and the coverage keeps rolling in. As for the client? They couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

Not only are we giving Arizona residents the gift of wellness, we’re making them feel a little bit happier every time we encounter them. And not once have we shown a deliriously happy doctor in a white coat.

July 15th, 2011

Smart Solutions For A Dumb Grid.

MORTARBLOG: "The U.S. power grid is so dumb…"

YOU: "How dumb is it?"

MORTARBLOG: "It's so dumb it thinks soy milk is Spanish for "I am milk.""

But seriously, folks, the grid is really dumb. You would not believe how much power goes to waste every day, and how much grossness gets spewed into the atmosphere every day to make all that power that's going to waste. Fortunately there's a simple, free way to start doing something about it. Which is where Mortar client Genability comes in. We could explain what they're up to using boring old words, but we'd rather share our new animated short, "Giving People Power Over Their Power." It's narrated by our pal Ed Begley, Jr., and it has mole people and birds that drop money and even a pony!

Please take two minutes and fifty-seven seconds of your day to check it out.

Pretty cool, right? Did you laugh? Did you cry? Did you want to punch the PG&E guy? (Don't.) OK, then tell all your friends about, and let's all help make the grid a little smarter.

Lord knows this world could use a little less dumbassery.