Thursday, August 15, 2019

Moemories




This popped up in my Facebook Memories yesterday. It's from 7 years ago.

I know many readers are familiar with the Spy vs. Spy antics that Erik Moe and I engage in on Linkedin.com. But many of you don't know that our rift started a long time ago. On a different social media platform.

And so, because I am extremely busy these days, pimping my new book as well as feverishly writing TV spots for a major automaker, I'm going to slip out of today's writing responsibilities, reach into the memory vault and reprint the tete a tete shenanigans from a better time, 2012.

Enjoy.  






Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Tale of the Taza



A little more than a year ago, my partner Jean Robaire and I participated in something called a Tazathon. It was basically a very small client seeking the help of big agency creatives without having to pay big agency fees or pay for big agency Friday morning breakfasts.

There was a small stipend involved, hardly enough to cover our costs.

And there was the possibility that the winning team could walk away with a growing client, in an interesting category, with some major upside potential.

Many of our colleagues thought it was stupid for us to throw our ushankas in the ring. But it was during a slow period and Jean and I like to stay busy. Plus, despite being from Boston, they seemed like very nice people.

So, we put together (without a planner I might add) a presentation of two soup-to-nuts campaigns. The client loved the work but, I suspect because of the geography, kept the business closer and went with a team from Faaaahmingham.

That's how things go in this business. We are no strangers to disappointment.

Last week I reconnected with the client and asked permission to show some of the work.

Permission granted.

(Please keep in mind, this is all rough without the benefit of color correction, photo finishing and whatever else art directors do before sending out a ready-to-roll mechanical.)

We started boldly, with a kick off open letter to the CEO at Hershey's Chocolate.


And we married that with the proposal to set up these stands on all the roads leading into Hershey, Pennsylvania.


We did the traditional media as well as the digital stuff (cause it's what all the kids are doing these days.)


And we didn't forget experiential. We suggested they take over Fenway Park for a night, provide sampling to all the fans. And for one night only, turn the Green Monster into something not so green.


And then for no other reason than I like to write full page newspaper ads, we threw one more at them.


Should we have won? I'm a little biased and can't really say.

But I do know this. 

You might not have heard of Taza a year ago, but if we had been given a chance to run this work (and a lot more), you'd have heard of them by now.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Talk to the hand


I don't use the n-word. I don't like getting in my daughter's car, where the radio is tuned to some hip hop station, and hearing the n-word.

Similarly, non Jews should not be telling Jewish jokes. Though people in Colorado apparently have no problem telling Jew jokes right to my youngest daughter's face.

In any case, there are some unwritten rules of etiquette we should all abide by.

However I will not accept any directives from the social media police (apparently many have been deputized), who regularly flag down my posts as inappropriate.

I'm looking at you Linkedin.

If I have to suffer through a cavalcade of Tony Robbins wannabe's with their handheld iPhone sermonettes on "courage", "positivity", "content generation" "data driven creativity" and the omnipresent "crushing", well then I'm going to exercise some of those same liberties and post my snarky comments.

My impromptu political observation.

And most importantly, my book promotions.

And frankly, you can rain all the head shaking disapproval on me that you'd like, I'm still going to work those free algorithms to my advantage.

Much of that stems from the fact that I am 44 years old and care less about what other people think of me than Captain Ouchie Foot cares about immigrant children being snatched from their parents.

Besides, if push came to shove, I could argue that all my posts on LinkedIn are vocationally legitimate.

I'm a writer, I write.

I write ads.
I write books.
I write TV shows.
I write movies.

Ipso, facto, anything I write -- and I use that in the broadest sense of the word -- is part and parcel of my career.

And what social media platform do we all use to advance our careers, even those that are in obvious decline due to a stubborn unwillingness to compromise and sit at the Long Table of Mediocrity™?

Exactly.

I rest my case.

Speaking of cases, shouldn't your bookcase be sporting this blockbuster, currently the 293,827th bestselling book in America?



Monday, August 12, 2019

Mea Culpa


There's an anecdote, and I hope I get this right, in Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs. In it, an engineer is seated before Steve, hoping to get approval on some new fangled device, it doesn't matter which one.

Steve carefully examines the prototype. He holds it, he turns over, he gives it the once over, as only Jobs could do.

Then, upon closer inspection, he spots a tiny nodule of plastic.

"What about this?" he says.

"Don't worry about that," the engineer explains, "when the cover is on, it's not visible, no one will even know it's there."

"I'll know it's there, " he boomed, "fix it."

Today I find myself in that engineer's shoes. I screwed up. I made a mess. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I have to own the mistake(s).

As many of you know, I just published a new book, Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington. It's a compilation of letters I wrote to each and every GOP US Senator. But, and this is why I became a writer and not a CPA as my father wanted, I messed up on the details.

Somehow in the assembly of the huge document, I inadvertently forgot to include two letters. This in no way detracts from the book, as there are 57 finely-hewn molotov missives directed at members of the Upper Chamber.

Chances are you would never notice as there's enough venom in the book to take down an elephant.

But, the letters were written, here and here, and they deserve to be in the book. Thanks to the magic of print on demand, the unabridged version is now available for purchase. (I am grateful for all those who bought the book and in no way suggesting you buy it again.)

That covers off the Mea.

Now comes the Culpa.

I don't know how this happened, but somehow I also neglected to include the letter written to Ms. Lindsey Graham, the Senator with the most punchable face in DC. Not only did I fail to include the letter, it turns out after going through my extensive files, I hadn't even written it.

As a result, I spent a considerable part of the weekend beating myself up. Then I picked myself up off the floor of Shame and started with the clicking and clacking on the keyboard.

My wife thinks I'm crazy and touched with a bit of OCD.

"No one's going to notice there are letters missing. And no one is going to know."

"Yes, but I'll know."

I apologize to those who have already the book and have included the last, the very last letter for your perusal...



Senator Lindsey Graham
Aunt Pity Patty



8.9.19

Senator Lindsey Graham
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Graham,

I owe you an apology. 

I recently published a new book entitled Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington, wherein I wrote letters to each of the GOP US Senators. Perhaps clouded by the nonstop flow of presidentially-induced rage, I somehow tripped over myself and forgot to include you.

More likely, I was pacing myself. 

You know getting the no-name Senators like Enzi, Hawley and Hoeven, out of the way. And saving my energy for the big fish like you. 

In any case, the first edition of the book has turned out to be an abridged version. 

You sir, will appear in the second. 

Because a proper dressing down of Senate GOP would not be complete without the inclusion of the most traitorous, most obsequious, most repugnant Republican who has ever crossed the threshold at the Russell Senate Office Building -- that would be you, Aunt Pity Patty.

At this point it seems redundant to rehash all the debacles of the last two years. 

Like how you went from being a Never Trumper to an Always Trumper.

Or how you preen in front of the camera making a big stink about proper presidential behavior and Russian sanctions and "smoking bone saws." 

That's just you, flapping your loose Carolina jaw.

Besides after spending an eternity in the Congress, both as a House Representative and as a Senator, I suspect your skin is tougher than the hindquarter of an old armadillo.

There's nothing this smart ass Jew from New York can say that will leave a mark.

But there is someone you might still respect, someone whose thoughts and actions and deeds might still resonate, as they still do for a once great nation. 

"Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you."

-- Senator John McCain

Any of that ring a bell, Lindsey? 

Or did your honor go into the ground with your late lifetime friend?

Best,


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





Thursday, August 8, 2019

Holy Canoli


23&me tells me all about me.

It also tells me about parts of me that are found in people other than me.

Relatives.

I'm not talking about the ones that share my enormous hook nose or my propensity to grow unwanted hair in unreachable places. The ones I see at my dinner table on occasional birthdays or holidays. 

I'm talking about distant relatives, who not only share my swarthy Mediterranean appearance, but also, by some freak of nature share the MJ521A/C gene that regulates urine color.

Or the BK78J9P gene that enables inordinate strength.

And the ZQ915F53 gene that restricts the ability to fully understand the mechanics of the internal combustion engine. Thus resulting in overpaying for any automotive repairs.

The 23&me people are very good at updating me with lists of new distant relatives. I know it's just a marketing ploy. And a good reason for them to constantly stay on my radar so they can hawk their other services.

I know this because the list of distant relatives now includes 6th and 7th cousins. And they're coming not only from my incredibly small eastern European gene pool but from adjacent areas like Mongolia, Bulgaria and Siberia.

Nevertheless, it's interesting. At least to me.

About a year ago, I was looking over the list of distant relatives and saw a name that was oddly familiar. It was a surname from my Facebook list of friends. Moreover it wasn't Jewish, it was Italian.

Naturally I reached out to my Italian Facebook friend with a DM. I asked if she knew the person. She did. It was her uncle. Holy six degrees of separation.

Crazy, I thought. Even crazier, was the radio silence that followed this incredible discovery.

I guess if I were her and just found out I was related to Rich Siegel, I'd do the same thing. Frankly I'm surprised she didn't unfriend me, post haste.

Of course all this stringing together of DNA strands brings up a frightening possibility. What if, for instance, upon further chromosomal digging I were to find out that my wife were not only my wife but my cousin!

Ewwww.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Say hello to Kim Jong Pimp, World's Greatest Influencer

"That's what I love about Americans, they think of everything."


You might not expect it from a 44 year old copywriter who is starting to sprout grey in the beard, but I like to think I'm hip to what the kids are doing. And because my livelihood depends on it, I'm particularly hip to what the kids in advertising are doing.

Influencing.

Everybody is influencing.

Q-Dog is influencing.
K-Pac is influencing.
Even Screech from Saved By The Bell is influencing.

And aside from that one woman who claimed to have 3 million followers but could not sell $138 worth of her new clothing line, everybody is making money at this influencing thing.

So, during my recent incarceration in FaceBook Jail, I began to think, "how can I, a wily 44 year old advertising pro get in on all this hot influencing action?"

The truth of it is, I don't have much to influence about.

I know about weightlifting equipment, hiking shoes, pellet smoking grills, and beer. On top of that, I have a face for radio. And a voice for newspaper. Suffice to say, nobody knows what I look like and if they did, they would be influenced in the opposite direction.

That's when I decided I'm not right for the role, but I know someone who is.

Someone current.
Someone who loves the camera.
Someone fantastically recognizable.

I went to the IG and created a new profile, @kimjongpimp.

I invite you to follow Kimjongpimp, who has already appeared in many IG ads. Lending his formidable presence and unique cache to a variety of products.




But that's not all.

I'm also inviting potential clients out there who might want to leverage Kim's amazing global presence to pimp...er, I mean sell their stuff.

What's the worst that can happen? We might get a cease and desist from the DPRK.

That would be sweet.




Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Hello Comrade


By now you must be familiar with the continued media mauling of Moscow Mitch.

The name stuck to old turtlehead the way an errant piece of toilet paper stuck to the shoe of our Mangled Apricot Hellbeast as he climbed aboard Air Force One, on his way to another Nazi rally.

Poor Mitchy doesn't like it.

Womp. Womp.

It trended all week long on Twitter. And now the Kentucky Democratic Party (Membership -- 31, the same number of high school graduates in the state) has begun selling Moscow Mitch T-Shirts.

Of course, since I got booked on a job and felt slightly celebratory, I bought one.

Then I got to thinking, always dangerous. And realized buying a T-Shirt was not enough to sufficiently vent the red hot anger I feel towards this Vichy collaborator. A man, who more than any other in the country, has enabled Captain Ouchie Foot in his relentless march towards authoritarianism and the mob rule of the red cap brigade.

So with Mitch currently lying helplessly with his belly pointing towards the sky, I've decided to up the ante. And pour salty borscht into the wound. And you can too.

It's simple really.

If you were to Google: English to Russian translation, you'd be greeted by a very easy to use dialogue box. And by entering text on the left side, the algorithms, flick flacks and confabulated java script html thigamajigs in your computer will magically turn it into beautiful Cyrillic, the language of our new Cossack overlords.

And so what I have done, and what I hope you will do, is to take two minutes from your busy day, track down Moscow Mitch on Twitter (@senatemajldr) and translate any and all of his tweets into Russian.

To give you an example:


It's incredibly simple and takes no time at all.

Now imagine if 10, 100 or 1000 people did this. Moscow Mitch's twitter feed would look like the original manuscript of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

We each have a responsibility to do more than just bitch about our current state of affairs. The regime change will not happen by itself. I believe in the cumulative power of small acts of disobedience.

"When they go low, we should будь готов испортить их. "



Monday, August 5, 2019

Skynet is here.


There's a lot of talk about AI, Artificial intelligence, lately.

Of course, there was a lot of talk of AI, Artificial Intelligence, way back in 1989. As evidenced by the hazy photo of this ad for Mr. Copy.

I should explain that ad is fictional. And it ran in a fictional magazine. A trade parody of ADWEEK appropriately called MADWEEK.

I know all this because we wrote MADWEEK, myself and two former copywriters, Tom Parker and Jim Jennewein. They both left the exciting, one-time lucrative world of advertising and went on to write big blockbuster movies (The Flintstones, Getting Even With Dad, Major League II, Stay Tuned and more.) Unable to resist the lure of status meetings, finicky clients, shrinking budgets and the demand to dumb everything down, I stayed put.

We accurately predicted the demise of the modern day copywriter.

Though to be honest we thought it would happen long before the open office plan, holding companies, FFDKK - Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™ and the Long Table of Mediocrity™.

You can imagine how the hipsters and the tatted digerati were shaking in their portfolios last week when it was announced that Chase, not an insignificant player, had decided to move some of their million dollar chips into AI.

From now on those scintillating statement stuffers, those tantalizing 2.75% CD interest rate announcements and those award winning descriptions of home equity lines of credit, will all be written by a machine.

It's a sad day in Adland.

To make matters worse, I have a friend who has a friend who knows a guy who has a cousin that has access to this revolutionary new advance in copywriting.

And she has agreed to write the final two paragraphs of this post using nothing but a keyword suggestion and the directive to make it snarky.

Take it away, AI:

Debating me breeding be answered an he. Spoil event was words her off cause any. Tears woman which no is world miles woody. Wished be do mutual except in effect answer. Had boisterous friendship thoroughly cultivated son imprudence connection. Windows because concern sex its. Law allow saved views hills day ten. Examine waiting his evening day passage proceed. 

Conveying or northward offending admitting perfectly my. Colonel gravity get thought fat smiling add but. Wonder twenty hunted and put income set desire expect. Am cottage calling my is mistake cousins talking up. Interested especially do impression he unpleasant traveling excellence. All few our knew time done draw ask.

What's even sadder is that many readers of R17 will consider that a major improvement.

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

Update: I still have a few hundred copies of MADWEEK in my garage. Happy to send anyone a copy if you'll provide a self-addressed 9X12 envelope.




Friday, August 2, 2019

The Molotov Missives


I don't usually do a post on Fridays. But today is no ordinary Friday.

Not only have I been let out of Facebook Jail, after 30 surprisingly refreshing days, seriously we should all take FB timeouts on occasion.

But as the picture would indicate, today I can announce the arrival of my new book, Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington.

Here's a better view of the cover, designed by Jean Robaire.


I'm incredibly proud of this piece. 

I challenged myself to write a letter to every GOP Senator, not an easy task, and I did.

I pushed past the inertia and got up on that angry soapbox, week after trying week.

And I put it all together, perhaps the most labor intensive part of this endeavor, in a book form that looks remarkably professional. 

I even designed and built a little website to promote the book online.

In hindsight, The Molotov Missives, may have been a better title for the book, but I opted for clarity and straightforwardness.

Mind you, I have not deluded myself into thinking this book has any import. It's sophomoric. It's crude. It's written in a satirical style that's fitting for fifteen year old boys.

In other words, it's a partial realization of a dream I had a long, long time ago, when I fantasized about my life as a writer for the National Lampoon or Spy Magazine.

I hope you can find it in your Precedent Shitgibbon-hating heart to part with 9 bucks and find a place for this book on your shelves. Or atop your toilet bowl.

If I can sell enough copies, I will use the proceeds to go to Washington, DC and set up shop at the foot of the Capitol building and hand out copies to the current politicallati.

Oh and if anyone doubts I will do that, I refer you to my earlier ushanka-wearing visits to Trump National Golf Course.




Buy the book here.



Thursday, August 1, 2019

First Galley Jitters


Today is a special day in the Siegel household.

Today I will take a seat in our living room, ironically the room where we do the least living, and gaze out onto Le Bourget Ave. Waiting with bated breath for the arrival of that ubiquitous white van. And the sight of that stoned, lackadaisical driver holding my precious order.

Today is the day the first galley of my new book arrives.

I've experienced this anxiety three times before. And yet the feeling of excitement has not diminished. To hold a book in your hand, as any visitor of a garage sale or casual browser at a Barnes & Noble (now Amazon), is not the stuff of adrenal gland overload.

However, to hold MY book in MY hands is something different. It's the culmination of months and months of work. Not unlike a mother gestating a new child. And in many ways it's more satisfying. Particularly when I find my daughter's dirty dishes in the sink. Or her Vans sneakers under the dining room table. Or dare to open the door to her car. Geez Louise, there are more car washes in Los Angeles than there are Starbucks.

I digress.

Some readers of this blog (who also happen to be writers) know exactly what I'm talking about.

Don Jung, my now retired CPA wrote a book about his time as a lighting and sound guy for the greatest rock bands that ever threw a piano off a hotel terrace.

Howie Cohen, advertising legend, wrote a book about his remarkable career in NYC and in California and now taunts me on social media with pictures of his incredible backyard pool.

Bob Hoffman, another ad legend, continues to throw rocks at the industry, making a shit ton of money on the speaking tour and hawking one of his incendiary books.

Jeff Gorman, advertising's original curmudgeon, put out an 800 page tome.

Jim Jennewein, my friend of over 30 years, accomplished screenwriter, and now professor at Fordham University, has held a first galley in his hand several times. And has several books and DVDs available on amazon.com, including the timeless comedy classic, STAY TUNED.

And of course, there's Kathy Hepinstall. She spits out a new book every time she exhales. Even more infuriating, she does it with all that fancy stuff, you know: prose, character arc, subtext, symbolism, etc.

Sadly, however, there's one writer we haven't heard from in book form. Advertising's oldest living copywriter and a man known to thousands in the business as the blogging voice of reason -- George Tannenbaum.

I love George and wake up to his thoughts everyday, on adaged.com. He is funny, imaginative, sometimes acerbic, always relevant. He has a book in him. In fact, I would argue he has several books in him.

If the folks at Ogilvy were smart, they would fire George as a copywriter and pay him to be an artist in residence, where he could take home a check and publish his book under the auspices of WPP.

Oh, and they'd give him an office with a door.