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.


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.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Now we're conflicted.

"We" being all right-thinking Americans who have for two years watched Dexter with a passion.

Dexter, the lovable serial killer.

Dexter the lovable serial killer who now comes on Showtime at the
exact same time True Blood -- the vampire show that Tracy and Jessica got me all excited about so I stayed home alone last night watching the first three episodes in a row on On Demand and now I'm hooked -- is coming on HBO.

9 p.m. Sunday is getting kind of crowded. One of them will have to wait until Monday.

WTF HBO? The 10 p.m. slot wasn't available?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This seems kind of timely

I’m familiar with the old adage about when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Honest.

And let’s all agree that I work for an ad agency. So, it’s a given that I believe in advertising and creativity as practical business tools. It even says so on our web site. I think advertising can help a business attract more customers, get a premium price and more than pay for itself.

But even with all those caveats, it’s really hard for me to understand the logic behind cutting or eliminating your advertising (or, said another way “stop trying to attract business”) when business declines.

Seriously. I don’t get it. Sure, you need to cut costs across the board when your revenues are down. But cost-cutting is, for the most part, a short-term solution. Advertising is one of the few things that can actually help you reverse that trend and build revenue for the long haul. Why cut it to a point where it can’t help you?

“We’re going to hold off on any advertising until business gets better” is like saying “I’m not going to go see a cardiologist until that pain in my chest goes away.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

That'd do it all right

“So Larry, how can we illustrate the dangers of barbecue fires?"

"I don't know, Floyd. How about if we actually set some guy on fire and have him pass out literature at a picnic?"

This was at a Barbecue Festival in Belgium last week.,

And you thought those people on the subway with the big backpacks disrupt the people standing behind them.

Mine are on some guy in Denver

I kind of like tattoos. I even have a couple.

But I do believe I will go my grave not understanding why someone would get one in a place
they will never themselves see.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Seeing is believing

Hard to argue with the evidence here.

This is part of an anti-littering campaign in

If you don't feel like blowing it up, the copy says "This is the rubbish dropped around this bus stop since Monday." And, of course, every day it builds up.

I'm not sure I'd like it if I was Channel 46 News

But I do like it.

Found this on Adrants.

Fletcher Martin
in Atlanta is hijacking billboards with Arby's balloons during rush hour. I think it's pretty cool.

Legal? Ethical? Polite? I don't know.

Smart and effective? You betcha.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

There must be something in the water in Canada

They do such great work up there. Like this by TBWA/Vancouver for the BC Lung Association.

As a copywriter, I'm a big fan of all-type ads. This is, I think, just brilliant.

A lesser art director would have felt the need to insert a photo of a cigarette. Or some guy smoking. One from New York would have felt obligated to get Annie Liebowitz to shoot it.

Mies Van Der Rohe was right.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Doesn't this look like great fun? Just don't do it.

Ok, I'm confused.

The other night I saw a spot for Jeep Wrangler. Typical "ain't it fun in a Jeep?" spot. Lots of laughs and thrills as they drive up steep hills, bounced through streams and went all over everywhere your typical Saturn won't go.

Then, as the young folks in the Jeep finished this wild and hairy run, they all laughed and caught their breath and then agreed to "go again!" Wahoo!

The tag line was something about how it just SOOOO much fun in a Jeep.

Of course, in the first few seconds of the spot the mice type across the screen alerted us to the fact that these stunts had been performed by professional drivers on a closed track and we should not try any of these things ourselves.

That is to say buy a Jeep because the car will do all of these things, but you shouldn't do these things. Or something. Just didn't make a lot of sense to me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The beauty of letterpress

Chris Fuller of DM2, an agency in the Brand Establishment network we belong to, turned me on to this lovely short (6 minutes) film on letterpress.

Even on his iPhone it was beautiful.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Actually, we're in business just for the cheap thrills

About two years ago, we presented a client/friend with four (or more) concepts for an image ad. They picked one. The one I liked best, actually.

Then, this past February, they got in touch with a sort of “Hey you know those ads you proposed to us that we didn’t pick? We think one of them is just perfect for an ad in a golf tournament program. How much to just whip up the artwork for us?” We explained as we had originally that the unchosen concepts were still our intellectual property, and the ideas they didn’t pick on the first go-round weren’t theirs to use unless they paid us for them, but that just to be good guys, we said we’d go ahead and do the production art and let them use the concept that one time.

That. One. Time.

So last week, they called about another one of the concepts. This time, they said that if it was going to be too much for us to do the artwork, they could just go ahead and find some freelancer to do it. Hello?

Well, there is little we can do or want to do, really, to stop them. We know they would no more pay us for the use of our concept than they would give away one of their luxury condos. So we’re not going to try. On one level, it’s not that big of a deal.

But on another it is. In my mind at least. Because the one thing we have of value to sell is not our ability to produce camera-ready art (to use a dated term), but to come up with the freaking idea in the first place. That’s what separates every agency from every other agency.

(It’s funny how often people think you should be so flattered that they like more than one idea you have presented that you ought to let them have both for the price of one. “Hey, I really, really like the Benz and the Beamer. How about a little two-for-one action here, what do you say?” would get you laughed out of the dealership.)

But clients have been conditioned to believe that agencies will give away their ideas in the hope of producing them. And ad agencies have been a instrumental in creating this perception. Especially those who do spec. That may have been the model back when the 15% commission and expense markups ruled, but not anymore.

Agencies do not (or certainly should not) make their money on production, media commissions or markups of outside expenses. It’s not fair to us. And it’s certainly not fair to clients to expect them to compensate their agency based strictly on the time it takes them to do their work, the size of the media budget, the cost of the photographer, illustrator or printing and so on. As opposed to, I don’t know, the value of the thinking perhaps?

We shouldn’t give away our valuable ideas in order to make a few pennies on production.

And, apparently, neither should we leave boards behind for any length of time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Every headline I can think of for this is inadequate

A few years ago a photographer dropped by with his book and in it were a bunch of pictures of people literally string up by hooks and chains. I can't remember exactly what it was for, but it was an ad campaign and it completely, totally, utterly and without question creeped me out.

This does too.

I found it on copyranter, who found it on the Denver Eogist.

This freak show was put on in a London store window to protest mutilating sharks to make shark fin soup. I am definitely not in favor of mistreating animals for any reason, Certainly not for soup. But I agree with the Egoist whose headline was: "File under frickin' nutbag".

This is British performance artist (and card-carrying lunatic, I suspect) Alice Newstead hanging by shark hooks in a London soap shop (a soap shop? WTF?).

"How," asks the Egoist with all due sarcasm, "are we
supposed to keep up by doing tri-fold brochures for clients when the world’s freaks keep raising the advertising bar with methods like this?"

How indeed?

See more here if you're inclined to.