By Mark DiPietro, VP, Senior Creative Director

A good idea can come from anywhere. This one came from the bottom of my shoe because in the height of Spotted Lanternfly season, those things were everywhere.

Most of the people in my office heard reports of the invasive species that was causing farmers to lose sleep, but we work in advertising. None of us own an orchard. Who cares, right?

We sure didn’t. Then one afternoon, I took my team out for lunch and we noticed Spotted Lanternflies all over the sidewalks, perched on the exterior of buildings and crawling across the windows 10 stories up. Sometimes they’d fly right into your face. And when we saw them inside (inside!), it became official: We care.

Time to spread their wings

We started by stomping the snot out of those little buggers every chance we could. The soles of our shoes tap-danced through town raining terror. Squashing, squishing, and squirting Lanterfly guts in all directions.

I know that sounds harsh, but they’re invasive. They feast on local plants, and are  destructive to agriculture, horticulture, forests, and my dad’s tomato plants. They have no natural predators, and that’s when the idea hit us: We needed more shoes.

If you love something give it away

My superstar teammate, Alex Hess, and I created posters to recruit more shoes to help us stomp ‘em out. We loved them. Then we bolted on a good behavior and made them free for the world to download and share. We uploaded them to etymologists, environmentalists, and eventually, those posters made their way to a few advertising competitions.

At Gatesman, we are thrilled to see this work make the shortlist for the 2023 Communication Arts Design Competition. Only 967 of 3350 entries made that list. I have to tip my hat to all the creatives and especially those who are advancing to the next round. That’s no easy feat.

This work was also awarded a silver medal from the judges from the American Advertising Federation Pittsburgh.

Of course we were hoping for gold. We’re still making steps toward our team’s ultimate goal of dancing on a national stage.

But there’s one other thing I want to squash while I’m here and that’s the notion that you have to have exceptionally brave clients, massive budgets, a celebrity spokesperson, or a blue chip brand to create good work.

Stomp it.

All you need is a spark. Something that gets you fired up. Something that stirs your emotions or, like in this case, something that comes dangerously close to flying into your mouth. Once you have that, you just need to get busy. Don’t wait for the perfect assignment to land on your desk. Nobody’s going to sign a permission slip for you to be your most creative self. It’s up to you to bring that fire. To get after it. To start walking toward the thing you want in life. And hey, when you take that walk, a good idea just might fly up and hit you in the face.

We encourage you to download our posters and spread the message to stomp the spotted lanternflies out. Download a poster here: