So I was tagged by my pal Jetpacks to provide a view into my inner workings, as per the popular blogger meme, 7 Things About Me. He added a twist to it though: I've got to write seven unknown things about my future self. Seeing as how men in my family rarely make it out of their 50s, this will be mercifully easier than straining to get a glimpse at a future with me as a bawdy, tush-grabbing octogenarian casing the IHOP for sugar packets.
Here they are:
1. After years of hard work, I managed to launch a viable third political party: The Pragmacrats. Unfortunately, I came in last in every local Pragmacratic primary I ran in.
2. I served a three-day prison sentence for trying to re-enact Apple's "1984" ad in a Best Buy.
3. I had my Achilles tendon severed by a broken Jameson bottle in a bar fight with Mickey Rourke's clone.
4. One of the last ad accounts of my career was for a company that surgically implanted Kindle readers into the backs of people's retinas. Unfortunately, the company folded shortly after Oprah Winfrey was blinded during the procedure.
5. I won the lottery, but was unable to cash in after inadvertently composting the lottery ticket - along with 98% of our household waste - in my ZeroCarbonFootprint-o-Matic™ .
6. I was invited to give the keynote address at WalMart University's School of Twittermetrics. Twitter v. 35.2 was down so I did not receive the DM.
7. The Huffington Post fired me from my position as Senior Baltimore news correspondent after realizing the city had been swallowed by the rising waters of the Chesapeake Bay 5 years before I was given the job as Senior Baltimore news correspondent.
And now, I pass the torch to 7 blogger buddies:
TRAC's own Captain Awesome
AdRant's Angela Natividad
Shaun from Prostituted Thoughts
The thoughtful gal over at Thinking in Vain
Ryan @ MGHWOM
Garret Ohm @ Sutter Group
Jorden Bartel from b.
Go forth to taggeth other bloggers, anointed gentlefolk. With great power comes great responsibility.
31 January, 2009
30 January, 2009
By now you've probably already heard about the recently banned PETA Super Bowl spot. If not, watch it here.
Here's the thing, did PETA really think this ad would get past the Super Bowl censors? No way. Ever since the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" networks are uber-sensitive about upsetting the public, namely the Parent Television Council. I have a feeling PETA knew this spot would get banned. I bet they planned on it. Because this way the get all of the media exposure of a racy, banned Super Bowl ad, plus they save themselves $3 million dollars that they can spend on more fruitless nude protests. And I have to say, pretty smooth. The only sad thing about the spot not making the game (trust me, I have no love lost for PETA) is that their message would actually resonate with their audience.
Brilliant ploy or poor foresight, PETA got one right.
--Captain Awesome, Copywriter
27 January, 2009
23 January, 2009
Damn. It's been some time since we got all 5-7-5 on your behinds. Been busy around here, grinding it out as of late. New biz. New pitches. New projects. Sure, it's great. But it really cramps my efforts to be as unbillable as humanly possible. Luckily, there's still Twitter to kill my timesheet ratios.
Actually, Twitter's been popping up in a lot of conversations lately, both at the agency and with some of our clients. Twitterer coverage of the airliner splash-down in the Hudson has certainly enticed the mainstream media consumer to consider the app's value beyond simply stalking interesting strangers and sharing TwitPics of what you're eating for lunch (by the way, both are excellent wastes of time).
Folks are starting to see some of the multi-layered benefits of Twitter, including its role as a raw source for breaking news and its impact as a conversation amplifier - both in reach and in immediacy. Just take a look at how the Twitter world lit up like a Christmas tree during the presidential inauguration.
Here's to living life, 140 characters at a time.
@boss fired me 4
twittering 2 much. here's a
picture of my lunch.
Previously in the Friday 5-7-5: Holiday Cards
22 January, 2009
I haven't read through a transcript yet, so I could be a little off, but I was keeping a running tally of how many times "hope," "change" or "yes, we can" were mentioned during the inauguration speeches. And I'm sorry to say that those who were expecting both "hope" and "change" were sadly disappointed.
But these lack of recuring themes was one of the most exciting things about Obtimus Prime's (too much?) address. "Yes, we can" was his campaign slogan, his rallying cry. But he's not running for office anymore. "Yes we can?" "We did." (That is if you were among one of Obami O's [as you read this someone's currently copyrighting that to make a Captain Crunch flavored cereal] supporters--I for one wrote in Ted Lange, like I have since 1988.) And now the campaign is over. Now he's got a job to do that won't be solved with positive slogans or promises of "hope" and/or "change." But at least from his inaugural address I know he understand that. And that gives me hope after the crushing disappointment of my candidate losing yet another election.
(Ed. Note: The NY Times has a nifty app that allows you to see the number of times particular buzz words are used in Obama's speech - as well as the speeches of every American president since Washington.)
21 January, 2009
Before Barack Obama had time to finish his inauguration speech, his message of Change had already hit the interwebs. Gizmodo grabbed a shot of the new Whitehouse.gov under Obama and compared it to what the site looked like the day George W. Bush first took office.
Obama's Whitehouse.gov, 2009
Bush's Whitehouse.gov, 2001
It was such a simpler time. A time before we had to perform a security striptease to board a flight from DC to Ft. Lauderdale. A time before rainbow-colored warnings. And, apparently a time before anyone started worrying about pesky things like pixelation, Flash, or the basic aesthetics of web design.
I miss that innocence.
20 January, 2009
Just in case something blew my mind on December 31st, I wanted to wait until the official end of 2008 to decide on what I felt were the year's most mind-dumbing campaigns. And after two weeks of meditation, I've chosen my top 13. Enjoy...or don't. And please, feel free to disagree...or add your own.
Taglines That Shouldn’t Have Been
So you can drink it. That means it’s not a solid or gas, which you would have to chew or breathe in. I understand it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and silly, but it literally says nothing, and when compared to previous Bud Light ads/campaigns like “Real Men of Genius” or “Swear Jar,” it falls flat.
“Not Reality. Actuality.”—TruTV
What the frigg does that mean? So reality isn’t necessarily actual, but actual is real. This is like when I read Plato’s explanation of nothingness for a college physics class. Something cannot be nothing, but a nothing is a something. But you’re not gonna sell a comparison to Plato for the network that airs Party Heat and World’s Dumbest Criminals. How about something more accurate like “TruTV. More than just idiots who accidentally light themselves on fire.”
“The Future. Delicious.”—Microsoft
This is the tagline at the end of the panned Gates/Seinfeld Microsoft commercial. I first took this ad as an attempt to create an offbeat spot that appealed to the Mac crowd, and in trying to do so, failed miserably by using a comedian that hasn’t been relevant this century. It was later explained to me that the idea was really just to make Bill Gates more than a faceless voice in the sky behind the microchips. But “delicious?” What the frigg does “delicious” have to do with anything Microsoft is doing. The conversation Seinfeld and Gates were having was about shoes! Were they gonna eat the shoes? I think my original assessment was right.
“AT&T has plans for your business.”—AT&T Business Services
When you break it down, it makes sense. It simply gets across the point of the product and even notes that they have a variety of plans to choose from. However, it feels kind of cryptic and like it should be followed by “MUHHAAWAAAHHH!” AT&T, my business is officially scared.
We’ve all tried to forget Naomi Campbell dancing with multi-colored lizards to Thriller. This spot had all of the makings of a bunch of people sitting around a table going, “Hey, let’s use Thriller. That song’s awesome.”
When another chimes in, “And let’s do the Thriller dance. I saw this hysterical wedding video.”
A third says, “No, let’s have lizards do the Thriller dance.”
And yet another goes, “But we totally need a super model.”
“How about Naomi Campbell? She’s beloved by everyone and has never assaulted a housekeeper or police officer.”
Now weird I can live with. People have different senses of humor. I personally love Gilbert Godfried. And maybe this was Campbell’s community service. But the final straw comes when the entire campaign is branded with the title of the song used for the particular spot, “Thrillicious.com.” Thrillicious.com was apparently a site with many comedic shorts always featuring the lizards drinking Life Water. I never knew this because the spot annoyed me so much I vowed never to support the product. Then, subsequent commercials still featured Campbell, the lizards and “Thrillicious”, but dropped the title track for Black Magic Woman, which makes even less sense! I can understand tying the product to the concept of thrilling and delicious, but now you’ve gone even further from your product and chosen a song about the future UFC fighter starring in your commercial. Sorry, I just didn’t get this.
“Saved by Zero”—Toyota
Okay, the first time anyone heard this, did they immediately think, Truck Nutz? Cause that’s what I think every time I hear it. And truck nuts don’t make me hungry.
“Windows. Life Without Walls”—Microsoft
Microsoft’s second entry on our list is the final tag to their version of “I’m a PC…” My problem is this. The product is Windows, but where do you put a window? In a wall. And where are most computers kept? Inside buildings…that have walls. So if life had no walls, we wouldn’t have many windows or computers. For a line that just got tacked on to the end of the spot, they could’ve come up with something simpler like, “Windows. Because you’re too lazy to learn how to use a Mac.”
Just Bad Ideas
“Don’t You Forget About Me”—JCPenny
Let’s use a song released in 1985 to advertise back-to-school shopping to kids who were born after 1990.
“What Is Love”—Diet Pepsi Max
Pepsi has put up a pretty poor showing at the last two Super Bowls, but this was the worst of the bunch. Pepsi Max will wake up tired people. Makes sense. By why will they bob their heads? Wouldn’t they just wake up? And why would you choose a song from an SNL skit that hasn’t been “L” in a decade? Somebody at Pepsi must owe Haddaway a big favor. I’m talking taking a prison shiv type of favor.
“How would you say LOL?/Thumbs”—AT&T
AT&T makes the list for a second time with the faces on the thumbs that talk while someone is texting. Just freakin’ creepy.
“Chicken For Breakfast/2008 Olympics”—McDonald’s
And McDonald's strikes again as well. First off, chicken can be for breakfast, but some northerners may not be familiar with dishes like biscuits and gravy or chicken ‘n waffles (aaaaahhhhh, chicken n’ waffles), but Olympic athletes pushing McDonald’s on me, come on? And who’s the first person who actually holds the sandwich in her hand? The 110 pound runner. Guys, why not be honest and just use a fat guy in a hockey jersey saying, “So good, you’ll sacrifice an artery.”
So Napoleon kept his hand in his jacket because that’s where he put his GPS? Um, why was Napoleon, an 18th century French Emperor, driving a car through 21st century France? And furthermore, is Napoleon really the best spokesperson? Was Gilligan not available? I mean, when I think of Napoleon, successful is not the first word that comes to mind.
Like I said, feel free to disagree...or add your own.
--Captain Awesome, Copywriter
13 January, 2009
It's a slow, organic process. They require twice the fertilizer of, say, an account exec or marketing manager. Yup. Lot more fertilizer.
I've also found watering with Irish whiskey regularly speeds up the maturation process, but it may kill a couple leaves along the way.
McDermott's Footnote: We didn't write this. Or produce it. But seeing as how the good folks across the pond may not share our copyright laws, perhaps we should totally take credit for it.
Lawyer's Footnote: No.
McDermott's Footnote: We didn't write this.
09 January, 2009
I love my Xbox 360. What I do not love is the horrifying commercial I saw the other day promoting Netflix downloads through the console. This commercial is right up there with the wildly inappropriate Lamisil ad featuring an unnerving shot of a fungus monster lifting up a toe nail. The Xbox 360 spot starts off simple enough, with your average 30-something watching TV . Suddenly, she breaks into a smile, and the once harmless-looking woman now appears mentally unhinged. Am I watching The Shining? She's almost as creepy as Thing One and Thing Two.
It gets worse. Now the camera angle circles from her off-putting facial expression to the back of her head, where her brain has been carved out and replaced with a movie theater for tiny human life forms. Disgusting. What happened to the simplicity of daydream sequences a la Saved by the Bell?
Wavy pink frame alerts viewers that Zack is day-dreaming.
While I don't like the Xbox 360 spot, I do watch it every time it comes on, and I did go to the Xbox website to find out more. So if the goal was to spark interest in Xbox 360/Netflix and to provoke nightmares, both missions accomplished.
07 January, 2009
For our first post of the new year, we're handing the ball off to a Renegade who hasn't posted in some time, one of our senior editors, Jason Bloom. 2009, here Jason comes.
One word is all you need for a title when writing an article about the single coolest hardware and software company on the planet.
The oft-derided brand got its start in the '70s, and while its flagship product, the Mac, is nearly 25 years old, it's hipper than it's ever been.
This weekend I was reading Wired's most recent article on Apple, and it got me thinking. The author raises the point that after 25 years most product brands get mired by kitsch, trapped by the nostalgia that surrounds their previous incarnations. The article goes on to say that Apple, and the Mac specifically, have managed to avoid this fate. This feat separates Apple from its contemporaries, across industries.
As much as I love the Mac, and have since the early '90s, I think this is an overly romantic notion. PCs made my IBM, while not nearly as hip as Macs, aren't kitchy by any means. And IBM is an older brand than Apple.
In fact, you can look to any consumer product market and see the same thing. Kenmore washing machines have been around forever, and there's no cloud surrounding that brand. Same with Colgate toothpaste, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, or nearly any other aging brand you might fill in.
I think the mistake the Wired article makes, besides falling in love with a corporation, is confusing mass market product brands with fad marketing. Products associated with fads or other fleeting market segments like fashion and entertainment nearly always fall prey to "kitchitization" (look it up...it's a word). Products like bangle bracelets, parachute pants, hula hoops and Mr. T Cereal all eventually fall out of fashion, only to be reborn as glorified, but comic bastardizations of themselves.
By the way, for full disclosure I should tell you that I'm writing this article on a Mac.
Right on Jason, everyone buy a Commodore 64. And lots of great writers make up words. I don't think "tintinnabulation" was in any dictionary before The Raven. And on one other note, this article cost the Confessional $30,000 due to the use of a previously copyrighted phrase. Thanks Jason. Let's just hope next week Jason doesn't want to prepare everyone for some rumbling, wonder wassup or "Tink he taw a puddytat." Come on, I dare you to work that one into a post.