Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Sorry State of Now.

I didn't turn your Fortune 100 brand around in a day.

I'm not sorry.

I gave you a soup-to-nuts campaign, including TV, print, digital and brand activation units in 24 hours, but it wasn't on strategy.

I'm not sorry.

I wrote an anthem, actually I wrote five anthems, in that Apple Think Different voice we talked about yesterday, but it just wasn't right.

I'm not sorry.

I am sorry that you don't know or are willing to ignore the fact that quality thinking requires a quality time allotment.

This major gripe of mine isn't aimed at a particular client or an agency or any production houses.

This is aimed at an industry. An industry that has somehow grown accustomed to the notion that all marketing problems can be solved in less time than it takes for the Earth to complete one rotation. An industry that believes the best way to get creative work from creative people is to hold a gun to their creative minds.

I hate to be that old 44 year old guy in the corner, shouting at the plastic fern, "that's not the way it's done and things were better in my day." 

But you know what?

"That's not the way it's done and things were better in my day." 

I know I've said this before before but Great takes time.
Time to stew.
Time to talk with your partner.
Time to sleep on ideas to see if they're worth nurturing.
Time to experiment.
Time to shoot the shit.
Time to go back and forth.
Time to page through the annuals to see if it has been done before.
Time to build.
Time to shift perspective and deconstruct an idea.
Time to tear down and build again.
Time to craft.
Time to polish.
Time to polish some more.
Time to make a good idea a great one.

Rome was not built in a day.

And neither was the Chamber of Commerce marketing campaign for it.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Pride of the South

Things are picking up speed in this country.

Statues are coming down.

Bannon is out and girding for war.

And Precedent Shitgibbon is finally mastering those tricky double-breaking greens on the 15th hole at the Bedminister Golf Club in New Jersey. #PromisesMadePromisesKept

In light of this, and before all the monuments to Johnny Rebel are removed and replaced by statues of great Jewish Hockey players of the NHL, I thought it would be important to preserve for eternity the memory of several of the unsung heroes of the South.

Let us also remember Bucephelus Chandler Keaton...

Bucephelus survived the crushing defeat to the Yankees. As well as the humiliation of post war reconstruction. When a shifty carpetbagger from New York City, Sid Blechnaven, came to Memphis and literally sold poor Bucephelus a worthless bag of flea-bitten carpets. Bucky went on to found the Western Tennessee Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. He died in service to the cause, when a burning cross accidentally fell and impaled him to the ground. All because Duane "Can't Read" Cooterbottom failed to follow proper Klan procedures.

Let's pause for moment to remember Staff Sergeant Douglass Walker Wambles...

Prior to dieing on the fields of West Virginia to fight for Dixie's honor, DW Wambles owned 83 slaves and grew soapberries and rhododendron on a small farm outside of Biloxi. It was only after a record harvest did DW discover nobody wanted rhododendron. And that soapberries were poisonous. Pondering his dismal failure, and because the construction of the first Walmart was still 150 years in the future, young DW downed a pint of moonshine and said, "Ahh, fuck it I'll join the Confederacy."

And finally, let us also remember William "Hushpuppy" Jackson...

William fought alongside Duane "Cornpone" Johnson, Luther Magnolia Owens and Tucker "Goatskin" Clementine on the battlefields at Appomattox. Well, actually he never got a chance to lift his mighty musket as "Hushpuppy" died before the first shot. He was administering "personal" animal husbandry to one the battle horses in the barn and was found the next morning with a horseshoe print on his forehead. Nevertheless, we salute his bravery.

Today we honor these brave Confederate heroes who fought so valiantly for the right of American people to own other American people. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why a duck?

These Thursdays seems to be coming faster and faster.

We're already up to #10 in this continuing series.

Some of you might be wondering, "What if Rich runs out of AsiaDate letters?" 

I'm here to tell that's not gonna happen. I literally have an embarrassment of riches in this department and still have 487 letters left to answer in my gmail inbox.

What's more upsetting is that with all these beautiful ladies vying for my attention and the "warmth of my strong, muscular" arms, my wife is not the least bit jealous.

Not the least.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Digital. Yeah.

Don't know if you've noticed but lately Digital has been taking it in the shorts.

And not just by me.

Recently Proctor & Gamble announced they had cut $100 million dollars from their Digital budgets. This caught the attention of Professor Bob Hoffman, a fellow blogger who regularly makes the case against Digital.

As well as all the other bullshit that pervades our business. You can read his compelling argument here.

In his stinging diatribe, he also takes a mighty uppercut on the prophets of Digital, namely the head prophet himself, the alpha male of Digital Bullshit, Shingy (pictured above.)

Bob's disdain for Shingy is hardly singular. As you might have guessed, or even remembered, I have also gone a few rounds on this bloviating blowhard who has no doubt mastered the Steve Bannon Yoga move.

You can read my take here.

Make sure you watch Shingy shilling his wares in this cringeworthy video.

That was three years ago. Not sure any of his predictions about Digital have come to pass. I know I have yet to cultivate my brand love with a like-minded tribe of evangelists, but it's only Wednesday.

And just when you think you've seen and heard it all about the Shing man, you haven't.

Thanks to one of Bob Hoffman's eagle eyed viewers we now have the ultimate Shit on the Shingle.

A little video piece from David Cross and Bob Odekirk of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bring me my petard.

Almost every art director or copywriter I've ever had the pleasure of working with -- that is, being on the same company staff -- is no longer working with the company and no longer working on staff.

A convoluted way of saying, "we're all freelancers."

This didn't happen overnight.

Nor did the process happen in a vacuum.

My good friend Mike Folino, who bills himself as the World's Greatest Freelancer, blames me. Not in totality. But nevertheless he lays faults on this blog, which had been running for close to nine years and which has regularly glorified the freelance life. Vis a vis my regular rants against the open office plan, the inhumane work/life balance, the salary inequality, and the general inefficiency of the holding company model.

"Mike," I would say, "You can't pin the overcrowding in the freelance pool on me. How many people do you think read this stupid blog, 8? 13? 21?"

Well, that little show of false humility no longer holds any water.

The happy truth is, in 2017 RoundSeventeen has enjoyed record readership. Five of the six previous months each had more than 20,000 page hits.

And that's without the normal spikage I would receive through irregular links and appearances in AgencySpy, which in the past would send web traffic through the roof.

But since the good folks over at AgencySpy dropped their anonymous comment section (always the highlight of any disgruntled ad worker's day) I suspect their site has been unbookmarked in inverse proportion to the number of people coming here.

Because if they're not going to purvey vile petulance and lob thinly-veiled insults at some of the drunken incompetent miscreants running the ad industry into the ground, somebody has to.

Anyway, back to my original point.

There's a shit ton of freelancers out there. And I may or may not have had something to do with that.

That's good news for those of you who may have been on the pointy end of one my past columns. Karma, and irony, could be coming around.

Because this monumental glut of creative mercenaries may end up sending me to a premature retirement and a one way ticket to a dirty nursing home.

In the words of the Bard, I could be hoisted by my own petard.

Monday, August 14, 2017

To Life. Long, Long Life.

As of this minute I am on the Methusalah Program.

I'm determined to live as long as I can.

I'm giving up meats for more grains, fibers and vegetables.

I'm giving up sugars and salts.

I'm giving up alcohol. OK, I'm not giving up alcohol completely, but I am cutting back.

I'm on a twice a day work out routine. Weight training in the morning with Body Beast. And an hour's worth of cardio in the evening.

I'm meditating. And being more mindful of my oxygen intake and my breathing patterns.

I'm monitoring my blood pressure.

As well as my heart rate.

I'm sleeping 8 hours a night. And when I can't get 8 hours a night, I force myself to take a daytime nap. Hopefully while I'm on someone else's dime.

I'm trying to reduce the stress in my life.

And being more grateful for all that I have.

I'm reading more.

And watching TV less.

I'm even supplementing all my efforts with lengthy yoga sessions. And if you're familiar with me or my body type you know that is not a pretty picture.

Why, you may ask am I going to such extremes?

Is it to guarantee my presence at my daughter's college graduations? And to see the fruits of my labor?

Is it to be here long enough to see them get married?

Have children?

Blossom into full grown adults?

Is it to spend more time with my wife, a saint among saints, who deserves the reward of worldwide travel and $10 hotel ice teas?

Those are all worthy pursuits.

But they are not behind my level 10 Zeal.

What's driving me, and what's driving others who are equally passionate, is the stomach twisting desire to keep drawing oxygen into my bloodstream long enough so that I may witness the ever-so-sweet demise of the colossal, beefwitted, boil-brained cankerblossom who currently resides in the White House.

That, is a day worth living for.

And it can't come soon enough.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

She's BAD

It's Thursday.

Time for broken English.

Weird algorithmic flirtation.

And credit-card fueled lonely hearts desperation.

Say hello to badminton aficionado, Yonghong.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

This Ad Life

If you've ever been to an amusement park or even one of those hastily assembled church parking lot weekend festivals, you've probably see the Gravitron. Affectionately known as the Vomitron. For it's uncanny ability to bring up copious amounts of undigested cotton candy, half chewed bratwurst and purple slurpy.

Most riders of the Vomitron, familiar with the detrimental effect it can have on their wardrobe, never return for a second trip.

This queasy uncomfortable feeling is also very familiar to those of us who freelance in advertising.

I know when I started, and hit the stroll as it were, I often felt breakfast churning in my stomach, bubbling and swirling upwards, almost past the point of no return. This was exacerbated by having two daughters in private kindergarten, where it cost me more than $20,000 a year in tuition for them to learn kickball, finger painting and nap time.

Eventually, I got my sea legs. And learned how to ride the ups and downs and professional discourtesy that so often comes with the course.

After a slower-than-I'd-like July, the phone started ringing.

And by ringing, I mean I was getting texts. At one point I was dealing with three separate inquiries. All for month long gigs. And all paying close to my normal day rate.

Damn, I thought, I should swing by the Bagel Factory and pick up a 1 lbs. tub of their delicious Smoked White Fish Salad. (That's how a 44 year old Jew celebrates by the way)

But, as is often the case in the unpredictable world of mercenary employment, each of these inquisitions fizzled out. It could have been logistics. Change in direction. A pitch that was going to go unpitched. Or, somebody said, "You called Siegel? No fucking way!"

That's the way it goes.

Naturally this left me feeling down in the dumps. Depressed. And I felt like I should swing by the bagel factory to pick up a 1lbs. of their delicious Smoked White Fish Salad. (It's good for consolation as well)

Then, what normally happens, happened.

I got a call from another agency that I do regular business with and they needed me for a great gig. A big juicy assignment that will allow my partner and I to spread our wings and do what we do best.

Cause for celebration.

So now the question is, who wants to come over for bagels and smoked white fish salad?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Photo Journalism

It's been a while since I've done this, but as I am running low on coffee and Precedent Shitgibbon is on vacation, I thought this was a good opportunity to randomly select some of the photos I found on my iPhone.

The two ladies pictured above were shielding their hairdos from the Culver City downpour ( a light mist) with plastic bags retrieved from the nearby garbage bin.

This beautiful bench sits at the Baldwin Hills Overlook and is dedicated to my amazing neighbor who left us all too soon.

A hipster dude who has $25 for a sandwich at Bako Shop but not enough money for a proper shirt.

Swastika carved into the pavement near Duquesne and Jefferson. Always nice.

A local Freemason Temple. 
I want to go in and hear their sales pitch but I understand it's by invitation only.

It's "Bring Your Inquisitive Son to Work Day."

Jesus Rocks. Fuck You. Love it.

I call this, "Bending down to scrape dog shit off my shoe and discovering beautiful landscape."

I've seen better.

Third Street Promenade: Street evangelism and the ubiquitous smell of urine is the winning formula for eternal salvation.

U.S.A., U.S.A.!!!

"If I only had a Canyon Arrow."

"See this hairline fracture, that's gonna cost you $2k."

"Who wants candy?"

I think I might be overwatering the garden.

And finally, there was this fellow who was seated across the aisle from me on a return flight from Seattle. He had a cold. A bad cold. Maybe bronchitis. Very productive bronchitis. 

For 3 hours he coughed, produced a mouthful of lung and then spit it into the blue latex glove he had furled up in his hand. By the time we had reached San Luis Obispo, he had filled the left handed glove. Fortunately, for the remaining 25 minutes of the flight, he still had the right glove. #FML

Monday, August 7, 2017

When it's my time

Less than a week onto my job as a mailroom clerk at Needham Harper & Steers (aka Needless Hardons & Tears) I was handed two hundred dollars from petty cash and told to run down to the local BevMo.

Or whatever the liquor warehouse was called those days.

Maybe it was Liquor Warehouse.

I was asked to bring back a bevy of booze for an office party -- the kind of office party you just don't see anymore. A Retirement Party.

I purchased the obligatory cases of Bud Light (our client) and several more cases of Bartles & James Strawberry Wine Coolers. And brought the change to my penny pinching boss. But before I handed him the receipt I quickly spread out the beer and wine coolers in ice buckets all around the party room, which made counting inventory impossible. Which also cleverly disguised the remaining case of Bud Light that stayed in the trunk of my car.

Turns out the first advertising retirement party I went to, was also the last.
There are no more retirement parties in advertising.
Because people in advertising don't retire.

They either "move on."

Leave "to explore other opportunities."

Or my favorite,  they are shown the door because "the agency has been rightsized to better fit the needs of our clients." (And the CEO is buying a vacation home in Tortuga)

The departure ceremony, if there even is one, is nothing more than a visit to an HR cubicle to collect a miserably underfunded severance check. And a perfunctory Exit Interview that isn't worth the paper it's never printed on.

Do I have data or statistics or any research whatsoever to back up these claims? Of course, I do not. I don't have time for that I'm a freelance copywriter chasing down any assignment that moves.

"We need someone to help us rewrite our Firedrill Safety Guidebook. Stairwells, elevators, neon vests, that kind of thing. Can you do that?"

"I'm your guy."

Take my anecdote for what it's worth.

But next time you walk into an ad agency take a good look around. Past the beanbag furniture. Past the surfboards, razors or hover boards. Past the multiple Long Tables of Mediocrity™.

All the accoutrements of today's advertising culture with none of the remnants of yesterday's advertising culture. No stacks of CA Annuals. No shelves of One Show Books. And no one past the age of 44.

But please don't mistake this post as a gripe.
It's not.

The fact is I enjoy my working relationship with ad agencies now more than ever. And when it comes time to hang up my cleats, maybe in twenty years or so, I'll throw my own retirement party. With 110% proof whiskey, flame-throwers, strippers from Uzbekistan, rented boxing kangaroos, life size pinatas of every client/planner/CEO who ever fucked me over and plenty of Bartles & James Wine Coolers.


My favorite.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hui, Hui Baby, Hui

Last Thursday I diverged from our normal routine.

Instead of replying to a letter from Asiadate.com, I chose a letter LatinaDate.com, a similar mail order bride scamming site. Some readers were upset. And sent me private emails to the effect of:

"Rich, what are doing? I was so loving the AsiaDate.com bit. Please get back to it. It's the only thing that gives meaning to my life."

Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration.

But I did hear from some regular readers who wanted me to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. So with that, let's meet the very poetic, Hui.

Again, it helps if you read the young lady's letter first followed by my merciless response.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

For God's Sake

I could solve the country's economic woes in a heartbeat.

With one stroke of the pen, I could fill the government coffers up to the brim with new revenue. There'd be so much money coming in, they'd have to outsource the job and get cheap Chinese laborers to build new coffers.

Americans wouldn't need those coffer-building jobs because we'd be busy re-doing our infrastructure, bridges, highways, overpasses.

Hell, we'd have so much money, we could even start construction on new solar farms, windmills, and cold fusion plants.

Even that wouldn't put a dent in the new windfall. For Christ's sake we could provide each and every American proper comprehensive healthcare (you know like they have in every capitalist, first world country on the planet.)

And lest we still fear takeover from those Commie bastards, we could double the size of our already bloated military. Every one of our nuclear warheads could have its own mininuclear warhead.


"Jesus, Rich, what is this new disruptive idea? For the love of God, tell us."

Two words: Tax Religion.

According to the Hartford Institute, there are roughly 350,000 churches in America. That number includes all the denominations of Christianity (which reads like a Denny's Menu), all the mosques, synagogues and temples, Satanic, Wiccan or otherwise.

And those congregations take in billions and billions and billions of dollars. In real estate deals, in donations, in tithings and in sales of allegedly holy trinkets.

Take Joel Osteen.

He's a special kind of minister -- A Prosperity Minister. He tells his followers that Jesus wants them to be wealthy. That Jesus commands them to affluence. And, that for a yearly membership fee and some generous contributions, he can lead them down the path to prosperity. Proof that it works? Take a look at one of Osteen's homes.

That may look like an Olympic sized swimming pool in the lower left left hand corner to you and me.  But to the IRS it's a "baptismal submission center" where the faithful are submerged in the solar-heated purification waters of repentance.

This tax-free blasphemy is just a drop in the bucket. Osteen reportedly has 5 other "prayer centers" scattered throughout the country. Which he and his wife visit regularly using his fleet of private jets.

Did I say private jets? I meant "God's Wings of Redemption."

With Tax Reform coming up next on Precedent Shitgibbon's Agenda of Non-Accomplishment, I humbly suggest the governing party take a good long look at religion and start taxing the near half million houses of worship.

It's time those of you who believe in God start paying your fair share.
You know, like those of us who don't.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Off the bone

I hate flying, but I love planes.

This can be attested to by any of my many advertising colleagues who had the misfortune of accompanying me on a business flight. I'm a confirmed white knuckler.

Before boarding any flight I need to know what model we're on.

Is it a 737?
A 757 long?
An Airbus 320?
Or even the dreaded DC10? Most of those are baking in an airplane cemetery deep in the Mojave desert.

Once, on a return flight from San Francisco, I leaned over to my partner and said...

"I think we're coming in too hot on this approach."

"These guys land thousands of planes they know what they're doing, Rich. Besides it's all controlled by the computer."

No sooner had he said that, did the pilot full throttle it up and send us soaring back into the skies over Santa Monica Bay.

"Yeah, sorry about that ladies and gentleman. We're gonna circle round and try this landing again."

Like I said, I love planes, I just don't love being in them.

I also love BBQ. And now I have a place to indulge both.

Recently the Proud Bird Restaurant, a Southern California mainstay that has been here longer than my 44 years, underwent some major renovation. They turned their massive space into an upscale food court. They also refurbished the outside patio are for optimum plane landing viewing.

The restaurant sits about 200 yards away from the base of LAX's longest runway, I believe it's  25L.

On a late summer evening, when the sky takes on multiple shades of blue, orange and red, it's absolutely perfect. Particularly with an expertly-drawn pint of Einstok White Pale Ale.

The ribs, I'm sorry to say were not.

This is especially upsetting because the main vendor in the Proud Bird Food Court is Bludsoe's. The ribs were dry, crusty and the only way to get the meat off the bone was with a hammer and chisel. I would have sent them back but I was not convinced the staff -- a bunch of unenthusiastic and very likely stoned kids -- could do any better.

I'll let you in on a little restaurant secret. And the folks at Bludsoe's should be listening as well. The secret to great BBQ pork ribs is not the BBQ. As I learned from my catering days and Valentino, the world's greatest back of the kitchen prep chefs, the trick is to slow bake the ribs in a pool of water, for 3 hours. Then, and only then, can you place the ribs on a scalding hot grill so they can be lathered in tangy BBQ sauce.

Perhaps it's a blessing the food was not that good. Because as all Angelenos know, with great food and a great setting, come great masses of people.

I can deal with inedible baby back ribs.

I can't deal with insufferable Westside hipsters.

Monday, July 31, 2017

On Capitalism and Petards

I thought Republicans and conservatives were all about Capitalism.

You know the free market exchange of ideas. The belief in competition and the public's ability to choose what was best. The forces of innovation, selection and one upmanship that have shaped our great nation.

I guess that's all lip service.
Particularly in light of the recent health care debacle.

Let's go through a facile, all-too-quick recap.

In 2010, after lengthy debates and many political maneuvers, even some underhanded ones, I'll admit, the Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act. The elephants in the room were not pleased. And pledged to upend it.

In fact they took 61 cracks at repealing the law through the courts and the system and failed each and every time. But while they were busy huddling with their lawyers to peel back this "abomination" they did nothing to come up with an abomination of their own.


Precedent Shitgibbon promised a "beautiful healthcare plan that was going to cover everybody, lower premiums and be the envy of the modern world." Where was that beautiful plan? Did it get chewed up by the same dog that ate the 30 Day ISIS Defeat Plan? Or the Mexican promise to build a huge border Wall?

The truth is there was no plan.

And while the fat, fishbrained twatwaffle went to Mara Lago to drive his golf cart all over the greens, Paul Ryan and company scurried about to put something together like a junior high school student crafting a book report from the Cliff Notes.

Mitchy Mitch didn't like that book report. He thought he could do better. Not with a healthcare plan he started writing in 2010, but with three different book reports, written by a committee of the All White Pasty Fatman Senator Club.

And again, these were without any contributions from the dim, dread-bolted hugger-mugger who was too busy eating chocolate cake and scoring testosterone points with 40,000 Boy Scouts.

In the end, none of these options survived. Not because of some grand conspiracy. Not because of some Constitutional flaw. And not because of some miscreant remarks about "who is and who isn't a war hero."

The new plans had failed because none of them were better than the old plan, with all its flaws.

Had any off Mitch's options provided better care, lowered premiums and improved the lives of working Americans, they would have passed.


In other words, the free market exchange of ideas that Republicans speak so highly of, prevailed.

In other other words, written by the Bard, the Republicans have been "hoisted by their own petard."

Damn, I love that expression.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

It's Flirty Thursday

Meet Sandra.

The more astute of you might be saying...

"Wait a minute, Rich. She doesn't look Asian. I thought Thursday was reserved for snarky letter writing to potential Asian Mail Order Brides. Unless Sandra happens to be Philippino and has that exotic half Asian/half Iberian Peninsula thing going on. What's the deal?"

Damn, you people are demanding.

Look, I like to mix things up. And as any regular user of the inter webs will tell you when you start "shopping" online, you get barraged with advertising. Not just from the source of the original inquiry but from other competitors, in this case mail order bride scammers.

Think of it sharks sniffing out blood in the water. In this case, the blood of lonely white American men with a little money in their pocket and not a snowball's chance of getting laid by more conventional means.

Not only has my phony David Goldstein profile received hundreds of letters from AsiaDate.com, now there are competing forces afoot. More specifically from UkrainianBrides.com and LatinaDate.com.

Each of these new competitors has their own unique formatting and sadly is not as clean and concise as the AsiaDate.com palate. So bear with me.

Sandra from LatinaDate.com writes:

Her English is not that good. And just as I have trouble speaking Spanish and getting the right verb tenses, it appears the difficulty goes both ways. But Sandra has mastered the arts and has thoughtfully included a drawing with her letter.

My reply:

Dear Sandra, 

Please do not worry about your English grammar. I understand you quite well. Though I am always troubled when someone writes the word Attorney in any introductory letter. 

I love nature too and enjoy surrounding myself with God's gift of animals and plants. 

But I also like fast cars. And two weeks ago, I got a letter from Yingyang from China. She owns a Maserati dealership. And says once I pay for her to come to America we can criss cross the country in a 424 hp Maserati Levante with Q4 All Wheel Drive and an advanced torque vectoring system. 

Drawings and pictures are fine, but do you own any car dealerships?

David Goldstein

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Jew York Times

About this time last year, I told my wife I was thinking about canceling our subscription to the LA Times.

The papers were piling up in the kitchen, mostly unread. And we were consuming all our news via the interwebs. Or worse via Facebook feeds and social media.

But, my wife,  a sales rep for Harvard Business Review, refused. Saying she did not want to add another nail to the coffin and contribute to the death of printed media.

Instead, we went the other way.

We re-upped our subscription to the LA Times. And added the NY Times to arrive on our doorstep. And with the ascension of Precedent Shitgibbon, who has all but weaponized disinformation, we couldn't be happier.

My long dormant routine of reading the newspaper has been revived.

I now make it a lunchtime habit of high protein, low carbs and a heaping helping of some unvarnished truth.

Now, I know some of the naysayers are out there, ready to pounce with their charges of bias. A lack of objectivity. And how the New York Times is pushing an agenda.

Yeah, sure. These charges mean nothing coming from people who source their news from Breitbart, Alex Jones or even Sean Hannity.

Moreover, I'm a big boy and can read between the lines. I've worked in advertising a very, very long time and recognize spin when I smell it. Or, when I'm paid exorbitant day rates to weave it.

I also make it a habit to read the news from the other side. And have bookmarked conservative media on my computer. I will even concede there are times when they are right on the money, often pointing out how some media outlets hype or overplay their hand. I'm looking at you Rachel Maddow and your cloying TV affectations.

But in the end, we all have to trust somebody.

I trust scientists who tell us the universe is 13 billions years old because they have evidence.
I don't trust clerics who pimp the 6,000 year old story of Adam and Eve and a talking snake.

I trust climatologists who have the data to support our overheating atmosphere.
I don't trust senile Congressmen who bring snowballs into the halls of the Capitol building.

And I trust journalists, who work for the Old Grey Lady -- the equivalent of the 1927 Yankees -- and who have won more than their fair share of Pulitzer prizes. And can actually spell Pulitzer. I don't trust raging roid-aholics who would have us believe there are child sex slaves on Mars.

Though I will admit, for sheer entertainment value, Alex Jones and his throbbing neck veins, beats the pants off even the most colorful obits in the NY Times.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Letters, we get letters

Last week I had three copywriters (names withheld) reach out to me.

There was desperation in each of their missives. Even more apparent because they were reaching out to me. All, to the effect of...

"Dude, it's really slow out here. Agencies are cutting back on their freelance budgets and I can't get any work. You've been doing this awhile and always seem to be busy, any advice?"

Yes, of course, let me whip out my spreadsheet of potential employers and get you some names and numbers, poste haste.

Listen up, I've said this before, I'll say it again.

The secret is "there is no secret."

BTW, this little nugget of wisdom was taught to me years ago by Lee Clow. When I was at Chiat we did a lot of traveling together to pitch new business. I distinctly remember sitting at an airport terminal (before we started taking private jets) at LAX and having a few private moments with Lee. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I asked him point blank why Chiat had succeeded where others hadn't and what was his personal formula for success.

He said, and I'll never forget this:

"Brian, there is no secret." 

Adding, "It's all about resilience, a willingness to work harder than the next guy and never taking no for an answer."

And that's what I parrot back to my fellow underemployed freelance copywriters.

If I were to go a step a further and steal precious time away from trolling supporters of Precedent Shitgibbon, I would also tell them this.

You have to expand your horizons. And by that I mean stepping out of the comfort zone of the Big Four Holding Company roster of ad agencies. I do a lot of work for independent shops. Entertainment agencies. Hell, I have no ego, I'll do pharmaceutical ads for Zibesta, Lucretia and Cramitol.

Also, PR firms are looking to move in on advertising territory. They may be skilled at press releases and spinning damage control but they are in sore need of folks who can come up with big branding ideas. Plus, they don't want people like me (with a face for radio) spoiling the well kept appearance of their pristine offices, so they insist I keep my ugly fat ass at home.

And finally, there are a thousand companies of the Fortune 1000 list, how coincidental is that.

Not all them need or want a big bad ad agency and their youthful troops of ink-festooned brand experts. My partner and I recently reached out to some of these alternative-seeking clients and much to our surprise our inquiry has yielded fruit. And a car payment. And a mortgage payment. And the promise of a new Bowflex machine for the gym in my garage.

"Hey Bowflex, let's talk about your advertising."

The point is, as an advertising mercenary you have to open yourself up to all possibilities. Or, if I may paraphrase Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.


Always Be Opening.

Monday, July 24, 2017


Right now, my oldest daughter is studying abroad in Kenya. Her partnership with the NGO ends in two weeks, then she'll be off to Tanzania and some other African countries I will need to actively research.

A little more than a month ago, my other daughter was in Greece and in Israel, compliments of her Birthright Program.

This has put me in a global state of mind.

Particularly today when it seems so many Americans are not. In fact, if you've spent anytime arguing with some of the provincial cretins on the Trump social media websites (as I have) you'd know many of these paint chip-eating dolts have never been beyond the boundaries of their front yard.

Hometown pride is fine, but uninformed jingoistic nationalism is a brain eating disease. The same disease that Precedent Shitgibbon rode to get into the White House and allowed him to live there on a part time basis, you know when he's not playing golf.

Anyway, this got me thinking. With regards to the Birthright Program, wherein any kid aged 18-26 with proven Hebraic lineage can hop on a plane and experience a 10 day all expense paid trip to the land of his or her ancestors.

It's a pretty remarkable phenomena. And I have yet to meet one kid who has not returned, moved by the entire experience. And more importantly, more knowledgable, more empathetic and better versed in the ways of some other corner of the world.

I think we could all use a little more of that.

After all what's good for the Jews is good for the gander.

So, instead of building a $70 billion dollar wall between the US and Mexico, a wall that can be breached by an extension ladder purchased at the Tijuana Desposito de Casa, why not invest that money into something more useful? A Birthright Program for everybody.

Particularly since we are all in a nation of immigrants.

Irish kids can go back to Dublin. They can shear sheep on a farm. Eat the same potato soup as their ancestors. They can visit the same pub houses favored by their grandfathers and great uncles. Get wicked drunk. Get in a brawl. And discover an untapped left hand hook that could lead to a promising career in prizefighting.

Pakistani kids can make the journey to Islamabad. Where they can eat goat and neverending bowls of cous-cous. Here, they will gain a life-changing lesson in appreciation for their American way of life.

"Pray 5 times a day? Hell I don't even play X-Box five times a day."

And Polish kids can return to the land of their ancestors. Arriving at the airport in Kiev, only to discover they've landed in Ukraine.

Alright, stupid stereotypical jokes aside, the point is the world does not end at the very easternmost shore of Maine nor the most barren island of the Aleutians. The world is complex. We can all use a better understanding of how the pieces fit together.

And that does not come from shouting "USA, USA." Nor wrapping one's self up in American flag sweaters, tank tops and beer cozies. Which only benefits the manufacturer of that cheap red, white and blue swag.

Who, ironically, lives in a McMansion on the outskirts of Shanghai.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Holy Moly

Today, in the continuing series of AsiaDating.com adventures I give you the MOST amazing letter I have ever seen on the site.

Most of the letters, with their computer-generated broken English and saccharine-sweet flirtation sound alike.

"I have seen your profile. And you are most amazing man. I would like to spend the rest of my life traveling with you and wrapping my arms around your warm body. And then we will make fondue. Won't you be my partner?"

Yeah, yeah, sure.

And then there is LinLin. An aspiring novelist with a flair for the written word. Linlin is literally the James Joyce of Internet Mail Order Bride fleecing.

I am still trying to digest this, which comes to you in three glorious parts.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Digital, schmigital

My issue with advertising today is that it's not like advertising of yesterday.

Oh, I'm well aware of how that makes me look like some old dinosaur that "doesn't get it." But, I'm more of the mind that today's marketers don't get it. And by it, I mean the mighty game-changing power of a well thought out campaign.

Allow me to unpack this admittedly old school theory.

Many clients today are smitten with digital. I understand that. So much shopping takes place online. Mobile phones have our undivided attention. And most importantly, digital is dirt cheap.

Consequently, many clients chase eyeballs with banner ads that don't get clicked, mobile thigamajigs that get lost among a hundred other apps thigamajigs and whoseywhatsits, and social media influencer campaigns that are nothing more than glorified Yelp reviews.

But what if I'm wrong?

What if each of these digital venues is highly successful, after all we do live in a digital multi-screen world that is far different than the advertising arena of yesteryear. Our attention spans are spread thinner than Jared Kushner's ability to right the world.

Fine, but by that logic there's an excellent chance that the Motivated Aspirer who saw your banner ad yesterday has never seen nor will ever see the Youtube video you released last month, you know the one with 5,139 views.

And the 237 people enrolled in your Instagram coloring book contest will never see the obnoxious page takeover you engineered on catswhoknit.com

My point being that it all has become so flattened out the components never play off each other. Or, as we Old Schoolers used to say, they never "Ladder Up."

Laddering Up is the notion that people would see the messaging on your outdoor boards mirrored with the same strategic messaging as your TV commercials and complemented by the compatible and persuasive messaging in your print ads and radio spots. And, through this crazy notion of cumulative communication, a brand proposition would emerge.

My friend and fellow curmudgeon blogger George Tannenbaum writes about it here.

It's the same old school process that gave us:

Bounty. The Quicker Picker Upper.

Fedex. When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight.

Avis. We try harder.

BMW. The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Then again, why take it from me? I'm just a washed up 44 year old full of piss and vinegar and enough righteous indignation for 10 men.

In that case take it from Lee Clow, a guy who knows a thing or two about advertising. Under his wise stewardship, Steve Jobs, then CEO at Apple, swore off any digital mishigas and committed his entire advertising budget exclusively to TV, outdoor and print.

He laddered that company up to be the richest one on the planet.