Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In search of Larry

Yesterday, I spoke about how we are living in the UnGolden Age of Car Advertising. Most of it sucks. And I don't see it improving any time soon.

Let me tell you about a better time.

I had the good fortune of coming up in the business when Rubin Postaer & Associates was hitting its stride. When every ad coming from the Brentwood headquarters was an award winner. And when every month saw a reciprocal jump in sales.

Both of which made for a very happy Honda client.

Much of the credit belongs to the incredibly talented people in the Creative Department. But even at a young impressionable age and from my lowly viewpoint in the windowless mail room, I could see the success all started with the unwavering tutelage of one Larry Postaer.

I rarely ran in to Larry during my days at the agency. He was always quietly holed up in his office. So what I knew of him came secondhand from the staff, who would tell stories.

Stories about how Larry would mercilessly kill their work.
Stories about his somewhat ruthless demeanor.
Stories about his ceaseless demand for excellence.

But the stories were always tempered with admiration. And begrudging reverence. Because these copywriters and art directors knew -- they absolutely knew -- that if and when their work cut the mustard with Larry, it would sail on through to production.

There would be no gut check with the account people. No review with the planners to make sure the "work was on strategy." And most importantly, no meddling from the junior clients, who might dare to suggest a different car color or ask a stupid question.

Client: Our target audience doesn't go to museums. Does the car have to be in a museum?

Larry: Yes.

End of discussion.

Today, many people talk about the demise of advertising and its diminishing effects and want to point the finger at media fragmentation. I would suggest otherwise.

I believe it's more in the realm of leadership fragmentation. There are too many "leaders." Too many constituents. Too many levels. Too many goddamn internal reviews.

We need fewer cooks in the kitchen.

And more chefs, like Larry Postaer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

This will get me unhired

It should comes as no surprise, but this blog is actually nothing more than unabashed self-promotion.

And it works.

I can't tell you how many people call me out of the blue, say they've been reading RoundSeventeen and then ask if I'd be available for a gig.

Today's post is going to knock that number down by one.

Because after reading this, there's a good chance the agencies, the creative directors and maybe even the clients will say, "I don't want Siegel working on my car account."

Frankly, I don't care.

Because I look out onto the vast wasteland of car advertising and feel the need to say what needs to be said.









Stop me when I've hit a false note.

I don't even need to name the brands. And frankly it wouldn't matter. They're all the same. I can't tell the _______ spots from the _______ spots. Which look remarkably like the __________ campaign.

It's as if they're all reading from the same playbook. All trotting out the same formulas.

Formula 1 -- Open on shot of car coming straight at camera. Add beat-driven European house music. Intercut with impossibly-attractive models in expensive, fresh-pressed clothing. End with stupid line about Driving Loud or Drive Your Passion or We Speak Driving. Big Logo.

Formula 2 -- Slow thoughtful music. Long lingering shots of car in slow motion. Celebrity-read aspirational tripe ripped from the journals of Walt Whitman or an unused Tony Robbins motivational tape. Big Logo.

Formula 3 -- Obtuse story about obtuse people with obtuse fetishized collections. We follow two hipsters, Jeremy and Sunshine as they criss cross the country in their new _______  Crossover vehicle, finding and buying antique tubas. End on couple putting large tuba in their large cargo area. Big Logo.

I've seen it all. What I don't see amongst the billions of dollars being wasted on on such video eyewash is anything resembling persuasion. I can't remember the last time I saw a car spot and said, "oooh, I wish I had that car" or "I wish I had a car with that thing" or "I wish I knew more about that thing on that car."

Am I saying I could do better?

In this day and age when copywriters and art directors are given 24 hours to crack a brief. When they are expected to work at the Long Table of Mediocrity™. And when every goddamned original idea must get past the watchful eye of a 27 year old planner with proven consumer insight and uncanny expertise way beyond his or her years.

No, I'm not sure I could do any better.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Caught on tape

I'm a big believer in cameras.

Years ago, following an incident with a man-child neighbor that involved my lawn, rock salt and $600 worth of replacement grass, I decided to install a security system. My wife and kids thought, and still do, that I was crazy.

But like all Siegels, I do not make for a very good victim.

The cameras went in and thanks to the magic of video I have a pretty good idea who the culprit was.

Years later, the good people at Nest came out with newer, fancier security cameras that record in fabulous HD. And because they did their due diligence and confabulated the flik flaks with enhanced HTML-Java 9, DSC technology, those cameras can also record in wonderful infra-red.

Meaning my little Culver City castle enjoys round the clock surveillance.

This came in handy last week.

I was walking to my car and just to the left of my walkway I noticed a Mount St. Helen's-sized mound of dogshit. Not only was this multi-part hill of excrement huge, it was moist. You don't have to be a forensics graduate of the FBI Academy to know that it was left there not too long ago.

So I cancelled my afternoon appointment and went back in the house to go to the videotape.

There were a lot of cars passing on the streets. Lots of moms pushing their $300 Swedish-made baby strollers. And a lot of Mexican guys in vests plastering doorsteps with coupons from the local dry cleaners, pizza shops and real estate officers.

But then, there was also this...


Here's the deal.

Dear skinny, cavalier lady with the little brown Siberian Husky. You'd be better start bringing plastic baggies on your dog walks and remove the massive dumps from my lawn or I will find out where you live and in the middle of the night gladly return the favor.

Oh, and I don't have a dog.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Gone Phishing

As mentioned last Thursday, I have stumbled onto a new thing. With my wife's begrudging permission, I have embarked on a digital love adventure.

I started screening free letters from And I started replying.

You may remember years ago, I published a book -- that none of you bought -- called Tuesdays With Mantu, My Adventure With A Nigerian Con Artist. In it, I replied to those ubiquitous Nigerian Scam Emails, you know:

"I have been left $12 million dollars by my uncle Mbuto, but need your assistance getting the money out of the country."

That was then.

This is now.

I received so many positive reviews of last week's AsiaDate correspondence, I've decided to give Thursday over to a continuing series. So with no further ado, meet Jaime.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Change is afoot

In addition to self identifying as America's crankiest Freelance Copywriter, I'm also a canary in a coal mine.

Allow me to explain.

Being out here, with no corporate safety net and wasting my days cold calling potential clients, I have excessive time and opportunity to make meaningless observations on our industry. Exhibit #1: RoundSeventeen.

Towards the end of 2007, I noticed a shift in the wind. My permalance gig at Chiat/Day had come to an unexpected close. The landline had stopped ringing. And the marketplace was gripped with fear.

By 2008, true to my prediction, we had gone into a full-on freefall.

It's ten years later, and I've got a tickle in my canary throat. Things are changing in adland. Particularly, and I'm no Nostradamus for saying this, for advertising agencies.

Two weeks ago, my partner and I were contacted by a large firm.

They had been invited to a pitch for an up-and-coming brand that had real upside potential. We worked out the logistics and the finances and then proceeded to dig in. We did taglines, brand platforms, outdoor boards and OOH, and a bevy of the obligatory brand activation units.

More importantly we did it from the comfort of my home in Culver City. In between bursts of creativity, there was the jocularity of finding fun shit on the Internet, a quick run to the store for more coffee and of course, the legendary sandwiches from Jackson Market.

More pleasantly, there weren't any daily check ins. No interruptions by planners. No gun-to-the-head deadlines. And no gawd awful "thought starters." (I've been doing this for more than 25 years. I know where good ideas come from. And where they don't come from.)

When the deck was presented it was met with laughter, enthusiasm and wild appreciation.

"These are such great ideas."

"There so much here, we don't even know where to start."

"You guys hit it out of the ballpark."

Not to sound immodest, but I've enjoyed this euphoric experience at many ad agencies in this past. Probably in direct proportion to the amount of times I've seen work go down in the flames of corporate cretinism.

But what's noteworthy here and why holding companies should be at DefCon 5, is all this didn't place at an advertising agency.

We, and I suspect this will be happening a lot more in the future, were working at the behest of a PR Firm.

Suck on that Marty.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Better Empower and Share

If you're like me you've noticed there's a lot of Better in the air. Not so much in our lives. Precedent Shitgibbon and his band of clueless amateurs threaten to pull the plug on civilization on a daily, almost, hourly basis. So things aren't actually Better.

But we're definitely hearing a lot more Better. And I choose to capitalize the word because there's a distinctive gestalt about it, particularly from a marketing point of view.

It's only May and I've seen campaigns for Better cars, Better laundry detergents, Better burgers, even Better butter.

It's as if planners and strategists all came out of the same focus groups and meetings and rushed to their keyboards because they had, through grit, rigor and determination, uncovered the holy grail of 2017 -- Better.

And I'm guilty party to it. If you want commercials, campaigns or brand activation units about Better, I'm your man. You better believe that.

Just as I was your man in 2016 when the collective gestalt was all about Empowering.

There were Empowering Toaster Ovens.

Empowering Toothpastes.

Empowering SUV's.

Even Empowering Mosquito Repellents.

Hell, it was pretty clear that in 2016 people felt they had lost all control over their lives and by golly this nation's makers of garden hoses, post-it notes and microwavable breakfasts were going to fix all that and Empower the people.

But before there was Better, and before there was Empowering, there was Sharing.

In 2015, we Shared so much.

Who could forget all those Shareable moments when we gathered round the Tostitos Scoopable Chips and shared A Whole Lot of Awesome™ and our favorite Tostitos Dips, including Roasted Garlic, Spinach and Salsa Con Queso.

I may not remember who was playing in the NFC Conference Championship Game that year, but the memory of being with friends and family and other Tostitos Brand Chip Lovers will be with me for a lifetime and probably one I Share on my deathbed.

Who knows what kind of thoughtfuckery planners have in store for next year.

One thing is for sure, I'll be there with my keyboard, my dark roasted coffee and my exorbitant day rate to pimp the hell out of that shit.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Congratulations, you won.

The other day somebody told me I won.

I had put up a snarky remark on one of the social media political sites. I won't bore you with which one, I make so many snarky remarks I can't remember which snark-enhanced missive had earned the victory. I only know that I won.

And not some cheap trinket that one could easily secure at a carnival midway. Nor some gaudy zirconium-encrusted belt coveted by hairless, steroid-enhanced "professional" wrestlers given to ranting and raving at MAGA crowds.

No, I had won something bigger. More substantial. Something enormous.

I won the Internet!

Naturally, I thought it was too good to be true. But I didn't hear it from just one person, I heard it from many.

"That's brilliant, you win."

"Sir, you have won the Internet today."

"ROFL, LMFAO, the Internet belongs to you today, buddy."

Pretty intoxicating.

Not only to receive the glowing praise of total strangers but to also find out that my affinity for cracking wise can result in some type of astronomical cash prize. If I won the Internet, it's gotta be worth something, right?

Not so fast, Sparky. Turns out it has as much value as an advertising executive promising a client "brand loyalty" or "this FFDKK -- Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knack™-- will engage the consumer and stimulate meaningful and fruitful brand dialogue."

And then it struck me, actually it struck my friend Paul, who had also seen that I had won the Internet, that it should mean something. This is actually a good idea for Google. What if, during the course of the day, Google randomly awarded $100 or even $1000 to a computer-curated comment deemed to have won the Internet.

It wouldn't be hard to do. Nor would it be expensive. Pffft, those people are just printing money up there in Mountain View, home of the $21 Tiny Artisanal Croissant.

Moreover, by the end of the year, Google will have compiled a Best of the Best if the Internet. That can easily be turned into...wait, what is that the kids call it these days...oh yeah, Content.

Best of all, this new brick-and-mortar prize awarding approach will increase competition. People will go out of their way to craft smart, witty, razor-sharp repartee. And it will weed out the losers. Discouraging wannabees from clogging up our interwebs with dull, facile, yawn-inducing comments and replies.

Because, as Kamau Bell put it after witnessing grown white Republicans crossing swords with their new Saudi friends, "If you can't be funny in 2017, you can't be funny." 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Makes Me Happy

I might have mentioned this a few weeks ago, but as a lark I answered a phishing scheme from Asia

Much to my delight, my mailbox has been flooded with titillating offers from Asian ladies looking for old, fat Jewish guys with oversized noses.

And so, because I have no hobbies and it's an easy way to amuse myself, I have taken on the fake persona of David Goldstein and started writing back.


If the analytics on this post indicate any success I will publish a new letter (I have more than 75 ready to be addressed) and any return correspondence, every Thursday until the joke wears itself out. Or, until my wife tells me to cut the shit.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must write back to Sunny, who likes to shell peanuts and bring great dishonor to dirty clothing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In the Holy Land.

It's Wednesday where we are.
It's Wednesday Night, possibly into Thursday, where my daughter Abby is.

Two days ago, she set off on her Birthright program. By the way, I hate that name, as it implies some kind of genetic privilege, which should be an anathema to any Jew.

Nevertheless, I do understand the intent of the program.

For those who don't know, Birthright provides a free trip to Israel to any kid 17-26, who can show Jewish lineage. Even partial lineage. The purpose is to expose, enlighten and preserve.

My daughter is a Bat Mitzvah and has had plenty of exposure to her religion. She also graduated from a Catholic High School, so she is well versed in other religions as well.

Enlighten? Well, having been raised by a cranky militant atheist father, me, and an on-the-fence agnostic, my wife, there's not much room for enlightenment. As the other campers on the tour will soon discover, my daughter is quite the Nihilist. A funny one, at that.

Preservation is a whole other thing. Some of you less-informed readers might be thinking...

"Jesus Christ, what is with you Jews and your obsession with self-preservation?"

Allow me to elaborate.

That obsession has been earned. Forged in the fire of slavery, de-Judaization, the Spanish Inquisition, the Diaspora, pogroms and less than a hundred years ago, a mass genocide at the hands of people who swore to kill every Jew on Earth. And unless you haven't been to a movie theater in the last 30 years, you'd know they did a pretty good job.

By 1945, they had murdered 1 out of every 3 Jews on the planet.

If you had a family of six it would now be a family of four. Two of your loved ones would have been butchered, raped and slaughtered simply because they believed in a God, the same god who figuratively gave birth to Jesus and/or Allah.

Also, and you'd never know this paging through the credits on a TV sitcom or if you were looking for a lawyer or a good dentist or if you were scanning the list of Nobel Prize winners, but there are only 15 million Jews on the planet today; living, breathing and sending the cold soup back to the kitchen.

In short, every Jew counts.

I'm going to climb down off this soapbox, now.

But before I do, what's with the divider separating the men from the women at the Wailing Wall (see picture above)?

It's hard to maintain the thin veneer of moral superiority when my own tribe is participating in this patriarchal bullshit.

God damn, you religious people are stupid.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Got my mojo working

The NBA playoffs are in full swing.

I don't really pay much attention to basketball unless my beloved Syracuse Orangemen are playing --not very well of late -- or until the playoffs kick in. Truth is, as my brother often points out, you can skip the first three quarters of any game and just tune in to the fourth-and-decisive quarter and still come away satisfied.

But, with so much tsuris emanating form Precedent Shitgibbon and his band of conniving half-wits, the playoff games provides much needed relief.

One thing, even obvious to the casual observer, is how a shooter can get on a streak. A 3 pointer from downtown...a jumper from top of the key...floats a teardrop...another 3 pointer from beyond the arch.

It's a matter of rhythm and confidence. It's how success breeds success.

It's not a phenomena exclusive to 6' 4" point guards from Baltimore or Detroit. Ad people can find it too.

Lately, a lot more of my work is coming directly from clients. Meaning I'm put in the unenviable position of talking with people. That's not always easy for a misanthrope like myself.

And as many agency people will tell you, in my younger days I was not the kind of person you wanted to trot out in front of clients. Opinionated and stubborn and lacking in personal hygiene is not a winning formula, they might have added.

It's different now.

I've learned to put some distance between myself and the work. I know I can't control the outcome of any situation. And so I don't try. I simply put what I consider my best foot forward and offer up my honest opinion. Not in a hard-headed obstinate way, like I might have done in the past. But in a pared-down straightforward manner that is devoid of any agenda.

In recent weeks, I have found myself saying, with a new found quiet confidence,

"You (Mr. or Ms. Client) have to do your homework."

"I understand where you are coming from, but I wouldn't do it that way."

"I know I'm shortchanging myself out of money, but here is the way I would approach that."

Even more surprising, this shit works.

It's almost as if the less I care, the more persuasive I become. This is an incredible revelation to be learning so late in my career.

Other observations, I have made.

The NBA halftime show with Charles Barkley, Kenny the Jet, Ernie and Shaquile O'Neal is the one of the funniest on all of television.

Tina Fey, while funny on SNL and a talented writer, has no business doing those AmEx commercials.


Monday, May 15, 2017

I can swim

Last week, I received a message from LinkedIn. The good folks at the data mining company informed me that I had come up on 13 years in my current position.

Ironic, because my current position is not a position at all.

I can gussy it up all I want, but the truth is I'm an unemployed freelancer. The other truth is I never thought my career trajectory would go this way. In my mind I was between jobs. Just waiting for the right opportunity to come knocking on my door.

Turns out there weren't many ad agencies looking to pay a handsome sum of money to a cranky copywriter who was never willing to compromise on quality. And even less willing to work late or on the weekends.

And so I found myself gigging. Leapfrogging from one assignment to another. From one dysfunctional ad agency with free bagels to another dysfunctional ad agency with artisanal iced coffee.

It was terrifying at first. Particularly since I had two young princesses to feed and spoil wildly. Two mortgages. And a mountain of bills from the Bosley Hair Replacement Center for a treatment program that proved itself ineffective.

Of course I had no one to blame but myself.

If there was any pain, it was all self-induced. I had quit my lucrative position as a Group Creative Director at Y&R, where the work we were doing was hit or miss, and blindly leapt off the cliff into the unknown.

As you might expect there was fear. But that fear was far outweighed by not having to commute 106 miles every fucking day on the 405 Fucking Freeway --or as I refer to it, Satan's Dirty Anal Tract.

In many ways it was reminiscent of the way my father taught me to swim.

Having watched all the other dads, with their slim waists and full heads of hair, patiently coax their kids into kicking and paddling and alternately swinging their arms to stay afloat, my father dispensed with all the niceties. He hoisted me up and to the dismay of my screaming mother, simply tossed me in the deep end of the pool. Somehow I managed to claw my way to the edge, where my father announced, quite proudly...

"There, he's a swimmer."

So now I've got 13 years behind me as a semi-successful freelancer. I'm only 44 years old, so hopefully there will be another 13 years in front of me.

After that, I'm done. Because quite frankly I can't imagine any agency in their right mind needing the services of a seasoned copywriter in his mid-fifties.

That's crazy talk.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My cup runneth over

I had no intention of doing a RoundSeventeen Themed Week, but as you might have noticed the three previous postings from this week were all centered around Precedent Shitgibbon.

And so is this one.

I don't know what it's like at your household, but here in the heart of Culver City blood pressure is spiking to heretofore unseen levels.

When my wife and I are not screaming at the TV. We are seriously paging through the Aliyah pamphlets and contemplating a move to the Holy Land where we would ironically feel safer than we currently do in America and the rise of the Fourth Reich.

My liver, overworked by a nightly three fingers worth of Maker's Mark has been producing more bile than my body knows what to do with. Consequently it has poured itself all over the blog.

Perhaps it's because I'm a so-called writer or perhaps it's because meaningful political persuasion is way above my pay grade, but I've become fascinated with Shakespearean insults as well as the practice of linguistic antibacchius.

antibacchius -- compounds consisting of one element of a single stressed syllable and a second disyllabic element with a trochaic pattern, i.e., stressed unstressed.

Of course, it's more fun to eat the sausage than it is to see or discuss how it's made. So with no further ado, here are my favorite names for our current commander in chief.

Churlish, earth-vexxing jizztrumpet

Paunchy, beef-witted taintbiscuit

Frothy, gore-bellied flapdragon

Lumpish, clay-brained shitmandril

Reeky, clapper-clawed pissweasel

Mammering, dog-hearted hugger mugger

Fawning, idle-headed toadsucker

I encourage you to use any or all of these colorful descriptors when referring to our heartless leader.

Also, if you prefer pictures over words, please free to use this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Holocaust? What Holocaust?

Years ago, the leaders in Iran, thought it would be a clever idea to sponsor a Holocaust Cartoon Contest, after all nothing delights the soul or pleases Allah more than the desecration of 6 million corpses.

Moreover it would be a perfect way to exact some type of revenge on those Jews, who not only found a way to make the desert bloom, but also had a nuclear bomb, Stuxnet, and better tasting falafels.

What they didn't count on was two enterprising young Israelis who, in a brilliant display of free speech and one-upmanship, did a ju-jitsu on the Persian leaders and created their own Holocaust Cartoon Contest.

The cartoons in Tel Aviv were darker.
And as expected, funnier.
No one does self-loathing better than us.

I bring all this up because I am a 1st Amendment Absolutist. I don't agree with many of the European countries and their restrictive laws regarding Holocaust denial or access to Nazi ideology. Hateful speech is more detrimental to those speaking it than it is those hearing it.

Voltaire put it best, "I don't defend what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."

You could argue that this is the very cornerstone of American democracy. Not sure however, if you'd get agreement on this from Precedent Shitgibbon.

I'm not even sure he knows of Voltaire.

"Voltaire? That crappy French restaurant on the Upper West Side. Had a steak there once. They didn't even have ketchup. SAD."

Seems the man who criss-crossed the country telling us that political correctness has destroyed America and left the country a disaster, a terrible, horrible disaster, feels he is free to bloviate at will but the rest of us simply are not.

Last week, we not only saw a woman being federally prosecuted for laughing at a congressional hearing, but the chairman of the FCC was instructed to investigate and prosecute Steven Colbert for cracking a politically incorrect joke over the airwaves; suggesting that Trump's mouth was nothing more than Vladmir Putin's cockholster.

By far, my favorite phrasing off 2017.

The hypocrisy here is glaring. Particularly after the infamous pussy-grabbing affair.

Or as my astute wife noted after hurling a string of unmentionable invectives at our favorite frothy, triple-chinned jizztrumpet...

"Come on Donnie, it's just locker room talk."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What have they been doing?

By most accounts, the new healthcare bill, TrumpCare™, that passed last week is a paper turd.

It had a 17% approval rating in public polls.
It will lead to 24 million Americans losing their coverage.
And it was rejected by 20 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

I don't want to get all wonky and dive into the details. Fact is, I don't even understand how the deductibles work on my car insurance. I'm not about to tackle waivers, high risk pools, and affordable exchanges.

Here's what I do know -- the business world.

I know how corporate organizations work.
I know how tasks get delegated.
I know how deadlines get met.
I know about optics.
I've seen it at the best ad agencies. The worst agencies. And even at great agencies who are no longer at their best.

Shit gets done.

For 8 years we've heard the Republicans in Congress bitching and moaning about Obamacare and its Death Panels. We've heard them yakking about jobs and how the previous administration had failed working class Americans. And then there's the National Debt, now near 20 trillion dollars. We heard them panic on that as well...

"If we don't do something about the debt soon, we'll be bankrupting our grandchildren."

Well, six months ago the pasty-faced white men in their Joseph A. Banks suits got a gift from heaven (or Moscow.) They were unbound, free to impose their myopic will and make their legislative mark on America. But it hasn't exactly gone as planned.

Let me tell you what would have happened if these were ad people and not politicians.

On January 20th, shortly after a royal walk down Pennsylvania Ave., Precedent Shitgibbon would arrive at the Oval Office. And before he even had time to order a Coke, there would've been a thick document sitting on his desk, waiting for his immediate signature. That document, a viable ObamaCare alternative would have been carefully crafted by people who worked nights and weekends to dot every i and cross every t.

This new healthcare bill would have covered every American. Would have lowered premiums. And would have been blessed by every Republican in the House and the Senate. It would have been so meticulously thought out there would simply be no need for revisions or committees.

But before they all retired to the Rose Garden for beer and high fives, Eddie Munster (Paul Ryan) would have placed another thick document before COTUS -- our Cockholster Of The United States.

A jobs bill.

A comprehensive, creative piece of legislation encompassing 8 years of their best thinking, to lower unemployment, and guarantee working Americans a better shot at the future. That too, would have unanimous approval by the Republicans, after all they would have spent the better part of a decade canoodling and tweaking the bill to perfection.

And finally, before the ink was even dry on the new Healthcare Bill and the new Jobs Bill, and before the press photographers ran out of digital space on their SD cards, our orange-haired twatwaffle would have been presented a new budget.

One that also reflected 8 years of nose-to-the-grindstone work. A budget that would lower spending, reduce our collective debt and put us on the path to financial sanity.

Oh and since it was prepared by ad people, not worthless politicians, it'd probably include some hashtags and brand activation ideas.

All of which begs the question,

"What the fuck have these bible-thumping, khaki-pants wearing, illiterate frat boys been doing for the past 8 years?"

Monday, May 8, 2017

Off and running

An Open Letter to my daughters:

Dear Rachel & Abby,

As you know your mother and I have recently updated the living will and trust. Many of the terms and conditions still apply, including the power of attorney clause.

Should I ever find myself choking on a Swedish meatball and turning blue and losing oxygen flow leaving me with all the mental capacities of a Red State Voter in Iowa's 4th Congressional District, please feel free, no, obligated to yank the plug from the wall and donate my remaining puree meals to the poor schmuck in the hospital bed next to me.

And rest assured that certain financial arrangements are still in place for you with regards to any liquid assets or subsequent sale of the house. However, and this is the difficult part of this letter, there may be substantially less money than you had previously been led to believe.

Here's why.

Your mother and I have decided to move to Sioux City, Iowa. OK, I'm still working on convincing mom, but I'm dead set on going. The plan is to establish residency in this very white, very Republican, very goyish 4th District and dethrone current Representative Steve King, not the author, the miscreant.

Rep. King once famously stated the "female body has the ability to prevent pregnancy in cases of incest or rape."

King also proposed electrifying the fence on our southern border because it's been proven to work on livestock.

Are we (?) going all the way to Sioux City to support and fund raise and campaign for a new candidate and help him or her unseat this walking talking flesh-sack of idiocy?


The plan is grander than that.

Your inheritance, the money you have been eyeing since the time you accidentally opened an envelope from Fidelity Investments, is being redirected. It will nourish the seeds of a political newbie. A man of principle. Common sense. And enough moral indignation for 10 men -- Me.

I have officially reached my boiling point and can no longer watch this feckless Congress and their Fascist flagbearer, the man we call Precedent Shitgibbon. Or, COTUS, Cockholster Of The United States. Or, the churlish, clay-brained, canker blossom.

I'm going to be the change I want to see in this country. You know as soon as I change your mother's mind about picking up and moving to Iowa.



PS. Possible campaign slogan:

The Jew from the City of Sioux.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Truth in Advertising

Today's post is short.

Short because it's the end of a very busy week. And because I rarely get any credit for maintaining consistency, nor the discipline it requires to make these daily observations. Furthermore, as my wife points out, "what's the point of it all?"

A good question considering I spotted the broken window in the picture above on my way home from work one day, and took the time out of my day to go back the very next day just to snap photos of it. Just to document the art of reality. Just to make a blog posting for you.


I'm a giver.




Anyway, the photo is Part One of a two part equation.

Here's Part Two.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Snake Eating Its Tail

There's a been a lot of talk lately about Precedent Shitgibbon's first 100 days in office. This post is not about that.

I'm more concerned about the last 30 days. And by concerned I mean overjoyed.

April 2017 saw the highest traffic numbers for RoundSeventeen since this blog was started about 9 years ago. Nine years? Wow, as my friend Mark Monteiro once noted, I really do have diarrhea of the brain.

Last month, for the very first time, there were more than 20,000 page views. We had come tantalizingly close in the past, hitting numbers like 19, 087, 19, 254 and 19, 457 -- that was the previous high mark.

In April we didn't just nudge past 20, 000 we went rocketing past it like Precedent Shitgibbon's disapproval ratings.

Maybe that doesn't do anything for you.

But my life is pathetic, filled with little joy and even less in the way of validation, so I'm popping the cork on that bottle of sparkling Apple Cider that's been sitting in my garage refrigerator since it went unopened at my daughter's Bat Mitzvah party.

If you're a regular reader of RoundSeventeen you might be wondering what accounts for the sudden surge in viewership.

"He's not funnier."

"He's always whining about advertising."

"His political rants are facile and long in the tooth."

Guilty. Guilty. And very guilty.

The answer is, as it always is, algorithms.

Recently, I was working onsite in an office where my Apple Mail was unable to connect to the server. Subsequently, I was forced to use my rarely-used Gmail account.

There, I noticed a shitload of spam from a mail order bride company in China. Thinking this could be kung pao grist for another book, not unlike my Nigerian spam book, I decided to respond to one of the AsiaDate promos.

And surprise, surprise, Mingyu Lee, a 22 year old cosmetology student from Quang Lo province, was looking a for a 44 year old freelance copywriter to make her dreams come true. And so, it turns out, were a thousand of her friends.

Who knew bald Jewish guys with big noses could be so popular?

Well, now the bots have taken over. Their ads are all over the blog. And the traffic is way, way up. Of course, the numbers and the statistics are all fake and manufactured. But it's 2017 and we have a fobbing,  pottle-deep moldwarp in the White House, so why should that matter?

Besides, according to the incredibly deferential Mingyu:

"Mr. Rich, you are so handsome and verile, with much strong knowledge to share with picnic by cold babbling brook."

Indeed Mingyu, indeed.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Under New Management

I've gotten to a pretty sweet point in my career.

While others are clawing and scratching for work, including the most debasing assignments (see yesterday's posting), I am growing ever more selective about the projects I will accept.

It's not because I'm flush with cash. I don't have Fuck You Money. And never will.

But what I lack in liquid assets I more than make up for in confidence and integrity.

So while the industry makes a turbo-charged race for the bottom, I'm taking, if you'll permit the expression, a more Disruptive™ route.

In addition to the Day Rate I normally charge agencies and clients, I am tacking on additional fees as a means of dealing with the increasing indignities faced by today's nomadic freelancer.

A numeric value has not been assigned to each fee, yet, but this will give a good idea of what to look forward to in the very near future:

Onsite working at the Long Table of Mediocrity Fee...................TBD

Rewriting the Brief in the Middle of Assignment Fee...................TBD

Asking for Adlike Objects Fee.......................................................TBD

Check In with Planners Fee..........................................................TBD

Lunchtime Meeting with No Food Fee..........................................TBD

Soviet Style HR Documentation Fee.............................................TBD


Dealing with Agency Bureaucracy/Politics Fee...........................TBD

Gun-to-the-Head Useless Deadline Fee........................................TBD

Planners Posing as Creative Directors Fee..................................TBD

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Proper May Day Tale of Exploited Labor

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Last week, I got word that a TV campaign I had worked on was greeted with great enthusiasm by the client. Not just one of campaigns, but all of them. And that our collective favorite was in the frontrunner position.

Holy shit, this 44 year old might get something produced.

Of course, that euphoria was short lived. You know, like when you "accidentally" take one extra spoonful of industrial-grade cough medicine.

In my constant effort to keep the freelance train humming, I ran across a help wanted posting on linkedin. A small agency in NY was looking for freelance writers for a last minute pitch. More specifically, they were looking for writers with an interest in football. Not real football, with helmets, shoulder pads, steroids and convicted domestic abusers, but European football, aka, soccer.

I know as much about as soccer as a I know about English Royalty, Russian Literature and Greek Mythology, all loser categories for me when they pop up on Jeopardy.

I self-eliminated, knowing there would be a thousand freelancers in NY ready to feast on that carcass.

I'm glad I did. I heard through the grapevine that the small digital agency doing the hiring had some unconventional thoughts on compensation.

According to my unnamed source, the writers were free to submit as many ideas -- in the form of a one page treatment -- to the Creative Director. He or she would then cull down the pile, paying, are you ready for this, $100 for each accepted submission. That's right, a whole C-Note. (minus the obligatory federal tax deductions needed to pay for Precedent Shitgibbon's weekly Mar A Lago jamboree.)

Pretty enticing, huh? Well, it gets better.

Because should the client decide to move forward with one of the hundred dollar game changing ideas, this small clueless digital agency was willing to pay an extra five Ben Franklins where that came from.

In the course of a week, the industrious and imaginative NYC copywriter could conceivably walk away with a windfall of $600, $700, maybe even $800, in return for setting a worldwide manufacturing of sporting goods on the path to marketing prosperity.

All in all a shameful, disgusting microcosm of where this business is headed.

I began this post with a quote from Charles Dickens.

I'd like to end it with a music video by Terence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.