Thursday, September 30, 2010

At the Company's One-Day Retreat

Make it larger by using your computer's pointer device and clicking anywhere on the image.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Everyone Knows Everything and No One's Ever Wrong

(...Until later*.)

Posterous. Tumblr. Twitter. Does anyone remember Friendster?  I got an email over the weekend from Technorati, the one-time leader in ranking blogs. They actually wanted 15 minutes of my time for a survey. I don't have three seconds for Technorati anymore, though they were once THE measuring stick for blog popularity. Digg. Stumble Upon. Fark. Fuck, it's all too much. The damned Yellow Pages runs ads on the radio now promising to get your business on all the social media sites the kids are using, including The Facebooks. Let's make a viral video! The 30-second spot is dead! Run around in circles chasing your Long-Tail. Engage the consumer. Hash-tag corned-beef hash. Groupon Coupon. SEO is king. SEO is dead. Twitter killed search. Instant Search killed Twitter. Twitter is Search. MySpace waste of space. LiveJournal is a DeadJournal. Xanga? Don't make me laugh.

Wild Frontier, kids. And for every sharpshooting gunslinger telling you what to do there are a thousand slick-suited tramps pulling covered wagons full of snake-oil. Problem is you just never know. Zuckerberg could do something so outlandishly invasive next week that a mass exodus will occur by Halloween. Goodbye, Facebook. Hello, Next Big Thing.

Don't get me wrong. Social media is good for your business. But beware the gurus and old-school agencies pretending to be reinvented. Trust your gut. Try it all. Ditch what doesn't work and move on to the next thing. Anyone claiming to know for sure what's going to work is either lying to you or just trying to convince himself.

It's fluid for now and for the foreseeable future.


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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hang This in Your Hallway

Further Reading/Viewing:

The Culture of Narcissism
The Century of the Self

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Promotional Poster

Saw a cool picture via NVC over at "A Conversation on Cool" where James Dean is about to hurt Rock Hudson's balls on the set of Giant.

Major Mike Adams thought he'd beam in and witness it.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

End of Summer Sign

(It gets bigger.)

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Super Saturated Street Scenes - Canadian Edition

(Click for absurdly large, desktop background version, if you're weird like that.)

From Royal Pine Drive, Kelowna, BC, overlooking the city and Okanagan Lake.

Life-size William Shatner lawn ornament sold separately.

More from this category.

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Stupid Ad That Thinks It's Clever #34,976

Clorox has been running these banners on AMC's Mad Men site with companion TV spots airing during the show.

So, first we wink at adultery. That's cute, but I'm not sure you want your brand associated with helping a guy cover up his indiscretions. Assumed in this clever line is that "ad guys" are a more philandering lot than say, gynecologists. Most ad guys I've known only wished they were so rakish, but their stupidity usually repelled the women.

But most preposterous in this ad is the assumption that an "ad guy" of generations ago would even know how to do his own laundry before his wife saw the lipstick stain. In fact, a man doing his own laundry in the '60s would likely arouse the suspicion of his wife.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

If You Don't Buy This, The Terrorists Win

Click it to buy it.

Having a million-selling* single online can be a heady thing if you're not ready for it, but as I've learned from watching and studying Justin Bieber, it's important that guys like Justin and I maintain our grounded, down-to-earth coolness in the face of all this sudden wealth and fame. I am still the same me, only with tons and tons of cash and servants and exotic cars and a private jet and sushi whenever I demand it, prepared by my personal chef, who, if she doesn't get her act together, will find herself my former personal chef. (The ad clearly said: "Must be able to make sushi with leanings toward the California School expected. Sushi tools NOT provided!")

At the same time, it's discouraging that not everyone in the world has bought a copy yet. I know there are, like, starving people in other countries who can't afford the 99¢ because they have to eat or something, so maybe you can buy an extra copy and send it to them?

As I said before, you can hate the hell out of it. I don't care. Just buy it.

* I won't know for another month or two how it's doing at iTunes. The distributor, CD Baby, says, "Apple sends us the monthly report about 4-6 weeks after the month is finished. Meaning: you won't see your September sales until the first week of November." 

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Guinness Denounced the Ad, Embraces the Notoriety

I saw a Guinness ad during a football game and went looking for it on YouTube and on the Guinness site. Couldn't find it. Nicely shot close-up from an in-the-glass perspective of beer being poured, but with a lame and taunting tagline that said something to the effect of "Maybe it's not for you." You're right, Guinness. It's not for me. And your attempt to make me feel like I'm not worthy of your beer didn't work. You're not the Marines. You're a thick beer. If I want to feel as though I've ingested a loaf of dark bread I'll just toss some pumpernickel in a blender with a couple shots of whiskey and get the same effect. But in my searching for this ad I think I may have uncovered a little bit of "wink-wink, we're so naughty" on the part of Guinness.

You may remember a couple years ago when some director released what he called a "banned Guinness ad." It was a spec piece, hoping to catch the attention of the Irish brew maker. It was during those naïve days of the late summer of '08, when the words "banned commercial" on your upload were a sure ticket to viral success, back before people realized there was no such thing as a banned commercial. It caught plenty of attention, but mostly from angry people who objected to the objectification of women. In the ad, a woman is used as a human coaster, her body gently rocking back and forth. We see only her mid-section while three separate hands reach for the bottle, presumably take a swig, then return it to her undulating form, the bottle staying balanced in the small of her back. Clearly she's supposed to be in the throes of a four-way, though she appears lifeless and limp.* Guinness and its agency were very quick to denounce the ad, saying,

Guinness is in no way associated with this video, and approached YouTube to have it removed. We are proud of our brands, and our commitment to responsible marketing, and this is not how we want our brand portrayed.

Fine. Nice job. Appropriate PR move. Nevermind that the ad is back on YouTube, with 1.5 million views this time around.

Also, nevermind that for sale at the Guinness store for $25 is the CD, "Music From the TV Ads." The cover art, with its pronounced line of beauty S-shape, bears a striking resemblance to the shape prominently featured in the "banned" spot.

I'm sure Guinness will claim this is merely the top of the harp that serves as their logo.

* Which reminds me of a joke. Use your mouse to highlight the invisible text below.

What's the difference between spaghetti and a sorority girl?
Spaghetti moves when you eat it. 

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the Year 2552, Jetpacks are Commonplace

And they fly for all of 10 seconds. And they're still noisy as fuck.

Tim Nudd over at AdFreak points out that the Tuesday launch of Halo:Reach included a stunt in London's Trafalgar Square involving a jetpack.

Surprise! It's the same, lame jetpack that stunters have been using since the 1946 SuperBowl. Yawn. Nice job, Microsoft/Xbox. You have executed a worn-out stunt in promotion of your new game. And all the traditional media people you invited went, "Wooooo!" [clap-clap-clap]

What? SuperBowl wasn't around in 1946? Oh. Sorry. But that jetpack was. This shtick is old, it's lame, and it doesn't answer the question this blog's title asks. (Or, for that matter, the question asked by this blog's music video. Or this blog's theme song.)

Rent your next loud, brief jetpack stunt from this dude. Invite drunken journalists. They will be in awe.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

At 99¢, There's No Way You Can Lose

What Do I Need to Do to Get This Song on Your iPod TODAY?

(Lemme hit you with some heavy sales copy. It's a hard sell, and you're locked in the room until you agree.)

I remember reading a story years ago about the rhythm guitarist for an American band who bought a mansion based off his royalties from a single song-writing credit. It was a good song; a popular song. That's the American dream, isn't it? (Or one of them, anyway. The other one involves working real hard, scraping and clawing your way from mailroom clerk to CEO in 50 years, but I don't have the time or the patience for that route.) And while most musicians today will tell you that you can't possibly make a living from music anymore, I will, with your help, defy those naysayers. I intend to live that dream today, but I probably won't buy a mansion. I'll just get my roof replaced and maybe install a new toilet in the master bath. And I'm going to do it in 99¢ increments. (Actually 60 to 70¢ increments after CDBaby takes their cut.)

What is 99¢ to you? You give 99¢ to the barista at Starbucks because she got your coffee right. You give 99¢ per bag (even though the going rate is $2) to the guy at the airport curb who schlepped your bags the few yards you were too lazy to walk. You give 99¢ to the hotdog vendor outside The Home Depot because you saw the tip jar and felt guilty walking away without adding to it. You give 99¢ to your state's lottery every week. And what do you have to show for any of those 99¢ donations? NOTHING! I give you a song that will last forever in your iPod. I give you Music. I give you Eternity!

The song I'm selling, "Where's My Jetpack?" was described by the first person who bought it, a gentleman from Edmonton, Alberta, as, "An anthem for a generation." He went on to say, "It's been stuck in my head for weeks! I think this is a truly great tune. You really have something here. The world needs to have this song!" (I am not lying, and I do not know this generous, if delusional man, but it was his unexpected encouragement that prompted me to upload the song.) Now, can you afford to be left out on an anthem? I don't want to see that happen to you, and neither do your parents. Or your children. Don't let  them down. As the man said, The World needs to have this song. That giant demographic includes you, my friend. And your parents. And your children. Think of the children.

How many blogs do you read that have their own theme song? Very few, I'm sure. That alone is worth a 99¢ tip! So, I'll tell ya what I'll do! I'll let you have the song after you tip me 99¢!

And it really doesn't matter if you hate the song. What percentage of the music on your iPod do you hate? Maybe 30%? I have songs on my iPod I will NEVER listen to. What's one more? And what do you expect for 99¢ anyway? So what if it's not your favorite genre or style? Expand your palate! Broaden your horizons!

Think of it this way: You're at Dollar Night at your favorite sushi place. You've tried all sorts of exotic pieces and then you say to your companions, "Let's try the sea urchin! It's only $1!" And so you try it and resolve to never, ever eat sea urchin again. You're only out $1 and you learned a valuable lesson about sea urchin. And if you happen to be among the few hundred people worldwide who like sea urchin, is the sushi place going to let you order more of it without paying? That's the difference between me and your sushi place. If you like this song, you get to keep listening to it FOREVER! FOR FREE! This bargain is the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth.

So, what I need you to do right now is make yourself one of the many, many millions who are this very minute going to iTunes to buy the song I'm selling. Once you've done that, and this is KEY - make sure EVERYONE YOU KNOW on Twitter and Facebook buys it, too. And yes, even that gross guy you barely remember from middle school whose friend request you regret accepting because he keeps sending you creepy private messages. Once this chain spans the globe, I expect messages on my Facebook saying, "Dude, I know you don't remember me, but you REALLY NEED TO BUY THIS SONG ON iTUNES."

Not an iTunes user? You can buy it directly from CDBaby.

(And I'd prefer not to hear from the audiophiles about the production quality. Considering I used an old Kay guitar plugged into an aging HP, some drum programming and a Radio Shack headset microphone, I think it passes. Remember, it's only 99¢ you're about to spend. Don't be a sound snob.)

I'd like to tell you that a certain percentage of your 99¢ will go toward some do-gooder program that provides mosquito nets while improving the literacy rate among transgendered baby seals in the rain forest, but it won't. It's all mine after iTunes and CDBaby take their cut. I am counting on you to make me disgustingly rich from a song that doesn't deserve the attention it's about to get. This happens all the time. Bieber, anyone? OK, Bobby McFarrin?

As with most music, it sounds better if you're listening to it loud while drinking an adult beverage. Or perhaps smoking something that might be legal in some states as long as you call it "medicine."

And if you're still too stingy with your measly little dollar, go here and steal the song for free. You punkass pirate bastard.

And then watch the video.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Ladies Love Coke and Smokes

Caption on Shorpy reads: July 1940. "Gas station in Benton Harbor, Michigan." 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. (Click for the massive)

If you like advertising, history, vintage crap, photography or you just want another cool place to waste time at as you put off that horrible assignment you're avoiding, bookmark that site or subscribe to the feed. The detail is always amazing. In the above scene, the restrooms are "registered" and apparently getting a radio installed in your car was a hot business back in 1940.

And it appears we are being watched from the garage by Major Mike Adams.

What a lurker.

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Extreme Packaging Won't Mask The Lack of Salt and Sugar

Everyone and their grandma has already blogged about "the genius" behind CP+B's new packaging for baby carrots, and now here's their commercial for the same.

It's so tongue-in-cheek it could be an SNL skit. Clever. Funny. So ironic as to have taken irony to a new ironic dimension.

Will it sell baby carrots? I doubt it.

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Small Church Learns the Secret of Church Marketing

Some American churches of late have become notorious abusers of marketing. They know how to drum up business through provocation. They strive to be hip, relevant and they boast of their pastor's ability to "relate God's word to your world." They have cool logos, catchy slogans, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and pastors who dress like Abercrombie models. They hang banners that cause an intended stir or they announce a series about sex that they know will rile their small conservative community. It's all for the sake of hoped-for viral success or a mention on the evening news. They count this attention as something God has blessed. Their numbers grow and they think "surely the Lord is behind this." Any attention is good, they believe, and if they have to get them in the door through shock and awe, that's how they'll do it. It's a tough market out there, and with so many things competing for the attention of the prospective church-goer, a pastor has to do what a pastor has to do. Or rather, an Associate Pastor of Marketing and Community Outreach has to do what an Associate Pastor of Marketing and Community Outreach has to do.

So along comes "Dr." Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. His first marketing trick is the title before his name. I am unable to find any information on Jones' supposed doctorate. His second trick is the name of his church. When you have 50 members in your pews and you call yourself a "world outreach center," that's very clever marketing. You might consider it misleading, but I'm sure Jones would make a case that he sends money to Africa and Asia.

But Dr. Terry Jones has one-upped his marketing brethren in a big way. He's not going to preach a series on good sex. He's not going to debate an atheist in a warm-hearted gesture of goodwill toward atheists. He's simply going to burn some Korans this Saturday and get the attention of the whole world. With that simple announcement and a few other provocative signs around the neighborhood, Jones has succeeded in drawing the attention of Muslims from around the world, the world's media, and he has even drawn responses from the commander of US Forces in Afghanistan as well as the White House.

Look at that sign. Crude layout. Kerning is all off. I can safely guess from the appearance of this sign that  Dove World Outreach Center doesn't have a Pastor of Electronic Arts and Media overseeing the creation of its outdoor advertising. But they have the basics down, learned very well from the best practitioners of modern American church marketing. You must provoke, shock, announce a press conference, create a controversy, get people mad, get people talking. And points to them for doing it on a very small budget.

As the nation's church leaders step up to denounce this man and his message, they should probably also repent that they taught him too well. 

Crossposted to Radio Free Babylon.

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Rebel Without a Plan

When I first caught the headline that Harley-Davidson and its long-time agency Carmichael-Lynch had parted ways, I thought it was the typical case of the client firing the agency. Turns out it was the other way around. Ad people love that kind of story. Kicking a big, stubborn client to the curb is the dream of many. 

Everyone knows that Harley is fairly stuck in a groove (perhaps a rut) of selling its wares to people of a certain demographic: suburban, middle-aged, professional, white; people for whom the motorcycle is a mere hobby, albeit a somewhat serious hobby - and an expensive one. Living in a state that attracts motorcycle enthusiasts, and particularly Harley enthusiasts, year-round for gatherings, events and hanging out, I can tell you that the stereotype of Barbie and Ken Biker is an accurate one. It's almost to the point that Harley is the opposite of what it wants to be - what it used to be: cool. How cool is it to have the same bike as everyone else when everyone else is a grey-haired guy playing biker on the weekend?

They were on a wild ride for a long time. Big, loud, shiny and expensive, with an official accessories line that includes branded clothing for infants and HD-branded doo-rags for the dudes who don't know how to tie a real bandana into a doo-rag, but Harley has finally been slowed down by the economy. You can't sell a $15,000 toy to a guy who isn't sure he'll have a job next month, even if you do offer your own easy financing. I'm not saying Harley didn't do things right. They had perfect pitch for the high-rolling times they thrived in.

But now is a dangerous time to be Harley, and if they keep doing what they've always done they will only sink further. There are a few directions they can take this, and each will require bold thinking and a fair amount of risk. But since Harley prides itself on the rebel image, maybe they'd be willing to prove that image by actually being what they've only pretended to be for too long. Harley's CMO, Mark-Hans Richer said, "the company feels good about its creative direction." OK, Mark-Hans, you keep doing it your way and we'll keep seeing headlines like this.

I hear Wisconsin is beautiful this time of year. Send the corporate jet down to fly me up and I'll give you the pitch. I'll do it off-the cuff, Don Draper style. Should only take a couple of minutes. Afterward, I'd like to tour that $60 million museum if there's time. Then maybe we can catch a Packers game from your skybox at Lambeau.

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Are you Ready for Some... Man, I Don't Like that Hank Jr. Guy

But I'm sure he'll be back in a week, kicking off Monday Night Football in all his Super-American glory. Found on the side of the road was this Minnesota Vikings car flag. Now, if I'm a Minnesota fan, this would give me pause. Help me, Vikings lovers, by participating in my very scientific poll embedded after the picture.

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Get a Job, Loser

A local staffing firm said they were referred to me for a position they're trying to fill. They asked that if I wasn't the right fit, could I please send them someone who was. I wouldn't wish the job they're offering on anyone.

Is it just me, or is this job profile depressing, insulting, ludicrous and a sad commentary on the state of creative opportunities out there of late? (Click for large.)

To top it all off, you'll obviously be creating keyword-loaded content for a law firm - likely one specializing in personal injury.

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Goofus and Gallant - The Uncovered Original Episode

I always liked Goofus better.

Original illustration found at Art Skool Damage.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

By Request: Where's My Jetpack - Audio Track Only

Stereophonic sound, commonly called stereo, is the reproduction of sound using two or more independent audio channels through a symmetrical configuration of loudspeakers in such a way as to create the impression of sound heard from various directions, as in natural hearing.

Now dig to the groovy sounds of what some critics have called "Beck on Robitussin."

And remember kids, illegal drugs are not cool. Why do you think they call it "dope"?

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

"Encore Performance" is TV-Speak for "Filler"

The onset of Autumn used to mean the start of the new TV season. That slight shift in the wind and the temperature went hand in hand with back to school shopping, a new season of football, new shows on TV and the end of the reruns. But now, it's all up in the air and all over the map. Mad Men started airing its new season in late July. The new season of True Blood is almost over. Those of us eagerly waiting for a new season of Eastbound and Down have been waiting for more than a year. I think SNL and House might be on the old time schedule, but I don't know anymore. I guess that's why we have DVRs now.

That was all just an excuse to show you a rerun of a video I made a few months ago. Jason Fox, an excellent copywriter from Dallas, sent me a DM on Twitter yesterday. We had an exchange that went something like this: Actually, it went exactly like this:

So that made me think, "Damn, maybe that video and song only has 681 views because it just got lost in the shuffle - not because it sucks balls and people were afraid to tell me so. Maybe what it needs is an 'encore performance' here on the blog to kick-start it to life and get it out there a little better."

So without further delay, an encore performance of "Where's My Jetpack?" an original video of an original song by me.

First aired Sunday, April 11, 2010.

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