Monday, March 19, 2018

Suck it 60 Minutes

The nation eagerly awaits the broadcast of the Stormy Daniels' interview on the upcoming edition of 60 Minutes.

But citing the hilarious Kim Jung Fun tumblr and the breakthrough work in anecdotal journalism at Roundseventeen, Stormy Daniels, star of pole-adorned stage and besmirched computer screen, has agreed to sit down for an exclusive one-on-one with our editors.

RS: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us about President, David Dennison. You must be extremely busy right now.

STORMY: I am. My Make America Horny Again Tour is going like gangbusters. Last week I featured at Juggalos in Tampa Bay. And I'm scheduled for additional appearances at Mt. EverBreast in Detroit and Pocket Rockets in Sacramento.

RS: So it's our understanding that you met President, David Dennison, at a golf tournament in Reno. Did he know who you were?

STORMY: Yes. He did. I was very flattered. He said he knew all my work.

RS: He could have been just smooth talking you.

STORMY: That occurred to me as well.

RS: But?

STORMY: He was familiar with my entire filmography. He said he really enjoyed my starring role in Pussy Sweat. He thought the acting had a unique energy. And that my performance was riveting. In fact, he said he enjoyed the movie so much he went back and watched it again. And again. And then again, 5 hours later.

RS: Would you describe your relationship with President, David Dennison, as intimate?

STORMY: You know I can't talk about that. But I can say this, intimacy is kind of relative. Particularly considering my line of work. And the fact that I have had non-intimate relationships with 12,397 men. Oh wait, 12,398, there was this really cute guy working the counter at the Circle K when I was getting gas this morning. (WINKS)

RS: Let's put it this way, did the relationship go beyond the one night at the golf tournament? In other words, did you see President, David Dennison, after that?

STORMY: I did. Not many people know this but he was extremely curious about the biz and said he wanted to come to a shoot.

RS: He wanted to come to a porn shoot?

STORMY: Yes. So I invited him down to the set of Porking with Pride 2.

RS: You're telling us the President of the United States of, David Dennison, came to the set of Porking with Pride 2?

STORMY: Yes. Now keep in mind I wasn't in the original Porking with Pride 1, so I really wanted to do a good job, you know for the sake of the Porking with Pride franchise. So I really brought it, if you know what I mean.

RS: And did he enjoy it?

STORMY: He did, but then he disappeared to the bathroom for about 20 minutes and when he returned he looked bored. He sat down with his iPad. I think he was playing Words With Friends.

RS: We don't know how this is all going to end, but if your allegations about President, David Dennison, pan out, there's a good chance your films could end up in the presidential archive or the Smithsonian Institute. How exciting is that?

STORMY: Wow, I hadn't really thought about...(PHONE RINGS) I have to take this call.

A three minute PAUSE. Stormy comes back.

STORMY: I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to cut this short. My friend Venus Uranus was going to feature at Starbutts, but she came down with strep throat. I'm gonna sub in. Thanks again. You're a doll.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Your garden variety idiot Senator

Today's edition of the Thursday Thrashing takes us to Colorado and junior Senator Cory Gardner.

Perhaps because of yesterday's official announcement that a House seat has flipped in favor of Democrat Connor Lamb and because the Stormy Daniels affair has the potential to reveal criminal violation of Federal Election laws, the tenor of today's letter is not quite as volatile as it has been in the past.

My wife says, if I ever want to get return correspondence from these pasty white assnuggets I ought to turn it down.

I hate that she's right all the time.


Senator Cory Gardner
B40B Dirksen Senate Office Building
WashingtonDC 20510

Dear Senator Gardner,

Today, I find myself in the unusual position of heaping a little praise on a Republican Senator. For the past two months that has not been the case.

You see, I have started a Thursday Thrashing series for readers of my blog I invite you to scan through the past two months and witness the abuse I have rained down on your colleagues, including Flake, Corker, McConnell and that tin-foil hat-wearing Ron Johnson.

But last week, you did what few US Senators dared to do. You stood up to administration's draconian attitudes towards pot and told our perjuring little Attorney General to chillax and roll himself a phat one.

Good on you Cory.

But before you go running down the hallway and start waving this letter in Senator Corker's face, "Hey, that bald Jew from California thinks I'm a winner", let's do a little chilling of our own.

Because it's my understanding that when presented with a reasonable gun control bill that included the NICS Fix (National Instant Criminal Background Check System), you parked your fat Colorado ass in front of it, like a bloated steer napping on a railroad track.

I don't know what I find more repulsive.

Your objection to instituting universal background checks for gun ownership and thus preventing loonies, convicted murderers and terrorists on the No Fly list from obtaining weapons of massive flesh destruction.

Or, the fact that your hesitance stems from some arcane, twisted reading of the US Constitution. "Oh (insert fake alligator tears) we have to be very careful not to trample the inalienable rights of law abiding citizens."

Fuck You, Cory.

I'm a law abiding citizen and I don't want to have to look over my shoulder every time I step into a school, a mall or Dodger Stadium, where the visitor parking is a clear violation of my inalienable rights.

Since when did we get so high and mighty about looking into people's background before we allow them to make a major purchase?

Last week, I bought myself a pre-owned car at an Audi dealership in Ontario. Since they were offering attractive rates, I did the financing through their office. The process took me more than two hours.

And it included some very rigorous investigation. Before handing me the keys, they wanted to know:

* My social security number

* My income

* My mortgage payments

* My favorite cut of beef (rib eye)

* My preferred news sources (NY Times and MSNBC)

* My inseam (an embarrassing 31, thus accounting for my beer barrel appearance)

And guess what? I gladly provided all the info. And did so without whipping out my pocket Constitution or checking to see if my Habeus Corpus had been unlawfully trampled upon.

Because I wanted the car.
And because I had nothing to hide.

Isn't that the same logic used by law and order Republicans who push the stop-and-frisk procedure?  If I were the cynical Doubting Thomas type, I'd say there's a little hypocrisy going on here, Cory. I might even suggest it has something to do with the color of one's skin.

Normally, I end these letters with a barrage of insults and a volcano like eruption of anger. But I'm gonna let you off easy today. Because my daughter goes the University of Colorado. And because I'm still enjoying the afterglow of my new car purchase.

BTW, for handing over all my info and for being so cooperative, the dealership threw in free floor mats and coupons for 10 free car washes. 

Maybe the gun folks could consider something similar.


Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

High Octane Promotion

Those in my inner circle are shocked.

For weeks now they have heard me musing and pining about the inimitable Audi S5. They have watched me angst over its high price. And swoon over its inordinately high horsepower. And because those in my inner circle are in my inner circle they knew this process, this anguishing, this never-ending push and pull could go on for months.

Even years.

But I short-circuited all that. Perhaps because I just turned 44 and perhaps because I have come to the recognition that the needle is quickly approaching the center of the record.

And so, two weeks ago, after another session of gazing at certified pre-owned (a fancy term for used) Audis on everything from Autotrader to Carvana to to Cargurus, I finally spotted the make and model and mileage and price I wanted.

As the Siegel luck would have it, this particular car, was not in nearby Santa Monica or easy-to-reach Beverly Hills. But all the way out in Ontario, where the In and Out Burgers are situated at every other exit and golf cap wearing, tooth-missing trumpsters lurk behind every corner.

Nevertheless I made the trek into the Inland Empire.

After a quick test drive I told the salesman - who knew full well I didn't drive 100 miles NOT to close a deal -- that it was time to talk turkey.

They came down a little off the sticker price but not much. So I pulled the old walk out the door routine. Then, before firing up the Lexus for the long fruitless drive home, I decided to go back in to use their bathroom. That's when I got tag teamed by the whole sales staff. Long story mercifully short, we came to an agreement.

And now this 335 HP supercharged beauty is sitting in my driveway.

Do I love this S5?
You're damn right I love it.
It's by far the most lavish, most indulgent thing I've ever bought for myself.

Of course, now I have to pay for it. And by incorporating it into this blog I have essentially turned the vehicle into a self promo piece. So I plan to write off about 8 months of payments on next year's tax returns.

Take that Precedent Shitgibbon.

Also, I'm available for your next gig.
Make sure you inquire about my new discounted Pay For The Audi Day Rates.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On craftsmanship

Years ago, and not under the best of circumstances (having just been fired from Chiat/Day), I had the opportunity to work with one of the finest craftsmen in our industry. An art director and an artist whose reputation precedes him and his not insignificant hair, the great John Doyle.

He convinced me that it would be worth my while to make the 53 mile daily commute, from Culver City to Irvine, Ca, behind the Orange Curtain. To work on an iconic automotive brand -- Jaguar.

Inside joke notwithstanding, I took the leap.

Apart form the generous salary (more than I was making at Chiat), the free dry cleaning, the complimentary gym membership, here was a chance to work with Doyle and fashion a distinctive ad campaign for a brand that was singular in every sense of the word.

Moreover, it would be an opportunity to ride the coattails of an art director who has graced the pages of every award annual and had literally written the book on craftsmanship. Thus elevating my superficial and sophomoric portfolio and giving it some much needed class.

Sadly, the brain trust at Jaguar was more interested in moving metal and spitting out crappy ads for their even crappier $199/month X-Type, a car that in no way deserves to wear the leaper badge. One cretinous marketing genii even suggested we attach some type of jingle or musical signature to the Jaguar brand.

That's the kind of low-brow thinking that would earn a position in today's presidential cabinet.

All water under the bridge, right?

I thought so.

And frankly hadn't given that missed opportunity a moment's thought in a very long time. Until last week when I was cleaning out the mess in the shelving unit that houses my printer as well as all the other detritus of a failed career.

That's when I found this:

(Hint: It's the newspaper equivalent of a test drive)

Let me apologize in advance. This is a poor repro of a poor repro of a comp that never ran.

Furthermore I have no expectation that you would read the rather lengthy copy that I now wish I had the opportunity to tighten and rewrite.

I only present this only because this is the type of ad Doyle and I wanted to do for the brand. The fact is you don't have to read the ad. The copy acts as a graphic element. It informs the reader that Jaguar is no ordinary automobile and that this is a brand that can, and is willing to, make a statement.

In other words, it's brand behavior that reflects the brand. A self evident truth that doesn't appear to be very self evident these days.

I remember presenting this ad, and five others like it, all with 1000+ carefully written words, all pinned to a foamcore board in a huge conference room. I was reading the copy and barely made it to the second paragraph, before one crusty old English SVP, who had the remains of his oily fish and chips lunch stained on his tie, interrupted...


Weeks after that, I quit and went freelance.

Monday, March 12, 2018

It's all about that advertising

About a year ago, I changed the dynamics of this blog and signed up for Google's ad program. Essentially, allowing Google to use this scarcely-seen blog as a media platform for garbage-y banner ads.

Since that fateful decision, I've earned a whopping $103.79.

Clearly, unlike my fellow tribe members, I was not meant to be a media mogul. I must be doing something wrong and probably should spend more time listening to Gary Vaynerchuck and less time snickering about his bloated self-motivational missives and asinine wool caps.

At first, it appeared, I had no control whatsoever about the products and services Google decided to advertise on my site. There were ads for carpentry tools, pine-flavored toothpaste, and Vietnamese river cruises.

It all seemed so random.

My guess is the Google software was collecting data from my readers and catering the ads to their eclectic interests.

Then things changed.

I started noticing more and more ads related to websites I had been visiting. Hence, you might have noticed more ads from Nest, Barking Dog Control devices and oceanfront real estate on the Oregon coastline.

This is a phenomena we're all too familiar with. You go to Amazon to order a slimming Spanx tank top to restore your once shapely physique and the next thing you know your Facebook feed is swimming in Spanx ads.

"Tired of your fat feet? Try our new Spanx socks and get those EEE puppies into shape."

Well, you know me, I can't pass up a good opportunity to mess wth my reader's heads, all 8 of them.

A few weeks ago I embarked on a purposeful mission to start browsing bizarre and telling websites. Knowing full well that paging through their sites would trigger a flood of odd and questionable ads on RoundSeventeen. See photo above from, purveyors of the world's finest lingerie fashioned for men.

I didn't stop there.
I went on to look for:

Mobile petting zoos.

Ball gags.

Japanese wall decals.

International Nicholas Cage Fan Clubs

KKK Sheet laundering services

The inter web is a fascinating place. And has something for everyone. Including, it seems,  writers with way too much time on their hands.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Bitch at Mitch

Thursday Thrashing, Week #8

I'll spare you the intro and get right to it...


Senator Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
WashingtonDC 205100001

Dear Mitch,

About two months ago I embarked on a mission to write to each of our Republican US Senators and offer them my personal review of their performance. It's sort of like YELP. Of course, with the dire direction our country is going in (porn stars/WH defections/money laundering/ Russians/and more porn stars) it's more like HELP.

This is now the 8th letter of its kind.

With you being the ranking majority Senator, you'd think you would have been the first to receive a letter. That honor went to Bob Corker.

In fact, perhaps due to my early senility or perhaps due to the hot lava like rage I feel towards your Tennessee cohort, I've actually penned TWO letters to Corky, who flips and flops more than an oxygen-starved mackerel on the deck of an Alaska fishing boat.

A long-winded way of saying, Mitch, you just don't merit my respect.

Truth be told, I had given serious thought to writing all 52 letters and purposely not writing to you; the Merrick Garland treatment if you will.

But, here we are, so permit me to unload on the piss poor positions you have taken on the pressing issues of the day.

On Russian election interference, you stated...oh wait you haven't stated anything.

On the House Intel Committee debacle, uh...again nothing.

On Stormy Daniels, nothing.

On the breakdown of DACA talks, nothing.

On the recent Florida school shootings, nothing.

On gun reform, nothing. (No wait that's not true, you mentioned gun control and then said bank reform was more important.)

On the Rob Porter wife beating violence, nothing.

On the porous WH security clearance passes, nothing.

On the president's refusal to issue Russian Sanctions, nothing.

On shithole countries, nothing.

On the president's personal attacks on fellow Senator John McCain, nothing.

On Kelly Anne Conway's violation of the Hatch Act, nothing.

On the bogus Nunes Memo, nothing.

On Charlottesville, nothing.

On the failed rescue of Puerto Rico, nothing.

I'm sure you are aware of the meme concerning your indifference to such suffering.

But personally I find the whole turtle sticking its head in its shell to be tired and hackneyed. Moreover, it's wrong. Because it connotes a moving, breathing organism that still possesses life.

But like ethics, morals and sense of duty to country, you have none.

I prefer to think of you not as a turtle but as a large, muddied sedimentary boulder pressing down on the neck of America. Suffocating the country with nothing more but the unmoving forces of gravity, until the lifeblood of democracy and liberty no longer flow freely, leaving nothing but a dried up corpse of a once great nation.

That'll be your legacy, Mitch.

Have a great day Senator.

Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Everywhere you ever were.

As some of you might know, last week I had the great honor of attending a Chiat/Day mini-reunion lunch with Lee Clow and some of my ex-partners. I'm guessing that fired off some long forgotten brain synapses. Because yesterday, a name popped into my head that hadn't been there for a long time -- Ed Grover.

Chances are, you don't know that name.

There's also a good chance that you might have seen Ed, but still don't remember him, as he was a character actor in many films and TV shows.

Even if that's not the case, I'm betting the house you'd recognize Ed's familiar voice. Ed was a voiceover guy and did hundreds of commercials for Visa, Apple, Pepsi and Nissan.

I had the great opportunity to work with him on Nissan. Even though I was the one at the mixing board, with the red button in one hand and a fistful of stupid direction in the other, Ed had all the power. He literally taught me how to conduct a voiceover session.

He'd enter the booth, often with a briefcase in one hand. Slip on his reading glasses. Go through the copy. With a red pen in hand. He would fix all the punctuation mistakes. And suggest edits. A professional, through and through.

Ed also had a unique way of delivering a voiceover.

He'd put on the cans (headphones) and fold his arms over his chest before projecting into the microphone. I would learn he did this because it makes the voice eminate from the deepest part of his diaphragm. That could have been some crazy California eccentricity, but it worked for Ed, so it worked for me.

We rarely did more than 7-8 takes.
He was that good.
And that left us plenty of time to shoot the shit.

Ed could tell stories. He had traveled the world and seemed to have a tale for every continent.  He was a student of the martial arts. He worked with the great stars of his day. Oh and he built furniture. If I heard the story of his imported teak credenza with the hand tooled rabbit joints, once, I heard it a thousand times.

Sometimes Ed could be a pain in the ass. But he was always a joy to listen to.

Because he lived wide. Wider than most.

I don't know if copywriters get to work with colorful characters like Ed Grover. You don't need a VO guy for banner ads or page takeovers or Instagram scavenger hunts. But I'm glad that I did.

I looked Ed up on Google and found out he passed away in 2016.

Rest in peace, Ed.

That's a wrap.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pearls before swine

Gotta give it up to my buddy Andrew Schaefer and his agency for their newest spot featuring Kobe Bryant, Kevin Hart and Bill Nye. It's for Nike. And the spot, for running shoes, hinges on the notion of the Earth coming to a complete standstill. You can see it here.

I like this idea.
I liked it even better when we presented it to Energizer, albeit with a different spin, more than a decade ago.

Every creative person I know has had this happen to them. It's infuriating. And can make the blood boil. I just happen to have a not-so-popular blog wherein I can vent my gripes and get it off my significantly barrel-shaped chest. And damn if I'm going to let this self aggrandizing platform go to waste.

Years ago, when Chiat/Day used to bring me in on freelance projects, I was asked to work with Jerry Gentile on a big Energizer Bunny project. They wanted to get back to doing something spectacular with the Energizer Bunny. They were looking for a blockbuster, with big production value and Super Bowl type humor.

We came up with what we thought was something groundbreaking.
Or I should say, ground-staking.

The Earth had literally stopped spinning on its axis. 

As a result, there were tidal and gravity-related consequences.

Physical anomalies that would lend themselves to a cinematic progression of vignettes, involving:

Old men spilling their soup.

Kids flying off swings.

Tug of war teams falling in mud.

Surfers losing their waves.

Cars smashing into each other.

You get the idea.

I'm sure the script was chock full of funny bits of business.

I don't have the script anymore, but the resolve ended with a man in the North Pole who was in charge of maintaining the Earth-spinning apparatus. And the AA batteries on his remote control had failed.

Enter the Energizer Bunny. Some slop about long lasting batteries. End on logo. Jerry and I go to Cannes pick up a ton of awards. Cash it all in for big bucks.

Of course, that's not the way it happened.

That's not the the way it ever happens.

It's why I drive a car from 2007. And I never replace my T-shirts until they literally fall apart in the dryer.

Monday, March 5, 2018

South by South Worst

It's that time of year again.

It's SXSW.

Time to boondoggle it down to Austin, Texas, throw on a lanyard, eat some BBQ brisket and bathe in the digital genius that festival lovers just can't seem to get enough of.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know it's also time for me to break out the Bullshit Generator and concoct satirical forums and panels that SXSW goers will be attending with pollyannish zeal and revolting optimism.

Here are a few sample's from 2015:

Maximizing your brand's inner potential, presented by Plaxo, Foursquare and Google+
Tuesday 9:30 AM Presidential Suite at the Austin Ramada

Elf Me 14, the Return of America's favorite photo upload phenomena.
Wednesday, 10:00 AM at The Austin Comfort Inn Wedding Banquet Room

Going Long, a discussion with the industry's remaining three 45-year old copywriters
Thursday, 6:00 AM at the Austin CVS

This has been a running joke on RoundSeventeen for longer than I care to remember. So this year, when the lines between parody and reality have been inalterably blurred, I thought I'd do something different. I thought it'd be fun to cherry pick REAL panels and forums from the SXSW schedule.

Because, in all honesty, I don't know if I could put a finer point on the festering bullcockery that has a stranglehold on our business.

To wit:

Fashion Retail and Social Justice in a Red State
March 9, 2018

Modern fashion retail mirrors the modern world, with consumers more conscientious than ever and the call for social justice as a daily imperative. Hello Holiday cofounders Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik and Megan Hunt built their business on the bet that, even in a red state, the risk of being politically controversial could be worth the reward. Entrepreneurship can, and does, intersect with activism and politics. Today, the professional is political. Here’s how to do it right.

"Yeah, I just came in your store to buy a belt."


AI: Transforming Luxury, fashion and Beauty
March 9, 2018
Four Seasons Ballroom

From detecting fashion and beauty trends through social media to AI-enabled stylists and personalized chats, artificial intelligence (AI) has become the new customer service for fashion and beauty brands. This panel will explore the future of AI for luxury, fashion and beauty; the panel will also discuss the ethics of AI and the talent and infrastructure necessary to integrate AI into fashion and beauty.

"Yeah, I was at this other store. I'm still looking to buy a belt."


Using Analytics to Improve the Patient Journey
March 9, 2018
Austin Convention Center

The health care ecosystem has evolved to become enormously complex, and data has become the linchpin for making sense of it all. Using sophisticated analytics, health care organizations can merge and transform disparate data sources into a single coherent view of patients. This creates a much more complete view of patients and their individual journeys. By creating this single view, health care providers can create a common clinical and financial language and understanding across stakeholders.

"Yeah, I've been shopping for a belt but couldn't find anything and now I've got a migraine."


I know I may be the most cynical asswipe on the planet, but that's just Day One!!! 

We are mired in self importance.

We pretend to be rock stars or industry celebrities.

We have an artistinally crafted kale burrito in one hand and an undrinkable IPA garnished with a pine cone in the other.

We've gone from selling computers, cars and shoes to peddling customer journeys, data driven experiential psychobabble and out-and-out maggot-infested marketing manure.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

This asshead.

Welcome to Thursday Thrashing Week #7, wherein I write a personal hand written letter to each of our Republican US Senators.

Let's talk about useless, like:

Tits on a bull.

A screen door on a submarine.

Anne Frank's drum set.

Like Senator Chuck Grassley.


Senator Chuck Grassley
135 Hart Senate Office Building.
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator,

You are a useless old fuck.

I hate to start out using coarse language and pejoratives that no United States Senator wants to hear, but useless was the best and only word that came to mind.

Let me back the train up and explain that I have assigned myself the task of handwriting letters to each and every one of our Republican US Senators, men and women like you, who have been complicit in the immoral, illegal and very likely traitorous administration of one witless Precedent Shitgibbon.

Again, I apologize for the language, but that man-child is witless.

Today is your turn in the barrel.

Why, you may ask. Because we have reached a pivotal point in the ongoing Russian investigation. Rick Gates has just flipped and is now providing evidence against Paul Manafort. They were both operating as foreign agents of Ukraine and by proxy Russia. And they were both laundering dirty money for thuggish oligarchs.

Even if we were to assume that Captain Fuckknuckle had nothing to do with these criminal shenanigans, the fact remains that he hired Manafort and Gates, as well as Papadopoulos and General Flynn. So despite his constant pleas for extreme vetting, he did no vetting and let these admitted spies into the inner sanctum of our government.

That alone should have you screaming from the rafters. You know after you empty your Senate bedpan.

Now, let's look at an even worse and more probable scenario.

I believe, Mr. Mueller will present copious evidence that your president was not an oblivious bystander to all this Russian financial fuckery.

I believe that Mueller, a lifelong Republican and war hero, whose integrity is beyond reproach (particularly from lowlifes Devin Nunes and Matt Gaetz), will confirm the charges in the Steele Dossier.

I believe that Americans will soon be talking about Bayrock and Felix Sater. And that they will be household names just as Haldeman and Erlichman were some 40 years ago.

I believe the president's refusal to issue Russian sanctions, to take any meaningful preventative measures on our next election and to constantly deflect to Hillary Clinton is a red flag warning to any thinking, rational warm blooded American patriot.

Which you, clearly are not.

Because in light of all this, you choose to spin your wheels on the finer technical points of the FISA application to surveil Carter Page. Carter Fucking Page!!!

You're as useless as the forward gears on a French tank.

Best regards,

Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A celebration of birth

Today we are celebrating.

Not my birthday. I could give a rat's ass about that. You turn 44, big deal. There's nothing special about turning 44. Been there, done that.

But today is special day for Roundseventeen. Because it was on this day 9 years ago, when I was a young lad of 35 that I got an email from my friend Mark Montiero, who said...

"You should start a blog. It'd be a good way for you to vent. And it might even help you land some freelance work."

Mark, as if often the case, was right on both counts.

It's now 1800+ posts later and we're still going strong. In fact, we're closing in on a million page views sometime in the very near future. So, to the dismay of many, the blogging will continue until morale improves.

For one thing, and I know this is hard to believe, this blog has produced more assignments and job referrals than 6 years on Working Not Working and 10 years on Linkedin. Turns out that brutal honesty and a throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude makes for a winning recipe. In fact, this post may be just the thing that lands me the House of Flanges account.

More importantly, the blog has become an important source of therapy.

You see, I don't have much in the way of hobbies. I don't collect tiki mugs or glass eyeballs or paintings of clowns. I don't build ships inside glass bottles. I don't stockpile guns and make regular visits to the firing range.

Though it's hard to tell, my free time is spent working out: swimming, lifting weights, getting on the elliptical in my garage or hiking up the nearby Culver City stairs.

Similarly, I'm hopelessly monogamous.

Oh my wife has offered me the free pass to go off the range but she knows full well there would be no takers. Prodigious ear hair and untrimmed eyebrows reduce that prospect down to zero.

The thing is, I like to write.

Whether it's snarky Facebook comments, unfinished, under-developed screenplays, self published books that go nowhere, or even rambling blog posts directed at my 13 regular readers who have been with me for the last nine years. And for no reason that I can discern have decided to stay with me for the next nine years.

You, in essence have become my mistress.

Whether you like or not.

I'm thinking the latter.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Chiat/Day turns 50

A few months ago I received a rather unique invite.

It came from a producer at Media Arts Lab (an offshoot of TBWA Chiat/Day.) And asked if I would be interested in attending a lunch with Lee Clow, as well as other Chiat/Day luminaries, to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary.

This was an honor reserved for a select few. So naturally, I thought an error had been made. And that someone had transposed the list of People We Like with the list of Fat Bald Guys We Never Want to See Again. But, as you can tell from the picture above, I went anyway.

Damn, I'm glad I did.

First of all, there was so much free sushi. Like an all you can eat raw fish buffet. Salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and those fancy rolls where they combine exotic slivers of seafood together to form one piece of bite size goodness.

Plus, there was wine.
Free wine.

Red, white, whatever I wanted. And when the glass ran dry, a waitress or a waiter, there seemed to be an entire crew at our disposal, would just come by and give me a refill. FREE. I didn't even have to ask. Nor did I have to look at the menu and pretend I knew the subtle differences between a Syrah and Pinot.

If that wasn't enough, I'm told there's also going to be a free commemorative T-shirt coming my way for participating in the affair.

Sheeeeet, it's a shame these 50 year soirees don't come around more often.

Of course, this tongue-in-cheek recap would not be complete if I didn't mention the company I had the pleasure to enjoy. All former partners, in one sense or another.

Rob Schwartz and I wrote spec TV scripts together and even got hired by former SIMPSONS producers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, to write an episode of their show, MISSION HILL. Had things gone a different way (namely had they paid us more money), Rob and I could've embarked on a different career path into television. Considering the demise of the sitcom, perhaps it's a blessing we didn't.

Jerry Gentile and I were partners for a brief period. But were more often found jabbering and playing pool, first at the warehouse building, then the binocular building and then again at the Playa Vista headquarters.

And John Shirley and I were linked at the hip, sometimes like partners in a bad marriage. We fought, we argued, we grew weary of each other's personal ticks. But mostly we laughed and produced the best work of our careers. Work that still brings us each enormous pride.

And of course, there's Lee Clow. Who was always my internal partner. Meaning he lived in my head. Always judging the work and always demanding excellence. And always in the best way possible. Not by demeaning, not by yelling, not by being unreasonable. But by setting a standard. Of finding truth. Humor. And always an unexpected way to tell a story. A Chiat/Day standard that has stood the test of time.

For all that and so much more, I'd like to lift a glass of Merlot and say thank you, Lee.

To which I'm sure he would respond...

"You're welcome, Brian." 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Facebook out pizzas the Hut

I'll be the first to admit that when it comes to digital advertising or social media, I am no Shingy, or Farbo, or any one of a thousand so-called prophets, ninjas or soothsayers.

But what I lack in my knowledge of html, UX, UI, Instagram and Snapchattery, I more than make up for in plain old common sense.

And I like to think I'm well versed in the tenets of good advertising.

So I find myself confused.
Particularly when big companies insist on hosting a Facebook page.

Take Pizza Hut, for example. (Full disclosure I worked on this account several times over my career and it has left a sour taste in my mouth, not unlike their shrimp/pineapple concoction. That's not pizza, that's a buffet table that was accidentally knocked over and fell onto a slab of bread and into a cardboard box.)

The Pizza Hut Facebook page has more than 32 million fans. Or brand engagers as my colleagues like to say. But do not be deceived. There may be 32 million people who liked the page but there are not 32 million people who like their pizza.

In fact, if you were to read through some of the comments, you'd have a hard time finding 32 people who had a positive experience.

In essence, the Pizza Hut Facebook page is nothing more than bulletin board for folks who discovered that anyone can out pizza the Hut.

"Dude, WTF. I ordered your pizza and it was soggy AF."

"Shittiest birthday pizza ever. Thanks Pizza Hut."

And then there was this disappointed "brand engager" who aired her complaints in the form of poetry:

"Once upon a midnight dreary,
I went to bed all weak and weary.
No dinner had I consumed,

my system was running just on fumes.
My kids had pleaded for a pie,
so from pizza hut online we did buy.

But when the hours we counted had reached four,
There came no knocking on our residence's door.

Did Pizza Hut offer any apology? or offer up our next is free?
No response we did receive.

We shall order from them nevermore. Nevermore."

Holy shit, when the masses start whipping out the couplets, the consonance and the iambic pentameter to put a beatdown on your pizza, those aren't Pizza Hut fans those are new Domino's customers.

Mind you, this was all found on the first page of their site. I didn't cherry pick like Devin Nunes going through a FISA application. I just opened the Pizza Hut Facebook page and stuck my hand in and grabbed a bunch of disgruntled customers. Who, by the way, have no doubt read the tales of other disgruntled customers.

In other words, their dissatisfaction will only be amplified. In other, other words, this shit is probably costing them millions of dollars.

So hey, Pizza Hut, next time a seasoned, old-timey copywriter suggests you rethink your digital strategy, maybe you should listen.

Or, not.