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:

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


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.