Friday, October 31, 2008

This is not to my liking.

My wife, who is in the business, pointed to a disturbing trend that has emerged over the last few years. Not to be sexist, but this trend coincides with the rise of female clients—I’m not saying female clients are good or bad, I’m just remarking on a trend.

It used to be when you went to a client meeting you greeted your client with a considerate nod, a warm hello or a firm handshake. Maybe a hand-clasp or a pat on the back. Today we have moved way beyond that. Today, we hug, we kiss cheeks, we hug and hold. What's next? Groping?

This is all wrong.

It’s fine to be genuinely fond of people and clients. Such feelings can be expressed, I believe quite well and quite sincerely via a polite handshake. The hug is too much—faux affection (affauxtion) and, worse, it becomes obligatory. Hug one, you have to hug them all. If you don’t, you’re an exclusionary hugger. Or if you recuse yourself, you are a misanthrope and a hug-denier. Either way, you call attention to yourself through your not hugging.

Let’s just stop this. Now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This is a cola nut.

Oh, more than 35 years ago, Geoffrey Holder starred in a series of memorable commercials for the soft-drink 7-Up.

"These are a cola nuts," he would say, holding up small brown cola nuts. "These on the other hand, are un-cola nuts," Holder would say, holding a lime and a lemon. He continued. "...As you can see, they're a bit different from cola nuts." (You can watch the spot here:

It occurred to me tonight watching Obama's TV special that he is the un-cola. And he has, for nearly two years now, followed the un-cola strategy. Looks different. Is proud of his difference. Is different.

It's a strategy that in the long-run never really worked for 7-Up. We'll see how it does for the un-cola candidate.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You think you have it bad.

This morning I picked up and began reading Robin Robertson's new translation of Euripedes' "Medea."

Medea is over 2500 years old--it's pretty good stuff. And as bad as life in your agency gets, don't for a moment think you are living in the darkest or gloomiest of days.

Let's start with Medea's opening coda:
"Your name means 'healer,'" she said.
"Well, heal this,"
drawing back the red sheet and showing me
our two dead sons, full of wounds."

More on this later.
Just something to think about for now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh, the humanity.

A mellifluous co-worker just called my attention to the ad copy below and above.

There are many things that make me question the sanity of our species. Our evisceration of the environment. The way we periodically dabble in genocide. Ethnic and religious slaughter. Republicans.

And now this:

"Introducing the First Vibrating Power-Mascara by Lancome."

"New Oscillation. Vibrating. Infinite. Power-Mascara."

"Revolution: Vibrating power. For ultimate lash transformation.
Extends. Separates. Virtually multiplies."

Ôscillation (note the sombrero over the "O") Powermascara $34

And here's the kicker: the worst economic crisis in a couple decades and people are spending $34 on vibrating mascara.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A new word.

I went to the highly-publicized Chanel mobile art exhibit in Central Park this weekend. Oh so lovely and oh so pretentious.

First were the pretty small-breasted girls wearing black Chanel sweaters. Get this--they have to return them at the end of the show. God forbid salary-women should wear such finery.

Then came the exhibit itself. You are loaned an mp3 player and asked to pick your language (Yiddish not available.) A smoky, too-much-whiskey, too-many Gaulousis voiced guide guides your every step. "Turrrrrn left and valk up the starrrrrrrrs."

Now combine "faux" meaning fake with art and what do you get? Faux + art = Fart.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

T-shirt for the times.

Skating horses. Absurdity as reported by the Times.

Ogosuki, Japan. Special to The New York Times.

This small island in the China Sea just 30 kilometers (18 miles) off the coast of central Japan is known, and has been known for millennia, for three things: the fragrance of its lush cherry blossoms which are regarded as Japan's most lovely, its ancient wooden pagoda which dot the hills of the island and its rare breed of horse, the Ogusukiri.

The Ogusukiri live nowhere else. Like Shetland ponies, they are small but sturdy and are particularly well-suited to the narrow lanes of the mountainous terrain where farmers have been using them for thousands of years as dray animals. That all changed one day some decades ago when a local farmer, Tanaka Takimoro strapped a pair of hand-made ice skates on his Ogusukiri, Bonsai, and taught the horse to skate.

Takimoro, speaks in the halting English he learned while working for Allied occupation forces in the immediate aftermath of World War II. (Ogosuki was occupied and used primarily as an Allied convalescence and recreation center. The last American troops didn't leave the island until 1972.) "For much of the year our many little lakes are frozen. The Ogusukiri are smart and playful. I thought they would enjoy to skate."

Enjoy they have. On an island where winter comes early and leaves late, on any given day dozens of Ogusukiri can be seen with rough-hewn double-bladed wooden skates, called Ogususkati, strapped on their hooves gliding on the ice. The skating has become a phenomenon across Japan and a major source of revenue for the island.

Takaski Shinsei, mayor of Ogusuki prefecture, says that thousands of visitors from the mainland fly in every weekend to see the horses. "They see, they stay, they pay. And they bring back each weekend more visitors to see the Ogusukiri. The Disneyland has animals doing amazing things, but they are cartoons. Here, it is real. Here the horses do skate and the people laugh."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Theatre of the absurd.

I have been told I have a Marxian (the brothers, not Karl) sense of humor. A heightened sense of the absurd. I usually respond by telling people I have no sense of humor, I just tell the truth.

Well, here's one for you--direct from the pages of The New York Times.

The highest paid person on McCain-Palin's campaign staff for the first half of October was a woman called Amy Strozzi.

She was paid $22,800 as Sarah Palin's "traveling makeup artist."

In addition, a woman called Angela Lew was the fourth highest paid, earning over $10,000. She was Palin and Cindy McCain's hairstylist.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More inflated language.

I went into the kitchen of my agency this morning to get my customary bowl of oatmeal and I noticed the type on a box of disposable utensils:


I don't know where to begin, except to say I didn't know you needed a knife to drink champagne.

A 1950 view of the 2008 election race.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, America faced a tremendous internal terrorist threat. That came from US Senator Joseph McCarthy who used the fear of communism to subvert Constitutional principles. To cite Pulitzer-winner Haynes Johnson: "McCarthy offered simple answers to complex questions. America's problems, its mistakes, its failures, could be explained by evil forces conspiring to do the country harm."

Margaret Chase Smith, America's first female senator and a Republican from Maine, spoke out against McCarthy. She said: "I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny--Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear."

Yes, 1950.
Yes, 2008.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A word we don't use anymore.

There is something sublimely wonderful and very-un-twenty-first century about sitting in a comfortable leather chair with a good reading lamp, putting on some classical music and reading a bit of Charles Dickens. For whatever reason, doing so today provides, at least for me, particular comfort.

The word "Come-uppance" has always struck me as particularly Dickensian. The product of an ordered universe where generosity and heart are rewarded and mean skin-flintedness are punished.

It occurs to me that come-uppance, the word and the notion of just desserts, had become hopelessly archaic. A relic of a by-gone Dickensian world. Now, though no one uses the word, the notion seems to be re-emerging.

I think that's a good thing.

Think about it. One of the great internet success stories, eBay (eBay's CEO, Meg Whitman, was actually considered as a Republican VP candidate) is essentially a national rummage sale. And what is a rummage sale but the getting rid of the too much junk you've accumulated needlessly or recklessly.

This is what we've done as a society. Accumulate recklessly.

Come-uppance is coming.

Wanted: A new element.

Yesterday in my contrarian fashion, I did something that today is virtually unheard of. I opened a bank account. I wanted a place to park some dough until the time came that I had to pay taxes (buy weapons) with it.

Here is the choice that confronted me.

Do I want ________ Banking?
Or _________Banking Plus?
Or _________Banking Premium Plus?
Or _________Banking Premium Plus Platinum?

Holy Hyperbole, Batman!

After about two hours of deliberation I opted for ____________Banking Premium Plus Platinum Titanium Mercurochrome, now with Palin-ium for, "The best bankin' you betcha, wink."

Can't someone just give me a leatherette bankbook and a hearty handshake?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It Happened Tomorrow.

One of the great Rene Clair's least remembered movies was titled "It Happened Tomorrow." It was made in 1944 and starred Dick Powell (forever charming and hapless) and the ever-lovely Linda Darnell.

Here's the plot summary as provided by imdb:
"An ambitious newspaper reporter (Dick Powell), eager to scoop the competition, wishes he could know the news before it happens. A mysterious old man (John Philliber) grants the reporter that power, even as he cautions against using it. Now able to predict the news 24 hours in advance, the reporter goes about scooping all the other papers, picking sure-fire winners at the race track, and enjoying life... until he learns -- in advance, of course -- of his own death. Our hero's problem: How can he keep the future from happening?"

I was thinking about this movie because of the current miasmae (or is it miasmum?) in the world.
*We are running out of fuel.
*We are facing a global ecological crisis.
*The stock market is in the toilet.
*There are dozens of wars tearing at all four corners of the globe.
*It's TEOTWAWKI--the end of the world as we know it. And it can't possibly get any worse. It's never been worse. And so it goes.

Listen, I'm sick of this shit. I'm sick of candidates using the phrase "Never Again" to talk about our economic crisis. That phrase sprung from the systematic genocide of half of an entire population. Not a stock market loss.

I'm sick of people saying, "This is the most important election in American history."
Have you ever heard of Abraham Lincoln, what if he lost his election? What if FDR lost to Hoover in 1932? Would there then even be an America?

I'm sick, and here's the point, of the hyperbole. It is not the end of the world. A comet is not hurtling our way about to render us as obsolete as the pterodactyl. I'm sick of the norm being confused with the apocalypse.

Here's what's going to happen tomorrow. "The first one now shall later be last."
Everything that rises will recede. We will, as Faulkner said, not only endure, we will prevail.

Calm down. Go about your business. Work hard. Eat right. Button up your overcoat. Live within your means. Love your neighbor. And, most important, shut the fuck up and deal.

Rotogravure. Dauguerrotype. Frequency Modulation. 35mm.

The words in the title above are technologies that we in the advertising world use, or used to use, to help us deliver the messages we are paid to create and deliver. They are not strategies, or media, or anything more.

Now, turn the page and traipse over to the world of digital. We have digital creatives. Digital marketers. Digital strategists. Digital digitizers. Specialists that have propagated like binary bunnies to the point where in most agencies you can't spit without hitting one.

Now to be clear, I have nothing against anyone based on race, religion, gender, sexual or media preference. But I do find digital diarrhea daunting, dumb and deleterious.

Communication is communication. You either make me think, laugh, cry, feel pain, feel comfort, act, dream, sleep, protest or you don't. You can't user-interface me into loving a brand or wanting a product. You can't information-architecture me into becoming a loyal customer. It's that simple. Regardless of media, you either give me useful information or you don't. If you don't, again regardless of media, I want nothing to do with you.

I think it was the great Billy Wilder who said, "A man entering a room through a door is nothing. But when he enters through a window, you have a scene."

In other words, digital, schmigital. It had better be interesting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Optimism versus pessimism.

There is a battle going on in the world, the nation and the advertising industry right now, between optimists and pessimists. It's a Manichean struggle (look it up) and for all that an eternal struggle.

Right now, it appears--at least in advertising--the pessimists are running roughshod over the optimists. Most in the industry are acting as if we have never before had a downturn, that the economy has never before tumbled, that budgets have never before been trimmed. Ack ack ack. THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH!

The optimists--and I betcha the usual suspects will fall into this camp, Goodby, TBWA/Chiat/Day--will reinvent themselves, will clean house and will aggressively pursue and gain marketshare at the expense of the pessimists. This is the way it always is.


Now this is from "It's a Wonderful Life" which was set during the Depression. It works today:

Can't you understand what's happening
here? Don't you see what's happening?
Potter isn't selling. Potter's buying!
And why? Because we're panicky and
he's not. That's why. He's picking
up some bargains. Now, we can get
through this thing all right. We've
got to stick together, though. We've
got to have faith in each other.

Faith. That's the difference between the optimists and the pessimists.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Road trip observations.

I adopted a highway but it went looking for its birth mother.

I just saw a sign in front of a fire house: "October is Fire Prevention Month." It made me wonder, what are the eleven other months? "Incendiary Incident Months"?

This is the oddest name I've ever heard for a financial institution.

I just saw this sign. Does it mean the future is dead?

Friday, October 17, 2008

11 words.

While at work, start every email you write and every discussion with these exact words:

"Guys, this is so easy and we're making it so hard."

In just a few months you will either be fired or will become the CEO.

A bit more poetry for the times.

Robert Frost, you can disparage him all you want as the Norman Rockwell of poets. Attribute that disparagement to the sacharrine Hallmark-ization of "Stopping by Woods..." But I read this this morning, on a gloomy sunny day.

A Passing Glimpse To Ridgely Torrence On Last Looking into His 'Hesperides'
by Robert Frost (1928)

I often see flowers from a passing car
That are gone before I can tell what they are.

I want to get out of the train and go back
To see what they were beside the track.

I name all the flowers I am sure they weren't;
Not fireweed loving where woods have burnt--

Not bluebells gracing a tunnel mouth--
Not lupine living on sand and drouth.

Was something brushed across my mind
That no one on earth will ever find?

Heaven gives its glimpses only to those
Not in position to look too close.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bad ad placement of the month.

A relevant thought from 1911.

Siegfried Sassoon wrote these words "We seemed to have forgotten that there was such a thing as the future."

Thinking about that today. Apocalyptic today. Markets crashing. World warming. Midgets running for office.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This frightens me.

From a brief:

"They are mouthwash users, but they aren't overly involved in the category."

Are these ads signs of the times?

In addition to the barrage of red, white and blue emblazoned bank ads (I suppose the subliminal color message is it's patriotic to put money in banks that could fail) in The New York Times today proclaiming security, great rates and more!!! there are two ads for soup.

Yes, for soup.

One full-page ad for Campbell's. And a 1/2 page ad for Progresso.

I like soup. Always have. By far it's my favorite liquid food. But it is a cheap meal, a meal that does well during depressions and recessions.

What's next, bean recipes?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Once again, I don't understand.

I just passed a truck in Little Italy advertising Select Exterminating. Is this eugenics at work? Only kill specially selected vermin--left-handed mice or roaches over two-inches long?

I thought the idea of exterminating was to be non-selective and kill everything.

Rats and us.

Years ago the woman who eventually became my wife was doing laboratory work in psychology. She often had to work in a room filled with caged rats that various students had to train.

I am rat-o-phobic but one night she dragged me into the lab with her and before the lights were turned on you heard this oddly eerie sound. The furious mastication of one-hundred laboratory animals.

I am reminded of that because today, in between shots, I am sitting in a video village with a client and an account guy or two who are incessantly clacking on their keyboards.

Rats chew.
We clack.
This is our sustenance.

The era of low-rise jeans.

As the Latins once exclaimed, "O tempore, o mores!" Oh the times, oh the customs.

A la mode today are jeans cut, as my fictional Yiddishe mama would say, so they fit just below your pupik. I'm not a prude, a figure out of a Grant Wood painting. But I don't like this. And I'll tell you why.

I am shooting today. And shooting involves a crew and a bunch of people bending over and hammering or taping or doing something else that involves bending.

It was ever thus. But these days there's a problem.

Everytime someone bends over, the whole would can see their butt crack. And frankly, I'm not that into butt cracks even when they're the cracks of the beautiful people.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A meeting.

Transparent inflection points on an apples-to-apples basis are game-changing the fabric buckets of ring-fenced enablement.

The life-style's point of arrival is a filtered lens that is sustainable and transparent leading to short-term wins and fishing where the fish are.

All this involves operationalizing across the greatest points of leverage as we test and learn through our wheel house.

The United States of Steroids.

The promise of steroids, of course, is like the promise of all drugs. They give you something, size, pleasure, penile-enhancement, you don't have to work for.

Some time over the last fifteen years, that became our national mantra. Something for nothing became our ethos.

Some time over the last fifteen years, everything grew out of control. Cattle got hormone enhanced and roughly doubled in size. A bottle of Coke, fifty years ago was 6.5 ounces, in my childhood it was 12 ounces, now a standard bottle is 20 ounces. Ballplayers who had never hit more than 17 homeruns were all of a sudden smacking four or five dozen. Barry Bonds who for fifteen years was 6'1" and 180 lbs over night ballooned to 240 lbs. His head looked like a quarter on the body of a watermelon.

The same has happened to movies. Bigger explosions. Bigger special effects. Bigger everything (except of course bigger story-telling, emotion, dialogue, plot, etc.) All this, of course, brings us to the stock market where everything got too big, too fast.

The issue with America today isn't merely the economy. It's how as a society we became drug addicted to 22-oz. steaks, 32-oz. Big Gulps, 7,200 sq. foot homes, 6,000-lbs. vehicles, 300-lbs. 9th-graders and $125,000,000 separation packages for failed executives.

What Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) yelled at Kaspar Guttman (Sydney Greenstreet) we could all be yelling at ourselves, watch it here:

"You imbecile. You bloated idiot. You stupid fat-head you."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vote LOTE.

Neither McCain nor Obama have shown any integrity. Their speeches. Their choices of Vice Presidents. Their pandering to the dictatorships of focus groups, ie. opportunistically changing yourself into whatever seems most expedient.

Ergo, vote LOTE.


Saturday, October 11, 2008


A phrase coined by Orwell, who else?

\ˈnü-ˌspēk, ˈnyü-\
often capitalized
Newspeak, a language “designed to diminish the range of thought,” in the novel 1984 (1949) by George Orwell

: propagandistic language marked by euphemism, circumlocution, and the inversion of customary meanings

I just heard this on the radio.

"I'm fascinated by the confluence of politics and crime."

Friday, October 10, 2008

A poem about Wall Street. Sort of.

Richard Corey

by Edward Arlington Robinson

WHENEVER Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

It all makes me think of Joseph Heller.

The economy is in freefall. General Motors is worth less than $3 billion (I know people who could buy the entire company during their lunch-hour) Ford is worth less than $5 billion.

We are fighting two wars and no one questions the semantics of the word "surge," which I believe means escalation. It's costing us well over $10 billion/month.

We have two presidential candidates who can't answer questions. And who don't let people know where they stand. We have a Vice Presidential candidate who doesn't believe in evolution and that's not even an issue.

25% of all species on Earth are reputed to be endangered. Again, not even an issue.

California and Iceland are about to declare bankruptcy.

And this on a day when I'm in a good mood. Or at least not a rotten one.

So, it all makes me think of Heller, a master of the absurd:

Our illegal wars: "Peace on Earth would mean the end of civilization as we know it."
Our ignoring of global warming: "He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt."
Our Guantanamo justice and suspension of the 800 year-old standard of Habeas Corpus: "The case against Clevinger was open and shut. The only thing missing was something to charge him with."
Our presidential candidates: "Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three."

— Joseph Heller

Thursday, October 9, 2008

If you want to see a modern movie.

Just recently Kino ( the great film restorers and distributors, re-released F.W. Murnau's brilliant movie from 1925, "The Last Laugh." While my loved ones were watching televised swill, I went to my sanctuary and watched it. You can find clips of the flick on You Tube, I suggest searching under Last Laugh + Murnau so you don't get sent to some Batman and Joker footage.

There's a reason I like movies that were made when movies were new. The stories they chose to make were often simple but epic. Like fairy tales. But to make them contemporary they experimented with techniques--music, focus, bi-packing, etc. which advanced the story. Maybe more important, they had no reference points. No, "we'll shoot this like Hitchcock shot 'Rope'" or some such. Therefore, such movies are more, I think, original.

Often I excoriate myself by having a better sense of films from the 1920s than the 2000s. I tell myself I should be more contemporary and knowledgeable about what's happening now. But, sorry, somehow I think what was made then was fresher and more original.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

An ex partner.

This is a long one. But stick with me.

Years ago I worked at a prestigious agency (now gone) that had fallen on hard times. My partner at the time was a dozen years older than I and English and a very private person. We were friendly but not friends. And that was ok because we were respectful of each other's talents and we did good work together. Besides my partner had worked at Collett Dickinson Pierce, Delehanty Kurnit & Geller and Carl Ally--three of the best agencies of their day--so I figured he could teach me a lot if I shut up and listened.

Anyway, we were embroiled in the throes of a major pitch and like so many things that people consider major there was chaos swirling around the agency, along with politics, jockeying for position and galloping egoism.

So one day as we were nearing our presentation, my partner pushed back his chair and told me a story. This was unusual because it was personal and about his boyhood in post-war England.

The story was about his father who owned a sporting goods store and how he would make the rope that would stitch rugby balls together. "You would take a big length of rope, then wax it. Then another and wax that. Then another and wax that. Then you would braid the lengths and burn the ends to seal the wax."

I'm listening but at the same time, I'm thinking "this is weird. We're pitching the biggest account of our lives and my partner's talking about making rope."

But when he concluded his story about rope, my partner said, "That's how you do a pitch." And I understood everything.

There is an order, an integrity, a style and a process to doing things right.

I wish more people had known my ex-partner.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why is this the site of the Presidential debate?

This is from the website of the university at which tonight's debate is being held.

Belmont Mission Statement

Mission Statement
Belmont University is a student-centered Christian community providing an academically challenging education that empowers men and women of diverse backgrounds to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith.

Belmont's faculty, administration, and staff uphold Jesus as the Christ and as the measure for all things.

Belmont University’s Board of Trustees is unanimously committed to broadening and deepening the Christian mission of the university. The Christian character of the university will be increasingly evident in all that we do as our actions speak of our love for God. We will, in continuous thanksgiving, point to our God as the source of all that is good. Our hope is that every student will see and believe that the love of Jesus Christ compels us to lead lives of disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage, and faith.

What this is all about.

As Billy Preston (above) asked a few years ago,
Will it go round in circles
Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky

What's happening in the world right now, what's been happening in Detroit for four decades, what's been happening on Madison Avenue for the past two--is all the same.

The key people in the above entities have failed to see. Failed to break what Adam Morgan calls "the dominant complacency." Have, instead, tried to "optimize" dead business models, like an alcoholic tries to get one more drop from an empty bottle.

Oh, I won't give you Marxism this morning. Nothing about rattling a stick in the swill pot of civilization, but I will tell you this. Entities rise to the point of their own collapse.

Let's talk about the advertising industry. But don't think about agency names for a second, think about Starbucks. While life is good--while the bubble is inflating--there's a Starbucks on every corner. Pop! There's goes another one. When you walk by an empty storefront in your neighborhood, you hope that something authentic opens up, god forbid, a hobby shop, a sporting goods store or a place to get a really well-made hot fudge sundae, instead, it's a Starbucks. Same with agencies. The InterOmniPubliPees have acquired and propped up agencies chain stores. And, except for a couple, they all sell an identical product and provide identical services. There's no need for all those stores. So they start selling things half-price. Then they consolidate.

Then they all collapse together.

This is what is happening in the world right now. And it's, historically, what's always happened. We go from abject gloom if not despair to recovery. Throw a pinch Kubler-Ross in about now. So from crash to gloom to glimmer to stasis to hope to optimism to success to avarice to crash and over again.

The only question is how long it will take to go from gloom to glimmer, ie from trying to resuscitate the old to trying to build something new.

Monday, October 6, 2008

5 things that are over-rated in agencies.

1. Democracy. A lot of people can weigh in but at the end of the day, one person tells everyone else what to do. If that person is consistently wrong, you get a new person.

2. Political correctness.
Effective communication and political correctness most often cancel each other out. If you can't say how you feel, you can't communicate.

3. Process.
Creativity is not a process. It is a series of mistakes and failures that lead to success. You can't regulate it.

4. Titles.
Titles are endemic and over-inflated. The puffery we use externally in trumpeting the worth of a product have infected us internally. Use next year's Advertising Week to eliminate all titles--starting with titles that have a capital C or the word Global in them.

5. Office space.
Open plans work better. For those who need quiet to think, have quiet rooms.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A good ad.

The art above was created by an artist called Laura Gilbert. Whether or not this was Ms. Gilbert's intent, I think in commenting on the waning strength of our greenback, she created a better pro-Obama ad than anything his own campaign has yet devised--probably because Obama's "messaging" has been focus-group processed until it's as flat as a plate of piss.

Gilbert will be showing her work from October 23-November 22 at the Grady Alexis Gallery, 2710 Broadway (@104th St.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008


If you are in advertising, it makes sense now and again, to re-read the thoughts of David Ogilvy. They are eloquent, blunt and so common-sensical that sometimes, I think people forget how profound they are.

In one Ogilvyism David said he once used the word "obsolete" in a headline "only to find out that 38% of the people had no idea what the word meant--including himself."

That made me begin wondering how many people know what maverick means? Part of me believes that boomers like myself hear Maverick and they think of Ford Motors' forerunner of the Pinto. People a few years younger think of the Tom Cruise character in the flick "Top Gun." And people today may think of Dallas' basketball team--which, I believe has changed its name to the Mavs, probably because no one knows what Mavericks are.

Sarah, Sarah, what's the frequency, Sarah?
Do you know what maverick means?

And now, a Republican re-writing of that classic Marvin Gaye soul song, "Let's Get it On."

I've been really tryin', baby
Tryin' to hold back this feelin' for so long
And if you feel like I feel, baby
Then come on, oh, come on
Whoo, let's armageddit on
Ah, babe, let's armageddit on
Let's love, baby
Let's armageddit on, sugar
Let's armageddit on.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Something to think about while you're watching the debate tonight.

John McCain's grandfather, John Sidney McCain,
died at the age of 71.
John McCain's father, John Sidney McCain, Jr.,
died at the age of 70.
John Sidney McCain III, the presidential candidate,
is now 72.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I like this.

It's called "Fuck the rain." From a studio called art lebedev.

A clip to watch.

76 years ago, Robert Riskin, the screenwriter behind such classic American movies as "Meet John Doe," "It Happened One Night" and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" (all directed by Frank Capra) wrote the screenplay to a nearly forgotten movie, "American Madness," a flick about the Great Depression.

Riskin and Capra were idealists. And liberals. They believed in the strength of the little guy and the corruption (in the words of Lord Acton) of absolute power.

Many cineastes regard "American Madness" as the spiritual forerunner of "It's a Wonderful Life." If you can't find it in your local video emporium, check out this clip. The first couple minutes are lousy, but the last four are wonderful.

Click on the picture to make it legible.

My wife, early this morning, cleaned out a cabinet she had stuffed with crap. Some of that crap were my doodles from meetings. Over the next few posts, I will reveal some of them in this space.