Monday, June 29, 2009

Will work for food

(Before you read another word, you should know that in my estimation, this is not a terribly well-organized post. But, in the spirit of Mark Twain, I don't have the time right now to make it shorter.)

There are way, way too many creative and agency/marketing/ etc. people out of work.

It's depressing. The number of quality of people looking for a position in our business is staggering. You could put together a damn good agency, design studio or interactive shop just with people on the street right now. Two or three or more of each, actually.

Of course, it's not just quality people in a tough spot. It's juniors and just-out-of-ad-school stars who can't land that first job. Even hacks. People with rent, car payments, mortgages, families, kids and student loans. It's somebody you know. It's a lot of people.

So maybe this is the time for the advertising community -- and I'm talking about the one in Washington, because that's, you know, where I am -- to pull together a bit more. You know, like at Woodstock when Wavy Gravy urged everybody to help feed everybody else? Maybe that's a bad example. Woodstock was a long time ago.

But it seems to me there ought to be some kinda something those of us who have jobs or agencies can do to help. Somehow. Or something.

Maybe we all get together for a Night at a Bar and people with jobs buy. Something kind of by and for the creative community. A little moral support, some introductions and a beer might go a long way.

Understand, I am not talking about some Ad Club networking function that costs anywhere from $25 to $50 just to attend and they take pictures and everything. Jesus God, no. I mean something a little more organic and casual than that. Something, you know, not-for-profit. Just meet at a bar somewhere.

When Eisner shut down a couple of years ago, somebody put together a web site for former Eisner folks to pimp themselves in hopes of a new job. That was a great sort of community thing, I thought. Pulling together in times of adversity and all that.

N+H is a teeny shop and, like everybody else, we're not exactly overbooked these days, so I can't give anybody any work right about now. Wish I could. Really.

But I sure can buy a couple of beers for somebody else and make some new friends and maybe help out in other ways. And I will.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The one single benefit of a :60 stop light

OK, if you're starting to feel all superior and everything because you live in the US of A and don't live in some third-world country like, oh, say, Peru, check this out. From Y&R in (you guessed it) Peru.

I like it.

Sometimes a pair of jeans is just a pair of jeans

And other times, apparently, there is oh, so much more to it than that.

According to the agency Fred and Farid in Paris, this campaign (found on I believe in Advertising) is more than a campaign signature.

"In today’s society, our animal instincts are smothered by daily modern life, city-living and constant technological developments," they say. "Man is an animal, but he no longer knows it. . . . [this campaign] is a reflection of the new vision of the Wrangler brand, repositioning itself through instinct and emotion. Each campaign will run across Europe, and will develop, substantiate and deepen this statement, reminding us that we are, before all else, animals."

Well, all-righty then. The photography here is wonderful, the creative is very cool. That statement is a bunch of pretentious crap."

Actually, these are the latest in a campaign that started last August. I didn't like it then, either. At least I'm consistent.

And at least now the models don't seem to be dead. Which is always a plus.

ADDENDUM 6/26 -- This campaign won a Gold Lion at Cannes. This means that either I am an idiot who just freaking doesn't get it or that advertising and its awards shows are more full of themselves than anybody thought.

I'd say that it's probably a lot of both.

(Please note the gratuitous use of color above.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No, look, seriously, really. I have nothing against self-promotion.

But there is a new agency here in the Washington area that so far is sort of all form and no function, to mix metaphors.

The owner of a successful medium-sized agency has decided to Call it a Day and Enjoy Life, and is closing the doors. Which ended gainful employment for a whole lot of people. A few of the senior folks are going out on their own and are positioning their new venture as a "new breed" of advertising agency. The agency of tomorrow.

Um, ok. Where have you heard that before?

Funny thing is, the most significant quote about what the agency of today (or tomorrow) ought to be is from the guy who just closed the shop. As in "you won't see him hanging around the new office." Of course, the new agency is made up of forward-thinkers, whose expertise covers everything. They're going to be a different sort of agency from all the existing schlubs around here.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty freaking excited.

Of course, there's not a single word of just how they will be different. Oh wait, they are going to generate powerful ideas and make every marketing dollar count. Now that's a novel approach.

Look, this post sounds kind of mean-spirited. I don't mean it that way. But come on. If you're going to crown yourself as something new, don't start off with a bunch of old-fashioned agency B.S. hyperbole. Be something new. Be a mutant.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Then again . . .

Yesterday, I put up a post about how the over 50 set is spending most of the money (that's kind of a gross summary, but feel free to read the whole thing yourself -- it's just below).

The point was, sort of, that it is odd that consumers are mostly over 50 but the creative people at agencies are not. Specifically, by next year 50% of all consumer spending will be done by people over 50, but the average age in the creative department of an agency is 28. Not surprisingly, people over 50 generally feel they are ignored or portrayed negatively by advertising.

And today, Adweek reports that 45% of 18-34 year-olds reported being at least somewhat influenced by advertising in their purchasing decisions, compared to 38% of 45-55 year-olds.

"This pattern of response" says the piece, "will not please people who think advertisers pay too little attention to older consumers, as it suggests the elders would be more resistant in any case, while young adults are still comparatively impressionable."

(Well, it pleased me, because it made such a perfect partner with yesterday's post and keeps everybody safely confused. Which I think it a good way to be most of the time. Confused.)

Also, 18-34 year-olds were the most likely in the poll to find today's advertising interesting, while 45-55 year-olds were the least likely. Of course, this makes perfect sense, since most of it is produced by 20-somethings.

So let's try to summarize, shall we?

Plus 50 spends most of the money but most of the ads are done by people much younger while people much younger are most likely to be influenced by advertising and also most likely to find it interesting except that the people who are actually spending most of the money and should be targeted by most advertising are least influenced and find it least interesting . . . but that's probably because it's done by people much younger than they are.

I think there is something to learn in all this. Is it, as the Adweek piece says that older people are more "resistant" to advertising or is it more that they don't respond to advertising created by 20-somethings for 20-somethings? I think that's two different things.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A few interesting thoughts on age

As long ago as 1971 with the publication of Jerry Della Femina's great book "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor", it's been pretty well accepted that advertising is a business full of young people.

Probably before, even.

So here comes something interesting, courtesy of MediaPost Publications and their daily e-newsletter. Please sit quietly and I will quote it:

"According to McKinesy Consulting, by 2010, 50% of all consumer spending in America will be by people over the age of 50. And yet, the average age of an advertising agency creative person is 28. In fact, nationwide, less that 5% of [all] agency personnel are over 50."

If you don't subscribe to this free newsletter, you can read the whole piece here.

Because they can say it much better than I could, here is some more stuff right outa the articles:
  • "People 50+ earn $2.4 trillion annually compared to $1 trillion for the 18-34 group.
  • "According to McKinsey, people 50+ generate 41% of all disposable income.
  • "They buy 60% of all packaged goods, over half of all new cars and spend 75% more per vacation than consumers under 50.
  • "In 2007, people over 50 spent 3.5 times the national average holiday shopping online.

"And yet, nationwide research by AARP shows that the majority of consumers over 50 feels that advertising and marketing either portrays them negatively or ignores them altogether.

"Why? Because it's being created by people at least 20 years younger. "

(Notice the correct use of quotation marks please.)

I don't think there is any doubt at all that younger people understand the use, meaning and value of things like social networking and the Internet better than the coots still at the agency. Or that they do great creative nobody ever thought of doing before. But it does seem to me that if your target is in their 20's then perhaps an Old Guy is not in the very best position to do the creative.

Of course, by the same token . . .

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm not sure I understand this

How come is it that Bon Jovi gets invited to State Dinners at the White House, but Trombone Shorty , a.k.a. Troy Andrews (who will put on the most incredible show of Contemporary M'Awlins Music you will ever see) still plays mostly clubs and festivals?

C'mon. Somebody answer me that.

Friday, June 19, 2009

This could be part of the reason I am the way I am

This is a special Father's Day Blog post. And it has nothing at all to do with advertising. So feel free to move on to Adfreak or that porn site you were looking for if you want.

This morning, having breakfast at my favorite restaurant -- Bethesda's Tastee Diner -- I saw a TV segment on words of wisdom passed on to us by our fathers. My father has been gone for 30 years now, and I am sure that he gave me plenty of advice in his lifetime, but for some reason there is one that sticks in my mind more than others.

He told me that I should not tuck my shirt into my underpants.

He said that this would pull my underpants up outside my pants. This was not yet fashionable when I was 8 years old. Why this has stuck with me all these years is anybody's guess. I am not even really sure why I had been tucking my shirt into my underpants in the first place. Maybe I was way ahead of my time, sartorially speaking. More likely I was then, as I am now, an idiot. But there it is. Fashion advice from Harry Hinkle (seen at left in his high-school picture, circa 1937.)

And as I write this, somehow, the thought of me, my underpants and my father reminds me of the time that, at about 6 or 7, I was going "commando" for reasons known best only to myself and as I zipped up, I managed to get a fairly sensitive part of my anatomy caught in the zipper. That would have been my johnson. You know, my weiner, my burrito, my wrench, my pud, my trouser snake. Call it what you will, it was caught in my zipper and it hurt like hell.

And honest to God, I didn't know whether I should zip up or zip down at that point. Fortunately for me, my father knew the answer. Down. Definitely down.

I'm sure I remember him laughing as he yanked it down and released that bald-headed mouse from the zipper. Actually, the whole family had gathered 'round for it, both my parents and both of my sisters. Another Hinkle family event. We were close like that.

I remember my mother asking me why the hell I was wearing shorts with no underpants. Beats the hell out of me, but I sure haven't done it since then. Some lessons are learned more quickly than others.

Anyway, Happy Father's Day to my Dad. It's been 30 years, but I still miss him.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This is something black folks and white folks can all agree on

This is a stupid campaign.

Stereotype white-than-white white people are morons acting out black stereotypes. Or something.

I mean, I just don't get the connection between a white guy acting like his idea of a black guy and a liquor store with good prices.

But then, I'm a hopeless hack. Maybe someone who really understands creative can 'splain it to me.

Personally, black and white people both have a good reason to burn the place to the ground, I think.

From Brew in Chicago, via Ads of the World.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Well yeah, this is kind of gruesome

But then two of my favorite shows are True Blood and Dexter, so what the hell do I know?

From BETC Euro RSCG, Paris via I Believe in Advertising.

(That's Paris, France. Not Paris Texas; Paris Idaho; Paris, Kentucky; Paris, Michigan; Paris, Mississippi; Paris Missouri; Paris, Arkansas -- or Paris Hilton.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This is pretty freaking cool

It's for Ketchup (or Catsup if you must).

Heinz Ketchup/Catsup to be precise. I found it on Illegal Advertising, but don't know who did it. Based on what you see when you follow the YouTube links, my guess it it was somebody in Germany. Or somebody who writes in what looks to me like German.

It kind of reminds me of Stomp.

I just love Stomp.

I'm not a doctor

And we're not a law firm or anything like that.

But as a service firm, we are consultants. I mean, we get paid to tell our clients what sort of advertising they ought to run, if they ought to run advertising, what the message out to be and so forth and so forth.

It's what we sell. Like, for a living.

So why is it that some people are so comfortable asking for free advice? If you want to pay us to work out your media strategy fine. But if you're going to do it yourself to save the money, don't send us e-mails asking whether you should be on the right-hand page or the left, whether you ought to be in the special section or not.

See, here's how it works (take notes if you must): If you hire somebody like us to place your media, then somebody like us does that sort of thinking and advising for you. If you opt not to hire somebody like us to do that work, then nobody like us has any reason to do that sort of thing for you for free.

It's commerce, m'dear. Capitalism. The American way.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jeeze -- is EVERYTHING Rethink does great?

This is for the Victoria Bug Zoo.

By Rethink of Vancouver, BC

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sometimes, the more expensive something is, the less they want to spend to sell it.

"That's a real fine Thingamajig you've got for sale there."

"You best. Best there is. No finer Thingamajig in the land. Best money can buy."

"I see that."

"But it's not cheap. Gonna cost you a fair amount if you want this particular Thingamajig. See that price tag?"

"Wow! That is expensive. Maybe I should just get one of those cheaper Thingamajigs at the discount economy place."

"Hold on there, son. You get what you pay for. Pay less, and you'll get a lower-quality Thingamajig. Why this here Thingamajig is better than those economy Thingamajigs. It's worth the extra."

"Well, maybe I could make my own Thingamajig. Sort of like in-house."

"Son, listen to me. What are, a lawyer? Doctor? Butcher? Indian chief? What is it?"

"I'm a cardiologist."

"Well, see there? That's a real hard thing to do, and I'm sure you're a right smart young man and good at cardiology. But you know, cardiology and Thingamajig making are two different things. Two. Different. Things. You got to go with the professionals. Can't just anybody make a Thingamajig. Not like this Thingamajig anyway."

"OK. You've convinced me. I believe you. Your Thingamajig is better than cheaper Thingamajigs, and worth the extra money, and I sure won't make the mistake of trying to make one myself. No sir. I'm going to invest in quality."

"Good thinking, m'boy. Good thinking. I knew you were a smart lad when you walked in here."

"Thanks. Say, who designed your logo? And your web site? Who does your advertising?"

"Funny you asked. I did the logo m'self. Didn't want to have to pay those design folks for something I can do cheaper. My cousin's niece did the web site. She's pretty handy with a computer. And as far as the advertising is concerned, I buy that strictly on price. The cheapest agency gets the work. Why sometimes, the TV station or publication will do it for almost free! Can you beat that?"

"No, I don't imagine that I can. So anyway, you're sure this Thingamajig is worth the extra money I'm paying?"

"Absolutely my boy. Absolutely. You can't be thinking about price first when it comes to Thingamajigs. You got to realize, this is an investment."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This is old. But classic.

And it's as true as it ever was, I think.

Even in this day of SEO and PPC and Twitter and all the rest, you'll do a lot better if your customers or prospects know something about you.

I get a lot of e-mails from photographers

And their reps too. I can't imagine the volume the bigger agencies get. I'd say about half of what comes is sort of the same stuff. Kind of over and over.

Then there's stuff like this.

I wouldn't know Aaron Kober if I fell over him. And I couldn't begin to tell you what this picture might be for. But I love it. I'm not pimping for this guy, but I like the way his mind works.

Kinda strange, you know?

His rep is Salzman International. Please don't sue me for putting this on our blog.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

With all due respect . . .

Wandering through Linkedin while eating lunch, I came across this little gem from the principal of another agency in town:

"The (AGENCY NAME) and I specialize in:
--Marketing Research
--Graphic Design
--Strategic Planning
--Online Marketing
--Media Buying
--Website Analysis
--Public Relations
--Creative Development
--Event Planning
--Direct Marketing
--Advertising & Production
--Product Placement
--Printing & Related Services, & more."

So let me get this straight. This person and their agency specialize in no fewer than 14 things. "& more."

That's ridiculous.

More than just bananas and pineapples

There is a good piece in today's Ad Age about marketing in a recession.

Bill Pearce, CMO of Del Monte, suggests that, among other things, companies ought not simply make cuts across the board. But the more interesting of the suggestions he made were, I thought:

#2 - Reassess your market,

#4 - Do some homework,

#5 - Understand that value messaging isn't always about the lowest price, and

#8 - Turn a crisis into an opportunity.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This would work better for me if I knew what the $@% Voltaren is

Then again, perhaps if I lived in Switzerland, where these appeared, I would.

It's a pain relieving cream. Like Ben-Gay or something. Whatever it is, I think these are kind of interesting. Maybe as art more than as advertising. A little obscure, but still . . .

By Saatchi and Saatchi Simko, Geneva. Via I Believe in Advertising.