Thursday, September 29, 2016


As some of you might know I've made a habit of posting photos on Thursdays.

Lately this habit has become a routine because the last two months have been the busiest stretch in my almost 13 years of freelancing.

Plus, I'm trying to crank out a book.

Anyway, when I do get free time I like to hike up to the Baldwin Hills Overlook. It's a 1.4 mile walk from my front door to the trailhead. Then I go up and down the mountain (hill) 2-3 times, and then I'll hump it back. Usually with the aid of some Tylenol stuffed in my cargo shorts. All total, it's a good 6-7 mile trek. And 1000 burned calories.

On the walk I always spot something unusual. Like this pink scrap of paper littered on the sidewalk, ironically depicting a pig.

But I also spotted some interesting guerrilla artwork that makes a no less ironic statement on today's pop culture.

I'd appreciate it if you'd  Like this post and Share it.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hump this.

Years ago someone on Facebook posted a picture of himself, or herself, leaning against a 1978 lime green Plymouth Duster that was parked in the driveway of their parents old ranch style house. The picture started accumulating Likes and soon friends and family started digging through their shoeboxes full of old photo's and joined the fray.

This gave birth to #TBT.

Or Throwback Thursdays.

It seems people enjoy seeing themselves from the glory days gone by. They like the old styles, the thinner waistlines and the unreceded hairlines.

You know what else people like? Leaving the office at a decent hour.

But the taskmasters, whether they be advertising holding company officers or that douche and a half CEO from Wells Fargo, don't see it that way. They want us chained to our desks, pinned to our pens in the cubicle farm or locked, stocked and barreled to the long community tables until the wee hours of the morning.

Not to mention Saturdays and Sundays.


Well it doesn't take a United States Senator from Massachusetts to see why. It's all about money. They want more of it. And that means giving you less of it. They can reduce the cost of labor by increasing the number of billable man hours. See inverse relationships.

The 12-14 hour work day has become so commonplace in advertising, that many agencies have regular dinner service. Some have even contracted with dry cleaners, car washers and personal concierge services, you know to take care of those personal life responsibilities that can sometimes get in the way of...wait, I want to get this right..."doing great work."

Wow, if you're buying that I've got a Supplementary Low Cost Wells Fargo Savings Account I'd like to get you into.

I'm sorry my friends, you've been hoodwinked. Bamboozled. You didn't do Cannes Lion winning work. And you're not going to Cannes anytime soon.

It's high time we started taking back our time.

So, in the spirit of #TBT, I'm introducing #WOHW -- We're Out of Here Wednesdays.

Tonight, when the Assistant Associate Planner comes sniffing around to see whether you'd like Pizza or Pad Thai Noodles, take a pass. Tell him or her, you have other plans for the evening. Plans that don't involve banner ads, brand engagement units or content generation.

Tell him or her you won't be around email, or any other mobile device, so that round twenty three of revisions to make the copy more urgent will have to wait until the morning.

Tell him or her that you understand the importance of the $500 million new business pitch, but that you were only handed the brief two hours ago, and you haven't 'cracked it' yet.

At 6 PM tonight, and on every Wednesday thereafter, go home.
Make your colleagues go home.
Make your colleague's colleagues go home.

At 6 PM tonight we need to SHUT IT DOWN.

Go home. I'm already there.

Oh and don't forget to shop at the No Mas SweatShop.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The goats like it.

I'm often asked, by other creatives just setting foot in the freelance pool, "How can you work at home? Don't you get lonely?"

"Lonely?" I say, "are you kidding?"

I have me.

I have my dog.

And when I need a distraction or the opportunity to interact, I have 1.5 billion people to troll on Facebook or Linkedin, where the gamut of stimulating conversation can run from Ted Cruz's latest re-entry into the political arena to the newest stuffed crust offerings from Pizza Hut; they put grilled cheese in the crust.

If that doesn't have Americans eating their pizza backwards, I don't know what will.

I also happen to be at my best when I'm left alone in a quiet environment where I can think and focus and eat with my mouth open.

Lest you think I have no live human contact with the outside world, there are always the robocalls. For reasons unknown, we still have a landline in the house. And perhaps due to some bad early potty training, I have been programmed to answer a ringing phone.

But this is where it gets good. Because the only people calling me on the landline are the solicitors and the scammers. And I'm guessing you already know how I feel about them.

"This is the Internal Revenue Service calling about case # 285739. This is a serious matter. Ignoring this case may result in a summons and an appearance before a magistrate, judge of federal grand jury..."

"Hello...this is Rich something wrong?"

"This is the Internal Revenue Service (in an Indian or Pakistani accent no less) regarding an outstanding bill that must be paid immediately..." 

"I know exactly what this is about."

"Sir let me give you an address to send the money."

"It's about my Goat Insemination Business that I run on the side isn't it?"

"Wait, what?"

"You know extracting sperm from goats for artificial insemination."

"Sir, you can wire the money immediately to avoid any penalties."

"I knew we shouldn't have taken those deductions but my accountant insisted. Look, sometimes the goats aren't in the mood. So we bought goat aphrodisiacs. We spent money on some Marvin Gaye music, you know to get the goats hot and bothered. We even purchased this special goat lube to apply to the goat penis..."

"Sir I do not want to hear your filthy degenerate stories. (this is often accompanied by colorful cursing in Urdu)"

"That's what I told my accountant.  But he said these were legitimate expenses and that we could even take a credit for the electronic goat prostate massager."


The way I see it, the choice is simple.

I could be in an office, sitting in a conference room with some account folks and planners, carefully dissecting the behavior of tortilla chip consumers and the intricacies of the tortilla chip purchase funnel.

Or, I could be yanking the chain of a bearded flim flam man sitting in a boiler room in Islamabad hoping to skim some skin out of some poor American retiree's 401K plan.

If I ever needed a 'thought-starter', I choose the latter.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's almost here.

Last Saturday, was the one year anniversary of my previous book release, RoundSeventeen & 1/2, the Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Inefficient. 

Thanks to the thousands of you who never shelled out 12 bucks to support your almost favorite blogger, it's currently sitting comfortable as the 1, 239,754th bestseller on Amazon.

My hope was to release my new book (pictured above) on September 17th of this year, but since I am the world's worst typist and have mercilessly terrorized the English language with grammatical errors and poor syntax, the book is still lingering in its proofreading stage.

Part of me was hesitant to publish a picture of the cover and any news about the upcoming book's release for fear of stealing its thunder. There's a genuine risk that any preview could deflate the pent up demand for this page-turning compilation of the best and bile-filled advertising rants from the past 8 years.

And then the haze from my codeine-enhanced cough medicine wore off.

The Big Book of Rants, a Genetleman's Bathroom Companion to a Life in Advertising, coming soon to a dusty digital bookshelf where it will sit eternally unread.

Next to this.

And this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Please keep your hands inside the car."

Had an interesting discussion the other day with a colleague and fellow freelancer. Actually, it wasn't a discussion -- people don't talk on the phone or otherwise anymore -- it was a series of texts via the wonky Facebook chat interface.

I was texting from my iPhone while high atop the Baldwin Hills overlook. And he was texting from the exact same seat and desk I had been occupying just one week earlier.

You can draw your own conclusions, but the discussion, as it were, was about the finicky nature of freelancing.

As my colleague pointed out, at one place you can be the hero who can "write like nobody else we have on staff." And the very next week you can find yourself working for another agency who, and this part I'll paraphrase, "writes shit like everybody else."

And so in the course of my 44 years circling the sun, I've developed a thick skin. A very, very thick skin, which like a camera, adds 10 lbs. to my appearance.

I also try to maintain an even keel about the work and the responses to the work. When there is high praise, and occasionally that happens, I'll blush a little and politely say thanks. I don't let it get to my head and start wondering if I should start wearing an ascot or an earring or some other affectation that  says, "look at me, I'm special."

Where do people even buy ascots?

I also remind myself there are a shit ton of better writers out there. I came across another freelancer while on and he had a wealth of great work that turned me 50 shades of green. He did a great campaign with NFL players for the United Way that's buried on the back pages of his portfolio.

That's how good he is.
I'd hire him in a heartbeat over me.
And that's why I'm not sharing his name.

Conversely, I don't get my Hanes 36-Inch Tagless No-Ride-Up Briefs with the Comfort Flex™ Waistband tied in a bunch when someone sets fire to one of my scripts. Or as one creative director put it so eloquently and with no small measure of disdain...

"This feels like something Goodby would have done in the mid-90's."


If memory serves me correct, Goodby Silverstein and Partners were enjoying the height of their success in the mid 1990's. I would think most agencies would be lucky to recreate work of that caliber. When did that become a pejorative?

What do I know?

I try not to let that get to me. Or as my colleague reminds me, it's the rollercoaster nature of the business.

Problem is, I see the kind of work that gets killed and the work that gets produced and am reminded of a different stomach-grinding amusement park ride and it's appropriate nickname -- the Vomitron.

Perhaps you're familiar with it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Waging War on Radical Incrementalism

We visited some friends recently who had just finished painting their living room. Naturally, as guests and being of excessive politeness, we said it looked beautiful. Unable to let a sleeping dog lie however, I made further inquiry.

"What color was it before?"

"It was Snowbound White 7004."

"And now?"

"We went with Toque White 7003."

"Lovely. Just lovely."

And that, in a nutshell is where we are at in Advertising 2016.

Trying to move an apathetic, largely-disinterested audience with fragmented media and a monumentally-bland message that is barely two Angstrom units to the right or left of the same incomprehensible strategy used by the nearest competitor.

Witness the Lexus commercials that look like Acura commercials.
Coke spots that could easily be mistaken for Pepsi spots.
And Windows ads that bear an uncanny resemblance to those from Apple.
(Though to be fair that seems to be MicroSoft's entire modus operandi.)

I'm happy to take money from clients and marketers who think terms like Motivated Achievers or Ambitious Challengers or Extroverted Innovators are useful demographic delineators.

Or agencies who believe their insightful one-of-a-kind briefs are different than another agency's identical insightful one-of-a-kind brief.

Or anyone who thinks they can build a successful brand with tweets, Insties and Snapfaps™.

The truth is they're all playing in the same sandbox. And at some point, the turd left by the cat has to be removed.

It's all such small ball.

And maybe when you're dealing with parity products and parity services it's impossible to raise the flag of true differentiation. But hell, what happened to swinging for the fences? To saying something nobody else was saying? And doing it in a way no one was else was doing?

The other truth is, if you're not doing something radically different, you're doing everything radically wrong.

But I don't expect anything to change. And until then, I'll just keep creating social media scavenger hunts that will never get produced. Conjuring up brand activation stunts that will never get activated. And writing meaningless, micro-targeted TV spots aimed at Perseverant Non-Traditional Influencers.

Whatever the fuck that means.

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Where's your rig?"

For the last couple of weeks I have been going into an office. It was a refreshing change of pace as most of my work is done at home. From the comfort of my man cave. With my snacks and my napping couch always nearby.

As agencies go, the place I was going to was great.

They put my partner and I in a real office. With a window. And a door that closed. And a couple of Herman Miller chairs that eased our aging backs. It was the kind of respect and professionalism one rarely sees these days.


Once handed the brief, we wasted no time cranking out the work. Freelancers are expected to spit out massive quantities of work and 10 TV scripts in the course of one day meets that criteria.

In between the generation of ideas, my art director partner and I did what all creative teams do in order to answer the brief -- we shot the shit.

We talked about this.
And that.

And her.

And of course, we talked about that universal assnugget account guy we all know and hate. This assnugget doesn't have a name, or even a body. He or she is simply an amalgamation of all the assnuggets we have come in contact with over the years -- the screamer, the skirtchaser, the incompetent anti-Mensa, and the drunken drug addict who manages to fit all the criteria.

There was also the ceremonial telling of the war stories.

It was at this point that my partner told me of the time he was freelancing for a NYC agency. This was a shop that on their very best day, might, with some luck and the odd alignment of the stars, do something that could qualify as mediocre.

They never aspired to greatness or fooled themselves into thinking otherwise. And for not giving any lip service to that notion, as many do, and having a realistic assessment of their abilities, I will give them credit.

After a week of concepting, keep in mind this was a while ago, my partner and his writer were asked to show work to the Creative Director, who brought them into his fancy NYC office, sat them on the couch, and queried, "Where's your Rig?"

Not knowing what to make of the situation, my partner replied, "Huh?"

Turns out this was an agency that had made a name for themselves with jingles. So the Creative Director was expecting jingles. And the Rig in question, was a Cassio Keyboard (as seen in the picture above.)

I know there are people in the industry that make a living that way and solve complex marketing problems with little musical ditties, but my partner and I are not those people. He left the agency shortly thereafter. With nothing more than a check and a great little war story.

"Where's your Rig?"

I love that.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Today's guest blogger -- my iPhone

It's been a busy week.

It's been a busy month.

It's been a busy summer.

So today I'm going to give myself a break and let my iPhone do the talking.

The photo above was snapped while walking to the Baldwin Hills Overlook in south Culver City. A walk my wife and I will be doing on fewer occasion given the shrinking daylight hours.

This nihilistic minivan owner caught my eye.

But it wasn't the only decal worth noting.

If only clients had a similar sense of humor.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In Campaign 29...

There's a scene I have stuck in my head.

It might have been from Seinfeld.
Or Curb your Enthusiasm.
Or Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Here's a hint, they're all the same.

In the scene, Jerry/Larry sits in a diner with a friend who starts scanning the breakfast menu. Jerry/Larry confronts the friend.

"It's breakfast. You never had breakfast before? You need a menu to order breakfast?"

If you were to read that previous line with a New York Jewish accent, it would seem that much funnier.

I bring this up because we, in the ad agency world, seem to be replaying this scene on a daily basis. We meet with our clients and hand them an incomprehensible, overwhelming, massively confusing menu of options.

It's as if the quantity of non-Disruptive™, non-paradigm shifting™, non-viral sharing™ideas laid upon their table could somehow mask the underwhelming quality of the ideas.

I have literally witnessed 300-page plus presentation decks, that if launched from a shoulder-mounted RPG could easily rip a hole through a steel reinforced cement bunker.

Not to sound like a 44-year old broken record player, but I can remember a simpler time when days before an important presentation, one of my supremely-confident and visionary bosses like Clow or Hayden or Lubars would say...

"If we go in with three options, they're going to pick the weakest one. Let's just show them One."

One campaign.

Three TV spots.

Some print to back it up.

Maybe a radio script, no one would listen to.



That presentation would be no thicker than the Instruction Manual for Apple's new Air Pods.

Wouldn't that be refreshing? Maybe then we could restore some semblance of the work/life balance? By culling the herd and eliminating the Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™ we might actually start having fun again.

I'll bet agency people would be happy.

And clients would be even happier.

We haven't shot ourselves in the foot.

We're hobbling around on crutches because we dropped an 85 lbs. PowerPoint deck on our collective Metatarsal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"I'm on a train."

It is roughly 7.3 miles from the heart of Culver City to the heart of Santa Monica, California. Or 11 minutes as the crow flies.

Of course if you were a crow in a cage and that cage were in the backseat of 2007 Lexus, it could take you well over an hour and twenty minutes.

That's assuming the assnuggets on the 405 and the 10 are not busy texting or doing Pilates or eating sushi with chopsticks (actually seen that), or doing anything but driving their goddamned cars.

And so this week, and the past two weeks, I have been straphanging. Riding the recently completed Expo Line and enjoying the fruits of my oversized tax deductions.

As a verified ferroequinolist, or railfan for the layman, I can tell you our Southern California steel horses are quite different than others.

In Paris for example it is not unusual to still spot the locals, particularly the older ones, lighting up a cigarette on the train. Or making out. Or both.

In London, you'd be hard pressed to find any litter on the Tube. Maybe it was the part of town I was in, but the trains were spotless.

In Germany, for obvious reasons, I chose not to ride the trains during my ill-fated trip to Deutschland.

Of course, when it comes to trains, and subways more specifically, nothing can compete with the Big Apple.

As a teenager, I worked at my dad's office in lower Chelsea and had ample opportunity to ride the rails. Part of me wishes I had stayed in NYC, if only for the colorful dialogue, the conflagrations and the jawdropping oddities one can only witness on the Pelham 123.

If there is a heaven, you can keep your white robes and violins, I'll take a front row plastic seat on the Number 7 Line and an eternal ricketty ride through the human zooscape that is the Big Apple.

Sadly, the current ride to Santa Monica offers little in the way of people gawking. Sure, there's a pleasant diversity of Hispanic housemaids and African American bike messengers, and hipster media workers with their handlebar mustaches and Melrose avenue man-purses, but little in the way of unusual.

Yesterday, I saw a Pakistani guy holding two iPhones. He was wired into an old episode of Seinfeld on one phone while playing Candy Crush/Farmville/or some other stupid ass video nonsense on the other.


This week, I'm hoping for something more exciting, something in a New York State of Mind.

This for instance would make my day:

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Lead Lining

There is nothing so wonderful as getting booked on a new gig.

It's one part, "Holy shit, I fooled them again."

Mixed with another financial part along the lines of, "great we don't have to eat ketchup packet sandwiches next week."

If you're like most people, according to the Department of Labor statistics, you get a new job once every 2.7 years. But when you're a freelancer like myself, and an increasing number of my readers, you get "hired" for a new job 13-18 times a year.

It's great.
And then, it's not so great.

Because each of these 13-18 new employers has their own onboarding -- god I hate that word-- procedures, including new applications, new identification methods, new invoicing, new timesheet, and enough federal regulation compliance papers to choke a small industrial shredding machine.

On the Pain In The Ass Scale of 1-10, it's a 94.

Years ago, men had this fetishized thing about letting a gerbil run up a toilet paper tube to massage their prostate. Replace that gerbil with a snaggletooth piranha. And then fill out this I9/gwq-K form and have it notarized. In triplicate.

That's what it feels like.

Years ago, one unnamed agency sent me the pdf of their new employee paperwork. Mind you this was for a three day gig. I printed it out and it was no less than 78 pages. They wanted ID forms. They wanted me to read a Code of Conduct manual. They wanted me to know where all the fire exits were. And they wanted copies of my high school transcripts with a full description of why I requested an exemption from Rope Climbing. (Chapter Seven in my upcoming new book -- Things Jews Don't Do).

The pundits claim ad agencies have failed to maintain pace with digital technology. That's not true. Because HR Departments are now migrating the entire onboarding process to a computer or mobile device near you.

You'd think that by utilizing all the whiz bang technology available at our fingertips that the whole thing would be a breeze -- that with autofill, electronic signatures, and intuitive tabbing, it'd be wham-bam thank you Omnicam. You'd be wrong.

How wrong, you ask?

I am by no means singling out Omnicom, because this takes place across the board at all the holding companies. But the process can be so daunting, that one agency and their third party onboarding partners put out this helpful video on how to fill out your timesheet.

Which of course begs the question, 'Is there a pamphlet that explains how to upload the how to video about how to fill out the timesheet?'

Not long ago, I completed a job for another unnamed agency. Keep in mind, I passed several college level courses in differential calculus, so I don't consider myself a dullard, or a Texas Congressman, but their invoicing procedure was so complicated and so fraught with technicalities it required 12 emails with four separate HR team members.

That's a lot of wasted man hours and loss of productivity.

Or, in terms that ad agency people can understand, that's one less bottle of Chateaunef du Pape in Cannes next year.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Celebrity Death Pool

Newsflash: celebrities die.

Sure, they lead different lives than the rest of us civilians. They're the first ones to board a plane, often enjoying their tall flute of champagne before the schlubs in Boarding Section Q start lugging their torn Samsonites with the one wobbly wheel back to Seat 79D, three inches from the toilet, and 5 hours of errant blue water mist.

But at the end of the day, or the end of 70+ years, the mortuary assistant puts their pants on one leg at a time. Just like you, me and Betty Bag O'Donuts.

Last week, following an abnormally long list of celebrities who have gone to the other side in 2016, it was Gene Wilder's turn.

I loved Gene Wilder as much as the next fellow.

Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, the Producers,  he was great, blah, blah, blah. But let's be honest, I haven't seen or heard his name in the last three years, so his departure is hardly going to...wait, I want to quote somebody on Facebook...

"leave a gaping hole in my comedic soul that is still fresh from the emotional crater left by Robin William's departure."

I don't want to seem hardhearted, but it's hard not to laugh at the stream of the overwrought postmortems that flood social media the minute some actor, actress or musician kicks the can.

And the bigger they are, the sappier it all gets. When Prince left us...

"I feel like a purple shroud has been draped over my heart, blinding to me to any possible happiness that may be on the horizon. I am crushed beyond words and will no doubt emerge a lesser man."

Not to be outdone, the David Bowie fangirls and fanguys had a field day...

"If there is a God, he or she is no doubt enjoying a front row seat to the eternal genius that was Bowie. Take me now, Lord, so that I may sit next to you for one more stirring encore of China Girl."


When I heard of Gene Wilder's passing, I thought, "damn, he was funny." I still remember seeing him in a hilarious scene when Zero Mostel tells him how their plan has gone terribly wrong and may result in a prison sentence. Wilder has a tantrum and to calm him down Mostel throws a glass of water in his face.

"I'm wet. I'm hysterical. And I'm wet."

The news did not debilitate me, rendering me useless for the rest of the day. I had some banner ads to write, so I moved on.

Besides, when all is said and done, the genius behind all the laughter doesn't come from the guy reading the lines it comes from the guy writing them, Mel Brooks.

When he passes, I'll be crushed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

SuperDesk™, Revisited

Last week, the SuperDesk™ and the agency where it is currently parked, the Barbarian Group, were in the news again.

I don't know anything about the Group.
I don't know the work they do.
I don't know the Creative Directors there.
And I don't know if I'll ever do any projects for them.
I'm guessing I won't.

But I am intimately familiar with their iconic SuperDesk™ and perpetually amused how the brass at the Barbarian Group tried to pawn this tool of the sweatshop culture upon the other Barbarians. And it explains why I am not surprised to hear of the continuing woes of the agency.

If we've learned anything from this architectural monstrosity it's that people who work in advertising are the most cynical, skeptical, and leery people on the planet. And they see this Escher-like ribbon of collaboration malarkey for exactly what it is -- Bullshit.

And guess what overpaid, pollyanna, concoctors of corporate Kool Aid (I'm talking to you, ad leaders) that's exactly what you want in an ad person.

Because people who can spot bullshit from across state lines are your best bet to create real advertising and real communications that will resonate with real people.

You want the doubters.
You want the eye rollers.
You want the ones who are willing put their foot down, look a planner or a client or a CEO in the eye and say, "we can spend 100 million dollars on this, or 100 billion, but people are not going to eat their pizza backwards. They're just not."

We sell ourselves to clients as experts in the human condition. We tell them we examine all the data, we produce magical insights and change the business landscape with our disruptive inescapable truths™.

Well, digging for game changing truths requires the ability to sort through the spin, discarding the hubris and calling out the bullcockery.

Years ago, when I was at Chiat/Day --possibly the most annoying phrase ever written -- they moved us into the famed binocular building in Venice. Before the big transition, Jay brilliantly announced we were going to pioneer the Virtual Office™. Unless you're a fan of carnival midway games, it was all just a sham.

We, the employees, were going to a virtual office only because there wasn't enough space for us to have real offices to go to.

There's an old maxim that says: you can't bullshit a bullshit artist.

To that I would add...

To assemble the best team of bullshit artists you need people who can spot bullshit.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Yes, I am available.

I was having lunch with a colleague years ago. Actually he's only half a colleague. He's a director/copywriter. He was telling me a common story among those who lens. (Did I just use lens as a verb? How very Hollywood of me.)

He said his directing career was going like gangbusters. A pilot here. A short there. And multiple multiple-package spots that had paid off his mortgage for months to come and vanquished the disgusting notion of ever returning to the copywriting field.

And then it happened. The phone simply stopped ringing.

It wasn't cause he had laid an egg. Or dropped a turd in the punchbowl -- and when I use that phrase it's not figuratively, I hang with a crude bunch of scatological people who have the collective maturity of a 14 year old.

When it came to new projects, his name simply never popped up.

I suspect the same thing has happened to many of the A-list directors who normally came courting me for gigs. Oh how I miss those fancy lunches and dinners. The thinly veiled fawning and plastic deference. And the swag; all those production company logo emblazoned t-shirts, coffee mugs and beach towels.

I wonder where they all are now.

Not surprisingly, the dead phone phenomena is a recurring nightmare for me as well. Even though I am only 44 years old, there is no reason to suspect that it couldn't happen any day.

In fact, on June 23, 2016, I was sure it did.

I told my wife, "this is it. There's a tidal wave of change coming to the adworld. Holding companies keep laying off the experienced staff people. They keep hiring these inexpensive kids who scoff at 75 hour work weeks and put in 100. And I can't walk to Jackson Market without bumping into another freelancer wondering where all the work went. We're gonna have to sell the house and buy a double wide in Sioux City and live off the $6,953 of profits I made on the Apple Stock. We're fucked."

She, having heard this about a million times before, opened the pantry, bent over to look at the bottom shelf and with passing disdain, "You bought the wrong garbage bags again."

As I've documented lately, she was right and I was, well, less than right.

The phone did ring again. With a vengeance. I've worked on a stunning variety of projects. From one of the nation's largest financial institutions to a laundry detergent scent freshener to the incredible Legends in Concert, the longest running and most successful tribute artist show in Las Vegas, where for the price a good cut of prime rib, you can enjoy the entertainment stylings of Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and the Blues Brothers, all on one stage.

I even have 2-3 spots going into production.

It's been a cornucopia of assignments. And it's showing no signs of letting up.

But as my friend warned me, while stuffing his face with lamb schwarma, the phone can and will, without any warning, stop ringing at any moment.

Sioux City, here we come.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Paging Mr. Steckler

I love this letter.

I know it's been floating around the inter webs for ages now, but it resurfaced last week and I was reminded how much I love this letter.

In three short paragraphs, Mick Jagger, an accomplished songwriter, manages to encapsulate the entire drama of someone who finds themselves at the crossroads of art and commerce.

If we allow ourselves the assumptive leap to advertising, it's clear that Mick Jagger would be the ideal client. One who understands that great breakthrough thinking demands time, freedom and, most importantly, commensurate remuneration.

Think how different the airwaves would look and how little the Skip Ad button would be clicked or the DVR fast forward button utilized if we were given the same parameters.

The same parameters that produced this iconic piece of work.

That is not the case.

Nor is the most difficult part of our job creating such eye-popping material.

The hardest part of our job is convincing the Al Stecklers' of this world to take the leap forward with us. Something I learned quite recently.

Last week, an ad industry legend offered this choice piece of advice to students:

"Create as if you want to get fired."

We did that with one of our clients.

Mission accomplished.