Thursday, November 15, 2018

Spend an hour with David Abbott.

One of the things that happens as you get older, besides noticing spots of discoloration on the back of your hands, or struggling with a crossword clue you would have handled in a mere synapse just weeks ago, is that you have a lot of conversations with friends about what you’d have done differently if you were, once again, young.

Would you have chosen—if you were 25 today—to go into advertising. Or would you have found a career less, let’s say impecunious. Like investment banking, brain surgery, or sausage stuffing?

I don’t know what I’d be doing if I were young and looking for a career today. But I do know I would learn everything I could from leaders in the field. In my day, and today, in advertising, it’s probably mandatory to read “Ogilvy on Advertising.” Or any of a thousand awards annuals.

Recently a coterie of my English friends, John O’Driscoll and Dave Dye among them, called my attention to a wonderful website—a retrospective of a titan of English advertising—David Abbott. 

Like film majors should know Orson Welles, or dramatists Shakespeare, ad people--whether they're creative, account or planning, should know David Abbott.

Mr. Abbott was responsible for some of the great campaigns of the last two centuries. The Economist. Volvo. Volkswagen. Sainsbury's.

Take a look at some of the samples I've posted here.








You want more right?

Well, there's a lot of it here: David Abbott said. A lot of stuff to learn from, a lot of stuff to emulate, a lot of stuff to admire. All organized in an intelligent and comprehensive manner. Oh, and beautiful to look at, too.

You might also want to read this, below. A closing statement from Abbott. As Ed McCabe once wrote, cheaper than psychiatry.





Wednesday, November 14, 2018

13 More Yiddish Curses for the Modern Ad Agency.

Some years ago I wrote a post called 13 Yiddish Curses for the Modern Ad Agency. In my view, and for no particular reason, I thought it made sense to update those curses for today's eminently curse-able ad industry. 
Yiddish may well be a dead language. But when it comes to imprecations, Yiddish is alive and well. 

And now, 13 new Yiddish curses:

1. May you be forced to eat at the agency cafeteria every day except for one, and on that day may you eat at Chipotle’s.

2. May the paperwork you have to do to submit expenses run as deep as Gary Vaynerchuk’s ego.

3. May you work for someone who uses the word humble without humility.

4. Before you’re allowed to leave for the day, may you be forced to count the lies in a thousand press releases.

5. If you leave a job to spend more time with your family, may you actually have to spend more time with your family.

6. May your powerpoints and your midsection get thicker with every meeting.

7. May you lose your timesheet just before you save it every time you try to save it.

8. May the interns who are always playing ping-pong get promoted to CCO and then fire you for not playing enough ping-pong.

9. May your briefs get longer as your media space gets smaller.

10. May your French holding company be taken over by an even-cheaper and more corrupt Russian holding company.

11. May your client get a $2 billion tax-break for relocating to your city and then may they fire you for being too expensive.

12. May you go to tissue sessions all day and may your nose run all night.

13. May your holding company announce a hiring freeze except for cafeteria workers and may those workers transmit a foodborne illness.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

I couldn't watch.

I turned off the television at 8:30 last night, around the same time I turned off in November 2016, when it became clear to me that Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton.

But I was wrong.

The Democrats, thank sanity, retook the House of Representatives. 

I worry, deeply, however, about the future of our country. And some of that has to do with the Democrat's inability to understand the pain that much of the country is suffering from.

I've pasted an ad above done by Mike Tesch at Carl Ally in 1967. I've put it there because, to my mind, it shows how marketers--50 years ago--understood the woes facing the business traveler. They understood and they had empathy. They showed they cared.



The same goes for this ad, written by Ed McCabe at Scali McCabe Sloves--also about 50 years ago.

Again, the ad shows that Volvo, the brand, understands the throes of the modern car buyer.


In marketing today, we see no such empathy. No understanding of people and their pains. No, here's a word for you, love of humanity.

I worry about our democracy and the Democratic party. I heard nothing this campaign cycle about pain. About the vanishing middle-class, about the forgotten person at the bottom of the economic pyramid. About the hardship of living paycheck to paycheck--and feeling that your life is being lived while navigating a tight-rope.

We have forgotten in advertising, in our embrace of personas, real people. Real pain. Real tears. And real caring.

The Democrats have forgotten, too.

And Trump is a crafty marketer who has figured out how to  touch these people.

The Democrats, and marketers, had better rediscover how to talk to humans. Or those who know how to reach them--in an evil and visceral way--will, unfortunately, prevail.
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Would FDR's second Inaugural "play" today? Would it move people and resonate?



I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.

But it is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope—because the nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country’s interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

BTW, if I hear one more political strategist say "Democrats won the white suburban voters they needed to win," I think I'll throw a brick through some window somewhere.

No white suburban voter regards themselves as a white suburban voter. They see trillion dollar debt, tax cuts for the 1% of the 1%, a failing public education system, a rapacious set of republicans looking to raid social welfare programs, no affordable healthcare, rising seas, children in cages.

Campaigns, political and marketing, have strategists. What they no longer have is humanists. People who care about peoples' lives.

That's why campaigns, political and marketing, seem so irrelevant to so many.


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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I'm a motivational speaker, goddammit.

Hi! It’s Tuesday.
And what a day it is to be alive!
What a great day it is to be a motivational speaker.
What a great day it is to go on LinkedIn or YouTube
and shout into my iPhone for ten minutes,
telling people how lucky they are to be alive and
if they’d just get up and at ‘em, and grab the bull by the horns,
and carpe our diems,
and decide to be happy,
well, then, by golly, we will be happy.
Because I’m a motivational speaker goddammit and I know how these things are.
Forget about doing work that makes a difference for clients.
Forget about the lives of your employees and the people who rely on you.
Keep your sunny-side up!
Let a smile be your umbrella and your umbrella be a smile.
You have to love life
and live love.
And I’m loving life,
because I’m a motivational speaker, goddammit
and I’m going to help you crush it
so hard you’ll crush what’s already been crushed
and crush it again.
I’m a motivational speaker, goddammit.
And you have a choice.
Every day you have a choice.
To be positive.
To have a positive attitude and bring positivity to everything you do.
And when you do that,
and when you hustle,
when you make every day the first day in the rest of your life,
that’s when you really make things happen,
that’s when you realize that to be successful at life
you first have to succeed in wanting to be successful at life.
Because success is success and begets more success.
So put your best foot forward, even if you’re disabled and have no feet.
In that case, put your best remaining limbs forward
and seize the carpe.
Grab the bull by the horns
and the horny bull by the bulls
and crush it!
You have to love today if you’re going to love tomorrow.
I know, because I’m a motivational speaker, goddammit.
Who makes things happen every day
and who every day makes things happen.
Because I bring it.
I love it.
I choose to be positive,
and I’m positive I choose to be positive.
And I crush it while I hustle and hustle while I crush it.
And I should know.

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I’m a motivational speaker goddammit.