21 December, 2007

Crank Dat Holiday Party

Once again, the Renegade Agency holiday party revealed the magic that happens when eccentric individuals and free alcohol intermingle. Renegade Idol Karaoke-tacular. A Soulja Boy Christmas. And let's just say that the gift exchange gave us a much clearer idea of what you can wrap up and give to folks when you're gifting anonymously; thankfully, it was a rare instance batteries were not included.

Clips and pics, more for our own amusement than yours. But enjoy all the same. And from all of us here at Renegade. Happy Everything and Merry You Know What.

Avid Editor Craig Anderson showing us why he deserved the award for Most Enthusiastic Thumbs Up.

The evening quickly descended into chaos once Rick James' albino, Princeton-educated cousin arrived to sing 17th century Eastern European folk hymns.

Renegade President Tim Watkins, world renowned for his solos on the Air Clarinet.

Traffic Coordinator Desiree Clark channels Macy Gray as a demon nods its approval in the shadows.
The Creative Department acknowledges a guest appearance by Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda.

VeeP Jen Stine and Prez Watkins bond over pilfered presents.

(You write the caption. Best entry wins whatever's in the yellow cup.)

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20 December, 2007

Convict Commercials

Sitting at a stop light in North Baltimore this weekend, I took note of a group of work-release dudes from the correctional facility sweeping the streets, picking up trash, and generally doing what they could to pay down their debt to society. They labored in grey jumpsuits, D.O.C. emblazoned on the back. Say what you want, but the Department of Corrections knows how to get the most of their ad dollars, and they don’t even know it. For the price of a pair of overalls and screen-printing, they’re sending some powerful messages to folks on the outside, everywhere.

For instance, a D.O.C. jumpsuit tells me right away that the guy with the teardrop tattoo on his cheek is not selling designer purses.

More interestingly though, they’re also providing a PSA of sorts for anyone who’s ever looked at a 7-11 and thought to themselves, “You know, I bet it’d be pretty cool to rob the crap out of that place.” In effect, our freedom-challenged friends are doing us all a great favor, serving (time) as coverall-clad out-of-home cautionary tales. Now that’s as powerful as any billboard warning me to stay off crack or do my best not to batter my wife. They’ve got my attention; it’s not every day you see an advertisement that’s capable of shanking you with a toothbrush shiv.

I propose a marketing experiment. Want the kids to eat healthier, stay in school, not set pets on fire, etc.? Nothing a little stenciling in the prison laundry can’t take care of:

Why not? A local agency actually used the prison itself as a billboard, placing a prominent banner on an outside wall, visible to drivers passing by on the expressway. In the spirit of one-upsmanship, let’s step it up. Sure, you’ll hear complaints about prisoner rights, cruel and unusual punishment and blah, blah, blah hippie-rainbow-wahhhfests. But it’s nothing a few cartons of cigarettes and hush-bribes for the ACLU can’t take care of.

And, naturally, this new marketing channel will become wildly popular. Don’t be surprised if a few select product marketers jump in to drink from the well of my genius. Security systems, police equipment, electronic surveillance—the opportunity’s there. I can see it now: cruising down the highway in my chauffeured stretch Hummer, I notice a guy in an orange jumpsuit mowing grass on the shoulder. Covered with grass clippings and the shame of whatever crime he's committed, he turns to reveal the text on his back: “How was I supposed to know they had LoJack?”

It could happen.

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13 December, 2007

Guerilla Marketing Gets Down and Dirty

You'd think by now I'd be used to the adulation, but I still get a lump in my throat each and every time I read one of the lovely letters you out there send me. Keep them coming. Along with your questions. I received this one a few days ago:

Dear Jason,

I'm a creative-type person at a very powerful ad agency in a city in the US. Lately I've become concerned that advertising, as it is classically framed, is in fact, dead. Or dying, at least. Yes, I know. How boorishly, post-modern, generic, Nihilist of me. But here's my issue: Media glut. The numbers we call "people" who consume our messages are bombarded from every conceivable medium almost constantly. I'm afraid that getting any of these "people" to sort our clients' messages out of the morass, through standard channels at least, is like a Paramecium reading a "Where's Waldo?" book. Help!!

Nietzsche Marketer

Dear Nietzche Marketer,

It's definitely not dead. I poked it, and it was still breathing. But yes, normal advertising channels are becoming more and more like screaming into a windstorm. Or worse, like screaming into a vacuum. Case in point is the continuing erosion of the :30 TV spot by DVR and similar technologies. So what's a creative-type advertising monkey to do? Go guerilla. Ditch the standard channels. Find a new hill to climb--one where no one is standing--and fling your poo in the surety that gravity and a lack of obstacles will deliver your message into the faces and minds of the numbers below.

The folks over at
Street Advertising Services have developed a pretty novel approach to "cutting through the muck." They do it by actually cutting through the muck...with high pressure water cleaning. They call it "Reverse Graffiti." It's like the "Wash Me" messages we've all seen scrawled out of the dirt on the backs of garbage trucks (and my Jeep, for that matter. Punk kids!). For an undisclosed fee, SAS will take an advertiser's message, convert it to a stencil, and then clean it into dirty pavement, walls, and buildings. Any soiled surface becomes a potential messaging spot. And, unlike standard graffiti, this isn't illegal. They're just cleaning the sidewalk, or parts of it at least.

Another sort of "street" advertising is performance art. Create an event, or happening, real or not, that will catch people's eyes. Here are a few examples that, assuming the Infinite Universes theory is correct, could surely happen...one day. Imagine:

- General Mills, in a bid to increase awareness of its Cookie Crisp brand cereal, hires actors to play Keystone Cop characters, chasing the Cookie Crook around Times Square to reclaim a stolen breakfast.

- A California wedding planner stages a lavish mock wedding beside the Golden Gate Bridge with signs everywhere saying, "Wedding Crashers Welcome". In a co-branding effort, New Line Cinema sponsors the dinner buffet.

- Yukon Gold Bank and Trust fakes a robbery in one of their branches, complete with phony police outside, in an effort to compete with larger banks and gain some relatively free exposure; the media doesn't know the robbery is a fake, although the local police are informed ahead of time.

The moral here is this: When there are too many others in your tree, find another tree. All you really need to do to ensure your clients' messages are heard is exercise that creativity pent up in your little simian brain and guerilla market your way to advertising success!

Love Always,

Jason Bloom, Senior Avid Editor

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07 December, 2007

"Clueless" About PETA and Urination-at-law

So, I recently found myself home with my wife donating an hour and a half of our Saturday to the classic 90’s coming-of-age silver screen delight, Clueless on TBS. Guys, that movie is one of the most underhanded chick flicks of all time. As it opens, I’m thinking, “Oh dear, this is painful.” By the end, I’m like, “Just kiss her Josh! Just kiss her!” Then I’m left wondering if I’ve lost some of my inherent masculinity. Dastardly stuff indeed.

So, this got me thinking back to whatever happened with Alicia Silverstone and that PETA ad? You may or may not remember, but back in September, the State of Texas, the local cable company, PETA, and Alicia Silverstone got locked in a philosophical debate over an ad featuring Alicia Silverstone in the nude. The point of the ad is fairly harmless with Miss Silverstone like a modern day Lady Godiva, explaining that she keeps her figure slim and trim by not eating meat. The cable company pulled the spot from the Houston airwaves claiming it was “too racy.” I’ll be the first to admit, the ad is a bit racy. I mean, I eat meat, I’ve always eaten meat, and I’ll continue to eat meat, but I did have a hankering for carrot sticks before the ad was over. You do the math. My issue, however, is where do censors draw the line? This is too racy? Have they seen half the advertising that passes on normal television everyday, let alone the programming?**

So as I’m about to get up during a commercial break to refresh my adult beverage, who do mine eyes see during 30 seconds of pure gold? Barry Glazer – Baltimore Attorney At Law. (Are there other kinds of attorneys besides those “at law”?) For those of us here in the Baltimore DMA, Barry Glazer’s commercials have set a gold standard for...something...in local advertising. Picture creepy looking guy standing in front of brick wall, yelling about insurance companies in his best Bawlmer drawl. Cut to still picture of him, dazed and posing with a phone to his ear as a serious-minded voice over details who and what Barry Glazer stands for. Good stuff to be sure.

In this particular gem he waxes on about how the insurance companies are always out to get the little guy. Being comfortably lulled into a sense of glazed stupor at the lack of productions values and schlocky messaging, I could not have been more blind sided by one of the best worst lines I’ve ever heard on television. At the height of his tirade he exclaims, “Insurance companies, don’t urinate on my leg and tell me it’s raining! We’re going to court!” Wow! Then to boot, our serious minded voice over comes in redefining, the aforementioned counselor as “Barry Glazer- Legal advocate for the injured, disabled, and urinated upon.” Man, oh man! What a terrific new peak we’ve reached in low budget cable advertising.

So let me make sure I have this straight, nudity – bad; references to urination – no worries? All I have to say is, if a cable company wants to take a moral stand, that’s fine, but don’t urinate on my leg and tell me it’s raining! Local Content Censors, we’re going to court! Assuming, I don’t choke on this tasty cheeseburger, that is.

**Footnote: I’m guessing the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association must have gotten their greasy fingers involved. Keep in mind, according to the Nation Cattleman’s Association "An estimated 111,875 jobs and $4.82 billion of personal income are generated in Texas from the beef industry." Sounds like about 4.82 billion reasons for the cable company not to air the ad, no?

Ken Hall, Associate Creative Director

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