31 March, 2008

The Indoor Tanning Association to the Rescue

Thanks to the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA), people everywhere now know the health benefits of looking like Johnny Bench's catcher's mitt.

The ITA has launched an aggressive campaign to open the naive public eye and expose the deceit of villains like the American Academy of Dermatologists and The Skin Cancer Foundation. The ITA campaign's website, sunlightscam.com, sums it up for those of us in the dark.

“The bottom line is clear:Don’t trust the sunscreen industry’s front groups for advice on skin cancer. Their sole interest is in adding profits to the sunscreen industry’s bottom line, not protecting your health.”

Greedy capitalists. According to the website, the ITA "represents thousands of indoor tanning manufacturers, distributors, facility owners and members from other supporting industries." But they don't care about the "all-mighty" dollar. This isn't about adding profits to the indoor tanning industry's bottom line—it's about our health. In fact, Sarah Longwell of the ITA claims that moderate tanning is becoming "just what the doctor ordered."

Perhaps my vitamin D-deficient memory escapes me, because I can't recall my dermatologist writing me a prescription for Sun Seekers Tanning. Then again, he's probably a member of the American Academy of Dermatologists. Jerk.

Now that cancer's been ruled out, we can all bake our skin without guilt—just in time for summer! Thanks, Indoor Tanning Association, for promoting the health benefits of tanning to a society that has proven, time and time again, to understand the concept of moderation.

Sorry, sunscreen industry. Maybe you should switch to wrinkle cream. Those healthy tanners are gonna need it.

This refreshing campaign opens doors for other products and habits that get bad raps. Why not put a new twist on, say, diuretics?

"Doctors" want you to believe that popping diuretics to lose weight can lead to severe liver and kidney problems. Why? Because they've been commissioned by gyms and exercise equipment manufacturers to make you think exercise is the healthy option. They've caused thousands upon thousands of overweight citizens to suffer through sprains, pulls, and soreness while "working" out. Stop believing the hype. Diuretics are the healthy and safe way to lose weight!

Can we expect the up-and-coming generations to be anorexic waifs with liver damage? Let's hope not. Yes, our industry generates advertisements to make products look good, but some level of morality and social responsibility needs to be maintained. As for ITA and their ad campaign? Well, let's just hope the general population is smarter than this young lady.

--Alicia Taft, Course Developer/Copywriter

Editors Note: After posting we realized that was not a woman, that was famed prop comedian, Carrot Top. He's still way too tan. Carrot Top, you're Irish, or at least Northern German. Just deal with it.

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28 March, 2008

Friday Haiku: Bumper Stickers

The subject for today's Friday Haiku is as old as the bumper. It makes a strong statement to everyone you pass about your favorite radio station, your college or university, your passion for visiting the Outer Banks, or your firm belief that FUR IS MURDER! A statement that will last pretty much as long as the bumper, just try and get it off. More than a decade later everyone will still know you voted Dukakis/Bentsen and who you "broke for" back in '88.

Friday Haiku: Bumper Stickers

Hear my voice fellow
Trav'lers. This is important.
Read as you eat dust.

My other car is...
Something else. Your college sucks.
Rather be fishin'.

Skynyrd! My kid beat
Up your honor roll student.
Calvin pees on...Hobbes?

I'm totally lost.
Sure, mean people suck. Let's just
Drive with our eyes closed.

Previously in the Friday 5-7-5: Casual Fridays

--Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

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27 March, 2008

From the Intern Sweatshop: Britney, The Atlantic and "Your Mother"

Once again, we tossed a laptop down into the dungeon we lock our interns in, and this is what they threw back. Apparently, they also snuck a television and a magazine subscription in there as well. Maybe it's time we fine-tuned our security or perhaps stopped letting other interns guard the door. Anyway, once again, From the Intern Sweatshop...
--The Cap'n

After months of horrible publicity, Britney Spears may actually be taking a positive turn. Her normal tabloid cover page has been abandoned for a more tasteful approach, an intellectual magazine and a television sitcom.

Britney appeared on the Monday March 24th episode of How I Met Your Mother as Abby, a dermatologist’s receptionist with an unlucky crush on the main character, Ted. Viewers gave a surprising 85 percent rating to the episode, according to Yahoo! TV. Apparently the quality of the show was slightly better than Spears’ Video Music Awards performance in September.

The Atlantic magazine has also taken a liking to Spears, hence her appearance on their April cover.

Why would an intellectual magazine like The Atlantic put Britney--a faded diva who's in and out of rehab, doesn't quite understand the utility of underpants, and mothers her children the same way a three year old mothers the poor family cat--on the cover of their next issue, you ask? The same reason CBS put her in a television episode: to help Britt save some face; that, and The Atlantic is desperate for sales.

It’s scary that people have focused so much attention on celebrity life. Sometimes I talk to my friends about the most recent episode of One Tree Hill as if I know the characters. “Did you see what Lindsey did last night to Lucas? I couldn’t believe she left him!” Apparently, the entertainment industries have been numbed by the same epidemic: forget the news, forget the world, and focus on celebrity drama.

The entertainment masses seem to be confused lately, so I’ll make it clear: people buy tabloids to hear gossip, and people buy The Atlantic to read the latest news on why Obama should be president. People don’t buy The Atlantic to sprawl out on their couch with chips and laugh about the misfortunes of the rich and famous. But many do turn on the television to numb themselves to the world and catch up on celebrity drama. So a television comedy might be exactly what people want to see from Spears. That and, of course, the newest drama over the custody of her children or the most recent baring of her “soul” as she gets out of a car.
--Megan Stewart, Intern

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25 March, 2008

In Memorium: Hal Riney, 1932-2008

A different kind of ad guy.
He gave political ads an air of respectability...relatively speaking.
Gave wine coolers credibility...for a minute anyway.
Gave car buyers a new take on the American car company...however different it was.

And he gave the average copy shlub like myself a roadmap...even if I never have what it takes to follow it.

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24 March, 2008

Save Money and the Environment with Blackle

What is Blackle? It’s a Heap Media-owned search engine like Google, but with a black screen instead of a white screen. Why? According to Mark Ontkush of the ecoIron blog, “an all white web page uses about 74 watts to display, while an all black page uses only 59 watts.” Now Google gets about 200 million queries a day. Ontkush figures that if the average query is displayed for 10 seconds, that’s 550,000 hours per day on desktops around the world. And remember, that’s not hits, that’s only queries, so the time spent looking at a Google screen could be much higher. That’s 15 watts less per query, which he states would equal a global savings of 8.3 Megawatt-hours per day. Ontkush’s math and figures have been debated by multiple sources, but if his numbers are accurate, that could mean anywhere from 750 mwh to 1,500 mwh per year. And that would mean we’re saving money and using less fossil fuels.

Why are people debating?

Ontkush’s figures are based largely on cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors (and yes, that’s cathode ray tubes like in old-fashioned TVs), which comprise only about 25% of monitors used around the world. And CRTs, which are slowly being phased out, are used more widely in China and Latin America than in the United States. This study from Techlogg.com showed that Onkjush’s numbers for CRT monitors is pretty accurate; however, the power savings drops substantially with more popular liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors. In fact, monitors 22 inches or smaller actually use a few more watts with Blackle, while monitors 24 inches or larger generally (although not always) save anywhere from 1 to 4 watts with Blackle.

(It’s important to note that for this study, four CRT monitors, 23 LCD monitors were tested. Zero plasma display monitors were tested; according to ecoIron, their power consumption is similar to that of CRTs. No Organic Light Emitting Diode [OLED] monitors were tested, but it’s commonly held that OLEDs are more energy efficient than the other three models mentioned.)

What can be learned from this? If you’re using an old-fashioned monitor, blackle or google’s own darkoogle, can save you precious watts. And in the long term could save you money and save that little piece of real estate we like to call planet Earth. If you’re using an LCD monitor 22 inches or smaller, stick with regular google and you won’t cost yourself valuable watts.

Now some of you may be thinking, “Captain, why did you tell me all of this if you don’t want me to change a darn thing?”

1) For some, the change would benefit you. 2) You can find even more, simple power saving tips—regardless of what sites you surf on the company dime, like turning off your PC at night and disabling your screensaver—in this article, also from Techlogg. 3) This may not be the way you’ll save your company millions of dollars and finally earn that free copywriter’s trip to historic Williamsburg, Va., but thinking differently might be what saves a few dollars, your budget, and the planet. Think outside the box people, or as I like to say, “Think outside the hexagon.”*

*copyright 2008, Captain Awesome, Inc. LLC

-Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

ed.'s note: The Renegade Agency Confessional blog is committed to decreasing our nation's dependence on foreign fossil fuels. We're proud to announce our site is powered by clean, renewable baby seals.

We're doing our part for the environment. Are you?

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21 March, 2008

Friday Ad Haiku: Casual Fridays

For some folks, casual Friday's a big deal. "Ooh boy! I get to wear my ironic T-shirt from Hot Topic along with a pair of jeans! High five!"

In agency environs, casual dress is less a privilege than it is a given. Hell, half the time we have enough of a problem getting the Cap'n to keep his shoes and socks on--like a toddler who's in a state of perpetual undress.

So for the poor rat-racers out there, trudging through the maze for a bit of brie, shackled by the heavy burdens of business casual:

Choked with ties and skirts
I'm dead inside til Thursday
Friday: air it out.

(click photo to ENLARGE)

Previously in the Friday 5-7-5: Conference Calls

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/Exhibitionist

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20 March, 2008

Tales from the Spam Filter: Neil Armstrong Is Still Spamming Me

Yet another email from America's favorite astronaut, this time threatening to break up my marriage if I don't buy his magic man pills. That freakin' Armstrong, always with the hard sell. (sorry)

(Click here to engorge)

Previously in Tales from the Spam Filter: I know where to buy drugs!

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/Pill Hound

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18 March, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

Yet another Renegade chips in as our favorite ponytailed, leather-chair swiveling, Judd Nelson impersonating (c. Breakfast Club) Editor Craig Anderson threw this site our way.

Now, today’s bloggerific post isn’t as much about advertising as it is thinking outside the box. The comic is from the site, Garfield Minus Garfield, in which an artist removed Garfield, the cat, from Garfield, the comic. Through a little Photoshopping, a comic about a man and his lazy, lasagna-loving cat is turned into a “journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb.”

The road to innovation is paved with the Who-Came-Up-With-This? mindset. In 1913, Notre Dame football coach, Knute Rockne, desperate to beat a bigger, heavily-favored Army team, resorted to an underused offensive strategy—the forward pass—and won 35-13; the game of football would be forever changed. Napster was the creation of a college dropout, living in a basement; it revolutionized the computer and music industry. Remember, without that college dropout, there is no iPod. And the Flowbee was invented by someone too lazy to go to the barber.
Maybe that was a bad example. But enjoy Garfield Minus Garfield.

Garfield Minus GarfieldSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Top 5 Things a Copywriter Never Wants to Hear

5. "We love these concepts. Let's combine them."

4. "We need to get approval on this ad from our committee."

3. "Our marketing guy wrote the first draft. We just need you to touch it up."

2. "I need some quick copy."

1. "We're going to have to pass on your novel."

Add your own. It's a free country.

M.M.McDermott, Copywriter/ACD

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14 March, 2008

Friday Ad Haiku: Conference Calls

Half a dozen people talking over one another, paying half-attention to the conversation while playing solitaire or reading the paper (or doodling), and wearing out the mute button to talk trash about the people on the other end.

I'd rather have a meeting under water than over the phone.

Is Joe on the phone?
Hello? What did you say, Steve?
You hung up on Bill.

Previously in the Friday 5-7-5: User-Generated Content

M.M.McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/Communicator

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13 March, 2008

Coal in your crawl and the Intern Sweatshop churns out a new one

From Producer Noah, our lovable plant-murdering, bongo-beating, Orlando Bloom stunt double on the other side of the building: a great spoof on the "benefits" of coal power.

The lung cancer lets you know it's working!


Threatened with bodily harm and tattle-taling to her college advisor, Intern Julie has no choice but to submit to the whims of the Intern Sweatshop:

A Niche Fido Won’t Itch

With the U.S. bottled water industry swimming in yearly revenues of more than $10.8 billion, there is clearly a demand for the purified potion. Consumers have found themselves turning off their faucets and turning up their noses to the thought of drinking tap water.

Companies like Pepsi and Glaceau are diving into this trend by flooding the market with enhanced, vitamin infused, flavored water, so they can ride this bottled water wave for as long as possible.

Marketers are grabbing stars like 50 cent to pimp their products as spokesmen. Even supermodel, Naomi Campbell, has taken a break from giving her housekeepers a few light slams and appeared in a SoBe Life Water commercial. She teamed with a choreographed squad of lizards and danced to Michael Jackson’s Thriller in an ad that appeared during the much-anticipated commercial breaks for 2008 Super Bowl.
Even though some of these enhanced waters are pumped with sugar and calories, consumers are still drinking it up. I even found myself buying a bottle of the pomegranate-spiked stuff, thinking all those additional “nutrients” would somehow cure my Saturday morning hangover.

This H2O craze is spilling over into the pet market, targeting those four-legged mutts who typically rely on the toilet bowl for their hydration fix. Last month, Cott Corp., in its attempt to be the first to get into this niche, introduced Fortifido-bottled water in flavors like parsley and peanut butter. Will Fido really prefer the manufactured nutty taste over his own—and can we really trust the palate of an animal that regularly has its head buried in its backside?

Just what makes marketers think dogs, who turn tricks for pig ears and marrow bones, will lap up the minty refreshment just as their owners do with Vitamin Water? From the perspective of a college kid whose been taught that history repeats itself, I’m skeptical; flavored pooch water didn’t work in 1994 with Thirsty Dog! water, and it probably won’t make too many tails wag today. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if this new water follows its predecessor down the drain.

Julie Leitch, Intern

Previously extracted from the Intern Sweatshop: Starbucks takes a coffee break.

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12 March, 2008

6 Thoughts About a Very Strange Commercial

1. I wish I spoke Japanese, because I really want to know what’s going on here. Then again, I’m afraid they might tell me to kill my parents.
2. I am now afraid of dogs.
3. I am now afraid of potato chips.
4. Different strokes for different folks.

I know what I find funny. I’ve loved stand-up ever since I saw Bill Cosby Himself. I thought about it as a career until I realized how much work it actually was. I still think Bill Cosby Himself is hysterical. But I also found Mitch Hedberg hysterical. I appreciate the brilliance of Gallagher, who most people only remember for the Sledgomatic, and the brilliant annoyance of Gilbert Godfried. I can laugh at the outlandishness, as well as the subtlety of The Office, and the silliness of Anchorman and Monty Python, along with the ingeniously stupid character Stephen Colbert has created for himself. Even stupid comedy—especially stupid comedy—needs to be well thought-out to work.

I also know what I don’t find remotely funny: Two and a Half Men, Carlos Mencia, Scary Movie and the similar Friedberg/Seltzer spoofs they’ve spawned.

But Gallagher is a now a comedic afterthought. Two and a Half Men is consistently one of the highest rated sit-coms on TV. And Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer movies have made a lot of money.

What are you driving at Cap’n? Well I watched this video again after watching Queen Latifah in Last Holiday. It’s a movie I never would have bothered with, but it was what they were showing at jury duty. The movie was what I expected to be, but regardless, I laughed. At parts I cackled. And many other jurors in waiting howled at predictable jokes I’d finished writing in my head halfway before the character onscreen ever got them out.

It reminded me that just because something doesn’t fit my model of good comedy doesn’t mean there’s not a huge audience for it. As westerners, we may not get this commercial. But in the West, the silly antics of shows such as MXC and Ninja Warrior were always left to the realm of children on Double Dare. Still, they’re quite popular on the other side of the globe. And compare the original British The Office to the American The Office. The setting is the same, but they are very different shows. And even think North and South. East Coast and West Coast. What plays in Augusta, Maine may not be nearly as effective in Augusta, Georgia.

The bottom line is, think about your audience. If they’re affluent and well-educated, you may have to up your level of sophistication. Conversely, kicks to the groin and pies in the face have been longtime comedy favorites that probably won’t be going away anytime soon.

5. I want a potato chip.
6. My parents have been getting on my nerves lately.

--Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

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09 March, 2008

In Memorium, The Wire (2002-2008)

"Man is never honestly the fatalist, nor even the stoic. He fights his fate, often desperately. He is forever entering bold exceptions to the rulings of the bench of gods. This fighting, no doubt, makes for human progress, for it favors the strong and the brave. It also makes for beauty, for lesser men try to escape from a hopeless and intolerable world by creating a more lovely one of their own."

H. L. Mencken

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07 March, 2008

Friday Ad Haiku: User-Generated Commercials

So I got a call from my dad the other day. He tipped me off to the online spots Gibson is running for the Robot Guitar, their new self-tuning guitar. At $2,500, this robified gee-tar does everything but play itself, and by "everything" I mean that its buttons glow and the tuning knobs on the head turn by themselves. It's kind of like the KITT of electric guitars, only with better dialogue.

The ads are pretty funny. I particularly enjoy the fact that, in half the spots, our protagonist is playing or humming "Smoke on the Water". Next to "Stairway to Heaven" it's probably the most likely song to drive a guy working in a guitar shop to the bell tower with a sniper rifle.

I asked my dad if he was going to pick one of these babies up for himself; he was less than enthusiastic about it. Truth be told, my dad is to axe-thrashing what Chuck Norris is to ass-kicking. Giving him a guitar that tunes itself would be like giving Ron Jeremy the Kama Sutra. You just don't do it.

Anyway, part of Gibson's campaign included the popular, and increasingly irritating, trend of inviting folks to submit their own commercials. Predictably, the ones I saw online, including the winner, gave me the runs. You can guarantee that any user-generated ad promotion will include no less than 90% MasterCard rip-offs, give or take; it's the ad guy's equivalent of "Stairway to Heaven".

Making your own spot?
Hit yourself in the face with
a phone book: Priceless.

Previously in the Friday 5-7-5: Microsoft Vista pounds sand.

M.M. McDermott, ACD/Copywriter/Self-Tuning

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06 March, 2008

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Advertisement

Above, ads created for Harley-Davidson by Carmichael Lynch out of Minneapolis: very choice, top notch creative in my opinion. A bold presentation of the sense of individuality that's a trademark of the Harley-Davidson brand. See the individual in the motorcycle.

The time and care that was clearly invested in creating these images, and the method employed, reminds me of another art form. Tibetan sand painting.
In case you're unfamiliar, Zen monks spend hours upon hours intricately pouring colored sands onto the ground to create beautiful imagery. Upon completion, the doors to the temple are flung open and the wind erases the images forever. It's an exercise of patience and humility, a downplaying of the ego and a strong demonstration of the impermanence of all things.
I'll grant that you'd be hard pressed to have a crankshaft assembly delicately float away on the breath of impermanence, but you can see the similarity nonetheless. Once all those motorcycle parts have been cleaned up, installed, and driven off to have half-naked, drunken motorcycle groupies cavort on them at rock concerts and biker rallies, the original assemblage image is gone. Yes, unlike the sand paintings, we have a photograph to remember it, but that brings me to my ultimate point.

The Harley ads are just one small part of a huge body of creative work our industry generates on a regular basis, work that, while permanent in form, is just as ephemeral in long term viewership as our monks' sand creations.

It's inevitable. Every great billboard, TV spot or print ad is eventually replaced. And this process repeats again and again, ad infinitum (no pun intended). With media consumption growing exponentially, this turnover will occur at an ever accelerating pace in the future. So we, as creatives, deliver painstakingly developed, beautifully rendered, multi-faceted campaigns to our clients, and in a month the winds of consumption blow them into obscurity.

Surprisingly, I'm not complaining. There's something wonderful behind sand paintings. They say, "Release your attachments and just let beauty be. Yes, you created something glorious, but who are you? What does your minor achievement mean against the backdrop of a universe so staggeringly big it's impossible to imagine it? Your work is beautiful, and now it's gone."

I originally intended this article to be something of a rant against the mad rush to replace. But the more I write, the more I'm changing my mind. Ultimately, I think it's a very healthy way to think about what we do. We're not Van Gogh or Da Vinci, creating work that will last for centuries (and one could argue that, on a cosmic time scale, even their work is fleeting). We create for the Now. And we have the opportunity to keep doing it over and over again. So I say, fling open the doors, wipe the slate clean, and get to work!

Jason Bloom, Senior Avid Editor

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle AdvertisementSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

03 March, 2008

Two from Taft

Our intrepid Course Developer makes a triumphant return to the blogosphere after a 7-month hiatus to study the mating habits of people who attend Gwar concerts.

Blinking Signs Confuse Me.
Do we really need more distractions while driving? I already have a hard time taking my eyes off the blinking Mr. Boh sign keeping a one-eyed watch over Brewer's Hill while I'm driving on I-95. Though I usually try to remind myself that keeping my eyes on the road while driving at 60 miles an hour is a bit more important.

Now, it's large, illuminated billboards on trucks that threaten to draw my attention. Smashing into the car in front of me while admiring the moving billboard on the truck next to me would probably grab my attention as well. Save those lighted advertisements for when the truck is parked. I’d rather focus on the road, and flipping off the driver that felt the need to cut me off. Hmm, Jersey tags. Imagine that.

Pedigree Commercials Make Me Cry.
The simple notes of the song from the Pedigree Adoption Drive commercials are enough to spiral me into a deep depression. I use my DVR to rewind the commercials about 3 or 4 more times so I can cry more. I call other people into the room to watch and cry with me. I peruse the Pedigree Adoption Drive website and feel hopeful when I see the tag line, “Helping to cure people of their doglessness.” Yes, help me, Pedigree! It hurts. I delude myself with thoughts that I could properly care for a dog with my hectic schedule and limited finances. Once I get past that notion, I get on Petfinder and look for dogs I could adopt...for my parents. I could go to their house and visit the dog at my convenience, and my parents could take care of it and pay the vet bills. Everyone wins.

These commercials affect me more than any other ad campaign I can remember. When I do finally get a dog, will I stuff him with Pedigree? Probably not. In the past, my dogs ate Purina Pro Plan, so I would stick with that. I will, however, donate some money to my local animal shelter this year; I'm sure that's what Pedigree wanted me to do anyway, right? They may not move any dog food, but just think how happy their stockholders will be when a sagging bottom line is buoyed by good karma. It's practically as good as cash.

Then I could brainstorm ways to drop a dog off at my parents’ house in the middle of the night without getting caught.

Alicia Taft, Course Developer/Jr. Copywriter

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