Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vacation one-liner.

I'm on vacation and left my laptop at home.
Which makes it really hard to put on my pants.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A pirate story.

The old man at the bar, the one with the pegleg, the eye patch and the parrot on his shoulder told me this one. He claims it's all true.

You think it was all yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, and sixteen men on a dead man’s chest. You think it was all peg legs and eye patches and cute little parrots squawking polly wants some trafe, eh, you bastard son of a bitch. We had nothing in those days, nothing at all.

Imagine yourself, six or seven years old, not two dimes to rubb together, fresh off the boat and held, separated from your dear old mother—the whore, how else did she earn passage?--on Ellis Island, damp and cold and wet and hungry and coughing up your lungs with what the fat old Mick inspector thought was TB (every third or fourth immigrant had it when I come over in 1913.) Separated from your mother, and left to rot in a ward until a state issue doctor (and this is worse than Russia, I tell you) pokes and feels and prods and looks at your tongue and says in some ungapatch of a language, ‘This boy don’t got Tuberqlossis, this boy got a slight miasma of the croup.’ But by then of course the damage is done and your mother has gone and you are left to find her in a strange land where you speak none of the language and half out of your wits with fear and without a dime to eat and hungry and as stupid too as a clam and without no one to ask for help.

So your first night in this land that is paved with gold, which is what they tell you on your way from shetl to Stockholm, you sleep filthy and hungry and cold in the doorway of a pickle factory, hoping maybe for a little stem they should throw your way, but nuthing. Up the next day, bright and early, to look for mama, but no dice, there’s a thousand babush that look like her, a hundred thousand that smell like
her, but not one what is her. So what are you to do? would you do, mister professor, k’nocker, big shot, at stranger in a strange land. You look for work is what wise guy. You look for work and you find it, carrying finished pieces in fifty pound bundles from one end of floor to another, from the arm lady to the torso lady, fifty pound bales-- more than you weigh yourself, goddammit, and you are running these fuhstunkenah bales back and forth fourteen hours a day, six days a week, with no time for lunch or dinner or, god forbid, even a break to take a crap, and it is hot and noisy and dusty in there and when you collapse from the heat and the lack of nourishment, the bastards give you a not-so-gentle kick in the kishkas and bid you up and at ‘em or your tossed out on the street owing them money for some who- knows-what reason.

Your remaining waking hours, you look for your mother, anything, anything would be better than returning to the filthy shit hole you pay two dollars a week for and share with eight other youths in similar straits, with the crapper a mere three floors up and no window to boot.

Then one day, a sharpie with a suit of clothes and a wad of green that could choke a gentile on Christmas, pssts me over and says sonny, you want some of this?, flashing this wad, and what am I, a schmuck, this is America, of course I want some of this, that’s why I’m here, that’s why the whole friggen country is here, what do I have to do, by this time knowing the motto of America, if not the language: Nuthing from nuthing. Sign me up says I and call me schvare arbiter. So they do and the next thing I know I am back on the water in a cot near the boiler shoveling tons of coal and breathing in the black dust a good sixteen hours a day, and being buggered the other eight, all for a few bucks a week promptly stolen from me from the sharp who signed me on, having forgotten to tell me I had to pay for my accommodations.

Two years of this is what I endure, when in Macao (the second wickedest city in the world or so I’ve been told) I squeeze my emaciated self through a porthole and dive into the brackish drink and make weigh to shore.

Eight years old I am when I exchange one hell for another for a third time! But what am I to do? What would you do?

Eight years old and in Macao alone —- worse, even, than being seven and in New York alone. Macao-where a boy costs less than a woman and a woman costs less than a cigarette. Unable to speak to anyone. Yiddish, my only voice unheard anywhere within three thousand miles of the place. The English I spoke, pidgin only, and who would help me, a lowly Jew, a nothing, a lost, impoverished soul with nothing to offer the world? Who would come to my aid? Who could I turn to?

Federico Wang, that is who. Wang and only Wang, a Shanghai Jew. A privateer (a pirate, if you insist) whose domain spread throughout the south seas. From Macao, to Borneo. From Timor, to Sarawak. From Mindoro, to Leyte. Wherever there were ships in the south Pacific, one of Wang’s fleet was in pursuit.

Wang, an old man already at the time he rescued me, had amassed the most formidable fleet in the south seas. Larger in number than that of the Dutch East India Company, more manoeuverable, if not swifter, than the hulking oil-powered British ships based that plied the region, Wang had built an empire all empires are based on: buying cheap and on what selling dear.

Yes, the purloined, their crews captured and slaughtered. Yes, all of that is true. But what of it, I ask. The early twentieth century was a time of economic rapine, of avarice and despoiling. What was done with me in both America and Macao was done to thousands, maybe millions like me. It was a time of pogroms, of cruelty, or forced labor, servitude, abuse. Yes, damme you! it was a time of piracy. So be it. We worked. We lived. We survived. We grew rich.

Your Rockefellers robbed the land. Your railroad men robbed the people. So, we did it asea, that makes it a crime?! Avast, with ye. Avast, as Wang himself used to say. Call us what you will, it matters nothing to me.

Wang had ships, dozens of ships, and men loyal to him and to themselves. Many of Wang’s crews were like me. Lost boys, waifs, strangers, Jews, deported by greed into a cesspool like that I have described above, and rescued by Wang. Many others were coolies and other Orientals -— Malays, Sarawaks, Bagawans—even a few Malagasys thrown in. Men with pirating in their blood, for pirates their people had always been. The Jews and our Oriental brothers came together. We worked together. We became one.
Still like dogs, we worked, but now we worked for us. That ship over there, laden with hardwood, bound for America. That one, 14 degrees SSW, she’s out of two weeks out of the Spice Islands, loaded to the gunwales with teas and cinnamon and cloves. Millions these ships brought us. And we grew ever stronger and more powerful, accumulating riches, men and ships. And Wang distributed these riches, and rich we all became. And that’s the way it was until the Japanese and their Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere put an end to it all.

But we survived and now we are rich, we are respectable. He among us without sin, you bastards, you cast the first stone!

As told to Ad Aged by
Moishe “Long Arm” Berkowitz
Virgin Gorda
British Virgin Islands.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Cannibal King.

"There's a story in these parts of a Cannibal King who ruled these islands not so many years ago. Let me pour you another glass 'o rum and I'll tell ye aboot it."

The old man at the bar sidled his stool closer to mine. He had been drinking for hours. I had had two shots of rum. He whispered this story.

"Three travelers in these parts were captured and taken to the Cannibal King. The travelers, a Frenchman, an Englishman and a New Yorker were bound and lay prostrate at the ebony feet of the enormous man-eater."

Uh huh, I nodded.

"The Cannibal King regaled the travelers with tales of his power. Finally, he led them off to the altar on which they would be slaughtered and eaten.

"Your eyes are our jewels," the Cannibal King roared. "Your bones are our tools. Your skin is our canoe."

"The Englishman spoke up. 'At least give us the dignity of choosing how we wish to be executed."

"Granted," said the cannibal king.

"The Frenchman was the first to be executed. He chose to be beheaded. The Cannibal King first repeated his exhortation: "Your eyes are our jewels. Your bones are our tools. Your skin is our canoe."

"The Frenchman cried, Vive Le France." And then his head was macheted off.

"Next, the Englishman stood forth. He chose to be hanged. The Cannibal King agreed and then repeated his exhortation again: "Your eyes are our jewels. Your bones are our tools. Your skin is our canoe."

"The Englishman asserted, God Save the Queen, and was summarily hanged.

"Finally, it was the turn of the New Yorker.

"How do you wish to be executed?" asked the Cannibal King.

"I wanna be forked to death. Give me a fucking fork."

The Cannibal King complied and repeated the words Your eyes are our jewels. Your bones are our tools. Your skin is our canoe."

At once the New Yorker started stabbing himself with the fork and yelled out, "Here's your fucking canoe."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The RMS Rhone.

The sea was an angry mistress that day. Captain Cooley ascended the bridge and eyed steep swells and even steeper waves. The barometer had dropped precipitously and before the captain even had time to pick it up a rogue wave crashed against the schooner, spilling his beer all over the foredeck. Cooley made a beeline for the poop when another rogue wave smashed the Rhone. It was quickly followed by a rogue elephant. Suddenly the Rhone was dashed against "Dead Man's Rocks." Fortunately everyone on the Rhone was a woman and they merely laughed at the gender-specific peril.

Cooley grabbed the helm. The helm was incensed and grabbed Cooley back. Cooley decided to tell HR about the helm as soon as the weather broke.

Cooley steered the big ship away from the rock toward open water. Unfortunately, the water was closed that day and Cooley had no place to go. With yet another rogue wave bearing down on him, Cooley had little recourse other than to let the water out of the tub. Cooley was safe, once again, and a helluva lot cleaner.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On vacation.

I am currently on vacation at an undisclosed location. I'll be blogging only sporadically until I return, appropriately enough, Ground Hog's Day.

However, following the lead of The Ad Contrarian, I will re-post some of my more popular posts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Some things to think about.

My erstwhile partner, Tore, approaches assignments by running through a list of things to think about. Something to think about next time you're stuck.

Think consequence.
Think problem.
Think 'what's wrong.'
Think Truth.
Think analogy.
Think unusually.
Think minimalistic.
Think proof.
Think demonstration.
Think celebrity.
Think contrary.
Think contrast.
Think time.
Think typographically.
Think guarantee.
Think drama.
Think art.
Think humor.

Think. It usually works.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Me and Neil Armstrong.

Years ago--I think it was the 10th Anniversary of Neil Armstrong's moon walk, I had the honor of interviewing Armstrong for my college newspaper.

Being a "writerly" sort, asked him specifically about his words on setting foot on the moon. How did you come up with "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."

Armstrong looked me dead in the eye, "I never said that."

"Mr. Armstrong," I replied, "I've heard the recording a thousand times. I've read about it in history books. Every school child knows you said 'One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.'"

Armstrong said, "What I said was 'one small step for man; one giant leap for Manny Klein."

I begged the famous flier to explain.

Armstrong told me this story, "When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, the walls in our apartment house were very thin. You could hear everything. And every night I would hear our neighbor, Manny Klein, begging his wife for oral sex. Every night, Mrs. Klein would demur.

"Finally," Armstrong continued, "Mrs. Klein relented. She said when a man walks on the moon, I'll give you oral sex. Hence 'One small step for man; one giant leap for Manny Klein.'"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

From the wilds of Michigan.

We arrived early and there is no place to find something to eat but an ersatz Starbucks called Caribou Coffee where they sell something called "handcrafted oatmeal."

I was hoping they'd use a spoon to make the oatmeal. So I had a foot-processed blueberry muffin.

Friday, January 22, 2010

When I was a kid.

When I was a kid, sixteen or so, I played on a baseball team with a bunch of older kids. They were wiser in the ways of the world than I and I've never really been "one of the guys," so when we all hung out after games or practice I mostly kept quiet and listened to what the big kids had to say.

There was one guy on the team named Tom Nadeau who was probably ten years older than I was and had served in Viet Nam. He was a tough guy who just about everyone was a little afraid of. No one ever said, "Hey, Tom." He had trained us to ask "What's it to you, Tom Nadeau?"

Anyway, Tom had a phrase when he ran into someone he didn't like. He used to call those people "Needle-dicked bug fuckers." When I heard him say it I knew immediately what he meant. The picture was vivid in my mind.

Every so often I run into a needle-dicked bug fucker. I let the phrase play out in my head. And then I thank Tom.

Thanks, Tom.

Maybe now we'll get some good advertising.

Now that the Supreme Court has struck down a centuries-old law limiting the money corporations and unions can spend on political advertising, maybe we'll get some good political commercials.

Here's what I mean vis a vis advertising.

Almost 50 years ago, Robert Townsend was CEO of Avis Rental Car. He went to Bill Bernbach with this one sentence brief: "My competition has five times the money I have. Five times the cars. Five times the counters. Five times the people. So, how do I get advertising that's five times as effective?"

Five times as effective.

In nearly every marketing scenario there is a client who like Avis is being severely out-spent. Seldom does anyone consider the sentence I've bolded above. Instead they "compete" by imitating.

Imitation is the sincerest form of camouflage. If you're being out-spent, you have one course of action: out-think.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This has to happen every once in a while.

My law firm, Dewey Cheathem and Howe, has advised me to publish the following: I'm sorry for everything I've said and will say in the future and I apologize to all I've offended and whom I will offend in the future. Further, I am sorry for my crass, craven and callow disregard for other people's points of view, opinions and reasons for doing what they do and for any intimations that they may be less intelligent, motivated and diligient than I am.


It our hyper-fast, hyper-superficial, hyper-shallow world, one of the things that agencies and clients have lost is the ability to discover or uncover relevant differentiation for products and brands.

We rush everything into production (and then peck it to death) so for the most part our communications impart to the viewer no useful information.

I remember studying the work that Carl Ally, Inc. (the predecessor agency to my Alma Mater, Ally & Gargano) did for Pan American Airlines. An ad with about a dozen visual call outs that read: "All airlines charge you the same. All airlines don't give you the same."

If an agency and/or client can't do the following, the should quit/resign.

All ____________ charge the same.
All ____________ don't give you the same.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It happened again.

An intense crucible of work must be completed THIS WEEK! Because we must present the work in front of 2,000 clients in Arizona NEXT TUESDAY! And the work must be built around a single, compelling claim.

Three days in, "the lawyers" tell us the single, compelling claim isn't true.

We probably spent $50K in agency time on this already. And my guess is that in a few weeks the client will start complaining that we are "slow" and "expensive."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

But will the chocolate be better?

Cadbury has just been bought by Kraft for $18.9 billion dollars. Today's press carries thousands of words on the matter. None of which are about chocolate.

I realize I'm being stupid now. Giant food corporations aren't about making good-tasting and nutritious food, they're about economies of scale, worldwide distributions, maximizing resources, shelf-space and other sundry optimizations and utilizations and brain-dead-izations.

Consolidations are seldom if not never about delivering a better product to consumers at a lower cost. They're about a few people at the top and a few M&A machinators pocketing millions upon millions for their few months of work.

Chocolate, of course, isn't much different from advertising agencies. (They both stain your clothes.) All the big consolidations and mergers that we've lived through--I won't say survived--haven't delivered more, better work. They haven't streamlined processes. Or cut costs to clients.

They've made a few people very rich. I can't for the life of me think of any other benefit.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Guest blogger.

My Uncle, Morris "Slappy" Tannenbaum was, until recently a Rabbi at a small synagogue in New York City, a tiny east side shul call Beth Youiz Miwo Mannow. What follows are Morris' thoughts. Ad Aged abjures all responsibility.

Morris' post:

When I hear about the all the tsuris in the world--all the news from far-flung capitals I always wonder, what would it be like if I lived there? Could a get a nice bagel in the morning?

I hear about the horrible earthquake and after shocks in Haiti. A car-bombing in Kabul. Genocide in the Congo and then I ask myself, "Are there any bagel shops in Port au Prince? Could I get a schmear near here?"

Such musings have led me to formulate a theory. The further you live from a nice bagel, the less happy you are. Y=you. DfB=distance from bagel. H(Happiness)=y/DfB. Or, to put it pragmatically, I live about .25 miles from Holey Moley, the bagel shop in my neighborhood. So 1/.25=4. So for me, H=4.

Now if you live in Khandahar, I figure you live a good 2,000 miles from a decent bagel. So your Happiness quotient would be 1/2000=H or a happiness quotient of .00005.

I'm not saying bagels lead to happiness, but as my theorem above illustrates, they don't exactly hurt.

Friday, January 15, 2010

If you want to see something horrible.

Check out the new work from DraftFCB for the Census.

I suppose as Americans we're used to having our tax dollars squandered in the most asinine ways imaginable. But this effort seems to dip or plummet to a new abyss.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kafka and the client meeting.

K arrived at the office tower early. He stood before a grim uniformed guard, showed the requisite identification and was waved in through a gauntlet of electronic barriers. He turned slowly and walked step by step to a starkly lit bank of elevators.

Clank. The doors shut and K heard a computer-generated voice in-tone in distinctly non-human cadences "floor thir tee nine." Whoosh. The box came to a halt and the doors to the chamber opened once again.

K was met by yet another grim and uniformed guard. This one demanded K's state-issued identification card and gave him in exchange a magnetized laminate the would allow him access to the designated meeting room. K asked to use the bathroom. The guard pressed a button and permitted K to void.

K found his way to the meeting room before the others had arrived. He found a place to sit. He tried to adjust the position of his seat but the mechanisms in the chair allowed no maneuvering. K sat and waited. Minutes passed, the hands of the clock moved with an audible click. K noticed a giant video screen that showed a conference room in another city. People began filling that room. K could see them. He wondered if he was being watched.

The client arrived. K wondered when this would end.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dear Enfatico,

When you are an abject failure, when you mess something up, when you promise something and don't deliver, at least do as your mother probably told you: "Be a man and apologize."

In other words, take down your freaking website. Or stop saying you're a global agency with 13 offices around the world. And take down bios of your key people who haven't been showing up for work for months.


It's been my pleasure...

This is wholly trivial, but I'm running late this morning.

One thing I've noticed over the past couple of years as Linked-In has risen in prominence is how peer recommendations are written. This is unscientific, of course, but it seems something like 90% of them start off with the words "I've had the pleasure of working with...."

Pleasure. Work. In the same sentence? Give me a break.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Words from Woody.

Woody Allen has a short story in this week's New Yorker which has a wonderful description of someone you can't stand. The full story you can find online. For now, think about the most destructive person you work with and consider these words: "...would the world really miss this fatuous little suppository, with his preening self-confidence and emetic cuteness?"

Cynicism and its opposite.

In agencies and HR departments across the country and around the world, creative people are excoriated for their purported cynicism, for not being upbeat, for seeing the glass half-empty, for wishing the work they are forced to produce was better and their work environment less hostile.

These creatives are often called negative, dark, difficult or cynical.

Last night I came upon a sentence in the book I'm reading that really hit me between the eyes. It is from T.J. Stiles' National Book Award-winning biography "The First Tycoon The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt." "Cynicism, of course, always seems to be the most sophisticated position to take; yet it is also the laziest (along with hero-worship, its direct opposite)."

Hero-worship is what agencies do best. Whether it's worship of the latest crap Crispin produces or some fake ad produced for a profit-making award show, that's hero worship. It's hiring a music house because they once recorded a chord on "Seinfeld." Or hiring a director because he was an assistant on "Avatar."

Worse is hero-worship in the world of new media. Think of how many "this changes everythings" we've heard over the past few years. Facebook has been made heroic. Twitter. Even Spitter which is Twitter for people who lisp.

What both cyncism and hero-worship reduce us to is an inability to judge the world on its own merits. Cynics say, essentially, everything sucks. I happen to think hero-worship is worse, though. They say, that must be great--someone cool did it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The word I've been hearing lately.

It's crept up on me, this new word. But all at once it seems like it's being used in every meeting I'm forced to sit in.

"What is the narrative of our meeting."


"The narrative of this ad is..."

It took me a while to figure out what narrative means.


Are we too?

The problem with the world today--certainly the problem with our industry, is that we have become too professional. Try to do a simple ad and you have to run a gauntlet of discipline leads on both the client and agency sides.

Today, "More Intelligent Life," the "lifestyle magazine" affiliated with The Economist has an article on this. Read it here:

Now, here's the part I particularly liked: "In the space of a hundred years, the words “professional” and “amateur” have virtually swapped places. At the end of the 19th century, an amateur meant someone who was motivated by the sheer love of doing something; professional was a rare, pejorative term for grubby money-making. Now, amateurism is a byword for sloppiness, disorganisation and ineptitude, while professionalism–as Humphrys suggested–is the default description of excellence. Ours is the age of professionalism; it is a concept in perpetual boom. But all bubbles, as we have painfully learned about finance, must eventually burst. Is it time we let some of the hot air out of professionalism?"

Can you imagine bringing "love," not paralysis by analysis back to what we do? Can you imagine?

Or are we too far gone?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Borscht Belt meets Madison Avenue.

It's cold in New York and advertising friends are sending me all sorts of appropriate jokes:

It's So Cold my cab driver had a heated turban.

It's So Cold the hookers in my neighborhood are charging 20 bucks
just to blow on your hands

It's So Cold lawyers have their hands in their own pockets.

It's So Cold inmates are begging for the electric chair.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A critique.

A Chief Creative Officer and I were chatting once and he related to me how he critiqued a campaign that was presented to him. He said,

"It's not fun and it's not funny. It's unny."

Just something I'm thinking about after a rough week.

Something stinks.

As regular readers (if that's not an oxymoron) of Ad Aged know, I am no fan of holding companies. Having worked for various ones for the better part of twenty years, I've yet to see what value they add to clients or to those who work for them. Further, their size exerts an oligarchic control over workers in the industry which is anti-competitive and impels wages downward while decreasing worker security.

Here's one example I've recently heard from two different people. Each, at the age of over 50, was fired from senior positions at one holding company agency and then hired back some months later at a different agency at the same holding company but at a lower wage.

So, imagine what would happen if you were making $20/hr. working to build Chevrolets, fired and hired back for $15/hr to build Buicks?

Does that seem fair?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

An adage.

I just made up.

"Sometimes you have to lie because it makes the truth seem so much more real."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New York truck.


Some years ago I had a giant client meeting with a giant client. We were launching a massive global campaign. We must have had 200 print ads boarded.

The client hated everything. We would have to do it all all over again.

I sat that evening with the Vice Chairman of the agency--arguably one of the biggest names in all of advertising. I was crying in my beer.

I'll never forget his wise words. "Geo," he said, "the agency makes $36 on every comp we board. Just do it again."

It's a question of vision.

Or actually, willingness to see.

There is a front page item in The New York Times this morning that asks, "If Fed Missed This Bubble, Will It See a New One?" Then there is news of Obama saying security agencies "failed to connect the dots." Finally, there are clients and agencies everywhere creating and producing shitty work.

No one, Fed included, could really have missed the housing bubble. People with no jobs and no money down were getting mortgages on $750K homes. We had a negative savings rate in this country (i.e. we were spending more than we were earning.) And banks are inherently evil. Could anyone really miss that?

Same with underwear bombs and our security system. Does anyone thing a system that pats down grandmothers and one-year-olds has any ability to do anything with competence?

And our industry. We create and produce and sell crap that makes everyone in the conference room happy--thus it's guaranteed not to work when it's out in the world. Yet, we don't speak up.

We see all these things. It's just all too scary and painful to admit.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Staying on message.

Say what you will about the photo above, they did however stay on message better 99% of the Fortune 500.

A note from Winston Churchill.

I am and have been for a while an admirer of Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Accordingly a couple years ago my wife gave me a signed letter from Churchill from December 1958 while he was a Member of Parliament. The elegance and simplicity of his language is a marvel to behold.

The letter says:

"I send greetings and good wishes to all my constituents in the Woolford Division. May you and your families enjoy a happy Christmas and in the New Year the prosperity and peace for which we are all working. [signed]"

A numbers game.

I just stumbled upon an article in The New York Times that says that Americans satisfaction with their jobs is at a record-low level. Just 45% of Americans say they are satisfied with their work.

You can read the entire article here:

The report also says only 43% of workers feel secure in their jobs--that's down from 47% just two years ago and down from 59% in 1987.

This data made me wonder about the ad industry. It seems to me that far fewer than 45% of those in advertising are satisfied with their work and maybe 10% feel secure in their jobs.

How is it possible to do good work under such circumstances?

Monday, January 4, 2010


For the last few weeks you'd have thought New Yorkers might be on the cusp of having to deal with something horrible--that they were going to be deprived something vital to our very existence. Get this, FOX--good old Fascist FOX, was going to be dropped from Time-Warner cable in a dispute over payments.

Horror of horrors! We'd miss the Simpsons. We'd miss football. Quick, cue Butterfly McQueen wide-eyed saying "How weese gwonna surbibe?"

It seems the greatest outrages in the world today are people petitioning for a "dislike" button on Facebook or for the right to attend Kohl's 4AM sale the day after two-week's of sales end.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Quickies.

The trivial press, the celebrators of trivia and gossip and the banal, have pondered (as much as they can) what to call the years between 2000 and 2009. The O's? The naughts? A wag or two has snickered "the naughties." But as a historian, I have a bona fide suggestion, I'd call the just-finished decade "the quickies."

This was the decade in which every goal was achieved through a short-cut. Why train if you're an athlete? Take a drug--that's a much quicker way to get where you're going. Banks and oligarchs did the same. Why build a business when you can buy one and inflate your stock price in the process? Wall Street was all about getting rich quick--they embodied the Quickies. Why build real value when you can sell diseased money for the price of real money?

Why save for a home? Get one for no money down and then trade up after six months. No wonder half of America, not just the 9th Ward, is under water.

Our trillion dollar wars were supposed to be quickie romps. The quickies were promised to be the era of all gain and no pain.

Television and the movies did the same. Why waste time building characters and plots? Why write a script? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you reality tv. And movies. Is it possible to have more sequels than we ever had originals? Or in the case of Alvin and the Chipmunks, "Squeakquels." Get it? Haha.

Tweeting. IM. Facebook. All Quickie forms of communication. No depth. But who cares? IMHO.

Of course, Madison Avenue in its own feeble way followed suit. Holding companies grew exponentially, not through charging clients fees commensurate with their labors, but by buying and buying and buying all sorts of businesses that promised quick returns. No sense building a company through organic growth--that takes hard work! Just leverage the shit out of yourself and speculate.

Madison Avenue talent engaged in the same sort of quickie-ness. No sense creating work based on the understanding of a client's business and a need in the marketplace. Nope. Create a viral video of alcoholics talking about sodomy and ride that to the top (My boyfriend likes it in the can.) After all, when agencies hire someone for a top position, they haven't been looking for someone with a track-record. They've been looking for someone who could help them rebound quickly.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sports sponsorship.

I'll admit, I am not a sports fan. I regard watching a bunch of money-grubbing, hopped-up thyroid cases as an utter waste of time. So sports sponsorship is lost of me.

That said, I am not a dope, and I can put myself in a sports fan's shoes. So let me ask you, does anyone for a minute think Papa John's sold one more pizza than they would have for sponsoring the Papa John's bowl that pit two 7-5 college football teams against each other? AT&T, who sells over-priced and under-reliable cellular service, were they helped by having a logo on Tiger Woods' golf bag all these years? Is anyone anywhere more likely to buy a Ford because they sponsor the 12-19 Knicks' post-game show?

And Citifield, home of the perennially mediocre Mets. Has anyone taken out a mortgage or opened a savings account because of that example of misguided corporate largesse?

Let's face facts. Sports sponsorship exists to get corporate execs (about the only people who can actually afford to attend a live sporting event) free tickets to events they are too cheap to pay for with their own money.