Wednesday, December 3, 2008

When you're an alte cocker.*

*see my previous post, "You Don't Have to be Jewish," for a translation.

My last couple dozen jobs or so (spanning 2-and-a-half years) I've been charged with attempting to change moribund or creatively mediocre agencies into places that do good work.

When you're paid to do this there are a couple of phrases you hear with alarming frequency. "Two steps forward, one back," is one. Another is "You have to pick your battles."

This morning I thought about those phrases and I thought about Rudy Guiliani. I hated Guiliani as a mayor but one thing he noticed along the way was that petty illegalisms and nuisances lead to an increase in the crime rate. So Guiliani wiped out the "squeegee men," who extorted money from incoming Jersey-ites by cleaning their windshields (whether they wanted cleaning or not) in exchange for a few bucks.

Guiliani had "zero-tolerance" for miscreance like that. And that's I agree with Guiliani.

When your job is to change an agency, you can have zero tolerance. You can't abide shitty work--even a tacky set of Xmas decorations in the lobby--because one advertising squeege-er leads to bigger creative crimes.

In short, when you start hearing those seemingly innocuous phrases like "two steps forward, one back," take out your acetylene torch and start flaming.


Anonymous said...

"pick YOUR battles"


"When YOUR job ..."

And more. Master tri-lingual communicator, please proof your posts. That's a little zero-tolerance thing worth taking the extra two minutes to do.


Tina said...

its so true
just like urban situations when graffiti is present, people start to really crap up the area with trash, drugs etc. garbage begets garbage.

george tannenbaum said...

D--you're right. I feel into that great miasma known as multi-tasking when I was writing this morning.

But I'm right on miscreance: Mis´cre`ance
n. 1. The quality of being miscreant; adherence to a false religion; false faith.

Anonymous said...


But I will raise you the "feel" vs. "fell" in your follow-up comment.

(Your larger point, though, was very well said. Thanks for today's post.)

Anonymous said...

Amen on having to pick your battles. I don't care if it's the zillionth time I tell you that it takes a hyphen and the zillionth time you tell me it's not going to change. It's still wrong--and it's still my job to tell you it's wrong. If I slack on that, it's a slippery slope for us all...

Laura said...

More on picking battles:
"Why are you sticking your neck out on this one, the client approved it?" asked my ECD and account head? Why? Because there was a mistake and it was wrong, even if they did approve it. It was still wrong. What don't they get? Fortunately the sales group also saw that it was wrong and the piece had to be reprinted.