Monday, January 23, 2017
I'm awfully proud of the women in my life. As I write this from the cozy comfort of my home office, my wife is in Trumptown...er, Washington, DC. She's gathered with a million (hopefully) other enraged women, telling The Man to, "Let my pussy go."
She's not alone in this endeavor.
My two daughters have taken time away from SnapChat, beer pong and blazing 420, to also get out in the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the clouted, shard-borne nuthook, otherwise known as Precedent Shitgibbon.
As we enter this new Age of the Unenlightened and the powers that be begin to give shape to the Testosterone Doctrine, I began thinking of our better half. More specifically, the women who have shaped my life.
Even more specifically, the female copywriters who birthed and nurtured my career.
There was the first Creative Director that hired me out of the mailroom, Kat Johnson. She gave me my first shot. And for that I will always be grateful. She taught me how to write recruitment ads. Sometimes, 10 or 15 in a day. She taught me something more important, or at least tried to. How to accept rejection and go back to the drawing board with grace, resolve and a sense of humor. She had it mastered. For me, it's still a work in progress.
Then I learned to steal. And of course, by steal I mean mimic. There was no better source of material than the One Show books and the CA annuals. If you pored through those books like I did, certain agencies showed up again and again, Chiat/Day, Wieden & Kennedy, Fallon McElligot and Ammirati & Puris. Certain names also popped up over and over again, including Helayne Spivak. Her smart headlines and body copy had a New York wit that I always thought was in my wheelhouse. Of course, now she is the head of Advertising at VCU and I'm writing banner ads for the local colonics clinic, so I might have been wrong on that.
No discussion of female copywriters would be complete without the inclusion of Penny Kapsusouz. For those who don't know, Penny wrote so many of the early Apple print ads, including a 20 page insert that stands as a monument to creativity and salesmanship. Oh yeah, we're supposed to be selling this shit. Penny painstakingly removed the mystery and confusion from technology. When I began writing Apple ads for BBDO, Steve Hayden wisely handed me her work and said, "here, do it like this."
There's also a streak of poetry that runs through this business. Or at least, there should be. Janet Champ, made that happen. I remember hearing and seeing her work for Nike and feeling synapses going off in my head. There hadn't been advertising like that before. These were ads that not only sold sneakers and sweatshirts. These were ads that provided an inspirational blueprint for fathering daughters. My girls know there are unfair barriers and obstacles out there. But they also know I expect them to ignore or better yet, smash through them.
Not sure I would have heard the end of it, had I not mentioned my good friend Claudia Caplan. She once said my writing style was muscular and forceful. I told her I learned from the best. She and April Winchell, were two of the best radio writers in Southern California. Radio is a writer's medium, so I studied and stole from their work. Liberally.
And of course there's Kathy Hepinstall. She writes real books. She creates amazing pop art. She has an outrageously funny blog. And she freelances all around the country, often taking the high-paying jobs that could feed my family and easily cover my daughter's college tuition leaving me enough money to buy that jet black Audi A5 I've been eyeing.
Fuck that, I have nothing nice to say about Kathy.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
For eight years the Alex Jones/Alt. Right/Illuminati-fearing set peddled some horseshit about President Obama not being a native born American.
"He's from Kenya", they cried.
Of course these are the same Wheel of Fortune idiots who said Obama would take our guns, establish Death Panels, send gas soaring to $12 a gallon, tank the economy and turn us all into gay, Muslim, Communist, transgender snowflakes.
Well, now one of these barnacle brains is about to become our next Commander in Chief.
But after careful examination of his behavior, his pre-inaugural behavior mind you, I'm beginning to wonder whether Donald J. Trump is a real live American.
Actually, I'm prepared to prove he is not.
Americans are by nature, good natured. The other day I was buying prescription dog food for my 14 year old retriever/shepherd mix. The food comes in big 50 lbs. bags. There was a woman at the cash register trying to corral 3 screaming kids, a new hamster and 5 plastic baggies with goldfish. She saw me carrying the large bag and offered to let me go in front of her. I didn't ask. I didn't make the face. She just saw that her purchase would take an inordinate amount of time and let me in. Can you picture this orange-haired alien doing the same? Can you even picture him in a pet food store? The man doesn't like babies, I doubt he has much love for dogs.
Americans have a kind streak. I've never kicked somebody. There was that one time in karate class and I was sparring with a brown belt. He caught me with an uppercut and I reflexively kneed him in the groin. But he, and the swarm of British planners I've kicked in the figurative sense, had it coming to him. Last week our new POTUS fired 89 year old Charles Brotman, the same man who had been announcing the inaugural parade since 1957. The same man who lost his wife just a few weeks ago. Who fires a recently-widowed 89 year old man from a job he has be doing for close to 60 years? Not any American I know.
Americans are smarter than your average shmoe. It may not be evident from our SAT scores or our falling leadership status in math and science, but by and large we are smart people. Smart enough to live in the greatest country in the world. We're also smart enough to know that a stack of unlabeled and apparently untouched manilla folders containing reams of blank white paper is not sufficient evidence to prove our new President has dissolved his involvement with global businesses which is a clear conflict of interest. Moreover, for this craven, sheep-biting vulgarian to think he could hoodwink the rest of us with this sham is both dumb and insulting. It's also downright UnAmerican.
Americans stand by their word. We say what we mean and we mean what we say. It's a pretty simple concept. You know for those of us born on Terra Americana. He -- the mammering, boil-brained lewdster-- said he was going to build a wall and that Mexico was going to pay for it. He said that a lot. Now it seems there will be large stretches of land that won't have a wall. And this new wall that we won't have, won't even be paid for by the President of Mexico. Or Mexicans. Or even Russians. What the hell is that all about? What happened to truth, justice and the American Way?
Finally, and most damning, Americans know how to eat pizza.
As if that weren't enough
Precedent Shitgibbon ought to get out his birth certificate and parade it around in one of those news conferences he's so good at.
I don't know where this artless, flap-mouthed join-head is from, but I do know he's not of us.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Gotta tip my hat to Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch. Building a modern day media empire is a lot more difficult than I thought.
I'll give you a good example. As you may recall, last month I started allowing Google to place banner ads on this blog.
I hadn't refreshed the blog in quite some time. And I felt things were getting a little stale. The tagline, "No Artificial Sweeteners" appears to be unbeatable. So, in the effort to keep things fresh, I relented and began allowing sponsors to piggyback on my semi-daily, semi-legible, semi-funny rants.
In the five weeks since, and despite the surprising surge in readership (last week's Casey Affleck post racked up 1500 hits in one day), the money has NOT been rolling in. To date, the various hits/visits/pageviews/clicks have earned me $41.73.
I can't even take my wife down to Back at the Beach in Santa Monica and have lunch for $41.73. Mostly because she insists on buying those ridiculous $9 Ice Teas.
To add insult to injury, I've recently hit another speed bump on the road to my first billion dollars.
Seems the good folks at Google and their third party revenue disbursement partner, Adsense, came upon an old posting of mine that did not meet their high standards.
Keep in mind, you can scan through the current Google library of blogs and find all kinds of informative writing about Killing Jews, Making Love to Goats and Supporting the new Trump Administration. But my little satirical posting about the proper way to discipline your wife raised some eyebrows.
You can find the offending piece here.
Look, I'm a First Amendment absolutist and refuse to do anything to alter the post.
If necessary, I'll fight for my right to express myself freely. And I'm prepared to spend my entire bankroll of blog earnings, all $41.73. I'll take this all the way to the Supreme Court.
Whichever comes first.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Yesterday I threw my insignificant weight behind a product everyone should have. Today, I am upping the ante and throwing my exponentially increasing weight behind a book everyone should read.
At least those of us in advertising.
Dan Lyons is one of the writers on HBO's incredibly funny and incredibly smart, Silicon Valley. But he is no overnight sensation, not by a long shot. I heard he was 10 years older than me. Hard to believe that a 54 year old could still productively pound the keyboard.
But he does and that gives me hope.
Dan spent many years as a reporter for Newsweek magazine. And then, in order to exercise his funny bone, he began tweeting as FakeSteveJobs. A humorous diversion not unlike my kimjungfun.tumblr.com account.
In fact, months ago, Dan stumbled upon one of my Kim Jung Un posts and he wrote to me. That is how we started our correspondence. OK, it's not really a correspondence. I write to him and he doesn't respond, but in this new Trumpian era why let facts get in the way of a good fantasy?
When Newsweek downsized, Dan found himself out of work. That is until he parlayed his FakeSteveJobs notoriety into a high level gig at HubSpot, a scamarama software outfit in Boston.
The book follows, in painstaking detail, Dan's journey into the high tech world. More specifically in their marketing department. And this is where it gets interesting. Or humiliating. Many times both. In other words, it's just like our lives in advertising.
There's the tortuous brainstorming meetings and the walls festooned with appropriately-sized Post It Notes of Insight.
There's the squabbling over offices, cubicles, seats at the long table in the boiler room/sweatshop.
There's cognitive dissonance. Much the same way we tell and sell our clients this salesfuckery about building their brands with tweets, Snaps and Instagram scavenger hunts, the Hubspotters spout off about 1+1=3. With equally mysterious comments like, "A Hubspotter would never say something like that."
And there's Kool Aid drinking.
So, so, so much Kool Aid drinking. Complete with asinine acronyms, delusional manifestos, and unwarranted cult-like loyalty. Here are some selected slides from the 128 page Hubspot Code of Conduct.
Had I been subjected to this presentation, I would have been requesting an Exit Interview before the 5th slide.
Most of all, there's greed.
Because despite the many opportunities to fix the product, improve the product and make the product better than anything offered by the competition, all the energy was exclusively spent preparing for the IPO and funneling as much money as humanly possible to the khaki-pants-wearing white men in the C-Suite.
Mmmmm, why does that sound so familiar?
Monday, January 16, 2017
As you can see from the screen grab above, I am a man who does a lot of walking.
This map shows me going to the bank to deposit a check, my favorite part of the walk. Followed by a long ascent up to the top of the Baldwin Hills Overlook, which offers unbeatable views of the city, the San Bernardino Mountains as well the entirety of the Santa Monica Bay.
It's not easy to maintain my girlish figure, so I try to make this walk at least three times a week.
Unfortunately, and this is of import to Chinese electronic manufacturers, these three hour treks would sap my iPhone long before they would sap me.
Accordingly, I was forced to bring all manner of outside battery packs and their assorted cables. Between my iPhone and external juice packs, my iPod and accompanying headphones, I was a walking rat's nest of Apple paraphernalia.
That all changed last week.
I'm not big on endorsements, mostly because I write that shit for a living and don't take kindly to giving the stuff away for free, but in the case of this special case, I'm going to bend the rules.
This thing is a lifesaver.
You know if your life is tethered to to an iPhone, as I suspect it is for most of us.
You insert your phone into the pre-wired case and the clever engineers who make Cupertino their home, do the rest. There are no cables. There are no moving parts. There's not even a switch to tell your iPhone to go to the external battery (the hump in the picture above.)
In essence, the case simply doubles the battery power on your phone. It also doubles the weight of the phone, but I'm at a point in my life where function is way more important than form.
Besides, aesthetics is for young people. Or Fancy Nancies who fret over just the right paper towel holders, flip flops or dog food bowls.
I'll take my big fat ugly phone with its big fat ugly reserve of power.
Hell, maybe I'll walk 10.5 miles instead of 7.5 and get rid of this big fat ugly ass of mine.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
There's been a lot of chatter lately about a spec spot from Germany for Adidas. The rogue commercial was written, produced and directed by a couple of ad students. And it's got a lot of industry pundits saying things, "This is what advertising could be."
Normally, I'd jump all over any argument that disposes of bureaucracy, excessive planning and the staid formulas of our business. But to be completely honest, I wasn't all that impressed with the spot.
It had too many logistical loopholes to carry any water, as it were.
For me, the better example of what we could be doing with our marketing efforts, if we were not so hampered by prudish sensibilities and tired thinking, came from the staff at Saturday Night Live.
The spot features an outstanding performance by Casey Affleck. In fact, I think his work here is far more Oscar-worthy than his stint in Manchester By the Sea, which, like the aforementioned Adidas spot, I also found to be overrated.
Here, take a look.
That's the Krakken.
This spot has it all. For one thing it makes a mockery of all those force fed client copy points about buying donuts with a phone app or craving some bullshit coffee cocktail with cinnamon, sugar and cinnamon sugar.
And it turns the notion of real people on its head, with a hardscrabble character who curses, smokes and gets in an argument with the $16.38 an hour assistant manager.
In other words, it dares to be, as my legendary Film Professor once called it, really real.
Best of all, there's violence. At the very least, the threat of violence brought on by the evident class warfare. All harkening back to the gritty neighborhoods in Gone Baby Gone. If there's a more charming set of people than the tough-talking blue collar hard-on's living on Boston's Southside, I have yet to find them.
The spoof spot ran up crazy numbers on social media. And I'll bet sales at Dunkin Donuts followed suit. Isn't that what advertising is supposed to do?
Hell, if it wasn't for my excessive girth and my strict protein-only breakfast policy, I'd be running down to my local DD for a chocolate eclair.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
A little more than a week from now, hillbillies, rednecks and know-nothings will be tuned in to the swearing in of the most unfit man on the planet to the highest ranking position on the planet.
God, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, help the United States of America.
The rest of us, the ones who were stunned by the same shitgibbon who...
* mocked a disabled reporter
* talked about unconstitutionally banning Muslims
* questioned the credibility of a judge with Hispanic roots
* talked about his big brain as well as his lady penis
* failed to identify the Nuclear Triad
* claimed women who exercised their reproductive rights should be punished
* appointed racists, fascists and billionaires to his cabinet
* spoke openly about grabbing pussy
* and reneged on virtually every campaign promise he made before even taking office
... will be stocking up hallucinogenics wondering, "how the hell did this happen?"
But if you work in advertising or have had any exposure to the corporate world, the meteoric rise of this goatish, idle-headed moldwarp should come as no surprise. In fact, it should've been expected.
Because it's nothing more than the Peter Principle in action. Which is best explained by this simple illustration...
Or, as I've been fond of saying, "how do these fucking idiots get to the top?"
And though I'm only 44 years old, I've seen plenty of them. Names are unimportant. But I'm sure you'll recognize these prototypical Presidents who we've all had the pleasure of working for at some time in our career.
There was President Lie to My Face. This agency honcho knows the value of incentivized performance. We'll all work hard, she'd say, and at the end of the year there will be big bonuses and generous raises. And there were. For her.
There was President Invertebrate. We could do good creative work that pushes the envelope and makes employees proud to work here, but clients don't want that. They don't want confrontation. Or rocking the boat. They've got kids and mortgages and car payments. And besides their layouts aren't so bad. And if the client wants to write the headlines that makes your life so much easier, doesn't it Rich?
And then there was President Foster Brooks. This President loved his alcohol. He was always drinking. When he wasn't drinking, he was thinking about drinking.
For some reason I have this scene stuck in my head. I can't remember if it actually happened or if it were part of some bad dream. I find myself with President Foster Brooks in the back of a stretch limousine on the way to a potential billion dollar client's headquarters. Foster stumbles upon -- he did a lot of stumbling -- the onboard liquor cabinet. As we crawl through traffic at 9:30 in the morning, President Brooks delicately starts fingering the bottlecaps of all the spirits, mumbling to himself, "Mmmmm, vodka. Mmmmm, bourbon. Mmmm, tequila." All the while I start mumbling to myself, "Mmmmm, must freshen up resume."
It had to have been a dream. Right?
A dystopic dream just like the one we'll be facing on January 20.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
I don't take a compliment very well.
Some people thrive on it. I don't.
I never know how to respond. My first inclination is to say, "Ditto." Or to turn around and somehow compliment the person doing the complimenting.
But as you might have garnered from your many years of reading this blog, flattering or doling out praise is not one of my strong suits. And I hate coming off as disingenuous.
Last week one generous reader contacted me from out of the blue.
I've blurred out his name to spare him any humiliation. It should also be noted that I possess no photoshopping skills whatsoever and the only digital manipulation capabilities I do have spring from Preview. In other words, there isn't a chance in the world I could have fabricated the following...
That's some pretty heady stuff.
Not to be outdone, a day later, I received another flattering email. Once again, I've taken the trouble to blur the writer's identity to maintain this misguided individual his or her dignity.
Couple that with last month's end of year surge, where traffic reached an all time high of 19, 450 hits and I might have to get myself a new car, one with a sunroof to accommodate my swollen head.
The good news is that while I don't take compliments very well, it's an issue I don't have to deal with too often.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Today's post may come off as pandering. But it's really not.
I'm in the fortunate position of not having to kiss ass or play the sycophant, a role that does not suit me well. And never has.
No, today I want to talk about a recent gig that my partner and I just completed only because this one was so different than so many others.
First, it should be noted I did not get my full day rate. I would have liked to. The University of Washington, where my daughter goes to school, covers close to 100 acres of land. And that land needs to be landscaped. And somebody has to pay for that extensive landscaping. And apparently that somebody is me.
So yes, I would have loved to received my going rate. But I discounted my fee because the job came in at the last second. Unexpectedly. And it was for an ad agency I have always enjoyed working with.
"How can that be?
Weren't you named the 2016's Crankiest 44 year old Freelance Copywriter?"
Indeed I was. However it is impossible to accurately describe the sweatshop conditions in our industry without acknowledging the diametric opposite, that is, an agency that knows how to treat people.
Let's start with the office itself. Or let's not, because the folks who hired us for this gig did not require us to be in their office.
One, because the Christmas holidays were upon us. And two, more importantly, we were dealing with grown ups who know how to trust other grown ups. A longwinded way of saying, we worked off site.
Here, deep in the heart of Culver City, is where I do my best work. Because it is here that I am free from the ugly commutes, the starched shirts and the pesky necessities of daily hygiene. I'm still on a SpeedStick of deodorant that my wife bought me in 2013.
You put me in my den, with my Herman Miller Aeron chair, a pot of coffee, some prescription grade cough medicine and an advertising brief, and I will be at most productive.
None of which escaped the notice of our taskmasters who were not taskmasters at all.
We reported to one Creative Director who couldn't have been more pleasant, more professional and more clear-minded, attributes that have become quite rare these days. He fielded the shit we hate fielding: meetings, debriefs, and more meetings about debriefs.
We simply took direction and cranked out the work. Tons and tons of work. Right up to the last minute of the last day of the last extension of the assignment.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Though given the nature of advertising, I most likely will.
Thursday, January 5, 2017
As many of you may or may not know, I have started a new tumblr page to mock our new Precedent: shitgibbonfiles.tumblr.com.
It is not as wildly popular as my other political tumblr page: kimjungfun.tumblr.com.
Seems people are more amused by the North Korean man/child/despot than our new man/child/despot, but I'm confident that over time that will change.
And even if it doesn't, it's not going to stop me.
My rage and sense of disbelief that we, well not we but some of you, elected this toupee-sporting 10th grade dropout to the highest office in the land requires some copious amounts of catharsis.
Contrary to what incoming Press Secretary Spicer claims, "we need to stop mocking him." Listen Sean, any douchebag that consciously chooses to sit in a gold-fringed chair deserves a healthy dose of daily derision. And I'm happy to take on the task.
But today I want to turn my attention away from the Shitgibbon-Elect to the word itself.
It should come as no surprise that I like saying the word. Go ahead, give it a shot. Shitgibbon rolls off the tongue in a very pleasing manner. Why? I wondered that myself and decided to do a little etymological research.
It turns out to have something to do with assonance -- how appropriate.
Assonance -- in poetry, the repetition of of the sound of a vowel or dipthong in a non-rhyming stressed syllables near enough to each other for the echo to be discernible.
I have no idea what that means. But, shitgibbon.
I also discovered the author of the phrase is of Scottish descent, as am I. And can be attributed to the Scottish practice of flinging of good, complex, overblown insults. Moreover, this is a remnant of an ancient tradition of Flyting.
Flyting is the predecessor to today's modern day Rap Battles. It's the ritual poetic exchange of insults that was practiced between the 5th century and the 16th century.
Rich, do you have any examples? Indeed I do.
I will no longer keep it secret:
It was with thy sister
thous hadst such a son
hardly worse than thyself.
It's safe to say that it's not that big a leap from incest jokes to "Yo Mamma" jokes.
Here's an example of flyting from the one and only William Shakespeare:
Ajax: Thou bitch-wolf's son, canst thou not hear? Feel then.
Thersites: The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted lord!
I like the way that sounds, however, again, I have no idea what The Bard is talking about.
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
That's opportunity knocking.
Last week, the family and I took a road trip up north to Rohnert Park. To visit my sister-in-law. I love it up there. Northern California suits me.
For one thing there is weather, I miss weather.
There are also great, smart people. I had a chance to have a beer with a friend and ex-boss in Healdsburg, a town with enough charm for two towns.
And there is open space, damn I miss open space.
One day, we hiked up Sonoma Mountain. A moderate hike. But strenuous enough to get my daughters going...
"Are we there yet? Can we turn around?"
God, I love torturing them.
In any case, I was smitten by the landscape. So much so that upon my return home I did a little internet searching and found an amazing piece of property for sale. It sits on Lichau Road and has a sweeping view of the valley below. As you can see from the photo, it also has a pond. And a creek. And, according to the description, 90 plantable acres, most likely for a vineyard.
The property itself is 394 acres!!! That's huge. I didn't go to surveying school, but I'm pretty sure that's bigger than the state of Delaware.
There is a house on the property, but they haven't shown any pictures of it on the site. Which leads me to believe it's an eyesore or a total pig sty. But my daughters were just home for a month so that doesn't phase me in the least.
However, and I'll say this again, it's 394 acres of land in Sonoma County. They're not making any more of that stuff.
Here's the deal, the price tag is $3 million. That's way too rich for my blood. It may be too rich for yours as well. But that's where the out-of-the-cubicle-farm thinking comes in.
You see I know many of the people reading this blog are ad folks. Not the new Kool Aid drinking, let's stay all night and make these banners great ad folks. I'm talking to you seasoned vets who are one status meeting away from a disgruntled employee shooting rampage.
If a group of us were to pool some money together this rambling estate could be ours. This could be the elusive Exit Plan. With a fresh coat of paint and a little elbow grease we could fix up the house. And with a little more elbow grease and some intense Googling we could learn how to plant grapes and bottle wine. Hell, if Lucy and Ethel could do it certainly, some over-educated West Coast elitists could.
Who is with me? Who wants out?
I even have the perfect name for our new wine...
Chateau Voe Cue.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Please pardon the politically incorrect image above.
It popped up when I was doing a simple Google search for JAPS, not in reference to people living on the other side of the Pacific, but to Jewish American Princesses. More specifically, today I'm writing about the two JAPS living under my roof.
To appreciate the irony of that, you must understand I grew up in New York and went to Syracuse University, widely regarded as the official university of the Jewish American Princess.
There, in her natural environment and surrounded by new BMWs, these over-indulged whiny brats who migrated from the outer reaches of Long Island, would flourish and like an invasive weed take over the entire landscape. Not only could you see them, you could hear them.
"OMG, these dorm rooms are too small."
"Daddy, can you send me more money?"
"This soup is cold. Everything is cold. I should've gone to Miami."
To say these young women got under my skin would be quite the understatement. Particularly since I had to work my way through college. More often than not, in service jobs that required me to cater to their excessive demands.
"I'd be happy to get you some more marshmallows for your hot cocoa. Let me take it to the back of the kitchen and I'll personally melt it on top just for you."
Clearly, the fire that was raging in my belly so many years ago has hardly subsided. And in a cruel twist of fate, the good Lord has blessed me with two daughters of my own. Who, unbeknownst to me, grew up into little JAPS.
Are my princesses as bad as the ones cited above? Hardly.
They don't drive brand new luxury cars.
They don't adorn themselves with 10 lbs. of 24 karat gold.
And they sure as hell don't treat people as if they were their own personal indentured servants.
They're simply spoiled. And I've got no one to blame but the person who did the spoiling -- me.
But today their official Winter Break is over. They'll be going to back to their respective schools. And they won't be home, rummaging through my wallet, leaving their dirty dishes in the sink or refusing to pick up the dog shit in the yard for another 10 weeks.
You can file this under Unexplainable or just a daddy's stupid love, but those ten weeks can't go fast enough.
Monday, January 2, 2017
I hate to start the New Year on a negative note, but I suspect 2017, the official Chinese year of the shitgibbon, will give us plenty of negative notes so we might as well get used to it.
Besides, ever since I heard this story it has been eating me up. And considering my considerable girth that's no small task.
Turns out a woman in Japan, working for Dentsu, a giant advertising company, committed suicide when she could no longer keep up with the grueling workload.
First off, we're talking about advertising. Nothing should be grueling about advertising. Let's not forget our products are frivolous TV commercials, meaningless interweb scavenger hunts, and the occasional print and outdoor board, shiny print pieces meant to bait witless consumers into a frenzy of mindless consumerism.
We're not curing cancer. In most cases we're pimping it. With brown fizzy sugar water. Hormone injected meat tubes. And carbon burning 400 horsepower crossover vehicles.
It's just huckstering. And it doesn't merit grueling anything.
It was reported that the young woman put in 105 hours of overtime in one month. That's roughly 25 hours a week. Meaning she put in about 65 hours a week, for four weeks straight.
Sadly, this is not unheard of. Years ago, while working on a pitch, I maintained that pace for about 9 weeks.
The whole team did. And it was brutal. And nerves were frayed. To the point where one creative director, unhappy with the specifics of one highly forgettable storyboard, literally turned to the art director and in full tantrum mode, blasted...
"Frame #5 is all wrong. It's supposed to be a male dog. Where is the dick on the dog? Have this redrawn and put a damn dick on the dog."
Oh yeah, that happened. If I'm lying, I'm dying.
Of course, I'm not dying. And don't plan to off myself in the pursuit of writing the great American 15 second BOGO spot or the world's greatest Call to Action.
Because after all these years in this business, I now have something that unfortunately the overworked Dentsu employee did not.
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Despite what anybody might tell you, I live well within my means.
I drive a 10 year old used car. Some of the shirts in my closet are older than my daughters. And considering I break out the Braun portable shaver to administer my own haircuts, I spend more on dog grooming than I do for myself.
But last Saturday, I decided to go hog wild. To spend money as if it were going out of style.
I've always been fascinated by the local QuiK E Mart located near my house at the corner of Overland and Braddock, in the heart of Culver City. They not only have the most incredible selection of potables, from Absynthe to Zebra-Infused Wine Coolers, they have the widest selection of stuff this side of a 99 cent store.
It's as if a truck loaded with goods headed to an Islamabad Flea Circus tipped over and the QuiK E Mart owners were Johnny-on-the-Spot and grabbed as much as they could stuff in their 2005 Toyota Camry.
So I went on a $25 shopping spree and bought the most interesting, most useless crap I could find. Not because I needed it, but because I needed to find out what it would be like to live like carefree tycoon.
Feast your eyes on the booty...
First up, Tiger Balm. This set me back $2.39. I could've opted for the $2.19 package but chose to spend the extra 20 cents for the Red Extra Strength. Because when you're counting on useless Chinese herbal ointments for pain relief, that's what you do. Correction, that's what millionaires do.
This is $1.49 Nagchampa Red Incense Sticks. They're from Bombay. I'm curious to know what they will smell like, but will probably never find out because my wife said, "You're not lighting those in the house. Ever."
God bless the licensing genii at Disney. They found a Chinese factory who could put together a functioning Winnie-the-Pooh-endorsed calculator for just $1.99. That includes the battery. No wonder manufacturing jobs have left the United States.
Next up, not one but two 8" wood files. I wasn't planning any woodworking projects but at this price maybe I ought to?
Carpentry can make a man break out in a sweat. Thankfully, I have a cold bottle of Mamma Chia nearby, in thirst quenching Kale & Mint.
Finally, there's the Original Maxim Du-Rag. I've always wondered why wealthy football players wear these things and today I sated that burning curiosity.
You might be wondering what am I, a modest living Fat Jew, gonna do with a DuRag.
Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Johnny Carson once defined a New York Minute as the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you laying into his horn.
In other words, it's an instant.
It's also iconic.
And proprietary to the city itself.
It elicits a response like, "Only in New York Fuckin' City."
If you've ever stepped foot in the Big Apple, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The other day I was having lunch with a friend and we were recalling our funniest NYC tales. We have a lot of them. It was at this point, usually when I go to the bathroom hoping my friend will pick up the check, that I remembered I had an idea for a crowd-sourced book.
It's called A New York Minute. And it's simply a collection of stories from colleagues, friends, even family members, who have a unique Gotham City tale to tell. The hook is the story must be told in less than 150 words.
Because if you've ever recorded a radio spot and tried to beat the digital clock that becomes your instant studio enemy, 150 words is the maximum you can squeeze into a script. Despite the client's demand to add in a few points about the dual climate control, the two pizza toppings for $6.99 or some horseshit about locally grown hops and barley.
Pretty simple right?
So break out your anecdotes that have anything to do with New York. They can take place in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or The Bronx. They can be funny, sad, pathetic, romantic, violent or violently romantic. Angry cab drivers, drunken doormen, one armed hookers, the weirder, the better.
Just throw down 150 words and dash it off to me via private email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll select the best stories, make the necessary edits, and format them into a book with a much better cover than the one you see above. You'll see your name in print. You'll be credited as a participating author. You'll enter the glamorous world of book publishing.
Are you picturing those huge royalty checks? And sitting atop the deck of your new yacht?
Of course you are.
In fact, as a successful published author I'm writing this from the deck of mine.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
I love Wieden & Kennedy.
I have always admired their work, their unwillingness to talk down to consumers and their unconventional approach to the business; including one of their offices which recently mandated office closure at 7 PM, so that employees can have some semblance of a life.
I've never worked at Wieden. Never freelanced there. And though I have inquired on many occasion, never received a return phone call or even an email. Truth is, I wouldn't want to work for Wieden because I still find them so damn intimidating.
But last week, they dropped a small notch in my book.
You see there was an article in Adweek written by one of their talent recruiters. Of course when I say article I mean press release, because this had all the earmarks of self promotion, an arena in which I have some experience.
In the piece, the author goes to great lengths to describe how management has fashioned an environment conducive to employee creativity.
"We moved this over here."
"We put that in this place."
"We brought in colors and shapes and textures and (fill in your own architectural gobblygook here) to foster inspiration."
If I hadn't heard so much of this interior design malarkey while I was at Chiat/Day, I might be more open and tolerant of it, but I'm sorry, I'm not.
It was bullshit then and it's bullshit now.
If you think about it, it reeks of infantilization. Of treating creative people like we're kindergarteners. I know my 44 year old cynicism is showing, but I'm not creatively or professionally moved by leather love seats, stand up treadmill desks or artisnally-curated corked floors.
Advertising legend Dick Sittig said it best when reflecting on the rollercoaster fortunes of Chiat/Day,
"I remember when they wrote less about our furniture and more about the ads we made."
Nobody seems to be talking about the ads anymore.
Monday, December 26, 2016
Normally, at this point in the year, I step away from the keyboard, give myself time to recharge the batteries and leave the readers of RoundSeventeen a hand-curated selection of past hits, such as they were.
But as the picture above indicates, there was nothing normal about 2016.
This was the year we saw the incredible rise of billionaire fascism. A year when we elected to the highest office of the land, and of the world, a pussy-grabbing, immigrant-hating shitgibbon who had never heard of our nation's Nuclear Triad. A bumbling, tweeting dimwit who believes the 2nd amendment is more important than the 1st. An illiterate rich rich douchebag who is unprecedented in his demonstrable pettiness, misogyny and glory fucking.
And so, in light of this remarkably crappy year, I've decided to give you faithful 8 readers some brand new material. A Post-Christmas gift if you will.
Why you may ask.
Well, as of this morning, web traffic here at R17 corporate headquarters is at an all time high.
For the first time ever, we have had more than 18,000 page hits/views in one single month. With a powerful end of year push and with 5 lazy calendar days when advertising people, and normal people as well, are questioning every damn decision in their lives and looking for some type of comic relief, there is the real possibility of surging past 20,000.
If I'm going to be brutally honest, and rare is the occasion when I'm not, there's a good chance some of the analytics are false.
Two weeks ago there was a report of a Russian methbot, a robotic software program that purposefully pumped up the artificial statistics of blogs and websites across the world. This was a malicious attempt to skew numbers and throw corporate accountants into a hissy fit.
I noticed several unwarranted spikes on my web charts. And these were on days when the posts were not particularly funny or well written. Why, for instance, would 1329 Moscovites want to read one of my perpetual rants about witless planners and unproductive open office spaces?
Authenticity notwithstanding, I'll take the inflated numbers.
Because frankly, that's how pathetic lifelong advertising copywriters can get. Our need for self validation knows no bounds.
I'm ashamed to admit this, but for many years the mantle above our fireplace was permanently festooned with a cheap array of Telly awards, LuLu awards, and several framed Belding Certficates, including an Honorable Mention for Best FSI, Automotive Retail, Four Color, Budget under 10K.
My hope for 2017?
That we can hit the 20,000 per month mark every month. If they're human great. If they're Russian methbots, well, I'll take that too.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
I've often said it's harder to do crappy work than it is to do the good stuff. And if you've had the breadth of assignments I have, you'd most certainly agree.
Case in point, not long ago, my partner and I had a gun pointed at our heads and were asked to solve a client crisis. The brief requested spots that were to be executed in the classic Problem/Solution formula.
OK, a little too prescriptive if you ask me, but sometimes you just have to shake your head, then shake off the cobwebs and start clacking on the keyboard.
We put some topspin on the assignment but, and I say this humbly, we delivered. So much so, that we confidently presented the work in progress to one of the clients over the phone.
The reaction was quite positive. At first.
Later in the day, the same day, there were "questions."
Just "things we want to discuss."
"We really like this Problem/Solution spot you guys created. Really like it. We're just wondering, do the problems have to seem so negative?"
You may think I'm exaggerating or breaking out the hyperbole stick to make this story more interesting, but that is a verbatim quote. And if ever called to swear in a deposition I would, without any fear of perjuring myself, declare those were the exact words.
I wanted to leap across the table and scream.
"That's what makes them problems, they're negative!"
Instead, I reminded myself of the two college tuitions I'm paying, wrapped my last shred of dignity in two ply toilet paper, flushed it out towards the Pacific and said...
"Sure, why don't we take a look at that."
Last year, I was hired by a local company that keeps the lights on by keeping mailboxes filled with junk mail. Postcards, letters, flyers, email blasts, all comped and created with one goal in mind, to get people who are currently leasing overpriced automobiles back into a new lease. Or a new vehicle. And these folks are relentless.
My job, at a considerably lower day rate, was to craft these detailed messages, devoid of any creativity, and hammer home the leasing options. The work was purely supplemental, meaning I could do it in conjunction with other assignments, and it was all remote, meaning I could do it between my morning nap and my afternoon nap.
But it was so fucking dreadful.
"Can we change 'learn more' to 'discover more'?"
"Can you put the antilock brakes before the extra cargo space?"
"Can you come up with a different way to say Go?"
In my 13 years of freelancing I've always gone out of my way to accommodate the smaller agencies, smaller production houses and smaller clients, by being flexible on my day rate for their less than glamorous assignments.
But maybe I've been going about this all wrong. Maybe I should be charging them more? And instead perhaps I should discount my fee for the big agencies seeking big ideas?
Hello Droga 5, Wieden Kenney and BBDO, I'm looking at you.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
As we are on the cusp of Christmas Eve it seemed appropriate to do a post about religion. When it comes to religion, faithful R17 readers know, I am an equal opportunity skewer.
I've taken my shots at Islam. Though not so many recently because I consciously did not want my disdain of Islamism to be muddied with the binary and ugly thinking of our new President Shitgibbon.
Just last week I poked fun at the imaginary War on Christmas and the idiots who have somehow equated equal rights for gays as a modern day worldwide attack on Christianity.
And of course, I have exercised executive privilege and poked fun at my own Judaic roots.
"You can't turn the lights on."
"You can't have milk with meat."
"You can't pay retail."
But today we are going beyond the realm of Abraham and into the realm of Elron J. Hubbard. Don't know if you've been watching it on A&E lately, but Leah Remini, star of stage and screen and tough chick from the old neighborhood has been body slamming Scientology. Which is not so much a religion but in reality an elaborate, self-improvement mumbo-jumbo Ponzi Scheme.
I have been riveted to the tube listening to former Scientologists, of all stripes, including Sea Org. Members and former OT 8's (some horsecockery about the planet Zanu, living a billion years, magic underwear, and mastering one's inner Mork.)
It is jaw-dropping TV. Made all the more palatable by Leah Remini's well-coifed hair, bright hard nails, and pent up feline anger. She's like a dirty-talking tiger ready to pounce. Grrrr.
Equally fascinating are the tales of what seem to be normal people getting bilked by this bullshit.
"Here, hold these two empty cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup and tell me how you were abused a child. Then put $10,000 in the kitty on the way out."
And just when I thought I'd seen it all, I hadn't.
Apparently, it's cult month on TV. Because Showtime or HBO was also running Holy Hell, a documentary about Buddhafield, a new "religion" founded by Michel, a gay, out-of-work actor (pictured above) who enjoyed .7 seconds of screen time in the classic Rosemary's Baby.
But boy did this guy know how to parlay his alleged fame. There's really no way to describe the antics at Buddhafield suffice to say you must see this film. And the quivering followers who trekked up to Mammoth Lakes to be in the presence of The Speedo Wearing Teacher. And receive the Knowing. And to cook and clean for this self-obsessed, dove-holding douchebag.
All of which makes me happy and proud to be a Nihilist.
That's a religion I can get behind. There are no holidays. No dogmatic beliefs. No churches or temples. And most importantly, no priests or rabbis or leaders. Once we had a guy who wanted to be the head of Nihilists. But his offer to take the reigns was met with a resounding...
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Why on earth am I luring you onto my blog with a picture of Charlotte McKinney and a mammoth sized 1300 calorie bacon and cheeseburger from Carl's Jr.?
An excellent question.
But I'm afraid that in this day and age of Kardashians and pussy grabbing and underskilled athletes who play for perpetual losers yet still call themselves Swaggy P, this is the proper to way to bait the hook.
You see, had I posted a picture of Andy Puzder, former CEO of Carl's Jr. and soon to be our new Secretary of Labor, readers would have gone scurrying to the latest cat video or that GIF of the guy falling off a trampoline and then getting skull-humped by a golden retriever.
But I'm glad you're sticking around for this Andy Puzder war story.
The year was 2001. And a great calamity was being visited upon us that year --my partner, John Shirley and I were asked to head up the pitch for Hardee's. For those of you who don't know, Hardees is the redheaded stepchild of Carl's Jr. For reasons I don't understand, they run virtually the same type of restaurant, have the same type of branding, and are virtually indistinguishable from their parent company.
Hardee's are mostly located in the South and the hard to reach areas of Appalachia. Naturally, as part of the agency's How-Can-We-Push-Aging-And-Expensive-Creatives-Out-The-Door Program, it was suggested that we fly (middle seats in Coach) to Alabama or Louisianna or Georgia, one of the Jew-hating states, to get some boots on the ground and sample the food.
Well, there's nothing this New York tribe member enjoys more than an opportunity to visit Klan country. And break bread (that's how stale the buns were) with dinosaur-denying young earthers many of whom would show up at the restaurant without any shoes. Or, as John Shirley referred to them -- foot coverin's.
At least I'd get a free meal out of the deal right?
Andy Puzder might want to call it a meal, but I wouldn't. The food, or I referred to it, mouth stuff, was inedible. Day old bacon. Soggy french fries. And cheese that was way below government grade. All prepared by a staff of minimum wage earners who had all the enthusiasm of a Cleveland Browns season ticket holder.
As for the restaurant, the food place, it was even worse. The second floor Men's Room at the Port Authority, the one located right next to the Short Line Ticket booth, would have been more pleasing. I don't know what bothered me more. The fact that is was filthy or the lazy ass kids behind the counter who seemed unfazed by the whole mess.
Good work Andy, I can certainly see why President Shitgibbon has placed his faith in you and your unprecedented management skills.
And the pitch? Well, that went even worse than our glamorous research field trip. For the first, and it wouldn't be the last, time in my career I witnessed a complete freeze up. One of the big cheeses on our team got stuck. He started presenting work and then he couldn't. Come on man, it's only advertising.
I'll spare you the details.
But, for getting this far in the story that had little or nothing to do with Charlotte McKinney's impressive boobs, the meeting was best summed up by this GIF, which by the way also sums up the entire year 2016.