I’m not much of a golf fan and even worse a player but like a growing number of people I do watch some of the bigger tournaments. During the US Open last week I caught an hour or so of Sunday’s finish in the locker room at my health club. (There’s nothing like watching golf with a bunch of semi-naked, old white dudes to remind me why the sport doesn’t do it for me.)
Keeping my eyes firmly on the TV, I did bear witness to a new ad campaign from the USGA beseeching players of the game to pick up the pace. According to the press release, which I found on a related website:
“Borrowing the iconic line from the character played by Rodney Dangerfield in the classic 1980 film Caddyshack®, the campaign takes a lighthearted and comedic approach to encourage golfers of all skill levels and golf course facilities to join a movement to improve pace of play and reduce the time it takes to play the game.”
Apparently, in the rarified world of golf slow play is a real problem. As I recall, men used to blame women for damming up golf courses. But a lot of those complainers were old folks and aren’t they slow by design? Maybe if they all juiced with HGH instead of prunes…
But I digress.
The campaign is comprised of five TV spots (found here) and a microsite created by a consortium of agencies, led by Jimmy Siegel Creative Services, ADDigital, Platinum Rye Talent and Dentino Marketing. While I’ve never heard of these agencies, I must say they did a pretty good job.
The commercials are funny and well produced, featuring the game’s top talent, past and present. Golfers like Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods. Hollywood icons join in the fun. The brief and charmingly strained stare-off between Arnold Palmer and Clint Eastwood (a la Clint’s Spaghetti Westerns) is, shall we say, well played.
Whether or not this is a cause worth having, I really like the use of Dangerfield’s catch phrase “While We’re Young.” Though completely appropriate, it’s unexpected and even edgy. As pointed out, right or (mostly) wrong the stereotype for golf is that it’s an old game played by old people. Not only does the theme line urge players to get a move on but it also imbues the sport with youthful tonic.
Even though the pro-game has gotten younger and more diverse, making swiftness a priority gives the game spin it continues to need if it wants to keep up with the high flying dunks and smash mouth play of other sports.
For those unfamiliar with Rodney Dangerfield’s epic turn in Caddyshack, here’s the bit featuring “While we’re young!” Yes, that’s the equally hilarious Ted Knight he’s harassing…
Recently, Kim Kardashian’s husband, Kanye West was interviewed by the New York Times. In the long article, Mr. West referred to himself as the “Michael Jordan of Music.”
Okaaay. My opinion is Kanye at his very best is more like Dwyane Wade at his very worst. Injured. But Kanye was just getting started. On his infamous and vulgar interruption of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, he claimed no regrets. Anything but:
“It’s only led me to complete awesomeness. Beauty. Truth. Awesomeness.”
But he still wasn’t done. Not by a long shot. West began referring to himself in the third person. And I quote:
“I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed…I’ve been connected to the most culturally important albums of the past four years, the most influential artists of the past ten years. You have like, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, Nicolas Ghesquière, Anna Wintour, David Stern.”
You forgot Ghandi.
Among other unflattering things, West’s douchey tirade makes me wonder: What if, in an ass-backwards kind of way, he’s right? Let’s indulge him. What if he is the “Michael Jordan of music” or “Steve Jobs of the Internet?”
Does he have a point? If so, then this generation has truly slid down the scale.
Surely, the last decade (or longer) has better talent to offer up than Kanye West? Who are the new icons? Who are the next Beatles or Rolling Stones or even U2? Maroon 5. Mumford & Sons. Give me a fucking break. Who is the next Robert De Niro or Meryl Streep? Ryan Gosling. Gwyneth Paltrow. I suppose. Is director, Danny Boyle (whom I really admire) the next Martin Scorsese? Slumdog Millionaire and 28 days Later are great but not Raging Bull or Goodfellas great.
I could keep going but you get the idea. Instead of Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, we have Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and Kanye West.
Don’t get me wrong. Everyone named has a shit-ton of talent and deserves their successes. Even an egomaniac like Kanye West. But are they the best of this generation? Because mark my words: in ten or twenty years few will remember these people, much less give a shit about their careers.
Author’s Note: Soon after writing this, I heard Kanye & Kim (finally) had a baby. Happy Father’s Day Mr. West. I’m sure you will be the Ward Cleaver of Fathers.
Recently, I was able to use a modest but working knowledge of art history in the formation of a creative marketing idea. How about that? Apparently, those “vanity” classes I took at the University of Wisconsin actually did come in handy. As a matter of fact, we not only used examples from the Renaissance and other important periods to inform the execution of our idea but also to help sell it. It isn’t everyday you see a Raphael or Tintoretto in a PowerPoint presentation. But you did in ours. We even used the word chiaroscuro…correctly!
Saying this was gratifying is an understatement. Especially considering the extent everyone in marketing (including me) obsesses about new media. We get so amped up on chasing or creating the “new new thing” we utterly lose sight on just how vital certain old things can be.
For centuries, paintings and illustrations were humankind’s primary visual media. Instead of clicking through myriad links and cable channels, man sought inspiration or entertainment from still images, the best of which were generally paintings. Earlier generations gazed upon frescoes in their church and if they were lucky got to see masterworks at a salon or museum. Granted, lewd and crude drawing have always pervaded popular culture but the high road was pretty damn high for those electing to take it.
What we make is so ephemeral, isn’t it? The best marketing campaigns in the world quickly fade and die, perhaps lingering as a bit of trivia. The winner at Cannes this summer will be entirely forgotten in five years. Probably sooner. Our masterpieces might be game changers within our industry, and even in popular culture, but most have no lasting value or meaning beyond selling. Few things are more irrelevant than last year’s Gunn Report.
Yet, this isn’t about the dumbing down of society. Or a hate on advertising. For one thing I’d be a hypocrite. I haven’t been to an art museum in years and the SFMOMA is ten minutes from my office. I stay up late to watch horror movies. I blog about advertising! In other words, one finds me on the low road often enough.
How fine knowing the old masters could still be relevant to the creative process, especially mine.
This past weekend my wife and I went hiking near Point Reyes National seashore, one of many spectacular outings mere miles from our new home in Mill Valley. Anyway, we came across a small beach on Tomales Bay, which was heavily populated by weekend revelers. Families were camped in circles, barbecuing, drinking and listening to the radio.
Listening to the radio. Wow, I thought to myself. There’s a blast from the past…
For a relatively brief period of time, say from 1950 to 1985, before the Sony Walkman ushered in portable and private listening experiences, every teen-ager in America owned a radio. In later years, many of these contraptions were jacked up multi-platform music machines also known as “boom boxes.”
In the summer one couldn’t go anywhere, really, without hearing them. If we were going to “the lake to party” it was always someone’s job to bring the “tunes.” Not that we needed too. Just about every car had music blasting from it. The sounds of summer were a cacophony of Top 40, Disco and Heavy Metal; occasionally a Cub’s game as well but it wasn’t long before Judas Priest would blow the old listener out of his green and white lawn chair.
For rockers in Chicago, the station to listen to was WLUP, otherwise known as “the Loop.” Steve Dahl, the shock jock creator of Chicago’s infamous Disco Demolition was hugely popular.
Between offensive patter, Dahl played Van Halen, AC/DC, Rush, Aerosmith and pink Floyd. Funny how most of these bands still record and tour. Legacy acts now, back then they were Gods.
Going back even further, I remember sleeping over at my best friend’s house, staying up super late, listening to weekend countdowns on WLS Music Radio. We lived for the call-in contests, where if you were such and such numbered caller you’d win a lame tee shirt. The prize wasn’t really the point, however. It was about hearing your self on the radio. If you were lucky they’d let you choose and dedicate the next song. The one time I got through I believe I chose Slow Ride by Foghat.
“Are you ready to take a Slowwww Ride!”
Nostalgia aside, I’ve gone on record stating my disdain for radio as an advertising medium. I’m not changing my tune. Unlike other mass media, for some reason the intrusion of commercials just bothers me more on the radio than anywhere else. Always has. Always will. Only Internet spam reaches similar irritation levels. Thank God for my friend, Skip Intro. Granted, 98% of ads on the radio are awful but even if they weren’t I’d still feel the same way.
A copywriter by trade, I know I’m supposed to relish writing radio commercials. I don’t. Fortunately, briefs for radio ads are as rare as California Condors.
I guess one could say I have a love/hate thing with radio. Like you, I’m delighted NOT to be violated by other people’s music. The Walkman and then MP3 players made the world a lot quieter, at least on the outside. I don’t miss beaches and parks being blasted to bits by Van Halen. Alright, maybe a little…
A while back, in the Admiral’s Club at Laguardia airport, a youngster caught my attention. He was a regular looking kid, a bit disheveled in his ill-fitting blue sweatshirt and no-name blue jeans. But something else marked him apart: he was wearing a striped cap with a propeller on top!
I remember thinking to myself: he’s safe here but that goofy cap would be a death sentence in the schoolyard. At least, in the public schools I attended. I mean, what symbolizes dork more than a beanie with a propeller on top? It’s a nerd icon from when nerds were at their nerdiest. Spanky wore one on the ancient TV show, The Little Rascals.
Anyway, the lad sat down in front of a house computer and began doing his thing. Again, like any other kid. But I still couldn’t get over his crazy chapeau. Remarkable, in this day and age, an adolescent boy wearing something so silly… in public! He might as well have had a “Kick Me!” sign affixed to his back. I decided to sneak a picture. I didn’t want to mock him as a person (I’m not a total ass) but I did want to document his most anti of fashion statements. I uploaded the anonymous photo on Facebook, adding my line about the schoolyard.
The comments came quickly. While some were snide (like mine) most were deeply supportive of the Beanie Boy. Here’s a perfect example from a Facebook friend, Brian Collins:
I think the kid is astounding. He is wearing it with some pride. And it looks like it’s motorized. Even better. If this makes the kid happy that’s perfect. And he looks deeply engaged on the web, too. Great.
What we don’t need are any more cookie cutter kids dressed in oversized nylon football jerseys, cocked baseball caps and ratty jeans with their lifeless eyes glued to ESPN.
Go, beanie boy, go!
Upon further consideration, Brian is right. My knee-jerk reaction was shortsighted, even ignorant. The Beanie Boy is not a dork. Frankly, he’s anything but. He’s a maverick and a rogue, a lad who’s not afraid to defy convention.
Last blog post, I compared the typical ad agency creative department to Romper Room. I wrote: “the older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay connected with my “inner child.” The best creative people do not grow out of it when they grow up. We remain inquisitive. Lovers of fun. You see it in our bicycles in the hallway. Our dubious wardrobes. Our playlists. Our silly snapshots on Facebook.”
Indeed, defying convention is what makes us creative. I don’t want to lose that. Ever. And so, young admiral from the Admiral’s Club, I echo the words of my wise friend, Mr. Collins and the champions of creativity everywhere: “Go, beanie boy, Go!”
Author’s note: I discovered and wrote about the Beanie Boy over a year ago. For me, he never gets old.