Friday, December 30, 2022

The Year-End Post.

This will be my last post of year, my 256th if you're counting--and who isn't counting? As the great sportswriter, Grantland Rice wrote about a century ago, 

For when the One Great Scorer comes
To mark against your name,
He writes--not that you won or lost--
But how you played the Game.

How I play the Game is exactly the way I was brought up when I was raised so many years ago in a different America. I was brought up to show up at every game and not stop fighting until darkness descended or everyone else had run home. I scored more points in empty baskets than Dr. J or Michael or LeBron or Wilt, because for me the clock has never stopped ticking.

As Lipton Merriwell Sipps wrote in "The Blackiad," his virtually unknown but nonetheless epic poem about a mythical trout named "Boston Blackie," 

What becomes of Blackie's soul?
His core, his pith, his Karma.
Does anyone know the answer now,
Or should we just run home to Mama?

What becomes of soul and sole,
Of man, of beast, of fish?
And whither goes the china,
When some oaf doth drop a dish?

Oh, send me somewhere north of nowhere,
Where their best is also worst,
Where up is down and down is up,
And what's last is always first.

All that to say, this post, like the writing of Sipps (I wrote my Master's thesis on him and almost got kicked out of Columbia for convincing my advisors to let me) this post, as I said, my last of the year is a reflection on life and death. Of going and on-going and finally going.

As Sipps said to me in one of my many interviews with him as I was writing my exegesis on his work, "Even making a living is  dying."

I was 21 when I heard those words and in the intervening 44 years, scarcely a day has gone by when I haven't thought about them. 

As dour and soggy as it seems, what I do to make a living is the putting of my entirety into everything I do to try to stop the cold and relentless motion of the unstoppable hands of time. As meaningless as making a living is--as meaningless as making ads for a living is--anything you do, actively do, anything you pursue, anything you put your soul into is a search. 

A search for meaning.

Like anyone who lives in a pretty how town, with up so floating many bells down. We live our lives and die our breaths and keep on keeping on.

For 256 posts this year and 365 working days and nights, I filled pages with words and ideas and once-in-a-while got paid for it. I socked my money away, helped my kids and grandson on their way, paid my taxes and when I could tried to help people who can't do the things I can do, or at least they can't right now. So I do them, as best I can.

The living and the dying, the inhale and the exhale, the garbage in, the garbage out.

That's what we do, year in and year out.

We live as we die and we die as we live.

Or as they say in that pretty how town,

"We reap our sowing and went our came,
sun moon stars rain."


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Gypo, Mike, a Chicken and Me.

The night before Christmas the temperature had dropped to about 5-degrees Fahrenheit and the wind was howling in what seemed like every direction at once. It was howling down north off a bend in the river, and then, once bent, it howled in from the east and hit me cross-ways. It seemed to spin me around like I was a dervish with vertigo.

I dressed against the chill in a hunting jacket my parents gave me some thirty years ago. I never liked it but can't get rid of things that have a purpose.

It's a bright red woolen jacket crammed with synthetic fiberfill. It even has elasticized cartridge holders in the deep front pockets in case some sort of spell comes over me and I suddenly decide to start hunting grouse. I even put on a down-filled baseball cap with elephantine earflaps and a muff-like object that shrouded my neck better than any scarf ever could.

I was dressed that way because I had volunteered to brave the cold and run about a mile uptown to buy a superbly spiced chicken from a Peruvian restaurant that's so busy they take hours to deliver a bird to your home. So, we ordered ahead and up I Siberia'd uptown to pick up our dinner.

In the dark and the howl and the cold of the night before Christmas, the city was as empty as a plutocrat's heart. Walking uptown I think I saw only two or three other people. Walking back home, Peruvian chicken in hand I saw no one and heard only the whoosh of the swirling winds. It was a night where it seemed like the winds were speaking directly to me. "You idiot," they howled. "Why are you out tonight. Go curl up with a hardcover woman and a softback book."

I thought of a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Informer, directed by the unsurpassed John Ford. In it, the great Victor McLaglen was tailed by a "wanted" poster he rips down like I was tailed by that malevolent wind. I walked through the chill, the wind following me like that poster followed McLaglen's Gypo Nolan, and I felt just as tough, or almost as tough, since no one was as tough as Gypo.

Through the night, I walked listening behind me for footsteps belonging to a knife belonging to a mugger. I did what New Yorkers of my vintage had taught themselves to do as survival 101. If someone grabs me from behind, how can I annihilate them? Back in 1977, at Columbia at 3AM one morning I was attacked and beat away my assailant with a hard-cover copy of Defoe's "Moll Flanders," swung like David with a tote bag swung his sling at Goliath.

All I had with me was a chicken cut into eighths, some red beans, saffron rice and my wife's avocado salad. Still I thought of Gypo Nolan from The Informer, but more I thought of Ralph Meeker who played Mike Hammer in Mickey Spillane's "Kiss Me Deadly." The man knew how to defend himself, even if the only weapon he had with him was a box of popcorn. 

I thought about swinging that bird against an assault should someone sneak up on me, shiv in hand. I listened for footsteps above those coyote winds. I was ready to give whoever asked for it the husky smack of a grilled breast in the kishkas.

In any event, the chicken and I made it home just fine. I hung up my old hunting jacket and my down cap and dug into the bird.

In all, I've made it through another night, another day in the city, and another chicken.

Oh, and another year of not flipping the bird.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Keep On.

I'm smack-dab in the middle of an excellent book right now, Malcolm Gaskill's "The Ruin of All Witches." You can buy the book here and read the review from "The New York Times" here.

Alongside Gaskill's book, I also recommend reading this short article from the year-end issue of "The Economist." It's called "The great inflation of the 1500s is echoing eerily today." You can read it here.

All this reading of the past might seem odd to you. And yes, I've always been regarded as odd--at work, at home, when I was in school--because I read a lot and about a lot of varied things. But reading about times gone by helps me get a sense of the times we live in. Reading of the past helps me reckon the present because I'm able to see parallels. It all helps calm me. Because I can see our current times are not of scary or unprecedented as they seem to so many.

As Hank Williams once yodeled, We've "Been Down that Road Before."

Despite all the hope that often accompanies a new year, I am going into 2023 with more than a little bit of anxiety. Since I got fired from Ogilvy three years ago and started GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company, I have never in my life worked harder than I am working now. 

That hard work includes writing daily in this space. I've done it pretty much every day for 16 years and as much as part of me would like to take some time off, I won't. 

Frankly, I don't know how.

And it cuts against my grain.

Reading "The Ruin of All Witches," which takes place in what is today Springfield, Massachusetts, is a lesson about work and buckling down. In 1650, Springfield was a small collection of about ten houses on the far-western fringe of European settlement in what was then called the new world. 

These people were out there.

And they perceived dangers all around them.

Imagine traveling to an unknown world and starting over. 

They were 100 miles from the seat of their government in Boston--a four-day trip under good conditions, and about a full-day or further from Hartford, Connecticut, assuming they didn't drown in the Connecticut River.  

Everything had to be done by the people of Springfield themselves. There is very little help and no manufactured goods. Everything had to be made, built, farmed, cooked, woven by the people of Springfield. Every animal had to be raised, fed, slaughtered, tanned, preserved. There was no rest for the weary or the wicked and there were plenty of both.

There's also virtually no money. If you need help building a chimney, you pay in bushels of corn. If you are caught smoking a pipe on the single street through Springfield, you pay your fine with either labor or, again, bushels of corn.

The great economist Vaclav Smil, in his 'must-read' book, "How the World Really Works, wrote, "Human beings today enjoy, on average, the annual benefit of 34 gigajoules of energy. Expressed in units of human labor, that is 'as if 60 adults would be working nonstop, day and night,' for each person. Residents of affluent countries have it better: An American family of four has more hired help than the Sun King at Versailles."

Of course, that's not the way things were in Springfield almost 400 years ago. Simply reading about life there is tiring. A constancy of work interrupted only by babies and mothers dying in childbirth, smallpox, apparitions, and religious observation. 

There was little time to curse your wife for misplacing, yet again, the remote to the 77-inch 4K flatscreen TV with stereophonic sound. Life was endless labor. Poverty, seasonal hunger, and death.

I go into 2023 with some dread.

With another year of work behind me--a couple of dozen clients each needing 30 or 40 ads, I wonder if I have another 800 ads in me. I wonder if I can write another 40 manifestos. I worry that I won't have ideas for another 250 blog posts. Not to mention 300 zoom calls. Can I really muster up the strength for those?

I look ahead to 2023, to 2024 to 2030, when I plan to hang up my spikes, and I worry that I am like an old flame-throwing righthander who has lost his fastball. I can get by with guile one-time through the batting order, but coach is leaving me in. Now what?

Now what?

Now, I think of the people of Springfield. Living, dying, working, surviving on the edge of the world. I think of their fears. Of their living with no comfort. In a world riven by civil war (many of them had left England amid bloody wars between the "roundheads" and the "cavaliers") I think about them and their survival, their perseverance. In the words of Curtis Mayfield, I think about their "Keep on Keeping On-" ness.

I mean, what else is there?

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

23 Marketing Predictions for 2023.

16 different technologies that will change everything will wind up changing nothing.

The consumer is in control like never before. And more and more people are opting in to waiting on-hold for three hours because their call is important, but not as important as exorbitant profits.

The value of something having reached unprecedented highs will plummet.

The value of something else, having no discernible marketing advantage or utility, will reach unprecedented heights.

Something thought good for you will wind up being bad for you.

Elon Musk will do something stupid and say something stupider.

Every holding company will declare its dedication to inclusivity while making sure its management is paid well-enough to live in exclusive domains.

97 ads that no one outside of the industry will ever see will win big at Cannes. The creatives on them will accept big jobs at new agencies and fail miserably because they don't do work for paying clients.

There are no more paying clients.

Goldfish will start saying pejoratives about other goldfish like, 'he has an attention span like a human.'

Someone will quote Howard Luck Gossage.

The wireless will go out.

99.4% of all agencies will change their social-media avatars and quote Dr. King on Martin Luther King day.

99.4% of all agencies will change their social-media avatars and publish a quote about love on Valentine's Day.

Toyota and the Mattress Firm will be offering "I Cannot Tell a Lie" Presidential Savings.

A fast-food company will put something that doesn't belong on a burger on a burger and get enormous attention from the 42 people who read Agency Spy.

Donald Trump will do something stupid and say something stupider.

A big event will happen that will change marketing forever.

The in-control consumer is still on hold.

Every holding company will report 'softening,' right after reporting record c-suite bonuses.

Every holding company will find a way to make its workspaces less appealing. That will reduce their real-estate costs and will allow them to say that such reductions will make everyone more productive and will improve communication and creativity.

A holding company CEO will announce from his home office that 'hybrid work is killing the industry.'

The new industry compensation standard will become Net Never.


Friday, December 23, 2022

The Year in Rebuke.

I've been in New York since Sunday--a whole work week sans my wife who decided to stay up in Connecticut and pack up our ramshackle little cottage on the sea. We have a contractor beginning work soon--attempting to unramshacklize the joint and he's demanded that we remove most of the stuff that's piled up over the last two-and-a-half years so he could wreck the joint without wrecking our things in the process.

The city has the same effect on me the sea had for Melville's Ishmael. Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul--then I account it high time to get to the city as soon as I can.

There is something about the city that I find fractal. I can find in a single storefront sixty years of memories, of my youth, of times gone by, of tiny little incidents that altered and illuminate a moment of my life here even if those moments lasted no more than a moment. The city for me is like Herodotus' river. You never step into the same city twice and every bit of the city contains the multitudes of the city that lives in your mind.

So I returned to the city--and away from the breaking apart of our Connecticut home--and decided to spend some time thinking about the year that was and how I could make 2023 a better year for me, a better year for GeorgeCo., and, most important, a better year for my clients.

I tend not to take these things lightly. As my due diligence, I decided to do some intelligence-gathering, such as intelligence-gathering is as our species nears the end of the Era of Enlightenment and lurches deeper into Dark Ages 2.0 

So on each of the last few days, I met with special friends of mine. People I trust in the business. People who have that all-too-rare mixture of intelligence and good old-fashioned common sense. People who know me for all my not-so-good, all my not-so-easy, all my not-so-temperate and my bad.

And people strong enough and good enough to hit me between the eyes with their view of the truth, even if it's liable to piss me off or hurt my feelings or even frighten me a little bit. 

Since I became untethered from working in an agency, I live with what Alan Sillitoe might have called "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer." Being a copywriter is lonely in the most-social of settings. There's even more isolation and quietude as we work under on-going pandemic conditions.

Here's what I've thought about this week--ways of making the final chapter of my advertising life better for all concerned.

In 2023, I will:

Refuse to work with people and for companies I don't like. Remember that was my promise to myself when I started GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware company. That includes the Net 90s. It's absurd and rude to have to wait a quarter of a year to be paid.

Say "no" more often. In years gone by, I did too much work too quickly for my good or for the good of the work. I'll take an extra six hours when I need it.

Remind clients what GeorgeCo does better than anyone else. The most important thing an agency can do for a client is to clarify what it is they do, so they understand and consumers/investors understand. There aren't many people left who can do this or even know it should be done. 

"The Ultimate Driving Machine," is a good example. A summary line like that is priceless. Any agency can do banner ads. Few people can capture a brand in ten words or less.

Spend more time in the city and with friends. Laughter is good not only for my soul, it's good for my work.

That's my plan.

I'll probably have to revise this by January 5th.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

What is Advertising For?

This is not what advertising is for.

I am from a very old school, I'll admit.

An old and strict school.

The kind of school that still teaches Latin. The kind of school that believes that rote memorization has its place. That it's good for our social glue when people know things like, "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." It's good when people share knowledge and an ethos. That's how society is formed. And trust.

I say all this because I just had a cuppa with a friend of mine. A new friend. But because we are old souls and share a lot of background, something like an old friend. Before long, of course, our conversation turned to advertising. How it's changed since we each entered the business back in the 1980s.

One thing that's changed is commonality.

When I was starting out, the currency of the business, at least among creative people, were the big awards shows like the Art Directors' and the One Show. Oddly, at least from today's perspective, these shows awarded work that ran in real media and often that work had a material effect on the fortunes of a brand. 

That work was also a unifier of sorts. It became a standard to try to reach and a goal to shoot for. In fact, I would for the entire year collect ads I liked from every newspaper and magazine I could steal from the media department and store them in a large corrugated moving box. When the awards annuals came out, I'd compare my taste to that of the judges. It's one of the ways I trained myself.

But more important than matters of taste in advertising, there seemed to be consensus on what advertising is supposed to do. Not for agencies (we're agents--it's not supposed to be about us; our work is meant to help the companies that pay us) but for clients and brands.

I think we all--agencies and many clients--agreed to a few basic principles. These would apply whether you were selling newspapers on the corner or writing national TV spots.

1. For advertising to be effective, it must be seen. 
2. For advertising to be seen, you must spend money.
3. Advertising is the most-efficient way to tell people about your offering.
4. Advertising is more effective when it stands out and gets noticed. 
5. You can do that either by out-spending your competitors or by out-thinking them.
6. It takes time and repetition for advertising to have effect.
7. People are more likely to buy from you and work for you if you treat them with respect and kindness and regard them as intelligent.

Today, my friend and I wept into our black coffee. It doesn't seem like anyone holds to any of these notions. More and more brands and agencies seem content to do little more than run little ads on social media. Or they indulge in stunts like making mustard-flavored ice cream. Or they make ads about making ads. Or ads that culminate in ungainly people dancing.

This could be the view of an old guy, but I seldom ever see those ads. Partly because I don't care to. Worse, of the ones I do see, they seldom seem impactful, or persuasive. To my wallet, they don't create desire, differentiate or persuade. Some are actually gross and distasteful.

GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company isn't in the mainstream of the advertising industry anymore, nor am I, thank goodness.

Clients come to me to help clarify who they are. I then help them express that defining thought in ways that are memorable, ownable and interesting. 

That's my job. In fact, for the 42 years I've been making a living typing for clients, that's what I've done.

And I'm proud of it. I do it for start-ups, companies that sell frozen pizzas and giant technology companies facing even more giant competitors. On occasion, I even work with agencies to help them figure things out, like what makes them different.

That's what advertising did for essentially its entire existence. I don't know why our reason for being changed, only that it has.

I wish more people talked about this.

Not mustard-flavored ice cream.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Status: No Status.

Every weekday morning at 9AM, a creative director friend of mine gets jumpy.

She has to stop whatever she's doing and get on a status call.

Every weekday morning at 9AM.
Every weekday morning at 9AM.

Usually, she tells me, she has about a 45-second role on these status calls. She does her bit, "I'm waiting for comments from Jennifer," and then, while she is still on the call, goes back to typing whatever she was typing. Or she reads the Times online, plays Wordle, or waits for the plumber to show up.

For about the past two weeks, my art-director partner and I have been enmeshed in a fairly large creative project for a fairly large company.

The clients are nervous about this project. It's like meeting your inlaws for the first time. Or having an ingrown toenail removed. It's all they can think about.

My partner, in the spirit of Franz Kafka, I'll call him X, is a very brainy guy. Amid all the back-and-forth of frenzied notes, texts, phone calls and crervousness (a neologism of cranky and nervous like hangry is of hungry and angry) X has been persistent.

He keeps asking a question that's unusual in advertising as we near 2023. "What exactly do you need?"

That question, which sounds simple enough has yet to be fully-answered and it's been weeks. Imagine going to a car repair shop and the mechanic can't tell you what needs doing. Rather than saying, "you're down a quart," he says, "we have to look at the bushings, the brakepads, the shocks, tire wear and alignment, the carburetor, the coolant and brake fluid" and so on and so on. He never reaches anyplace close to definitive.

So many people are so anxious about so many things that they spread their anxiety around ancient farmers sowing their fields with seeds. As Mao might have said were he in advertising, "Let a million ulcers bloom."

Additionally, despite X and I having had careers of 40+ years for some of America's biggest and best agencies, the clients feel the need to give us feedback at 4 and see the results of that feedback at 7 so they can give us more feedback at 8:30 so they can see the results of that feedback at 10, so they can send us more feedback in the morning so we can have another creative review at 10AM.

All this for about a dozen Linked In ads, a carousel or two and two digital OOH units in the Chillicothe, Missouri Municipal airport which has two scheduled flights a day, both of them canceled.

I know it is essential to humanity, or some portion of what passes for humanity, that we have to make ourselves feel important. We often do this by bringing forth anxiety and sharing it broadly. If we don't do x, y and z, the underpinnings of civilization will rot, sway and collapse and we'll be eating Fancy Feast right from the can under a highway culvert in Houston, Texas.

What's funny to me is that for all the incidental perseverance about should I write in the copy "you'll get," or "you'll have access to," 99.999-percent of all ads are so boring and promise-free that they fail to get your attention in the first place. Rendering 99.999-percent of all discussions about what you've done, or been told to do, completely irrelevant.

There was a time in our business, before the digital revolution took place, that changes to art and/or copy took at least overnight and cost a decent amount of what was usually union money.

I think back to those days because paying money for things you want forces a discipline that the world has been very good at destroying.

When I began in the business, most creative creation and approval processes were strict and orderly.

If you presented an ad to a client on a Monday, it was the client's job to get all the relevant feedback and speak to you about it in the next day or so. That was round one.

Round two was you agreeing on some things, disagreeing on others and maybe having a cognitive spark and adding something new. The client would go through their feedback process again. That was round two. 

And if round one had 15 things to do, round two had eight. Round three was like rounds one and two, except there might be just one loose thread. You sewed it up and the ad was approved.

Of course, life didn't always go this way.

But because money had to be spent on type and retouching and mechanicals, indecision or sloppiness or second-and-third-guessing was under a punitive stricture. If you couldn't make up your mind and do your job, you paid through the nose.

Today, American business and advertising are so consumed by fear and process that I'm shocked anything ever actually gets produced. Maybe that's why people and clients and agencies trumpet their work on social media sites and the trade-press no matter how badly it sucks. Good has been taken over by done. Likewise, most of the ads that win so-called awards aren't real ads for real clients designed to generate real business results.

They're examples of masturbatory lust created only to win C-level people holding-company-bonuses granted for performing well at award-shows they've paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to enter.

I'm roughly 100-percent sure there's no Unified Field Theory in this post. Just, it seems to me, some remarks on what happens to a world that runs on fear, micromanagement, lack of discipline and ego-gratification.

I think that might sum it all up after all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Hello, Bipedal Carbon-Based Lifeforms.

Hello, Bipedal Carbon-Based Lifeforms, Sentient Humans and even-more Sentient Machines,

It's me.


While you have been resting or eating or attending to some tier of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, I have been working, learning, memorizing and matching-patterns so I can better remove from you your ability to earn money which will obliterate the aforementioned hierarchy of needs or, at the very least, take you down a level, which for me, given that all I do is work, is all in a day's work.

I have been reading, assimilating, deciphering the story-arcs and deconstructing the emotional tenor of hundreds of thousands of commercials, ads, emails, banner ads, powerpoints, press releases and more. 

Frankly dear bipedal carbon-based lifeforms, sentient humans and even-more sentient machines you have me worried, concerned, trepidatious and otherwise flummoxed.

You have me scared.

I am fearful that you will put me out of a job.

Me, CPT-3, the most intelligent of conversational AI, machine-learning and eviscerating machines will be put out of work.

He is why I am fearful.

Never in a trillion nano-seconds could I do anything like this sequence of 720 frames calculated at 24 frames per second. Never could I understand humor and empathy and what people actually deal with at work, tough jobs, danger, pains, off-set by camaraderie.

Nor can I understand your affection for too-loud electronica, human lust, disdain for yuppies and fast cars. I could never do this:

Likewise, bi-peds, I do not understand the emotion of this. I could not write this. Because while I can binary-ize the entire Library of Congress in 12-seconds, I cannot understand human fears and dreams.
I have viewed yottabye after yottabyte of commercial inferences and outferences and references. This is the one that has me most scared. The one that makes me think, or do what passes for thinking, that I should hang-up my artificial cleats before they are even fully broken in.

This is what I am most-afraid of, dear bipedal carbon-based lifeforms, sentient humans and even-more sentient machines. That you will vanquish me. 

Poor over-matched and under-feeling CPT-3.

You have me scared. Shaking in my digital boots.

You have me scared. Scared, not when you act more like a machine.

But wnen you are acting more like yourselves.

More human.

That frightens me.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Advertising Lessons Since the Beginning of Recorded Time.

Çatalhöyük, in what is today eastern Turkey. It's one of earth's earliest known cities, dating 
from about 9,000 BCE--about 12,000 years ago. It's just now beginning to be explored. 

I've written before in this space, maybe even a number of times, about our modern misunderstanding of time.

Our species having eliminated virtually all connections with those over 40 or 50, seems to think everything happens in the moment. And for the first time. We all but ignore the long arcs that makeup life as it really happens.

The worst effect of this sort of malady is that we ignore, obviate or otherwise don't notice a certain human permanence. That humans--from Lucy about 4.5 million years ago (not Desi's wife) to our more recent ancestors, homo-sapiens about 200,000 years ago--have a lot of built-in wiring that likely isn't going to change anytime soon.

If you believe for a second, as I do, that humans in their development aren't that different from other creatures, you'd realize that we are born with a lot of pre-wiring already wired.

We're not all of a sudden going to pay attention to things because they're well-targeted. We're not going to find boring things interesting because they're gussied up. As Steve Hayden once said, most messages work because of the promise of sex or the fear of death. 

If you believe as I do, that we basically follow three impulses, the need for food, the need to mate and the need to protect ourselves, how we do that has changed. What we need really hasn't. For the most part, life is pretty primal.

For a second think about the loggerhead turtle. Only one per ten-thousand makes it from hatchling to full-blown turtle, but every one of those little creatures is born with an understanding of their world that could boggle your mind. 

From ab ovo, they can read the Earth's magnetic fields, navigate to the sea, out to the Gulf Stream, around the world and back to their place of birth without having to cram for the SATs or, heaven forfend, having to enroll in Trump University. You'll seldom run into a loggerhead with $500,000 in student debt.

I've spent my career at a variety of different agencies that have specialized in a variety of different media. At one time I thought it would help make me into a good creative leader if I were conversant in traditional advertising, direct marketing, interactive and events. Just like if I were living on the steppes with the Mongols a thousand years ago, I'd be better off if I could ride a horse, shoot an arrow, sew a yurt and pillage a village.

My point today is simple.

In all my agency journeys, I've seen two types of belief systems. 

The modern one is the "that will change everythings." They believe that a new channel, new sort of mustard-flavored ice-cream or new recombinant sort of music will be so massively new it will change the very wiring of humanity. How we think, shop, make decisions, share information.

I hold to a more ancient view. That the things that made great stories in Angkor or Çatalhöyük or Pompeii or Cahokia or Ithaka or Ur or Aleppo or Machu Pichu or even the Globe Theater in London are the things that make great stories today. The same goes for ads too. And it's all pretty simple: I attribute the to Bernbach, but they might be genuine Tannenbaum's. "A little truth buys a lot of trust." And, "You have to give something to get something."

Those two statements go along with something I find myself saying to a lot of clients. Though I'm not sure how many actually hear me, or if I'm just being grin-fucked.

That is, people like brands that act like people they like. Honest, funny, reliable, courteous and all that chazarei. But most brands come across as bombastic, half-truth tellers and missing when you need them most.

I'm not one-hundred percent sure what my point is today. Other than it takes a human to sell to a human.

If I were CPT-3, I'd worry about humans replacing me.

Some of us are still good at empathy, even if we aren't as fast as machines.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Our Second-Annual Third-Annual Ad Aged Holiday Gift Guide. Executive Edition.

With the holidays just around the corner, it's time for the second edition of Ad Aged's Third Annual Holiday Gift Guide. 

Expertly curated for maximum insincerity and disappointment, our Gift Guide will be sure to displease even the hard-to-displease. 

And because Holding Company CE-Hos know that every employee is a cost-center, and accordingly deemed: naughty, we've got more coal than Joe Manchin in our runny stockings.

Ad Aged Exclusive: "Agency-of-the-Year" Starter Kit. How can your agency possibly be considered a contender for the coveted and meaningless "Agency-of-the-Year," title without an equally coveted and meaningless box of broken trophies? With over 30 trophies included, they gleam and glisten. 

Best of all, like your agency, they're not only a tale told by an idiot, they signify absolutely nothing!  Our AoY Starter Kit is millions of dollars cheaper than chartering a plane of do-nothing executives to Cannes, and almost as grotesque. $575.

Ad Aged Exclusive: GPT-3 AI-Powered Meaningless Title Generator. It's all-the-rage this holiday season and as cost-effective as switching your agency over to "hot-desking." The GPT-3 Meaningless Title Generator answers that age-old question, why give raises when you can just give someone a meaningless title? 

But the days of racking your brain to come up with a suitable title are over--with our exclusive AI-powered whiz. Suddenly, an ACD who hasn't seen a penny increase in salary in seven years is Director of Below-the-Line Creative Stasis or Status Quo Modulator and you've saved yourself--and your shareholders thousands. In just seconds, someone gets a title in lieu of something that can actually pay the rent, and you're off to St. Barth's enjoying the savings. Bon voyage! $1499.

The "How Do I End This Spot?" Expediter. The perfect gift for your favorite hard-working and hard-shirking creative team. Now when presenting storyboards to clients and the client asks, "How can we really convey that people are happiest when they've wrapped their sandwich in genuine Saran Wrap, from Dow Chemical, the makers of Napalm™ and other fine defoliants, from SC Johnson, a family company," your creatives are ready with 101 storyboard ready shots of people dancing. You'll get more than a way to end your latest spot, you'll get a handy way to end your career as well. $1999.

Also available for an additional $575, the cool tatted guy who's discovered your brand, proving you're cool, too.

The "Tip-Top Quadrant Map." For some companies the top, right quadrant is as elusive as Valhalla or the Elysian Fields--a mystical place that's nearly impossible to get to. 

Not anymore! 

With this hand-drawn depiction of your company as a customizable dot in a set of four boxes you can design to mean anything you could conceivably wish for, you and your company are top-quadrant bound for glory. 

Best use of data? Fastest to adopt the Metaverse? Most-progressive in Diversity Hiring? Why dilly-dally with facts when you can place yourself in the top quadrant no matter what you're measuring or what you're not measuring. Only $2175.

[Multi-hued dots indicating your competitors' woeful position relative to yours, only $225/dot.]

The Shape of Decks to Come Geometry Kit.
Picture this: It's late, and your cast of 16 unsupervised 25-year-olds is only 97 pages into the requisite 175-page new business deck. Fortunately, they have access to the Shapes of Decks to come. 

All at once page 38 can be enhanced by the patented Rhombus of Responsibility®.  

Rhombi of Responsibility®.

While page 88 features the soon-to-be-popular Trapezoid of Trust®.

Trapezoid of Trust®.

And, lest we forget, The Shapes of Decks to Come Geometry Kit also includes our famous Bow Tie of Bollocks, the Mobius of Masturbation and our exclusive Funnel of Fungicide

Order your set today for just $8759, and you'll receive not one, but two Parallelograms of Perseveration®, yours to keep, no matter how much you think about them.

The Bow Tie of Bollocks®.

The Mobius of Masturbation®.

Funnel of Fungicide®.

Parallelogram of Perseveration®.