Monday, June 30, 2008

Mouthwatering Monday

These billboards are all over LA. I feel for the copywriter who has to work on them. I image that he or she has a legal pad filled with lists like this:

Perfectly Plump
Breathtakingly Beautiful
Super Scrumptious
Really Red
Unbelievably Unctuous
Absolutely Appetizing
Judiciously Juicy
Fanatically Flavorsome
Decidedly Delicious
Supposedly Succulent
Famously Firm
Sinisterly Spicy
Terrifyingly Tender
YouBetIts Yeasty
Cautiously Crunchy
Meticulously Moist
Bodaciously Bold

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Fun

Donnie is back.

The second season of You Suck at Photoshop begins today.

Put away your magic wand and eraser tool and head here.

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go anyway. You Suck at Photoshop is one hi-f-ing-larious web series.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Check out this post on LundBlog.

Back in 1954, some clever art director and copywriter decided to get creative with George Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984.

Dystopian fiction has never been so sexy!

Image posted by David Rolfe on Amazon.

Forced Fun For Everyone!

From: Management

To: All Employees of CosmoDemonic Advertising

Re: The Summer Party!

Yes, it’s that time again. The annual CosDem Summer party is happening this Friday, June 27. Below are just a few hints to make you sure you have a fun (and safe) time at the fiesta.

1. The party is being held at a very exclusive beach club. Please do not talk to or make eye contact with any regular members. They are not used to dealing with people like you, and they may find it frightening. Remember the scene in Caddyshack where the caddies took over the pool?

2. Each employee will receive two (2) drink coupons good for a beer, wine or cocktail. If you require more alcohol, you may get additional tickets from employees who are recovering alcoholics or Mormon. (See enclosed list)

3. Attire. We understand that this is a “beach” party but do try to keep your private parts private. And no flip-flops!

4. If you plan on drinking, please make sure the most junior member of your staff stays sober so that he/she can drive you all home.

5. Be sure to thank our general manager for throwing such a killer party. Note: The dark glasses he wears are for medical reasons only. They are not there so that he can check out your boobs.

6. Beach+Booze+Chicken Skewers=SEX! If you must have sex with one of your coworkers, please make sure they are in your department and at your level. Love between Junior Copywriters and Account Supervisors may work in the movies, but not in real life.

7. On the day of the party, the office will be closing at noon. However, if you still have work to do, you must stay at the office and finish it. We understand that your dedication will force you to miss out on those chummy networking moments that can lead to promotion, but we will try to save you some chicken skewers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to get laid(off)

It starts as whispers in the hallways. Then the bosses have a series of mysterious meetings. And the next thing you know…your agency is laying people off.

During a recession, layoffs are a fact of life. So here are a few words of advice for our younger readers:

1. Do not panic! There is probably not a whole lot you can do if your time is up. Working late nights and weekends is not going to save your job. (But it might not be a good time to blow off work and head to the beach.)

2. It probably has nothing to do with your job performance. Here’s how 99% of layoffs work. Your boss’s boss tells him to cut his budget by X dollars. Then your boss sits down with a list of salaries and tries to hit that exact amount. He/she tries out several combinations until he/she hits the magic number. Remember that 1.7% raise you fought so hard for? Believe it or not, that could be the reason why you’re out on the street.

3. Luckily, you’re prepared. Your book and website are completely up… What do you mean they’re not? Then get to work! Immediately demand copies of all your print/TV/radio/web projects. Believe me, you don’t want to be scrambling for samples while you’re cleaning out your desk.

4. Do not doubt yourself. Remember, it is probably not your fault. Do not take a layoff as evidence that you have no talent.

5. Stay in touch with your former coworkers. Reply to their emails, meet them for drinks and update your facebook info. The more friends you have in this industry, the better.

6. You get one week of total booze/drugs debauchery. Any more than that, and you could end up in rehab.

7. Steal everything that’s not nailed down.

8. Dust off your secret project. You know the one I’m talking about.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why they hate us finally has a list the applies to me! Click to see The 5 Creepiest Advertising Techniques of the (Near) Future.

I just wish they didn't make them sound so creepy.

Goodbye George

I can’t say I was a true fan. I don’t owe a single George Carlin CD or DVD. I never saw him perform live.

To me, George Carlin was someone who was always just there. From my early childhood to just a few weeks ago, he was there to remind me just how insane the world I lived in was.

As a boy I snickered at his jokes about (gulp) god. In high school we laughed/coughed when he talked about meatcake. And as a parent I fought back laughter when I heard him take on the roll of Mr. Conductor.

Whenever a George Carlin special was on television, I stopped and watched it. His mind was so sharp, so quick to pick up on the absurdities that we all take for granted. And no matter how irreverent you thought you were, George was always a step ahead. To him the bible was science fiction, and god was an invisible man who lived in the sky.

I’ll miss George Carlin. We need people like him, now more than ever. And even though I consider myself an optimist, I’m not sure that we’ll see anyone like him for a long, long time.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And the Whiner is…

The First Annual Creative Beef Cannes Awards

Best Bar:
The Gutter (duh)

Stupidest Made-Up Word:
Creativology & Advergame

Ugliest Lounge Color Scheme:
Take Your Pick

Best Advertising for a Product No One Has Heard of:
HBO Voyeur Campaign

Best Evidence that Drugs are Still a Necessary Part of the Creative Process:

Dutch Young Creatives Bus

Best Cannes Breakfast:
Espresso and a Heineken

Best Outfit That is Supposed to Demonstrate Your Rebellious Nature but Actually Reveals That You are One of the Flock:
Jeans, Blazer, Ironic T-shirt

The Hardest Working People at Cannes (According to their Blogs):
The Judges

Lamest Headline at the Festival:
Big ideas can make anyone feel small.

Best Cyber Ad

Silver-Badgers Badgers Badgers

Bronze-All Your Bases

On the Plus Side:
I thought Gorilla was pretty funny.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fun du Friday

Things Overheard at Cannes:

1. Does my Armani blazer go with my wii-tard t-shirt?

2. I totally love the BBDO Voyeur ad. What’s it for?

3. Just wait till my client hears about this Web 2.0 thing!

4. Can you change this charge on my hotel bill from “Full-Body Massage with Extras” to “Vender Dinner”?

5. How do you say “creativology” in French?

6. So what? I’m married too.

7. Who do you have to sleep with to get on the Microsoft yacht?

8. It’s not just a big party it’s a really important, uh…excuse me, I have to go vomit in the bushes.

9. What happens in Cannes, stays in Cannes!

10. If my boss could see me now I’d be so f-ing fired.

11. I think it’s about time that we start seriously thinking about beginning a preliminary discussion on the possible idea that the web could in some small way be totally altering the way advertising works. (Or maybe we could wait until next year.)

12. And finally:

These pictures aren’t going on the web, right?

Photo courtesy of AdAge.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cannes: Day 3

I swear to god I was about to give up. I thought I might just catch a train and find a quiet beach far away from the adness of Cannes.

But then I heard a whisper of hope.

Nike global director of digital media Stefan Olander made a speech where he said that he doesn’t see the web as a new advertising medium. It’s a place to provide Nike customers with new services. Pretty simple idea, huh? Instead of advertising on YouTube and Facebook, why not BECOME YouTube and Facebook?

For someone who has spent the better part of a decade plastering banner ads all over the web, this attitude came as a breath of fresh air. It almost made me want to believe again.


Wednesday night they handed out the Cyber Lions. Projector Tokyo took home a GPL for "Uniqlock,” an odd “webclock” that promotes the clothing retailer Uniqlo. The site has achieved the holy grail of digital advertising, it has gone viral. (I’ll even give it a helping hand.)

I liked the site. I even showed it to a few people. But then I noticed that everyone seemed to have the same reaction, a sort of half-laugh. I decided that what makes the site appealing is that it is kind of, well…stupid.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Let’s face it, there are a lot of reasons why something hits big on the web. It might be nudity, or conspiracy or even brilliance. But most of these things only appeal to a small section of the community. The one thing that seems to appeal to all demographics is really, really stupid stuff. From chanting badgers to dancing chickens to lolcats, it’s the one thing that unites us.

Which is great if your But is it good advertising? (That’s not a rhetorical question. I really don’t know.)

Let’s say an international investment firm produces a huge viral hit featuring dancing potatoes and a smart-talking Jamaican beach ball. Will this make their brand cool? Will it make people switch their accounts? Or will it make them think that someone in the corner office got talked into producing someone’s passport to The Family Guy writing staff?

Like I said, I don’t have the answers. These are deep questions, and Cannes is defiantly not the place for deep questions.

Tomorrow, Friday Fun, en Francé!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cannes: Day 2

I woke up, and the inside of my mouth tasted like Gouda rind.

Way too many beers last night at the Gutter. I have this fuzzy memory of yelling at a group of art directors from TBWA\Chiat \Day. “You were the future! But now you’re just an ad agency!” So I started the day out right with a killer hangover. And I was woken up at 6am by the Dutch stoners. (It seems they like to start their mornings with a little jogging.)

So on to the Lions. I spent most of my morning emailing from the Microsoft “Creativology” Lounge. Microsoft is everywhere here at Cannes. Even the lanyards have the happy Microsoft logo. (Hmm, I wonder why they don’t say Vista?)

Tuesday’s big news was that BBDO-NY took the Grand Prix Lion in Outdoor for their HBO Voyeur campaign. It was BBDO-NY’s second win in two days. The ad was pretty impressive. On a building in New York, they projected a huge image of an apartment building with all of its exterior walls removed (sort of like a dollhouse).

I liked the ad, but it started me thinking about advertising awards in general. What’s the point of them? Are they just there to separate the geniuses from the also-rans? Just a way to inflate already inflated egos?

If there is a constructive reason for awards, it must be to inspire. We in the industry should look at award-winning work and say to ourselves, “Wow, I hope someday I can make something that good.”

And here’s my problem with the HBO Voyeur ad. How is this hugely expensive, one-time media event supposed to inspire me to make a great billboard? Am I supposed to go to my next pitch and tell the client, “I have a great idea! Just take your entire year’s advertising budget and spend it on one outdoor ad in New York!”? (Leo Burnett-Chicago came close to a win in the media category with a McDonald’s billboard that featured live plants. I can just see how that would work on a limited budget. “Hey Ernie, would you mind driving downtown and watering the outdoor?”) With competition like that, is it even possible to win an outdoor award with a few brilliant words on a plain background?

More tomorrow. But right now there’s a Kronebourg with my name on it.

By the way, I just heard two guys excitedly talking about Web 2.0 as if it was something brand new. Bleh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cannes Report: Day 1

Man that was a long flight. But I’m finally here in Cannes. Well, I’m not really staying in Cannes. All the hotels were booked, so I found a youth hostel in Nice just a short 50 minute bus ride from all the action.

But I’m not here to complain about my filthy shared bathroom or the Dutch stoners who stole my slippers. I’m here to report on the world’s most glamorous gathering of advertising people.

The first big winners were J. Walter Thompson-India and BBDO-NY. I wanted to interview the JWT folks about their Lead India campaign. But the entire JWT delegation was behind locked doors in a suite at the InterContinental Carlton. I tried to talk my way in, but the security staff told me that only people with serious press credentials were allowed. I pulled out a handful of Euros, but the guards just stared at me with a look of disgust that only the French can muster.

Later when I was standing in line at the Gutter Bar, I thought I saw someone inside with a BBDO-NY name tag. “Hey!” I shouted. “Do you consider your HBO Voyeur work to be homage to Hitchcock’s Rear Window?” For a second, I thought she might have heard me. But then she turned around and went back to doing body shots off the neck of a French underwear model.

With two strikes against me, I headed to the nearest dive bar to regroup. I was on my second warm Kronenbourg, when he walked in. His lanyard said he was part of the festival, but this three-day growth and faded sports coat told me that he wasn’t going to be attending any meetings. I decided to talk to him. I figured I could at least get him to shell out for a few free rounds.

Three beers later (his tab), and I had his whole story. His name was E., and he had done it all. He‘d been a writer, a creative director, a partner. He had won Clios, Lions and every other advertising award you can win. Now he was some sort of part-time consultant for a big brand agency. They were paying his tab to Cannes.

It turned out that E. had some strong opinions about the festival.

“I’ve been to 22 of these things, and every year they get more and more irrelevant. 90% of the people are just here for the free booze and food. This thing used to be full of smart people. People who knew how the world worked. Now it’s just a bunch of rich suits patting themselves on the back ‘cause one of their interns had an idea that got big on YouTube.

"The whole industry’s changing and these people have no idea what to do. They introduced a radio category in 2005. That was four years after XM had started making commercial radio obsolete. You see, new ideas scare them. New technologies scare them. So they just grasp at the old rules and try to bluff their way through the year. You want to know why ad execs like that show Mad Men so much? It’s not nostalgia. It’s ‘cause it shows a world they can still understand.”

He was starting to make sense, and that scared me. I decide to skip another round and grab a bus back to my room.

As I was heading for the door, E. called out to me.

“Hey kid, you want to have some fun? Tomorrow when you see a group of ad people whooping it up, walk up to them and say, ‘Google’.” It scares the crap out of them.

More Wednesday.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Career Options

If you’re looking for a new job in advertising, you’re in luck. There are tons of websites that will help you find an ad job at a different company or in a different city.

But what if you’re looking to leave advertising altogether? What if you’re ready to turn your back on creative briefs, client egos, target demos and focus groups?

Well luckily for you, CNN and Career Builder have come to the rescue. They have put together a list of jobs that pay over $20 an hour.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Gaming supervisors
“Hey boss, do you want us to wack this guy here or in the desert?”

That PhD in European Renaissance Sculpture will finally come in handy!

Urban and regional planners
Now you can play Sim City for real!

Uh, what’s left to map?

How much money would you give up sex for?

Food scientists
“Preliminary tests reveal that we may be dealing with some kind of cheese puff.”

Zoologists and wildlife biologists
“Luckily we were able to save three fingers and most of his neck.”

Detectives and criminal investigators
I was just about to pour myself a drink when a tall, leggy bombshell opened the door to my office. “You always drink alone”, she asked. “The choir just left,” I shot back. She sat down in the red leather chair in the far corner of the office. The little voice in my head told me that she was going to be nothing but trouble. “You looking to hire me or do you just want to spend the afternoon cracking wise? She didn’t say a word…

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Fun

Here’s a hilarious clip from the Daily Show:

Yes it’s an election year, and that means it’s time for us to tie our sad little brands to the excitement of national politics. Copywriters can pull out all their old “Vote for…” headlines. And Art Directors can dust off their red, white and blue color schemes.

I just hope we tone it down a bit this year. There are serious issues on the table. And people need be thinking about politics instead of just laughing at it.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

World of Advertising 2.0

Here it is! The long-awaited expansion pack for World of Advertising. New Character Classes! A new Realm! And yes, a long list of weaknesses for the Client!

I would like to thank everyone who sent in their suggestions. If you feel you didn’t get proper credit for your idea, what can I say? Welcome to the world of advertising.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

You say tomatoes

Over at, there’s a piece criticizing how supermarket and fast-food companies are handling the latest tomato scare. According to the marketing gurus interviewed for the article, these companies should have used the internet to quickly communicate the problem to their customers.

I think they’re being a little bit hard on the food companies. How can we expect these giant, national and international corporations (and their million dollar marketing departments) to know how to use something as new as the “internet”?

And let’s give credit where credit is due. Here is how my local fast food palace informed me of the tomato problem:

Think about it. To create this eye-catching drive-thru sign, someone had to master both the ink-jet printer and the tape dispenser.

Original article here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


You would have had to have been very busy today to have missed the news from Mr. Jobs. Apple is going to release the new iPhone 3G on July 11th.

As I type this, fanboys all over the world are drooling at the thought. And soon, like Star Wars’ fans flocking to Episode 7, they will begin lining up at their local Apple Stores. But as this is an advertising blog, I would like to focus on one small aspect of the phenomenon.

If you go to Apple’s website, you will see a picture of the new phone and two simple statements. Twice as Fast. Half the Price. Let me repeat that. Twice as Fast. Half the Price. Now Apple could have chosen a lot of lines to sell their new phone. But they chose to focus on two very straightforward, very simple messages. No fluff. No wordplay. This is a textbook example of what should be done when your product has a strong selling point. Don’t cloud the message with a bunch of advertising-speak. Just clearly communicate the benefit.

Unfortunately, a lot of people in our business tend to think that all ads have to bury the message. You can’t just come right out and say what you’re product does. You have to somehow sneak it into the reader’s mind. Sometimes this is necessary. Like when you’re selling a parity product or when your product is the worse in its market.

But when your product can run circles around the competition, do not hesitate. Pick the fewest words, the cleanest font and the simplest background. Then climb to the top of the highest mountain you can find and deliver your message to the people.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Client Weakend

I’m hard at work on Ad World 2.0.

Some of you mentioned that I didn’t include any weaknesses for the Client. So in an effort to be fair, I contacted a former client and asked him to give me some suggestions.

Here is the response:

From: mdunlap
Subject: Re: List of client weaknesses
Date: Sunday, June 8, 2008 11:31PM

I got your request for a list of client weaknesses. I was going to get right back to you, but the whole thing slipped my mind until Friday evening. In a panic, I called my ad agency and asked them to come up with a list of 30 or 40 items by Monday morning.

You will not believe how unreasonable they were. They kept going on about “weekends’ and “family.” In the end, I gave in and changed the due date to 11am Monday.

On Saturday, I was playing golf with a friend when he mentioned that client weaknesses usually have something to due with their staff. I immediately called the agency and told them to focus on staff related items. In fact, most of the items on their list should have the word, “staff” in them. There was a silence on the other end of the phone that I assume was their shock at my insight.

Everything was fine until Sunday morning. I was having breakfast (my deck has a fantastic view of the Pacific) when I suddenly remembered that our District Manager was arriving on Tuesday. I immediately called the agency and told them prepare a creative presentation. They started whining again. I said that since they were already working the weekend, adding a second project was no big deal. More whining. Finally, I told them that they could forget about the “weakness” project.

So thanks to my lazy agency, I will be unable to provide you with the info you requested.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Mysterious Headless Corpses Found All Over London [pics]

How could I not click on a headline like that?

Actually it’s a story about a group of graffiti artists who have been pasting images on posters and billboards. The results are truly bizarre images of models that have apparently had their heads lopped off.

The article suggests that the work is a protest against the “visual bombardment” of advertising in London.

Now I am not in favor of vandalizing advertisements. But I think it is important for us in the industry to realize that there is a sizable group of people who do not like what we do. They see our work as an ugly stain on the world, and they would love to see it go away.

So the next time you feel like giving in when the client is screaming for a bigger logo, more starbursts, etc., remember, the less our work looks like art, the more it looks like crap on the wall.

Original article at

See more headless corpses at the decapitator’s Flickr photostream.

Image from decapitator.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Let the Battles Begin

I am a bit overwhelmed by the response my little mmorpg received. I have read all your comments and will be releasing version 2.0 next week. (If you have any suggestions, leave a comment or contact me at adhack42 at

In the meantime, Jane and Girl Riot have been inspired by my post to begin a take-no-prisoners battle. It’s the classic conflict between Account Executive and Creative. Will business triumph over art? Or will the copywriter win the day?

You can see the latest results of their agency fisticuffs at

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Game Time

I have an idea for a new mmorpg. It’s called World of Advertising and it lets people experience what it’s like to work in a modern agency. Players can choose from 7 different Character Classes:

There are also 3 different realms to choose from:

The Kingdom of Chicacago

Have fun!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The con is on

If spam is the dark side of advertising, then the dark side of spam has to be scamming.

We’ve all gotten the emails. Some guy in Nigeria is in a fix, and he is willing to share millions with us if we would only send him a measly $10,000 or so.

Believe it or not, this type of scam is big business, and many people are ripped-off every year. (The average loss is $30,000.) Police all over the world are working hard to catch these criminals and put an end to their con.

But until that day, there are the Scambaiters. This is a group of determined (crazy) people who answer the scam emails. But they don’t send money. What they do is lure the criminal into a con of their own. Promising a huge financial reward, they get the thieves to do all sorts of strange things, like posing for photographs, copying entire novels by hand and even sending wooded statues halfway around the world. The goal is to waste as much of criminal’s time, energy and money as possible.

Want to know more? Then head over to (419 is the Nigerian penal code that relates to these crimes.) You could probably waste an entire day of work just reading the stories.

Finally, a word of advice. Do not try this yourself. On the 419eater site you will see many warnings about how dangerous scambaiting is. These people are toying with dangerous criminals. They have been threatened with violence and even death.

Monday, June 2, 2008

$ex and the City

So Carrie and Company have done the unthinkable. This little Chick Flick earned over $55 million and knocked Indiana Jones off the number one spot on the weekend box office chart.

I keep reading articles about how shocked people are that the film did so well. Even Warner Brothers was only expecting to pull in $30 million. It’s like the whole word has suddenly realized that there are a lot of women out there who can afford a $10 movie ticket.

I saw it myself this weekend. (Just for the record, I’m a man. But I wore my dirtiest camouflage pants and a Black Flag T-shirt, so it’s ok.) It was quite an experience. The second the SATC theme started the audience cheered. It was like seeing the latest Batman film in a theatre full of teenagers.

So what will the advertisers think of this success? Will they say it’s just an aberration? A freak combination of good weather, nothing on TV, and the drawing power of Chris Noth?

Or will they get smart?

It’s time for the Mad Men to wake up to the fact that there are a lot of women in this country with a whole lot of money. Give them the kind of stories they want, and they’ll flock to their theatres or TV sets or IPods. Ignore this demographic, and hey, you’re ignoring a demographic.

I hope the studios and agencies and networks will learn the lesson of Sex and the City’s opening weekend. Marketing for women is not just progressive or politically correct. It’s worth a fortune.