Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How many people does it take to do a billboard?

Apparently a shitload. At least in this case.

This is a billboard from Taxi in Canada. Now, Taxi does great work. But I must be missing something here. A gazillion people working on the account and that's it?

You see, the reason I posted this from Ads of the World is because of the credits. Looky here:

Advertising Agency: Taxi, Canada
Executive Creative Director: Darren Clarke
Associate Creative Directors: Nathan Monteith, Stefan Wegner
Art Director: Nathan Monteith
Designer: David Taylor
Writer: Stefan Wegner
Photographer: Stefan Wegner
Illustrator: Michael Siegers
Digital Imaging: Nabil Elsaadi, Michael Siegers
Mac Artists: Chris Smith, Nancy Hanninen
Agency Print Producers: Estella Tolentino, Tara Greguric
Account Director: Charlie Clark
Account Manager: Christian Parsons
Agency Planner: Adam Collins
Media Agency: Media Edge
Media Agency Planner: Karla Stuewe

We don't have that many people in our entire freaking agency. So I guess we could never do a billboard. At least not one as complex as - well, maybe we could.

Just to be on the safe side, I'm gonna go with "there's more to the campaign than just this billboard you moron" before somebody else says it. But still . . .

Reminds me of not long ago when a big local agency won a pile of Addys for poster-type ads for a passenger railway. They were done by a very good, well-known illustrator and carried headlines like "Silver Streak" or whatever. I mean, no headlines at all, really. The illustration was everything.

But in the showbook credits there was only one person who went uncredited. You guessed it, the illustrator.

Everybody else got their name in the book. That is to say, everybody but the one guy who really made the ads what they were.

Anyway, there it is.

A billboard.

Filler on an August day

This is Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal about something or the other, made a point this morning that I liked.

"Every big idea that works is marked by simplicity, by clarity" she said. She further wrote that "when normal people don't know what words mean, they don't say to themselves 'I may not understand, but [I trust them]' . . . . They think "I can't get what these people are talking about. They must be trying to get one past me."

Which gets me to promotional disclaimers. Over the years, I've had to put disclaimers, conditions, exclusions and all kind of things in ads for special promotions and offers that were so long and baffling that I found myself wondering why the hell anybody would take us up on our offer or enter our contest.

What's wrong with just "Buy one, get one free," or "two nights for the price of one" and the like? It just seems to me that when you put all the this and that and the other thing in the mice type or somebodytalksreallyreallyfast at the end of the spot, it just tells the audience to watch out. It seems to be sending a message that there are potentially so many strings attached that if you've got the good sense God gave a goat, you'll take a pass.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Maybe he was really talking about (name withheld)'s web site

I think our web site is pretty good.

You can learn something about us, see some of the work we do, get a glimpse of our thinking, see what we look like, find a link to our blog and even get directions to the office.

I also think it's pretty representative of the kind of work we'll do for a client. I mean, shouldn't it be?

But something that absolutely knocks me out again and again and again is how many times we run across a prospect or client who is devoting most or all of their budget to their web site and when we look up the company that did the site (and it seems like the worst ones feel the need to sign the work they got paid to do), their own site is what one might kindly call a "abomination."

Tracy saw one this week that she said made her "dizzy".

And more often that not, these terrible hacks claim to offer everything from branding to public relations to print design and tantric massage. But their own site - presumably a product of their core competency - looks like a steaming pile of dog-doo.

There are some terrific web people out there. Like the hot shots in New York (in addition to the big interactive agencies, Brooklyn's Orange You Glad comes to mind) and some wonderful local ones like Sumo and Radium Interactive. This is not intended to be a blanket condemnation of people who specialize in or do a lot of web design. So if you think this a crack on web design firms, you're mistaken. It's a crack on people who sell web design but can't seem to even do one of their own worth looking at.

I just wonder whether people who hire these klutzes with horrible web sites for web site design, don't care, don't know or don't bother to look and see what kind of shoes the cobbler's kids are wearing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

But then Plunkett and McLayne is one of my all-time favorite movies

I'm going to tell you now, this video is more than 5 minutes long.

It's a one-take, one shot, one everything one-of-a-kind spot for Johnnie Walker scotch. Robert Carlyle (Plunkett and MacLayne, Trainspotters, The Full Monty, etc.) is perfect. As the boys on AdFreak say, when was the last time you paid attention to a five-minute commercial?


This is a great idea, if I do say so myself. Perhaps even brilliant.

OK, this hit me over the weekend.

There's this Cash for Clunkers program where -- as I understand it -- the gubbmint is funding cash payments of up to $4,500 for crappy old cars so long as you buy a new fuel-efficient one.

The point of this, I believe, is to boost the American automotive industry -- those wonderful folks who have been churning out poorly made junk for years and years and now find themselves in a huge bind. I guess part of the justification for spending a couple of billion of our tax dollars is also to encourage fuel efficiency, but people who sell cars are lovin' Cash for Clunkers. Lovin' it.

Trust me on this.

So here's my idea. Cash for Crap.

If there was ever an industry that needed propping up in this economy, it's advertising -- agencies, media outlets, everybody. So how about if the Federal Government earmarks, oh, let's say $2.75 billion over the next six months to pay companies for their old, tired, outdated and just generally horrible, ineffective ad campaigns, so long as they go out and hire an agency to develop a new one and run it in various media outlets around town?

You just bring all of your old materials, briefs, files and everything into the agency, get a check for $4,500 and in a quaint, but meaningful little ceremony over an oil drum in the rear parking lot, you set it all on fire.

The agency promptly submits a chit to the newly formed "American Advertising Recovery Act Commission (AARAC) and within a matter of days (if not hours) gets a reimbursement check which is applied to the cost of the new campaign.

This would certainly stimulate a struggling industry. And it would also boost any number of local economies.

I mean, the government is freely spending our money to prop up and bail out other industries, why not ours?

I may be, as we all know, an idiot, but I have been thinking about this all weekend, and I can't think of anything about it that I don't like.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

This explains a lot of it, I think

I was in Ocean City, Maryland, this weekend and saw a hotsy-totsy-high-end-not-quite-what-you'd-call-luxury-but-certainly-a damn-big-damn-nice-hotel-slash-resort.

On the beach, 300-some rooms, lots of meeting space, two pools, indoor and outdoor bars. A real classy joint.

And it's owned by one guy. A pediatrician.

I'll repeat: one guys owns the whole freaking thing, and he's a pediatrician.

And that, boys and girls, is most of what you need to know about what's wrong with the health care system in this country.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I am so out of here I may hurt myself

Courtesy of my brother-in-law Mike and his darling wife Roni, Karen and I are at the beach for a couple of days.

Not that I update this thing every day, but you can take a break until Monday anyway.

This is kind of cool

I found it on I believe in Advertising.

The credits were: Art Director: Micha? Kami?ski
Copywriter: Kamil Kowalczyk
Released: May 2009

. . . so that's all I can tell you.

But I think it's a great idea. I can tell you that too.

Monday, August 3, 2009

How do you pull together a community?

I grew up in Springfield, Virginia.

Springfield is not really a town or a city or anything. It's more of a mailing address than anything else. But when I was a boy, it was definitely a community. There was a real sense of place to it. One reason, I think, was that there was a community newspaper, The Springfield Independent. Three couples started it as a non-profit back in 1958 or something and when it grew beyond their capacity, they sold it to my parents. So I grew up with a front-row seat to the value of a community newspaper as a bonding sorta thing.

Which is a very long way to get into applauding the Capitol Communicator and Paul Duning. The Washington creative community is kind of disjointed. Ad folks over here, design studios over there, web people and PR people somewhere else. Geographically, it's a challenge. It's not like New York where everybody is a walk or subway ride from everybody else.

So developing a sense of community is hard. Which is unfortunate, I think, because I feel like that sense of community can be the vehicle toward this being a better advertising town. The Ad Club has been trying lately, with events like their upcoming Comedy Night, but so much of what the Ad Club does seems designed as much to make money as anything else. Advertising Week is interesting and lots of people go, and by many yardsticks, it's a success.

But I think there is a need for events that are more accessible. I'm in a real minority here, but I think that the more the various players at various agencies and studios in the area can feel like they are part of something, the better off we'll all be. There is no bar where all the creative folks show up on Thursdays to BS and have a few drinks. The Business Journal, Washington Times and Washington Post have all at various times had and then dropped advertising columns.

Which brings me to the Capitol Communicator. Paul has actually managed to put together a great web site that is a place where anybody can go and find out what is new and going on in your own or similar business areas. It's the closest thing Washington has to something like the Denver Egoist, which regular readers know I think is a fabulous thing for the Denver community.

Last week The Capitol Communicator put on an event called "Connecting Communicators" for no reason except to, well, connect communicators.

Generally, I'm not a cocktail-party kinda guy. I'm not good at striking up conversations with people I don't know, and I refuse to wear a name badge. Karen is good at that stuff, so I usually follow her around and just listen in while sipping a drink and sampling snacks as they pass by.

But I actually went to Connecting Communicators (to the absolute shock of my friend Rebecca Chanin) and I had a good time. It was -- or did not appear to be -- a business-networking event or anything at all but a party to see some friends and make some new ones. Or in my case, realize how many people in the communicatons community in DC you do not know.

So anyway, thanks to Paul Duning and the Capitol Communicator.

A community needs something to pull it together.