Putting my ego in its place…
In preparation for my family’s move from Chicago to San Francisco, I threw out six boxes of advertising awards I’d amassed during my 20+ years in the business. Among the discards were countless certificates of merit and honorable mentions. Basically booby prizes. I was tempted to keep my first place trophies and Best-in-Shows but for the most part even those I chucked. Made of metal, they lasted ten minutes in the alley before the garbage pickers got them. They took the framed certificates, too, no doubt for the generic black frames. Zero chance some local picker will have use for a 1997 merit award from the Chicago Addy’s. On the other hand those bronze and silver One Show Pencils weigh a ton. Scrap prices are sky high these days. I wonder how many cents each of them netted at the smelter, or wherever it is metal gets bought.
A pair of old-school, badass Lions
I did keep my first two Cannes Lions, a gold and bronze awarded for a TV campaign I wrote on behalf of Heinz Ketchup. The gold was for a spot featuring a teen-aged Matt LeBlanc (Joey from Friends). It’s shown from time to time on nostalgic TV specials. A grainy version can be seen HERE. Back then there were far less categories at Cannes. And broadcast was the king. Ergo, I’m keeping my kitties.
I also kept three Andy Awards and two Clio statues, mostly because they look cool, as well as the Kelly Award given to me by the Magazine Publishers of America for best print campaign in North America: for Altoids. With only one winner, the Kelly was once highly coveted. I should mention it came with a check for $100,000 dollars. Ah, the days when magazine publishers were flush! Win a Kelly now you get a handshake and a photo in Adweek.
Advertising awards seemed so important then. I kept every certificate of merit, every clipping in AdAge. Oh, how I coveted those accolades! I was like a Roman conqueror collecting statues. I was a God of Advertising! Now, as I look upon the heap of paper, plastic and metal in my alley I feel anything but.
Author’s note: I realize this post probably qualifies as a humblebrag, which, according to the Urban Dictionary is where “one, usually consciously, tries to get away with bragging by couching it in a phony show of humility.” I’m pleading ‘No Contest.’
When I first heard the opening strains to the Beatles’ iconic song “Help” coming out of the car radio I thought: Cool, the inane radio station my kids listen to is finally playing something worthwhile. I nearly spit my Rockstar energy drink when a voiceover started babbling about home electronics on sale for Labor Day.
Unbelievably, It was a spot for hhgregg, an appliance and home electronics store. I’ve never even heard of them but apparently they’re a southern retailer making inroads up north. One look at their website and you find a hard core retailer in the realm of Best Buy or the recently defunct Circuit City. Their theme line: “We Help.” Ugh. Ironically, Circuit City had an identical mantra. It didn’t help them any.
As I immediately Tweeted and put on Facebook: How in God’s name can a hokey retailer get the rights to the Beatles’ “Help” for their crappy commercial? A first responder adroitly replied: They can’t. A cease and desist is imminent.
Indeed. There is NO WAY this is a legitimate usage of the Beatles catalog. After all, it took iTunes until last year just to get the rights to offer Beatles music for sale to consumers. With all do respect, Apple has a lot more credibility and money than hhgregg. A LOT MORE. But even if it were Apple, I’d be bummed.
I know not much is sacred in Adland, particularly when it comes to using popular music in modern marketing. But the Beatles? I don’t know what to say: Too soon? Not ever. That it was done in such a lame commercial makes the whole thing even more mind-boggling.
So what gives? I agree with my Friend on Facebook. This smacks of a sleazy attempt for some nobody-retailer to suddenly get noticed. By the time the lawyers force them to yank the campaign they will have achieved their awareness strategy. I’ve often wondered if stunts like this were legal. It’s certainly the way popular culture is going. Yet even if somehow the store acquired the rights to this music (naked photos of Paul McCartney?) it was still wrong. Way wrong.
June 10, 2011
These films for Old Navy by my former colleague, Jamie King and his creative partner, Roger Camp came out of nowhere. I didn’t even know Jamie and Roger had a thing going with Old Navy. When they started their new agency, Camp + King in San Francisco I assumed they’d have to start small and go from there. Old Navy is a lot of things but it ain’t small.
And neither is this startling campaign, which makes uproarious parody of fashion advertising, suggesting it’s time to “dress like a man…not that guy.”
In one film, “that guy” is an ass-clown in pleated khakis, ill-fitting polo shirt and a fetish for his smart phone. In other words, like every other guy you see at the airport. How are men like this ever let out of the house dressed like that? You’d think their wives would intervene. Being a guy myself, I mostly don’t give a shit. Regardless, it’s an ingenious send up of suburban males and their hopelessly outré wardrobes.
A second film, “Supar Tool” goes the other way, in a more expected (but no less entertaining) parody of those smarmy, effeminate fashion campaigns that play more like soft core porn than clothes advertising. Yes, we’ve seen these sorts of parodies before. Years ago, Saturday Night Live famously did one that still resonates. But so what? Adland has been copping ideas from SNL as long as I can remember. In my view, being derivative is only a sin if you do it poorly.
These spots, by Epoch Films’ director Greg Bell are wonderfully produced, delivering the concept in spades. Though made for the Web the films look like a million bucks, proving that making cheap video for the Internet is a decision not a mandatory.
Say what you will about Old Navy they always push the envelope. They are fearless. And while I didn’t like many of their previous campaigns from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, I respected the hell out of them. Rarely if ever have they resorted to posing models in contrived locations. In this latest effort they literally make fun of the convention. I don’t know if Old Navy can ever be a real man’s store but this is a hell of a way to find out.