Us A Line

18 Northtown Drive  Jackson, MS 39211  p: 601.977.9200  f: 601.977.9257

Tag: Maris West Baker

May 26th, 2017

MWB’s Spark-O-Matic: The great digital arts melting pot

Well, a whole school year’s gone by since we started the marvelous mayhem that is Spark-O-Matic in early September of¬†2016 at Medgar Evers Library. And fittingly enough, it’s been most educational, both for mentors and for students, in the exciting months¬†since.

Together, even without a bright, shiny¬†digital creativity lab, we’re exploring how to design websites, make videos, produce soup commercials, delve into logo development (see this post’s featured image), create captivating personal stories with Lida Burris¬†that get seen up on the big screen, and much more.

We’re also learning¬†that sometimes, it’s important to put away your digital devices, even during a digital arts class (maybe especially during digital arts class).¬†And that it’s good to unplug for a while — perhaps do some letterpress at the Mississippi Ag Museum and¬†regain your connection to the real world. After all, one essential key to achieving digital literacy is knowing how to strike¬†a healthy balance between time online and off.

Most importantly, though, the students are discovering how to collaborate together, make connections, share ideas, find their voices and freely express themselves in an increasingly loud, noisy world that can all too often drown them out and mute their creativity. In fact, my favorite times at Spark-O-Matic are when a few students who are inspired and passionate about something—like transforming their own illustrated sketches into digital art—take the lead and share their skills with others. There is such talent in this group, such incredible potential.

These are the times, too, when the class becomes a true melting pot, simmering with ideas that are made better with each new insight offered up by the students themselves. This is peer-to-peer education at its finest. The way the kids guide each other in solving problems, overcoming technical issues, troubleshooting, and tackling details like shading and perspective is amazing.

And now we’re embarking on two new projects that could top them all: One, a cool music video project¬†propelled by the theme, “What Medgar Evers Library means to me‚Ķ”¬†Kicking things off a couple weeks ago, we discussed what form such a¬†music video would take. Together, we made a list of what we like best about this library, which included:¬†Talent shows,¬†Game day,¬†Movie Flick Saturday,¬†Spark-O-Matic,¬†Creativity,¬†Community,¬†A place of peace,¬†A place to speak your mind,¬†Family,¬†Superheroes (drawings and people),¬†Voting,¬†Babysitting,¬†Volunteer, Conversation, Escape, Family… and so on.

Angel, a rising 9th grader at Callaway High School, ¬†came up with a winning idea: Have the words and phrases from our list illustrated on handmade cards that students, in groups or individually, hold as they pop up¬†around the library. The plan is to get those action-word pop-ups on camera, then create a soundtrack with¬†masterful music assistance from Will Jolly over at Brown River Sound. Will’s already stopped by to scratch beats and get us going on the music track.

Another big project underway is something in partnership with James Bridgeforth from the Mississippi Heritage Trust (mississippiheritage.com).

The Heritage Trust is about preserving Mississippi’s historic places. One of those places is Medgar Evers’ home. So, this summer we are embarking on a Spark-O-Matic documentary about Medgar Evers‚Äô home that will created by our students.

Medgar Evers: Where he lived then. Where he lives today: In the hearts and minds—and lives—of the children and families served by the Medgar Evers library.

We will tell that story through: 1) A visit to Medgar Evers’ house where we will gather video footage, and 2) Interviews with the families and kids who come to the library, talking with them about Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Starter questions for our patron interviews:

Who is Medgar Evers?

What did he do?

How does what he did live on today?

In our first lively discussion about Medgar Evers, his family and his home, the students added the question, “What is civil rights?” to the mix. That’s a huge question we’ll continue to explore through the project. Once complete, the students’ documentary will be shown at a¬†Mississippi Heritage Trust gala event in December of this year.


We’re going to keep the creative sparks flying over the summer at Spark-O-Matic. While the school doors are closed, the library’s will be wide open. Big things are happening. And you’re invited join this crazy, creative melting pot, Tuesday nights from 5:30 to 6:45.


“You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea.”¬†‚ÄMedgar Evers

August 3rd, 2015

MWB Wins Best of Show Honors at Ragan Healthcare Communications Awards


Maris, West & Baker (MWB) has been awarded the overall Best Wellness Campaign for 2015 by the Ragan Health Care Awards. The campaign, developed by MWB on behalf of the Mississippi State Department of Health, takes a direct and hard-hitting approach to encouraging young people to get tested for HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

1in5 HIV 160x600Ragan’s Communications Awards are among the most prestigious in the fields of marketing and public relations throughout the world. Ragan properties support over 800,000 daily readers and is considered a gold standard in communications information.

MWB’s HIV/STD awareness campaign – titled “Know It,” encourages young, sexually active adults to utilize interactive and mobile technology to remain aware of their personal sexual health. The multi-platform campaign utilizes traditional television, print, outdoor, and interactive media to promote testing access and a discrete mobile application users can utilize on their mobile devices. In addition to the marketing campaign, MWB was also responsible for the development of the mobile app.

“This candid call for action from the State of Mississippi Department of Health to potential and untested HIV carriers who are young, sexually active adults is the only one of its kind in the U. S. so far.” – Ragan’s

“This campaign was first and foremost about communicating clearly and directly exactly who is at risk for HIV and other STD’s,” said MWB Creative Director Marc Leffler. “There are stereotypes of who these at-risk people are and the fact is so many more people are actually at risk.”

The campaign was developed around social situations many young people frequently find themselves in. The campaign then connects these situations with at-risk behavior and subsequently encourages the audience to have peace of mind by being tested.

“With today’s media targeting technology, we knew we could afford to be a bit more hard-hitting with our messaging, because we weren’t as worried about it being seen by ‘the wrong audience,’ ” said MWB President Peter Marks. “This is a great example of effective messaging being married with highly sophisticated media placement and message dissemination.”

Ragan recognized the “Know It” campaign as “one of its kind in the U.S. so far.”


Dispelling myths about HIV transmission was a
goal of the “Know It” campaign. The Mississippi
State Department of Health used sharable media,
such as this infographic developed by MWB,
as another channel of message dissemination.

MWB’s campaign increased engagement with testing services by 17,000% from pre-campaign levels, testing center tracking information showed. The campaign ran statewide in Mississippi and targeted 17 – 35 year-olds. The main goals of the campaign were to boost awareness of the importance of getting tested, publicize access to free and confidential testing, to dispel myths that HIV is “untreatable” and “fatal,” and to encourage those who have HIV to get and stay in treatment regimes.

“It is unfortunate that Mississippi is among the leaders in the U.S. with per capita rates of HIV and STD occurrences,” said Marks. “We do hope that campaigns such as ‘Know It’ and the clinical and field work being done by the Mississippi State Department of Health and other partners will make a real and positive impact.”

See samples from MWB’s “Know It” campaign here.


Maris, West & Baker is a Jackson, Mississippi-based marketing and experiential brand development agency with a core competency in public health communications. The agency oversees campaign development and implementation for tobacco prevention and cessation, vaccination awareness, communicable diseases awareness, and healthy lifestyle promotion.

The Ragan Health Care Awards are part of Lawrence Ragan Communications, Inc., which has been the leading publisher of corporate communications, public relations, and leadership development newsletters. Ever since the launch of The Ragan Report in 1970, Ragan has provided the professional communicator and executives with timely, practical, and relevant information that few others can match. The Ragan brand now includes over 16 targeted newsletters in the areas of employee communication, organizational writing and editing, sales and marketing, media relations and motivational management. The Ragan Health Care awards fall under the company’s Health Care Communication News, which is a daily website that highlights the latest news in health care social media, marketing, health communications, Pharma, physicians and mobile health.

For more information, contact Tim Mask at Maris, West & Baker.


June 23rd, 2015

MWB Creative Fire Podcast: Craft Beer, Matthew McLaughlin, & TECH JXN

On this edition of the MWB Creative Fire Podcast, host Tim Mask talks with “Craft Beer” attorney Matthew McLaughlin about the challenges and opportunities of the burgeoning craft beer industry in Mississippi. We also give a brief overview of the exciting upcoming TECH JXN student hackathon and innovation townhall summit happening in Jackson June 30 – July 1.

May 13th, 2015

Childhood Music Education, State of MS Craft Beer, & a Brewery with a Coast Flavor #MWBeer30

Just another MWBeer30 event…

Possibly our biggest #MWBeer30 event yet. Friday, May 15th we have a lineup of three highly creative/innovative individuals. In recognition of American Craft Beer Week, Jackson attorney Matthew “The Craft Beer Lawyer” Mclaughlin will give a “state of the state” of the craft beer industry and related legislation in Mississippi. Local legend Patrick Harkins of Fondren Guitars will also be on-hand to discuss his programs regarding youth and music education. And all the way from the great Mississippi Gulf Coast courtesy of our friends from Southern Beverage, Chandeleur Brewing will give a brief overview of their company and real-world experience of starting a craft beer brand in Mississippi.

Oh, and we’ll have a keg (that’s right) of Chandeleur for sampling.

5/15/15. 3:30-ish at the MWB Global Headquarters. Be here, be ready for creativity + innovation, and come thirsty.



MatthewMcPatrick Harkins of Fondren guitars

April 14th, 2015

MWBeer30 with FNC

We have a great #MWBeer30 lined up for April. The good folks from FNC in Oxford are stopping by the MWB World Headquarters to give a talk about innovation drivers they have incorporated into their company. If you’re interested in the 80/20 model, intern innovation, hackathons, or various other creative strategies for building a corporate culture of innovation, please join us 4/17 at 3:30-ish.

Oh, and as always, there will be a great selection of Mississippi craft beer on hand for sampling.

See you then!

Stay up to day with the latest #MWBeer30 events by subscribing to the MWB Tap.

January 7th, 2015

MWB Podcast: How Renaissance architecture in Assisi, Italy inspired creativity in rural Mississippi

In this edition of the MWB Podcast, Tim talks with MWB CFO Mike Booth. After a trip to the village of Assisi, Italy, Mike was inspired to build his own architectural show place in rural Mississippi. And we mean literally build it himself…. down to planning his own 2x4s from trees on his own land!

We’ve often said that creativity permeates every person and function at MWB. Even an accountant-by-trade has creative inspiration flowing through his veins at MWB! Listen to Mike recount his moment of inspiration overseas, how a miscalculation led to a signature feature of his home, and newest project… a self-built windmill to aerate his fish pond.

It’s all in this week’s journey into creative chaos and enigmatic innovation that is the MWB Podcast.


(check out a couple of photos of Mike’s self-built creative home)


MikeBooth Home1
MikeBooth Home2

December 17th, 2014

The MWB Podcast

Brought to you from the Creative Cafe at Maris, West & Baker, we’re excited to launch the MWB Podcast! The show, dubbed a weekly 17-minute exploration into the world of creative chaos and enigmatic innovation, debuted it’s inaugural episode with special guest Dr. Sumesh Arora of Innovate Mississippi. Show host Tim Mask and Dr. Arora discussed the theory of diffusion of innovation and how it can be used within and extension model to spur creativity and economic development.

New MWB Podcasts will be posted weekly to the SoundCloud podcast platform and will be available via the MWB website. Each week a special guest will discuss some aspect of creativity and/or innovation relative to a wide range of topics including digital literacy, art and architecture, economic improvement initiatives, technology, and many, many more. Semi-regular show segments include monologues, feature profiles on companies and organizations that are engaged in innovative projects, and “The Coolest Thing I’ve Seen” series.

We invite you to tune in each week to the MWB Podcast. If you’re interested in making a guest appearance on the show, by all means please contact us.

July 29th, 2014

Fast-casual restaurants, mobile media and taking over the world

Close up of hands woman using her cell phone in restaurant

One of the keys to maintaining a successful fast casual restaurant is being highly accessible to your customers. That means being accessible for website visitors, not just those “real world” visitors. Yet surprisingly, considering the massive popularity of smartphones, many restaurants don’t have a mobile-friendly website. Consider this:


Consumers use their smartphones and tablets to search for restaurants more than any other industry, according to a 2013 survey from the research firm¬†Chadwick Martin Bailey. But restaurant websites can be a major barrier‚Äî62% of those customers are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t read the menu with their mobile device.


Additionally, mobile web searches for restaurants have a conversion rate of nearly 90 percent, with 60% of those searches converting to sales within one hour of their search. In other words, people using their phones and tablets to find dining options are ready, hungry and willing.


There are three immediate advantages you gain by investing in a mobile-friendly site:

1) Better user experience ‚Äì Other than your unique food or customer service, customers are always looking for a better experience. It’s no different with your mobile site. Features such as responsive design, click-to-call buttons and location-aware mapping will make your website much easier to use. Mobile-responsive websites automatically resize elements, such as text and images, to display correctly on the smaller screens of mobile devices. You can even rearrange and prioritize web elements to showcase content specifically tailored to mobile visitors, such as limited-time offers and seasonal menus.


2) Greater engagement ‚Äì When you get a new customer walking through your doors, you want them all warm and fuzzy so that they come back soon. Your mobile site needs to do the same thing. If it’s difficult to navigate and read using a smartphone, many visitors will simply move on to someone else. No more warm and fuzzy. Just disgruntled. And changing a bad opinion is a lot harder than starting off with a good one.


3) Improved search engine performance ‚Äì Ever been in a situation that you couldn’t get out of fast enough? Bad date? Wrong turn into a seedy neighborhood? Gas station sushi? These are the bounce rates of everyday life. Bounce rates happen by visitors hitting your website and quickly exiting without going to a second page. Search engines penalize websites with high bounce rates. Slow load time (common with non-optimized websites) is also a factor in bounce rates. If you correct these issues, your position should improve. You can also take it a step further by adding social sharing buttons to gain traffic from social networks. After all, mobile users spend more time on Facebook and other social networks than they do on search engines.


4) Perfectly suited for LTOs ‚Äì I ate kale once. It was disgusting. But it is different and gaining popularity, which is why¬†you will see an LTO for it some time in the near future. When your restaurant takes the next¬†leap of faith on a new idea, you need something that gets your message out to the greatest number of people in the quickest way. Like I said earlier, if you don’t have your menu on a mobile site, you have a 62% chance of losing that customer.¬†Your mobile site, coupled with social media platforms, is the most efficient way to get that word out. So when you‚Äôre ready to promote your kale salad with the tagline “Kale Yeah!”, think mobile first.


The key to designing a great mobile website is providing the kind of information people on the go want most—your hours of operation, menu (avoid PDF files which are not mobile-friendly), phone number (click-to-call is ideal) and your address. It is also preferable to give your customers the option to order online.


Mobile websites serve as a great platform for limited time offers and loyalty clubs to entice new customers, as well as a way to retain existing ones. Using special deals and promotions that are only available on mobile devices is a method that is not only effective but also trackable.


Share your comments with us. How has your mobile website impacted your restaurant business?



Subscribe to Fast Casual Series


November 22nd, 2013

Fast Forward: Interactive TV Series to Address Brain Drain Announced

fast forward logoToday the Mississippi Brain Drain Commission (MSBD), an initiative founded through Maris, West & Baker Advertising (MWB), announced a partnership with Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) to jointly develop a new interactive television series. The series, titled Fast Forward, is designed to help stem the loss of intellectual capital in Mississippi. This announcement is made as part of Mississippi Innovation Month.

“It is an aberration that Mississippi is a net exporter of college graduates who have a bachelors-or-better degree,” said Tim Mask, Vice President with Maris, West & Baker and founder of the Brain Drain Initiative. “It is our goal to help young Mississippians realize they can have creative jobs within leading-edge innovative fields and in fact rise farther, faster by staying in our state.”

Fast Forward will highlight the career paths of young professionals in Mississippi and detail how Mississippi provides an ideal environment for going farther, faster, in innovative & creative fields. The series will balance features of leading edge occupations with profiles of Mississippi’s creative places, lifestyle/cultural vignettes, and entertainment venues. Media personality Marshall Ramsey is slotted to host Fast Forward once production begins.

See the full press release at the Mississippi Innovation Month website here.

November 15th, 2013

Mississippi Innovation Economy Twitter Forum on Coding Workshops

#MSInNovAs part of Mississippi Innovation Month, MWB is sponsoring a Twitter forum to discuss November’s Hackathon Saturday and coding workshops being held for students and teachers across the state. The forum will take place on Tuesday, 11/19 from 7PM – 8PM via @MSInnovationEco, using #MSInNov to follow. Anyone with an interest in promoting digital job skills is encouraged to follow, participate, and engage.

In conjunction with Mississippi Innovation Month, a collaboration of innovation-focused entities including Innovate Mississippi, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Department of Education,  Maris, West & Baker, Venture Technologies, school districts in Rankin County, Jackson County, Jackson Public Schools, and the Highland Elementary School PTO helped to produce a series of workshops focused on introducing students and teachers to digital job skills that will prove essential in the 21st century knowledge economy. Student workshops are being held through Jackson Public Schools and Jackson County Schools on 11/16, with a Coding for Teachers workshop being held at Highland Elementary in Ridgeland on 11/16 as well. Another student workshop is being held by Rankin County Schools on 11/21.

MWB VP/Digital Creative Director Randy Lynn (a Highland Elementary parent) helped to organize the “Coding for Teachers” workshop being held on Mississippi Hackathon Saturday (11/16). Randy will be the guest expert for our forum discussing the need for incorporating coding and other digital learning curriculum into Mississippi’s educational system.

FORUM:  11/19     7PM-8PM

Via: @MSInnovationEco    #MSInNov