Friday, February 28, 2014

One One Thousand


Who'd of thunk it?

Five years ago, when I started this blog, on the eve of my 38th birthday, I never thought this endeavor would reach the 1000th post benchmark.

Truth is if you count the numerous posts I have deleted, either because I offended someone, made some factual errors, or just had some rare second thoughts, this important milestone was reached about two weeks ago.

But that's not important.

In fact, none of this is important.

If I were to hazard a guess I'd say you could give a rat's ass that I've narcissistically returned to this keyboard more than 1000 times with the delusion that anyone cares if there's 1001st post.

The other fact is, when I started Round Seventeen I had no idea where it would go.

To me, those are the best creative journeys. It's a methodology I subscribe to.

The act of doing is more important than the act of planning.

When I wrote Tuesdays With Mantu, it was a complete whim. What began as a sophomoric way to entertain myself unexpectedly turned into a book, a website, an industry calling card and a soon-to-be released full-length feature film starring Ryan Gosling as provocateur Rich Siegel and Lawrence Fishburne/Samuel Jackson as the befuddled Mantu.

When I started my Kim Jung Un Tumblr, I never dreamed it would garner so much attention and catch the eye of Sony Studio executives who plan to turn it into a full-length feature film starring Bradley Cooper as prankster Rich Siegel and Ken Jeong as the mad DPRK Dictator.

And just recently I've started writing some short fiction, you know when I'm not hawking adult diapers, minivans or sugary soft drinks in my capacity as a copywriter.

With any luck these short stories/memoirs will be turned into an HBO miniseries starring Leonardo DeCaprio as the rascally Rich Siegel and Scarlett Johannson as the office temptress who just won't take "No" for an answer.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I just wanted to say thank you to the 14 people, who for some unknown reason, show up here on a daily basis.

I'm hoping, as I'm sure you are, that the second 1000 entries will be a lot funnier than the first.



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mercury, Schmercury


Last week I read an article that stated half of all Americans believe Astrology is "very scientific" or "sort of scientific."

The "sort of" qualifier says so much about our current state of education.

I'm willing to bet that in Kansas, where the laws of physics "sort of" apply, the numbers run even higher.

This week, you'll be happy to know, Mercury will be coming out of retrograde. Meaning of course that traffic jams will disappear, politicians will speak honestly and the Obamacare website will be glitch-free.

To be honest, I didn't know much about the whole Mercury in Retrograde phenomena until I did a little digging online. Prior to that, it was only familiar to me through dimwitted Facebook status updates.

I'm not saying this to polish any apples, but with a few notable and unnamed exceptions, I run around with a pretty sophisticated and intelligent group on social media. People whose intellect I admire and whose opinions I respect.

You know that is until they disagree with me.

You can imagine how shocked I was to hear what's-his-face bitching about his mislabeled Cafe Americano at Starbucks or so-and-so blaming a bounced a check on the position of a tiny planet 48 million miles away from Earth.

This comes from colleagues, some of whom are in positions of power. Significantly more power than me. The power to steward brands and effect the paychecks of hundreds of employees who work under their "command."

Suffice to say the fruit from their tree has been poisoned. Once you've played the Mercury-in Retrograde Card, there's no going back, you are an astronomically-challenged, intellectually-starved cretinous tool.

So the next time one of these star bloviators has something to say about my work being off strategy or the rough cut of a spot doesn't make sense, I will only have one appropriate non-verbal response.

Pfffffft.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Send me to Mars


You probably didn't see this last week. I know I didn't. My buddy Steve from San Diego (he's a freelance copywriter and I'm not about to tell you his last name and give him any free publicity) sent me this recent article from the United Arab Emirates.

It seems local clerics, led by respected Professor Farooq Hamada, have issued a fatwa against any member of the Islamic faith who chooses to live on Mars.

Not a fatwa against Israel, which is just a few hundred miles away and has its own vast stretches of barren, scorching desert. But Mars, which is 36 million miles away from Earth.

A long flight, even if you're in first class.

Should this completely irrational fatwa take hold in the Muslim world, and there's no reason why it shouldn't, we in the thinking world, would have a glimmer of hope for mankind.

Maybe the other faiths would follow suit, including the dinosaur deniers, the snake handlers and the Rapture Hatchers.

Then, sometime in the distant future we could pack up our belongings, leave Mother Earth and live on the Red Planet. Knowing we would finally be free of these fairy tale mongers.

Imagine, if I may paraphrase John Lennon, a world with no religion.

Imagine a world where 9-year old girls are not sold into marriage.

Imagine a world where no one gets beheaded for NOT believing something that has no basis in reality.

Imagine loving whoever we want to love. Eating eating whatever we love to eat, including bacon, lobster and cheeseburgers. And not living an entire life based on the collective wisdom of ancient goat herders and sheep shearers who didn't know the first thing about gravity, thermo-dynamics or the early gut-busting work of Harold Ramis and the National Lampoon Radio Hour.

Apart from the searing heat on Mars, it all sounds pretty good.

It would be nice to live with intelligent, rational human beings who understand the objective truth of science and the power of free will.

By the way, if you're one of the folks who spent $59.95 for a VHS of Pia Zadora in Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, you are not eligible to make the flight.









Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Moving on up


Thanks to social media, the Grapevine has grown significantly vinier.

It used to take weeks, or months, before I'd hear so-and-so got promoted or whosey-whats-it is now running that office.

Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter allow me to have an instantaneous handle on the ad community at large. That knowledge is invaluable, particularly when I need to smile-and-dial and track down some freelance opportunity.

But it's also incredibly disheartening.
Because it means I have to bear witness to the industry phenomena known as "Failing Up."

Urban Dictionary defines it as such:

Failing Up -- (verb, intransitive) to derive gain in spite of failure that would usually either preclude said gain or have adverse consequences.

It happens everywhere.

You might be familiar with Lane Kiffin, the only college coach to take a pre-season #1 ranked team (USC) to unranked by the end of the season. He just got hired to be the offensive coordinator at Alabama.

Roll Tide.

Or what about Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase. He was just awarded $20 million dollars, a 74% increase, despite engineering the bank's worst yearly performance.

And of course it happens in advertising.

Here's a list of a dozen CEO's, Creative Directors, Strategic Planning Directors, Account Supervisors and Chief Innovation Experiential Digital Social Media Mavens who have parlayed their special brand of incompetence into corporate ascendancy.

First off, there's the charismatic…




( Editorial Note. Today's blog posting has been edited by Debra Siegel. There will be no name-naming of advertising people who have "failed up." At least not until our daughters have graduated college and Rich has walked away from advertising . Then you can look forward to all the juicy in details in his upcoming book, "The Bridge Will Be Burned.")

Apparently, I have walked up a little too close to the precipice of self-destruction.

You'll have to get your public shaming elsewhere.





Monday, February 24, 2014

Oh for goodness sake


I know I don't do this enough, but today I'd like to talk about something good.

I hope this won't put you off.

You come here for some finely-scrubbed vitriol. For rants against injustice, inequality, and man's inhumanity to man. And those are just the posts about advertising. I regularly go off about religion, politics, thinning the herd and shitty neighbors with monster trucks and vicious pit bulls.

But today we're veering off that well-worn path.

Because last week, my old partner John Shirley and I had a unique advertising experience. And when I say unique, of course I mean it was good.

It was better than good.

I won't tell you the name of the agency (NDA and all that stuff) but I will tell you they are in Hollywood. And I hate driving to Hollywood. Between the tourists, the traffic and the omnipresent stench of urine, Hollywood makes Pacoima look good.

We worked long hours. We started at 9 sharp, because the owners of the agency get in at 8. And we stayed well past Final Jeopardy time.

And we did rewrites. Changing direction on a dime and chasing ideas at speeds that would make Usain Bolt jealous.

I didn't even get a full day rate.

So far, it sounds awful, right?

But it wasn't and I'll tell you why.
It was about the work.
The work.
And nothing but the work.

We were dealing with two Creative Directors who have done a boatload of great work. Their names are attached to some of the most recognizable and edgy stuff done in the last decade. To have them embrace our particular form of unconventional humor was flattering.

I may, as someone recently called me, an old fart, but the snow on the roof has not prevented me, and my partner, from cranking out ideas that are worth pursuing.

Moreover, these guys found a way of improving the work and pushing us to walk further out on the plank. Bigger, bolder, ballsier, is their creed and we were more than happy to oblige.

In other words, we had fun. And were laughing from the first cup of coffee in the morning to the first beer at night.

As John's wife so aptly put it, only you two could find a way to get paid to have a 6-day long Play Date.






Thursday, February 20, 2014

Homey don't play dat


I'm seeing a lot more of this these days.

And not because my DVR is set on a 24/7/365 search for anything related to the #1 ranked college basketball team in America, my Syracuse Orangemen.

The Jump Ball is de rigueur in the ad world.

Long gone are the days when an agency would earn 15% commission on all work done on behalf of their AOR client. That number has been halved. And if you listen to the whining of CFO's taking home 7-digit paychecks, halved again.

Even more troubling is the disappearance of the Agency of Record motif.

Now when a client needs to launch a new car, a new sneaker, or a new energy-enhanced vodka, they simply put the word on the street and wait for the craven, revenue-starved vultures (the ad agencies) to come pounding at their door.

It's all so upside down.

I can still remember a time when, at least the story goes, that if a client was being unreasonable or simply unreasonably stupid, Jay Chiat would tell them in no uncertain terms to take a hike.

Only he'd do it using words with many more hard consonants.

I don't know much about running an office or managing an agency. I have the financial acumen of a patio chair cushion. But it seems to me that we, the people in the ad business, have the know-how, the creative firepower and the rare ability to harness those imaginative powers to vault a client in the public consciousness. And with a little luck, into pop culture.

We have the secret sauce.
Client's don't.

I've been in meetings with them. They don't have anything remotely approaching that skill set. They know less about creativity and marketing than Ted Cruz knows about science and the principles of evolution.

Like I said, I'm just a Luddite and probably would have thrown my money in with Bernie Madoff, but my rudimentary understanding about supply/demand and the way the free market works tells me we shouldn't be pitching new business to clients.

They should be pitching to us.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Dangers of Global Swarming



Referring to decades of missteps, mistakes and misguided notions, Abba Eban once said, "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

We, the advertising community, are the Palestinians of the business world.

The current malaise of our industry is completely self-inflicted. And nowhere was it more apparent than this year's Super Bowl. Apart from an irresistible puppy and a horse, can you even remember one spot?

This should come as no surprise.

And I've written anecdotally about it before.

A creative briefing happens at 10 AM.
A creative check-in happens at 3 PM.
At 6 PM, the deck begins the assembly process for a 9 AM meeting the following day.

Kill.
Rebrief.
Repeat.

That's what the business has become. And instead of saying "Stop", Account "Managers" will often turn to the client and say, "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

But that's only one foot.

We would be remiss if, like the Palestinians, we failed to lock and load a large caliber gun and shoot ourselves in the other.

Enter the phenomena of Global Advertising. And the rise of the incredibly forgettable, one-word tagline, including:

Rise

Advance

Go

Now

Lead

Start

Forward

I don't know when this hair brained idea began, I can only picture some mucketty muck sitting in a large conference room looking over all the disjointed campaigns his company has done in Europe, Asia and North America and thinking, "Boy we could save a lot of money if we just ran one campaign. If all the luggage matched, my bosses will be so pleased. They'll give me more dough and I can buy another yacht."

I can also picture the agency guy responding to such marketing fuckery with, "Yeah, we can do that."

Completely ignoring the fact that what motivates a middle manager in Mumbai to purchase a mid-sized sedan has nothing to do what moves a mother of three from Des Moines into a showroom 8,000 miles on the other side of the planet.

And yet, as is often the case, this colossal turd of an idea called Global Advertising is regularly dumped into the hands of the creatives. Who are told, without a hint of irony, that the client needs a Global Campaign with the following parameters:

TARGET MARKET -- Human beings, Age 1-100

MANDATORIES -- No Copy. Or only words that can be translated into 137 languages.

TONE -- Global. Friendly. Innovative. Warm. Leadership. Forward-Thinking.

Oh and one more thing…

DEADLINE -- 3 PM. Today.




Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I am not Veal


My contempt for the open office plan is as endless as this new Endless Table recently installed at the Barbarian Group in NYC.

As you can see from the NY Times article, it was designed by Clive Wilkinson, the same architect who designed the offices of TBWA Chiat/Day, a place I used to call home for so many years.

I loved working at the Big Yellow House in Playa Vista, just 2.7 miles from my home. Mainly because we had the semblance of a real office, an in-house restaurant, a basketball court and state of the art editing and production facilities, all in the same building.

What we didn't have was an 1,100 foot long concrete, rebar-reinforced monstrosity ribboning through the office posing as some advancement in advertising office ergonomics.

I don't fault Clive.

In fact, thanks to some mutual friends in the industrial design arena, he and I are only separated by two degrees. So, if this should ever get back to him, he should know I am a big admirer of his work.

Clive was only doing what we all try to do -- deliver on the brief.

I have a bigger problem with the agency brass who have deluded themselves into thinking that creativity can thrive in a tiny (4 ft.) workspace more suited to an abattoir-bound baby cow.

You might hear a lot of claptrap about "greater collaboration" and the "spontaneous free-flowing spark of imagination", but I'm here to tell you it's all Bullshit. Mouthed by millennial sycophants who have been spoon-fed a steady diet of architectural malarkey and trained to speak in jargon-filled vagaries.

This isn't just me blowing off some old man smoke.

If you've got a few minutes and your co-worker next to you isn't blasting some horrendous European electronica crap through his or her Dr. Dre Beatphones, or whatever the hell they call them, take a look at this article recently published in the New Yorker. It details the decline of productivity and morale in today's modern new gulags.

Or, here's an even better idea.

If you're curious and would like to know why the big wigs at the Barbarian Group would drop $300,000 on an Endless Table instead of, oh I don't know, using that money to create a more private, more humane, more productive work environment, why don't you ask them?

They should be stepping out of their closed-door offices any minute now.



Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Most Unpopular Subject


As you might know, I am an unapologetic Zionist.
And nothing stokes my zeal for the State of Israel like a good Holocaust documentary.

Last week, I watched an amazing show on the History Channel about some recently discovered photographic albums from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

There were two albums.

One focused on the happy-go-lucky Ernst Hoecker, an SS Administrator who enjoyed having his picture taken picnicking and frolicking with the SS women, while just a few hundred yards away, men, women and children were being escorted off a train and shoved into a gassing chamber.

The other album focused on the victims, some of whom may have been my own distant relatives.

What I find most interesting is that these were not just ordinary people. They were, in different circumstances, the same people who could have made Hitler's 1000 Year Reich last a little longer than a dozen.

Because in those gas chambers, and later into the ovens, were physicists, chemists and engineers who could have harnessed the power of the atom for Deutschland.

Among those 6 million, there might have been a doctor who would cure cancer.
A novelist who might have written the next Moby Dick.
A composer who might have topped Beethoven.

In addition to the unimaginable human suffering, it pains me to think of the intellectual capitol that was lost.

None of that has stopped the hatred of Jews.

In fact the movement to boycott Israeli goods and academia is only gaining steam. Seems some good-hearted, progressive activists are more than willing to overlook the atrocities in Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, and the 120,000 civilians killed in Syria, and are more intent on stopping those damn Jews.

Nowhere was this more aptly contrasted than in my recent Facebook feed.



One group of people are determined to move mankind into a brighter, better future, while another group of people are determined to go the other direction.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gimme an At Bat


Last week was the Super Bowl. And for the umpteenth time in a row I did not have a spot during the big game. I suppose the way the Super Bowl spectacle is handled in the media I should thank my lucky stars.

Every Monday morning marketing quarterback wants to chimes in.

"Farts, boobs and dogs."

"Sophomoric cheap laughs."

"Unsophisticated million dollar garbage."

Wait a minute, those are all in my particular wheelhouse.

And yet my bell has not been rung. Oh, I've come close. Achingly close. But fate, as she often does, threw me to the curb.

I even had a couple of shots, or as my buddy likes to call them an At Bat, at this year's game. It was not to be. And the work that did run where my spots could have run and should have run, was let's just say, "less than spectacular."

It kills me not only during the post-Super Bowl time period, but throughout the year. I see commercials on television and recognize them as assignments I worked on. Invariably, the reaction is always the same.

They passed on our scripts and chose to produce that?

Or, if my daughters aren't in the room…

Motherfuckers, that's what they ended up with?

I know what you're thinking or even muttering under your breath. Rich, you're sounding a little full yourself. What makes you think you could've done any better? Maybe you ought to try a little humility?

Yeah, well, we're close to 5 years into this blog and quickly closing in on a 1000 posts, it's a little too late for that.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

From the Luft


When I was 19 years old, I believe Eisenhower was the President and had just given a keynote speech about the importance of separating church and state, I had to make a most difficult telephone call to my father.

I told him I was switching college majors, and subsequent careers, from the stable and lucrative world of chartered accountancy to the not-so-stable and often impoverished world of creative writing.

"WTF!!!!!" he screamed into the phone.
(He didn't use the acronym.)

It was not pleasant.

That discord tainted our relationship for the next 5-10 years. But eventually he came to grips with my new vocational direction. Finally understanding that I, like most people who write, had no choice in the matter.

When he saw that I could actually bring home a paycheck, just for putting one word after another, he began to appreciate it. He even started bragging about it.

"From the luft," he would say citing the Yiddish phrase,"my son makes a living from the luft."

The literal translation means from the air, as in the famed German Air Force, the Luftwaffen.

Sadly, he passed away before my questionable abilities made their way to film or a manuscript or even a TV commercial. And long before Round Seventeen.

This little anecdote serves as personal reminder of my responsibility, and in fact our responsibility, to nourish new writers. I can't think of a better way to do that than to support my friend and accomplished author Toby Barlow and his worthy cause.



The premise is pretty simple.

Writers get houses.
Houses get renovated.
Detroit gets better.

And if this little call for donation from my 13 regular readers produces enough revenue, Toby might even throw me another freelance gig.

It's a win-win-win-win situation if ever there was one.

The Write A House folks are tantalizingly close to the goals they've set. And this is the last week of fundraising. So give and give generously.

I sprung for the $60 donation so I could receive the Write A House T-shirt. Unfortunately it's a poly/cotton blend which makes my hirsute Bulgarian body perspire profusely.

This is not to be taken as a threat but if you don't break out the checkbooks, I'll do a pictorial post about my sweaty swarthiness.

And I don't think any of us want to see that.







Monday, February 10, 2014

My Son, the Doctor


Many, many years ago, when I was the age of many of today's Associate Creative Directors, I spent a summer working with my friend as a Lawn Doctor.

His father, a retired NYC cop, had just purchased the franchise serving the Greater Upper Saddle River portion of New Jersey, you know, Tony Soprano Country.

Naturally the old man needed two stupid and strong young teenagers to do the actual lawn doctoring. And as we had three months to kill before entering college, we fit the bill. Which made the name of the business even more laughable than it was.

We were to doctors as advertising planners are to rocket scientists.

The only plant life we had any working knowledge of pertained to specific herbs, known colloquially as Acapulco Gold or Maui Wowie or even the dreaded Adirondack Green.

Still, it was a great job.

We drank coffee.
We smoked weed.
And we pushed the machines, the mowers, the fertilizers, the aerators, around as if we knew what we were doing.

Oh, and we laughed our asses off.

But at the end of the day, over some Molsen's Golden Ales, we'd talk about the future. And how much better life would be when we finally get paid to use our minds. When we didn't have to wear dirty, sweaty overalls and we could apply our imaginations and tackle something more challenging than Mrs. Gianini's crabgrass.

The desk jobs came. And with it, the office politics, the finicky clients and the everyday bullshit of trying to make sense of the whole thing.

A few decades later, I find myself looking in the other direction.

I see sweaty cooks in a kitchen and yearn to be back there behind the line. I see bartenders serving up microbrews and wish I could slip into an apron. I see guys digging ditches on the highway and want to get out of my car and grab a shovel.

Like Peter in the cult classic OFFICE SPACE, I miss the joy of manual labor.

How quaint, I often ponder, to punch out at 5 o'clock and not think about work for another 16 liberating hours. I suspect this sentiment runs deep, particularly with my advertising brethren.

Maybe the grass isn't greener on the other side, but if I could earn the same amount of pay, I'd be more than happy to go mow it.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

A lovely day in the neighborhood.


This is M. Emmett Walsh.
The face might seem familiar because he's been in more than 10,000 movies and TV shows.

He's not only a terrific character actor, he's also my neighbor.
He lives in the house behind me.

He's funny.
Interesting.
And likable in every which way my other not-so-pleasant neighbors are not.

Recently, I was in my garage on my recumbent bike (a reminder, never buy anything from the NordicTrack company).

While I was pedaling away the pounds, OK, the ounces, I heard this -- verbatim -- in the 120+ decibel range from the house next to Emmett's…


"Fuck you."

"No, fuck you."

"Oh yeah, well, fuck you."

"Is that right, well, fuck you."

"Fuck you, you drunken fuck."

"I'm a drunken fuck? You sit on your fucking ass all day long, you lazy fuck."

"Fuck you."

"No, fuck you."


That went on for quite a while.
And then I heard a woman's voice.
She was on the phone.

"I had to take the phone outside the house. The boys are fighting again. Oh, I don't know, something about the remote control."

Did I mention the woman is in her 70's?

And the "boys" in question are both grown "men" in their late 40's who live with their mom?

Pretty glamorous, huh?




Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I Beseech You, Satan!


You probably don't recognize Rev. Bob Larson, but I do.

Years ago, he was all over the late night airwaves. Rev. Bob has the same magnetic force as Francis Ford Coppolla's Godfather or Alex Payne's The Descendants or Sidney Lumet's Twelve Angry Men.

That is, when I stumble across it on TV, I find myself unable to change the channel.

I had all but forgotten my fascination with this hair-challenged charlatan -- seen above it what appears to be the Exorcist's version of the Heisman pose -- until I came across an article about him in last week's Huffington Post.

Seems Bob has gone all Demon Fighting 2.0.

And now, for the low, low fee of just $295, conducts his online exorcisms via Skype. Think about that. With nothing more than a good DSL connection, a webcam and three hundred bucks that you might have wasted on food or electricity bills, you can banish the Dark Lord from your possessed flesh.

Naturally, with my curiosity piqued, I took to surfing the inter webs for more of Bob's flamboyant devil chasing. I came across this video that unknowingly gives up Rev. Bob for the fake that he is.

Watch closely.




Did you catch it?
Did you see where this video went off the rail?
Did you, in the vernacular of con men, spot 'the tell?'

I didn't either until I shared the Brian video with my uncle who lives in Palm Springs.

"It's a lie from the very beginning" my uncle said, "there isn't a self-respecting gay man on earth that would engage in homosexual activity with a guy wearing that fleece vest." 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I love clients


If you read this blog regularly (that would be three people, my wife, my former art director partner and Jeff Gelberg) or even if you just stop by infrequently, you might get the notion that I hate clients.

You would be mistaken.

In fact, while I was employed as a staff Creative Director, I got along extremely well with clients. OK, the smart ones.

I like to believe it's because they knew that despite disagreements or the look of disgust that would occasionally, and uncontrollably, seize my face, I was always most concerned about doing good work.

You might even be surprised to hear that many of these former clients are friends on FaceBook. Or connections on linkedin.com. And that I still maintain contact with them after all these years.

It's true.

You see, while I fought for good work, I never yelled at a client.
Never had any kind of outburst.
And never, ever, though I often threatened to, gone all Gerard Finneran.

The fact is when I hear or read about the debaucherous behavior, the full-throttle temper tantrums and massive client departures that have brought down other Creative Directors, I begin to wonder why I was ever pink-slipped in the first place.

I never did drugs on the job.
Mostly because I'm a control freak.

I never drank to excess on the job.
I'm half Scottish and that line is somewhat loosely defined.

And I never chased skirt on the job.
I own a mirror.

That is not to say that I was without flaw.

I wear my faults as a badge of honor. To this day, the piece entitled "Why I Sucked at Being a Creative Director" is still the most popular post on this blog.

Of course, it all worked out for the best. Thanks to a good Jewish work ethic, I stay busy and earn about as much as a CD. But I don't have to sit in the painful meetings, CDs have to sit in.

The kind of torturous meetings where a Mitt Romney-lookalike CEO and owner of a multi-billion dollar company once looked across the table and said...

"What you've done here is nice. It's clever. But I think a better visual would be two businessmen shaking hands. That says success. Bring me back something like that."

That guy was a Grade A AssClown.
And knowing what I know now, I'd say that straight to his face.








Monday, February 3, 2014

"Way to go, Crestor!!!"


Everybody is talking about commercials today.

OK, some are talking about the beating the Broncos put on the Seahawks. Or the beating the Seahawks put on the Broncos. I'm writing this on Saturday, so the outcome of the game is TBD.

But in my little world of advertising, the chatter (as the NSA would put it) is all about the spots.

"I loved the spot with the dog/monkey/sloth."

"We had that idea two years ago."

"The 60-second commercial was great, but did you go online and see their engagement unit? I was up to the wee hours of Monday morning engaging and interacting with the brand in a meaningful way that will result in exponentially greater sales intention."

Pretty fascinating water cooler conversation, huh?

Makes me glad I'm back to working from home.

Today, I'd like to bring up a commercial that isn't getting any buzz, but should. It's been airing a lot lately however I suspect it has flown under your radar. Which says less about the particular spot and more about your radar. And how desensitized we've all become to out and out stupidity.


Watch the spot. Here's the link.

With the exception of one miserable client that walked in the door at Chiat/Day years ago, I haven't done a ton of pharma advertising. And I'm sure it presents its own challenges. It's hard to sell anything when the FDA mandates a line of copy that reads…

"Use of this product may induce suicidal thoughts or even death."

Cue the jingle.

But I do know that had I been given the assignment for Crestor and told to beat the pants off those shysters at Lipitor, I'm 99.9% sure I would not have come up with a dancing Jeff Garlin lookalike who is so enthused about his new cholesterol pills that he has -- against the better advice of his wife -- redecorated the house with pharmaceutical swag.

That one is simply not in my playbook.

However, I would have paid good money to sit in on the meeting where the "Director" and the "Creative Team", presented their choice of "Actor" to the client.

AGENCY: We like this guy.

CLIENT: He's a little schlubby. Was there anyone more handsome? Crestor is an aspirational cholesterol reduction medication.

AGENCY: Let's watch the way he moonwalks again.

Cue the uncomfortable mercy laughter.

I try not to use this blog as a bully platform. And if you'll re-read the previous 990+ entries you'll see that despite Ample opportunity (Ample with a capital A), I have refrained from skewering any work done by my colleagues. Mostly because I am a freelancer and don't want to alienate anyone who could possibly give me a gig in the near future.

But if my career ever gets to a low point where I need to go all sycophant and ask for work from the team who put this Crestor masterpiece on the air, it's a safe bet that will induce some serious thoughts of suicide.