Thursday, May 30, 2019

Can't top this.


Today's post is one hundred eighty degrees from the red hot rant published on Tuesday. Think of it as the rhetorical bookend to close out this holiday-shortened week.

I was completely unaware of this Halo Top campaign until it was forwarded to me by my friend and colleague, the great Jean Robaire.

We have a habit of tossing internet oddities back and forth via our smartphones. Most are sophomoric, some are puerile, and none merit more than a minute's thought.

But last week, he sent me a compilation video clip of a campaign done for Halo Top Ice Cream.

The work deserves mention on several counts.

It smartly carves out a unique positioning for the brand. One that stands out on its own. And is easily understood in an elevator pitch.

Halo Top, it's ice cream for adults.

If you've read this blog anytime in the last ten years you know what little regard I have for planners and strategerists. They pump out such hooey. And with such prodigiousness, it's often hard to stomach. I once had the audacity to question a planner's work (funny how they have no problem questioning ours) only to be met with...

"Well not every strategy can be as brilliant and singleminded as Got Milk, you know."

"Why not?" I replied. 

Followed quickly by a summoning from the folks in HR.

But I digress. Sincere kudos to the team, and the client, for bravely going where no ice cream has gone before. And committing to the, dare I say it, disruption.

Even more impressive, was how the creative team took this positioning and, pardon the strained pun, milked it for all it was worth.



So dark.
So negative.
So deliciously nihilistic.

If ever there was a campaign that I wish I had in my portfolio this would be it.

Mind you, I've written material as brutally honest, deadpan and fatalistic as this before. But truth be told I've never managed to squeeze it past middle management.

Topping it all off, another strained pun, is the pitch perfect execution of the pitch perfect script of the pitch perfect positioning. Each story is told efficiently in 3-4 set ups. No fancy camera angles. No special effects. No quick cuts.

It is, as my friend Claudia would say, good straightforward muscular advertising.

If I were to fault anyone here, it would be the media department. This campaign broke two months ago. I have never seen or heard of it. If I had my druthers, and by now it should be apparent I never do, I would have run 3 of the commercials throughout the Super Bowl.

And the next day, millions of men, depressed by the end of the football season, would be parked in their barcaloungers scarfing up the Halo Top by the pint load.

The incumbent weight gain would be worthy grist for the mill for next phase of the campaign.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A special episode of the Illuminati Chronicles





There is a lot of Illuminati insignia to be found on the internet. This one could be my fav. I love the little rat climbing up the logo.

When we last spoke to Mr. Donald J Beckham, Internet Illuminati Recruiter, he had hit me up for $120. And had sent three very curt and stern emails to the effect of PAY UP NOW.

Not even acknowledging that I was in a hospital bed recovering from a nasty head injury.

Fortunately, that brain injury could mean a jackpot of money, if my lawyer, Mr. Lionel Hutz, that's right, from THE SIMPSONS, does his due diligence.




I know I've said this before, but it thrills me every time he addresses my character by name.


Ooooo, a luxury car!!!


By the way, of the three, I really would take the Cadillac. 

My dad's cousin Seymour Maltz was a very successful photographer who lived on Long Island. He drove a Fleetwood Brougham. That was style.



But Donnie, like his namesake is all business.

Then I thought if a TV lawyer is funny, why not a TV doctor.


But Donald doesn't want a check. He wants cash. 



And so I take the liberty of reducing the agreed $120 payment down to $110.


Then we doesn't respond quickly enough, I self reduced the fee even further.


Donnie is unfazed. And while he would have loved to get his hands on $120. He's more than happy to accept the $100.



The astute among you will recognize this as a variation on an old Borscht Belt joke...

SON: Hey Dad, can you lend me $50?

DAD: $40, what do you need forty dollars for?

SON: What...

DAD: $30 is a lot of money.

SON: Wait.

DAD: Here's $25, but I want it back by next Saturday.






Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A backhanded self promo


I hate advertising.

No, this post has nothing to do with the Long Table of Mediocrity™. Or Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™. Or even the standard tropes that have been chewed over, spit out, salted and reviewed, for the 1000th time: daily/hourly check ins, bureaucratic clients, sycophantic planners, and budgets that would barely cover the cost of the craft services table at a Joe Pytka shoot.

Today, I'm not addressing the inglorious ways the sausage of advertising is made. We're stepping outside the slaughterhouse and looking at the final product itself.

You see, it turns out people who hate advertising are the best people to make advertising.

Why?

Because in the course of a long career our Bullshit Meters have been calibrated to NASA-like standards.

Our cynicism has been forged into a Hattori Hanzo Katana Sword.

We, the bitter skeptics who now find ourselves crafting banner ads and were crafting ads before there was an internet, are a client's best bet to touch a nerve, strike a chord or even, dare I say, go viral.

The logic on this may elude some, particularly those who like to sport red golf caps, but it is undeniable.

You see, when people of my ilk, the Been There/Done That generation of copywriters and art directors sit down with an advertising challenge, we not only know what to do (insightful, honest & persuasive), we know what not to do.

We don't do the overpromise thing.

We don't use weasel words.

We don't write contrived dialogue to come out of the mouths of contrived characters.

"Geez Bob, you smell great, new deodorant?" 
(Bob proceeds to tell Jim, who tends to stand too close to people, all about his new pit spray)

"Can you get me references, price quotes from 3 contractors and schedule of availability?"
(I'm looking at you lazy humps at HomeAdvisor.com)

"They put cheese in the crust so now I eat it backwards."
(no one on this Earth eats pizza crust first. No one.)

There is so much bad advertising like this out there it's akin to the Turducken.

It's bullshit stuffed inside horseshit and then topped with a delicate  soup├žon of aardvark droppings.

Moreover, it's inescapable. What was once just on our TVs, radios and newspapers, now chokes the life out of us wherever pixels tend to gather, on our computers, on our laptops, on our phones, even on our jumbotrons where we escape to watch modern day gladiators distract us from our modern day bullshit.


It's ugly, it's exhausting and it's a colossal waste of money.


And it's why smart clients should hire people who hate advertising to create advertising people won't hate.


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

Will be available as of Thursday: https://siegelrich.carbonmade.com








Thursday, May 23, 2019

Back in the USSR


As many of you know, for the past year I have cordoned off Thursday for my Thursday Thrashing letters. Wherein I write a letter to each and every US Senator. It's been a labor or love for the past year, giving me an opportunity to dive deeper into the body politic while at the same time taking great joy in eviscerating these do-nothing, know-nothing GOP miscreants.

Earlier this week I saw a story on Mo Brooks, from the great state of Alabama. He had been invited (perhaps ironically) to a Mensa meeting. Keep in mind that Mo famously posited that the rising sea level was not due to global warming but instead attributed to large rocks falling in the ocean.

I panicked. Realizing I had not written a letter to Senator Mo Brooks.

And then I went back through my notes and through the Google and discovered there is no Senator Mo Brooks. He is in fact a lowly congressman.

In other words, apart from one last reprising letter to Mitch McConnell (coming next week), in order to bookend the collection of missives, my mission is complete.

And so, with no letter to write today, I'm going to do a little symmetric ju-jitsu, and instead, talk about a toxic disaster that has plagued, and continues to plague, our nemesis to the East, Mother Russia.

If you haven't been watching the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO I suggest you start. It's a bite size endeavor, meaning it's only a 5 part series.

I was only 11 years old when the nuclear power plant blew its top and spread radioactive uranium 235 particles throughout Kiev, land of my distant forefathers. The physical and structural damage to the site was horrific.

But even more terrifying was the post-explosion cleanup by a bunch of lying, power hungry, incompetent, vodka-swilling Soviet bunglecunts -- the clueless Cyrillic counterpart to our US Senate if you will.

Warning, the show is incredibly difficult to watch. It's dark, it's painful and it's jaw dropping. I think one of the first responders at the site actually lost a jaw.

Moreover, it takes very little in the way of imagination to picture a disaster like Chernobyl hitting us right here in the heartland.

And takes no imagination whatsoever to see our current crop of leadership in the White House, including mental midgets like Rick Perry, Betsy Devos and Dr. Ben Carson, dropping the proverbial meat in the dirt.

Or perhaps more appropriately, dropping the Oreo cookies in the dirt.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

It's Illuminati Time

It's that time again. Time to pop in on Mr. Donald J. Beckham, Illuminati recruiter to the stars.

Last week Donnie (I love that his name is Donald) sent me pictures of himself. Even though it was in clear violation of Illuminati law. I think he is going out of his way to charm me, Mr. Heywood Jablomi, because my character is currently holed up in a hospital with a very bad brain injury. You know from being hit on the hit with an anvil.

Consequently I went out of my way to answer all his questions.


Don, the Illuminati Head Official, responds rather quickly. And curtly.


Listen Mister Nigerian Internet Scammer, I set the rules around here. 
Me. 
Mr. Heywood Jablomi.



And of course he obliges. But has more "important" questions for me to answer.


Questions, I love to answer questions.


I'm pretty sure he didn't read my answers. And he wastes no time getting to the meat of the matter, collecting his money.


At this point, I try something I've never tried before. I send him an email I had intended for my mother.


This gives me an opportunity to further dimensionalize my character and add some details that may or may not affect Mr. Beckham. I followed the mistaken email with another.


And yet despite my being in a hospital after being hit by an anvil from the Acme Anvil Company and despite the fact that my mother needs a hip replacement and that I plan to use my lawsuit compensation to get her a new hip replacement, with one of those good ball and sockets, Mr. Beckham, in all his greediness, will not be dissuaded.

He fires off three emails, in quick order.


Oh Don, poor Don, I have the $120 but you're going to have to work a lot harder to see a cent of it. 

A lot harder. 

Stay tuned.












Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wakey wakey



Perhaps you heard. The General Mills account is up for review.

It's a big one. Total billing for the account is estimated to be $27 million. Roughly the same amount of money Peru spends on national defense.

The conditions of the review are quite brutal and indicative of the Death Spiral advertising agencies currently find themselves in.

There will be no stipend for the work, which promises to be labor intensive and expensive. All ideas, once presented, shall become property of the General Mills corporation. Oh and any agency that "wins" will not be guaranteed an AOR status or any commitment with regards to length of assignment. Nor will any checks be issued until 4 months have passed since receiving the invoice.

Rumor has it there are 30 agencies vying for this crown jewel of the sugary cereal world. Smell that? That's the unmistakable odor of unprincipled leadership and financial desperation.

I have not been pinged for the opportunity to participate in this peanutclusterfuck. But that doesn't mean I have no idea of how it will go. I do...

9:51 PM -- A creative team pushes themselves away from the Long Table of Mediocrity™, after 15 straight hours of "concepting" and goes to the kitchen to get some dinner. The Pad Thai Noodles are gone. So are the Spring Rolls. And the Spicy Chicken with Cashews. The only thing left is some cold soup and some limp clumps of broccoli that have been carefully removed from the Beef and Broccoli platter.

"Fuck", says the veteran art director.

1:28 AM -- The planners and strategists call for an emergency gathering of the creative department. Pencils go down as the Head Strategist, Ian Thorpeknuckle, announces his earth shattering findings.

"Guys, we just got some preliminary results from the focus groups. It's very exciting. Turns out breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. It's the most vital meal of the day."

"How does that change our work?" asks one cagey copywriter.

"It just does. Do we always have to be contrarian?" replies Ian.

4:43 AM -- The ACD Barry Stivitz completes his group review of the initial work. The CD, GCD, ECD and CCO are at home and have been since 7PM. they will not chime in on the work until a later date. For now, it's all in the capable hands of Barry, who, at 26 years of age is a CPG veteran.

"There are a lot of good ideas here. But, and I'm sure Ian will agree with me, I'm just not feeling the vitality. That's where we need to be."

(collective groan from the tired teams)

"Let's not get discouraged. We're talking about General Fucking Mills. This is a great opportunity. Who among us has not dreamed of stocking our portfolio with killer work for Lucky Charms or Cocoa Puffs? Let's go home. Get some rest. And be back here at 10, no 9:30, ready to absolutely Crush It™."

And so concludes Day One of the review.



Monday, May 20, 2019

Ah college


Last blog I'll write about college, I promise.

With so much going on with my daughter's exit from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the end of tuition bills and the promise of financial freedom for my wife and I, at long last, it's hard not to think back on my own hazy and, in retrospect, lazy days at Syracuse University.

So much so that I went online and found I could retrieve my official transcript.

It cost me $12 but because I'm about to post it here on my blog it's an automatic tax deduction.

Plus, in terms of sheer self deprecating humor, the document is quite priceless.

I should note that in high school I was a pretty good student. Pretty good, despite my lackadaisical attitude. I never studied. Rarely did homework. And as several of my high school classmates can attest, never stopped cracking wise in class. Frankly I'm shocked one of my more burly teachers didn't just haul off and hit me.

I would have.

While I was able to get by on wits and good looks in high school, the same cannot be said when I ventured off to college 230 miles to the north.

To wit, I humbly submit...


Good night nurse, I'm surprised they even gave me a sheepskin. Maybe my father preceded Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and wrote out a check to the school regents. 

My cumulative GPA was a mere 2.321. I was the John McCain (a legendary bad student whose studies were also adversely effected by the presence of alcohol and women) of the class of 19__.

I failed Newswriting 205 because I couldn't pass the mandatory typing test.

And I failed Math 398 Calculus 4... because it was Math 398 Calculus 4. 

You try figuring out the area and volume of a conic hyperbola as it spins along on the y-axis and rotates on the z-axis at a speed of 3xy-7y+11. Making it even more difficult was a professor who had just migrated to the US from Islamabad and who often spoke in English and Urdu, simultaneously, or what I would call, Urdish. 

Plus it was in Syracuse, where it was always so fucking cold.

The good news is, that despite all my academic deficiencies, and there were quite a few, it did not stop me from making a decent living nor has it diminished my eligibility to join the Magnificent Men of the Illuminati.









Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mouthbreather Mike


This is Senator Mike Braun from Indiana.

He is the last of my letters in the Thursday Thrashing Series that have become so popular. OK, not so popular. I know many of you wish I'd get off this political bandwagon and get back to the stuff that matters, bitching about advertising and my daughter's inability to clean up after themselves.

But this it. The End.

Well, almost the end. Since I plan on compiling all the letters into a handy dandy book, I also feel compelled to revise my correspondence with Senate Majority leader Mitch McMconnell. You know to tie things up neatly. Until then I give you this brainless wonder.

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

5.16.19

Senator Mike Braun
374 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Braun,

Congratulations, Mike. 

A little more than a year ago, I set out on a mission to write a letter to each of the 53 GOP US Senators. The numbers get hazy because some of you were booted out by a dissatisfied electorate who discovered the effort to Make America Great Again has become an effort to revive the Fourth Reich. 

Along with the senators leaving the chamber, there were a couple of new ones entering. Suffice to say, at this point I have lambasted the entire lot of you. 

And guess what? Of all those useless, Trump taint licking sycophants, you, Mike, in your magnificent, inimitable fecklessness, have come in dead last. 

Let me tell you, having become acquainted with the fishbrained antics of Bonehead Boozman, Barasso the Asshole, and Crappy Mike Crapo, that's quite the accomplishment. 

I know it's kind of juvenile and sophomoric to be tossing around 8th grade nicknames, particularly when they are aimed at our esteemed leaders, but I have to assume that since you've never voiced any objection to our president doing that you'll have no problem with me picking up the same practice. 

But you know what, Mike? I'd also like to congratulate myself on timing.

You see this week, you actually made the national news. And did it with such inefficacious, fustian flair that has become the Mike Braun signature.

When asked by reporters how your constituents, farmers in the great state of Indiana, were coping with the Chinese trade war, initiated by your own Captain Fuckknuckle, you hemmed, hawed, and blurted out...

"Most farmers have been weaned off of government involvement (socialism), but in the process of dealing with the Chinese, even though I don't like it (socialism) philosophically. We come to help them (socialism) if we are still at an impasse. I really believe with China it's going to take some time (more socialism)."

That's the kind of masterful, cover-all-bases, don't-upset-our Commander in Cheif, noncommittal unleadership that will serve you well Mike.

Well played sir, well played.

In ways too numerous to count, you Mike Braun, a know nothing, do nothing, passionless, soulless, rockbrained, ribbon-cutting, brownnosing bureaucrat may be the perfect embodiment of GOP Senator.

I hope one day they can get that all on your tombstone.

Thank you for your service, Mike.


Best,


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



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Return of the Illuminati


You'd think a grown man of 44, a man with a house, a wife, two college graduate daughters and several titles on aging automobiles, would have little or no appetite for sophomoric humor that in many cases is unabashedly juvenile and stupid.

And you'd be wrong.

I live for this stuff. It's why I became a copywriter and not the world's most puerile CPA.

With that, allow me to introduce you to our newest Illuminati recruiter, Mr. Donald. J Beckham.

It began when I received the following email:

JOIN THE GREAT ILLUMINATI TEMPLE OF RICHES AND POWER, 
email: ciferilluminatiworldofriches@gmail.com
CALL OR or chats with us on whatsapp +2349055796161 ,
Are you a business man or woman, political, musician, student, Do you want 
to be rich, famous, powerful in all your life, join the great brotherhood 
illuminati cult today and get instant sum of $5 million dollars in every 
week to start, and a free home anywhere you choose to live in this world 
okay.

BENEFITS GIVEN TO NEW MEMBERS WHO WILL JOIN
FREEMASON & ILLUMINATI.
A Cash Reward of USD $2,000,000.00
A New Sleek Dream CAR valued at $12,000,000 USD dollars
A Dream House bought in the country of your own choice
One Month holiday (fully paid) to your dream tourist
destination.
One year Golf Membership package
A V.I.P treatment in all Airports in the World
A total Lifestyle change
Access to Bohemian Grove
One Month booked Appointment with Top 5 world Leaders and Top 5 Celebrities 
in the World.

so contact us now or chats with us on whatsapp: +2349055796161 or email: 
ciferilluminatiworldofriches@gmail.com

Keep in mind I receive emails like this twice a week. I don't have the time to answer all of them as I am knee deep in assignments for Harry's House of Catheters, but I had a good feeling about this one so I forwarded it to my gmail account and began the all-too-familiar process.



My recruiter bit at the bait immediately and wasted no time responding.


That's moving a little too fast for me. Besides I like to be kissed before I get screwed.



I like to set the ground rules early. Plus there's something satisfying about knowing he typed out the words Heywood Jablomi, and will have to do so for the remainder of our correspondence.




Oh look, he knows how to cut and paste straight from the Wiki page. Now the games can begin.



My recruiter even obliges me with a photo.


He sort of resembles David Letterman with funky eyebrows. 

We'll leave it there, until next week. but the astute reader will take notice of several seeds I have carefully planted. I started out by telling him I was in a hospital bed. This gives me a legit excuse for not responding right away. 

And because I'll be taking heavy medication for my anvil-induced brain injuries, I'll also have an excuse for any screw ups in logic or flights of fancy.

Finally, I left Don with the notion that I am expecting a big payday, you know from my lawsuit against the Acme Anvil Company. There's nothing like pushing the greed button. If he thinks I'm going to be a wealthy clod, there's literally nothing I can't say or do to him.

These are all self taught tricks of the scam baiting trade. 

Feel free to use them, should you ever get an recruitment offer and decide that you too would like to be a member of the Magnificent Men of the Illuminati. I'd include women, but they're way too smart for this shit.







Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A Social Media Empire is Born


Apologies in advance for another blog about my daughters.

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the better part of last week with my family in Boulder Colorado for a college graduation and so that is fresh on my mind.

Next week, after I have done battle with fickle clients, shifting strategies, and twenty unreturned and unacknowledged emails (what the fuck is wrong with people these days), I will will get back to business of griping about the business of advertising.

Which gives me an excellent segue into today's topic.

You see, while neither of my daughters reads this blog, or any of the books I've published, or even watched any of the commercials, TV shows or movies I've been involved with, they do have an interest in producing some media of their own.

They've been bit by the bug.

At our Mother's Day Breakfast, at The Buff on Canyon Blvd. in Boulder, home of the we-melt-cheese-on-everything-platter, the girls sprung their newest idea on me. They want to start a blog, but more likely a podcast (because a blog requires writing) entitled The I'm Not A Therapist Podcast.

The premise is quite simple.

Though neither of the girls is a licensed therapist and have absolutely no training in psychology (other than growing up in a dysfunctional family and spending inordinate time with me) they would attempt to tackle issues and challenges that had been submitted by viewers/listeners.

And how would they tackle these deep and personal dilemmas, you may ask? This is where it's apparent the apple(s) do not fall from the tree.

CALLER: "My boyfriend and I have been going out for three years. 11 months ago he moved in with me. He said it would help save money. And he smiled when he said it, so I think he was hinting that he wanted to save the money for a ring. But now it's almost a year later. I really love him. And he really loves me. How long should I wait?"

SIEGEL GIRLS: "Bitch, you need to dump his sorry ass and throw his shit to the curb. That milk expired 6 months ago. That's nasty."

Ok, I'm paraphrasing.

Sometimes it's hard to catch all the dialogue when my two girls are riffing and cackling and disturbing the rather sedate Mother's day celebration of the Wilkington's at the very next table.

WILKINGTON: Uh, waitress, can we be moved to a quieter corner of the restaurant?

I don't know whether this idea or a raft of others they are kicking around will get off the ground. But when it does, you can be sure I'll be cross promoting it here. Then and only then will my girls start reading this blog.

The joy of parenthood.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Tales from Snowmencement 2019

                         

You think of college graduation and you envision throngs of college students bedecked in colorful and imaginatively decorated caps and gowns. You picture proud moms in their finest summer dresses. And dads breaking out the cargo shorts and beat up flip flops. You conjure up a beautiful, sun-drenched ceremony that will live in the memory bank forever.

Well, that's other people's lives.

Not mine.

The night before the big ceremony in Boulder, Colorado, it started snowing. It never stopped snowing. As we pulled the full size Chevy Tahoe off route 36 and headed up Lefthand Canyon Road -- the eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park -- the road grew slicker and slicker.

A mile in, and the road was white. Another mile in and we were crunching 2 inches of freshly fallen snow under the big tires.

By the time we woke up next morning, 6 inches had blanketed our little airbnb cabin in the woods.

Just as the coffee had brewed, a Ford 150 pickup truck coming down the mountain had slipped and slid off the road and impaled itself on the rocks banking the creek right in front of our log cabin. Another inch, and he would have been in the drink.

Great, I thought, I've got to summon my dormant snow navigation skills, hewed to perfection in Syracuse, NY, and get my entire family down the hill in one piece. That you are reading this is testament to my climactic driving acumen.

The ceremony began at 8:30.
Naturally my wife wanted to guarantee we'd be in our seats by 7:30 AM.
Did I mention that it was still snowing?  In fact it was coming down even harder.

The pomp and circumstance began promptly at 8:30. And so did the ebullient snowball fighting. In fact, I don't think a word of the hackneyed speech(es) were heard. Instead we were treated to a volley of snowballs that could rival any movie featuring two competing armies of skilled archers.

The spectacle was so noteworthy it made the Washington Post, Good Morning America and the Today Show.

https://nypost.com/video/university-of-colorado-students-celebrate-commencement-with-epic-snowball-fight/

The video hardly does it justice.

Even more noteworthy was the laughter in crowd. Like the snow, it was non-stop and contagious.

Flash forward two days. As I write this, the sun is out. It's a bluebird day in Boulder. And the thermometer is topping out at 70 degrees  It's exactly what we were all hoping for on day of the graduation. But in retrospect, I'm glad we got what we got.

A monster snowstorm.
A great story.
And an even more vivid memory.

Happy college graduation to my little girl.






Thursday, May 9, 2019

Our Penultimate letter


This is Senator Marsha Blackburn from the great state of Tennessee.

I'm going to refrain from making any jokes about the Volunteer state as I don't wish to piss off my friend Greg Collins, who often peppers my mailbox with great local news articles about Tennesseans robbing drug stores in search of opioids and then consuming mass doses of laxatives.

Or local redneck boys, who frustrated by their unavoidable Incel status, find themselves humping the tailpipe of an innocently parked Hyundai Sonata.

Besides, why pile on when you've got Senators like Blackburn producing enough humiliation for two states.

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

4. 9.19

Senator Marsha Blackburn
357 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Blackburn,

Marsha.
Marsha.
Marsha.

Has this been an amazing time in American history or what? For the past 52 weeks, I have been writing letters to every GOP Senator, or as I call them, The Vichy Enablers. 

But this week is special, because prior to this writing we only had one rotten scumbag in the Executive wing worthy of impeachment. Now, with the addition of Bill Barr, we have two. Two fat, doughy white men marching our great country down the path to authoritarianism.

You'd think a smart woman like yourself --a graduate of Mississippi State University, no less, home of the Fighting Klansmen -- would see the collapse of our great republic as it happens before our eyes and intercede. But apparently you'd be wrong.

Enough about you, let's talk about me.

I've been married for more than 387 years. Correction, my wife tells me it's only 26. And therein lies my point. I hate to paint with a broad brush (SWIDT) but I've come to understand women are great at seeing through men's bullshit. It's an amazing talent that must be attached to the Y chromosome.

My wife knows when I haven't squeegeed the glass door after a shower.
She knows when I haven't walked the dog.
She knows when I'm lying about taking out the garbage and can somehow smell under the sink even when she's 293 miles away visiting her sister in Northern California.

She knows.
And she lets me know, she knows.

Moreover, as if that were not enough oppressive estrogen in my life, I have two grown daughters. In fact the youngest is graduating college today. They too have been blessed with EBSP, Extra Bullshit Sensory Perception.

Their protestations, as you might expect, are less about domestic issues and revolve more around cultural and social norms. 

My daily weightlifting routine for instance is a lingering sign of  "Toxic White Masculinity." I point out, as many of your Tennessee constituents might, that as a member of the Hebrew Tribe, there are many circles that do not consider me white.

Similarly, they have vocal opinions on my consumption of red meat, my obsession with football and my tendency to reach for the remote control instant replay when there is a wide shot of the cheerleaders.

The point is the women in my life are astute, observant, mature and committed to improving this world. In other words, everything you are not.

When asked about the rift between Robert Mueller and Bill Barr, you repeated the outright lies of the AG:

"Attorney General Barr said many of the problems were with how the media had represented the report. And General Barr cannot control what the media is going to say."

That's a lie.
And that's a lie about a lie.

I suggest you read the letter again. Mr. Mueller makes no mention of the media. And seeing how he has dutifully remained silent for the past two years, I don't think he gives a crap about media representation.

All of which leads me to conclude, and I hope my daughters will forgive me pushing my newfound woke-ness to the side, that you are a "One Dumb Lying Bitch."

Of course, seeing how you've cozied up to our golf playing, porn star banging, truth twisting, book burning, pussy grabber, there's a good chance you'd like that.

Best,



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


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Up, up and away


As you read this, there are 20 milligrams of industrial-grade Lorazepam coursing through my veins. Washed down by two plastic airplane bottle of Jack Daniels.

You see, I'm on a plane.

And if I hadn't made it abundantly clear in the past I hate being on a plane.

My partners throughout the years can easily confirm this.

John Shirley, my art director at Chiat/Day, would always rib me about wind shear and the possibility of one of these anticipated gusts being a true "wing ripper." This was always backed by the comforting thought that...

"...if the wings were to be torn from the fuselage, the decompression at altitude would guarantee a quick and painless death."

Steve Levit, my partner at Team One, also had good fun with my aviophobia. Though my fear was not always unfounded.

One time, while returning from San Francisco, I was following our landing on the United Airlines pilot channel (#9) and watching out the window. As I was carefully monitoring the chatter between the pilots and the control tower, I turned to Steve and said, "we're coming in too hot." I believe his reply was something to the effect of, "pffft." Until that is, the engines suddenly roared to life and the pilot came on the intercom.

"...sorry about that ladies and gentlemen, we were a little too fast on the approach, we're gonna go back up, circle round and try that again."

Once, I even made the mistake of explaining my fat white knuckles to my boss, Lee Clow, who shrugged off my irrational anxiety with the cool, nonchalant wisdom of a Southern California surfer dude.

"Hey if we're gonna die, we're gonna die."

Well, that's not gonna work for me right now, since we're in the middle of a bathroom remodel. And we still haven't picked out a lighting fixture.

More importantly, I want to see my daughter graduate from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Tomorrow is the big day. Or as my wife put it, the finish line. No more tuition bills. No more lab fees. No more teachers. No more books. School's out forever.

I couldn't be happier or more proud of my two daughters.

Well, I could be happier if one of you freeloading bastards, who have been enjoying this blog for close to ten years, would hire them and put a merciful stop to all this financial bloodletting.

I'm going to have to end this right here.

I just checked the Air Turbulence Forecast Map and as we descend through 27,000 feet it could get a little bumpy.

"Uh, excuse me Ms. Flight Attendant, I'm gonna need another shot of Jack Daniels. And don't tell me the drink cart has been stored away or I'll go all Gerard Finneran on you."

Nobody wants that.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Bridge On the River Craft


Many of you, ok, some of you, will recognize this still shot from the classic, Bridge On the River Kwai.

It, and the Wizard of Oz, are the two of the first movies I remember from my childhood. I watched this 7 hour epic film -- it felt like 7 hours -- while my parents had whooshed me off for the summer to a bungalow colony in the Catskills.

Every Saturday night, the bungalow colony owners arranged some kind of activity in the pavilion/lodge/casino area. Sometimes it was a movie. Sometimes it was Bingo Night. And other times they'd just put out a pot luck dinner so all the mothers and fathers could eat, smoke cigarettes and kvetch about the mosquitos.

I bring up Bridge On the River Kwai because it has a lot to do with the ad industry, circa 2019.

First of all, it was a pure bit of branding genius to embed a musical earworm into the flick. I have no doubt you are whistling that grating tune even as you are reading this post.

More importantly, upon retrospect I find myself more and more in the well worn shoes of Colonel Nicholoson, played by Alec Guiness.

You might recall, this British officer and his men are captured by the Japanese army. They are not only taken prisoner of war, they are forced to build a bridge for their evil captors.

I could probably end the advertising analogy right there and be done with it, but it goes deeper.

You see Colonel Nicholson is a skilled engineer, a man driven by his craft. And so instead of knocking out some half-assed bamboo bridge across this muddy little stream, he sets himself down to build the biggest, best damn bridge his Japanese jungle jailors have ever seen.

And then, because he knows nothing else but to do his best, he rallies his men to give it their all in pursuit of this monument to greatness.

This is where I, and many of my 44 year old creative colleagues, stand in the business. We're given an assignment. And because of our background, our training, our experience, we go about it with way too much ambition as well as way too much zeal.

We go out and try to build a brand when all the client wanted was for us to build a 72X38 banner. Or an Instagram carousel. Or a micro-targeted email blast.

This hasn't happened to me once. This is happening over and over again. Nor is it just me, this is a bitch, a moan, a groan, a gripe, a kvetch I hear far and wide.

Last week I saw a post from an agency seeking a middle weight art director. The ad literally said they were looking for someone "not too conceptual."

What can we do about it? Other than write industry-incriminating posts here at R17, absolutely nothing.

I'm just gonna let it roll off my back, and like Colonel Nicholson in the movie's denouement, fall on the explosive detonating device and say, "ahhh, fuck it."




Monday, May 6, 2019

Domo Arigato


Last week, Japan commemorated the official end of the Heisei Era, a thirty year period that means Emperor Akhito must step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Do I know what any of that means?

No, I do not.

But I do know the Suntory Beverage Company, makers of Suntory Whiskey (Intensity!!!) as well as Boss Canned Coffee, took the opportunity to do something special. And by special I mean, they created a new commercial, a 2 minute long beauty, featuring Boss Coffee spokesman Tommy Lee Jones.

For the uninitiated, in the long running Boss Coffee series Tommy Lee Jones is a space alien sent to Earth to observe and report back on human behaviors. He's also been given superpowers and intercedes in Japanese life in ways, big and small.

Here for example is Tommy Lee Jones as you've never seen him before:



France, you can keep Jerry Lewis.
If you're looking for comic genius delivered in unexpected and brain-searing ways, I'll take Tommy Lee Jones.

The 15 second spot above is but a small sample of the multi-year campaign that's been running in Japan. And a great example of the kind of work we ought to be doing over here, entertaining, iconic and not just memorable, but unforgettable.

Here's the two minute piece they're talking about at water coolers throughout the Land of the Rising Sun...



What I love most about this wildly popular advertising campaign is what most planners and strategists hate most: It makes no sense. It's patently absurd. It's out there for the sake of being out there.

And so when these pre-presentation questions were asked and you know they were...

Why does he cry?
Why does he catch fish with his mouth?
Why does he have lasers popping out of his eyes?

The creatives can legitimately and forcefully answer:

"Because I fucking said so."

As it should always be.

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Addendum: You don't have to go to Cannes to get inspired. Spend your morning going through the voluminous library of Tommy Lee Jones Boss Coffee spots on Youtube. And when you're done check out the Soft Bank spots as well.






Thursday, May 2, 2019

Why, why, Wyoming


We're closing in on the finish line of my Thursday's Thrashing letters. We're up to letter #51. Today's guest is Senator Mike Enzi from Wyoming.

Hi Mike.

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4.25.19

Senator Mike Enzi
379A Senate Russell Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Enzi,

A little more than a year ago, I set out on a mission to hand write a letter to every GOP Senator. You are letter number 51. 

I looked into your storied career as Wyoming's proudest...aw, fuck it, you're not even worth the effort...





















































Best regards,

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