Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hey kids! How about some real funny stuff?


No matter what, Dave Barry (right) makes me laugh. Out loud. Every time.

I make it a point never to read anything of his while I am a funeral or something.

His Review of 2008 is simply hysterical. Enjoy

Death, Taxes and Capital One


The word is that nothing is certain in this world except death and taxes.

I have something else to add. No matter who the agency is, no matter how many smaller banks they buy, no matter what happens or doesn't happen in the bank bailout, Capital One will continue to run the dumbest commercials on television.

This is something I felt I had to say out loud before the year slipped away.

I thought about including a YouTube clip here, but just didn't want to befoul JITD, so here's a picture of a stuffed bunny rabbit instead.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I swear to God, I am not making this up


We're watching Maryland (at the moment) thump Nevada in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl and this genius, one Brock Huard, referred to the "historicity" (his-tor-ICITY) of the Rose Bowl.

Then again, you didn't think ESPN was going to assign the A team to call a bowl game sponsored by a chain of truck stops (I'm not making that up, either) played on a blue field on a Tuesday afternoon in Boise, Idaho, did you?

There are so many jokes lying around at this game, I think my head may explode.

You probably saw this, but just in case . . .


This was an ad Chrysler ran in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today recently.

At least they were polite enough to thank us for the money.

Kazillionaire Mark Cuban said it best on his blog: "Let's see, is there anything more idiotic than spending more than $100,000 on a full page 'thanks for letting me waste your money' ad ?"

All this via the Cajun Boy in the City blog.

Greed Addendum -- Pot and Black Kettle Version

Friday night, after putting up a post about small business and greed and all that, I saw the tail end of "Greed Gone Wild", a 20/20 piece about, guess what? Greed.

It opened and closed with one Geoffrey Raymond who had painted portraits of some of " the business titans some say are responsible for today's financial crisis." Seems that Mr. Raymond is taking his paintings to Wall Street and offering passersby a chance -- via red Magic Marker -- to make their own comments on the paintings. You can imagine the comments.

But the closing part of the segment was what attracted me. I couldn't tell exactly which side of the equation 20/20 was coming down on, but they did point out that Raymond is selling those paintings for anywhere from $20,000 - $28,000.

Karen and I have noticed that in the midst of this financial crisis, there are all kinds of folks -- those who charge homeowners a fee to restructure their mortgages, a service that non-profits perform for free, for example -- who are busy trying to capitalize on this mess. And for my money, Geoffrey Raymond is one of them. Under the pretense of making some sort of statement about, um, greed.

I checked out his blog, linked from ABC. His plan, he says is "to become the pre-eminent American portrait painter of the 21st century. This blog chronicles that journey."

His art is actually pretty good. But I'd say he is more on the way to becoming one of the country's pre-eminent hypocritical scuzzbuckets.

The sad thing is, people are actually buying the things.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pepco? Dominion? Washington Gas? Are you listening?



Check out this spot produced by Famous in Belgium for Electrabel, a Belgian power company.

I found it on the Tangerine Toad blog.

Love it.

This is great


From MDB Communications in Washington comes this pro-bono spot for Samaritan Inns. It makes you look at the homeless in a different, more personal way, I think.

Truth be told, I had no idea how to spell Samaritan until now.

Very nice work from a D.C. agency.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Calendars are just SO confusing



The Washington Redskins, American's only professional sports team owned -- check that -- being run into the ground by a Greedy Yard Gnome, were getting set to play the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco Sunday when I heard a :60 spot urging Redskins fans to drop by the Bud Lite Pavillion at FedEx Field on home game days 2-3 hours before kickoff to whoop it up and -- presumably -- get good and drunk for the game and subsequent drive home.

The thing is, the last home game was last week.

Was nobody anywhere paying attention?

This one is better than the other one, I think


Thanks to my 13 year-old nephew (and technical advisor for anything relating to my cell phone) Joe Nasuti, I managed to get this picture off my cell phone and onto my computer.

It's the Christmas Tree at the U.S. Capitol Building. The one that is much more interesting than the one on the Ellipse, but almost nobody ever goes to see for some damn reason.

Karen and I like it lots better.

Apologies for the camera-phone quality of the picture.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Something doesn't add up


(Note: We're a small business, many of our friends and clients are small businesses, and we're in advertising, so this post is relevant. Even if it isn't, it's our blog, so we get to decide what goes in it and what doesn't.)

OK, I got this from the Wall Street Journal this morning:

Small business is defined as those with fewer than 500 employees (which, I suppose, makes us a micro-business).

99.7% of companies with employees are small businesses.

Small business employs about half of all private-sector employees and accounts for nearly 40% of the total U.S. private payroll.

Small business has generated 60%-80% of net new jobs over the last 10 years.

There's more, but I think that sets the stage. Because in all the flurry of bailout this and economic stimulus that I don't see anything that will directly benefit small businesses. Yeah, yeah, yeah, there's supposed to be a trickle-down effect and banks are supposed to be making loans with a lot of that bailout money, but this is reality here.

A) It's not happening that way and B) even if it did, most small business can't wait for it. Small businesses usually don't have big cash reserves or stock they can sell to generate cash. (Or employee pension plans they can raid.)

Here in Washington, PNC bank just used some bailout money to buy Chevy Chase Bank. Funny, I thought the bailout money was supposed to be used for loans. And as far as stimulus plans go, there is an editorial in today's WSJ that lists some of the 800 pages of pork money that the country's mayors want from Obama's new economic stimulus plan. Don't read it unless you have a high threshold for disgust.

(Hint: $35 million for a music hall of fame in Missouri, $3.1 million for a swimming pool in Tulsa and a $6 million renovation of Surfers Point beach in Ventura, California. It goes on.)

And the banks who were supposed to use at least some of our bailout money to make loans and extend credit are doing just the opposite, tightening down on credit, cutting lines of credit and making credit harder to get.

Whether it's an ad agency, or a pear jelly company of gift shop (two examples cited in the Journal story about how the slump is affecting small business) a small business works with a much smaller amount of cash flow than a big business. And in many cases -- fortunately for us, not ours -- they need to have access to cash, credit or credit cards to buy the raw materials to actually produce what they sell or the products they re-sell. Cash is hard to come by, since sales are down and people are paying more slowly, banks are not trying very hard to make loans and credit card companies are cutting credit limits way back.

Remember those American Express ads they used to run about how they were the company for small businesses and how they wanted to be a partner in your success and yadda, yadda, yadda? Haven't see one lately, have you?

Now, I'm a reasonably intelligent man, except when it comes to knives and pumpkins, and I think I would have noticed if anywhere in any of the talk of economic recovery there was anything directed directly at America's small businesses. I haven't.

But I have seen scores of incompetent, greedy bastards line up at the public teat in hopes of a handout -- of taxpayer money -- whether they deserve it or not.

I'm not saying that big business doesn't need help. One way to look at it is that even though they f***ed up so badly, the impact on everybody else would be chaotic if they totally failed. I understand that.

But the U.S. of A. isn't made up of just big business. In fact, as you see above, there are more small businesses than big ones, accounting for most of the new jobs, employing about half of the employees and paying almost half the payroll. But we're all being ask to sit on the sidelines and watch the buffoons, the slimebuckets and the greedballs get a handout.

WTF?

And in the midst of all this, the New York Yankees are going to spend nearly a half a billion dollars on just three players.

I don't get it. I'm going to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. Come get me when it's over.

Or when the revolution starts.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our loss is San Francisco's gain.


Well, as I write this, our Jessica is on a plane on her way to Green Bay for Christmas before she relocates to San Francisco.

With any luck at all, she'll beat the horrible weather I hear is brewing in the upper Midwest.

We really hated to see her go. The two years she was with us just blew past -- as things do when you enjoy them. Jessica was more than just a good art director to us. She was always in a good mood -- except for the several times she lost her driver's license and the day after she broke her wrist in a soccer game. But even when she was surprised by the rain and had to walk from the subway with no umbrella, she came in with a smile.

A Dexter fan AND a True Blood fan -- what more could a co-worker ask for?

She's one of those people whose first reaction to things is to smile and laugh, and speaking for Karen, Tracy and myself, she's a treasure. So if anybody in San Francisco is looking for a good designer/art director, I know one who is available.

Actually, that's all a lie. We all thought she'd NEVER leave.

No really, we'll miss her.

I'm lying. We've forgotten her already.

Seriously, we wish she was still here.

Did too.

Did not.

(P.S. She and I usually disagree about which pictures of her are good ones and which ones aren't. But since I dragged this one off her Facebook page, I'm guessing it's OK. If not, I'm sure I'll hear about it.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

The funniest Christmas song. Ever.


I don't know who did this, but they deserve the Nobel Prize for something.

You've probably heard it already, but God bless whomever put it on YouTube and made it easier to share.

Enjoy. And Merry Christmas from J.I.T.D.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's got my vote


I was trying to find this commercial to post a couple of weeks ago, but finally gave up.

Then what to my wondering eyes should appear this afternoon, but this Old Spice commercial nominated on Adfreak as one of the freakiest ads of 2008.

There are just all sorts of disturbing imagery here. Whatever happened to that whistling sailor?

More freaky ads at Adfreak.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This is a relevant message today


Found this on Larry Hinkle's web site.

I think it resonates with the Circus. There are a lot of folks out there trying to deal with a new circumstances by doing what they did before.

Yeah, it's specifically about consulting, but the message has broader meaning, I think.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Three thoughts at the Circus


Herb Stein was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Ford administration.

Ford didn't want to get everybody all worked up about problems with the economy, so he told Stein not to use the word "recession" to describe a recession. So "from now on," said Stein, "I'll say 'banana.' When I say banana, think 'recession'."

I'm going to go with "Circus". From now on, when I say Circus (or "The Circus" ), think "recession". Unless I really am talking about a circus in which case I hope you'll know the difference without any hints from me.

In any case, we think people are looking for help these days. What to do? How to do it? Most of us have never had to deal with a Circus quite like this one before. So here are three thoughts Karen and I had over beignets and cafe au lait at the Louisiana Kitchen and Bayou Bar :

Do Something

"Everybody talks about the weather," said Mark Twain, "but nobody does anything about it." The same can be said about business during The Circus.

We hear a lot about how the economy has impacted business, but there is an awful lot of "ride it out" thinking out there. That's a mistake. I'm not saying advertising and its cousins are the complete answer, but the fact of the matter is that if you want to get a fair share or more-than-fair share of the smaller pie of business, you have to communicate with your customers. You have to give them a reason to do business with you, to spend the money with you instead of somebody else, or a reason to spend the money at all. Whether you're selling window treatments, hotel rooms or beignets, your prospects need some encouragement.

Pulling the covers up over your head and planning to stay in bed until it's all over is a bad idea. Re-allocate the budget, cut somewhere else, but don't stop selling yourself.

Do Something Now

It's odd. One might think that with a Circus at damn near full swing around us there'd be some urgency about. Instead, it seems like people are taking longer and longer to decide what to do. Thinking about it. Meeting about it. Stewing about it. Meanwhile the world keeps turning and the trapeze act is overhead.

Years ago, when I was an annoying client, I wrote a headline that said "Tomorrow may be too late for the right answer." Whether it was a good headline or not is beside the point right now. What is relevant is the message. If you don't make a decision, as often as not, a decision will be made for you.

"We're putting our whole budget in the web"

We've heard a lot of that over the past couple of years.

And now that businesses -- especially hospitality, where we heard so much of it -- need to differentiate themselves and promote their brand to hold onto or capture reduced dollars in the market, SEO and PPC simply can't do the whole job. Nobody looking at a Google listing can know anything about your brand or why your hotel or product or service is better than the next guy's. Or why they ought to pay a premium for your hotel room or your remodeling service.

For example, Karen heard a number of resort properties yesterday talking about the "AIG effect" and how the perception of high times at a "resort" was politically incorrect and was hurting the groups business at their properties.

Several years ago, we tried to get a hotel client to brand their meetings, not the location where meetings were held. We wanted them to really go to the trouble to work out what makes a business meeting -- a business tool -- a good meeting and a cost-effective business expense. And focus on the ROI of having a meeting there.

No sell. They are currently spending their budget dollars with a web marketing firm -- one of many in the hospitality arena who promise lots of web hits (I'm not sure where they stand on actual conversions).

I thought then, and I think now, that if they'd focused on the ROI of a meeting expense and branded their meeting and understood that that was what they were selling (as opposed to rooms and beds and golf and dining) they'd be in a bit more of a Circus-proof position than they are now. And the AIG effect probably wouldn't be much of a factor.

Seems to me that a smart resort could still use that approach.

Tell me how a paid or organic search can do that all by itself.

Karen tells me she thinks this post needs some sort of summary, so here it is:

Do something.

Do something now.

Told you so.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Damn


(Forgive two consecutive posts that have nothing to with advertising, but I'm a Local Boy, and this one is important.)


Sammy Baugh died yesterday.

Sammy Baugh was probably the greatest Redskin who ever played. He played for 16 years, back in the day when they played Both Ways. I think one year, he led the in passing, punting and interceptions (interceptions he caught, not interceptions he threw -- he played both ways, remember?).

There is a great story about the Baugh and the day he showed up for his first pro practice after a great college career at TCU. The head coach -- whose name escapes me -- said "I hear you're quite a passer."

"I can throw a bit," said Baugh.

"Let's see you hit that receiver in the eye," said the coach.

Baugh replied "Which eye?"

I don't know if it's true or not, but I don't care. Sammy Baugh was cool, back before so many pro football players were thugs and criminals and before the Washington franchise was systematically ruined by a nouveau riche little yard gnome.

R.I.P. Sammy Baugh.

Everybody ought to be thankful for something. I'm thankful for the Tastee Diner.


(Another post that has nothing to do with advertising)

About a year ago, we moved our office from a fairly desolate part of Silver Spring to the middle of Bethesda.

Now, not only can Karen and I bike -- or even walk -- to work, but also, we're in the middle of a great neighborhood. One of the Washington area's hot restaurant districts. But people who know me, know that my very favorite restaurant on earth is right across the street. It's the Tastee Diner, a gen-you-wine diner, circa my age.

Karen and I have been eating breakfast there every Friday for years, and now I can pop across the street for breakfast or lunch whenever I want. I had breakfast there this morning with my friend Dan Rosenthal of Rosenthal Partners. But even if Dan hadn't shown up, I wasn't alone. Marty was sitting at the next booth. And, of course Beth was working, Mario was cooking, Singh was up front -- it's just a wonderful little place. Heidi and David weren't there this morning, but we'll see them tomorrow. Along, probably, with Rich, Bob and Paul and a half-dozen other familiar faces.

There is pretty much nothing like the Tastee Diner. I'll put it up against any local diner in any city in the world.

And when I'm officially an Old Coot -- which could be any minute now -- I'm going to hang out there all day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Probably not viable at all


I just finished interviewing for a new art director. Well, I didn't just finish. But I'm done.

We found a good one, and we're all pretty excited. More on that later.

But along with the exhilaration of finding someone who you think is going to come in and really add something to the company comes the total buzz-kill of having to say "no" to a lot of other talented people. Some of them are looking for a job and some are looking for another job. But if you thought enough of someone to bring them in for an interview, you usually hate like hell to turn them down.

So if I win the lottery, I'm going to buy a building in (naturally) a cool part of town and put together a creative commune. Open to art directors, copywriters, web designers, graphic designers, producers, etc. and etc. Nobody gets turned down as long as there's room. Do your freelance thing, partner, pitch, team up -- whatever.

And prospective clients could wander in more or less like foremen who stop at the 7-11 to shop for day laborers. They'd step in the door and call out something like: " I need a copywriter who can write and produce radio, two art directors and a web designer! $85 an hour. Cash!"

Well, maybe not that last part, but the sort of "creative commune" idea is appealing. It would take all those talented people who ought to be working somewhere and put them together.

All I have to do is win the lottery first.

I'm not sure why I like this. I just do.


I think it's funny.

I mean, WTF, you know? It works.

(If you can't read the copy, it says "Now in the Swiss Countryside. Fashion Outlet."

For Fashion Outlet Zurich. I found it on I Believe in Advertising.

Friday, December 12, 2008

But I wish I had


My friend Mike Neff sent this to me and asked me if I'd written it.

Needless to say, I was flattered.



(P.S. Splint off the wounded hand and typing with two full fingers now; useless blog posts to increase in frequency soon.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

And once again, I didn't agree with anybody

We belong to Second Wind, a network for small agencies. It's a terrific resource for people like us.

One of the features they have is forums where you can post appeals for help or insight or just about anything. People ask if anybody knows where to get plastic job jackets, a good retail copywriter in Cleveland or what to do about spec creative in an RFP. Like that. It's all over the place and, like I said, a great resource.

But last week, someone put up a post, and the response from members -- and even the Second Wind staff -- surprised the hell out of me. The question was from someone who was using their client's competitor's name as Google search words. Not in the ad copy or web site anywhere. Just in the search terms. The competitors sent a cease and desist. "We believe they are just blowing smoke", the post said, "Are we right?"

Here's what shocked me. All of the replies were pretty much centered around whether or not the competitor could stop them -- not whether or not using the competition's name as a search term was ethical in the first place.

So I wrote a comment and allowed as how I didn't know whether or not the cease and desist would hold up or not, but that I thought the practice of using the competitor's name was pretty sleazy. Why, I asked, did they feel the need to trick people into coming across their client when they were searching for a competitor? I suggested they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

His reply was that he was never ashamed of putting his client's name in front of the public. "Isn't that the goal of advertising?" he said. He and another commenter both said they considered it giving the consumer a choice. A chance to "comparison shop".

What a bunch of crap.

I think this kind of trickery is pretty much the same as that practiced by those sleazoids who send you letters that are supposed to look like some kind of official government letter. If I had a client that had so little to offer that we had to resort to the Internet's version of bait-and-switch, I'd resign. And if I couldn't think of any better way to promote my client they should fire me.

(Full-disclosure: This exact thing is happening to a major client of a friend of mine. So I've seen this from the other side.)

I think it's two kinds of sad commentary on our business that a) this sort of trickery is practiced in the name of "advertising" and b) so many posters on Second Wind bought into it as an acceptable way of doing business.


Postscript: The next day somebody hijacked the comments on this blog and put up an ad for some sort of scam. Coincidence? I don't know. I have had this blog set up so that, unlike some blogs, I don't have to approve a comment before it goes up. I want the open exchange. But maybe that's a mistake.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Blame everybody -- especially people with money


Let's get one thing out of the way and understood.

I have nothing but sympathy for the family of Jdimytai Damour, the security worker who died in the crush of a Black Friday rush at Wal-Mart last week. And nothing but contempt for whomever's job it was to provide adequate security for the crowd.

That said, to blame the marketing and advertising as his family has, according to Ad Age Daily, claimed in their lawsuit is ridiculous. Wal-Mart, they say, "engaged in specific marketing and advertising techniques to specifically attract a large crowd and create an environment of frenzy and mayhem". I seriously doubt that Wal-Mart engaged in specific marketing and advertising to create frenzy and mayhem (mayhem?), but I do understand that the point of advertising for a Black Friday is precisely to attract a large crowd. Right? I mean, well Duh? as people younger than me used to say.

There is plenty of blame to go around on this one, but for crying out loud, don't blame the advertising. That's just stupid.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Poor quality -- funny joke




Sorry about the quality here, but this is a scan of a photocopy of something I found in CA years ago.

I just ran across it looking for something else and thought I'd share.

You know, absent a post of any real substance.

Monday, December 1, 2008

This a little much, I think.


In fact, it's my nominee for the worst tag line of the year. Sharp Aquos. For this gem:

"Change your TV. Change your life."

Change your life? Really?

Wow.

Once again, I am stunned that somebody got paid for that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This is kind of all over the ad blogs



But maybe you don't read the ad blogs.

I think it's a beautiful spot. As Adrants says:" Is it really that difficult to let two people who love each other live their lives they way they choose?"

Shouldn't be.

In any case, this is a great spot. Unfortunately, it runs in Sweden, not here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Painfully simple, way past cool - Part II



This, for Pantene Pro-V shampoo, is the work of Grey Worldwide in Lebanon.

Somehow, it's kind of hard to imagine advertising in Lebanon. I don't know why. It just is.

Found on I believe in Advertising.

Which is it?



"Yikes!"? or "Yipes!"?

I think they mean the same thing, but I'm kind of partial to "yipes!".

Monday, November 17, 2008

Once again I am, like, so totally offended


I've gone over this before. The whole "I'm offended" thing.

The online ad above ran over the weekend for Motrin, and apparently it started a total s***storm among Young Moms Who Like to Wear Their Children.

I've looked at the spot several times and read the Adfreak post that says the spot comes across as insulting to moms because it apparently implies that they wear their babies like "fashion accessories". I don't get it. I think it's a good spot. It merely points out -- in a lighthearted manner -- that if you get back pain from hauling junior around in a sling -- and it doesn't at all seem to me to imply that your reason for doing so is a bad one -- Motrin can help with the muscle pain. Exactly what in the spot is not true?

But apparently Twitter lit up with angry complaints about it.

Geeze ladies, Get over yourselves. Why is this a problem? After all, you do wear the child in a sling, right, right? What do you care if Motrin says so in an Internet spot? Seriously. I mean, check this out.

Of course, every time I see a woman or man hauling a child around in one of those slings where the kid is on their chest facing out (I suppose so the world can see what an adorable child they have), my first thought is of those scenes in the "Alien" movies where the space monster "hatches" by bursting out of somebody's chest.

But that movie totally offended me.


UPDATE:

Adrants had a much better, more real-world post about it here.

"
. . . yet again" the post reads, "America has lost its sense of humor and has gotten its underwear up its crack over an innocuous Motrin ad which pokes fun at babywearing."

Well said.


Monday, November 10, 2008

One foot in each camp


As a short film, this is pretty hysterical. As a commercial for Bell South, it's crap.

Painfully simple, way past cool


This is from Y&R London.

There is exactly one perfect way to use one of those flexible buses and this is it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

P.T. Who? Said what?


I saw an ad for this in a magazine while I was waiting to get my haircut yesterday.

I'm not EXACTLY sure why it's funny, but it is. The claim is that with the sled-like thing pictured above, you can get a complete exercise workout in just 4 minutes. For a cool $14,615.

The web site is a scream all in itself. For example:

"Our excellent ROM machine has been a marketing nightmare since 1990 when it first came out on the market." No kidding. Maybe that's because it's $14,615.

"The biggest problem is that 4 minutes seems to good to be true . . " No kidding. Wonder why?

"An equally big marketing problem is the very high selling price . . ." Ya think?

I could go on, but you need to see for yourself. It's pretty funny. I especially the part discounting the "so-called experts."

FYI - $14,615 works out to about $20 a DAY.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ok then, how about THIS one?


This will be relatively short and poorly typed.

(Maybe I'll develop a whole new style of writing -- sort of like how Lowell George became a great slide guitar player after he was forced to do so when he cut the tendons on his left hand and could no longer curl his fingers around the neck. That's also why Dr. John switched from guitar to piano. Right. Me, Dr. John and Lowell George.)

Anyway, how often do you hear about a client who is unhappy with their agency because the agency folk don't show enough initiative, don't suggest enough projects or come forth with enough unsolicited new ideas? That often seems to dwell near the top of a client's Things I Hate About My Agency list.

I'm of two minds about it. On one hand, I usually start to salivate a bit when I hear this, because we're good at initiative and pushing ideas, and that usually spells an opening for us.

But on the other hand, I have to wonder if the Other Agency is getting paid for all that desired original thinking. Or are they expected to throw a lot of what amounts to spec work for a current client up on the wall in hopes of making something on the production if the client buys into it? (But walking away empty-handed having invested time and resources in the Thinking It Up if they don't.)

I've said it before (and even offered to fight about it, I think -- and I'm a terrible fighter) and I'll say it again. Agencies do not and should not depend on production for their income. We should not be expected to give away what we have to offer that is of most value - our thinking and our ideas - for a production paycheck.

Want lots of ideas and thinking from your agency? Pay for it. Maybe pay a reasonable monthly fee and expect the flow of ideas to stay open. If the ideas you get continue to suck, something is wrong. Fix it or fire the agency.

An agency should be in the business of ideas - generating them as well as executing them. They should get paid for all of it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

This would be 2.5 Odys




One of the things I've been exposed to since hurting my hand is an "odynometer", a device for measuring pain. I guess the more the odys, the greater the pain.

I wonder how Ody Leonard, ACD at Bomstein, feels about this?


Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm a stupid, stupid man



















Which is how I managed to sever a tendon in my hand carving a pumpkin the other night. Knives, it turns out, are sharp as hell.

I mean, who knew?

So after surgery yesterday, my left hand -- except for my thumb -- is totally out of commission. And for a writer who is a two-fingered typist, that's going to be a problem for the next 6 weeks.

Not to mention all that other stuff that takes two hands. At the very least, I'm starting to re-think my fondness for Levi's 501 button-fly jeans.

So these posts will be shorter for a while as I learn to type with one finger and one thumb. Bear with me.

I'm a stupid, stupid man.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No disrespect intended, I'm sure


But this is one hell of a good cover letter. Sure got my attention. It came today in response to the listing we have on Craig's List for an art director.


"Here's a cover letter for you.

I really need to get the hell out of Ohio."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our art director is moving to San Francisco


She's moving for love. Actually, she moved here for love too. Maybe she just loves to move. Be that as it may, who could really blame her? It's San Freaking Francisco.

But it means that we'll need to replace her after she's gone in late December.

CONS: We're small and everybody wears a lot of hats. We can't pay what the Big Guys pay and you'll probably never go to Toronto to shoot or LA to edit.

PROS: Good people, good work, good clients, good location, good environment, competitive salary. Plus, we're small, so you'll get to see your fingerprints on everything and get a lot of freedom.

You should know how to use all the necessary programs, and if you don't know what those are, I can't help you. We'd like somebody with agency experience unless we see a shockingly good reason not to worry about it.

Send a cover note or a resume-like thing and some PDF or JPG samples to: art.director@nasuti.com.

There's a link on here somewhere so you can see the kind of work we do.

Please don't call. I can't find the phone.






Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yeah, but this, I like



I was never much of a fan of the original "Wassup?" campaign. I just thought it was stupid. As a short film -- which is what it was originally -- it was good. As a commercial, not so much, I thought. Although I did think the "Howyoudoin?" spot was funny, if you thought if as a spoof of the original. Which it wasn't.

Anyway, this is the same guys 8 years later. It's not for Bud, as the opening makes clear. It's a political ad.

Like I said, I do like this. I know you didn't ask, but there it is.

Don't tell anybody you saw this



You weren't allowed. According to Illegal Advertising, this spot was produced in 2006 by the United Nations just for American television, but nobody ever saw it, because it never aired.

Too controversial.

Shouldn't we worry more about land mines than commercials opposed to them?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'll know it when I see it but until then, just pretend I'm not here


We've been working on some Brand Development with a new client lately. A credit union in our area. And it's been a great experience, because the CEO is totally tuned in and involved. He doesn't just delegate to his marketing people and sweep in at the last second to give the thinking a thumbs-up or thumbs down.

And frankly, that's one reason we think it's going so well. We're excited about where this is going to go and the future of working with these people. And a lot of credit goes to the marketing VP who is not so threatened that she doesn't want him involved. She understands the importance of his direct engagement with us. And so does he.

But I've met a couple of marketing VP's or directors who didn't want the CEO involved, and both times the results were disastrous.

One was with a satellite communications company. We were working on a new print campaign that involved illustrations. What we had to do was get an illustration that the marketing minion thought the marketing director would like enough to show to the unit president to see if he liked it enough to show it to the CEO. That's a whole ****load of layers to work through, each one based on what somebody thought the next level would like. After about the fifth false start (and resulting kill fee), I had the temerity to suggest that perhaps things would go more smoothly if we could talk directly to the CEO to see what she liked and didn't like (because "like" was, apparently a factor in this). Or at least, I asked, could we get some face time with John the unit president.

The marketing director threw a fit and stormed out of the room.

Bottom line, they spent as much on kill fees as they spent on the final art.

(Side note: The CEO had mandated that we never use black and orange, because she used to work for MCI and it was not a good experience for her. Maybe we were better off not meeting with her directly.)

Another time, we'd been working with a startup telecommunications company. After some real initial success, this company eventually lost their way a bit as they got bigger, and they started to emulate Bell Atlantic -- which they had originally held up as what they did not want to become. Up to that point, we'd had a great deal of success producing smart, effective materials for them, a point their new marketing VP (from -- ahem -- Bell Atlantic) noted when she met us the first time and asked us what we thought was the primary reason for that sucess.

We answered without hesitation: "Access to Charlie (the CEO) and his involvement in the advertising."

"Well," she answered, "that's over with. You will deal only with me." She went on to say that even she didn't want to get too directly involved. She simply wanted to review everything at the last minute and tell us whether whatever it was we'd done was sponge-worthy or not.

Needless to say we were gone within six months when she held an agency review and we declined to participate. The company itself was gone fewer than six months after that.

I understand that CEO's are busy people. But the more they are willing to be involved in their branding, marketing and marketing communications, the better -- and more cost efficient -- it is going to be.

Not mention working with your agency or creative thinking firm is bound to be a hell of a lot more fun than meeting with your lawyers or accountants.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A bar in a movie theater? What a a great idea.


But not as great an idea as these popcorn boxes to promote it.

From Calgary, Canada, by way of I believe in Advertising. Highwood Communications is the agency.

Now I'm thirsty.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This for those of you who just got our e-mail

I don't know why for sure, but whenever we send out a self-promotion e-mail ("Particles of Thought"), a lot of people click through to this here blog-thing instead of our web site.

This is in spite of all the "read more here", "click here to live forever" or "visit our web site first, or we'll burn your house down" messages we include in the e-mail.

Whatever the reason, here you are. Thanks for coming.

So let's get to it.

The economy sucks right now. Any arguments there? Didn't think so. Blame anybody you want, debate what to do about it and wonder how long it will last, but I think we can all pretty much agree this is not our finest hour. The question is, how do you get through it?

We've said before on J.I.T.D. that about the worst thing you can do is totally eliminate your advertising and hide out, hoping it will all blow over soon. Seriously. That's not going to work, and there is all kinds of hard data that supports that point of view. (Rather than belabor the point, see previous blog post here. And here. And we even put something on our web site. Here.)

But beyond just refusing to bury your head in the sand, one thing you can do is develop your brand. Brand development is worth doing for a whole bunch of good reasons. (And in a shameless agency plug, I will tell you that we know how to do it.) For one thing, a strong brand can help you build customer loyalty -- and loyal customers will often pay more for your brand, will only minimally consider the competition, and won't bail when you need them the most.

Also, a strong brand can combat or minimize the effects of price-cutting by your competition, help you with any new products or services you may introduce to address the situation, and give you more negotiation leverage with people like channel marketing partners.

Here's something else I like a lot about a clearly defined brand: It gives you a great brand lens through which to evaluate business decisions. A business decision that fits into your brand is a better business decision than one that doesn't. And times like these don't allow much margin for error on business decisions, do they?

And, although I said I wouldn't belabor the point about advertising, I have to say that a strong brand can allow for a much less cost-efficient advertising program. Cost-efficient being another way to spell "less expensive".

This recession-like thing isn't going to last forever, but it isn't going away any time soon. No matter who gets elected in three weeks, and no matter how much money the Gubbmint spends on bailouts. Trust me on this.

But you don't have to roll over for it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I know where those scams started

You know the ones. "I am the finance minister of blahblahblah" or "we found 20 zillion simoleans under a mattress need someone in America to deposit it for us" kind of things.

Or the one I got yesterday that informed me that the payment address for my Wachovia credit card which I do not have has changed and please send checks to the new place or just give us your account number please.

It was Soupy Sales. That's right, Uncle Soupy.

On January 1, 1965, Soupy finished his live show a bit early, He was already honked at having to work on New Year's Day, and he ad-libbed a bit, suggesting that kids everywhere find their parents' wallets and send him those "green pieces of paper" with pictures of George Washington and other presidents on them. The story is true, although he didn't get very much and managed only to piss off NBC. Read it here.

But he established the first rule of Internet scams: "If you do nothing more than tell people to send you money, some of them will.".

This may be one of the lamest posts I have ever put up. But it gave me the excuse I have been looking for to put up a picture of Soupy Sales AND use the word "simoleans".

Hooray for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I know, I know. It was on the Superbowl.



I'm not nuts about little kids to begin with -- except those related to me, of course. And as a general rule, I hate commercials with talking babies. I'm talking hurt-myself-lunging-for-the-remote-to change-the-channel hate.

But I love this spot for e-trade, and they've been playing it again lately.

The voiceover casting is perfect and the copy is terrific. I wonder if they shot the baby and then did a script to go with his movements.Whatever they did, I'm glad they did it.

This goes in the "wish I'd done that" file.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Are you one?

I am. Our son is. And now we find out that a copywriter in Denver is one too. And his dad.

And so is my favorite croc in Pearls Before Swine.

"One" being named "Larry".

(My real name is Lawrence. But my father was named Harry and my mother couldn't face having "Harry and Larry" around the house. But she still wanted to name me after the alcoholic uncle who'd been sober for a while. So her solution was the goofy nickname I will have until I die. But underneath all that, I'm sort of a Larry. At least I am to telemarketers who want me to think we're buddies.)

I couldn't fathom a guess at how many Larry or Lawrence Hinkles there are out there. A lot, I'm sure. When you start to filter it by how many are in advertising, though, the list gets smaller. Narrow it further to being a creative type and you winnow it down a bit more. Then when you consider just the copywriters (the truly elegant folk) -- well, if there are others, I'd like to meet them.

So, for your viewing pleasure, I give you Larry Hinkle, a damn good freelance copywriter in Denver Colorado. I'm just gonna HAVE to hire him some day.

But the croc is still my favorite.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Filler

There are two things on my mind this Monday morning. They are not related. They have nothing to do with one another. The main reason I have combined them here in one post - nay, the ONLY reason I have combined them here in one post - is to make the post longer. That makes me seem deeper and brighter. Or something. I did this in high school too, with book reports that had to be such-and-so length.


Anyway, let’s talk about spec work. You know what? As long as there are agencies out there who will continue to do it, it will never go away. Ever. I like these guys, dedicated to the notion that spec work devalues the potential of design and ultimately does a disservice to the client.


The other thing is the “I started out in New York . . . “ lead that so many ad people seem to tack onto their verbal bio, like we’re all supposed to be impressed. Ok, so I’m a little parochial here, but my initial reaction when I hear this is “and I was born in Hawaii. So what?” Geography is not a credential, I don’t think.


But I do think this was a nice length for a blog post when you can't think of anything of substance. You know, wide but shallow . . .

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Just when you thought you'd seen everything


This is a spot for a web site that hooks up married adults who want to have an affair. Really.

ESPN declined to run it. For a longer YouTube clip that includes a story on it, go here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hard to believe, but

Today, we got a written thank-you letter from someone Karen met with last week about possible new business.


Seriously.

I've written on a several occasions about some very poor business manners we've experienced, and sad to say, bad manners and clumsy behavior seem to be the norm in business. So this was a refreshing shock.

In fact, it is the second time this has happened. The first time was from Jim Grace, marketing director at Reico, who send us hand-written notes as we pitched that account.

With all the boobs and mannerless lugs out there these days, when someone takes the time to write you a note or a letter thanking you for investing your time, it really makes you think that, even though the designated hitter has nearly ruined baseball, the faux-hawk is the dumbest hairstyle for men ever, and the New Kids on the Block are drawing crowds on their reunion tour, there is still hope for a civilized world.