Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Culture Commerce Wars

For reasons that still bewilder my wife, I follow the GOP on Twitter. My reasoning couldn't be simpler or more Machiavellian, "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer."

I like seeing what the opposition party is up to. Whether it's Marco Rubio's shameless bible-thumping, Mark Meadow's what-about-ism, or Ted Cruz's piss poor attempt at satire. It's all quite informative. And it keeps my metabolism revving on the redline.

But nothing is more indicative of our country's current divisiveness -- and who's stoking it -- than a quick online visit to both party's e-commerce websites. Not surprisingly, the RNC's features a whole host of "Let's Go Brandon" paraphanelia, as if those three words were the funniest words ever written. 

While the store at the DNC does not cheapen itself with any anti-Trump swag. None. After all, the man lost in a free and fair election, so why give that dead, merkin-sporting horse's ass any oxygen.

This, for instance, is the most confrontational piece I could find among all the tschotkes and swag on the Dem site.

That's quite the shot across the bough, huh? No wonder Red Hats refer to them as evil DEMONcrats or sneaky DemocRATS. That's some more of that legendary Republican cleverness.

In fact, if you were to skim through the Dem's site, you'd find nothing but a celebration of Voter's Rights, Infrastructure messaging, and some not-so faint praise for President Biden. All of it above board, normal and overpriced.

Let's swing over the RNC store

Here, with the exception of the obscene pricing, you will find the complete opposite. It's a store dripping with the Sore Loser Vibe. Smug, defiant, jingoistic and childish, a celebration of everything that makes 45 the epitome of the Ugly American.

Don't play golf but still want to let the world know you voted for a twice-impeached, Insurrection-inciting Russian stooge? How about this stylish hat?

It matches perfectly with your "Let's Go Brandon" apparel, lovingly stitched together in a Chinese textile factory.

Don't let a warm PBR ruin your day at the NASCAR race or cross-burning, pick up these cool can coozies.

And finally, always looking to expand the big tent that is today's Republican Party, the RNC has wisely recognized the most put-upon, persecuted and oppressed group of people in America, the ones personally threatened by other winter solstice celebrations, like Hanukah and Kwanza, victims of unimaginable emotional and psychological torture -- powerless White Christian Americans.

The ex President may not have delivered a Wall paid for by Mexico, a new big, beautiful healthcare plan, an Infrastructure Bill, Immigration reform, 6% GDP growth, a denuclearization agreement with North Korea or Iran, the disappearance of Covid, Mid-East peace or a trade war victory over China, but thanks to his tireless efforts, we can all say Merry Christmas without any fear or consequences. 

No wonder he's often referred to as our nation's greatest and most-accomplished president ever.

Merry Christmas everybody. 

And thank you President Trump, thank you.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Kentucky Fried Cranium

For the life of me I will never understand people who are in charge of approving marketing. Because for the life of me it has been made painfully clear these same marketing professionals don't understand people.

Allow me to explain this strained syllogism.

Roughly seven years ago, Kentucky Fried Chicken aka KFC, delivered their account to the front doors of Wieden Kennedy in Portland. This was in the Before Times, when the country was enjoying solid steady growth and had the wherewithal to deal with any worldwide pandemic. 

Sales at KFC were sagging, perhaps due to the growing health consciousness and the move away from fatty fried foods. So the creative department reached deep into their pocket of tricks and pulled out a winner. They reinvigorated the company spokesperson, Colonel Sanders, and did it in a way that had never been done.

There wasn't just one Colonel Sanders, there were many. In the world of advertising it was pure heresy. And violated the cardinal rule of "treat the consumer like an idiot." In a similar vein, I recall sitting in a meeting with Jamie Tarses and Stu Blumberg (co-chairs of ABC entertainment) and suggesting we roll out a different tagline every day of the year. They looked at me as if I had arrived on Earth from a different planet.)

It was big, bold step. And it featured a revolving cast of characters including George Hamilton, Jason Alexander, Rob Lowe, Norm Macdonald even Reba McCintyre. After years of tired, boring, crispless work, suddenly people were talking about KFC advertising.

It was funny, entertaining, sometimes challenging, but always fresh. I don't know how it impacted sales, but my intuition tells me when people on the street are whispering, "Hey did you see that new KFC commercial?", they're also hauling buckets of the fried pigeon back to the double wide. 

Plus, the campaign went on for years. Generally clients, particularly clients with franchisees, don't play the long game unless it's paying dividends in the short term.

But all that is about to change. Because recently the genii at YUM (parent company of KFC) announced an agency review. They're putting the account up for grabs. And here's the best part, they told possible contenders they were looking for work with outstanding creative, JUST LIKE WIEDEN KENNEDY's.

"I'm breaking up with you. This isn't working. It's not you it's me. I need someone new, someone one different, someone more exciting. I'm seeing your identical sister."

You can't tell me the revolving Colonel Sanders well is dry. With an instantly recognizable spokesperson and a platform that allows you to pluck any celebrity out of the ether and sit him or her in the makeup trailer, there are infinite possibilities to keep this campaign going. Give me a full day rate and I'll have a dozen new spots written in a week. One might even be good.

My Spidey Sense tells me something else is afoot: tension, conflict and fatigue. 

KFC claims to want work like Wieden Kennedy, they just don't want to deal with the work that's needed to produce that kind of work. That often involves collaborating with creative people who have a strong opinion. People who see ideas as precious and worth fighting for. People who have made their bones breaking rules, challenging the norm, and taking straw and turning it into gold. You know, The Difficult Ones.

Good luck KFC.

And congratulations for butchering the golden goose, dipping it in batter and deep frying it in oil that hasn't been changed since the first store opened in North Corbin, Kentucky, 91 years ago.


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

"Deb, where's the bourbon?"


No R17 posting today.

Or tomorrow.

We will resume our regularly scheduled curmudgeoness on Monday.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, this year we have much to be grateful for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

America Aborted


Need something to be thankful about this Thursday? 

Be grateful you still live in America. The America our forefathers pictured. The America that wisely put the First Amendment before the second one. The America governed by the Rule of Law -- for the most part.

A year ago, that was all put in question. By a turd of a man who could not bear the thought of losing and was willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING this country stood for just to assuage his shabby narcissistic pain.

Think I'm being hyperbolic?

Do yourself a favor and read this gripping new book by Jonathan Karl, Chief White House Correspondent for ABC news.

If you're like me and have been paying attention to the fumblings of our ex fat fascist POTUS, you'll see the book covers familiar ground, including the Covid fiasco, the dysfunction inside the White House, the Tulsa debacle and a host of other legendary fuck-ups. But it's the Election Night and pre-Inauguration seditious misdeeds that carries the day and sent post-Germanic goosebumps up and down my body. 

People, we came perilously close to LOSING this country.

The GOP wants to wave the flag of Election Integrity, yet conveniently ignores that their leader, who was leading, before all the ballots had been tallied, put out this uniquely UnAmerican tweet...

In what possible scenario could it be acceptable for an American President to call for American votes to be ignored and trashed? 

Imagine for a moment that Mitt Romney was gaining ground at some point in the 2012 election and President Obama put out a tweet calling for the vote to be stopped. 

This alone, qualifies as an impeachable offense and should make every flag-waving, pocket-constitution carrying, U-S-A-shouting citizen shudder in absolute shame.

But it doesn't. 

And that was only the beginning. It got worse, exponentially worse. Turns out there was no end to this fucker's willingness to abort America.

So much so that Mark Milley, the JCOS, had to issue a public warning to the Pentagon and the most powerful fighting force on the face of the planet that there would be no possible situation where the military would get involved in the politics of the election. 

Stunning, that this would even need to be verbalized.

And then there's this. When no respectable lawyer could offer a glimmer of hope to the losing candidate, he turned to MyPillowGuy™ and Sydney Powell, who famously stated in court, "No one could seriously take what I said as fact." But someone did, the fishbrained dolt who was still sitting with his stubby fingers on the nuclear codes and was still the most powerful man in the world.

Given the classified phone number for the Under Secretary of Defense, Powell called him and begged for a special commando force be sent to Germany to snatch up CIA Director (and Trump appointee Gina Haspel) who was on a special mission to destroy evidence of European servers that had switched votes to Biden during the election. 

You can't make this stuff up. But Powell did. And losing his grip on reality, Captain Ouchie Foot ate it up. At one point he even considered appointing Sydney Powell, perhaps the sleaziest attorney on earth (and doesn't that say something) to be a Special Prosecutor, charged with looking into non-existent Election Fraud. 

Believe me when I say I have merely scratched the surface.

Red Hats have long abandoned reading this blog. But if you know one does, do yourself a favor and give them this one book as a X-Mas or Hanukkah gift. Chances are they won't, or can't, read it because well...










Monday, November 22, 2021

The Molden Age of Advertising

A few prefaces before today's post.

Astute readers of R17 will no doubt notice that I am prone to typos, missed words and sloppy syntax. I type fast and I'm a terrible proofreader. I try to fix the mistakes on the fly, but apologize if I've offended, particularly you other writers out there. I know how that can be a pet peeve.

Today's post may contain slightly more  than normal as I am hunting and pecking and clicking and clacking at the keyboard with my one good arm. The left arm is still in recovery from my Covid booster shot, which did quite a number on me. Nevertheless I am triple vaxxxed and grateful for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Preface #2 -- lately I've been writing more about advertising (as I will be today). A quick scan of my analytics -- for juvenile reasons, I like writing that word -- and noticed that web traffic is up. In the past I said I don't care about that kind of stuff but who am I kidding? I like knowing that 8 people, now 11 people, come here for their morning semi-laugh.

Today, we are addressing the leitmotif found in many commercials of people in chairs falling through the floor. Haven't noticed it? That's alright, because I have. Here's one for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, a product that's near and dear to my salty lox loving heart.


OK, Rich, but one spot does not a trend or a leitmotif make. Indeed, but I have also noticed it the conceit used in an Apple commercial. 


To be sure, I know the magic in the power of Threes. And so I give you yet another commercial featuring, well, you know...


Now, at this point you might be thinking, "Geez Rich you should develop a hobby. What about whittling decoy ducks out of wood or take up skeet shooting, something!" Well, I am happy to report that after a 3 month layover because of my hip replacement, I am now back in the garage, pushing plates and regaining my previous age-defying strength.

In any case, what's the deal with people in chairs falling through floors in order to escape their current environment. The junior psychologist in me says it has something to do with Covid and our homebound lives for the past two years-ish. 

On a completely different note, what is with the word 'Yes'? A different but even more annoying leitmotif.

It was even codified by the esteemed and scholarly planning department at one unnamed ad agency I used to work for. They called it, "The Yes Strategy." The spot that exemplified it featured vignettes of random people, all cast from the Overexcited Cliche Actors Casting Agency, answering questions written by the Clueless Clients Posing As Copywriters Club.

"You mean I can get two medium pizzas for just $5.99"


"Two pizzas with one topping?"


"And that includes Garlic Knots?"


Now, yours truly could not locate a copy of this advertising classic. But I did track down a 15 second version using the same vaunted Yes Strategy. Just imagine the dullness and insipid contrived situations doubled for your viewing pleasure.


I only mention this old ad because with my increased viewing of college and professional football games,  there have been copycat (GASP) advertisers now employing Pizza Hut's proprietary strategy of having clownish actors pimping mayonnaise, fizzy soda water, or some new lime flavored douche, by claiming, "Yes", "Yes" and "Yes." 

For the love of god, "NO."

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Sunday Night Blues

Succession is my new obsession.

I know I'm late to this party but the truth is Succession could have been my old obsession. You see I watched the first episode of the first season. And maybe part of the second. I picked up on the storyline. The dysfunctional characters. And the shifting family dynamics. 

I got all that but with such a wealth of good tv dramas out there, I decided not to invest my time in this one. Truth be told I haven't allowed myself to get sucked into the vortices of so many shows, on so many different channels and streaming services. I just don't have the real estate in my brain.

Also, because when the show was introduced I was captivated (and still am) with the drama taking place in Washington DC and the slow moving Trumpian coup that is still holding a dagger to the neck of democracy.

But, perhaps because of the constant promos and the social media chatter, I decided to watch episode 1 of Season Three. Fearing that I might not know what was going on and that I would be obliged to "binge-watch" (I hate that phrase) the first two seasons. Thankfully that was not necessary.

For better or for worse, we are right back where we started from. With the older son Kendall trying to oust, and pulling all the stops to do so, the old man Logan, from the Deathstar.

SPOILER ALERT: I'm not going to give away any spoilers. 

The plot of this show is kind inconsequential. At least to me. I'm much more interested by the family dysfunction, of which I am intimately familiar, the skullduggery and the duplicitous nature of all these greedy, narcissistic fuckers who populate Succession. And resemble many of the characters I've run into in advertising and entertainment.

What I find most fascinating is the backstabbing and the manipulation. 

Each of these scheming characters has an innate ability to play the angles. To say one thing with a completely earnest, straight face and a minute later, act in a manner that is diametrically opposed to their previous statement.

This, perhaps more than anything else explains their tremendous wealth. As well as my own lack of tremendous wealth. This was never a game I was good at. I come from the School of Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say. And stupidly, or naively, I assumed others would act that way as well.

Take this as a fair warning from a grizzled 44 year old, they do not.

Integrity has no currency in the Waystar world. Or it seems, in any other world.

It makes for good TV. But little else.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Old man ad rant #4,397

There are many great Porsche ads. This is my favorite.

There was a time in the 90's, while I was working on Nissan ads, when I'd pore through the car enthusiast magazines (remember those) and actively seek out the Porsche ads. Mostly to steal...er, mimic their style, wit and intelligence. 

Considering my less-than-storied career and what most of us are doing to put food on the table right now, it's clear I came up woefully short.

First look at the amazing art direction. The symmetry, composition and photography cannot be beat. But it's the headline. The one that, no apologies to Mark Reed, harkens back to the 70's -- GASP.

Not only is the line conspicuously short, it is packed with real human insight. I'll be the first to admit the seemingly redundancy of the two short sentences threw me. But it also stopped me. And consciously made me put the pieces of this magnificent puzzle together. That's what smart advertising does. It eschews spoon-feeding in favor of brain engagement - and heart engagement. 

How novel.

Of course the Porsche was sold close to 40 years ago. That's when young boys, and young girls, on the swing set first laid eyes on its distinctive profile and felt the throaty rumble of its 207 hp engine. That's when the first impression was made. An impression that didn't go away, but lasted. And lingered. And stayed dormant until a raise came through.

Or an IPO paid off.

Or, more likely, a divorce was settled.

There's impactful storytelling going on in this ad. And the astute reader, particularly ones who see themselves in the ad, know exactly where those goosebumps are coming from.

We don't do ads like this anymore. 

We don't dig for insight.

We don't trigger emotions.

We don't tell stories that spring from the DNA of a brand.

We don't engage and make people think, want or even crave.

We analyze, banalyze and regurgitate briefs. 

David Ogilvy was wrong. Because in today's prevailing ad environment , "the consumer is a moron."

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Dumpy, Frumpy Culver City

 Years ago there was a local rock radio station that had a unique tagline. Something to the effect of "...coming to you almost live from a dumpy little building in downtown Culver City."

It was memorable because the radio station was never LIVE, it was all pre-programmed, without any DJs, meaning without any banal DJ banter. Also interesting because it harkened back to what Culver City once was - dumpy. And frumpy. And as it turns out just the way I like it.

Since it seems, everyone in Los Angeles is now coming to Culver City, and by everyone I'm also including Amazon and Apple, who are eating up real estate faster than Chinese real estate speculators with their all-cash offers, you might recognize some of the landmarks that are still standing. 

In the photo above, you can see the Culver Hotel, which has now been fancied and gussied up. Though they still maintain a window display proclaiming the hotel to have been the home of the munchkins while filming Wizard of Oz. I'm guessing today's kids have never even seen that movie as it is 1000 times longer than any Tok Tok or Instagram video.

On the left, you might notice the circular-faced brick building which is now Akasha, home of the $25 Old Fashioned Cocktail. 

But most striking is the lack of people, with the exception of the shadow in the lower right hand corner of the amateur photographer. And, when there's no people, there's no cars. The only time I've seen the streets so clear and devoid of humanity (traffic) was when we first went in to Covid lockdown. 

Ah the good old days.

Don't get me wrong, since buying our modest little home in "dumpy little Culver City" we have seen the property value skyrocket. The selling price on my home is nearly ten times what we paid for it. Minus all the additions, the obligatory refinances, the taxes, the maintenance, and the remodeling, often with unscrupulous Israeli contractors (I'll save that for another blog post.)

So while I appreciate the appreciation, I do yearn for the quieter, sparser, dumpier days of yore. When my wife and I could walk downtown and get a booth at the S&W cafe and immediate service from one of the friendly waitresses who we knew by name. 

BTW, prior to the maddening crowds, the place was called Sam & Woody's. And it was favored mostly by lesbians, who were friends of the lesbian owners. I was often the only male in the place. And caught quite the dirty side eyes. "Fucking Breeder."

Prior to all this development, you could zip down Overland Ave. and catch every green light. At the time it was one lane on either side. Now it's a 6 lane boulevard that often feels like one of the three exit gates at Dodger Stadium. 

For the life of me, I can't figure how they widened the street. 

Maybe this nostalgic grumpiness has been brought on by an extremely busy and tough time at work. Perhaps I'll be feeling better tomorrow if the 18 person committee for my freelance client approves of the latest banner ad.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Presenting the all new 2005 XJ

I was going through my files the other day, cleaning out the bottom of the drawer with the hanging Pentaflex folders. Do people still have Pentaflex hanging folders? I know back in the day when I was a mailroom clerk they were all the rage.

Turns out my affinity for disorganization is only surpassed by my late uncle. 

As I was digging through the document dump he has been doing on me for the last dozen years or so, for reasons unbeknownst, he felt it was important that I hold on to a receipt for a new pool heater he had installed in his Palm Springs home in 2006. As well as the newspaper announcement in 1983, that he had been named a Vice President at Saks Fifth Ave.

Somewhere in between all those vital documents was his Last Will and Testament. Let me say loud and clear, especially since this is my third time at this forsaken rodeo, it is no fun being named the Executor of an estate.

However it is not without its rewards. 

You see while digging and sorting through all this paper mishigas, I came across a long copy advertisement I had written, you know when copywriters were actually allowed to write. It was an ad we had done, and by done I mean proposed in a pitch meeting, for Jaguar, close to 20 years ago.

The double page spread -- and yes I will share it with you -- was never produced. Mostly because the genii in the Jaguar marketing department never believed in telling potential buyers why they should want a new $80,000 luxury automobile. 

They lazily believed all we had to do was tell people the $80,000 luxury automobile was here. Hence a slew of outdoor boards with a picture of their fancy man car and the headline: Introducing the new 2005 Jaguar XJ. 

That, to them, was advertising. Turns out they were ahead of their time. If you take inventory of  advertising today, and not just Jaguar, you can see that simple-minded garbage approach has prevailed.

But I digress. here's the loooooong copy ad I wrote way back when. As regular readers of this blog know, I am prone to typos and I make for a terrible proofreader. So if you are inclined to spend a few minutes, please forgive me. (Because I don't know how to confibulate the html flick flacks, I'm not even sure the resolution will permit reading)

Again, this was just a rough, for a tissue session. One that ended quite quickly when the CMO said, "don't bother reading all that and I don't need a leave behind deck, we're not doing those kind of ads."

Ok, then.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Thank you Chase

This is my new Apple Watch 7 Series. I don't actually have it on hand otherwise I would have snapped a photo of this handsome devil wrapped around my overly thick and hirsute forearm. Why am I growing so much hair in unwanted places? 

Sometimes, being 44 years old sucks.

I will have this watch in 6-8 weeks, assuming the boats off Long Beach harbor make their way to land and unload their cargo. 

The funny thing is I never wear a watch. Never. Nor do I ever need one given I'm never far from my iPhone. But the price was irresistible so I caved in.

The astute among you might remember that my oldest daughter works in production at Media Arts Lab, a division of TBWA Chiat/Day. And you might assume she got me in on some kind of family and friends special pricing program. It would have been nice to shave a few hundred bucks off this expensive accessory.

But I did better than that. 

I got the Apple Watch, with the built in barometer, the dynamic Dow Jones Index meter, the calorie counter, the DNA analyzer, and the mini Hadron Collider for FREE!

How you say? I'm almost ashamed to admit but as my wife always points out I do not have the gene for embarrassment so here goes...

Yesterday, amongst the daily stack of highly ignorable emails in my inbox, I came across one from Chase. I've been using one of their credit cards since we signed up for a family plan years ago. Something about security or travel rewards, when my daughters were studying abroad in Kenya and Prague. In any case, we've been racking up the points on the plastic taskmaster.

The email notified me that I had close to 400,000 points on the card and that they could be redeemed for valuable prizes. So, in between a heated argument with my kids about dirty dishes and addressing the 17th round of revisions on some copy I had written, I indulged my curiosity.

After all, 400,000 is a huge number. And unless we're talking about Lira or some overly inflated currency in South America or Africa, surely it must be worth something, right? Well after signing up for a Chase online account to see what goodies awaited, I was in shock.

I'm still not over it. 


In fact, after splurging for the top of the line Apple Watch with my newfound points, I still had a considerable amount left. Enough for new Scuba gear. Or a Minibike. Or a circus sized trampoline. Or, all three!!!

Just don't tell my wife or she'll want to get in this action and get new bed linens. Or something stupid like that.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

PWMCT revisited

Earlier in the week, former UN Ambassador and current shameless flip-flopping sycophant Nikki Haley, stated that all presidential candidates should be required to pass a cognitive test. 

The implication being that our current President, the one who scored an Infrastructure deal, passed the American Rescue Act, ended our misguided involvement in the Afghanistan War (another GOP fiasco) and now leads a hard charging economy with over 5% GDP annualized growth and 4.6% unemployment, is somehow lacking in his mental faculties.

Yes, the current president occasionally fumbles his words. 

Yes, he walks slowly and with the gait of an older man. 

And yes our exit from Southern Asia could have been handled with a bit more finesse. 

But to insinuate that President Biden is not in full command of his faculties, as the GOP would have you believe, is to willfully ignore the endless and comical shenanigans of the previous POTUS, who on so many occasions referred to himself a "very stable genius."

So, on this the year anniversary of farce that took place at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot, let's have a visual recap of the previous 4 years under the Grandpa Ramblemouth Regime.

Garden hoses at a press conference, the new standard in excellence.

"Look at me, I'm dwiving the the big twuck."

"Who wants a filet o'fish samich?"

Sure, he's the world's most despotic Communist dictator,
but "we fell in love."

"The hurricane is going to hit Alabama,
just look at the map."

"I gave her $130,000 NOT to have sex with me."

"I meant to have the toilet paper on my shoe."

"I drink like a big boy."

"Hurricane victims need Paper Towels, look it up, they do."

"I wasn't briefed on this."

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

It happened.

As many faithful readers of this blog know, I'm not a fan of a lot what passes for good work these days. 

Or people who post their latest "achievement" in advertising for work that is nothing more than journeyman or journeywoman-like in nature, including tired rehashed manifestos, CGI laden swill, or contrived scenarios that defy description. Hey, nerdy guy on one knee proposing to his reluctant girlfriend with the new iPhone 13, she's way out of your league.

But perhaps because the airwaves are chock full of corny shit that would never pass muster in my day, it makes it so much easier to spot actual good work.

Like this 60 second spot for ServPro

I have always been a fan of their work. Mostly because their tagline is so perfect. And so succinctly taps into a human insight. ServPro, like it never even happened. 

As a homeowner who has experienced a leaky shower drainage pipe that soaked and destroyed an entire wall in my house, I know the feeling of wanting to put things back the way they were. 

Years ago, my neighbors let me know as much when my mainline, carrying raw sewage from my house to the big pipe under the street, burst open and turned my little enclave in Culver City into something more recognizable as Smell Segundo. naturally it happened late on a Friday afternoon so I would incur overtime charges.

Now ServPro has a new commercial, you might have seen the 30 second pool-outs on TV. It's a shame the 60 second version doesn't get airtime. But your intrepid author has tracked it down and invites you to watch:


Any commercial that starts with a humongous water balloon being hauled by a Sikorsky Helicopter has got my immediate attention. And that's just the beginning of the visual thrill ride that follows. You can tell the client and the agency folks who put this together were having fun with the premise. In fact, having been through this process many times, I can assure you the scenarios that made it to the screen were dwarfed by the many that landed on the cutting room floor.

Is all the mayhem and destruction gratuitous? Damn right it is. I wouldn't have it any other way. ServPro and the folks at Buntin (the agency) know that in the competition for eyeballs and attention, one must go bold or go home.

Also, kudos to the team for not skimping out. There's great production value here. Again, you don't see much of that these days. Like you, I can spot green screen effects a mile away. I know from experience there's some CGI work going on here, but for the life of me I can't find it. I've looked. 

In all, I am thrilled to see a return, even if it's just temporary, back to the impactful advertising that can't be accomplished in a banner ad or a social media tweet.

ServPro, like it never even happened. But I'm glad it did.

Monday, November 8, 2021

I feel roasted

I get a lot of stupid shit in my social media feed. Much of it is self inflicted. For instance, on Linkedin I purposely follow schmucks like Gary Vaynerchuck and Grant Cardone just to see their inane posts about "crushing it."

Last week Grant posted a video interview of himself, where he shamelessly tells the camera, "Everyday I get a sheet of paper that tells me how much CASH I have. It's not like I'm bragging or anything, it's just that I hate CASH and need to find ways to get rid of it so that it's bringing in more CASH." 

Followed by a pitch for another one of his shabby motivational books. Here's the latest cheesiness from this charlatan.

On Facebook, I intentionally join groups that will raise my heart rate and set me off, like the Kayleigh McCenany Fan Club Page. That right, the lyingest liar in the history of lying has her own fan club. 

And on Twitter I make it a point to follow, ok and to troll, folks like Stephen Miller, Mark Meadows, Kirstie Alley and until recently, Emerald Robinson. Don't know who she is? Well, she is rabid Trumpster who works (or worked) for NewsMax. 

She was just suspended from Twitter for posting disinformation about the vaccine. Claiming it contained bits of LUCIFERase, a bioluminescent that could be used by the government to track people. I'm gonna miss Emerald, particularly since she would often spar with me and put forth her wacky Red Hat opinions in digital ink. Oh Em!

A few days ago, something from TeddyFeed.com came up in my scroll. Maybe because I'm 44 years old I'm a little out of touch with pop culture, but I had never heard of them before. Nor did I have any idea that kids today have been soliciting insults with the hash tags RoastMe

I never knew of this phenomena, but now that I do, I love it.

I won't go into the psychology of asking complete strangers to defile, mock and savagely ridicule one's self. I understand the need for attention. You could even argue that this blog and my never-ending potshots at the previous Shitgibbon regime make me guilty of the same.

I'm much more impressed with the roasts themselves. 

Some are so fucking good.They're colorful. imaginative. And cutting, with the precision of one of those granite-coated knives sold on late night TV. 6 knives for $29.99? They can't be any good right?

The picture above is one of my favorites. But there are so, so many. 

Of course, after the chortling and guffawing, I often find myself sad and depressed. 

As all writers, I like to believe I have a special and unique command of the language and a particular mastery of the putdown. That belief has been shattered by the millions of would be roasters who are lying in wait for the next attention-starved victim.

Enjoy: https://www.teddyfeed.com/trending/worst-reddit-roasts/

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Bitching about Pitching

It's Tuesday morning as I write this. And while the rest of America sits on the edge of their seats tonight to see who wins the governor's race in Virginia, I'll be tippling my Bulleit Whiskey and watching the World Series Game 6.

I'll also be grumbling to myself about how things, almost everything, like baseball, politics, advertising, movies, were all better "back in my day."

My gripe about baseball, and in this World Series in particular, are many. For one thing, I don't really care who wins this series. I rarely have a dog in this fight. It's only when the Dodgers or a team from NYC gets in, does it really matter. And this year, let's face it, it's not the Astros vs. the Braves, it's the Cheaters vs. the Racists.

My other peeve is the Pitcher situation. I have no idea who the Astros are sending to the mound tonight. And I only know the Braves starter because he's MOT -- Member of the Tribe. In fact, we have three Jews playing tonight -- Max Fried, Alex Bregman and the pearl-donning Joc Pederson.

As a lifelong fan of the game, I miss when teams had starting pitchers who were household names. It defined the World Series in a different way. 

McNally vs. Drysdale 

Billingham vs. Blue Moon Odom (great name)

Morris vs. Smoltz

Even if there were just one guy on the mound, guys like:












I don't know anyone who stands out now. Mostly because they're never in the game long enough to establish themselves as stars. Now you have managers sending out relievers to start a game. It's wrong in the same way it was wrong for ad agencies to make people sit at the Long Tables of Mediocrity™. 

OK, that metaphor is a bit strained. The point is I don't like it.

Nor do I understand it. The other night, one of the cheaters or racists had a No-Hitter going into the 5th inning. A no hitter in the World Series! That's rating's gold. I would tell you the name of the pitcher, but to my earlier point, I simply forgot. Or more accurately, never knew.

When the 6th inning came around the pitcher got pulled. 

SFX--Record Scratch.

In the ad world that would be the equivalent of creating, developing, casting, and shooting a mammoth Super Bowl spot and then handing it off to a pair of juniors to do the edit and finish. It's wrong and I'm not ashamed to say it's wrong.

Know what else I miss? 

Managers running from the dugout to swear/spit on the umpire and kick dirt on home plate.

OK, I'll step off my old timey soapbox now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Of bagels, bodies and star spangled banners

"Did you do anything exciting over the weekend?"

I went to the north end of the San Fernando Valley to retrieve my late uncle's ashes at the mortuary. At this point you might be wondering what the hell does a classically prepared Black Pastrami Reuben (pictured above) have to do with the somber visit to Bastian & Perrott Oswald for Funerals and Cremation and Free Parking?

Indulge me, your patience will be rewarded.

It had been some time since my last visit to a funeral parlor, as we used to call it. They're never pleasant. However the man attending to my uncle's remains could not have been nicer or more accommodating. And a special thanks goes out to the good folks at UCLA.

Apparently, in return for my uncle donating his whole body to scientific research and exploring his unique 39 year survival since first getting diagnosed with HIV+, the UCLA donor program picked up the costs for everything: the cremation, the death certification, and even the leather bound urn. BTW, an urn filled with the ashes of a 170 lbs. man can be surprisingly heavy.

Moreover, because my uncle was in the Army, I also received a meticulously folded triangular US flag in recognition of his service.

I'm not big on flag fetishism. I believe our democratic principles are far more sacred than the piece of cloth that symbolizes them. Nor am I a fan of those who have appropriated and sullied the flag in the name of Trumpism. And so I plan to fly the flag every time this country undoes the crimes of the past administration and takes us a step closer to more better and perfect union. Fuck You Red Hats! 

My uncle would have wanted that. 

As my wife and I left the mortuary, I suggested we grab some lunch. And this is when I sprung the news that a mile done Parthenia Blvd., in the auto body repair and marijuana dispensary heart of downtown Northridge, was a place called Brent's Deli.

I'm not sure Brent is the proper name for a deli. Morty, Bernie, Saul, Irving, Hymie, all seem better and more authentic. Nevertheless, westward bound we were.

It should be noted that my immunocompromised wife and I hadn't sat inside a restaurant for a proper meal since the beginning of Covid and her cancer diagnosis, so they could have served us cold soup and sandwiches slathered in mayonnaise and we still would have loved it. 

But I would not have teased this story out had our journey not been so fruitful. 

In short, it was as if we had walked into Noshing Heaven. The place was bustling, mostly with fat-assed people. You can keep your stars on Yelp or some hoity toity restaurant reviews, in my book, fat-assed people like myself are always the best indication of the quality of the food. 

My pastrami sandwich was over 2 inches in height. And because the Swiss cheese was properly melted, the meat slid back and forth between the melty, gooey slices, making the endeavor a challenge and deliciously messy. 

My wife's matzo ball soup came out in a soup bowl big enough for a Bernese Mountain Dog. The baseball sized matzo was too mas ball for my wife and I received a generous lower hemisphere on a side dish.

Indeed, after the inhalation came to a merciful completion, I still found 1/2 an uneaten sandwich still on my plate. As well as leftover rye bread with a crunchy crust and a pillowy soft interior. 

To Go containers were quickly placed before us. As you walk by the long counter at Brent's, wedged between the hanging salamis and the assortment of salted and smoked fishes, you'll see a mile high stack of To Go containers, also a great indicator of the food's quality.

On the drive home, I carefully and strategically placed the remainders of our lunch in the tiny trunk of my car. And separated it, with a wall of beach towels and golf shoes, from the flag and the remainders of my uncle. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Sheep of Madison Avenue

HBO is currently airing The Wolf of Wall Street. 

And as they do with all movies, it means it's also running on HBO 1, HBO 2, HBO 3, HBO Max, HBO Super Max, and HBO Super Max Deluxe. It's even appearing on the underside of HBO Hard Seltzer.

This is by no means my favorite Martin Scorsese movie. It's long. Way....too....long. If you ask me, Marty could use a good editor. In fact, the movie is much more enjoyable now that I am watching it in smaller bite size scenes every time I find myself channel surfing.

I caught the Margot Robbie party entrance scene last Wednesday.

The scene where Leo tips Jonah off that he's wired on Thursday.

And the Sell Me This Pen scene early Saturday morning when I was struck by a bout of insomnia. Later that morning, after dozing off, I caught the movie's finale where Wolfie asks members of his audience to sell him this pen and they all stumble and rehash the same the awkward dull as stagnant pond water pitch.

Here for your enjoyment is the first pen escapade:


The brevity and the clarity are simply brilliant. Sadly, however, we in the ad business don't sell pens anymore. Or cars. Or beer, Or burgers. Or anything. 

We twist ourselves into knots to tie our clients to some bullshit social justice purpose and hope to ride the karma brownie points to the sales register. 

Or, and you might have noticed this going on, we shimmy up to pop culture, woo dancers & rappers and try to appropriate their street cred and fleeting coattails of fame.

The last time I spent inordinate amounts of money for a car, I was not swayed by freewheeling ballet dancers or lithe, hair tossing hip hop girls. I was much more interested in learning more about the significant difference between supercharged and turbocharged engine performance. 

HINT: I'll bet there's a great campaign in that. 

You know, if ad agencies were doing campaigns anymore.

The greater truth in the Sell Me This Pen scene takes place at the very beginning, when Jordan reveals what really drives us: "We all want to be rich. And we want to be rich now."

I'm 44 years old and it may be too late for me. 

But if I did have oodles of money, I'd gladly spend some to buy a plane ticket & hotel accommodations and sneak my way into the Woodrow Wilson Conference Room where the agency was unveiling the aforementioned luxury car commercials to their national dealer association.

Oh, to be a fly on that wall.

Monday, November 1, 2021


Though chronologically impossible, I'm still old enough to remember the Space Race and our rush to put a man on the moon. In less than a decade, since JFK announced the intention in 1961, this country had done just that.

I watch the current debacle in Congress and wonder how the hell does anything get done? You could argue it it doesn't. We simply don't do big things anymore.

There are no bullet trains that traverse the nation.

There no solar powered desalination plants being built along our two coasts.

There are no flying cars.

There are no In-and-Out Burgers without lines that snake around the block.

We do have free porn, pocket phones that demand our attention 25/8/366 and about 10 billion Brekkie photographs floating around in the ether.

Why you may ask? If the current rift in the political class is any indication it's because there are too many cooks in the kitchen. A dilemma best demonstrated and immortalized in the following video...


It's why the Build Back Better program is, as former Adweek Editor Barbara Lippert so aptly put it, a framework stuffed inside a framework wrapped with framework. 

And, as you might expect, the same phenomena afflicts the ad world -- Too Many Cooks.

 It's hard to get two people to agree own anything. It's exponentially harder to get 3 people on board. And 4. And 5. And you can keep working your way up until you reach the legendary Death by a Thousand Cuts.

It's why we are all playing Small Ball. We're tweaking here, twisting there, optimizing a little here and re-optimizing there. And fooling ourselves that brands can be built with tweets, banner ads and 30 second commercials on YouTube that are quickly reduced to 1 &1/2 second commercials, as millions fumble for their mouse or trackpad to click the SKIP ADS Button.

By the time you read this perhaps the neutered, de-optimized Build Back Better program will be signed and delivered. I doubt it. The battle could drag on for another two weeks, maybe a month. 

In other words, the same amount of time it would take you to think of the last big ad campaign/idea/digital stunt/banner that turned the advertising world on its head.

We used to do big things in America. And in advertising. But now we don't.

Too. Many. Cooks.