Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Welcome to the new world


Every once in a while I'll come across the perfect TV commercial.
Perfect writing.
Perfect casting.
Perfect direction.
Perfect editing.
Perfect timing.

It's a rare occurrence.
Made even rarer when it happens in a 15 second spot.

Most 15 second spots I see are mere cutdown of their 30 second brethren. Half the time they don't work. The storytelling is forfeited in lieu of some cheapskate bean counter's need to make the numbers and ship more profits to the mothership in NY. And often times, clients who are intimately aware of the longer version, will just assume the viewer at home will "get it."

Newsflash, they won't.

But I digress.

This 15 second spot is storytelling at its best. I liken it to those contests I often see online challenging the writer to tell a tale in six simple words. You've seen those. Like this Hemmingway classic:

Baby shoes for sale. Never used.

This spot, featuring a baby, has a happier ending.

Maybe.



I'll grant you the connective tissue to TurboTax is a bit specious. And you could argue that this is a classic case of borrowed interest. Nevertheless, every time it comes on, I find myself rewinding the DVR and letting myself soak in the moment.

Particularly the smiling ginger mailman as he enters the room without a care in the world.

There was a time when infidelity and the birth of a bastard child was completely out of bounds for big national advertisers. But that was before we elected a porn star-banging, pussy-grabbing, money-laundering, swastika-embracing president.

It's a new world out there.

Thank you Captain Fuckknuckle.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My weekend with Riley


Today I am sad.

Yesterday my youngest daughter left for her study abroad program in Prague. Considering her volatile mood swings, her propensity for leaving dirty dishes in the sink and her terrible whistling,  this is not the source of my gloominess.

You see yesterday, we also said goodbye to Riley.
Who?

Well, our friends had to fly to Phoenix for a weekend funeral. Their normal dogsitter was unavailable. So we volunteered to help by taking Riley, a 10 year old Aussie Shepherd, for a few days. It was love at first slobber.

Since our dog passed last June, the house has been lacking any canine presence. And it isn't until there's a dog in the house that you begin to realize how they fill a home. It's a little uncanny.

Especially with an Aussie hound like Riley, who immediately identified me as the alpha male in the house and then behaved accordingly.

I went to get a cup of coffee, Riley was there.

I went to watch some basketball, Riley was there.

I went to the bathroom, Riley was there. OK, well parked outside the door waiting with baited breath for me to finish my business.

I had his undivided attention the entire weekend. It's as if Riley saw me as some fat, swarthy sheep that needed to constant herding before being led off to the slaughterhouse to yield 210 lbs. of perfectly marbled lamb chops.

(Homer Simpson voice: Mmmmm, unprocessed lamb chops.)

To wit:



Today, I am sad.
Tomorrow, I am working.
And the day after that. and the day after that.
This weekend, it may be time for a trip to the rescue.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Please me don't tease me


We're less than a week until Super Bowl XVZXVIIXXV.

And you know what that means. The Super Bowl commercials that no one gives a rat's ass about, will be teased with Super Bowl pre-commercials, which impossibly, command even less attention.

I don't know how this phenomena came about. But as you might suspect, I have my suspicions.

I've been in a million and a half advertising meetings. And in my modest 44 years, I've seen it all. Screaming matches between agency principals. Mid afternoon drunkenness. Narcolepsy. Sexual harassment -- not by me, mind you, but by pigs pulling down 7 figure compensation packages. And raging incompetence, Trumpian-level incompetence.

People who are incompetent are not dumb. They recognize their own shortcomings and tend to over compensate with ruthless anal retentiveness. From this, we have the birth of a corporate archetype that I like to call Bobby Boxchecker.

Of course we're not playing any gender politics here, it can also manifest itself in female form, as in Bobbi Boxchecker.

Mr. or Ms. Boxchecker is fond of electronic meeting invites. Agendas. Taking attendance. And lists. Oh god, they love their lists. Particularly the list of creative deliverables. The list endows them with a certain power they possess no where else in life. Hence they go back to their precious little list over and over again.

Years ago I was in a meeting that started with the reading of the creative deliverables and ended with the reading of the creative deliverables.

If memory serves me right, during the bathroom break when I went to "dump all my shares of Hometown Buffet", Bobby Boxchecker saddled up in the stall next to me to give me one additional echo-y rendition of the creative deliverables.

Mostly, they love this list because it chock full of work they don't have to do. Consequently, they have no compunction adding to it.

"Hey the client wants three directions, let's give them four."

"They said they don't have money for a brand manifesto, but we should give them one anyway."

"With data targeting we can customize banners a hundred, maybe a thousand different ways."

And this my friends, is where I believe the Super Bowl pre-tease commercial was born. When some account executive/coordinator, short on skills but long on ambition, mindlessly blurted...

"People love the Super Bowl commercials, why make them wait a week. Let's give them more to love."

To which I wish one clear headed creative would have mentioned that people don't love commercials and shown Bobby or Bobbi Boxchecker this:






Thursday, January 25, 2018

You get a letter. And you get a letter.


Regular readers of this blog, all 8 of them, will tell you there's been a distinct subject matter shift in the past year or so. Less griping about advertising. And more, much more, bitchin' about our current political abomination.

This is not just perception. This is reality. And I'm the first to admit it. I'll also admit that this turn to Washington, D.C. has cost me some readers, with web traffic taking a noticeable dip.

Guess what?
I don't care.

I also don't care about the so-called booming economy. Money is not the measure of a nation's greatness. Nor do I believe the Shitgibbon in charge had much to do with it

What I do care about is the future of our country and what we will be leaving to our kids. From my perspective it's not just the brain-dead hugger-mugger in charge that we have to worry about, it's the 52 Republican Senators who are equally complicit and do nothing while the man with the nuclear codes holds DACA children hostage, pays hush money to porn "stars" and tosses around racial epithets at countries and continents.

So today I start my Thursday Thrashing, wherein I write and hand mail a letter to each of these bumbling tainticklers.

First up, the less than honorable Senator Bob Corker.



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Advenheit 451


I just finished Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury. This, despite the efforts of Precedent Shitgibbon and his limp cease and desist order.

I liked the book, but I wanted to like it more.

It was after all a tell-all account of the sordid, mortifying White House adventures we've all been watching for the past year. And given my visceral hatred of this junk food gobbling, clay brained hugger mugger who now pretends to govern the free world, you'd think I would have ripped through the book in one sitting.

But alas, it wasn't the page turner I thought it would be.

I'm not sure that Michael Wolff is to blame however. The chronological recap is just that, a chronological recap. And due to my voracious appetite on anything Shitgibbon-related, I was fairly familiar with all the grime before Mr. Wolff so eloquently restated it.

What was fascinating and where once again my naivete is so glaringly obvious was the internal fighting that went on behind the scenes. The  fiefdoms. The backstabbing. The alliances, both real and manufactured. This is the stuff of gold.

It was eye-opening to read how Bannon, Jarvanka, Priebus and even the Mooch, all stepped on each other to seize more power. Not by being better at what they did or by moving the ball closer to the goal line. By but leaking to the press, arranging back door meetings, and triangulating the forces at their disposal to make the opposition look weak or stupid or both.

This was revealing on more than one level. Because it not only gave context to the shenanigans at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., it explained my position in life and why my career stalled at the many Big Holding Company ad agencies where I had toiled for so many years. And why today, I am working on brand activation events for Dr. Flowgood's Instant Pipe Cleanser.

Look, I'm the first to admit that I was never management material. But that never stopped lesser creatives from ascending the org chart. My issue, and this has become clear in retrospect, was my unwillingness to play the political game. Moreover, it was my inability to see that within the walls of an ad agency, a political game was being played.

I was so squarely focused on the brief and coming up with the next big idea, I never spent a second thinking about my next career move. I always thought (stupidly, I might add) that promotions and more money came as a result of hitting more singles, doubles and occasional home runs.

Never in a million years, or at least the last 44, did it ever occur to me that what went on in the White House goes on every day in ad agencies. And in law firms, and Fortune 500 companies throughout the land.

Merit is officially in Chapter 11.

And this is why we can't have nice things.




Tuesday, January 23, 2018

VΓ­tanΓ© vΓ½honky


This is the famed TV Tower in Prague.
In the Czech Republic.

By this time next week, my youngest daughter Abby, will be looking at the tower from the window of her apartment. Or her dormitory. Or her youth hostel. We still haven't received word from the University of Colorado about her study abroad living quarters.

We only know that she'll be there. About 6,000 miles away from the safety, comfort and overbearing control of her father.

And just as I was anxious about my other daughter going to Africa last year, it will once again be time to load up on the Atavan. And the Pepcid AC. And the Maker's Mark. This easing of the nerves will be accompanied by a rigorous study of the crime statistics in former Czechoslovakia as well as a detailed knowledge of the neighborhoods/train stops Abby must avoid.

Of course no mention of an Eastern European country would be complete without a thorough understanding of that country's disposition towards Jews during the 1930's and 1940's.

Then again, maybe I'll spare myself the agony, the haunting black and white photos and the harrowing accounts of the Eissengruppen and their mass murder of children. This rarely gets mentioned but it's quite possible that of the 2 million Jewish children slain by the Nazis, there's a good chance one of those gifted boys or girls might have gone on to cure cancer or unlock the secret of cold fusion. Good work White Supremacist assholes.

To be honest, I have no idea why Abby has to go to Prague to further her studies of media and production. Despite my impassioned pleas, she has decided to follow in my excessively wide footsteps. Not necessarily into advertising, though she is not ruling that out, but something in the media arts field.

Then again, perhaps I'm rushing to judgment. Maybe Prague is the Eastern European hub for creativity, as a closer inspection of the TV tower reveals this...


Like Portland and Austin, Prague is proud of its weird.

And with my daughter's arrival, it's about to get weirder.



Monday, January 22, 2018

ALO's


I had an interesting conversation not long ago with my buddy Josh. He had been working as a writer/producer/consultant on MAD MEN, but left the glamorized world of fictional advertising and returned to the considerably less glamorous real world of advertising.

If you can call it that.

Josh wanted my take on what was going out there. And seeing that I was a veteran nomad, who has worked in agencies big and small, near and far, shitty and even shittier, I was pleased to oblige.

Our conversation began and ended with a conversation about Ad Like Objects.

"What!?"

I told him to reach for the recline button on his Herman Miller chair and sit back for this doozy.

You see, agencies don't like having work rejected. It's demoralizing. It's expensive. And it creates all kinds of frictions between agency employees, who we all know are creative and all have a hand in the development of the work. So, in order to not have work killed they have cleverly come up with a solution. They don't show work.

"What!?"

Yes, they have eschewed that option and instead chosen to present Ad Like Objects, which, as the name would imply, are like ads. But of course they're not. They're fuzzy, vague, superficial entities that represent a way we could go. Or not go. That all depends on the whim of the client or if the strategy has changed...no, changed is not the word they use...evolved, yes that's it...the strategy evolved.

"What!?"

The storyboard, the comp, the script, the mock up, I explained, are all part of the past. Replaced by the handle, the platform, the direction, and a nebulous thingie that could, or not, be something to be pursued. This results in less contentious meetings and produces the thinnest veneer of progress. Most importantly, it allows for the illusion of the ball being moved forward and for timesheets to continue to bloat exponentially.

Josh, who is exceedingly smart, particularly considering he's an art director, wrote the term on his white board for posterity's sake.

And noted quite accurately, that considering our time in the business and the muddied future of the agency model,...

"That makes us, you and I, Ad Like Objects."




Thursday, January 18, 2018

Being an A Lister


Last weekend I did something I've never done in my life -- that's a set up line for a million jokes.

But with the photo above, I've already telegraphed the payoff.

As an early birthday present, my brother took me to a Saturday afternoon Clippers game. To be honest, I don't pay much attention to the NBA while the football players are still putting on the pads. To be even more honest, I don't care what goes on until my Syracuse Orangemen are officially relegated to the NIT and the fever of NCAA March Madness wears off.

Nevertheless, it was opportunity to do something fun with my brother. And drink beer in the middle of the day. Little did I know that what my brother had in store was more than just a pair of nose bleeds wedged between the supporting columns and the TV cameras for Univision.

When we arrived at Staples Center, we were led into the super exclusive VIP parking area. Once I handed the valet the car keys, we were guided thru a labyrinth of dark hallways and cool blue neon mood lighting. A smiling usher greeted us every 25 feet. And once we met their demanding security criteria, they navigated us all the way to our even more exclusive seats.

We were COURTSIDE.

Correction.

We thought we were courtside.

The folks at Staples have a rather lenient definition of the term. You see, while we were not exactly sitting next to Billy Crystal in the blue cushioned seats, we were directly behind them. And for some unexplainable reason, these too were considered courtside.

More like courtside-adjacent.

This perturbed my brother a bit, who fancied himself being shown on the big screen. No doubt hoping to recreate a scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm, by tripping De'andre Jordan. But it was not to be.

It didn't bother me at all. From down here, the game is so different. You hear the players jabbering at each other. You see how fast they move. And for two and a half hours you see how the other half lives. And by that I mean the deferential treatment from the waiters, the security people, even the folks handing out the free shit. They're all so eager to treat you in a way regular civilians never get treated.

One other interesting tidbit. About ten minutes before tipoff, a middle aged man and his son took their seats right next to us. I recognized him immediately. It was Disney CEO Bob Iger. This was my second random meeting with the man who literally set my career on a different (much better) trajectory in two years.

We exchanged some small talk, but to be honest this time I don't think he recalled who I was.

That disappointment didn't last long. As we left the arena I asked the usher to send the waiter by so I could clear up our substantial lunch/beer tab.

"It's all complimentary in the courtside seats."

Like I said, it's a different world down here.



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Where's Pedro?


What are you looking at?

Well, this is just an estimate, I could be off by a hundred or two hundred, but this is roughly 5,000 people. That's a lot of teachers, firefighters, accountants, short order cooks and freelance copywriters, right?

Not really.

Because, you see, it's only one thousandth of the number of people alleged to have voted, illegally, in the 2016 election. So says stable genius and immigration expert, Precedent Shitgibbon.

You may recall that shortly after he "won" the presidency via the Electoral College, he was visibly and mentally upset to hear that he lost the popular vote. Trumps don't lose. With the exception of Trump Steaks, Trump Wine, Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka, Trump University and Trump Casinos.

So he did what any rational, budget-conscious leader of the Free World would do -- he allotted millions of dollars to have Kris Koblach from Kansas set up a commission for a months long investigation. Last week that commission was decommissioned.

Here's what they found:





















That's right, NOTHING.

I was under the impression that we live in the smartest, most sophisticated country on the planet. With technology that is light years ahead of our nearest competitor.

And yet this star-studded commission of voting experts could find no evidence.

We are talking about FIVE MILLION People. Where did they go? Where did they stay? Not one of them got a hankering for some cheese doodles and a Big Gulp? There are no receipts? No witnesses? No video capture of one of them popping in at a 7-11?

I'm no Efram Zimbalist Jr.  -- though I wish I had pursued a career in criminal detection as I love to figure out puzzles and use all the resources at my disposal to find answers -- but I have to believe if there were 5 million illegal voters, I'd have the wherewithal to find at least one of them.

I'm actually very good at tracking down ne'erdowells.

Just ask one of my Carlson Park neighbors who had the temerity to deface my front yard.







Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Let's Do Drugs.


With any luck 2018 will be a turning point in my career. And by that I mean I will transition from being a general market freelance copywriter into a pharmaceutical freelance copywriter.

Oh yeah, I'm feeling it. Of course that could also be the onset of Restless Leg Syndrome.

I'm well aware of the implications of this ground shaking shift. Some will say it's the beginning of the end. That the needle on the record player is skirting dangerously close to the paper label. That Siegel has lost it and that furthermore, we have lost Siegel.

"I haven't seen him in years. Not since he started work on that new Open Wound Salve Cream."

The truth is I'm itching to break into the lucrative world of pharmaceutical.

Why? You may ask.

For one thing, it's swimming in money. It's like they're printing the stuff. Or more appropriately, they're breaking out in money, like a bad case of hives. And can't get rid of it fast enough.

Years ago, we took the kids to the Hyatt Regency in Kauai, not an inexpensive place to hole up for the night. Or seven. Turns out an entire wing of the hotel was booked for the sales reps of a huge pharma company. They were there on a boondoggle.

I cornered one of the reps, Top Cialis Producer in the Northern Indiana/Eastern Illinois Sales District, who told me their Hawaiian boondoggle included lodging, meals and TWO excursions a day. At the end of the week the pharma company threw a huge luau at the hotel. With roasted pigs, tattooed Samoan dancers and a full blown fireworks show.

They spared no expense.
I think they rolled Don Ho out of his grave for one last encore performance.

"But Rich," I can hear the naysayers, "you might make a lot of money in pharma, but you risk losing the creative respect of your peers and the opportunity to line your mantel piece with tinny gold-plated trinkets made in Taiwan."

"Hand me that brief for Latuda."

Finally, there's the issue of media. Pharma companies, whose main market is older people with nagging skin conditions, wobbly knees and skidmarked underwear, are decidedly old school. They've got their adhesively-bonded teeth firmly latched onto TV and print. Ahhh, the good stuff. They're not wasting their time or money on banners, page takeovers, towers, pop ups and mobile. They mirror the same attitude as the older folks they market to...

"Get off my phone!"

Not surprisingly, they've gotten pretty good at this TV stuff.



How good? Chances are you're going to being singing Tresiba Ready for the next few hours, whether you like it or not.

You can scoff all you'd like but we're getting older. I'm not going to be 44 forever. So this makes perfect sense. It's a way to remain productive and creative while I still have all my mental faculties. And suddenly find myself reaching for the Celebrex.

With any luck 2018 will be a turning point in my career. And by that I mean I will transition from being a general market freelance copywriter into a pharmaceutical freelance copywriter.

Oh wait, I said that already.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hello, I'm your Jamonero.


The week started with a rather lengthy post about about pancakes. Perhaps it's only fitting that we end  the week talking about jamon. Or as we Americans say ham. Or as we Jewish Americans say tref.

I often use this bully pulpit to talk about the various forms of modern day advertising. And have often gone to great lengths to mock, deride or otherwise poo-poo our current fascination with all things digital.

But alas, I have discovered one medium that is even less productive -- the door-to-door hand flier.

I don't know how it works at your home, but at mine there is a daily barrage of fliers, door knob hangers and welcome mat proper uppers to greet me every day. From the local dry cleaner. To the local tree trimmer. And everything in between, maids, cobblers, and handymen. Not only have I never acted on one of these handbills, I have simply stopped reading them. They go from my front doorstep directly to the recycle bin on my driveway.

Yesterday was different.

As I was going to retrieve my NY Times I noticed a young man who had parked his old style Schwinn at the end of my walkway. This bespectacled young man in fashionable Capri pants had just placed a flier on my step. I must have looked curious because he offerered, in very broken English, ...

"I'm just going around the neighborhood, passing these out. I hope you will consider my services."

And with that I grew even more curious.

Here's why.




He was a real live Jamonero -- a Master Ham Carver.

As the back of his flier explained, carving ham is a bit of an art. And Pedro was hawking his art across the tonier neighborhoods of West Los Angeles.

I'm sure my wife and I had witnessed one of these skilled bladesmen, or bladeswomen, years ago when we galavanted across the Iberian Peninsula and ate our dinners at 11 o'clock in the evening. But never noticed them due to our excessive consumption of beer and tequila.

I should also mention that there's zero to less than zero chance that my wife and I would be requiring the services of a Jamonero, even one as charming as Pedro.

We don't eat much pig, not because of any stupid Jewish dietary laws, we're just not big pig people. And if we do, it's usually in the form of baby back ribs, slowly smoked on my new Traeger grill for 8 loving hours.

Or we'll eat bacon. Thick center cut, applewood smoked bacon.

Mmmmm, bacon.

Mmmmm, bacon and pancakes.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Statues of Non Liberty


Welcome to Qatar.

Where the air is warm. And dry. And the official religion of the state is imposed upon people with no regard to their freedoms, beliefs or their possible non-binary sexual orientation.

Before I explain this little introduction to Qatar --which I suspect most Americans, including our stable genius of a President could not locate on a map --let's back the train up a bit, shall we?

As you know I spend a good deal of my time (perhaps too much) mocking and chipping away at the current regime of Precedent Shitgibbon. Only because I see him as the gravest danger to our democracy since the Civil War.

And I say that without any hyperbole.

Nevertheless, I do try to understand those with differing opinion. Notice I didn't say those just across the aisle, because if they were just across the aisle I suspect they're seeing exactly what we're seeing.

I'm talking about Shitgibbon diehards that are so to the right of the aisle they wear their red golf caps to bed. And in further deference to their fishbrained Messiah, bring with them McDonald's cheeseburgers and three TV remote controls.

As far as I can tell, the only argument these paint chip eaters have is our current economy. The stock market is at 25, 000, unemployment is down to 4.1% and GDP is up. I could argue that these numbers are a simple continuation of the Obama administration and that he produced more jobs and greater stock market growth, but for the purposes of today's post I'm going to concede.

Lets say, that despite passing no legislation to stimulate growth or move the economy forward, Precedent Shitgibbon gets all the credit in the world for our current economic state.

Newsflash: That is NOT what makes a country great.

America is more than increased productivity. We are not defined by our stock portfolios. And even if we had two chickens in every pot and three Lamborghinis in every garage, that is not why people flock to this country.

They come for the intangibles. The freedom. The opportunity. The modesty, grace and goodwill that is a hallmark of all Americans. Or as the recent poll would indicate at least 67% of us. It's not all about the money.

Let's go back to Qatar for example. The average income for the average Qatari is $129,000 a year. Almost three times what the average American makes. Many Qatari's own two homes. And shit in gold plated toilets. They are the richest nation on the planet.

Does that make them the greatest?

If it does maybe you should consider moving there.

I can't, they don't take Jews.




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

That's it?


Yesterday, you may recall, I devoted an entire piece to IHOP and their new pancake heavy campaign. If you like to see me on my less ranty, less angry, less cantankerous days, I suggest you scroll down for that piece of atypical RoundSeventeen.

Today, we turn our attention to McDonalds.

We also return to form.

About a year ago, the brilliant marketing officers at Mickey D's announced they were NOT HAPPY with the current iteration of their worldwide and national campaigns. Sales were off. Brand awareness was down. And the fish filet sandwiches were going bad.

So they did what any multi-billion dollar global corporation would do -- they blamed their ad agency.

And then they did the second thing any clueless global corporation would do, they hired consultants and conducted a year long, cashapolluza agency review.

All the big agencies were invited. And all leapt out of their party dresses to participate. Throwing huge piles of money at the RFP in hopes of landing the mother of all fast food accounts. It goes without saying they also emptied their reserves to bring in freelancers who would help in this clown-footed Herculian task.

I know this because all my freelance friends were called in.

And all were swimming in greenbacks. For some reason, perhaps because of this blog or because of my advanced 44 years of age, I was not. Instead of hawking Big Mac's, quarter pounders and McRib samiches, I was left to pimp banner ads for local clients, like Kathy's House of Katheters and The WingNut Stop, America's premier wing nut supplier since 1918.

But here's my beef, if you'll pardon the pun.

The review was more than a year ago. The account was split between two big holding companies. Dedicated account teams were formed. I believe they went so far as to set up separate entities that would be solely committed to the McDonald's enterprise. With artisanal corporate names like "Big M" or "Team Arches" or even something more cryptic like, "Area 47."

So where is the work?

I suspect it's out there. I just haven't noticed it. Mostly, because there's nothing to notice.

It's happy saccharine people. Conjoined in multi-ethnic pods of three or four that would never happen in real life. All gushing, biting and smiling, over soggy burgers and even soggier french fries.

In other words, it's the same campaign they had with their previous ad agency only now it has the thinnest veneer of newness after a committee of brain dead marketing officers threw a billion dollars in the nearest toilet.

Ba-da-ba-ba-ba-I'm loving it.


Postscript: I could write and create an entire campaign based solely on the photo above. Imagine Ronald McDonald being hauled off by two kidnappers in fake policemen uniforms. It's the perfect beginning that could spin off into a series of spots with store surveillance, random notes, private investigators, payoffs and all kinds of fun shenanigans. But I suspect the client would prefer some perky blond at the counter singing about the McPick Two.



Monday, January 8, 2018

On Pancakes



It isn't often that I come across a TV commercial that not only catches my attention, but has me fumbling between my iPhone and my remote control in search of that magic replay button on the DVR.

But the other night while watching my beloved Syracuse Orange get pounded by the clearly inferior Deacons of Wake Forest or between Rachel Maddow's running account about how this country is being run into the acid-rain soaked ground by a two bit, merkin-sporting Nazi-wannabe, that's exactly what happened.

Here's the spot...



I'll admit to being easily amused. I'm also not overly impressed by the god of "production value." I just love a good laugh.

And this spot delivers. In pancakes.

And not that my opinion matters, but I have gone out of my way to congratulate the agency and the makers of this little comedic gem.

But my admiration is twofold. Not only for briefly reviving the LOL comedic motif of yesteryear but for reaffirming my marketing inclinations. You had to know this was coming.

You see, years ago I was working on a pitch for IHOP. I don't remember the year. I don't remember the agency. I don't remember the day rate I was getting. I do remember the stupid-ass planner who handed me a brief that said...

"We need to make IHOP relevant beyond pancakes and attract lunchtime and dinner time diners."

Yeah sure, we're going to get people to flock to the nearest IHOP for Lobster Newburgh or the Veal Parmisan.

Oh and then there's was this additional nugget...

"They don't have a big budget, can we do something viral?"

Suffice to say, I went in a different direction. I thought, and apparently the folks at Droga 5 did too, the best way to promote IHOP was to lean heavily into their core strength. To preach to the choir. A choir that would no doubt be leaving the church hungry and ready for some blueberry-embedded pancakes.

I wrote a series of spots (I was flying solo at the time) that repositioned "pancakes" as the new "champagne." In other words, anytime there was cause for a formal celebration of good fortune or a turn of fate, was a time for pancakes.

Imagine a jubilant father, seeing his newborn son, a healthy, bouncing boy, for the very first time. His joy is uncontained. The entire family in the hospital room is smiling. And crying. The new dad hugs his wife and announces, "This is a great time for pancakes."

Cut to him, his wife still in the rolling hospital bed, his-in laws, the baby in the basinet and even a smattering of nurses, all gathered at the local IHOP. Eating, pancakes.

The agency didn't like the work.

They also didn't win the account.

And they never called on me again.

But seeing the latest round of IHOP work is a bit of vindication. And though the joy is vicarious, it's real nonetheless.

And predictably, it's got me in the mood for pancakes.











Thursday, January 4, 2018

Family Time


I rarely do this, for the most part I like to keep my family and personal life, off this blog.

But we're only a few days into 2018 and I'm already swamped with work. Besides, my writing rhythm has not fully returned from the winter break.

Speaking of winter break, here is a collection of photos from last two weeks which my wife and I got to enjoy (for the most part) with our two daughters.



They may be in their 20's but they can't resist a dinosaur statue 
at the Sinclair Service Station in Mesquite, AZ.


Our condo in Brian Head sat at 9,783 feet. 
The air is very thin at that level, but they sell some at the store.


Here's my youngest enjoying what little snow there was.


The entire Siegel clan, wearing $759 worth of rented gear.


From Utah we made our way down to Vegas, which is never short on oddities.


The hotel elevator at the Mandalay Bay. 
They closed off the top four floors since the recent shooting.


The very eerie view from our room.
The country music festival was staged in the empty parking lot on the right.


Rocks. Painted.


Town. Vacated.


Country. Fucked.
(please enlarge and zoom in.)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

SELL, SELL, SELL


I know the last year was dominated by many political posts.

Don't expect that to change anytime soon. With his constant stream of toxic, ignorant, dangerous tweets/comments/remarks, our current fuckknuckle of a president draws us ever closer to a complete apocalyptic meltdown. That's not a hyperbolic statement in the least. His base of rocket scientists, neurosurgeons and carbon-burning, Constitution-burning fascists may not see it, but that doesn't mean the danger is not real.

And so, I'm not prepared to go down without a fight.

Nor am I prepared to stop throwing ideas against the wall with the hope that one will stick. Last year's Call in Sick of Trump Day was a rousing failure.  Drawing only 750 participants to the group. We did sell sell two coffee mugs on cafe express, but I bought those, one for me and for my talented art director, Mr. Jean Robaire.

I have no delusion that the following idea I am about to propose will catch on. But if I may borrow a phrase inspired by Senator Elizabeth Warren,

"Nevertheless, he persisted."

Here are the facts. The Republicans control the House and the Senate. Moreover, despite the abundant evidence of incompetency, instability and criminality, the Republicans insist on putting party before country. And when it comes to checks and balances, the Supreme Court has been equally negligent.

So where does "our" power come from? Where it always comes from, money.

At this writing, the Dow Jones stock market is near record high 25,000. Contrary to what Shitgibbon would have you believe, it's been on a bull run for 9 years now. It's due for a correction. In fact the Correction with a capital C, is long overdue.

I suggest, we, the people in the blue states who own equities, ETF's, and mutual funds, SELL.

Bigly!

We should intentionally crash the market and let the putrid steam out of President Gasbag's number one talking point.

You want to send a message to red state miscreants who blindly back this racist blowhard?

SELL

You want to goose the Republican Senate who pick pocketed homeowners and the middle class with their wealth redistribution tax scam?

SELL

You want to ram a spiked Louisville Slugger up the hairy butt of this fobbing, crusty, earth-vexing canker blossom who dares to call himself our President?

SELL

This is something we can do. I'm not asking you to buy some fakakta coffee mug or T-Shirt. And I'm not asking you to call in sick and take a day off of work.

I'm asking you to sell off all, or a good portion of your portfolio, to send the stock market into a Marianna Trench nosedive. And to pad your bank account with some real cash, which you'll need to navigate the coming nuclear winter.

Also, if I had to pick the ideal date for the mass market departure, I'd go with January 20, 2018, the one year anniversary of the inauguration of this boil-brained hugger-mugger.

Mark the date.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The future is coming


And we're back.

Of course when I say 'we' I mean 'I' in the fictional collective sense, because let's face it when comes to readership of RoundSeventeen there is no 'we'. And even if there were a we, 'they' would not be reading this with any type of anticipation.

2017 is in the books. And it was not at all pretty. I'll spare you the Shitgibbon-dominated recap. And suggest, instead, that we look forward to 2018. In fact, I'm going to boldly make some predictions for the upcoming year.

This will be a bit unusual as the 8 regular readers of this blog know, I have great disdain for soothsaying. My cynical, substantially-large nose gets turned up at anything having to do with: astrology, tarot cards, palm reading, Mercury in (or out) of retrograde, ouji boards, mediums, tea leaves, and/or fortune cookies.

Nevertheless I'm putting on my wizard cape and feel very confident that we are going to see the following:

* A monumental presidential slip of the tongue. It'll be hard for Precedent Shitgibbon to top the flops of 2017, which included calling a standing US Senator a whore, claiming Nazi's were very fine people, calling Puerto Ricans lazy who "wanted everything done for them", arguing with a Gold Star widow, and insulting intelligence of anyone who ever graduated high school with his childish, bullying narcissism. But he is the Commander in Chief and I have great trust in him and believe he will rise (in this case, lower) himself to the occasion.

* Shots Fired. On the heels of my previous prediction, I also think we will once again be at war. I should say we will be adding another war to our already significant list of current wars: war in Afghanistan, war in Syria, war on drugs, war on women, war on minorities, war on truth, war on intelligence, war on humanity, war on civil rights. Thankfully however, the War on Christmas is officially over. I know it's very early, but I just can't stop saying it, so for 2018, "Merry Christmas."

* Business will rebound. Despite the incredible flurry of activity during the last month, financially-speaking, 2017 was not a good year. Compounding that, I even made the mistake of moving a good deal of money out of the stock market, taking profit from the Obama years off the table. No tears here. I know my people are supposed to be good with money so not reaping the benefits of the Dow's meteoric soaring over the last year stands as a huge mistake. But the fact is I simply didn't, and still don't, have any confidence in the business acumen of a guy who has declared bankruptcy four times and had to pay out 25 million dollars for running a scam university.

That said, I do believe brands and marketers are starting to see the analog light thru the digital smoke and mirrors. And there will be a return to old school tools of mass persuasion, tv, print, outdoor and, I hope, radio. I also predict one big agency in NYC will start calling on a semi-regular basis, taking full advantage of the inexpensive day rates (relatively), the years of experience and the incredible no-drama, electronic delivery of meeting-worthy material. I just don't know which agency that will be.

* The return of the West Coast drought. It's already January and here in Los Angeles we have not had a drop of rain since last April. This hasn't stopped Angelenos from watering their yards, washing their cars (sometimes twice a week) and posting rain alerts on Facebook every time a good thick fog rolls in.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with global warming. I'm doubly sure we can trust the situation is in the hands of good folks at the current EPA, which now includes, two former VP's from Goldman Sachs, an analyst from Meryl Lynch, an ex-security guard at Trump Casino, Atlantic City, and a former real estate agent from Boca Raton who sold the most condos in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

* And finally, in 2018 my wife and I will be celebrating monumental birthdays. I won't say which one for Debbie, but I will miraculously be turning 44. Again. Where does the time go? To mark the occasion and the graduation of our daughter from University of Washington and the end of tuition bills, we hope to sojourn to Africa for a safari and extended vacation. That is, if it's still standing or Eric and Don Jr. haven't shot up all the wild life.

In any case, it's a new year, let's make a good one. (We deserve it.)