Monday, May 21, 2018

Worker Bees Available.


I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse.

Summer is almost upon us.
Which means my two daughters will also be upon us.

One a senior at the University of Colorado majoring in media arts/production/planning (to be honest I don't even know her exact major.)  The other will be returning home from the University of Washington with a useless, but hardly inexpensive BS degree in her hand.

The point is I'm going to have two energetic college kids on my hand.

And frankly I'd rather they be on your hands. At least for some part of the day. In other words, they need a job.

There's a good possibility one, or both, have already reached out to you. I've already begun to leverage my vast network of contacts throughout Southern California. But, as I've tried to impress upon my girls, you don't knock on one door you knock on a thousand.

Or, you have your father go begging on his blog.

So this is for all you folks out there at the ad agencies I might have toiled at in the past (I'm 44 so that would be EVERY ONE of them.) The production houses with their pantries full of swag. The edit facilities, music suppliers, PR agencies, direct clients, any one.

Please hire one of my kids. And pay them well, because their expensive boba drinks and acai smoothies are going to put me in the poorhouse.

They will do anything -- my words not theirs. They'll answer phones. They'll make coffee. They'll process invoices (hopefully some of mine). They'll do anything you want them to, well don't ask them to clean the bathroom. I haven't figured that one out yet.

The point is that in addition to being funny, personable and charming (inherited from their mother) they're incredibly industrious. They have the Siegel work ethic and will not stop until the job is done.

And done well.

I understand how this posting may look like helicopter parenting. I assure you it's not. They have been making the phone calls. They've been sending out the inquiries. They've been pounding the pavement and doing the interviews.

This is less about me doing the groundwork for them. And more about preserving my sanity.

If these two don't get out of my house I may be forced to go back to a staff job.

And no one wants that.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Ass in Barasso


You've seen the face.

Today, you will meet the man.

Letter #15 in my Thursday Thrashing Series.

----------------------------------------------------------------------


5.17.18

Senator John Barasso
307 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear John,

It's safe to say, Senator Barasso, that of all the 52 Republican US Senators (I'm  penning handwritten letters to all of them) you are my favorite.

You are my favorite because you clearly subscribe to the theory that Republican Senators are like children and "should be seen, not heard." 

In fact, during the past two years where I have been following your "career" I have yet to hear you utter one word. In essence, making you the harmless skin tag on the back of Mitch McConnell's flappy neck.

For those unacquainted -- and I suspect that number runs in the millions -- I offer the following:






It can hardly be an accident that every time Mitch spots an open microphone and a TV camera, you are there at his side. 

Stoic. Silent. And dare I say, useless. 

By the way, if you wanted to use that as your next re-election slogan, it's yours for the taking. I suspect that platform would appeal to the mouthbreathers of Wyoming, where you currently serve.

In fact, if your Wikipedia page is correct you started serving Wyomingites in 2002, when you were elected and ran un-opposed. You won again in 2006. And again you were unopposed.

One can only conclude that the good folks in Wyoming are proud of their political apathy and inaction. In which case, They have found their cardboard cutout....er....man.

Your lack of leadership, inability to move the ball forward and remarkable capacity for standing behind other white men in poorly tailored suits serves to inspire others, others who dream of wielding great power while sucking freely on the teat of taxpayer revenue.

I salute you Senator John Barasso. 

You saw the Peter Principle, and unwilling to accept it at face value, have come to redefine it for generations of Congressional abusers to come. 

Best,

Rich Siegel
Culver City
siegelrich@mac.com


PS. Your Wiki page also mentions that you attended Georgetown University. Hoyas Suck. Go Orange!!!


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

All Aboard


If you've turned on your TV lately, and I have because the NBA playoffs are in full swing, you might have noticed what I have noticed.

Companies are hopping on the Apology Train. And by that I mean they're spending millions of dollars to hang their heads in shame rather than to sell products.

Of course, I'm not that naive and believe they're doing a little of both.

Uber, for instance has a new CEO. He's all over the airwaves walking back the egregious behavior of his predecessor. And trying to white wash the predatory behavior of some of his homegrown horny drivers.

I'd give you his name but like so many power forwards in today's NBA, he comes from one of those little annoying countries East of the Rhine. I say annoying because their shape defies any geographic sense. I can't remember them. And the residents have names that are impossible to spell as well as pronounce.

Also, why are they always fighting each other other? They're like the Hatfieldroviches and McCoystrowiczes of Southern Europe.

The Wells Fargo people are also on TV saying they're sorry.

Their apology ad is a big, badass production. It's old school advertising. With big budgets, a cinematic look and a huge cast. They can afford it. My understanding is that the 6 largest banks in America each pocketed 600 million in savings from the new Republican tax cuts that were intended to put extra scheckels in the pockets of working class Americans. I guess bankers have blue collared shirts as well so that qualifies them to eat at the big Shitgibbon trough.

And finally, there's a head hanging ad from the good folks at Facebook.  Who are in full apologia-mode for absconding your personal info, selling it to big data companies, who in turn turned it over to Russian intelligence officers so they could steal the last presidential election which promises to ignite World War III and hurl us into an apocalyptic dystopia.

No big deal.

Nothing a good 60 second ad can't fix.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Let your freak flag fly


I'll give you, the faithful readers of RoundSeventeen, fair warning.

We are now officially in the home stretch. My oldest daughter is about to graduate from the University of Washington in a matter of weeks. That degree did not come easy. And I'm not talking about the hours of classes, the endless labs, and the mountain of thesis papers she had to write.

I'm referring to the obscene out-of-state tuition I had to shell out for four long years. So this graduation is not only hers. It's mine. And you can be sure I'm gonna get my money's worth out of it.

With a flurry of UDUB postings.

It begins here.

If any of you are parents, or you're going to be parents, or even if you're friends with folks who are growing a family, you know there are motherhood manuals up the ying yang. Or up the Placental Canal as the case may be.

There's very little however for dad's.

Oh there might be books for young fathers about What to Expect When You're Expecting, but let's face it, we're not gonna read that crap. Particularly if LeBron is staging a fourth quarter comeback or Tiger is going for another green jacket.

Daddyhood, I found, is a self taught occupation. And one of the things I've learned, particularly as a father of two girls, is that it's my job to embarrass them whenever possible. I mean thoroughly embarrass.

I've talked with other fathers, practiced in the art of sticking restaurant straws up the nose and guerrilla Facebook postings on errant open laptops, and this is our duty. It's one I take seriously.

To wit, the picture above.

That's an official 3 foot by 5 foot University of Washington Flag. Or as I call it 15 square feet of prime purple and gold humiliation, flying proudly above my front porch.

Naturally I didn't just hoist this mammoth flag for all of Culver City to see, I snapped a bunch of photos and texted it to my daughter so she could witness my handiwork.

"Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww"

"Take it down."

"That's so embarrassing."

Followed by a string of expletives to indicate her absolute mortification.

Mission Accomplished. And I have just begun.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Blood Sweat & Toils


The good news is: It's busy again.
The bad news is: It's busy again.

Don't get me wrong. This is not me complaining. Not in the least. I couldn't be more thrilled that, after a spotty spring spell, the phone has started ringing again. Even better, the work is coming from newer, unexpected sources. And by that I mean it's coming directly from the clients. Three direct projects in the past two months.

Sorry, big holding companies, but you guys blew it. I'm not saying what everybody doesn't already know. But the sweatshop hours, the long tables of mediocrity, and the bottom line mentality that each and every marketing problem must be solved in 24 hours has put your business model in a deep, deep hole.

And by the way, I'm not sure the solution is, "Hey, let's hire another ECD."

As a result big companies are turning to people like me. People who get the brief. Who understand the business challenge. Who bring years of experience to the table. Who know a 30 script should be no longer than 3/4 of a page in length. Who get digital because a.) it's not rocket science and b.) even if it were rocket science we'd at least know how to spell it.

For realz.

In short, we're happy to take the money. That is if we can get to it. This is where things get difficult.

You see the challenge with working directly with clients means working indirectly with their third party Accounts Payable folks. And they all seem to have one.

It begins with a mound of paperwork that would put a US passport application to shame.

I once filled out a 56 page document that defied the heartiest of staplers and required one of those big black nipple pinching devices. They wanted everything from my address, my social security number, my proof of residency and even the transcript form my junior year in college, when I embarrassingly failed Calculus 595, Rotational Differential Equations in 3 Dimensional Space. 

I was prepared to hand over my 23andme results and provide a blood sample. It was that exhaustive.

That's just the first hurdle.
In fact, it's the easy one.

When the work is done there's the not insignificant task of figuring out the invoicing. And again, because each client is different, each has their own unique process. And when I say process, of course I mean they don't have one.

There are forms.
There are pdf's.
And then there is the online timesheet template which appears to have been designed in Eastern Europe by some dimwitted Serbs who dropped out of Coding school so they could join a militia, drink beer and kick some ass.

But let me reiterate, I am not complaining.

This is the cost of doing business in 2018. And I am more than willing to pay it. Particularly if it means I don't have to endure another dressing down by a 27 year old Assistant Planner and former chapter president of the USC Kappa Kappa Gamma house,

"I like the spot, I'm just not sure it captures the essence of the original pan pizza."










Thursday, May 10, 2018

Senator Cornholio


You people kill me.

Just when I think interest is fading in my continuing series of handwritten letters to all the Republican US Senators I start receiving a flood of direct emails telling me to get back on my high horse and resume the flogging.

I even had one reader suggest I compile all the letters in a nicely bound book.

Considering the flat sales of my previous three books (all available on Amazon.com) I can tell you that will not be happening.

So please enjoy today's letter to Senator John Cornholio (Cornyn) from the great state of Texas.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

5.10.18

Senator Cornholio
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator Cornholio,

I'm sorry.

I shouldn't refer to you like that. It's juvenile. It's base. And it's simply not fitting for a United States Senator. You'd think that in my mission to write letters to each and every one of the Republican US Senators (you're #14), I'd have gotten past those kind of sophomoric hijinx.

But, apparently I haven't . 

Plus, it doesn't help that every time you appear on TV, whether it's to fawn over Precedent Shitgibbon or to cower before Precedent Shitgibbon or even just to roll over on your belly and play submissive to Precedent Shitgibbon, I turn to my wife and refer to you as Senator Cornholio.

Again, I apologize.

Let's get to more meaty matters and talk about your significant achievements during your 16 year tenure and your current position as Senate Majority Whip. 

(DRAMATIC PAUSE TO INDICATE RIGOROUS RESEARCH)

I see you haven't really done much. An indication that like your useless Senate colleagues, you have found the perfect vocation in life.

But at least you look like a US Senator. 

There can be no denying that with your towering height, athletic physique and fine silvery hair, you are quite photogenic. Add to that, those gleaming white teeth and I think it's safe to say that you look like you came right out of Central Casting (please pardon the Jewish, elitist Hollywood reference.)

In fact, the more I think about you Senator Cornholio, the more it dawns on me that you are doppelganger for Senator Geary, who made his appearance at the beginning of Godfather II. 





                           
The resemblance is a little uncanny, wouldn't you agree? 

I'm sorry I had to compare you with such an oily, sticky-palmed greedy bastard like Senator Geary, who stupidly tried to extort Michael Corleone and the Italian Mafia for $250,000. 

Furthermore, and let me make this point perfectly clear, I am in no way insinuating that the mob, Italian or Russian, bailed your ass out of a jam when they found you in a brothel with a 16 year old, heroin-addicted prostitute.

I'm not saying that happened at all.

I am saying that I wouldn't be surprised if it does.

Best,

Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It's a Palace.


I don't make a habit of doing restaurant reviews. And for a very good reason.

If the food sucks I'm often too embarrassed to admit I ate there. And if the food is great, the last thing I want to do is tell the world and draw a crowd.

If there's one thing I hate --and as you know there are many things I hate -- it's waiting for a table at a restaurant. Sort of defeats the whole reason for eating out, doesn't it?

In any case, as my wife and I were driving home from our 5 mile hike along the beach, we drove by Playa Vista's Szechuan Palace, a place I love.

A place my wife won't set foot in.

"You should do a blog about that unappetizing hellhole, " she said.

Challenge accepted.

I'll be the first to admit the place lacks curb appeal. In fact the curb would appear to be saying, "don't even think about eating in this cement bunker." But the charm of Szechuan Palace lies elsewhere.

I first discovered SP 20 years ago, while in the steady employ of Chiat/Day, just a short jog down the road. My partner, John Shirley and I, would go there quite regularly. Maybe once a week. Our routine never varied, he would have the Mushu Pork and the Egg Drop Soup, I, having a more adventurous palate than my blond gentile friend, would opt for the Hot and Sour Soup and the Extra Spicy Kung Pao Chicken.

It never failed to impress John that I would eat those blazing red hot peppers that give the Kung Pao that extra Pow!

The price then (1998) was $6.95.
All in.
Including a huge tub of endless steamed white rice.

Times change, but the Palace doesn't.
Now I find myself going there with my partner Jean Robaire for the same lunch deal, price adjusted ever so slightly to $7.95.

The Kung Pao Chicken is still fiery hot. The soup is still watery. And the service is still gruff, terse and amazingly efficient. In other words, everything I look for in a Chinese Restaurant.

Let's be frank, I've had much better Chinese Food. I grew up in NYC and I come from a long line of Jewish Chinese Food aficionados. On the occasional Sunday night, my very-thrifty father would take us to an All You Can Eat Chinese Restaurant. My mother would literally line her purse with aluminum foil so that even after gorging ourselves and loosening our belts a notch or two, she could take home the extra egg roll. And, if it wasn't too wet, some Sweet & Sour Shrimp.

Like I said, the grub at the Palace is OK.

The service is unfriendly.

And the leatherette booths haven't smelt a whiff of Armor All since Reagan was president.

But if you take a seat at the back of restaurant, you can look out past the dirt parking lot onto the Ballona Wetlands.


And it makes for a great place for a bunch of 44 year old ad veterans to chow down, kibitz and rest our weary fat asses.

And sometimes that's enough.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

On the costliness off bad timing


For those of you that don't know, and after a cursory look at the demographics of RoundSeventeen readers, I'm gonna assume that's 99.9% of you, that is a timing belt.

More specifically, it's the timing belt on a 3.5 liter V6 engine strapped inside my wife's 2009 Acura MDX.

I know this because last year, March of 2017, the silvery/grey beast, which had given us 90,000 not so carefree miles, required a new one. I also know, or have to come to assume, that replacing a timing belt is not like putting a slipped chain back on a bicycle, though the mechanical similarities are hard to ignore.

Indeed the process involves hydroponic remanipulation, extreme modification of the dorsal tachyon flow valve and of course, the tricky uncoupling of the aft trans-dimensional phaser shaft.

In English, that translates to $1957.83 worth of labor.

Writing out checks like that are always hard. But they're even harder when they're payable to car dealership service departments. Let's face the facts, these are not boy scouts (see yesterday's post.) When a car salesman on the showroom knocks $500 off the MSRP, the service manager's job, mission, really, is to recoup that $500 in lost profit any way they can.

I know this from experience. And I know it from working with car people in the ad business for more than 20 years, ever since I was 24.

Last week, I thought I'd seen it all.
But, of course, I hadn't.

The MDX was at the shop (Nissani Bros. Acura in Culver City), again. This time, for one of those merciful minor $119 service appointments. Imagine my surprise when the "service" technician called to tell me there were additional issues to be addressed.

"Yeah, we changed the oil, replaced the wiper blades, and flushed the brakes. But there's one problem."

"Isn't there always?" I replied.

"Looks like you need a new timing belt."

You think that volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii set off some fireworks? The phone practically melted in my hands.

"You mean the timing belt that we replaced last year with you pocket-pickers, needs to be replaced? Really?" 

When we went to retrieve the vehicle, the service manager came out to greet us. She tried to explain that the service technician made an error. He looked at the car's history on the computer and made what he thought was the appropriate diagnosis.

Silly me, I thought car repair estimates were not based on what was on the computer, but what was happening under the hood.

Now I find myself fighting with two automotive dealerships.

This is going to be a fun summer.




Monday, May 7, 2018

Swedish Snuff Porn


When they come to bury me, they better do it twice.

Faced with an eternity in the hot place, I might just turn to my keepers and insist on going back above ground to finish my work. I'm just that persistent.

Persistently obnoxious.
Persistently provocative.
Persistently persistent.

I just don't give up. Ask the management at Volvo Cars of Las Vegas.

Months ago, they ripped me off and tried to charge me $3000 worth of repairs for a car only valued at $4500. Their estimate included a new battery for an astounding $335.

Instead, I donated the car to the Jewish Family Services of Las Vegas, who fixed the car for $227. I got a tax write-off for the vehicle. But I also got a burning ulcer and the only prescription is revenge.

And so then I started posting less than complimentary dealership reviews on Yelp, Cars.com, Kbb.com, edmunds.com, and anywhere potential Nevada car buyers might be researching.

Apparently, my guerrilla campaign struck pay dirt. Because a few weeks ago the manager of Volvo Cars of Las Vegas called me. He told me the dealership had changed hands, from the sticky fingers of the Sonic Automotive Group (avoid at all costs) to a new management group called Findlay.

In fact, the new manager told me the reason Sonic got the boot was because of the many underhanded tactics and overcharged repairs they had inflicted on past customers. Including Yours truly.

I discussed the specifics of my story with the new guy, Richard, who said he completely understood my predicament and that furthermore, he would go to bat for me.

No offense, Richard, I don't think you completely understand who you are dealing with.

This was more than two months ago. And I still have not received a call, or more importantly, a check from Volvo.

What I have received however, is a whole bunch of new linkedin connections to the unsuspecting C-Suite Volvo executives in Gothenburg, Sweden. I'm now linkedin partners with the Volvo Director of Global Communications, the Volvo Customer Service Operations Vice President of North America, the Volvo Strategic Planning Director of Loyalty Programs, and about a dozen others who for some reason confused me with being a mature grown up professional.

And while money has yet to be deposited in my account, there is hardly a price you can put on well-earned self satisfaction. You see, by using social media and turning it on its head, I have made it a regular habit of splattering all over the linkedin newsfeeds of these confused Swedes; calling out the bullshit regular paying customers are forced to endure at the hands of an indifferent billion dollar corporation.

Volvo may build safe cars, but Volvo dealerships are anything but safe.

Here's a small sample of my handiwork:







Thursday, May 3, 2018

Cotton Mouth Snake



Thursday Thrashing Letter #13

---------------------------------------------------------


5-3-18

Senator Tom Cotton
124 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Cotton,

I don't have much love for United States Senators. 

Particularly the ones of the Republican variety. I find them spineless. Shifty. And unbelievably protective of a billionaire president who literally has our nation circling the drain.

That is why I have made it my mission to reach out and send a hand written letter to all you ass-bananas. I don't think it's going to do any good. But the 20,000 readers who visit my blog every month seem to enjoy it. And they share it with friends and family. So who knows, maybe there's something to this public humiliation.

Of course, you have made any additional humiliation superfluous. In my book and in the book of millions of Americans you traded in the honor of wearing a United States service uniform for a scarlet letter that shall hang around your neck for all of eternity.

Your letter shall be B, as in Bitch. 

As in Donald Trump's Servile Bitch. 

As in worthless, lying, cowering Son of A Bitch who will stammer and shame himself in front of a TV camera in order to win Daddy Longtie's approval. 

I think you know what I'm talking about. 

And if not, I'm sure the Prime Minister from Nigeria, currently visiting on a diplomatic mission, will remind you of the time that you stood before the nation and claimed the president did not refer to Africa as a bunch of "Shithole Countries."

He said it. You know he said it. Senator Dick Durbin said he said it. In not so many words, your fellow invertebrate colleague Senator Graham said that what Dick Durbin said the president said was said. And now, just this week former White House Senior Advisor (I can't believe I'm referring to her this way) Omarossa Manigault said he said it.

The president denies all this. 

Of course he also told us he wouldn't be playing golf. And that 5 million illegal voters cast their ballots for Hillary. And that Mexico was going to pay for a big, beautiful wall. Hell, he's told more than 3000 lies. I'd list them all but then the ink cartridge on my Canon 490 MX Series printer would run dry and I'd have to run to Office Max. 

Frankly, I'd prefer to remain here and taunt your sorry ass.

I don't know when you come up for re-election. But I do know my disdain for you and your highly punchable face knows no bounds. And no time limits. So I'll be generously tapping into my daughter's inheritance money to fund your opponent, sorry girls.

I don't even know who that opponent might be. But given your embarrassing servitude, your public displays of presidential toadying, and your partial residence in the presidential rectum, I think your constituents would be better served by a rotting, maggot-infested armadillo carcass.





Best,



Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City, CA

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Most. Disgusting. Post. Ever.


As some of you may know, we recently rescued a dog from the local Adopt & Shop. When I use the word rescue, I'm giving myself far too much credit.

Lucy is a beautiful, Golden Retriever/German Shepherd mix. She's mild mannered, sweet and a joy to be around. In other words, we didn't really "rescue" her as much as we snapped her up before anyone else could.

She's nearly perfect.
Nearly.

You see Lucy has coprophagia. I'll spare you a trip to online dictionary and tell you quite bluntly it means after she does her business...she eats her business.

Aaaaaaagh!!!

That was my reaction too. And I learned coprophagia is not all that uncommon in dogs. Particularly females. Particularly rescue dogs.

Naturally, I sprung into action and researched every coprophagia remedy. I also made it a point to bag her business before she could snag her business.

Several online veterinarians suggested a unique way to break the nasty habit. To make the proposition unbearably unappetizing, they recommend pouring habanero hot sauce and lemon juice all over the yard snack. I have two fruit bearing lemon trees and an entire refrigerator shelf devoted to habanero hot sauce, so that was not going to be a problem.

The wisdom of the crowd seemed be working. For hours Lucy made a point of ignoring her unearned treat and I went about the business of writing, lifting weights and running errands. Later in the afternoon I thought I'd take Lucy to the local dog park. And moments before getting in the car I noticed the spicy, citrusy poop burrito was gone.

Aaaaaaagh!!!

Believe it or not, this is when the story gets disgusting.

You see, as I pulled my wife's Acura MDX into the parking lot at the Boneyard, I heard a whimper. I opened the back door to find Lucy tucked in the corner, carefully avoiding the mess she had hurled all over the back seat.

Let's do the math on this.

The dinner I had given her yesterday had made its way through Lucy's alimentary canal. And just as nature had intended it, made its way out the other end.

Then, because I listened to DogLover38, that now-digested dinner was topped with Chulala and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Whereupon last night's dinner became this afternoon's appetizer, entering Lucy for a second time in less than 24 hours.

And then, if your stomach hasn't turned enough, it made a repeat exit performance, only this time departing, unnaturally from whence it came.

If you can conjure up a worse smell you have a vivid imagination. And probably should be an artist. Or a holding company accountant.

I should mention that all this occurred during ManCation 2018, while my wife was out of town visiting my daughter in Europe. That gave me a full week to clean and fumigate the vehicle. I needed every minute of it. You see not only did Lucy decide to recondition the leather seats with her unique gastro-intestinal soup, she had the good aim to fill the deep wells that house the seat belt apparatus.

Aaaaaaaaagh!!!!!

I have pictures.
But come on, I also have some discretion and don't want to gross you out.

My friend Jean says I often talk about life like I have a dark cloud hanging over me.

Nonsense.







Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Hazy Hayden Memories


Last week, one of my old...er, former, bosses, Steve Hayden, was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. Many bloggers, always looking for new material to write about, seized upon the opportunity and wrote about their experience with Steve.

I see no reason what I should be any different.

Though we share Chiat DNA, sadly I only worked for Steve at BBDO/West for one year. But I like to think it was a pivotal year in my career, mostly because it was so challenging. And mostly because Steve saw his way to help me through it.

Essentially, I was brought in to be a writer on Apple. It was, as I like to describe on my resume, during those dark rudderless days when Steve Jobs was nowhere to be found. Thanks to the clear-as-mud-thinking numbskulls who ran the place, every ad was like climbing Mt. Everest.

To compensate for the torture, Steve found a way to get me work on the side that was more up my alley. For instance, he let me work on the Ortho Pesticide pitch. My partner and I came back to him with about a dozen sophomoric spots featuring insects found in bad 1950's horror movies (see picture above.) I forgot how we linked it to Ortho, I only remember Steve doubling over in laughter as he watched the rough cuts.

We won the account.

On another occasion we had flown to Utah to pitch the Novell/Wordperfect account. On the night prior to the presentation, Steve was telling me this story about how his brother went to BYU. He thought he could endear the new potential clients with war stories about his loose ties to Mormonism. He asked me if I thought it was pandering. I said, I wouldn't do it.

Cut to the next day...

"I'll never forget my college days at BYU and our cherished Cougars..."

I've never seen someone turn on the charm like that. We won the account.

But my favorite Hayden war story, and believe me I have many because I really enjoyed his company and his mentoring, involved Russians and Russian thugs.

Somehow Steve found himself in a conversation with some Siberian "import/export" people. They wanted to introduce a new vodka Baikalskaya to America. It was distilled with the magically clear waters from Lake Baikal, the planet's largest supply of fresh water.

Steve didn't just hand the pitch to me, he wanted to work with me on the creative. And we did what two arrested pubescents would do, we made fun of Siberia. In the process we would crack each other up. We had posters, outdoor boards and in-store material featuring unsightly photos from the Siberian Dating Club.

Baikalskaya.
Because here in Siberia the vodka had better be great.

We even had a contest for new Baikalskaya customers. First prize winner would get a week's paid vacation along the frigid shores of beautiful Lake Baikal.

Second prize winner would get two weeks.

Damn, I miss working for Steve.










Monday, April 30, 2018

Put on your eatin' bib.


Good Night Nurse!

We've come to the point in the life cycle of RoundSeventeen, where what was funny once, in 2010, has died a quiet death, enjoyed the miracle of resurrection, and climbed back out of the sea to be funny once again in  2018.

Case in point: Red Lobster.

Last week the genii in the Red Lobster marketing department announced an agency review -- that is, more accurately, another agency review. They have more agency reviews than there are appendages on America's favorite ocean roach.

You might recall I wrote about Red Lobster and their impending review a long time ago. That post was even picked by AgencySpy, you can read it here. In it, I even proferred up a free look at what their next Red Lobster TV commercial might look like.

In early 2011, the "winners" of the review unveiled their new campaign and short of using my tagline,  "Who's in the mood for Tail?", it was a shot for shot doppelgänger. The following years since, the account changed hands six or seven more times, but the advertising remained the same.

More claws.

More steaming hot potatoes.

More colorful corn cobs.

And more drizzled butter.

A lot more drizzled butter.

This is a client that believes in the magic of drizzled butter. And yet sales have remained as flat as a dead starfish.

I'm not about to write another free commercial for the good folks at Red Lobster. But as a diligent freelance copywriter with a known reputation for hustling, I am willing to share some insight and a possible way to grow the market.

You see the people who love Red Lobster, and there are many, will continue to go there. Maybe once a month, or once every two months. But that pattern is not going to change. No matter how much butter you drizzle on it.

The key then is to grow the market. Find a target audience who have never been to Red Lobster but who would love to eat and get fat there.

Enter the Jews.

You might know that Jews are prohibited from dining on shellfish. It's all part of a crazy Kosher laws written by old rabbis some 4,000 years ago. The prohibition stems from the fact that shellfish are bottom feeders and scavenge along the landfill of the sea. Thus bringing disease, pestilence and God's fury into the food chain.

My solution is to create Red Lobsteries™, a technologically advanced hatchery for lobsters, where they can live safely high above the ocean floor and where they are fed rabbinically-approved food. Thus making lobsters, which were once considered un-kosher, kosher

It's a modern day miracle.
And a whole lot more rewarding than Chanukah.

Full disclosure, I've never abided by the Kashrutic laws. My mother was from Scotland. Being half-Jewish was my Get Out Of Treif Card. Being half-Critical Thinker was my other excuse. But I will say this, and this is for my fellow Tribe members, until you crack into a perfectly boiled, succulent Maine Lobster tail, soaked in beautiful clarified butter, you have not been to the promised land.

Take it from me, those crazy goyim know how to eat.

This one is on me Red Lobster.
The next one will require the full Day Rate.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Senate Thrashing is back in Session


We're back.

It's week number twelve.

Today''s letter goes out to Rand Paul, he of the famous flip flopping incident of 2018.

Fuck You, Rand.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

4/25/18

Senator Rand Paul
167 Russell Senate Building
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator,

You know what I love about Libertarians, Rand?

Nothing.

It's been my observation that they talk tough, "gotta cut spending", "gotta make government small", "gotta restore integrity and moral clarity to our leadership", but when the rubber hits the government-funded roads, they fold like cheap, thin crust pizza. 

Let me back the truck up and explain that I have made it my mission to write letters to each of our 52 US Republican Senators. Not that it will accomplish anything (a perfect metaphor for the Senate House if there ever was one), but more to serve as a venting mechanism for my growing outrage.

You sir, are letter #12. 

And as you might expect, after this week's Kentucky Two Step before the TV cameras, you were the easy choice.

Let's step back in the Time Machine, when just a week ago you lectured Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (then only a candidate) on our oh-so-precious (yet remarkably flexible to the whims of Republicans) Constitution.

"Mr. Pompeo the President does not have the authority to bomb Assad's forces. Our founding fathers, who believed they gave the authority to Congress, and actually they're uniformly opposed to the executive branch having that power."

Those were your eloquent words.

You followed that up with a very public denouncement of Mr. Pompeo and a pompous pledge not to confirm him. 

Then, I must assume, Precedent Shitgibbon got you on the phone and promised you a lifetime golf membership at Mara Lago, including complimentary tees and golf club scrubbing, because a few days later, you had pocketed your pocket Constitution and were confidently voting this torture-happy blowhard into one of the most powerful positions in the land.

Nice job Rand.

But you know what? 
I understand a change of opinion. And a flip flop.

In fact, I wish the judge who settled the recent dispute between you and your neighbor would reconsider his ruling.

"I know I initially ruled against the Senator's neighbor. He had no right store his ugly brush pile of yard junk on Mr. Rand Paul's property.  I know I accepted the neighbor's guilty plea for arguing with Mr. Paul and then attacking him, pulling his curly hair and kicking his ribs. But I have re-reviewed my findings and wish to reverse them. For no other reason than the Senator is a wishy washy weenie with the backbone of a garden snake and the fortitude of a campground marshmallow. Plus, he's got a face you just want to punch."


Best,

Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City





Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What's it gonna take to get you into a car today?


Though I have lived here all 44 years of my life, there is one thing about America I will never understand -- Americans.

Right now, as I write this (on a Monday morning, a lot can change before Wednesday), we find ourselves divided. If we are to believe the pollsters, that split runs 60/40.

That is, sixty percent of the country believe and trust in Republican Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And the other forty percent have put their faith in a guy who once gave the world Trump Vodka.

This is nothing to be trifled over since the fate of our nation literally depends on the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

But since many Americans choose NOT to invest themselves in this mammoth debacle, nor are they willing to do their homework and gather news from a wide spectrum of sources, I thought it'd be best to reframe this in something more colloquial.

Like buying a used car.

Imagine if you will, that you are stepping on the lot to buy your son, your daughter or even your mother-in-law, a fine trustworthy vehicle that will deliver dependable, affordable service for years to come. Now imagine you are faced with two salesmen ready to take your hard earned money.

Which salesman would you choose?

Salesman A is new to the car selling business. He's been busy as the nation's top law enforcement officer for a dozen years. He's also served in the Attorney General's office, taking charge of the criminal division and prosecuting the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 103, Manuel Noriega and the Gambino Crime Family. Before that he volunteered for several tours of duty in Viet Nam, where he was a Marine Platoon leader and distinguished himself with many medals including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He has never been the object of a lawsuit, much less 3500 of them. And to no one's knowledge has ever banged a porn star.

Salesman B also has a Purple Heart, one of his cult-like followers simply handed it to him. He didn't serve in Viet Nam, hampered by life-threatening heel spurs, which have magically disappeared. Though he hasn't sold cars before he has made a quite a killing selling real estate. In fact, Salesman B is so accomplished it would be hard to go through all his lifetime achievements in paragraph form, so let's just make a list:

-- Founder/Operator of Trump University which recently paid out $25 million in fraud fines

-- Spearheaded the Birther campaign and promised hard evidence of Obama's birth in Kenya

-- Led the charge against the Central Park 5 despite exonerating DNA evidence

-- Fined by US housing authorities for rental discrimination

-- Claims there were 5 million illegal voters in 2016 election, has not produced evidence of one

-- Founder of Trump Steaks (bankrupt)

-- Founder of Trump Airlines (bankrupt)

-- Founder of Trump casinos (bankrupt)

-- Promised he wouldn't have time for playing golf (spent 22% of presidency playing golf)

-- And finally, says he's 239 lbs.



 Ask yourself America, which salesman would you trust?




Tuesday, April 24, 2018

More Tales from the Hood



Some of you, the foolish 8 people who insist on reading this tripe everyday, will recall that several months ago we hosted a television production crew at my house.

Zach Braff and his new show Alex, Inc. were looking to stage a scene in a house that could pass for his aunt's, living in Queens, NY.

This is only semi-odd as I sort of grew up in Queens.

First in Jackson Heights and then later in Flushing. That is until my brother got "jumped" by four urban teenagers and my father moved us out to Suffern, NY, where we could learn the joys of suburban antisemitism.

In any case, the production crew and set designers moved in and took our admittedly eclectic artwork off the walls and replaced it with lots of Jesus-y stuff. I wish they would have left some behind, just as a keepsake.

A few weeks ago the show aired on ABC.

I'd be lying if I said I watched it on TV. But thanks to the interwebs I was able to view it on my iPhone.

You can too, here.

I should tell you it's not exactly my cup of tea. It's kind of sappy. Whiny. And heavyhanded in the way television sitcoms were meant to be. Particularly the Zach Braff variety.

I like snarky.
Biting.
And dark. Really dark.

So if you don't want to watch, I will completely understand.

You can simply skip ahead to the 17:20 mark. That's where our house makes its TV debut. (Not really a debut, because years ago they also filmed a few scenes from the show VEGAS with James Caan.)

If that's too much to ask here are some screen grabs...



Like I said, I'm not going to be a diehard fan of the show. 

But if you ask me, I think his aunt steals the scene. And if I were writing the show, I'd start making more of the stories revolve around this riveting character. Particularly if it required more shooting in my house and paid ridiculously large location fees.

That's just my two cents.



Monday, April 23, 2018

Tales from the Hood


With apologies to my hometown, NYC -- there are 20 million stories in naked Southern California.

This is just one of them.

This happened last week, during ManCation 2018.

My wife and two of her sisters had galloped off to Prague, and Amsterdam, to visit my daughter who has been studying abroad. And while they were taking in museums, art and European medieval culture, I made it my duty to eat red meat every night. Take my own self-guided tour of our nation's finest bourbon distilleries. And indulge in more NBA playoff games than Charles, Kenny or Shaq, combined.

(I now have 24 hours to clean up the place before she returns, which will demand a trip to the local market for Clorox, Formula 409 and a new cashmere sweater, don't ask.)

In any case, I woke up and sallied forth outside to pick up my NY Times, eager to read the latest accounts of our presidential nightmare. That's when one of Culver City's finest, with hand on holster, snapped me out of my stupor and yelled...

"Get back in the house. NOW!!!"

At that point I heard the distinctive whirl of a helicopter. Actually, two. One from LAPD and one from a local news station.

Holy Shit, I thought, was this about a home invasion robbery? Did they locate the guys that escaped Alcatraz (I know that was years ago, just go with it)? Was there a mass murderer terrorizing frumpy little Culver City?

Turns out, none of the above.

An hour later, when the smoke had cleared and the Glock 9's had been holstered, I spoke with a uniformed cop on the corner.

"So this guy steals this meat truck from somewhere in Rampart division. We chase him all the way up to the Valley and down the 405. He enters Culver City. We hand off the chase to your guys. He hightails the truck (with 400 lbs. of brisket, flank steak and Ribeye, mmmmm, ribeye) down Mentone ave. Loses control of the truck, smashes into the White SUV and pile drives it into the house on the corner. Then he hops out of the truck and scoots across to the street into your neighbor's back yard. But apparently he hadn't been doing enough cardio cause our guys nabbed him, about two houses down from yours."

Thankfully, no one in the house, including the two small children, were hurt.

The neighborhood is back to its normal sleepy self. Though here at the Siegel household there will be soon a flurry of cleaning activity.

Anyone know how to get BBQ sauce out of a microfiber couch?




Thursday, April 19, 2018

Why Not Me?



(As some of you know, I've cordoned off Thursday for my weekly Thursday Thrashing Letter, wherein I pen a nasty letter to one of our dimwitted and complicit Republican US Senators. But this week I find myself swamped with work (that's a good thing) and so I will be reposting something from the past. This was was from two years ago and in light of Martin Sorrell's hasty departure from WPP, I thought it merited another viewing)

Last week it was announced that Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman of WPP, one of the world's largest advertising holding companies, is leaving the organization.  And that they will be seeking a replacement.

I know this is normally not done, but I'd like to throw my proverbial 'hat in the ring.'

Let's start where all good arguments start, with Maurice Levy, Chairman of rival Publicis, another one of the world's largest advertising companies, who slyly said, quite publicly...

"Whoever succeeds Sorrell needs to be a good human being -- not wicked and nasty, generous and not greedy, sharing and not selfish or egotistical."

With the exception of egotistical, I believe I measure up to all those criteria.

Despite my gruff writings, I am a good human being. I put the seat down. I pet puppies. I give dollar bills to people standing at the end of freeway exit ramps, unless I judge from their appearance that they are going to spend the money on drugs or airplane glue or Pabst Blue Ribbon.

And I am in possession of a good working moral compass. That alone separates me from 95% of the potential field.

I'm not wicked and nasty, though I have been known to exhibit a short fuse with people in the office who are: a.) stupid, b.) incompetent, c.) drunk, or d.) all of the above. This, I would contend, is an indicator of leadership.

To Mr. Levy's last point, I believe I am generous and share easily. On more than one occasion I have used this blog to take a stand on greater profit sharing for all agency employees. I've railed against C-Suite money grabbing. And have always gone out of my way, in presentations and/or interviews to use the "we" word and acknowledge the contributions of my partners, even if they wasted countless hours watching Internet porn. Or Fox News. Or both.

My fabricated endorsements don't stop there.

At the recent International Andy Awards Festival, my former boss and advertising icon Lee Clow said:

"Every ad agency should be led by a creative person."

Some might argue that Clow was referring to a thoroughbred recognized creative with a closet full of awards and odd-shaped acrylic trophies.

I never picked up a Cannes Lion, mostly because the one agency coordinator "accidentally" omitted our ABC submission, two years in a row, but I am in possession of a 1997 LuLu Silver and a 2004 Telly Award, ok, it was Merit of Excellence.

You might be thinking, "Rich, you're a 44 year old freelance copywriter, what do you know about business, real business?"

I'll grant you I'd need some boning up on the bean counting. But my father was CPA. My uncle is a CPA. And my brother is a CPA. Plus, I'm Jewish. I don't know if you've heard, but we're good with money.

Last week I bought chlorine for the backyard jacuzzi. I found an online source that sells the 5 lbs. jug for the same price as the 3 lbs. jug found at the brick and mortar store. Saved 42%.

Booya!

I don't know how this is all going to go down. But for all my friends at Team Detroit, JWT, Y&R, Possible, etc., you need to stuff those ballot boxes, lobby hard for me, and sign all your time sheets with: Siegel for WPP Chairman. (By the way, I didn't post that petition, that was put up by brilliant adman Greg Bergan.)

Do that, and I promise:

-- More free Bagels

-- Offices for everyone

-- The abolishment and/or reduction of Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Feel the love


I love clients.

Probably not in the same way some account folks do. You know with the gushing. The sycophancy. And the involuntary laughing at every joke.

Account Executive: ...Oh my god, that's so funny.

Client: I haven't got to the punchline yet....

If I had mastered that kind of love who knows where I'd be right now. Possibly in a boardroom, waiting to be interviewed to replace Martin Sorrell. But that strand of obsequiousness does not run in the my DNA. As my friend Dana said the other day at lunch, "Siegel doesn't do subtext."

My love for clients is more like the uncle who comes to visit the kids, sees the stupid shit they do, laughs, and on the way home thinks, thank god I didn't breed.

I'll give you an example.

Years ago, I was producing some radio spots for a client. She thought it would be "fun" to show up at the sound studio to watch and participate in the process, a process which by the way is very delicate. Theater of the mind is not for rank amateurs. Which she clearly was. Because before I could get the talent even warmed up and into the rhythm of the script, she was reaching for the red talkback button and giving line reads...

Client: Can you read it with more energy?

Long story mercifully shortened, we sat in that booth for the next 2 hours as the actor kept injecting more and more energy into the read until she was screaming into the microphone and not surprisingly lost her voice. It was painful then, it's funny now.

Moving on.

While I was at Chiat/Day, I spent many years working on Nissan, for both the Regional Tier 2 and the more visible Tier 1 National campaigns. I can't think of a single piece of work that was not subjected to...

Client: Can we make the logo bigger?

And every time we did, Lee Clow (who insisted we treat the customer with respect) would inject himself in the process and tell us to make it smaller. This tugging back and forth went on for years. If you've seen any of the recent Nissan work you know who won.

Client (now attending the offline sessions): Let's make that logo really big.

Engineer: If it gets any bigger it will get near Title Safe.

Client: Perfect.

But my all-time favorite, and this is one every copywriter and art director has heard at one time, takes place at the presentation stage. It's usually in a conference room with a long table, lots of attendees, even some distant clients listening in on a crappy remote speaker. And it happens near the tail end of what could have been a great meeting.

After many of the heads are nodding 'Yes" and a sigh of relief has been indulged by strategists, media folks and several group creative directors who are already crafting weekend plans, one junior account person will inevitably, in a clumsy attempt to wrap up the dog-and-pony show, let loose with...

AE: Are there any other questions? Or concerns?

And there always are.

It's at this point that Todd, a junior client sitting in the back of the room, waiting to posture himself and simultaneously deliver the death blow, will stand up, clear his throat and launch this turd into the punchbowl...

Todd: I like all the work. But I'm not sure it's going to grab my attention. What if the commercial comes on and our customer goes to the bathroom? What if he can't see the spot or even hear it? Then what?

Indeed Todd, indeed.

I love clients.






Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Heads of the Five Families


What's right with this picture?

Admittedly, very little.

At least, not if you listen to clients who, according to an article in last week's Adweek, are outraged at the enormous compensation packages of these holding company CEO's. They're even more outraged when those compensation packages are compared to that of the lowest employee on the totem pole.

In the WPP case, the mailroom clerk at Ogilvy would have to work 8,931,758 years to bring home what Martin Sorrell brings home in one. Please note I am using Trumpian Mathematics, which are given to hyperbole and falsity, but that doesn't seem to matter these days.

It's kind of odd that the mainstream press is finally catching on to this.

I, and my fellow bloggers George Tannenbaum and Bob Hoffman, have been harping on this issue for years. In fact, it's one leg of our Well Worn Ad Trope Trifecta: Pay Inequality, Worthless Big Data and the Open Office Plan.

If you are to believe the article, each of these gentlemen brings home about $25 million a year. Let's say he or she...strike that...he (you're welcome Cindy Gallop), works 2500 hours a year. That's a 50 hour "work" week, that includes a good deal of "Executive Time." He or she, ...er, he, is making $10,000 an hour!!!

Let that sink in.

If Marty or Jack or Johnny comes in at 9 and then dashes off to the Tavern on the Green for lunch at noon, he has already raked in $30,000. That's what Media Planner Katy Jenkins is lucky to squeeze out in a year. A year in which she missed her birthday party, cancelled her anniversary dinner, and had to shell out $957 for a new catalytic converter for her aging 2007 Honda Civic.

What's even more galling are the constant memos and emails to the effect of:

"we don't have money for bonuses"

"we don't have money for raises"

"we don't have money for freelancers."

The last one is the most appalling.

As if all that weren't enough, it's no secret the advertising agency industry is currently in a world of hurt. Clients are taking the marketing in-house. The AOR model is dead. And PR firms, entertainment agencies and small production houses are gobbling up assignments.

I'm no business wizard. I like to use the word acumen but the truth is I have none. I'll probably end up in a dirty nursing home, telling orderlies about my glory days in advertising while they steal loose change off my dresser and rummage through my pant pockets for valuables.

But it seems to me the solution is right in front of our faces.

Ad agency chiefs ought to do what ad agency chiefs have been telling clients to do ad infinitum: Disrupt, Invest and harness the power of creativity.

Bringing back the freelancers (at their full day rate) would be a good place to start.