Monday, December 11, 2017

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas time. And I can't believe that in the nine years I've been writing this blog I've never taken the time to give you, the 21 regular readers of Roundseventeen, a Christmas gift. 

Shame on me. 

Thankfully, and due in no small part to the relentless efforts of Precedent Shitgibbon, the War on Christmas is now officially over. So not only can I finally say Merry Christmas, I can match the thought with deed.

And I suspect, we're all in serious need of some yuletide cheer. 

Southern California and the Middle East are going up in flames.

Sexual predators are reproducing like sexual predators.

And North Korea is still trying to decide which West Coast city to target with their Big Boom Boom nuclear weapon. For selfish reasons I hope they don't choose Los Angeles. Or Seattle. Or San Francisco. Or Portland.

I hope they pick Oceanside, I once bought some bad weed in Oceanside.

Let's get back to the gift giving.

The thing I hear most, whether it's via email, text, the rare phone call, or the even rarer personal appearance at an ad agency, is how much people love it when I take planners down a notch. I've even got a got a few loyalists who forward me articles, anecdotes and youtube videos. Mostly videos of wild haired Brits who have carved out a niche for themselves in the arena of Fecal Thought Tossing. I won't say their names, but they rhyme with Dingy and Flaris.

Truth is, between the amount of material I am sent and the real life interactions I've accumulated I could fill the pages of Roundseventeen with nothing but planning-related blog entries. The other truth is I have no desire to paint all planners with the same brush of tar. Some are actually helpful. The one I worked with with last week. And the team of planners I'm working with this week, come to mind.

They're smart.
And concise.
Concision is so underrated.

Today's gift springs from none of that.

In fact, what I'm about to show you was buried deep within a 156 page, 3/4 inch thick planning brief I received a long time ago from an agency that will remain anonymous and a client that will also remain anonymous. Suffice to say, we were asked to pimp pizza that had bacon stuffed in the crust.

I'm not the brightest bulb in the package. If I were, I'd be writing a TV show or movies. Or hawking my newest book on an around-the-world book tour paid for by Random House. Staying at fancy hotels and abusing my room service privileges.

"Hi, can you send up a $23 pitcher of orange juice and the $78 dollar lox and bagel plate?"

But come on, it's pizza, with bacon, how hard can it be to figure that out?

This hard:

I don't know about you but every time I look at this poorly-crafted chart my jaw, already in the slack position from 30 plus years in this business, finds a new level of slackiness. It hurts that someone thought a chart like this would be useful. It hurts even more than I have to be given direction by someone who prepares a chart like this.

And this, which says so little but also says so much, is emblematic of advertising today.

Somebody (somebodies - a team, a pod or a SWAT) took the time to prepare this. Somebody higher up the chain had to approve it. A client had to sign off on it. And then, three hours of valuable time had to be wasted presenting this, and other nonsense, to a bunch of cynical, overpaid creatives who had to fight like hell not to do a spit take of high priced non-fat lattes across the table.

I look at this and reflect on the nature of our business. And in the vernacular of the day and that awful sense of helplessness that I see so much of these days...

"I just can't."

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