Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Yes. It happens. It just happened to me. About an hour ago. That's ok.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Some good writing and an astute political observation.

My ex-boss and current Facebook friend Marshall had this to say about South Carolina's Governor:

"I don’t know why the Republicans are being so tough on Governor Sanford. I would have thought they’d be happy that one of their boys was doing a little offshore drilling."

Bad type breaks.

Generally speaking, and not just because I toiled at Ogilvy for five of the best years of my so-called career, I have a great deal of respect for the work they do for IBM. It's engaging, smart and breakthrough. Though I can't buy anything IBM makes, I still feel good about the company and if my personal fortune hadn't been wiped out by Madoff, I'd likely feel good about investing in the company.

I came across this ad in the digital version of The New Yorker, which arrives in my email box about 18 hours before the paper version arrives in my analog mailbox. About four pages in, I saw this typographic monstrosity (I was only able to copy the left page.) Would it have killed anyone at Ogilvy to bring the word chain up to line one of the headline? Supply chain is a compound adjective. A chain saw is something else altogether. In any event, someone wasn't minding the store. Or decided that the very arrangement of the type was more important than the actual meaning of the words.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A double-entendre.

This is from The New York Times: "South Carolina Governor Apologizes to Staff"

And two decades or so ago I remember this one from The Wall Street Journal: "Woman CEO ousted in broad restructuring."

21 ads you won't hate. And one I do.

I just came upon this slide show at businessweek.com which, btw, seems to do a better job covering our industry than any of the traditional organs. It's worth perusing. And if you can find anyone in your agency that actually cares about anything but pretension, sharing.


I don't love everything here. But most things here, which are not winning at Cannes, are better than what is.

I will comment on Fred and Farid's Grand Prix win for their Wrangler work at some point, but I am so appalled by their win, I haven't yet recovered my power of speech.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thinking about Diego Rivera.

To the ultra-hip generation who are ruining the world because they're more concerned with ironic tee-shirts than nearly anything else, Diego Rivera is famous because he was married to a woman with one eyebrow.

To me, however, he was a person who cared deeply about people, power, progress and a few other p's. His work had a majesty and a point of view. It was both ancient and modern and therefore, timeless.

I am reading a book now about Henry Ford's attempt to vertically integrate his production as well as make the entire world a small, white, midwestern village with a church on the corner with young people dancing the quadrille. The book is called "Fordlandia" and tells the epic tale of Ford taking over a swath of Amazon jungle the size of Connecticut and trying to grow rubber there.

Anyhoo, this made me think of Rivera who was commissioned by Henry's son and arch-rival Edsel to paint murals at the Detroit Museum of Art which were to chronicle life in Ford's River Rouge cauldron or factory.

Here are three views.

It's good to see pictures of people working. Since in advertising most of what we do
is pontificate and masturbate--by that I mean engage in self-gratifying behavior that does no good for anyone or any client.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spot of the Year.

This is from Weiden & Kennedy, London. It seems to me to be a hard-selling spot that is artful, memorable, breakthrough and cool.


I had to remove my previous post because of client sensitivities.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And now a word from Jeff Goodby.

This just in from Cannes and 'the pony-tailed one.'

"We've created a system that rewards work that is increasingly unknown to anyone outside the business. We have become connoisseurs of esoterica. And in the process, we're becoming more about us, and less about changing the world.

We are becoming irrelevant award-chasers."

Halavai, Jeff.

Read his whole philippic here:


How to pitch woo in an Agency today.

I just sent this note to someone:


*there’s nothing that I’d rather do than attend a conference call with you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Phrase that Frays.

Some years ago, if you "lost it," people might say "you went postal." Today now that people killing people with guns is so commonplace, we don't much use the phrase "going postal" anymore.

A friend, however, has just forwarded me a substitute. She got it in an email in which the venue for a get-together was being changed. The writer wrote the email in ALL CAPS.
And then ended the email with this sentence. "Sorry to go all caps on you."

I suspect in the not so distant future we'll hear things like this on the nightly news: "He opened up with an AK-47 and killed 41 dental technicians. He just went ALL CAPS on everyone."

Mr. Rabinowitz and Advertising.

Mr. Rabinowitz, Chairman of Rabinowitz, Inc., worth hundreds of millions of dollars meets a young chippie all of 22-years old. He can think of nothing but this beautiful young thing. Finally, he asks her out to dinner and she says yes.

The chippie orders the most expensive of everything.
Shrimp cocktail.
A fabulous salad.
A 12-lb. lobster smothered in Chateau-Briand smothered in veal chops.
A champagne from the early '70s.
Crepes Suzette for dessert.

Finally, Rabinowitz can't stand it any more.
"Tell me, young lady," he says, "your mother cooks for you like this?"
She looks at him and says, "No. But my mother isn't trying to fuck me."

OK, but there's an advertising point here, as there usually is. As an industry we are Rabinowitz. And clients are the winsome little things we are too often trying to fuck.

So, we go into new business and deliver thinking for free (not only free, but more often than not our new business thinking is cursory at best, though of course we'd never say to a client, 'we've had six weeks to think about your business here are some preliminary thoughts.' nope, we gallop ahead and assert we have insights.) We shoot, we score, we edit. All for free. Why would we do any of that if we hadn't figured out that there's a nice juicy fuck at the end of the process.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's been raining for about three straight weeks here in New York. Here is Mickey Spillane's description from a similar weather pattern. This is from his novel "One Lonely Night." The opening of chapter 3.

"The rain. The damned never-ending rain. It turned Manhattan into a city of reflections, a city you saw twice no matter where you looked. It was a slow easy rain that took awhile to collect on your hat brim before it cascaded down in front of your face. The streets had an oily shine that brought the rain-walkers out, people who went native whenever the sky cried and tore off their hats to let the tears drip through their hair."

A father's day poem.

The Ball Poem
by John Berryman

What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over—there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
And gradually light returns to the street
A whistle blows, the ball is out of sight,
Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . . I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water
Or whistling, I am not a little boy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gang bangs (by way of Bergman and Michelangeo.)

The blog-equivalent of an open letter.

Dear GM,

I just read in Advertising Age (http://adage.com/article?article_id=137453)that during your bankruptcy you will be spending between $40 to $50 million/month on advertising.

Now, ordinarily I wouldn't care but this is my money your spending. So let me let you in on a little secret. Your advertising will fail to work. No matter how good it is. People aren't interested in your brand and since they can't pick it up and try it, no matter how much better your cars are, you're really just pissing into the wind. You see, nothing matters if you can't get people to come into your dealers and try your product and service. Your commercials and your products aren't making that happen. And haven't for about 40 years.

So if you can't bring people to the products, GM, have the perspicacity to then bring your products to the people.

Rip out the seats in movie theaters and put in seats from your new cars. Bind a piece of leather upholstery into a magazine to let people touch what you make. Give influencers (and I don't mean Tiger and Oprah) free samples.

In other words, DO SOMETHING.

I don't know who said it. Maybe it was my crazy Uncle Seymour. But it works here.

"If all you ever do is all you've ever done
then all you'll ever get is all you ever got."

Which, GM, is scorn.
And bankruptcy.

Rome is burning, pass me my fiddle.

At 8:20AM I walked down Prince Street this morning on my way into the office and I bumped into an art-director who works for me on line outside the Apple store. He was about to be let in. He had been on the line for about an hour at that point. And the line he was at the head of was around the corner, I'd estimate 300-people long.

I'm told Starbucks was there for Appleites, with free coffee and cold water. Great for the Apple brand, great for the Starbucks brand, great for the customer.

This, of course, got me thinking about advertising, brands and more.

There's really one thing you need to know about marketing. It's that brands, or products or people are about experiences, not speeds and feeds or wheels and deals. And Experiences are, I believe, made up of three component parts.
1. There's the service aspect of experience. How well does the brand keep its promises. How do they fix things that break? How do they help me when I need help?
2. There's the functional aspect. How well does the product or service perform? Do I like how the thing works? Does it keep its promises?
3. There's the self aspect of experience. What does using the product or service say about me? Does it make me a richer person emotionally, or physically. More interesting? Cooler? Do I self identify with the product.

Think about those components with regard to Apple, American Express, Nike. Obama. Then think about them in relation to General Motors, Verizon, your agency.

Advertising--and the current Ad Age-generated flap about the importance of award shows like Cannes--too often attempts to make every brand cool, ignoring the inherent intrinsics of a brand. Ergo spots like the Miracle Whip one that I wrote about on Wednesday evening.

Apple, American Express, Nike. Obama are great brands that do great advertising. Their advertising doesn't make them great, rather it reflects their greatness. A lot of not great brands do award-winning advertising that while creatively-recognized is, in reality, bad for the brand because it is false.

These are the things marketers and their agencies should talk about. Not the banality of awards.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's a miracle how stupid this commercial is.

There's plenty of stupidity in the world.
There's no shortage of stupidity.
In fact, you might say, by and large, stupidity prevails.
To put a finer point on it, stupidity doesn't just prevail.
It runs roughshod over even the slimmest scintillae of not stupid.
Stupidity is powerful.
Stupidity is ascendant.
Stupidity is King!

I just saw a Miracle Whip commercial.
Lifestyle footage of impossibly thin and beautiful young hipsters doing things young hipsters do.
They jump in wading pools.
They share sandwiches.
They dance with jack-o-lantern smiles on their faces.
They take photos with old Polaroid cameras.
And more!

Here's what the VO and title cards say in this monstrosity.
"Don't go unnoticed.
Don't blend in.
Don't be ordinary. Boring. Or bland.
In other words...
Don't be so Mayo.

We are our own, unique, one of a kind flavor.

We are Miracle Whip and we will not tone it down."

The dumbest thing I've seen in a long time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A new low.

This morning I went into one of the men's rooms in my agency and I was confronted with this sign as well as a sign that the apocalypse is, once again, upon us.

Here's the sign:

"Please Flush Your Used Toilet Paper and Do Not Discard in Garbage Bin."

Bloomsday is here.

Today marks the 105th Anniversary of Bloomsday, the day that James Joyce's "Ulysses'" took place. I wrote about this last year, so this year I thought I'd quote something different.

This is from Budd Schulberg's classic "What Makes Sammy Run." Maybe I'm in yet another lousy mood but, in any event, this feels real to me:

"Living with a conscience is like driving a car with the brakes on”.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Notes from Cannes.

Amid the greatest economic downturn in 60-years, advertising muckety-mucks, sycophants, hangers-on, and their girlfriends are off, once again, partying topless and banana-hammocked in Cannes.

What will win best-of-show this year? An ad for Lego blocks that never ran or an ad for Scrabble that never ran? Or will a viral video for an obscure clothing company that no one outside the industry ever saw, carry home the titanium?

In 1939 Jean Renoir created what many cineastes regard as the best film ever made and that includes "Citizen Kane." The movie was "The Rules of the Game," and it involves the French aristocracy frittering the world away as the world is about to explode into WWII. Here is the Harvard Film Archive's synopsis of the movie:

"In his stinging appraisal of the erotic charades of the French leisure class before World War II, Renoir satirizes the manners and mores of a society near collapse. Alternating between farce and melodrama, realism and tragedy, the film centers on a lavish country-house party given by a marquis and his wife, where the complicated intrigues of the upper-class guests are mirrored by the activities of the servants. Banned on its initial release as "too demoralizing," The Rules of the Game has come to be regarded as one of the great masterworks of the cinema."

Sounds like Cannes, don't it?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My research.

Though the history of the Nazi-directed pogrom referred to as Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) is widely known, most people, scholars among them, have little or no knowledge of subsequent pogroms. Though these pogroms may have been smaller in scope than Kristallnacht, the devastating swath they cut through the ancient Jewish communities of Germany, Austria and other dominions in the Nazi thrall, should not be underestimated.

One such pogrom has only recently come to light as the result of extensive research I have conducted throughout what was formerly Nazi-occupied Europe. For the purposes of this brief essay, I will focus on this pogrom and discuss its widespread ramifications--ramifications and reverberations which, I’m a regretfully submit, we are still feeling the effects of to this day.

But first, a little background. Jewish communities had been thriving in Germany since approximately the Twelfth Century. In fact, beginning in the era of the Hanseatic League and continuing until its violent interruption by the Nazis, Jews occupied important positions in the courts of most Central European plutocracies. Concomitant with that level of political attainment, Jews achieved prominence in most other fields as well, including science, finance, education, medicine and the arts. Notable Jews such as Warburg, Rothschild, Einstein, Benjamin, Mendelssohn and Freud, to name but a smattering, add ballast to the assertion of Jewish prominence.

Here, however I aver that despite the preponderance of Jews among the notable achievers (and in fact, definers) of Western thought, the brief list I mention above excludes all those artists and performers whose work was primarily in the oral tradition—a tradition, by the way, Jews disseminated from ancient Canaan to the Peloponnesus, helping give rise to orally-based works such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

Specifically, I am speaking of Jewish comedians whose numbers swelled to the thousands in the decades before their “Kibbitz Kulture” was destroyed by the advent of Nazism. These performers, regrettably, did not transcribe their material. Naturally, it was not taped for television viewing or distributed over the Internet. A joke was told, a routine was performed and it disappeared into memory like the sound of a Shofar on Rosh Ha-Shanah—sweet, nuanced and hard to recall with accuracy.

This Kibbitz Kulture was virtually obliterated by a full-fledged pogrom directed by Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the Reich Main Security Office, which oversaw the Gestapo, police and SD operations. The pogrom, which I have named Knock-Knock Nacht, destroyed an estimated 1,000 comedy clubs and humor-focused Rathskellars throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. Countless is the number of jokes, witticisms, anecdotes, routines and homilies that were lost, never again to be recovered.

Singled out as they were for especially brutal treatment by a special black-outlined happy face insignia which festooned the yellow Star of David they were forced to wear,
most of the comedians who plied their trade in theses comedy clubs prior to Knock-Knock Nacht perished, of course, in concentration camps. Of those who survived, most are now dead, and a similar fate has befallen their material. In fact, what remains of their fabled jokes of days gone by are mere fragments, often, sadly of only the set-up portion of a joke or story, not the punch line.

In a vitriolic Letter to the Editor published in the October 1966 issue of the journal Comedic Philology, Moshe “Shecky” Himelfarb, a survivor of both Knock-Knock Nacht and Auschwitz writes, “I have heard and seen many of the so-called great Borscht Belt comedians. A warm-up act they couldn’t be for a Flemstein or a Weinstock. These men had material, timing you could run a railroad by. A wife joke? They would feh on a wife joke. They could make you cry from laughing then turn around and you were laughing from crying.”

Other such letters corroborate Himelfarb’s. Les “Slappy” Weiner, another survivor writes in April 1981 issue of Musings, the Journal of the European Stand-up Community, “Every night I would go to sit at the feet of Lottstein. He played only at Krakow’s leading comedy club, the Krackup. A full house always there was, even on Shabbat, when Lottstein was there. What I remember is nothing, a shard, a scintilla, a whisker on a moth. He would say, ‘It was a pecan, not a walnut.’ There would be ten minutes of pandemonium. That punch line I remember, but nothing else. Sometimes two hours it would take for a single joke. But, oh, it was worth it.”

Finally, sixty-three years after Knock-Knock Nacht, what remains? As Weiner remarked, “a shard, a scintilla.” To date, I have found only these:

“You take the blond, I’ll take the one in the turban.”
“A Priest and a Rabbi were on a train when a tomato rolls down the aisle…”
“That’s not a chicken, it’s my hand.”
And perhaps most famously (and tragically) “So the one-legged jockey said…”

Currently various Jewish organizations are pressuring the governments of Germany, Austria, Russia, Poland and other Central and Eastern European nations to reveal the contents of what are reputed to be huge collections of comedic materials secured in government archives. To date, no substantive materials have been released. Our search continues.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vita brevis. Ars longa. Advertising suckus.

Almost two decades ago I worked for a Hall-of-Fame copywriter called Ron Rosenfeld. Ron was the Co-Creative Director and Co-Founder (with Len Sirowitz) of an agency eponymously called Rosenfeld, Sirowitz.

Ron was the most storied copywriter of his day, reputedly the first copywriter in the business to make $100K, back in the early to mid 60s. Speaking of the early to the mid 60s, through much of the 70s, Rosenfeld was probably the most awarded copywriter in the business--the Alex Bogusky of his day.

Earlier today a friend and ex-partner called me. She and her boyfriend were antique shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While in a shop they came upon a cache of hundreds of awards and trophies for sale. They were Ron's.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'd like to spend the next couple of minutes talking about breasts.

Over the last few days I have been interviewing college students who are looking to intern at my agency. One thing, or rather two things, I have noticed is that by and large (and I do mean large) they don't know how to dress properly. The last two art directors I met, both women, were fairly spilling out of their clothes. There were breasts everywhere. A veritable cornucopia of cleavage. They were bastions of boob. They were teeming with teat. A jungle of jiggle.

Thanks for the mammaries, but listen. I like breasts. But they have a time and a place. And yours, young ladies, aren't helping. In fact, they're making me think you're using them as attention grabbers.

So if there are any women in Ad Aged audience who are looking for work, to my daughters, please, ladies. Civility now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I just ran across an article in Advertising Age about a new campaign that Xerox is running to trumpet the relief that Xerox brings from something they call "Information Overload Syndrome." Here's the article: http://adage.com/digitalnext/article?article_id=137177 and here's the link to the video:


Naturally, every advertiser today, in an effort to be different, has to do what everyone else is doing. So a mock video is de rigeur.

There are a lot of things I hate. Not the least of those is the absurd notion that creativity is better, stronger, fresher and more relevant today. The principles of good storytelling, of which the Xerox video displays zero, haven't changed. Watch the first minute of the video embedded here. Write me when you've found something that tops it.


I forgot my cellphone today.

I survived.
I was more productive.
The people who needed to get ahold of me, got ahold of me.
Life sans electronic tether, doesn't just go on.

It's better.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's official: I hate bing.

The visual is of a burly man coiffed in a ridiculous Mohawk. "You are defined by the choices you make," intones the voiceover. And the blather, both visual and verbal goes down hill from there.

"You are defined by the choices you make.
Small ones can become huge.
Every decision is a fork in the road of you.
What if you had a tool to make better decisions.
Now you do."

OK, bing, you are defined by the choices you make. You have interrupted my New York Times time this morning, with your invidiously banal message that is all promise and no proof.

And you want to know something, I use search to look up a quotation by Joseph Heller. I use search to find the phone number and address of a restaurant. These are not defining choices.

Sorry bing.

So far this, bing, this is what you've done. You've interrupted me. You've over-embellished your qualifications. You've exaggerated your worth. And you've talked only about you.

That's not how to start a relationship. Especially since I am already happy in my search relationship with Google.

A sad song.

Like most things online, too long.
But it isn't bad.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A nice bit of writing.

I watched Truffaut's "The Last Metro" last night, a complicated story that takes place in Paris during the Nazi occupation. There was one scene in the movie that really stuck with me and it had nothing to do with Catherine Deneuve being in a state of deshabille.

In this scene Deneuve is reading aloud a theater review by Daxiat (Jean-Pierre Richard), a Jew-baiting collaborationist stooge who is an influential theater critic. Deneuve reads the review and concludes: "He signed it but it reads like an anonymous letter."

Every once in a while, you hear a bit of writing that makes you proud to be a member of the human race.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Because I have no downtime, I finally got around to reading Nicholas Davidoff's profile, "A Civil Heretic" of a hero of mine, Freeman Dyson, the philosopher, mathematician and physicist which appeared in The New York Times on March 29th. If you have the inclination to read 8,500 words, you can get the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/magazine/29Dyson-t.html?scp=1&sq=freeman%20dyson&st=cse

Dyson is 85 now and has been a noted, notorious, subversive thinker and doer for 65 years, so his accomplishments are legion and more than I will annotate here. But this sentence in Davidoff's article struck me especially: "Their father [Dyson], meanwhile, was always preaching the virtues of boredom: “Being bored is the only time you are creative” was his thinking."


That reminded me of something the great Jean Renoir said decades ago. I wrote about it 18 months ago in Ad Aged. http://adaged.blogspot.com/2008/01/foundation-of-all-great-civilization.html "The foundation of all great civilization is loitering."

My point, as always I hope, is simple. If you are working on a detergent account, sometimes the best way to come up with a great creative solution is to listen to Mahler. To do something non-linear. To take a walk. To throw a ball. To tell a joke. To talk to a cab driver.

One of the fundamental stupidities of our advertising age is the Frederick Winslow Taylorism of creativity. That creativity, like building a toaster or digging a ditch, can be broken down into piece-parts and can, therefore, be billed accordingly.

Ideas don't happen this way.
Stop forcing serendipity into a spreadsheet.
They call the little boxes in spreadsheets "cells" for a reason.
Don't lock your brain, or your creative department in a prison.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Job titles.

A friend from the City of Broad Shoulders sent me this.

A new word.

A Creative Director, whom I would like to schmeiss, has just returned to the office after thirteen days in LA for a two-day shoot.

Thanks to him or her I have coined a new word.


It's yours. Royalty free with attribution.

A radical Friday.

Just about every morning at 1 AM I get an email notice from the Holding Company Server Police (HCSP) that says my mailbox is over its size limit (most things about me are over their size limit, but I digress.)

I hate these notices. I keep things in my mailbox because I think I might need them at some point. Yes, HCSP, I could archive. But I am not here to have a clean mailbox. I'm here to do good work.

So here's what I did.

I deleted everything.

Screw it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Swimming in a sea of sameness.

I just did a soupcon of research on how a few search engines talk about themselves.
I guess in our haste to get work into the market we have forgotten to see what our competitors are running.

AltaVista provides the most comprehensive search experience on the Web!
www.altavista.com/ - 9k - Cached - Similar pages -

Dogpile Web Search
Dogpile.com makes searching the Web easy, because it has all the best search engines piled into one. Go Fetch!

Welcome to About.com
About.com: expert guidance from real people searching the Internet for the information, goods, and services that you need to know related to your passion.

Yahoo! Search - Web Search
The search engine that helps you find exactly what you're looking for. Find the most relevant information, video, images, and answers from all across the ...

AOL Search
The AOL Search engine delivers great search results, enhanced by Google, plus relevant multimedia results delivered on a single page-so you can search less ...

The Bingifesto.

I just saw JWT's manifesto for Microsoft's new search engine--oooops, discovery engine, and I am shaking my head. Not because the spot sucks, which it does, but because the spot is so utterly superfluous. http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=137044 Read about it and see it at the above link.

Here's what I mean.

If bing is a dramatic improvement to Google, news of its betterness will quickly spread. And they will spread in ways that are way more cost effective than a :60-second manifesto. If bing isn't significantly enough better than Google, the greatest spot in the world will do nothing to change consumer behavior. I'm not saying that advertising doesn't work and that the product is the only thing that matters. What I am contending is that Google users are entrenched. They love the brand and the product. They probably don't feel the same way about either Microsoft or yet another inflated promise about solving a problem they don't know they have. Does the bing manifesto give people a reason to try, a reason to switch? Naw. It's just a lot of zeitgeist blather. And I think we're all suffering, frankly, from zeitgeist overload.

Here's a decade-old spot for alta vista which used to be a search engine. (Maybe it still is.) I happen to like it. It's better than any spot I've ever seen google run. A lot of good it did for alta vista.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ten Minutes.

Everywhere you go these days you run into people staring down into a rectangular piece of plastic and typing at it. Stare stare stare. Type type type. The minute you get off the train--whoooosh--the sound of a thousand hand-helds being drawn like pistols from the holsters of a thousand simultaneous gunslingers in the old West. In every elevator, on every street corner, stare stare stare. Type type type.

Years ago I worked on a retail bank account. For all the mishigoss of working on a retail bank account, there are some positives. You get fast. You get good. And you gain confidence.

Here's what I learned conceiving, shooting and writing approximately an ad a week for five years. Six words: Take a walk around the block.

It's great to be responsive and to respond right away. But guess what? It's even better to take ten minutes and actually think.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tweak. Tweak. Tweak.

This needs to be tweaked. It's close but it needs tweaking. Could you tweak it a bit? I think we need to tweak the copy and tweak the look and feel.

Tweak and you shall find.
Me with a blow-torch hoping to burn your eyes out.

Thinking about hold music.

I was talking to a friend at an editorial house who had to put me on hold. Their hold music was pretty good. A bit bluesy. Like something you might listen to even if you weren't on hold.

Then I started thinking about what would happen if your hold message coordinator had Tourette's Syndrome.

"Hey, let me put you on hold for a minute."

Fuck you fuck you suck fuck fuck fuck shit head fuck face.

Now that's progress.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Are you comfortable with this?

Every day I get a couple dozen emails that enumerate the changes the client wants to make on an ad or a poster. Almost invariably the account people ask, "Are you comfortable with these changes."

When I was at Ally & Gargano this quotation was attributed to Carl Ally: "Advertising should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

Today all we want to do with our work is make sure everybody is comfortable with it. And I'm not comfortable with that.

Reasons for Leaving.

A friend of mine recently was called for an interview at one of the Madison Avenue behemoths. Given the economy and the industry he showed up for the interview. He met first with an HR person who handed him an application that sought to replicate all the information that was on his resume. This friend is in his 50s, so it seemed to him somewhat irrelevant to have to write down where he went to high school, but he did.

As he complied with the form, however, he began getting angrier and angrier. Then the final straw. Under employment history there was a 1"-square box that asked you to fill in "Reason for Leaving."

"For the life of me," he said, "I couldn't think of what to put in that box. How do you encapsulate office politics, petty battles, ego conflicts, lack of opportunity, wage freezes, broken promises, head games, lack of support in a box?" he asked. "Even if the agency you left was the Madison Avenue equivalent of Utopia, there had to be some scintilla of bad feelings as your 'Reason for Leaving.' I thought and thought and couldn't come up with an HR-acceptable response. Finally,desperate, in one box I wrote 'Swine Flu,' in another I wrote "gambling addiction." In yet another, simply "cancer," and in the last "death of loved one." These are all things HR thrives on. My guess is, they'll call me back."