Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Boys and their toys

Reeling from the public relations nightmare created by the recent flyover in NYC, military officials have called off their next scheduled photo shoot.

Pentagon brass had planned to detonate a 10-ton hydrogen bomb over the city of Dallas and capture the event on film.

Defense Department officials had chosen Dallas after Texas Governor Rick Perry threatened to secede from the union.

Those plans were scrapped when President Obama caught wind of the Pentagon photo op and uncharacteristically shouted, “WTF!!!”

When asked why top military brass wanted to explode a nuclear tactical device over a major American city, Lt. Colonel Erik MoVinci replied, “We wanted to see what it would look like. I suppose we could have rented a Will Smith movie, but it's all so CGI.”

Hey Scalia, suck on this.

In light of the Supreme Court's paternalistic ruling against the TV network's airing of "indecent" words.

And in light of the incredible response to last week's post about compost, I have whipped up a new batch of caca euphemisms:

"I'm gonna let the brown bear out of the cage."

"I have to launch a 'Me' torpedo."

"I'm ordering a complete evacuation of the occupied territories."

"Take an ass divet."

"Planting some offshore corn."

"Air out the root cellar."

"I have to pinch off some intestinal playdoh."

"Graduating a new class of Navy Seals."

"I'm going to UnSuperSize Me."

"Don't go in there I left quite a Carbon Footprint."

Monday, April 27, 2009

That hurt my coccyx

I understand the need for speed bumps in parking garages. We've all heard the screeching tires. And seen the Mario Andretti wannabees whipping around the corners at excessive speed.

It stands to reason that the higher the speed bump, the higher the deterrence factor.

But at some point, it also stands to reason, the law of diminishing returns comes into play.

I may not have a degree in civil engineering, but I would suggest that point has been reached:

Spanking it. Again.

Weeks ago I mentioned that I had heard this phrase used in a radio spot. And gave due praise to the sneaky copywriter who whiffed one by the client. But that achievement bares an asterisk mark. After all, it could be argued that it was a radio spot and nobody listens to the words in a radio spot.

An outdoor board is different. Each letter stands the height of a full grown Cambodian man. The board itself is 48 feet wide. There's no ignoring an outdoor board. It's there for everyone to see.

And look, the word SPANK is in hilarious proximity to the word BANK.

So today we tip our hat to the Art Director behind this gem.

You had to choke back fits of laughter and convince the client that this outdoor board, above all others, would be the first -- and most prudent -- of many steps necessary to restore America's faith in its floundering financial system.


If it were me, I'd make this the very first page in my portfolio.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ain't nothing but a G thang

I don't get graffiti.

It's ugly.
It's indecipherable.
And it's a poor way of marking one's territory and claiming vital market turf.

From a communication's standpoint, it makes no sense.
Particularly in today's world of emerging media.

How refreshing it would be if today's O.G's, as the kids like to call themselves, were to jump on the Twitter bandwagon....

Downed a couple of forties wit my homeys: Sleepy, Smokey and Clownie.
10:29 AM April 22nd from web

Hanging at the corner of Jefferson and Main. Selling weed. Checking out the homegirls.
1:38 PM April 22nd from iPhone

@Loco. Yo Holmes that’s our corner.
1:44 PM April 22nd from web

Not anymore. Didn’t you get Paco’s email about this last week?
1:46 PM April 22nd from iPhone

@Loco. No holmes, I didn’t get no E-Mail?
1:47 PM April 22nd from web

Yeah, he also posted a link on Facebook. And he IM’ed yo ass.
1:48 PM April 22nd from iPhone

@Loco. My ole lady jacked my laptop.
1:49 PM April 22nd from web

Dude, you gots to check yo bitch.
1:53 PM April 22nd, from iPhone

@Loco. Yo, you don’t be talking about my bitch, Bitch.
2:09 PM April 22nd from web

Whatcha gonna do about it?
2:10 PM April 22nd from iPhone

@Loco. What am I gonna do about it? I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do about it. You and me. Some online Scrabble. Now!
2:13 PM April 22nd from web

Bring it homeboy!
2:14 PM April 22nd from iPhone

Thursday, April 23, 2009

From the folks that brought you Auschwitz

I have no intention of attending the Polish Film Festival.

Maybe it’s my unresolved anger over Polish complicity in the Holocaust.

Maybe it’s because I don’t associate great cinematic storytelling with Poland anymore than I associate great beach volleyball with Siberia.

Or maybe it’s because of the hundreds of jokes I’ve heard involving Polish schlemiels and schlemazels.

But I would have gone to the Polish Film Festival had the exhibitors paid homage to the reputation of Poles and, in a brave gesture of self-effacement, displayed their advertising banners like this....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Copywriter wanted. No, needed.

Found this on the sidewalk after my 3 mile run yesterday. I thought I was picking up trash but it turns out I may be picking up a new client. Clearly, Sister Haynes needs some help in the copywriting department.

Let’s look at her initial subhead: Guaranteed Results in 10 Hours.

An over-promise? I don’t know. Perhaps the Good Sister is blessed with miraculous curative powers. But look just above the call to action at the bottom of the ad. There, she guarantees results in THREE DAYS. Does this indicate a lack of confidence or just the need for some serious consistency?

Furthermore, she alludes to a Doctor, some assistant named GOD. Does she subcontract the work out to this Dr. GOD character or does she do the curing herself?

When I hire a soothsayer to pick my mutual funds or ease me of my embarrassing itches, I want to know who is doing the work.

And finally, Sister Haynes promises that “satisfaction is doubly guaranteed.” I am very unclear on this concept.

I’m not saying that if Sister Haynes entrusted me to write copy for her she would find herself leading a huge congregation in a shiny, crystal cathedral and driving a big new Cadillac Escalade, but I’m not not saying that either.

So here are my two free questions for the Sister:

“Can you pay my day rate?”

“When do I start?”

Monday, April 20, 2009

How do you say hypocrisy in Farsi?

I am thrilled that President Ahmanidejad gave the keynote speech at the U.N. Conference on Racism.

Judging from the way he dispensed with the nuclear inspectors, I think we can all agree that here is a man who will not be stymied by U.N. bureaucracy.

I look forward to seeing his plans on eradicating racism in the region and bringing about equal rights to the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.

I eagerly await the Iranian leader’s speech denouncing the treatment of political dissidents in Syria.

And finally, I anticipate this great man of action bringing an end to the race-based driving restrictions on the Arabian Peninsula. A day when dirty "kuffar" tourists can picnic alongside the road or stop for ice cream or just roam the freeways and enjoy the legendary warmth and hospitality that is Saudi Arabia.

Dropping the kids off at the pool.

Not so recently, I was hired to come up with a new campaign for a huge Health Insurance Company. 

During the briefing, the Creative Director and I exchanged some small talk. He told me about a little pet project he had going on the side. 

I won’t divulge the details, suffice to say that he was looking for new euphemisms. 

Pithy phrases, either in the present or past tense, that could replace the always-popular “I have to go cut some Lincoln Logs.” Or, “I just dropped the kids off at the pool.” 

Seizing the opportunity, and looking for a good reason not to write about health care insurance, I set my nose to the grindstone. Here now is a small sampling of the gems I left on his desk:

 “I have to go un-eat lunch.” 

 “There’s been a prison break at the South Gate.” 

 “I have to remove to a tree stump.” 

 “I’m self-administering a root canal.” 

 “Launching a lifeboat off the S.S. Assitania.” 

 “Stepping up to the loadium.” 

 “I have an exit interview with Mr. Brown.” 

 “I have to go fertilize the Pacific.” 

 “I just dumped all my shares of Hometown Buffet.”

Best assignment I've had in 15 years.

Friday, April 17, 2009

McLuhan's malaprop.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the crazy carnivore who felt compelled to voice his opinion via a post it note on the back of car.

I thought that was a passing anomaly. But it appears I was wrong.

My daughter and I spotted this assertive fellow at a nearby intersection. What the writings lack in lucidity, they more than make up for in quantity. When this fellow ran out of paper to stick to his vehicle he took to scribbling his thoughts across the body of the truck.

Is there a populist trend going on here?
Or is it just looney people giving voice to their inner demons.

Perhaps Mcluhan was wrong.
Maybe the media isn’t the message. Maybe the media is the medication.

Maybe the best way to treat delusional people is to give them communication tools that will allow them to exorcise their misshapen thoughts on a daily basis.

Get it out of their system, as it were.

Tools that will enable them to speak freely. On anything and everything that troubles their twisted minds. From radicalized terrorists and greedy CEO’s, to the insanity of organized religion and Chicken McNuggets.

Oh wait a minute….

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Brown lays a turd.

Earlier this week Texas Senator Betty Brown suggested that Asian Americans consider changing their names to something more “American” sounding.

You know, to make things easier for the rest of us.

Ms. Brown caught a lot of flak for her remarks. All of it, undeserved.

Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, indeed Americans of all stripes, should change their name.

To something that sounds more Jewish.

That would make things a lot easier for me.

If everyone had a Jewish sounding last name, it’d be a lot easier to pick a doctor from an HMO list of approved physicians. Picking a dentist, a lawyer or even a plumber out of the phone book would be a snap as well.

If everybody had a Jewish-sounding last name, we’d put those White Supremacists out of business. Their paranoid theories about a Zionist Occupied Government would tumble like a House of B’nai Brith membership cards.

I think President Barry Obamawitz ought to introduce this legislation immediately.

Frankly, I’m tired of over-tipping under-performing waitresses to avoid heaping scorn on my tribe and fueling the stereotype of the thrifty Hebrew. If all surnames sounded Semitic, I would not feel so singled out.

One day, I would like to be able to leave an 11 or 12% gratuity.
Or no tip at all.
Because sometimes, the soup really is cold.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Less talking, more doing.

Just read a great piece about advertising strategists written by the Ad Contrarian.

I was reminded of a two-day, off-site presentation, by these same strategists, that I was forced to attend several years ago. The riveting topic: The New Dynamics of Luxury Purchasing Behaviors.

There, I learned that people with greater discretionary income generally buy goods and services that require greater discretionary income.

That kind of insight does not come easily. Nor, it seems, can it be dispensed rapidly.

It required an entire weekend. And men and women with long obtuse titles, bloviating about “core brand essence” and “actionable communications integrity” and “platform architecture construction.”

And of course, it takes charts. Lots and lots of charts. Chock full of rhomboids, trapezoids and parallelograms designed to illuminate and bring clarity to issues only an Advertising Planner could possibly comprehend.

I employed some Euclidean geometry of my own to summarize the painfully long winded presentation and shared it with the Executive Creative Director seated next to me.

There’s a lot to be said for getting raises, carting home bonuses and moving up the corporate ladder. But there's even more to be said for shattering the faux formality of an executive conference room by making Diet Pepsi erupt from your boss’s nose.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This company is hiring!

I have enjoyed being a freelance Copywriter/Creative Director for the past five years.

But as we are all too well aware, the economy is in the dumper and ad agencies have been hit especially hard.

Last week, Team One , Saatchi and Saatchi and my alma mater, TBWA Chiat/Day announced big layoffs. (Actually I've worked at all three shops, but Chiat will always be home.)

In any case, it is becoming harder and harder to find employment.

But the Lord, or fate, moves in mysterious ways.
When a door is closed, the flap of a yurt is opened.

Two days ago I dashed my resume and online portfolio ( off to Achmed Ben Moustaffa, Chief Creative Officer for one Afghanistan’s Top Ten Agencies (recently awarded a B+ in Adweek’s Agency Report Card for their breakthrough work on Mountain Dew).

I think they’re going to like my book and the creative credentials I can bring to the organization.

Of course the pay isn’t as high as I’d like and there is some dreaded promotion work. But these days, one cannot be too choosy.

Besides, with some savvy negotiating I think I can get them to throw in comprehensive dental and a paid gym membership at the 24 Hour Fitness Center.

They're in Kabul, aren't they?

We're lost.

Orwell must be spinning in his cylindrical dirt-nap container.


Wouldn't the word MAP have made much more sense?

On second thought, if you have to label something WAYFINDER or even MAP, chances are the folks requiring that kind of clarification are not equipped with the faculty to use either.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pirate Repellent

At this writing, pirates are still holding the captain of a US ship off the coast of Africa.

These are not your peg-leg, eyepatch-wearing, swashbucklers of the Errol Flynn variety. These pirates are a motley crew of lanky, uneducated Somalis who choose to chew on khat and feed off the fruits of labor of others.

For the life of me, I don’t understand why the owners of these ships do not set sail with a small crew of mercenaries to fend off any pirate attacks. One guy sitting in the crow’s nest with a pair of binoculars and an RPG ought to do the trick.

But what do I know of maritime operations?

What I do know is that most of these 4th world thugs are followers of the Koran. And if there’s one thing that repels Islamists, it’s homosexuality. According to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, there is not one gay man or gay women in all of Iran.

That suggests to me that Somali pirates would steer clear of any ships sailing off the coast of Somalia flying the rainbow flag. A flag that says, in no uncertain terms:

“We here. We’re queer. And if you illegally board our boat we’re going to mercilessly taunt you about the clothes you’re wearing.”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sandy Save

The 2009 Masters Tournament begins today. But as America watches Sergio, Phil and Tiger tame Amen Corner, let us collectively say “Go in Peace” to the Golgotha Fun Park in Cave City, Kentucky.

Here, miniature golfers could enjoy a once in lifetime experience of putting a ball through the Jonah’s Whale.

Or carefully lag a ball up the Hill of Ascension.

Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but watch out for the double breakers on the 14th hole, the always-treacherous Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Sadly, the Golgotha Fun Park is going out of business. Another victim in this ailing economy. We can throw billions of dollars at Wall Street, Detroit and the soul-less pinstriped executives of AIG, but where’s the bailout money for the Jesus-Themed Miniature Golf Entrepreneurs of this country?

Where Mr. President?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We're outtahere.

It’s Passover again.

And tonight we will read, for the umpteenth time, the story about Moses leading his people (my people) from slavery to freedom.

But the Haggadah also tells us another story. One that gets lost in the action and adventure of burning bushes and parting seas.

Of course, I’m referring to the courageous, astronomically resilient, ancient Egyptians.

In the face of an ornery G-d, these brave and stubborn people stood their ground and endured plagues and pestilence that would surely undo lesser men.

Fast-forward some 3000 years.

Let’s imagine a young Native American, wielding a stick that could turn into a snake, called for a return of all the lands from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

And let’s suppose he backed up that demand with the threat of a shore-to-shore infestation of locusts, followed by frogs, followed by flies.

And what if after the flies, the frogs and the locusts cleared, every man, woman and child found themselves covered head-to-toe in puss-filled boils. (I’ve seen the panic that ensues when one kid at school reports some head lice, and that’s not pretty.)

Those are only plagues 1 through 4.

I can only speak for myself when I say that my family and I would not be sticking around for the remaining six, including the still undefined mysterious “murrain.”

No, unlike those stout Egyptians, we would have tossed in the towel, packed up the Samsonite luggage and boarded the first plane to Eastern Poland, land of my Kossack-abused forefathers.

Goodbye Culver City.
Hello Grodzno.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Field trip

I should be driving a brand new BMW 6 Series or a Porsche 911, but I don't because my kids go to private school.

It's a sacrifice my wife and I are willing to make because we believe there's nothing more important than a well-rounded education.

In addition to the small class sizes, the personal attention, and the focus on creative thinking, the kids are also exposed to learning experiences they just wouldn't get at a public school.

Recently, the 7th graders boarded a jet and flew to Washington, DC.

There, they learned how government works or doesn't work (that turn of phrase gratuitously lifted from an old America West newspaper ad written by Matt Bogen) and took a deep dive into the history of our forefathers.

They learned how these dedicated patriots fashioned a country.

My daughter took many photos and saw first hand, how a grateful nation immortalized these men and women with magnificent monuments, etching their names in beautiful marble and stone so that generation upon generation could honor their contributions to Western Civilization:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Take the blinders off

Apparently, this girl has been searching for me on Facebook. And despite my 500+ connections has been unable to track me down.

My wife of 17 years told me that if she finds me, and is still willing, I'm free to "go off the reservation."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"What can we get you fellas?"

With regards to the Taliban, it is time for President Obama to reverse some of the disastrous decisions made by the previous administration. After billions of dollars have been spent rebuilding Iraq, reconstructing Afghanistan and resupplying Pakistan, we have made no progress with those who would seek to destroy us.

We can no longer pursue this direction.

We must approach the Taliban, and all the radical Islamists in the region, with an open mind. And open ears. We must let them air out their grievances.

But more important than talk is action.
We must be willing to give these people what they want.

In yesterday’s Los Angeles Times Taliban Chief Baitullah Mahsud stated, quite unequivocally, “Martyrdom is our aim. We would be very happy if we could achieve that.”

We Americans are an accommodating bunch.

I know that we have the wherewithal and the generosity of spirit to help Mr. Mahsud, and his followers, achieve the goals they so deeply desire.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Nine Lives of the Third Reich

I had heard of these creatures before. It came to me as one of those funny links that get passed around by copywriters and art directors. You know, when we’re not engaged in the serious business of brand building.

But I had never seen a Cat that Looked Like Hitler, a Kitler if you will, until yesterday. I snagged this one with my iPhone.

Note the steely stare.

The exposed claws.

And the general air of superiority, as if to say, “Stand back Juden! Or I will scratch your Semitic eyes out and annex the Sudatenland.”