Tuesday, July 30, 2019

That's a some spicy meatball

If there's one word in the ad business that gets abused in the ad business, it would have to be inspired.

And disruptive. And engage. And ideate. And crushed. Ok, there are many words in the ad industry that have become insufferable, but today I want to talk about inspired.

Back when I was in high school -- and we don't have to do the math on this at all -- our history teacher presented us with a cool project. The school had rented out some primitive video equipment and we (small groups of four students) were going to be given the equipment and the opportunity to make a short film regarding the Revolutionary War.

I was genuinely excited. Particularly since one of the girls in my group was a cheerleader/flagtwirler/pom pom waver.

Surely, this would be my opportunity to impress her, you know because "girls love guys with a sense of humor."


In any case, it was days before the deadline and we had NOTHING. Then I saw a commercial on TV for Alka Seltzer. It was, and I don't use this word lightly, inspiring.

We took this simple construct and married it to the tale of a British Redcoat who, through the Quartering Act, illegally stays at a colonist's house. In the end, he gets heartburn from his reluctant host's meal and complains, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing."

It was a perfectly performed spoof of the commercial and earned us all A+'s. As well a healthy smattering of laughs. Again, to no avail.

But it was also where I got my first taste of the magic of advertising. And I owe it to the writer of that Alka Seltzer spot, and many more, Howie Cohen.

Howie recounts the birth of the iconic Alka Seltzer campaign as well as the events of his storied career on both coasts in his new book, aptly titled...

Perhaps because of my personal connection to the story above and because Howie and I have travelled similar paths from the working class boroughs of New York to the god awful bagels and pizza of Los Angeles, I might have been predisposed to like the book before even turning the over the cover. But the book is a true page turner.

Told in a bright, punchy fast-moving style that includes tales of sex, office politics, disastrous client meetings, Jews, Italians, and more sex. I not only found myself laughing quite a bit. I also found myself wondering how my life could have taken a different trajectory had I stayed in NYC and pursued advertising on Madison Ave.

It is a book I am proud to put my bookshelf.

Wedged between all the unsold copies of my three books, which are also available on amazon.com.

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