Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The US government first started issuing warnings about the dangers of cigarette smoking in the early 1970's. It took millions of dollars in messaging and countless campaigns over the decades, but we are finally seeing a decline in teenage smoking. As well as deaths related to lung cancer.
Similarly, the LGBT community has been fighting an uphill battle for decades. And only after persistent, relentless efforts have the mores in this country begun to change. It wasn't until the year 2015 that a percentage of United States citizens have been granted the rights sworn to all United States citizens. Take that Kim Davis.
The point is, people are slow to change. And will go down, kicking, screaming or waving a Bible before they do.
But the power of the pen is mighty.
And persuasion has never been a sprint, but a marathon.
Which brings us to my new book (and what doesn't?), Round Seventeen &1/2: The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Inefficient
Many of you have bought the book. And had the good grace to call or write and tell me how much you've enjoyed it.
But, and this is a very big but, so many, many, many more of you haven't.
And that will just not stand.
Not for one minute.
You might as well head on over to amazon before you even finish reading this, because I have just begun the whoring.
I will be on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. Hell, I'll sign up for Plaxo, if it gives me an additional forum to hawk my book.
I will be the Draft King/Fan Duel of social media advertising.
Remember when I did Theme Weeks here on Round Seventeen and devoted entire weeks to: Things Jews Don't Do, Famous Celebrities I Have Worked With, or Foods That Made Me Hurl?
I'm prepared to do a whole month of book promotion and nothing but shameless book promotion.
But Rich, I can hear you saying, isn't that a little self-destructive?
Of course it's self-destructive, I've built an entire career on pissing off people, shooting myself in the foot, failing to capitalize on success and taking three catastrophic steps backward for every one step forward.
In fact, it's all in the book.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
I was never a fan of MAD magazine, that is the magazine itself, which I found a bit childish.
But I devoured the MAD published hardcover books. You know, the material intended for the more discerning reader of sophisticated sophomoric humor.
You can keep your Robinson Crusoe, your Treasure Island and your homespun Mark Twain tales of life along the Mississippi, these are the books that shaped my life.
Wise asses aren't born, they're made.
Sadly however, in this sanitized world of corporate communications, where every good idea must pass through a gauntlet of small-minded over thinkers, there is little room for snappy or snarky. There is however plenty of room, wider and longer than the state of Kansas, for snoozy, stupid and inane.
I'm looking at you, people posed in front of the Statue of Liberty talking about your car insurance.
Or you, young couple taking two cars to the airport to pick up the in-laws and racing home on a bet.
And you, gaggle of vanilla white hikers in your $500 hiking shoes and your carb-free, taste free Michelob Ultra.
But then there is the Internet, a medium that allows for, and demands, instantaneous response far from the myopic eyes of corporate bureaucrats.
Last week Doritos, in support of LGBT rights, put out a bag of chips with a rainbow sticker.
There may be starving African children or weak Syrian immigrants hoofing over 1000 miles to reach safety, but right wing Christian extremists have far more important things to worry about. Like deep fried tortilla chips twisting the minds of nacho-eaters and promoting the homosexual agenda.
Pointy headed people with a keyboard and a 5th grade education took to the Twittersphere to give Doritos a piece of their mind, which unsurprisingly is not in great supply.
That's when Mike Melgard, posing as a representative for Doritos stepped in and stepped up to the plate with some snappy answers to stupid questions.
You can read some of the gems here.
Apparently, Mike, a fellow union member of WiseCrackers, Local #517, was not in the employ of the Frito Lay Company, makers of Doritos. But in my mind should be.
While scanning job boards, smiling and dialing, and plying my wares as a freelance copywriter, I see hundreds of ads for Social Media Managers.
I have no idea what they do. I'm guessing they snowball their way through meetings with their finely-honed expertise of Instagram, SnapChat, Figgle, Jazzle and a hundred other platforms I've never heard of.
But if it were up to me, and clearly it's not, every Fortune 500 company would and should have a high paid hired gun who can take to the Internet, armed to the teeth with wit, cunning and lightning fast bon mot.
Did I mention that this on staff jester should be highly paid?
Monday, September 28, 2015
Not easy on the eyes is it?
A collection of vintage glass eyeballs. They're not functional. The wearer would simply pop them in and out of the eye socket to cover the gaping hole in his or her skull.
That's about as much as I want to know, or see, about glass eyeballs. And yet I have a friend who has a vast collection of these glorified painted marbles.
I have another friend who collects clown paintings. (I know I have some dark friends.)
And know of another who collects Tiki mugs.
I collect Nothing.
Though in my garage you would find 15-16 years worth of accordion file folders stuffed jelly-tight with old utility bills, spent checks and sad, put-me-in-a-dirty-nursing-home portfolio statements.
I bring all this up because I read an article the other day about a family fighting over the heirlooms left by their deceased parents. It might have been a collection of antique spoons or a menagerie of stuffed animals. In any case, it seemed pretty pitiful that these siblings were brought to tears, and I believe to court, over the possession of some stupid trinkets.
My parents, also deceased, left me with nothing of the sort. With the exception of a few old photos, the only meaningful item I could lay my hands on is a T-Shirt from one of the Outward Bound Survival Schools my father had attended.
It's kind of ratty.
And stretched out.
But my wife still won't let me wear it.
This shirt was from Leadville, Colorado, where as a 53-year old man, my father climbed Pike's Peak, with a bunch of twenty and thirty year olds. He almost had a heart attack at the summit.
I can't stand it when these old dudes just don't understand their place in this world.
He also did an Outward Bound in Maine, where for 10 days he lived and worked on a sailboat off the rough coastal waters near Newfoundland. And because Al Siegel could never test himself enough, he also enlisted for an advanced Outward Bound School on the Deschutes River in Oregon.
Recently, I was clearing out my garage and found a touching letter to my father from a fellow student at the Deschutes River school. It was handwritten by a woman. And got me thinking that perhaps my father was doing some illicit Inward Bound activities.
But I looked the woman up on Facebook and she turned out to be a soup-making, incense-burning, leaf-eating, happily-married lesbian.
Back to my original point….
Oh yeah, I've never been a collector. And at 44 years old it might too late to start collecting now. When my time comes, my kids and my grandkids can duke it out over the mass of financial forensics they' ll find in the garage.
"I want the cancelled checks of 1999."
"You can have them as long as I get the electricity and Internet bills from 2005-2007."
Thursday, September 24, 2015
The minute you take to social media to start plugging your book, is the minute you are bombarded with requests from other authors who want you to buy their book.
It becomes an instant zero-sum game.
You can barely see the brick on my front porch thanks to all the cardboard boxes that have just arrived from Amazon. Chances are I'll never get around to reading them, but I kept my word with friends and colleagues and fulfilled the time-honored notion of quid pro quo.
(Now checking Google to make sure I used the Latin phrase correctly)
One book I'm glad I've cracked open comes from Bob Hoffman.
I've never met Bob. Once, I did apply for a job at his old agency Hoffman/Lewis with the hope of moving up to San Francisco, buying a house overlooking Half Moon Bay and making weekend retreats to Carmel and Pebble Beach, but Bob never hired me. I didn't even merit a return phone call.
But you know me, I never hold a grudge.
Bob and I now know each other through the blogosphere. Bob is even older than me, I'm 44. And interestingly enough, it's old timers (dinosaurs, the kids like to call us) like myself, Bob, Jeff Gelberg and George Tannenbaum who are actually telling stories and making the most of social media.
This, despite the often heard knock, that we "just don't get it."
If you don't read Bob's blog, The Ad Contrarian, I suggest you do. After you've read Roundseventeen, of course.
Bob and I are cut from the same cloth, therefore it's not surprising that we share, or overshare, the same New York bluntness and philosophy. Here's a little excerpt that will demonstrate my point.
On the notion of being oneself in an ad agency, Bob suggests you don't.
To be successful in marketing, you have to be very careful not to be yourself.
* Do not speak in simple declarative sentences
* Do not express doubts about anything
* Do not tell your colleagues what pathetic kiss-asses they are
* Never disagree with highest ranking person in the room
* Remember, every sentence you speak must contain the word "brand" or "engagement"
* When a superior says the stupidest fucking thing you've ever heard, smile and nod.
Now you tell me. Where where you about 15 years ago?
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
I don't know if I've told you, but I'm Jewish.
I might have mentioned it in the past, after all what Jew doesn't beat that dead horse for all it's worth. Particularly when you traffic in ranting, raving and pointless bloviating, as Seinfeld once famously pointed out, Judaism is the bottomless goldmine of comedic material.
Today is Yom Kippur, a day of atonement.
As I've also mentioned in the past, I don't have much to atone for.
I don't smoke.
I don't drink (to excess. or often.)
I don't change lanes without signaling.
I don't let my dog out at all hours of the evening to bark and wake up the neighbors.
I don't fight with my wife (to excess. or often.)
I don't cause trouble at work.
I don't park in the handicapped space, despite my chronic rage disorder.
And I don't litter, though many people these days are.
More importantly, not only do I have little or nothing to atone for, I don't know who I'd be atoning to.
I don't know if I've told you, but I don't believe in God.
Or Pastafarian, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
In years past, this has never stopped me from slapping on my monkey suit, sitting in temple to listen to some Hebrew gibberish and then abstaining from food for 23 hours and 45 minutes.
I don't know why I did it, I just did. Perhaps to honor my parents, my grandparents and their parents, who were mercilessly beaten up by Kosacks and always chosen last for the soccer team.
But, as a mortally-conscious 44 year old, I have dissuaded myself of the notion that they are somehow looking down on me. And judging.
"Step away from the matza ball soup it's not sundown yet. Do you want to disgrace 3,000 or 4,000 or 5,000 years (the number is always changing) of Jewish history?"
But this year is different. I have two kids in college. Out of state college with outrageous out of state tuitions.
So this year, I'll probably be working on Yom Kippur.
And I probably won't be fasting either.
Unless the guilt thing starts kicking in.
And there's always a good chance of that.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
I try not to wade into presidential politics, particularly during an upcoming election season, but watching Ms. Fiorina command the stage and hearing about her past leadership at HP seemed like an engraved invitation.
I did some research and found that she was CEO of Hewlett Packard from 1999-2003.
I, myself have a short history with HP, starting in 1994.
Mr. Trump lambasted her for being unable to right the ship. Which begs the question, what kind of shape was the ship in before she took over.
This I know from first hand experience.
If you think of Apple under Steve Jobs as a benign dictatorship, Hewlett Packard, maker of the world's most fucked-up printers, was a decentralized model of dysfunctional Soviet communism, hung together with spit, band-aids and week-old snot.
My partner and I had the displeasure of managing the advertising for the Home Printing division. They were so decentralized at the time, they had a division (and a separate advertising agency) for every nut and bolt that emerged from their Boise Headquarters.
Printing Cartridges --- Y&R
Printing Ribbons -- JWT
Document Feeding Trays -- DDB
Electrical Chords -- McCann Erikson
Sliding Envelope Plastic Thingamajigs -- BBDO
I've never seen a company so completely, so utterly, so devastatingly mismanaged. And I'm 44 and have seen quite a bit.
To get one simple print ad approved and placed in a magazine, we had to earn the thumbs up of three marketing women, who insisted on focus grouping the ad in San Francisco, New York and Miami. Not coincidentally, cities where they could dine on exorbitantly expensive food and shop for Italian designer shoes.
They'd leave Idaho with a carry-on and an empty suitcase and return with enough footwear to sheath a small African village.
Between the lobsters tails and the Louboutins, they even managed to get a word in about the advertising.
It was never good.
The point is, Boise was a mess. Different agendas, budget hoarding, backstabbing and monumental, sometimes criminal inefficiency.
If Carly Fiorina couldn't get Boise in order, I doubt she'd have any better luck in D.C.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Oh no, you couldn't have possibly thought you'd escape with one or two Facebook posts about my new book and never hear another peep about it?
Besides, just weeks ago, right here, on this very blog, I warned you about the oncoming avalanche of self promotion.
Let's face it, the last time I published a book, Tuesdays with Mantu (if you want to call it that a book) was way back in 2005, when I was a naive Nigerian-goating 34 year old.
Today, I am wiser (debatable) and much savvier to ways of social media (also debatable.)
Also, it seems I might have left you with the mistaken notion that the book, Round Seventeen & 1/2 -- a stupid title that doesn't appear very easily on Google -- is merely a collection of essays, culled from the past 7 years of blogging.
That thought crossed my mind. But I am a Siegel, and as my family will attest, Siegels rarely take the easy route. And more often than not, we are rarely shown the easy route.
"Oh you want to visit the beautiful beaches of Cozumel. Here, rent these easy-to-drive mopeds and you will be there in un momento. Crashing? Nobody crashes a rented moped. Buenos dias amigo."
The book, is a collection of ALL-NEW (now I know why clients insist on saying that so often) short stories:
* about life in advertising
* about sex (if you've ever worked near the vicinity of Frank Gehry cardboard furniture you know there's always going to be rampant, illicit office sex)
* about death (if you've ever been saddled with a worthless, pea-brain client you've certainly entertained the notion about murder)
* about shitty food served in focus groups
* about the pernicious effects of alcohol consumption
* and finally, stories about revenge, reversal of fortune and redemption.
In other words, it's the feel good book of 2015.
I've been overwhelmed by the response so far. At this writing, the book is currently the 683rd most popular book on the Amazon book selling list.
Meaning, if this post results in one extra sale, we have a chance of surpassing:
Finally, and this is for housekeeping purposes. Some have asked whether there will be a Kindle version of Round Seventeen & 1/2? The answer is Yes.
As soon I figure out the html java script coding, I will confabulate the flik-flacks and pull the trigger on Kindle.
One final, final note, should you be inclined, feel free to leave a snarky, humorous review on the Amazon page. But you better bring your A-game, because I will bring mine.
Hell, that could be the beginning of my next book.
PS. One more big shout out to my friend Robert Prins for designing, redesigning, retweaking, and redesigning some more, the front cover. Robert took this assignment on like he takes every assignment on, with creativity, stamina, and 110% commitment. The folks at David and Goliath should be happy to have him.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
It's Thursday morning and my eyes are bleary.
And frankly, not worth a damn.
Last week, the proof of my manuscript came back from the publisher and to no one's surprise, particularly my wife, there were typos. This, despite the fact that I paid a proofreader to pick apart the document and spot the many errors. Every time I fixed a typo I found a place to tweak the wording. And every time I tweaked the wording I created more typos.
My back now has a permanent arch because of all the hours hunched over the computer fixing, tweaking and re-fixing this damn book. I've gone through the stories so many times they don't even seem funny or entertaining anymore. I'm convinced you'll agree.
So today, as I have done so many times in the past, I am going to give myself a little break.
No diatribe about advertising, parenting, God, Islamic terrorism or hairy, unwashed people in the swimming pool.
Just a snapshot I took (see above) of Jean Phillippe Paris, an eau de toilette I spotted on the shelves of a bait shop in Independence, California.
You might be wondering about the ethics of a copycat product like this, but the manufacturers of Jean Phillippe Paris have no such qualms. After all, they went out of their way to inform the educated eau de toilette consumer.
And they're absolutely right. For my money ($1.99) this smells nothing like Polo from Ralph Lauren.
But rubbed on an earthworm, it sure did catch a lot of trout.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
I'm a sucker for Click-bait headlines.
Man eats snake and you won't believe what happens. Turns out the snake was cut up into little bits and fried in garlic oil. The guy got diarrhea.
Couple rents guesthouse to two-headed alien. The two headed alien turned out to be a ventriloquist from Uruguay traveling on a bad visa.
Aided by a bottlenose dolphin, woman gives birth to 9lbs. baby boy. OK, that one wasn't click bait.
This is a real thing. And it's happening more and more among the post-millennial crowd who swear by artisanally grown cilantro and homeopathic herbal cancer cures.
What the fuck is wrong with these people? I think they have their Trilby hats on too tight and are not getting enough oxygen to their progressive pea-sized brains.
I've lived in California a long time.
And have been exposed to all kinds of self-improvement bullshit.
I've heard friends talk about having their chakras re-aligned. I had the wheels on my old Nissan Pathfinder re-aligned, cost me 279 bucks.
I've seen people go on 10 day cleanses. "I'm on Day 8. Ground up lemon rinds for breakfast, lunch and dinner."
And I know several folks who have done the sweat lodge thing. I don't need to sit in a lodge made of twigs and sealed with lichen moss to fire up a sweat, I work in advertising and have clueless planners, indecisive creative directors and cowering clients to do the trick.
I'm an FDA-approved lover of Big Pharma. Two weeks ago, I started coming down with a chest cold. My doctor wrote me a scrip for an extra-strong anti-biotic, Prednizone (a steroid), two inhalers, and a bottle of codeine-enhanced antihistamine that not only provided a good buzz, but knocked the stuffing of that bronchitis.
Problem now is, because the bronchitis has been dispatched, I can't get any more refills on the cough medicine.
And that's how you know something is good. When the government says you can't have any more of it.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Last week, we commemorated the attacks of 9/11. I made the conscious choice to post this horrifying image on my Facebook page.
It got a reaction. I knew it would.
Many saw it for what it was, a stark, painful reminder of the hopelessness and helplessness we came face to face with that day.
Others, who are entitled to their opinion, took me to task for what they saw as exploitative provocation. Perhaps they're right. But had they seen Friday's night's episode of the Bill Maher show, they might agree that we are in dire need of a little provocation.
Because, like it or not, the threat we unknowingly faced on 9/10/01 is exponentially greater today.
The Al Qaeda boys have been supplanted by ISIS, who don't operate in secret cells or train in hidden well-camoflouged camps.
They have their own country, a Caliphate no less. If you're not familiar with the term, I suggest you look it up. A Caliphate doesn't abide by international laws of sovereignty. A Caliphate is Manifest Destiny in its most evil form. There is only one border it recognizes, the line that separates man from Allah.
Moreover, the ISIS push to conquer land in Iraq and in Syria has displaced millions of moderate Muslims. Creating the worst refugee problem since World War II.
And where are these refugees going? Not to nearby Saudi Arabia (one of the wealthiest countries on the planet) or Kuwait or Qatar. The Gulf States, within a bus ride from Syria, predominately Sunni Muslim and Arabic speaking, have taken in NONE of the refugees. None.
How does this jive with the notion of the Ummah (look it up) and the idea of Muslim brotherhood?
The refugees are going to Europe. And guess who wants them to go to Europe? The same people who dream of an all encompassing Caliphate and who created the name EurAbia. It's part and parcel of al hijrah, another term you should be familiar with.
Frankly, I don't know if the extreme Islamists could be any clearer with their intentions.
They said they would take down the World Trade Center, they did.
They said they will conquer Europe, by any means possible, they are.
And they said they will destroy Israel, as well as the Great Satan (the US) and institute Sharia law and all its wonderful precepts of dhimmitude (look that up too). Why would we not take them at their word?
I'm afraid the picture of a solitary man falling to his death is not just a picture of a solitary man falling to his death.
In light of our willingness to bury our collective heads in the sand and ignore the threat, it is a menacing metaphor for the future of western civilization.
Monday, September 14, 2015
It's a miracle.
Not like other legendary miracles that have visited my people. Like when one day's worth of lamb oil lasted 8 days and staved off an attack by Roman Centaurians.
Or when the Lord appeared on Earth as a burning rhododendron tree and told Moses his people should be set free after only 400 years of slavery. Not right away mind you, he had to put on his little dog and pony and locust and murrain show before that could happen.
Or even when my uncle showed up on my birthday, bearing a gift I would actually use -- a regulation Wilson Football -- and not itchy, woolen pants from Saks Fifth Ave.
Not like those miracles, but a miracle nonetheless.
You see, last week, after fighting with my cargo shorts, which had been falling off my waist lately, I stepped on a scale and noticed I had lost close to 15 lbs. I'm back below 200, where I haven't been in quite a while.
Losing 15 lbs. may not seem like much to you, but for someone who has been battling weight since my first breath of oxygen, it's noteworthy. Particularly since it happened so fast and without much effort.
What's the secret, you may be asking. Well, I'm going to give you the recipe:
Two daughters leaving the nest for college
Add equal parts of finishing a manuscript for a book of short stories that will surely hasten my professional demise
Throw in a Mexican vacation with no viable access to cash, a moped fiasco and enough seaweed to cover the state of Delaware
Mix in a tumbling stock market and the near daily calls from my broker to "stay the course"
Finally, for good measure, add a pinch of a heat wave and another summer without air conditioning
That, my friends is how you concoct the Siegel Stress Souffle.
The irony here is that I've been losing weight without trying to lose weight. I've actually been exercising a little less (60 minutes versus my usual 90) and eating less because I just don't have the appetite lately. So the whole thing has been effortless. Which is sort of like icing on the cake.
Maybe it's a sign that I need to give up the life of a freelance writer and go back on staff at an agency? Where there's no stress.
And free bagels.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Last week Google unveiled its new revamped logo. Here, in the picture above, we can see two Stanford-educated millennials, who majored in industrial design and minored in Organic Chemistry, Quantum Physics and International Geo-Politics, discussing the angle of curvature on the lower portion of the letter 'g.'
"It's too swoopy. And indicates we are a soft, malleable company without a direction or strategy for the future."
"On the other hand, if the angle is too abrupt, it says we are a robotic company without a stake in humanity.Mmmmm?"
"Let's schedule a 2 A.M. loopback session with the team."
"I'll reserve the Armageddon War Room."
"I'll have my assistant order the Pad Thai noodles."
And that's where we are at in America.
Refreshing logos, while the Chinese figure out how to make things better, cheaper and faster. While India transcends the boundaries of time and space and talks us through all our customer service and software problems. And while Israel creates and develops the kind of advanced technology that even the most ardent BDS supporters can't wait to get their hands on.
We tweak logos.
We remove serifs.
We put out billion dollar press releases patting ourselves on the back for this remarkable advancement.
I don't say this enough, but I've been fortunate enough to make a career in advertising. Where, despite all the insanity, I have worked with some of the smartest, funniest, most creative people on the planet.
I've seen people tackle the most complex marketing problems and author solutions that are nothing less than remarkable in their beauty, simplicity and "Damn-I-wish-I-would-have-thought-of-that"ness.
Of course, nine times out of ten, those solutions were met by a stone-faced client…
"What else have you got?"
I've seen resilience. Talented writers, artists, and thinkers, sent back to the drawing board over and over again. And delivering answers, again and again and again. Some better than the first. Others, not so much.
And I've seen dogged determination. There's a kid who works at an agency where I often put in some gigs. He must be a cyborg. No one works harder. Or longer (a lot longer than I ever could or would.) He does amazing things with PhotoShop. And has a better work ethic than 535 members of Congress.
It all has me scratching my head, wondering how have we managed to waste so much good intellectual capitol on banner ads, digital gadgets and TV commercials that have a shelf life of a terminally-ill housefly?
Maybe I'll do some research on the topic.
Bet I can find the answer over on Google.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
I know what you're thinking.
It's Wednesday, September 9th, why aren't you and your wife at Black Rock, Nevada for the Burning Man festival?
From the body paint and the balloon head adornments you might have mistaken the couple in the picture for my wife and I, but rest assured. It's not us. We're in Culver City. Coming home from the supermarket.
"Why did you buy the Pike's Roast? You know I like the Starbuck's Breakfast Blend. That other coffee gives me heartburn."
Oh shit, you say, here's comes another Old Man Rant about crazy kids and their crazy antics.
But, actually no.
I like debauchery as much as the next fellow.
I like drinking to excess and letting my hair down, Hair #138.
I like letting loose under a starlit Nevada desert sky.
I like avante garde art, like this fascinating piece.
And you certainly won't hear me grouse about all the ample nipple exposure.
So what, other than a mortgage, two college tuitions, and the volatile stock market, keeps me from packing up the Lexus 460 LS and joining 100,000 professional partiers in the 110 degree heat?
If you've been a fan of RoundSeventeen you know the answer can best be summed up with one of our previous tag lines:
"L'enfer, c'est les autres."
Or as Jean-Paul Sarte famously said, "Hell is other people."
Burning Man would be so much better for me if it didn't include so many other people at Burning Man.
Guys in pithe helmets, gone.
Guys in Steampunk attire, gone.
Guys in ironic Boy Scout uniforms, Speedos, body paint, horned hats, feather appendages, welders glasses, Elvis wigs, Native American costumes, puka shells, or any Nazi insignia, gone, gone and even more gone.
All those pretentious adornments are fine on women.
And in fact, I would encourage the 50,000 female Burning Man Attendees to have at it.
You see, ideally, My Burning Man Festival would include, a small smattering: a bunch of my friends, advertising colleagues, high school buddies and camping cohorts.
A cadre of fireworks professionals.
And the aforementioned 50,000 painted, slathered in oil, nearly naked uninhibited woman.
Oh, and I guess I'd have to invite my wife, too.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
They're goes my baby.
I nursed her from the beginning. Probably should have paid more attention to the details. But watched as she grew and grew. And reached full maturation. I know I should show some humility, but she's beautiful. And yesterday the full, corrected manuscript for my new book was sent off to the publisher.
Oh, by the way, my oldest daughter also shipped off to the University of Washington.
So now I am officially an Empty Nester. And if you looked at my recent portfolio statements and the dwindling savings accounts, you'd agree "empty" is the appropriate descriptor.
Two out-of-state college tuition bills, an ill-fated, choking-on-seaweed Mexican vacation, and the purchase of every dog barking repelling product known to the Amazon shopper, have left yours truly with just enough money for a bowl of sneaker soup.
Also, as if that weren't enough, it seems the business is in its late summer slowdown mode. And recruiters are shifting away from the skills that once seemed important in this business.
"We need a freelance copywriter with SEO expertise."
"I didn't see any Vines, case studies or SnapChat Chats on your portfolio page."
"We're moving away from words and pictures, those are so 20th century, have you done any work with emojis?"
But I'm a fast learner.
But I didn't get to be a grizzled 44 year old copywriter vet without rolling over some rough patches or downed rented Mopeds in the road.
I know if there's one thing that appeals to agency brass, more than well-manicured beards, stingy brim Fedoras, impossibly-attractive job-hunting sorority girls, and space-efficient, sweatshop-assembly tables…er, "creative collaboration community centers", it's the prospect of saving money.
So in order to refill the coffers and refill them fast, this old schooler is going Old School.
Announcing my End of Year, Let's-Get-the-Siegel-Girls-Through College Clearance Days.
In the parlance of hood-pounding dealership showroom hawkers, "It's the best time of the year to get the best freelance copywriter on the planet.*"
SUPER LEGAL: Claims based on specious research and may not be valid in all 50 states. Best has not been approved by the FTC and/or the Google legal team. Planet does not include certain areas of lower Manhattan, Portland, Oregon, and the entire country of Brazil. Supply is limited. And discounts do not entitle purchaser to demand copywriting after 7:30 PM. And/or weekends. Certain restrictions do apply.
Day rate prices have been slashed.
Ok, maybe slashed is not the right word. Appropriately trimmed.
And the factory is announcing generous cash back incentives on longer term assignments.
What are you waiting for?
Those manifestos aren't going to write themselves. There's chest-beating, corporate puff pieces and brand re-alignments that must be done. And though it's only September, the Super Bowl is just 6 months away. You can't go to the Big Dance unless you've demoralized an entire creative Department and burned through 178 scripts. If you're lucky.
Pfffft, I've got 177 Super Bowl dead scripts in my files just waiting to have some logos replaced.
Command USA Today Poll.
It's just that easy.
Just like the Syracuse Football Team win streak, this Sales event won't last forever. Pick up the phone, email firstname.lastname@example.org, get me in your office and discover what so many have discovered before.
"He looks terrible for 44."
Use PROMO CODE: VOLUME GUY
Thursday, September 3, 2015
It's been close to two months since we visited the Eastern Sierras for our yearly camping trip.
So imagine my surprise when I ran across this treasure trove of B&W postcards stashed in the back of my duffel bag.
I remember coming across these vintage gems while re-upping our stock of rum at the local Chevron station/Liquor store/bait shop and thinking, "Only two bucks a piece, I'll gladly pay you $10 for these original snapshots of genuine, early California mountain humor."
Now, in retrospect and with the benefit of sobriety, I can see that was just the combination of alcohol and altitude talking.
They're just not 10 dollars worth of funny.
But it is the end of the week.
And I've spent a lot more than six bucks for a blog posting.
A lot more.
Have a nice weekend.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Last week I received 10 identical emails.
These were not spam; the latest advancements in penile enlargement, romantic inquiries from Nigerian princesses or Helpful Tips for Writing the Perfect Resume (no one wants to look at the resume of a 44 year old copywriter, no one.)
The identical email regarded an article written by the late Linds Redding, a former art director who worked at Saatchi and BBDO. The piece, entitled A Short Lesson in Perspective can be seen here.
"Have you seen this, Rich?"
It was written three years ago but has somehow resurfaced on the Interwebs.
And repeatedly, in my Inbox.
I guess, because of my constant ranting, I have become a poster child for a better life/work balance. Please note that I have purposefully placed life before work.
I wrote a response to Mr. Redding's article three year's ago and indeed it is one of the Top Ten posts on RoundSeventeen. It's entitled, "I'm Outtahere" and you can see it just to the right of this column.
In three years the situation has not improved. In fact, it has gotten worse. A few weeks ago, a colleague posted a screen grab of a Meeting Notice Invitation. The notification was sent out at 3 AM for a reconvening of late night working employees to gather around in the big conference room at 4 AM!!!
People, the line has been crossed.
Unless you're pulling home a 7 digit compensation or have a piece of agency equity, chances are you are standing on the wrong side of that line.
Mr. Redding and I are not alone in this opinion.
Head on over to glassdoor.com and read some of the reviews on agency life, any agency, and you will see there is widespread concurrence on the issue. Just not by management, who seem to abide by the maxim…
"The floggings will continue until the morale improves."
But by the people who actually do the work.
It's out in the open. And it's being written about every day on the Internet.
Imagine if you ran a seafood restaurant. And night after night, diners were going home and logging on to Yelp to warn others about the rancid shrimp or the foul mussels. But you've chosen to ignore those loudmouths because your restaurant has an excellent view of the bay. Eventually, the heavy chains will be going up on the front door and beefy moving guys will be collecting the table linens and barstools and putting them up for auction.
In other words, agency C-Suiters and Holding Company officers:
It's time to do something because the clam chowder has gone bad.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
We all know about the strong El Nino developing in the Pacific and its promise of unusually-high and much-needed precipitation here on the West Coast.
With any luck our reservoirs will be replenished.
Our snow pack will be thicker and deeper than ever.
And my lawn will take on a greener shade of brown.
But today, I'm here to warn you of a different type of onslaught.
You see, last weekend, after much noodling, proofreading, tweaking, cover redesigning, formatting, more noodling and check writing, I finally sent off the manuscript for my new book, Round Seventeen &1/2, The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Inefficient.
And that can only mean one thing: endless, shameless, annoying, overbearing, suffocating self promotion.
You've been warned.
And if you're a reader of this blog you've been witness to my obnoxious perseverance. 1300 blog entries, some of them actually good, don't just happen overnight. As my fellow bloggers can attest, it takes discipline, caffeine and a willingness to rehash the obvious just to stay one step ahead of the writer's block.
I am apologizing in advance, but I just want you to be aware of what's coming.
I'm going to plug.
Then, when I start getting emails and tweets begging me to stop, I'm going to plug some more.
I might ask you to write a review on Amazon.
I might ask you to share any digital ink on FaceBook.
I might ask you to come to a book signing or a reading, though this is highly unlikely as I'm not given to public performances due to my problems with excessive perspiration.
The point is, I'm going to be relentless. And won't rest until my new book sits on the toilet lid of every person working in advertising. Or until I've fully recuperated the costs for this literary catastrophe.
Whichever comes first.