Thursday, June 28, 2018

Senator Dipshit


Thursday Thrashing letter #20.

Today: Senator James Inhofe -- Oklahoma's only Mensa.

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6.27.18

Senator James Inhofe
205 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3603

Dear Senator Inhofe,

We're heading into the dog days of summer. Are you still making snowballs?

To be honest, I did a Google search and re-watched your snowball escapade in the halls of Congress. I had to convince myself someone could actually be that stupid. Holding up a snowball as evidence to debunk global warming is akin to holding up a rock and suggesting there is no intelligent life on Earth. 

Though, in your case, I'd be inclined to accept the premise.

Damn, you are one dull-witted son of a bitch. 

I'm kicking myself in the pants for waiting this long to get to you. See, I've been writing letters to every Republican in the US Senate and surprisingly, your letter has been preceded by 19 others. Which gives you some clue as to the monumental cluelessness of your brown-nosing colleagues.

If I may indulge in some further transparency, I'm going to take it pretty easy on you Senator, even though the 20,000 regular readers of my blog love when I take the thrashing stick to one of you clods.

The reasons are twofold.

You simply haven't done much in your 20 plus year career in the Senate. Rubberstamping Precedent Shitgibbon's idiocy hardly counts as an achievement.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I find myself beat down today. 

Watching our democracy and the vanguard of the free world circle the toilet bowl is quite draining. I'm sure it doesn't bother you to see our Supreme Court legitimize religious discrimination, but it cuts deeply into my Hebraic roots.

And I'm sure you're equally indifferent to the plight of Central American babies snatched from the arms of their asylum-seeking mothers. White privilege, like an American Express Black Card, is something I will never understand.

Besides Senator, when all is said and done your legacy has been cemented in time. There is nothing I can say or write to detract from it. You are now, and will always be, that guy with the handful of sooty DC snow. 

And a century from now when your great, great grandchildren are scouring our dystopic landscape looking for fresh water and maybe a few cockroaches to eat, they might stumble upon an old history book that somehow escaped the tsunami of seawater that arose from the melted ice caps. 

And in that tattered history book they will see how you bravely fought off the big bad Nobel Prize winning scientists and climatologists with their fancy data and dire global warming projection models and they will read how you slew them like David did to Goliath, with your powerful, perfectly-formed snowball.

Nice work, Jimmy, nice work.




Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City, CA 90232







Wednesday, June 27, 2018

In the Bowl


I find myself surfing around on FishBowl quite a bit lately.

For those of you who unfamiliar, FishBowl is the mobile online app designed specifically for people in the advertising community. It's where they can go to bitch, moan, gripe and snipe at each other behind the ever-protective one way glass of anonymity.

I'm 44, have been in the business forever as well as a devil-may-care attitude, and frankly don't need the shield of invisibility.

Fishbowl was preceded by the once wildly popular AgencySpy.com, but since they eliminated the often ribald and hilarious comment section, they get fewer check-ins than the scooter riding staff at FourSquare.

To be sure, the anonymous comment section at AgencySpy was their raison d'ĂȘtre. It would be as if Red Lobster stopped selling lobster.

"Hey boss, what do we do with all these nutcrackers?"

The discussion threads on FishBowl are quite interesting and wildly diverse. Judging from the unseasoned tone of the questions, I'm guessing most of the people posting are new to the business and in their twenties.

"My copywriting partner has the worst spelling. Plus, he makes grammatical errors all the time. I often have to fix his work. Should I say something to him or just buck up?"

"My art director has a weird odor. I don't know if it's because she's from another country but it's hard to sit next to her at the table. It's like a cross between garlic and Round Up Weed Killer. Does anybody else have a smelly partner?"

"I just got offered a job as a Creative Director in NYC. The job offers unlimited vacation days and pays $65K. Does that seem right?"

If that doesn't tell you about the sorry state of our business, perhaps this will.

There's an entire section of FishBowl cordoned off for people experiencing Mental Health Issues. I'm not making light of anyone's problems, but in my day, people eschewed established fields like accounting, healthcare and management and opted to get into advertising because they had, and celebrated, their mental issues. I know I did.

One last note.

There is a preponderance of questions from current agency staffers asking if they should go freelance.

And never the other way around.

I wonder why that is.






Tuesday, June 26, 2018

101 Secrets to Writing Funny


I'm gonna let you in on a little secret.

I'm not a writer, I only play one on the internet. Here's another little secret, every other writer in the world, even the ones that are famous and make shitgobs of money, have the same inadequate feelings of fraudulence. It goes with the territory.

It also stems from the fact that much of what we do falls into the category of, "I don't know what I'm doing, I'm making this up as I go along."

Literally.

Nevertheless, as one perpetuates this little sham year after year you begin to discover some of the hidden little scaffolding that makes it all work. Particularly when it comes to humor.

Some are obvious.

For instance, certain vegetables are funnier than others. Cucumbers are funnier that romaine lettuce. Zuchinni is funnier than kale. Brussel Sprouts are funnier than anything in my entire refrigerator.

Some are less obvious.

Take numbers as an example. There's nothing inherently funny about numbers. Nothing. Nada. Zero. But, as crazy as this may sound, odd numbers are funnier than the even ones. How do I know this? For one thing, I told myself that. Here's a note I sent to myself five months ago...


Also, Dick Sittig, a legend in the ad business told me.

About nine years ago I was freelancing as his place. (Note I didn't say eight years ago, which might have been more accurate, but I chose nine.) He shared his three rules of comedy writing, of which was, "when you have an opportunity to write a number always pick an odd one."

And since at the time he was driving a brand new 2009 BMW 7 Series and had won 531 advertising awards, I figured the odds of him being correct were much better than 51-49.

It's why this blog is Round Seventeen not Round Sixteen or Eighteen. And it's why if you go back and pick any one of the 1953 posts on this site you'll find a zillion odd numbers and maybe a handful of even ones. Maybe.

It's a little detail, that accounts for .00027% of all the content found here, but it's part of the craft -- such as it is.

Of course, had I been paying attention I would have saved this article for a more appropriate date and not published it on 6/26/18.

I'm such an idiot.








Monday, June 25, 2018

"The flogging will continue until I go to Cannes next year."


You have my sympathy.

You've always had my sympathy, assuming most of you work at an ad agency and have become accustomed to the daily floggings, the unproductive meetings, the flip flopping strategies and the ceaseless demand for FFDKK, Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™.

Today, however is special. And not in a good way. Because today they're back. And by they I mean the Adverati, those privileged few in our industry who will now be sporting farmer tans due to the excessive time spent in the Riviera sun.

Not only will they be bringing last minute trinkets for the homebound staff (you), jump drives full of blurry photos documenting their Cannes debauchery, and rip roaring tales of stinky cheeses and champagne-fueled yacht rides, they'll be returning with something far more ominous -- Inspiration.

Oh god save us all.
(Again, not me, you.)

"I saw this Instagram flip book put together by a team in Malaysia that was just amazeballs."

"The work they're doing in Lichtenstein would blow you away. They figured out how to make 1/2 second commercials."

"These guys in Israel, I didn't even know we had an office in Israel, are doing 3D printing. In the sky!"

Even worse, is the expectation that you will take their inspiration and spin it into next year's Lion Gold. That expectation will be married to the exhortation to work harder, work longer and push the limits. Why work 75 hours a week when you could be working 85? Why go home at 9 o'clock at night when fame and fortune are just around the corner at 10 o'clock? And weekends?

"You don't need to take weekends off. We met a team in Yemen that hadn't had a weekend off since Bush was in office. And their offices had just been bombed by militia rebels."

Anyway, best of luck muddling through the Pep talks and the Ra-Ra memos.

I hope it won't take up too much of your time because those banner ads for Pepcid Maximum Strength aren't going to write themselves. And the planner working on the Tempurpedic Labor Day Mattress Sale wants to show the client 20 different CTA's.

Happy Lion Hunting.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

This guy broke the mold


Letter #19 in my Thursday thrashing Series.

Just when I think I have mined this vein and couldn't possibly find a bigger doucheweasel Republican, one comes slithering out of the swamp.

Today it's David Perdue, another dead ringer for the pedophile Senator from the Godfather.

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6.19.18

Senator Perdue
455 Russell Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator,

You're a peach. 

That's not a just a semi-clever reference to your standing as Georgia's junior senator, I mean you're a peach. 

As in one of a kind.  
A standout.  
Unique in every sense of the word.

Let's face it, you're not one of the handful of US Republican Senators who normally grabs a headline or even gets digital ink on the interwebs. But yesterday, you changed all that. You bravely ventured into the dangerous waters of our current immigration crisis -- and yes, separating babies from their mothers merits the word crisis -- and you took a stand, albeit one that might be associated with a Vichy collaborator or a career minded colonel in the Third Reich.

At a Senate Press Conference designed to address  $15 billion in wasteful spending cuts, you said, "This (the spending) is the No. 1 topic in America today."

Adding that the situation at the border where young children were being pried away from their mothers by uncaring border patrol agents was simply, "...the current shiny object of the day."

 Bravo, Senator, Bravo.

You have given the word cavalier new meaning, new context and new resonance. That's no small feat.

Of course, this should come as no surprise. You literally have a Black Belt and a PhD in Cavalierness, stemming from your long storied business career. 

Following your time at Georgia Tech, where you were a brother at the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity --how surprising --you put in time at Sara Lee, Haggar, Reebok, and Pillowtex. 

You remember Pillowtex don't you, Senator?

You spent 9 months there. 

Enough time to give birth to a generous compensation package of $1.7 million. While simultaneously driving the company into the ground and pink slipping 7,650 workers. The closing resulted in the largest single-day job loss in the history of North Carolina. 

Peachy.

With that kind of financial acumen, is it any wonder you found your way into our esteemed halls of Congress?

It goes a long way towards explaining your indifference to the suffering of these brown "people", I use quotations marks because I'm not certain that you see them as fellow human beings.

I can just picture you and your wife and your two sons David Jr. (that's not clichĂ©) and your other son Blake (nor is that) gathered round the huge 70 inch flat screen 4K TV in your palatial estate on Sea Island, downing a pitcher of mint juleps and watching the drama at our southern border unfold. 

I have no problem imagining you, perhaps in a seersucker suit or at the very least proudly wearing a flag pin in the lapel of your navy blue blazer, sitting in your leather club chair and taking no small amount of glee in the plight of a screaming mother who just watched her 17 month old daughter being hauled off to a Tender Age Shelter.

And then in a mighty display of cavalierism, I can hear you topping your colleague and fellow warrior of the Fourth Reich, Corey Lewandowski, issuing the following response...

"Womp. Womp. Womp."

Have a nice day, Assclown.



Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City, CA 90232




Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Clueless in Culver City


My wife hates me.

More specifically, she hates me when I get the final Jeopardy answer right and she doesn't. And neither do any of the three whiz kids on the show.

She will literally turn to me and say, "I hate you." I'm not sure if my excessive gloating has anything to do with these ill feelings, but this scenario has played itself out in our home many times.

I can't recall what the question was. Or even the answer. I have this amazing ability to warehouse a wealth of useless knowledge in my oversized cranium, but when it comes to short term memory, I turn to shit. I spent the better part of this morning looking for my reading glasses. Mind you, I have ten pair of reading glasses scattered about the house, but I needed to find my favorite pair.

The point of this long winded ramble?

I may know a little about a lot, but I certainly don't know a lot about a little.

In other words, I've come to view myself as a generalist. And this admitted superficiality has served me well in my career in advertising. It has allowed me to write, with faux authority, on any number of topics, everything from high performance automobiles to middle shelf scotch whiskey to lady's beauty products to billion dollar CRM software platforms.

And yet there are two topics of which I possess no knowledge. None. Not a sliver. More importantly, I never want to.

What is Blockchain?

and

What is Bitcoin?

I have attempted to school myself on both, but due to an Atavan I took back in 2014, found myself sleeping before getting past the first paragraph. I just  don't have the stomach or inclination to spend any of my time learning about these two...I'm so ignorant, I don't even know what you'd call them.

I'm also convinced that in five years time nobody will remember either of the two and they will be consigned to dustbin of useless technology. Of course, I don't want to be close-minded on the topic. If any of you have a concise, easy to digest explanation, I'm more than willing to entertain your submission.

Just Slack it over to me.




Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I Cannes't Even


It's that time of the year again.

All my colleagues, well at the least the ones that are more talented, more ambitious and more skilled at climbing the corporate ladder, are feasting and gorging themselves (at the expense of other ad agency personnel who haven't had a raise or a bonus in a dozen years) in Cannes in the south of France.

Do you detect some sour Cabernet grapes?

Of course you do.
I've made no secret of my disdain for this lavish and useless bacchanalia of fedora hats, ill-fitting Speedos and Scaramucci-worthy ass licking.

In fact, I've gone through the past 10 years of RoundSeventeen and noticed I had a written a blog about Cannes each and every year.

I've poked fun at the not-so-prescient panels.

I've riffed on the gluttony.

I've done a number on the number of entries.

I've dinged the drooling fascination with all things digital including the Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™.

And last year, I did an itemized bill for what the average Cannes goer spends in a day. If you're an account executive or a media planner working 73 hours a week and haven't had a weekend off since Bin Laden was killed, you don't want to look at those numbers.

In short, I've said and written about all I can say on the matter of Cannes.
I can't say any more.

Except this.

If the point of all this wining, dining, yachting, drinking, "thinking" and canoodling is to inspire clients and creatives alike. If its purpose it to help us break through and land on big ideas that fuel commerce and push our collective culture in a new direction. If Cannes is meant be the spark that ignites new thinking, new media, new possibilities that will propel our industry and change the vector of capitalism for decades to come, then I have one simple question.

Where is the work?


Monday, June 18, 2018

Russia, Russia, Russia.


Russia is in the news again.

When is it not?

As many of you might have noticed I have a Russia obsession. Partly because my father's family hails from that part of the world. Actually not sure if it was Russia per se, it could have been Poland or Ukraine or some other god forsaken shtetl in Eastern Europe that people would have paid good money to escape.

It's my understanding that back in the late 1800's, early 1900's, the borders of that region were quite fluid. Not that it matters, because to this layman, there was very little difference in the people who inhabited that snowy, ugly, grimy corner of the world. It didn't matter what flag they were under, they worked their shitty jobs, they ate bad potato soup, they got drunk on cheap vodka and they beat up Jews and took their hats.

But don't get me wrong, I still love the place.

And I'm not alone. I have to give a shout out to my fellow copywriting colleague Chris Puoy, who is in Moscow at this moment, researching and filming a documentary about his grandmother. I am in awe of his audacity on this one. I'm also indebted to Chris who, just a few weeks ago, connected me to a client for a remote freelance gig -- the best kind-- that has the potential to be a long running thing.

In appreciation, I have dug in and found some more pictures and profiles from the Russian dating Sites. This is for Chris as well as the world's premier soccer players who might be looking to sample the local flavor.




This is Evgeniya Shvedov. Don't let those flowers and that innocent face fool you, she's quite the tiger. Her last lover lost an arm and suffered a broken pelvis in a Valentine's Day evening gone wild, but as he was recovering in Leningrad Municipal Hospital, he told the doctors, "it was worth every minute of it."


Say hello to Gavrilla Bunin. She hopes to meet an American man who will sweep her off her feet, marry her and bring her back to the States where they will live in a bungalow style house, with a white picket fence, satellite TV and a backyard big enough to raise a pack of feral weasels.


This is Viktoria Kupchenko. Though eager to meet a young soccer player, Viktoria can be quite picky. When asked, she said she wants a player "with a good header. Someone who can pull off a bicycle kick. And he's got to have excellent footwork." Then she winked.


The lovely Ludmilla Tsarapkin. Two dozen roses, a red satin teddy, indoor plumbing AND indoor plumbing cleaning tools (lower left hand corner), Ludmilla's dating game is strong. Very strong.


Hello, I'm Klava Ryndenko. Clearly, Russian women have a fascination with toilets. But Klava is doing it all wrong. The stubby Donald Trump hands. The exposed rusty pipes. The stained polyester blouse. And the cigarette lighter on the vanity. Come on Klava, smoking is so 2009. Girl, you have to up to your game. See Ludmilla.







Thursday, June 14, 2018

Idaho's finest.


Thursday Thrashing.

Letter Number 18.

To Senator Mike Crapo, the jokes practically write themselves.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6.13.18

Senator Mike Crapo
239 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mike,

Let's get to the good stuff first: your name.

One might contend that you are the most aptly named US Senator (I know all 51 because I am currently on a campaign to hand write letters to every Republican Senator for no other reason but to amuse myself and vent my DefCon Level One rage.)

The truth is, Crappy, that honor goes to three of your colleagues, Senator GrASSley, Senator BarASSo, and Senator SASSe, all of whom demonstrate a level of ASShattery that befits their moniker.

But let's not diminish the crappy job you have done representing the fine cattle ranchers, farmers and white supremacists in Idaho.

I took the liberty of looking over your Wiki page, because let's face it no one in America, with the exception of some ammo sexual Neo-Nazis in Coeur d'Alene, knows who you are or what you've done.

Let's just say I was not disappointed in the least. When it comes to being a crappy person, you sir are more than worthy of the title.

And I'm not just referring to your 2012 arrest for drunk driving as well as your encore DUI performance when you got arrested again in 2013. (Mmmmm, vodka)

Which is odd considering you describe yourself as faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Drinking and driving doesn't seem so saintly to me. If you were smart like our current EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt you would have had a special bulletproof limo built for your late night binge drinking escapades.

I also see that you supported a bill that would make it illegal for a 17-year-old girl to cross state lines and get a legal abortion. Funny, I was under the mistaken impression that one of the tenets of Republicanism was the notion of smaller government and less intrusion into our civil rights.  How could I have gotten that so wrong?

What I find most impressive, Senator, is your "who gives a crap" attitude towards gun violence. 

In 2012, when 20 families in Sandy Hook, CT were busy burying their 6 and 7 year old children who were mowed down by an AR-15, you promised to filibuster any attempt by the Democrats to institute any sane gun control laws whatsoever. So noble.

But your empathy knows no bounds. 

In 2017, you introduced the Hearing Protection Act. Making it easier for pistol aficionados to purchase and use gun silencers. You're not just out there at the forefront to safeguard the rights of gun owners, you're manning the front lines to protect the hearing abilities of anybody who might find themselves within gunshot range. 

Because the opportunity to listen to the patriotic musings of Toby Keith or Trace Adkins surely trumps the rights of sloppy kindergartners who might want to play with the Legos and do figure paintings in a safe school environment. 

That's the type of forward thinking that is emblematic of today's GOP, and more importantly, just what one would expect from a guy named Mike Crapo.

Have a nice day,




Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City, CA 90232 



  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

That'll be $23.


"There's a new coffee shop opening in my neighborhood."

The most commonly heard phrase of the 21st century.
Followed closely by...

"That new coffee shop in the neighborhood is closing."

Followed even closer by...

"Holy shit, did you see what that dim, frothy twatweasel tweeted this morning?"

But let's get back to the coffee shop and the silliest of all endeavors, the journey into retail.

Years ago, while planning my erstwhile escape from advertising, I considered sinking my savings into an entrepreneurial adventure. I was planning on opening a tiny shop somewhere in WestLA, maybe on Robertson, in order to attract customers from all the adjacent affluent neighborhoods.

The idea was quite simple -- I would sell brisket. That's it, brisket. Oh we'd have some of the accompaniments like mac & cheese, cole slaw, potatoes, beans and rice, but the main attraction was brisket, which we would sell to go, by the pound.

Here's the hook, you could have your brisket Texas style. Cooked low and slow, just the way they serve it in Austin. Bubba's Brisket.

Or you could have your brisket Brooklyn style. Slathered in onions, veggies and schmaltz, just the way your nana would serve it. Bubby's Brisket.

Hence the name, Bubba and Bubby's Brisket Factory.

Not a bad idea. But the math wasn't there. Just like the math is not there for 99% of all retail.

Between the initial investment, the cost of equipment, the cost of raw material (the brisket), the cost of labor, the cost of insurance, the cost of operations, and the cost of marketing ( I know firsthand how those ad types can rake people over the coals) I figured that to make anywhere near a profit, I'd have to charge $159 for a single slice of brisket.

I knew I could make good brisket, I just wasn't convinced people would spend that much for it.

I'm convinced what's bad news for brisket is also bad news for sellers of books, biscuits, baskets, and all manner of brick a brack. You have to sell a lot of shit just to make a nickel.

I wish the folks opening the new coffee shop in my neighborhood the best of luck. But unless I wake up one morning and see a line of waiting customers that stretches all the way to Boyle Heights, I'm thinking today's cup of java will soon be replaced by tomorrow's Harry's House of Canned Hams.




Tuesday, June 12, 2018

down for the count


The weekend festivities -- celebrating my daughter's college graduation, not the TrumpKim Summit/PhotoOp -- have sapped me of all my energy. 

We will return to the regularly scheduled ranting, raving, bitching, moaning, griping, sniping, and stream of consciousness blurting, tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Graduate and the Daduate

(10/12/13)


On October 12, 2013 we visited the University of Washington In Seattle.

The campus was empty as many of the students, most of them drunk, went down to Husky Stadium to watch their football team get trounced by the University of Oregon. My daughter fell in love the place. And decided this was the one for her.

(6/10/18)

Four and a half years and approximately 70 mortgage payments later, she received her Bachelor of Arts from the School of Public Health, the number #1 rated school in the nation.

Do my wife and I have nachas? You're damn right we do.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

You sir, are no Kennedy.


Another week, another disastrous 7 days in Trumpworld.

Which brings us to letter #18 in our Thursday Thrashing series.

It's a Kennedy.

But not the good kind.

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6.7.18

Senator John Kennedy
SR 383 Russell Senator Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Kennedy,

You are an enigma. 

An enigma wrapped in a riddle and stuffed inside a Louisiana crawfish.  

You have the Kennedy name, synonymous with the New England Dynasty of Democrats. And yet you identify yourself as a Republican and stand shoulder to shoulder with 51 other spineless creatures in the US Senate -- all of whom are receiving a personally hand written letter from yours truly. 

In light of your feckless nature and all too common wishy-washiness, you sir are Letter #18.

Most puzzling, are your momentary glimpses of sanity.

When asked about the President's proposed military parade, you poo-pooed the idea, adding, "confidence is silent and insecurity is loud."

When the scuffle arose about the President using the term shithole countries you paused and said, "this is childish behavior. This is why aliens wont talk to us."

And none of us will forget -- thanks to the Internet and the viral video -- your grilling of a Precedent Shitgibbon nominee, Matthew Petersen, for a federal judgeship.

In that legendary 4:48 interview it became painfully obvious that Mr. Petersen lacked the credentials for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. In fact, he lacked the credentials and wherewithal to argue a traffic ticket in a municipal courthouse.

I suspect that had Jimmy Kimmel taken his cameras out on Hollywood Blvd and conducted one of those embarrassing interviews where passersby cannot even identify the combatants of World War II, you would still find a majority of people who better meet the criteria for that judicial position.

He was that fucking bad. And you brought it to light. Thank you.

You would think that if the president, who regularly boasts of hiring the best people, nominates someone like Matthew Petersen it would raise a red flag.

That was no minor miscalculation.

Did it not send a message to you?

Did it not make you wonder about the Precedent Shitgibbon's judgment?

Or his understanding of the gravitas of the position?

Now compound that with this week's obvious lying about the letter he dictated in response to Don Jr.'s meeting with Russian Intelligence officers.

Pile on the incomprehensible ramblings of the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who speculated (out loud) about the possibility of assassinating former FBI Director James Comey.  Let's not forget the time candidate Trump fantasized about shooting a New Yorker on 5th Ave.

As if all that weren't enough, yesterday we had the president suggesting he could pardon himself, thereby placing himself squarely above the law.

I would think even paint chip eating Matthew Petersen knows that's a ridiculous legal contention.

Which brings us to the biggest mystery of all Senator Kennedy, why are standing with this dim, frothy huggermugger of a president and more importantly, why haven't you called for his impeachment?

Best regards,



Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Reflect your passion



I rarely do this.

I rarely write about topics that have been covered, and covered eloquently I might add, by other bloggers. With the exception of stealing liberally from George Tannenbaum, Bob Hoffman and the brilliant Dave Trott across the pond.

But last week Pam Fujimoto, writing for June Cleaver is Dead,  noticed what many of you might have noticed. An abortion of a spot for Meguiar's Car Wax that is currently airing during the NBA Finals.

You can read her piece here. And see the spot here.

The truth is, I was going to write about this as well, Pam just beat me to the punch.

I was going to throw shade on this commercial because it is so noticeably lacking in craft.

The premise is terrible.
The production is terrible.
The casting is terrible.
The editing is terrible.
The direction is terrible.

Mercifully, they crammed all this terrible into a 15 second spot and chose not to torture us for the other 15. (Clearly, that ad space was sold to the makers of Transitions Lens'. That fucking ear worm music is lodged in my head and probably won't leave until they hand the NBA Championship trophy to the warriors, again.)

I also have a personal interest on this as well.

You see I have a little history with the good folks at Meguiar's. Mind you this was from way back in 2004. Somehow, through any one of a million connections or thru sheer hustle, my partner and I wrangled a meeting with Meguiar's.

We put on the crispest khaki pants and the most gentile button down shirts in our closets and ventured south of the Orange Curtain. They seemed impressed with our credentials, our experience and our grown-up approach to advertising. They even signed us on for a project.

The presentation of the work two weeks later did not go as well. How did Jean Robaire put it? Oh yeah, "they looked at us like the family looked at Woody Allen in the movie, Annie Hall." 

We still got paid, so no harm, no foul.

Just out of curiosity I did a little research on the agency that is currently doing their "creative" work. It's a tiny little digital shop in Wisconsin.

Malcolm Gladwell famously said you need to put 10, 000 hours before you can claim expertise in any particular area.

And just to put things in perspective, in 2004 when Jean and I were presenting professional work to the marketing department at Meguiars, most of the employees at this unnamed digital agency in Wisconsin did not have 10, 000 hours invested in any particular craft.

In fact, most of them had not yet entered the 9th grade.






Tuesday, June 5, 2018

He's talking about doody


If you've been following this blog for any amount of time now, even just a week or so, you know it's quite rare for me to go out of my way to shower praise on any single piece of advertising.

Today is one of those days.

Let's face it, most of the shit you see on TV is just that, shit. Which makes for a perfect transition and brings us to the Kellogg's 10 Day All Bran Challenge. Because it's about shit but paradoxically is not shit.

Before I unload this crowning achievement in commercial-making, let me tell you why I found this piece so refreshing.

1. Simplicity -- This spot has simplicity in spades. It's the Royal Flush of simplicity. There's a guy, holding up the product, telling us in uncomplicated, easy-to-digest language why he is so pleased with the All Bran cereal. And it's done with one long take. There might be 6 or 7 cuts, but it's really nothing more than one long sentence broken up into little pieces, and ending with a satisfying crescendo.

2. Demonstration -- This time tested trope has fallen out of style and frankly it's a shame. Years ago, I was lured to go work for Team One Advertising. It didn't take much luring. Their demonstration spots for Lexus were the best in the business. The folks at Kellogg's have given them a run for their money.    And the degree of difficulty was tenfold. It's one thing to do demonstrate the efficacy of gold plated air bag terminals. It's a lot harder and significantly more challenging to spit out a concept that illustrates the constipation-busting power of All Bran.

3. The Sell -- Unlike so many efforts these days that try to push out some type of socially redeeming message or pretend to save the world, the folks at Kellogg's offered up no such phoniness. They didn't ask you to tweet. They didn't ask for any hashtags. And most importantly, they didn't concoct some stupid strategy bent on starting a movement.

Well, maybe just one movement.

By now the anticipation must be killing you, so with no further ado doo...




Round Two: The producer of the spot was kind enough to provide an even better version:

https://vimeo.com/206239904/f792341238

Ahhhhhhh!

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Medium is the Mess


Years ago, while permalancing at Chiat/Day  -- by the way, there's nothing better than permalancing -- my partner, Jerry Gentile and I were summoned to the Disney/Pixar compound in Glendale.

Even for someone as jaded as me, that's cause for excitement. It's better than a trip to the 99 cent shopping center in Pico Rivera.

Once past the heavily-guarded gate, we were given the nickel tour of the campus. As you can imagine, all your favorite Disney/Pixar characters were there: Woody, Buzz, Nemo, Milan, and a bunch of others I could name if one of my daughters were around to remind me.

There were also all the obligatories you'd expect from a place of employ that dared to call itself a campus: ping pong tables, pinball machines, jelly bean dispensers and brightly painted golf carts. All part of the kiddification of America's work sites.

After touring the grotesque architecture, we met the execs, all seemingly wearing button down shirts festooned with Pixar character on the pocket. They had been in discussion with the executives from Energizer (our client) and decided it would be cool, and apparently worthwhile, to do a commercial featuring their characters from the movie Cars alongside ours -- the Bunny.

To what end, I didn't have a clue.
And with what resources? Again I was clueless.
Because this all took place 6 months before the movie's release and in accordance with Pixar protocol they would not release any footage to us. Nor any idea of what was in the script.

In other words,

"Do something fun and maybe even funny with the Energizer Bunny and the main character from Cars. Tiffany will take you in the PlutoMobile golf cart back to the parking lot. Thanks."

I have no idea how we solved this Gordian Knot. Moreover, nor does the moviegoing public. Whatever we did was long forgotten. Or more accurately, ignored. Which is really the point of this longwinded story.

Because with summer upon us I'm seeing more and more of these worthless co-branded movie promotions:

Mission Impossible/Burger King

Deadpool 2/Liquid Plumber

Superfly/Hellman's Mayonnaise

I'll say what no one in any of those countless meetings between lower level studio execs and agency sycophants sniffing an opportunity to earn revenue for their holding company overlords, are willing to say,

"It's a fucking monumental waste of money."

There isn't a soul on the planet who comes away from viewing one of these celluloid abortions and thinks to him or herself, "Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom looks like a great movie but first I should make a trip to my nearest Hyundai Dealership and check out the new 7 passenger Santa Fe."

Not a one.

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Addendum: I did get to direct Owen Wilson, the star of Cars, in a voiceover session. And was pleased to discover his nose is significantly larger than mine.