Apples to apples…

Though it can sometimes be frustrating, one of the interesting things about working on technology companies (especially those that advertise to other companies) is the relative interchangeability of creative solutions. Since so many tech clients offer similar services and products it stands to reason they share marketing strategies as well. An offshoot to all this is that our ideas for them can have another audition, even if not chosen by the intended client. When I tell a creative person (jilted because his or her concept wasn’t chosen) not to worry we’ll use the idea sooner or later I’m not bullshitting. We likely will.

So many of these million and billion dollar companies handle “Big Data,” providing analytics, storage and protection software. It’s stuff you can’t see. It’s hard to explain. That’s why so many agencies specializing in B2B treat these clients to the same old clichés and incomprehensible jargon. Everything is a “solution.”

Um, I’ll get my “solution” somewhere else…

It’s like robots talking to robots. Thankfully, humanly relevant ideas do exist for such entities and it’s my pleasure to go after them. With necessary tweaking, good ideas can translate from client to client.

When I worked on consumer products at Leo Burnett, the possibility of repurposing unused creative ideas was not unknown. Certain categories necessarily had shared strategies. Take breakfast cereal, a segment I worked on for several years. So many brands went after consumers with the same bait. There was “nutritious but delicious” and it’s fraternal twin, “delicious but nutritious.” What’s the difference? Not much. It was a question of nuance. One campaign might feature dieters astounded by a good-for-you cereal’s great taste. The other strategy had folks devouring a cereal unaware of its nutritional value, which the voice over then delightfully whispered to us. While not a creative treasure trove, we were at least able to take what good ideas we had and try them over and over again.

The great difference with B2B/tech clients is that they haven’t been treated to good ideas before. The creative mine is largely untapped. With an open mind and practiced skill, truly great work is easily discovered. That’s been my experience anyway, first at LBWorks (a B2B/technology agency I helped create at Leo Burnett) and now at gyro, San Francisco.

For every new brief at gyro we develop at least five excellent campaigns. That means four concepts remain for the next lucky customer, plus the new ones we invariably develop. It’s another gold rush in San Francisco! If one prefers a more timely reference, think of it as recycling. We are a “green” agency. I like that.

Me, feeling it. (photo by Daniel Postaer)

I’m delighted to receive word this morning that we prevailed in our first new business pitch since I joined gyro, San Francisco.  I cannot name the client but like most of our partners they are a technology concern. Or as I like to say, they make cool shit that changes the world.

A win is always good news for everyone involved but for me this is especially satisfying. It validates what I have known from the moment I stepped foot in gyro: that this place is special and that I made a wise and wonderful decision by joining it.

Visiting with my father and brothers in Los Angeles, I tried to explain how blessed and happy I am with my new job. They know what a major deal it was –is- for me to move my entire family across the country, on just possibilities.

But here is validation.

It being Friday let’s savor the aroma for a few 24 hours. Thank you and congratulations, work family. I am so proud. And to my real family I say go ahead and exhale. This is all going to work out fine!

Is the unnamed shooter actually Jacqueline Kennedy?

Excerpt: official press release, June 8, 2012:

On Sunday night, gyro San Francisco will debut its first television spot on the brightest of stages. A 30-second spot for technology client Turn will air during the finale of the top series Mad Men.

This bold campaign has already received recognition in the New York Times. In the article, ad critic Barbara Lippert and the editor of Ad Age both applauded the effort. And, numerous other media outlets are already singing the praises of the campaign including Mediapost, B-to-B and Adrants. There is certainly a lot of buzz building with more to come.

The spot, which will be viewable on Monday, at Turn/Decision is a most unconventional effort directed by Michael Lehmann whose credits include True Blood, Dexter and the cult classic Heathers.

Update(Classified) June 9, 2012

Several reporters, including staff from the New York Times noted the shooter in gyro’s Turn commercial looks an “awful lot like Jackie Kennedy.” This has created rampant speculation that, in fact, the TV spot is actually a reenactment on how the former First Lady’s husband, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, truly met his end –not by assassination in Dallas, Texas but, in fact, by his betrayed wife during an office tryst in Manhattan.

The Kennedy motorcade -staged?

Bloggers and conspiracy theorists are now speculating that the entire assassination, and the iconic footage associated with it, had all been previously staged to protect the President’s reputation. This would support the many publicized inaccuracies regarding that fateful day. They also point out that it wasn’t until many years after the President’s death that rumors of his infidelity came to light, calling it a cover up.

Is this the gun that shot President Kennedy?

In the commercial it is unclear if the fired bullet (gun pictured) hits either the man or woman also in frame. Just who was the target? The mystery is also heightened by other factors, including the period nature of sets and wardrobe. To wit, many have noted that the gun-toting female in the commercial is wearing an exact replica of Mrs. Kennedy’s iconic, pink wardrobe from the Dallas motorcade. (See above photos) In addition, the film is debuting on the season finale of Mad Men -a program based during the Kennedy era. In fact, in an earlier episode of the popular show the Kennedy assassination was actually covered in great detail.


Will the so-called “bonus content” on the above-mentioned website shed new light as to what actually happened? As of this writing, the site was still blocked. Sources claim it will go live sometime just before or during the final episode of Mad Men. Though cynics cannot help but wonder, producers for the show deny this is “in any way” a tactic for boosting viewership.

The advertising agency, gyro (San Francisco) and its client, Turn (Redwood, California) have no comment at this time.

A drink before…

I no longer have to be as coy about our first commercial ever- the one with smoking women, guns and, what’s more treacherous, cigarettes! Yes, it’s true. Forgive me God, but my maiden voyage at my new agency (gyro San Francisco) is ripe with deliciously bad behavior. And while I don’t condone smoking, drinking, illicit sex and gun play it sure as hell makes for great drama…and hopefully a fine commercial.

It had better because we’re debuting it on the season premier of Mad Men. The client (the best, most trusting, yet cavalier group of people I’ve ever worked for) is Turn. What they do is deliver advertising to exactly the right online audiences faster than the proverbial speeding bullet. Ergo the most whack product demonstration I’ve ever had the sinful pleasure of producing.

Last I wrote about it, I had to be vague about our Mad Men scheme out of respect to reporter, Andrew Newman. He wanted a scoop and I didn’t want to screw that up. And voila! We have our story: In the New York Times! How exciting is that? Veteran ad sages, Abbey Klassen and Barbara Lippert even provide commentary. And so I held my tongue so that better ones could wag.

Hell hath no fury…

Alas, I cannot show you the commercial or the content-laden micro site. Not yet. For that you will need to watch Mad Men’s finale, which I wouldn’t miss anyway.

Bragging aside, I must thank Turn for their enthusiastic support and courage for doing something so remarkable and in such a short time. Though I guess that’s fitting given their business model is predicated on speed and precision.

Thirty days ago this commercial was merely a suggestion made by our agency’s President, Robert Ray (albeit an enthusiastic one). Our whole agency jumped on it and, well, you can read all about it in the New York Times!

I got the ink but the people below also deserve ample recognition:

Copywriter (gyro): Eric Flynn
Art Director (gyro): Ian Ashenbremer
Creative Director (gyro): Jeff Shattuck
Account Executive (gyro): Quynh “the mighty” Cline
Account Executive (gyro): Natalie Marmer
Media (gyro): Zak Garner
Motion Graphics (gyro): Toby Peterson
Director: Michael “True Blood” Lehmann
Exec Producer (Dark Light Pictures): Vince Arcaro
Producer (Dark Light Pictures): Sharon Groh
Editor: Mauro Camaroda
Music (MusicOrange): Blaise Smith


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