Saturday, December 30, 2006

Deconstructing a pop culture deconstructionist

Chuck Klosterman may be one of the greatest unsung journalists in rock and roll. Of course, Chuck Klosterman may also be one of the most overated journalists in rock and roll. Mostly because he tends to set up sentences just like those two. Two sentences that contradict each other in a way that, when you read a single article by him, you think "interesting." But when you read 8 stories by him in a row, you think "I smell one-trick pony."

Of course, he's good for the occasional gem (In this case, Lez Zeppelin, an all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band.)

And that's why I like him, all his irritating paradoxes aside. Every now and then he unearths a truly unique point of view, even if his own has started to feel old hat.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Art Factory

My most unique Christmas gift:

New artwork released every Tuesday in limited edition runs - of 100?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Callin' ME out?

Jetpacks called me out. "Works like this: You get 'tagged' - then you have to reveal some dumb unknowns about yourself. Then you are allowed to call out others."

And rather than crap all over this idea (which, I'll admit, was my first knee-jerk reaction) I'll embrace it and use it to dump a bunch of baggage I've been carrying around with me for years. Perhaps this'll be cathartic.

1. When I was six, I had tubes in my ears. My mother warned me not to get my head wet because "Your brain will rot."

2. I came in last place in a wacky t-shirt contest at the YMCA daycamp when I was eight. My T-shirt was an iron-on I got free with a Burger King Junior Whopper which featured the King, and my name, 'Jamie', typeset in 16 pt Hobo. Thus I felt the first glancing blow of creative judgment. I took it poorly. I was eight.

3. My first three girlfriends' names were "D--- Tempesta, A-- Arata (pronounced erota), and C---- Lacey". I've omitted their names to protect me.

4. My path into advertising began shortly after I ripped the antenna off a police cruiser while attending JMU in Harrisonburg, VA. there was much hitting about the head and body by the campus cadets, one of whom lent me the drivers license I used as a fake ID to buy the alcohol which was, at that very moment, affecting my judgement. When I reenrolled in college at the University of Delaware two years later, I decided against renewing my fraternity membership and chose, instead, to take a 20-hour a week job running blueprints for a woman who lived in an industrial park, drove an $80K Cadillac and wore an 18" bouffant wig. A wig I saw her remove three times, revealing a haircut sort of like Melissa Etheridge has now. It was only then that the true magic of advertising design started to twinkle in my heart.

5. I weigh 148 lbs. despite the fact that I have consumed a steady diet of mexican food, Shiner Bock and pistachio nuts for the last 8 months.





I don't have five.

And no - I don't feel a whole lot better.

(Mom, if you're reading, all was forgiven long, long ago)

I got yer spirit right here

Almost came to blows with a clerk at Barnes & Noble today.

Started innocently enough, when I dumped $88 worth of books, periodicals and other wordy ephemera on the counter.

"Do you have a B&N card?"

I winced. "Nope." Dry. Flat. Honest. Uninterested. Ring me up and move it along, pal.

"Really? You could save ten percent."

I looked him in the eye, smiled and said in an even and convincing tone: "I'm not interested."

Evidently it was not convincing enough, because he continued:

"You have $88.00 worth of books here. If you make a purchase this big between now and next Christmas..." There was more to his pitch, but I was not listening. I was watching his cheerful face describing this AMAZING credit card offer with a mixture of disbelief and contempt. What about "No, Nope, Not interested" failed to convince this guy? Did I really look that on-the-fence look to him? What involuntary poker tell had I emitted to invite him to continue with this conversation. Did the man have no boundaries? Don't they teach you how to be observant in book-selling 101?

"I'm being reimbursed for all these books, so I really don't care."


I was ready to get ugly, but just like that, it stopped. Finally, an unassailable argument. There's nothing in this for me, man. I'm going to get all $88 back.

And then he puts my receipt in the bag. Which I hate. For a guy who had no problem asking me questions, to skip right over the "Would you like your receipt in a bag?" question was pretty annoying.

I have a credit card. I use it. I pay it off. I earn miles on it. I can use it almost everywhere (except a handful of family-run restaurants that only take cash, including the Plumstead Tavern, a mediocre bar in everybody's hometown: Media, PA.)

I don't want a Barnes and Noble card. Or an Old Navy card. Or a frequent-luncher card. Or a weekly email from iTunes. Wow.

I DO have a collection of keychain tags for the various Dallas area grocery stores (because it's utter insanity to pay $1.40 for a can of soup, when you can pay .60 cents for the same can of soup. No credit application required. No yearly fee. And they donate a percentage of my purchases to my son's school. Done. Love it. Give me my soup and shut up.

I don't know which angers me more: pushing credit cards during christmas or charging me upfront for a discount.

Either way, I'm out. And I'm buying all my books online.

Monday, December 18, 2006

They had me

Viral fake news: blogworthy.

42 midgets vs. lion.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wising up

Long-time readers may remember that this time, last year, my son asked for "fruit snacks" for Christmas. And we happily obliged. And thus, the magic of Santa was bestowed on yet another hapless generation.

This year, he'd like a helmet (or, as the Santa at the Gaylord Texan got him to clarify, "a football helmet") Not one to disappoint, I went looking for a football helmet that'd fit a 3 year old.

I found one at Academy. But it presents a dilemma. It comes with a jersey, and it comes with one of these team logos: UT, A&M, Dallas Cowboys. God bless them, I'm not ready to inflict the wrath of the oft hated Aggie on the poor kid. And I get a funny feeling in my stomach dressing him up in silver and gold. Mostly because I'm worried he'll be doomed to a life of disappointment, not unlike my own, being raised in in the 80's in Eagles territory. I'd prefer to let him pick - and then suffer the consequences of picking - his own NFL team when he's old enough to make a decision of that magnitude for himself.

So I'm left with the Texas uniform. I like UT. It's in Austin, which is cooler than Dallas. Their colors are Orange and Orange - and my son likes orange and oranges. And he even knows how to configure his pinky and pointer finger in the prerequisite "Hook'em" gesture. But I worry that having a team on his helmet sets him up for or all kinds of questions I can't answer down here in the heart of football land. Namely, I can't come up with more than half a dozen UT football players' names (and of those, Ricky Williams is probably not ideal). And I'm going to have to iron a name on the back of the jersey - and it probably shouldn't be our last name. The Coppell cops frown on that kind of thing: kids giving up key personal information about themselves on their wardrobe. Right now, I'm down to Blalock and Ross.

This is the kind of dilemma we bandwagoon fans contend with (for instance, every time I go to a Dallas Cowboys game, I spend 3/4 of the game trying to figure out whose name I'd put on my jersey if I went through the trouble and expense of purchasing a jersey.) I work with a woman whose heart was broken when, three weeks after she bought herself a Quincy Carter jersey, he was released for a failed drug test. This morning, listening to the guys on the Ticket interviewing Jason Witten, I was thinking "Yeah. Witten. Sort of a dark horse. Tight end isn't your typical 'print-his-name-on-a-jersey' position, but what the hell." Romo would be such an obvious choice - but he could pull a Carter - the guy's only played 6 games, right? There's an argument for putting "E.Smith" on the back. Sort of indisputable. Or is it? And something about T.O. just seems bandwagon-y and strangely anti-Cowboys all at the same time.

It's actually probably the ultimate FU to go ahead and buy a Terrell Owens jersey. Or go out there and see if there's a Vanderjagt jersey left for sale, cheap.

But I digress. Right now I have to pick a UT player to commit to the immortality of a 3-year old's Christmas present.

Right. These are my struggles.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A little greatness from Seth Godin

As you've probably noticed - I ain't got a lot going on.
Hence lifting great content like this.

a new appreciation

...for handlettered art direction.

A neck cramp, a hand cramp, and thirteen sheets of mylar later:
Sagmeister, I ain't.

Friday, December 08, 2006

surprise me

In these days of highly fickle accounts and ever-shuffling CMOs and brand managers, I find it very easy to believe that Walmart could can its agency after only a month.

I mean, I canned countless girlfriends after two weeks. Once I figured out that I couldn't spend the rest of my life with them, why draw out the inevitable?

What I do find troubling is that, if one spent 6 months - or longer - going through the incredibly tedious motions of being pitched. Then agonizing over the right decision, how could you not know? What alarming thing did Walmart find under DraftFCB's skirt?

This has movie rights written all over it. Fumbling the largest football in agency history. It reeks of Terrell Owens. It reeks of the chick who tried to get tricky on the last jump of her otherwise gold-medal winning run in the Olympics last winter.

You had it in the bag.

Maybe all that $$$ just made them butterfingers. Like taking a supermodel home and then, unable to believe your own luck, find yourself struggling with the zipper on her dress so long that she figures you for a virgin. Or dropping a bottle of Rothschild on the winecellar floor.

So close...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A sure-fire McSweeney's List

Submitted today:

Knitting blog names:

Dances with Yarn
Knitta Please
Purl up with a good Yarn
Twisted Knitter
Yarn Boy
The knit has hit the fan
The needle and the damage done

Thanks to Amy: knitter and linker extraordinaire.

When AEs Attack

Fox got some old AEs dander up.

Read the Article.
Then cut to the comments.

Passive/aggressive diplomacy at its finest.

On a related note, I actually had an argument over the size of the two sponsor logos on a full page "Thank You" ad today.

Cliche? Damned straight.
Art directors are soooooo boring.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I know I spend all kinds of time here referring to what a great job I think CP&B does. But I was just poking around on the vw website (not because I'm car shopping, but because I'm a little bored and I'm wide awake) and it suddenly dawned on me: I don't like VW anymore. And I'm blaming it on two things:

I'm no longer their target (although I bought a car in their price range and class this year).

I no longer feel an emotional connection with the brand.

Which is sort of weird. You see, I grew up with a collection of VWs. My dad liked them. I liked them. My first car was a VW Quantum. My sister's first car was a VW. My wife's first car purchase was a used Passat. I did an honors thesis researching VW ads, and their creators, in college.

I was smitten.

And then Arnold started doing those great, great TV spots for the Jetta, the Golf, the New Beetle. Remember when "Pink Moon" started playing? Holy shit - if there was one thing Arnold knew how to do and do well, it was an emotionally charged VW commercial with a compelling soundtrack. I still get goosebumps.

CPB? Not so much. Funny stuff. Different stuff. But emotionally poignant stuff? I can't think of one. A lot of their new stuff has a similar freshness to the product/benefit stuff DDB did back in the early days of the beetle (I'm thinking about the new John Mayer/guitar ad where you get to see the windshield wipers that make a great metronome.

But not necessarily emotionally deep work. I mean, I'll remember the "pink moon" spot for a long time. And I don't think I'll remember much emotional work from CPB at all.

Except for that Ikea Lamp Spot. Jesus, was that good.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A lesson in useful online content

Amazing that you'd find anything of use here, eh?

Thanks to the tran.sit guys visits, I stumbled onto the Newhouse Design website tonight and found, on the front page, a plethora of great design links. And if you've ever admired a particularly well-illustrated map of, say, an airport or a sporting venue, chances are, Newhouse Design did it.

Yeah, North Texas.

Anyway, the list clipped to the front page has all kinds of goodies - all appropriately listed descriptively, not by name, so you have no idea what you're gonna get (good web design is like a box of chocolates?)

Holy crap, Mack, there's another dude monkeying around on your turf.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I just had a struggling copywriter sitting in my office.
She's trying to write the mission statement for a probono/non-profit/apparel company.
And she's concerned that the client doesn't know what she's selling.

My response: clients rarely understand what they're selling.
Because while the eyeballs may say we're selling beer or soap or a trip to Disney World, we're almost never selling those things. If we were selling those things, we'd just put a big picture of them, along with the price, on the nearest flat surface and wait for the phonecalls and the dirty folk and the drunks to show up.

We're selling the idea. We're selling the club. We're selling intelligence. We're selling "But I'm worth it" and "Man Laws" and the feeling of a quarterback who's just won the SuperBowl, but whose only thought - the only thing that could top the feeling of winning the fucking superbowl - is going to Disney World.

We're not selling actual plane tickets., hotel rooms and 7 dollar ice cream cones.

At least I'm not.

My job is magic. There is no inherent magic in a case study or a bar graph or a 3.5% increase in sales. That's math. You hire mathematicians and that's what you'll get. You hire a media company and they'll increase your GRPs. Shuffle your budget to maximize the impact of your message - hit the right target. Or suggest sticking your idea on the side of a bus. But an unmagical message on the side of a bus is just as unimpactful as if you stuck it in your underwear.

You want magic, you'd better not depend on a mathematician. A microsite or an SMS campaign or a brand manifesto is a great thing. But it isn't magic unless, by encountering it, once gains a profound new emotional opinion of the product or service you're researching. Magic takes parity out of the equation.

Look at the difference between the Zune and the iPod. They do the same thing. They both play music. A thinking man says, buy the cheaper one. But we are not just calculators. We care about the way things feel and look and, yes, the way they are advertised. We define ourselves with our mp3 players- not just our music - and who wants to be brown?
Unless you're UPS - who has found a kind of magic in Brown. Not to suggest that iPod's magic is in the color of the device. iPod's magic is in selling freedom and expression and customization and uniqueness. iPod is a spaceship. Zune is a brick.

People spend ludicrous amounts of money on things based on magic. You won't find it on a spread sheet. Or in the transcript of a focus group. Or in a graph plotting your budget and your bottom line.

Magic is scary and inconclusive and risky and all the things we hate in business. But when you get it, you love it, you ride it for all it's worth and you long for it when it's gone. Magic is a one night stand. You make it with truth and luck and a couple people who believe.

Magic is not units or dollars or a big logo.

For the most part, clients can't make magic. Or they'd do it themselves. Like Target. But damn do they need it. And if your agency can't make it, they'll find one that can. I don't blame them, either. You don't stick with an agency for 20 years because they're nice. You stick with them because they've managed to keep a spark alive in your brand. That spark is M-A-G-I-C.

And when the magic gone, well, you know the rest.

My Christmas list - an open letter to Santa, etc.

Dear Santa.

I'm feeling very overburdened with the impending doom of the planet from various ills and nastiness. That in mind, I'm going to ask you to forgo the typical christmas presents (a video iPod, some socks, a new battery for my old digital camera) and instead consider filling my stocking with more environmentally and socially conscious trinkets:

15 CFL lightbulbs (we'll worry about where to dump them when they burn out in 5 years)
A Noritz hot water heater (various sports talk show jockeys can't be wrong)
Anything Red, as worn by Jennifer Garner, Dakota Fanning, or, most importantly, Bono.
A used copy of the Inconvenient truth DVD
A bigger heart. (preferably more sympathetic, not merely enlarged)
A new bike.
A brisket smoker.

You're doing a hell of a job.


P.S. You'll be excited to know that my new fireplace is much less creosote-y than my old fireplace.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I've already said I love Gyro.

So I don't feel too bad tearing up their latest spotted trend.

C'mon. 'Nerd Chic' isn't a trend.

The raunchification of pop culture is a trend.
The decline of civilization is a trend. Like Plaid, for instance.
The rise of WOM as a viable media option is a trend.

Two people in Buddy Holly glasses: not a trend. Yet.

You want a trend? Here: Pick a trend.

last to know

Holy crap.
This looks unbelievable.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rikki gets tricky

Rikki is making patterns.
Who wouldn't want a tie with one of these designs on it?
Just in time for Christmas.

The truth

I explained away most of the mishaps of my childhood as "I fell out of a tree." As my mother found out this Thanksgiving, this was merely the answer I devised to make me seem less stupid (actually I jumped off the roof after I lost my housekey).

My mother remembers that my sister loves white chocolate. Actually my sister HATES white chocolate. "I knew there was something with her and white chocolate" mom says with a shrug.

These are the topics that crop up after Thanksgiving dinner. The misinterpretations and made-up truths that have become legendary in our household.

Half-truths are the stuff of brand legend, as well.

Floating Volkswagens. Safe Volvos. Indestructable Timex watches. If you say it enough times, you'll believe it. If you say it memorably enough, it becomes the truth. To the point where the real truth is a let-down.

The truth is I was only a little drunk at my cousin Kathy's wedding.
The truth is my Volvo V70 turbo only needed about $3000 worth of repairs. The stupidity lay in buying a car out of warranty, not a car from the russian mob in used car lot in Kensington.
The truth is, Santa is a left boot and an artful bite out of one of the carrots.
The truth is, my brain wasn't going to rot if I got water in my ears.

We don't want the truth. We want a good story. A convincing reason to believe.
We'll make up the truth, and remember it to fit our needs.
My mom doesn't want to know the truth. And neither do you.

Be memorable. Not correct. You'll still end up an authority.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fad, my ass

Mack Simpson, fresh from his three-week hiatus of baby-birthing and commercial-birthing, points out a recent article by Marc Brownstein (of Brownstein Group, a Philadelphia agency) panning Consumer Generated Content - ads by people who aren't in advertising.

There's plenty of bile surrounding the subject of consumer-generated ads, content, etc. Mostly from nay-sayers who think creativity is best left to creatives. And as one of those, I think, yeah, leave that to me. I have a serious house payment that says I should be doing this instead of Joe Average Beer Drinker. I have a degree, dammit.

That said, I think looking at CGC as a fad is an over-simplification of what has become an ever more complicated issue. Face it, Marc. It's what consumers want: a voice. They said the internet was a fad (not Al Gore, though). Look at us now: blogging our lives away, engaging in Second Lives, e-commerce,, etc.

They said Reality TV was a fad. They said Donny Deutsch was a fad. If only.

I've heard this fad shit before. This may indeed by news to Marc, but fads are our business. If it's going on out there, we should atleast be considering it in here. (and by in here I mean my overly warm office). Ignoring it, dismissing it, poo-pooing it in AdWeek is sticking your head in the sand.

Consumers have been creating their own content for ages. It was called word-of-mouth. It's the most revered of marketing. And only with the recent conflux of do-it-yourself media (blogging, podcasting, YouTube, ) have folks truly been able to get their messages Neilsen-worthy ratings. And you know what? Some of them are kind of good. (plenty of them are friggin horrible - but they die the kind of death we could only WISH on mediocre traditional advertising) They're being done by kids and film students and disgruntled former employees who feel like there's a side to the story worth telling. And in many cases, there is. Great agencies like Butler Shine Stern and Partners have capitalized on Converse' fervent fan base and made the brand a channel. Like MTV (another fad, we were sure.)

People want to be part of brands. People "join" brands. And dammit, people are going to create content whether or not you ask them to.

Why not invite them to the discussion instead of holding them, Heisman-like, at arms length? Why are we still creating content in buckets of broadcast, print, outdoor, "guerilla" and "viral" Come ON. This is what the good agencies mean when they say "come up with a good idea. Then figure out how to best implement it."

A fad? We've seen political revolutions (see inset) that were resolved in less time. And that's what it is. A revolution in which consumers rip the voice of brands out of the ass-kissing mouths of ad agencies and turn the camera around to see the whole story. And sometimes it's a compelling one.

As surely as people are reading this blog, consumer content is alive and well.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Cool cover

Saw this on a fellow AD's desk (no - I don't subscribe)

Nice cover design.
Happens to be shot by one of my favorite photographers, too: Art Streiber.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Start your air-windmills.
Just caught wind of an eleventh hour ticket to go see Pete beat the shit out of his guitar one...last...time.

I only hope CSI hasn't wrecked it for me.

FOLLOW-UP: The kids (aren't kids anymore) are alright. Pete tried to get fancy and made a big show out of dropping his guitar after the last song. And Roger sounds like he needs a cup of tea and a week off. Still - not bad for a couple rockin old farts.

Isn't it weird

...when we discover that advertising actors have lives?

Doesn't it undercut ones cred as a spokesperson for one of the most recognizable brands in the world to be "working on the set of Live Free or Die Hard" ?

I thought it was funny that the guy from the Zyrtec commercial (Josh Cooke) – the one where the guy is so whipped by his girlfriend that he takes Zyrtec everyday because she has a fucking cat - and she put it to him: I'm not getting rid of the cat so sneeze or get Zyrtec or LEAVE, motherfucker. And then we cut to shot after shot of the cat sticking his ass in the poor guy's face? – showed up, first in a Taylor guitar print ad, then in a short lived NBC sitcom.

Am I to so easily put aside he was the man plagued by an uncompromising woman, brutal allergies and a flaunting feline?

I know that such is the life of an actor.
But when your spokesperson goes on the record with: "we're doing some holiday spots now which I think will be pretty funny - not nearly funny enough to justify the money they're paying me though, I'll be honest with you."

OKay. NOW Apple should be pissed.

Special thanks to American Copywriter for getting my dander up on this subject.

Second Life, pt 2

I spent a pretty serious chunk of last weekend wandering around Second Life. I was tasked with taking screen grabs of different Avatars for a super-undercover freelance job.
I learned some things.

In many ways, Second life is almost EXACTLY like first life.
Only many people are walking around in their underwear
So we've take that whole shop-at-home-in-your-underwear thing and translated it, literally, to the second screen.

One tactic frequently employed in both first life and second life is: where there are people, more people will go.
Or the 'ladies night' effect .

For those of you unfamiliar...if you search on the big map for places that look cool to visit, you can screen the ones with the most people: invariably shopping malls, casinos, dance clubs.

One of the ingenius methods these entrepreneurs employ to get bodies in their clubs, etc? Chairs that pay you to sit there. $ to sit in a chair for ten minutes. They get free advertising (an extra green blip on the map). You get $3 Linden (see the current exchange rate).

Think about it. Who wants to gamble in an empty casino? Or dance in an empty nightclub? Or eat at an empty Vietnamese restaurant? That's great insight. I mean, who wants to log on to Second Life and then go virtually sit on a virtual couch and eat virtual potato chips? Alone.

A marketing application?
Not until we start giving consumers ankle bracelets and posting their anonymous GPS coordinates online.

Oooo. Wait a minute....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


It's about time Adobe did some intriguing work.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pop Culture Currency

In my conversation with Luke and Carson, I started in on the value of what I referred to as "cultural currency" - That is, when an advertising campaign gives you some sort of in-the-know ammunition whereby you feel like an insider, sharing what you've found/learned/found particularly funny (like I do here each day).

I'd like to amend the term: Pop culture currency.

Cultural currency is probably best left to the sociology majors and anthropologists, who'll tell you its exact definition. Cultural currency probably deals with much broader, deeper and important issues than I really get my hands on in this blog. I'll save that for the drama of my life.

I'm talking about the value of viral advertising to the person who's sending it. "I found it first." "I don't think YOU'VE seen this yet." "Look at MY take on this now ubiquitous YouTube video" etc. It's not unlike your technoratability - does passing certain information on, properly couched with snark, witicism or the very over used "I don't typically forward this kind of thing, but..." give you some sort of pop-culture cred?

Pop culture currency.

Somebody stick it in Wikipedia.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tran.sit - Dallas

Just finished giving Luke and Carson a look around Firehouse. And a pretty verbose, f-bomb strewn peek into what I see and value from students coming out of ad school these days. These guys just graduated from the U of Delaware VC program (the one I call my alma mater) in May.

I mentioned their project a few weeks ago - you can read all about it on their blog/website/student resource.

It's pretty amazing. Remarkable in scope. And they're doing it all on their own dime.

Anyway - anyone in Dallas or points east that wants to get involved and give the guys someone to talk to can contact them at via the site. They say they'll be in Dallas through Tuesday. And then they are heading toward DE in time for Thanksgiving.

this is living?

Just spent an hour or so getting acquainted with my Second Life Avatar, "Boris Antfarm" (Gimme a shout if you see me plodding around.

By SL standards, Boris is VERY lame.
He has no cash. He has no cool threads. He is anatomically unupgraded.
He is, pretty much, me. With a bigger chin.

This is the dawn of my experiment in SL: can you get by with a pretty realistic version of yourself?
Match wits with 10,000 posers all shopping for a bigger dick and virtual real estate?
I assume I won't get very far. Mostly because I don't have a Linden dollar to my name or the hours that seem necessary to figure out where everyone else is.

Mostly, it looks like they're at the dick-mall.

Not that that's all that surprising. I suppose 90% of people on line are shopping for some sort of sex experience.
Here, you can go to a mall full of them. It's wheels off sex for sale. Like Vegas. Or Thailand.

I heard there was a W hotel in development here. I haven't found it yet. I have, however, found a nice condo, surrounded by laser barbedwire that won't let you visit without $$$. Like the Ghostbar, I guess.

Pardon me while I live a real life for a few hours.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

lose lose lose

Assuming you're one of Britney and Kevin's children...
Live with Mommy
Live with Daddy
Live with Mommy and Daddy
Child Protective Services
What OTHER options do I have?
Free polls from

*SFX here*

Fast Company did this feature on a crazy new idea whereby musicians retain the rights to their own music.

In my day we called it "starving".

But now, this iTunes fighter is putting indie music in the hands of indie-music-starved desktop-hermits everywhere

Or something.

I'm jamming out to the Phish Parking Lot mix tape.
Reminds me of Pandora with an option to buy.

Rumblefish's day job? Helping companies develop an audio identity (theme songs, mnemonics, sound effects and other brand soundscaping.

If it wasn't merely independent music, we'd call this a paradigm shift. Right now, we'll just call it a shot over the bow of the paradigm. Consider yourself warned, Clive Davis

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This just in

the colors of 2007.

Of course, these are from the same folks (Microsoft and MSN are still related right?) who designed the Zune.

(actual props for the Zune microsite - that stuff is kinda bitchin'.)

So, you know. Whatever.

Also, Red is out. Blue is in.

And Fox is sort of a pasty green.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ding Dong

You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief.

You got your crazy politicians, and then you got Santorum. God love 'em, the man's not right. Pennsylvania has spoken.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Long live the Stereotype

Take that, Tony.

Granted, this IS utter insanity. So much so, it's almost ridiculous to run the story. No shit this wouldn't fly here. No shit, when you're in the business of ideas (not teabags) the fundamental value in changing agencies is to encourage new and different ideas.

No shit. No shit. No shit.

Imagine how weirded out BMW would be, taking their first agency tour at GSD&M and finding all their old creatives from Minneapolis unpacking their annuals in their new Austin digs. "Oh. Hi."


Not to mention all the "She's a psychotic nutbag" baggage that would be coming over with all those boxes full of Gold Pencils and sharpies. (This is not an actual reference to any BMW client. I know no such stories. I'm merely extrapolating a widely held stereotype of my own. Not that any of my past, present or future clients could ever be considered nutbags. Let's just cut this off, hmm?)

I do so love a terse caption like the one above. I predict she'll be fielding calls from Chiat/Day London all d-- oh, wait. Right.

Mmmm. Tea.

With a straight face

Ran across this ad in Adweek's Creative section.

I like this quote:

"In other contexts, a photo of a woman sprawled on a blue velvet backdrop and dressed only in a strategically positioned strand of cocoa butter might seem over the top. For this product, however, such a visual feels not only acceptable but essential."

Uh, okay.

The article is full of such observations. Read it. I swear it's a joke.

I like this particulary because the CD is a guy I went to school with.
Kudos, Brad.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the agency is the brand

Let's talk about the agency brand for a minute.

I have just a little agency-crush on Gyro Worldwide. For one simple reason: They know their brand. Grasse has a reputation for all kinds of stuff (some of it actually quite good) - but foremost, he has the reputation for building brands that, in turn, build his brand.

In fact, Gyro takes it a step further. They've tapped into a market that makes it easy for them to reinforce their value to their clients by attracting other like-minded clients. All of them a little on the edge.

It's been like that from day one. I believe their first client was Zipperhead, a punk store on South Street in Philly. Now they have a collection of brands, some of them actually extensions of the agency (Hendrick's Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum), others (Camel, Puma, Diesel) just brands with their fingers on the pulse of hip (sorry, sorry, over used).

In addition to doing some provocative work for some high-profile brands, Gyro has built this diamond-hard, diamond-shiny brand of their own. And all that glitter attracts like-minded clients. And the cycle continues.

Some would argue that CPB has done this too - their breadth of clients (Method, Virgin, Volkswagen, Burger King) keeps them from being as compact as Gyro. But their consistently ground-breaking work has galvanized them within the industry (which makes recruiting easier), but more importantly (and former creative golden children Weiden Kennedy and Fallon need to take a lesson from this playbook) galvanized several diverse brands.

What other agency has a good brand?

SHS is sure aiming for it. It's hard to pull a Gyro and still remain a humble bunch in Kansas City - but that seems to be exactly what they're doing (and I'm not just saying that because AC recently gave me a link.) I think BBH NY may be on the verge of it, although all their great work still seems more like a one-off success than true cultural movements. And I guess it's that level of depth that really builds your credibility in the industry, in the business, and for all the world. BBH has the advantage of a London birth. And I think London advertising has always been a little more properly embraced. Hopefully Fallon and Wieden can import some of that London greatness and reinvigorate their flagging brands here in the states.


A lot of agencies are doing great work for one or two of their clients. Some are doing great work for most of their clients. But very few are doing great work for all of their clients in a way that reinforces their agency's brand (whatever that may be).

Something to aim for.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Prayers = Answered

Not that this is nearly this big deal it would have been when I was, say, 19 and drinking my weight in beer on the average Saturday afternoon.

Still this is comforting. A round of livers for everyone. The applause was audible within a ten mile radius of the Betty Ford clinic.

Mad props to Mke The Logo Bigger, which seems to have its finger on the pulse of things I give a shit about.

I may just start reposting all his stories here.
Rename the blog "yonderponderMTLB"

Still, I like to think I can contribute
Guessing that, like the Tango, a 'farm-raised liver' will, atleast initially, be reserved for the celebrity-rich - a group which is full of candidates.

Is nothing sacred?

I understood Valerie and Eddie.
I understood Jen and Brad.
I understood Lance and Sheryl (and then Lance and Matthew)

But this seemed like such a forever romance.

I think the Hollywood couple is now, officially, extinct.

Expect Reese to write a book on her failed marriage.
Expect Ryan to be seen with Minka Kelly.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Get out of my face, buh-by

Seems folks all over the agency map are scrambling to manufacture content credentials. This week, Adweek has an article (which leads with Dallas agency, Moroch) about the Hollywood caste system laid bare with the advent of branded content production.

Months ago, when CPB started talking about getting into film, and BBH seemed to effortlessly make the jump to TV with Gamekillers, it looked like agencies (good ones, anyway - I'm reserving judgement on Moroch) would just jump right into the fray and start giving Hollywood a run for its money. Atleast it did when we read about it in magazines like Adweek. I mean, C'mon. Who can't come up with a sitcom to go up against The World According to Jim?

Turns out, though, that Hollywood is still holding most of the cards. And while they'll graciously let the wee advertising folk use their production departments, sets, and even celebrities occasionally, the order of clout still goes like this:

Hollywood producers
Hollywood directors
Hollywood A-list actors (Anyone who's starred in the Ocean 11 movies or better)
Hollywood A-minus list producers, directors, and actors
Anyone who's married to one of the above
Anyone who's created or starred in a movie that made more than 10 million
Hollywood B-list (anyone who's been involved in a movie with one of the Coreys)
Sports stars
Porn industry
Hollywood on-set production crew
Cable television
A-List Commercial production (budgets of $2million, pytka, etc)
Commercial production
infommercial production

I may be a little off on the folks at the top, but trust me, the bottom is dead-on accurate.
Kevin Roddy is quoted in the Adweek article:

"When we did Gamekillers, we went in there in the most idiotic way we could have done it," he said. "We developed a treatment and took it to Hollywood. We went into it like a typical agency, with the idea we are going to write it and produce it. [The studio executive] almost kicked me out of his office." He said, "I believe you can make a 30-second commercial. I don't believe you can make a one-hour television program," recalled Roddy. So BBH recruited writers from The Daily Show and sought the help of to get the show on the air.

Pulled from the fire by writers from the Daily Show. That must have been a bitter pill for the creatives over at BBH (whose work I'm highly envious of - I think BBH may be the best agency working in New York.)

Ever dropped the "I'm with the agency" in front of someone like Gwyneth Paltrow? Here's a woman who knows how to let the most rabid fan/stalker down with grace and tact. But the flicker of disappointment that registers on her face when confronted with a glad-handing agency producer lies somewhere between "hide-me" panic and genuine sympathy.

That we eat at the same restaurants is neither here nor there. That we may even engage in brief, albeit stilted conversation with Bruce Willis , washing hands in the bathroom at the Viper room (this happened to a guy I used to work with) does not put us even in the same realm as their make-up artists. They've grown to trust those people in a way that they'd never trust an agency.

Why? Agencies are in it for the client, not the star. No one is less cool than the client. Even a cool client. At the end of the day, branded content isn't about the actors or even the fans. It's about selling a bottle of Axe spray - and that just isn't part of the Hollywood thing.


Friday, October 27, 2006

A Poll up my...

A friend actually emailed me today to specifically ask if he should buy a Volvo on eBay.
Long time readers can only imagine my response, in all its f-bombed glory. But I thought, courtesy of a poll-making machine I found on Make the Logo Bigger (kick ass, bro) I'd open it up to the floor:

Have you ever been fucked on eBay?
Hell, Yes
Don't Know
Define "fucked"
Define "ever"
Define "eBay"
Conscientious Objector
Free polls from

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

fascination with metrics

This is kind of cool.

(thank you, Shake Well...)
I've been hearing a lot about metrics recently. Someone described how much testing Red Lobster does with their advertising (friends who work on that business say that with a low whistle). They described an "interest meter" dial, whereby you can vote with your fingertips anywhere from "very interested" to "Dissinterested".
Man frolicking in Maine surf: not interested. Hot butter: interested. Etc.

I'd like to have that to vote on TV commercials in real time.
I'd like a button on my remote that sends a message to advertisers and tells them "great job."
Or "Shut up."

And I'm sure engineers are hard at work making this a reality.
It'll be a whole new kind of ad critic. A whole new YouTube.

No more focus groups - just cold hard "love it/sucks" feedback from Joe Armchair.

Pro sports.

How would Katie feel about the red light going off in the studio the moment she sat down on the edge of her desk. Could we make it so she'd actually jump back off the desk and climb back into her chair? It'd be like news anchor puppetry. Oh, wait...

Or would NBC be able to cut footage into sitcoms on the fly? Put Matthew Perry in the pink shirt. They're liking the PINK SHIRT. GO! GO! GO!

How long until Parcells getting a buzzer in his ear that 3.2 million TV fans think he should pull Bledsoe?
(Not to discount a stadium full of people chanting "RO-MO. ROOOOOO-MOOOOOO.")

The future will kick ass.


Whatever happened to the witty headline? Fox would have you believe that the days of the punnerific headline are behind us, along with mullets, spots directed by Pytka and Leo Burnettisms.

But I see articles like the one pictured above, and I think: if ever there was an appropriate time for Adweek to drag out the double entendre, THIS is it. Sally forth and take a swing. A jab. A poke. At least a tip of the hat.

"5 agencies left to service Penthouse"
"Penthouse faces hard decision"
"Droga 5 and others lower expectations, pants."

Fun, isn't it?
I mean the article itself is a throwaway - why not get a little credit for recognizing that and making this a little blogbait? At least Leno-bait.

Go on. Take your best shot.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


The Cowboys are looking pretty bad today. From the parking lot to the slot. From the pitiful drive to the stadium (3 hours??) to the pitiful drives up and down the home turf, this team looks all kindsa bad. Baaaaad bad. Romo reminds me of a high school quarterback - all whipped up by the defensive ends who seem to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once.

And whatever star-tarnishing got done in the endzone doesn't compare with the tarnishing this team took, giving up the kind of key turnovers that decide games.

The Ticket was mad. The Tuna was mad. And I was spitting bile and fire as we hiked back to the fucking red zone (we had a blue parking pass, but when you're three hours late, they make you park with the unwashed masses over by the car dealerships) in my nice shoes.

Spoken like a true armchair quarterback: They shoulda just played better.

Atleast the pre-game steak was good.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Gettin Techy with it

That's right. Now I have a Technorati Profile.

And there was much pointing and cajoling.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Stupid TV

Addicted to "Heroes".
Fanciful crap - just what I need on a Monday night.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I know it's all for the good, but...

...damn these two websites look alike to me.

Maybe it's because they both have taken the moral high ground. Maybe because both are used to keep innocents clean. Maybe it's just the prevalence of the color blue and the rounded corners and shit. Wash a baby penguin in the sink with a bar of Dove: "Awwwww." Pull a crestfallen teenager from the Alaskan coast (or the Hudson River) and restore her to her rightful popularity with a couple drops of Dawn: good for you!

Reminds me of the startling resemblance between Pert shampoo and Perk linoleum floor cleaner when I was a kid.

People, this is it. This what I do.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Like a hook through the eyeball

The latest blog-bait to reel me in. I simply could not look away from the banner ad (pictured).

Granted, if you go to, you're sorta itchin' to get an eyeful, but this picture crop is downright shameless.

Now, the fact that someone has dedicated a coffee-table book to actresses breasts? Blogworthy.

Out is IN?

A couple months ago I spotted an article (now removed) on the trend of gay entertainment being marginalized by the mainstream entertainment media.

Maybe they were wrong.

Out now (pardon that): Another Gay Movie.

Basically a retelling of American Pie (the part of the pie is, of course, played by a quiche) in the vein of "Scary Movie" and 'Date movie": a farce targeting the homosexual community (a community that is probably pretty squeamish about words like "targeted".)

I find it amusing that the part of Stiffler's Mom is played by now-incarcerated, oft-unclothed Survivor survivor Richard Hatch.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What Would Austin Do?

I'd be more outraged about this story if I'd lived somewhere other than Harrisburg six months ago (ten feet from the school that was adding creationism to its curriculum.)

ASIDE: thanks to Irene for catching me up on this whole thing.
Clearly, I live in a bubble.

The short of it: Frisco art teacher takes kids to the art museum. Kid is offended by nudity (or describes nudity to parent, who is instantly offended) Teacher is given option to resign or be fired.


Now, for the record, I agree that kids should not b be able to pull up porn in the school library. I'm a parent. I see value in sheltering my kid from images of violence and perversion in an unstructured context. But an Art Museum is hardly an unstructured context. In order for a piece of work to hang in the DMA, it goes through a pretty serious filter: art professionals who've spent a lifetime studying and ultimately curating and presenting art for public consumption. And I imagine that job is a little more difficult to do in Dallas than it is in New York City. One of many reasons why I like this city: it is NOT New York City.

The DMA is not the Whitney, after all. Or even the Fort Worth Modern. The DMA is pretty tame by art standards. This city has made so much progress in the development of its art offering. The Nasher Sculpture Garden, is only the latest in a string of moves designed to uplift Dallas' artistic profile. Kids need to be exposed to art (and the occasional representation of "no-no parts") to gain some perspective. It is exactly the kind of experience that helps them to distinguish between a nude and latest promo pic.

It's a pretty tight line to walk exposing kids to anything in this day and age without the fear that one in 50,000 children will be offended by something you put in front of them. And firing someone over a single instance of "indecent exposure" seems a litttle excessive. Even by Texas' conservative standards.

The Frisco school system would have you believe this just one of many things wrong with this teacher's performance. Be that as it may, it's hard to say that sharing the DMA with a group of fifth graders could be construed as one of the "many things".

The question isn't whether or not the teacher should be fired. It sounds like she should, for a bunch of reasons that have nothing to do with once child being offended by an unnamed artwork at the DMA. The question is, why does this city take the words of one student in 50,000 and turn it into an indictment of the school system, the school board, the DMA and the appropriateness of art for school children?

And what's next?

Monday, October 16, 2006

a rebuttal.

My friend, Fox, over at the Adhole, linked up a little article about the decline of the flip-flop. Just in time to coincide with the first 3-footer to fall in New York State, flip-flops are officially going out of style.

I wore flip-flops for something like 80 days straight this summer.
Just like I did last summer.
And the summer before that.

I've been wearing flip flops as my primary shoe wear pretty much since I was a junior in high school, when I bought my first pair of super-thick Reefs at a surfshop in Ocean City, NJ (Big shout out to the 7th street gang)

Weirdly, I've been so NOT cool for so long that eventually, cool found me. This made it convenient for me to, say, wear flip flops to dinner at DelFrisco's a few weeks back. I probably would have tried to do this anyway, just to draw the occasional dirty look. I needn't have worried, my shower-wear was NOTHING compared to the guy in the Nascar T-shirt whose children were gathered around a portable DVD player in the restaurant's main dining room.

Poor out-of-style me.

If you read the article closely, it's all New Yorkers bitching about how dirty the streets (and thus a flip-floppers feet) are. I simply don't have that problem padding around my house, my back yard, or my office in a pair of properly broken in leather thongs. And honestly, a pair of combat boots would look a little out of place in Dallas.

I think we can safely blame the entire trend on miami Chic. Where less is never enough. And where women can get away with wearing nothing more than shoe polish and a smile, and still get a seat at any steak restaurant in town.

Yes, yes. *sigh* I'll be wearing shoes from now on. Especially now that I know there's a rule about no flip-flops on the hardhat tour. But you bet your pedicure I'll be cracking those flipflops out again next May. Cool or, more probably, not.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

'Bucking up

Ernie Schenk opened up a little can of worms with a recent post about Starbucks. I started to comment on his blog, but realized I was going a little long-winded, so I'm sticking it here instead:

Ernie writes: "I've often wondered what it is about some brands that permit them to grow and flourish virtually free from derision while others, like Starbucks, seem to have a lot of good will in the early stages of their growth cycle but become increasingly disliked as they get bigger and more successful."

It's irritating that every 5 miles in Dallas there's a Home Depot, a Bed Bath Beyond, a GAP and a Circuit City. I don't think anyone has an issue with Starbucks as a product or a brand, although they did reportedly have a very blood-thirsty business model initially, where they'd offer to buy mom and pop coffee shops, and if refused, they'd open up right next door and run them out of business.

But that aside, I'm just sick of driving fifteen miles and passing the same six stores. It's become apparent that we're running out of constructive economic opportunities at the brick-and-mortar level. The only things that prosper are huge retail chains and huge fast food/fast casual QSRs. It begs the question: do we need another friggin Starbucks on the other side of the street? Does Starbucks need another Starbucks?

It's development abuse. Starbucks is officially forcing itself on people when it opens locations with that kind of frequency and density. I don't give a shit if they make money, but DAMN - leave an acre of grass here and there.

Not to mention, along with the urban sprawl issue, there's the whole cultivated-need issue. For years, we got along without three $4-$7 cups of coffee a day. Now we piss away $50 on a whim - no wonder bankruptcy is up. We're all financing our caffeine fix.

But enough from me. Let The Kid From Brooklyn tell you about it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


From battle of the Brands (thanks to Make the Logo Bigger)
To battle of the Bands. (thanks to my creative director for the heads up).

I always knew Metallica would come out on top.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Learn from my Mistakes: Chapter One

You may NOT wear flip-flops on a hard-hat tour.

The full Glover

The last time a Crispin was this busy, he nearly knocked Letterman's teeth out.

The Crispin I'm referring to this time is, of course, Alex's Crispin.
Speaking of which, do you all think Alex and Chuck get pissed that no one calls the shop "Porter" or "Bogusky"? Who the hell is this Crispin fellow, anyway? And why isn't he being splattered all over the cover of Adweek? I can find nothing on him (or her) on the CPB website, because they have an alarming lack of bios

Between snakes for Burger King and Slash (who had a band called 'Snakepit', right?) for VW, CPB has a bunch of crap circulating on youTube and AdCritic .

And its creativity/YouTubability/Crispinness aside - I'd just like to comment on "CRIPES Crispin is producing a lot of spots!"

I mean, damn.

I guess we are approaching the event horizon where all work being done by anyone is being done by Crispin and they'll have to 'pull a Stan', as we like to say here in Dallas, when someone splits off an agency in order to serve a conflicting piece of business in the same category.

Here's another thought, on the heels of dropping Mini like a hot potato for VW. Is there an account they'd drop VW for? Mercedes? Toyota? Do you think Volkswagen's CMO wakes up in a cold sweat wondering if Alex is dreaming about driving a Land Cruiser?

I can't help but think about the man who cheats on his wife, then marries that woman. Does she really think he won't dump her for the next tart that starts working late to grease the tracks of her career? Once unfaithful, it's pretty much assumed always unfaithful. Which is why Bernstein Rein is crapping themselves right about now. That's like a man who's been married for sixty years waking up one morning and saying - "Thanks to Viagra, I think I'd like to play the field, thanks." BR is thinking: I raised your fucking CHILDREN, you ungrateful bastard. I hope you catch a wicked dose.

No love. No respect.

Think Mini was pissed to get dumped like a housewife? Whatever Butler Shine is doing for them has been pretty invisible compared to all the VW shit flying around as of late. And all the Burger King stuff. And all the Miller Lite stuff. The :30 second TV commercial is dead, my ass. it lives, and it goes by "Crispin".

Friday, October 06, 2006

Things that are worth doing/not doing

I took my 3 year old golfing today (hum along to the Dead milkmen tune of similar title if you wish).

It was equal parts wonderful and difficult.

1) we (I) chose to walk, not ride

2) it was 11:00 in Dallas on a sunny Day in Warm-tober

3) We forgot our water

Needless to say, we didn't get far before we both started second-guessing playing the entire 9 hole chip-and-putt. Around the 2nd green, he started getting thirsty - and distracted.

But it was pretty cool to walk, hand in hand up to the first green and watch him chip a 20yd 7 iron to within three feet of the cup (he three-putted - like father like son). And equally cool to watch him tee up and hit a 40 yard three wood off the second tee.

So if I take care of those three oversights, I think I might be able to get nine out of the kid yet.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

AHA moment

This just in.

Good journalism = anything that gets people talking.


CBS has lowered the standard of new reporting to anything that's "blogworthy."

Isn't that what me and Irene Done are for?

It's the CBS news, not Bill Maher. Not FOX News. Not Al Franken.

Quit being newsworthy and report the fucking news.
I knew putting Katie in charge was a bad idea.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Is that a blowfish in your cuisineart?

McGarrah/Jesse's new billboards for Central Market.
Cool, if you're into pointy fruit.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Fox Has It

Jason Fox has shortcomings. He's WAY too weak when it comes to saying no to a Quik-Trip. His volume is perpetually dialed down to "Huh? Whut?" And he shaved his beautiful, bouncing locks in favor of a more "Joe-Chemo" vibe.

But dude can write.

And dude has some ascerbic insights into doing the kind of work that you can pat yourself on the back (or spit bitterly into your bitter jar) about at the end of the day. I re-present Jason's:

WORDS TO LIVE BY (if you're in advertising)

The retitle is all me. Yeah yeah. Not a copywriter. Get over it, J-bomb.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

passing the (intergalactic) buck

Time Warner Cable apologizes:

*Please be advised that due to the position of the sun on October 5th, 6th and 7th, there may be a brief interference in your cable service. This interruption is a natural phenomenon and is unavoidable. We apologize for any inconvenience.*

that's gotta hurt

Recent "ad pannings" from Fast Company's blog.

A case for a respectable vehicle like FC to keep its blog-hole shut.
Sounds unprofessionally petty - not unlike this blog.

Snarkilicious, nonetheless.
I love it when someone slaps Microsoft around - even if it is so-o-o-o-o-o 2004.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Going small

The biggest agency I ever worked for employed (briefly) 120 people. The smallest - twenty seven. (Same agency, different years). Always liked the small agency vibe. I can make a difference in a small agency. There's nowhere to hide in a small agency. You pitch in on everything, because everyone is working on everything. There is no hiding in the corner, reviewing reels and waiting to cherrypick the TV assignments.

Small means everything is your job. We don't have art buyers and layer after layer of vice presidents and jr. media planners. We have energetic account folks who do the jobs of three people. If you're going to be the kind of agency that pulls together group brainstorming sessions (typically these work best when the creatives go off in a corner and work their magic without fear of the "they'll never buy that" beat-down AEs are famous for) you'd do well to hire AEs who know how to keep a session rolling, know when to add, when to shut up and when to say: okay - let's go away for a while and think about this and get back together later.

We have those. And I think we have AEs who believe in the creative product and work to make it better, not just easier to sell.

Firehouse has another luxury few agencies our size have: an incredible production department that gets stuff produced on time, on budget and without having to sell ourselves out for the next fifty projects to get it done.

Small also means anyone can stop one of the principals in the hallway and talk about the status of the latest new business effort. Or the Ryder Cup. And there's a good chance you'll see them because they're in the middle of it all.

I'm not ruling out big agencies. And I'm not suggesting that big agencies are stuffed with useless layers and compartmentalized players. Honestly - I have no idea. I know only what I've heard from folks who left the big agencies for the small agencies.

I just like working somewhere where you can see from one end of the office to the other. In all kinds of ways.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Almost Famous

I saw this little thing on Rm 116 and it reminded me of a story:

Jeff spoke at Adweek's creative conference a few years ago and talked about making yourself Al qaeda famous - do one big thing that people will remember forever. He used the bombing of the World Trade Center as an example of that kind of fame. And he used a picture of Bin Laden as an example of an effective brand.

It was controversial, especially in a crowd of creatives, many of whom were probably no strangers to the tragedy. But what else would you expect from Jeff Goodby? Pie graphs?

It was a good illustration of being consistent, going big, and making an impact. But further, it's an illustration of the fact that advertising is a seige. It's a seige on consumers who used to take it for granted that they could poop in a restroom without being bombarded with a message. People used to take it for granted that they could get on a plane with toothpaste in their carry-on. And they took it for granted that advertising happened on billboards and TVs, but never ever happened at their kid's school.

The rules have changed. Just as we've gotten used to taking our shoes off as a necessary evil of flying from Dallas to St. Louis, not just from Dallas to Afghanistan, we have also gotten used to Spam filters and Tivo and registering with phony emails. Who doesn't have a phony email address so they can register for all the crap they have to register to see and do online? Mine gets 50 messages a day from things I subscribe to for the content, but refuse to read the junk. In fact, I lie on all that shit too - because I'm paranoid.

So yeah - it's hard to be famous in advertising anymore because there are 6000 channels on TV and no one wants to watch the commercials (Jeff Goodby, unfortunately, didn't do ALL of them. The crap that airs during your typical syndicated "Everybody Loves Raymond" is about eye-gouge good - except for those Geico spots. Funny.) It's also hard to be famous when fame immediately means people put up a new barrier. The shocking gets less and less shocking. The moral lines get trampled as marketers look for ever diaappearing new means to reach people.

A lot of new communication tactics aren't terrorist-famous-big because they are trying to engage specific consumers. They sound like your uncle Larry, not like Johnny Carson. They may appeal to me but not to my coworkers, my boss, my wife, or my mom.

I love a brief that tells me I'm talking to 18-21 year olds. Or 56 year old golfers. And I love being marketed to like I'm the only guy on the planet. That's okay with me. I like feeling like an individual sometimes. Especially if it comes across as genuine, like really good customer service, not like a handwritten font and a machine-licked stamp.

I'm a big fan of permission marketing. You get people to ask you for it. You give it to them. And you DON'T put their email on a fucking database and then spam them for three years and sell your lists. Shut up. Everybody does it. Everybody knows it. Everybody has learned to protect themselves from it. And now we have to come up with a new way to talk to those people who have been burned before.

So yeah - maybe that's You Tube. I'm damn sure more likely to open a video sent to me by Marco than from Snapple. And I'm damn sure more likely to take a car from Dallas to St. Louis if it means I don't have to submit to a cavity search and a barium enema before getting on an airplane.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

blogger BS

Fuck - I got dragged into the Beta version of Google/blogger beta and now I can't drop witty comments on all my friends who haven't upgraded. All with a pithy "Oh yeah, sorry. You can't do that until further notice."

What the FUCK! I've been routed to a commentless island where I can't razz my friends or besmirch my enemies. Or vice versa. Fuck Blogger. And Google. Assholes.

If they weren't so free, I'd switch.

Blogging the blogosphere, PT 3

I was reading through my favorite new blog, Couric & Co, and I was loving all the bile going back and forth between CBS and Bill Maher. This is the kind of crap I like to watch unfold in its unadorned petty lamest. Journalists blogging back and forth at one another.

Blogging is so entrenched in politics, journalism and economics now, that people actually take this stuff seriously. And by seriously, I mean I've noticed an uptick in folks from Washington D.C. checking out this blog. Yonder Ponder is on the radar. Awesome. All this snarky bitching has actually gotten the attention of some basement-dweller in the Capitol.

I welcome someone else who knows what the hell they're talking about to correct me if this is not, in fact, the case.

Anyway, you'll know what happened if the posts stop.

Monday, September 18, 2006


My much more literate friend over at NonBillable
has a bunch of relevant observations - and relevant links, as is her style - on the whole Couric Fiasco (FIASCO: a word I've come to reappreciate since recently seeing "Elizabethtown" for the first time.)

I'm none too savvy on intelligent journalism, preferring to glean my world view from alternating snippets of NPR's marketplace and 1310's "The Hard Line". But I will say this - Texas is not friendly to the five o'clock news. None of us are home yet. Katie may as well have started broadcasting on Mars.

I can BARELY eek in "The Amazing Race" on the Central TimeZone - and that's on Sundays.

My prime TV watching happens at 11pm. And my choices are "Friends" reruns or Leno. Talk about a World View. I started jamming the phrase "I am SO ....(fill in a phrase that makes you sound like an idiot here)." It's not hard for me to sound like an idiot, but it's compounded by deriving my entertainment/cultural conditioning from the CW (another day, another day) and 5 shitty cable channels for the ripe ol' price of $8 per month - actually I don't know exactly how much, it's all rolled into one hellish media account that gives me freedom with all my methods of communicating and entertaining - so long as they don't involve a sport that has happened outside of the metroplex, a movie that was released since 1997, or anything with the word "FUCK" left intact. Ever watch the syndicated Sex & the City? It puts me to sleep every night.

The good news is, I can reap the benefits of the Couric hour without having to skip the last hour of work or commit 8 acts of reckless endangerment to get my ass in front of the nightly Boob Tube.

God bless the innernet - and, by default, Al Gore.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A bite of the apple

IS Apple too mainstream?

I wasn't the only one to go after apple's latest news.

Now that everybody (including my dad) has one - how long can the iPod truly expect to remain cool?

Their marketing is starting to smell like the Gap. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I guess I'm just old school. I like my movies big and my computer subversive.
And I like my snakes on a plane to be a scene in a movie, not a premise for a movie

But now I'm just bitching for the sake of bitching. It's Friday. The day of long, margarita-sprinkled lunches and hastily assembled pre-weekend meetings. And I have an elevator to sell.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Unpanning the nano

Oh. Okay. No one told me they were stunning.
Thanks to rm 116 for linking it for my lazy ass.

My bad. Carry on.

rotten to the core

Big whoop. Apple's got a bunch of shenanigans lined up for the holiday season, but nothing that's got me all freaking out that it's time to replace my begrudgingly purchased 4th gen audio-only iCliche.

Where's the horizontal format we've been begging for/speculating about? Where's the touch screen? Where's the "better way to wire your iDevice into your 2006 Mazda3, that wasn't really set up for that kind of thing"? I want to listen to my new Kashmere Stage Band live outtakes on the road, dammit!

A revamped iTunes that sells still-fucking-tiny movies? Automatically downloaded album art? The reskinned Nano, designed to look eerily like the iPod mini? Cee-ripes, man! WTF?

I want my innovation and I want it stunning. Alright, the Zen isn't as stunning as hyped- it's kinda clumsy and about 1/2 as elegant as the iPod - but why isn't Apple kicking this thing's ass this some kind of wideformat eye-popping wonderfulness?

At least now I'll be able to maintain identical playlists at home and in the office.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I started to write what turned out to be a pretty pithy observation about September 11 and the impact it's had on my life over the past five years. And then it really kind fo struck me today, as I huddled over my computer, half-expecting to read that someone had blown something else up.

My office is situated about 3/4 of a mile from the Addison airport. And two or three jets a day pass close enough to my building to really sound like they're cutting it close. And EVERY fucking time I stop what I'm doing and wait for an impact to send me hurtling down the hallway to the nearest fire exit.

Five years ago I worked on the 33rd floor of an office building in downtown Dallas. I did the fire drill once (a week after Sept. 11). It was a giant whipping, but I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to do that walk with hordes of people who were honestly fearing for their lives.

In the words of Mary Gauthier, "Every living thing could use a little mercy now."

God help us all.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Help a student out

Part of my "What the kids are up to" research found this former Blue Hen, hand-painting shoes to pay her way through an MFA. I don't know how many of my readers are into hand-painted Vans, but these are friggin DOPE and inexpensive considering.

Volvo drivers of the world unite

Despite weeks of bitching about and finally replacing my Volvo-V70-from-hell, this bumper sticker has been purchased by 8 people in three countries and 6 states.

If 4000 more people buy one, I may break even on the Volvo-owner experience. So feel free to stuff your Volvo lover's stocking this holiday!

In other news, my new Mazda 3 is totally kicking ass - and the price of gas is relenting now that the oil companies have had their best year ever. The Zoom-zoom talk has subsided, and now I consider it a personal challenge to find a way to hook up my iPod to the factory stereo system.

Stereo. I am SOOOO gen X.

fizzle fo sho

Reread this blog, as translated in

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Talking 'bout my Generation

The Dallas Morning News ran an article in this morning's business section that featured A) my name - misspelled B) a portrait of my flip-flops and C) an example of my cute comps as mentioned last week.


And while the article was well intentioned on many points, it was a little off on others. So I'll set the record straight:

I am technically too old to be Gen Y- flip-flops or no.
Tara Kirk, who gave many of the soundbites, is Gen Y.

The Living Room is actually called "The Furnace".
The Kitchen is actually called "The Middle".
You can read about all of our spaces on our kick ass new website.

We all refer to our offices as "offices" - Tara referred to it as her "room" - probably because she sleeps there on occasion.

This space has been designed to attract clients and employees alike. It is functional. And friendly. And occasionally intense in the way all advertising agencies are. And I applaud the DMN for featuring our agency as a touchstone of Gen Y office spacing, but quite honestly, we are a touchstone of small advertising agency design. And If Deloitte workers "toil away" with skyline views, and that keeps employees, good for them. Comparing this agency to Deloitte is like comparing apples to quantum physics. Flip flops aside.

Is Gen Y really still a term being bandied about? It's irritating (like Y2K was) to equate a generation with a letter. This is not well thought out - for instance, why did we start with X? Because it sounded cool (think X games, Mac OSX, etc)

But after Z, are we really going to start over? Generation A? Or are we going to name generations like Star Trek seasons? "The last generation." "The hopeless generation."

Everything I read about Gen Y is that they should be called "Generation E", "Generation Rx" or "Generation XXX".
And those sound much more assertive than Why?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


On the heels of Jason's submission to McSweeney's coveted "Lists", I too submitted a list.
I, too, was denied.
I, too, have published it here as a high water mark of wacky journalism.
This is hereby considered NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR MCSWEENEY'S.
Not that any of you will be surprised.

On Tue, 29 Aug 2006 21:45:53 -0500, James-h wrote:

Prepositional phrases indicating places I woke up after a few beers.


In bed.
On the couch.
On the living room floor, in a suit.
Beneath a bush.
On a grassy hill.
In a strange bed, clothed.
In a foyer, naked.
In the snow.
In the back of a moving U-haul.
On a dock.
In the back seat of a parked car.
In the passenger seat of a moving car.
In the driver seat of a moving car.
On a bar.
Next to lit fireworks.
In Atlantic City.
On the beach.

The folowing encouraging (yet clearly formulaic) email followed:

Hi James,

Thanks for the lists submission. We're going to pass on it this time, but feel free to keep submitting!



Saturday, September 02, 2006

Back to school

This surfaced on the University of Delaware VC alumni website. (I'd link that, but unless you went there, you can't get in.)

Two recent UD graduates, Carson Sloan and Luke Watkins are doing a tour of design agencies across the country. And of course, they'll be bloggin it.

I'm hoping it'll be cool, and I'm keeping it close at hand. I guess it's time to add a "What the kids are up to" section on here. I do believe the children (and by children I'm referring to the 18-25 year olds who will ultimately render me useless) are our future.

If you see these guys, offer them a bath and a couple bucks for gas. Them's blue hens.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I am not a copywriter.

My copywriter likes to say that alot: You are not a copywriter.

As in, let me write the copy, jackass. You don't see me picking typefaces, do you?

As such, I am to be kept at arms length in the radio-writing process.
And the tagline process.
And the headline process (although he's openly admitted to liking a few of my headlines).

I am not a copywriter.

I am not an English major. Or a quoter of Emerson.
I am not a poet. Or a short-story author. Or a screenwriter.

I am an art director.
Not a copy writer.

My job is to keep up with, and invent, the next visual treatment, film transfer, photographic movement.
Not to jam bad puns into otherwise phenomenal concepts.

Bad art director. No copy. Sit. Stay.

I can only write copy here - where I can do no harm.
So humor me.

I am not a copywriter.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Whale Pants redux

A couple weeks ago, I posted a prediction about a surge in preppy clothes following the release of the Smirnoff Raw Tea video/ad. Since then, according to my referral activity, an awful lot of folks have been directed to Yonder ponder in search of "Whale Pants". As a valuable service, I thought I'd offer some whale pants links for these folks.

Evidently, Murrays' Toggery has the market sewn up on the pink pants (actually a seriously faded red) with whales, lobsters, frogs, pigs and, my favorite, bluefish. And even carries the madras pants made famous in Wedding crashers (pictured).

I won't argue either for or against this kind of wear. If you have the $125 to spend on a pair of pink pants, we don't travel in the same circles, and my opinion matters very little to you. I think the madras pants, in particular, are pretty dapper. But the $110 bucks might better be spent on something of consequence, like piano lessons for my three-year-old. And I'm not sure I have the additional cash to maintain the entire prep lifestyle. At last check, a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt retails at $75 or so. And I'm pretty much an Old Navy / 5.99 polo shirt kinda guy. And I live in Dallas, where they can spot the reproductions faster than Christie's can spot cheap jewelry.

Anyway, there you have it, fans of the whale. Everything you need to prep accordingly.