“Stay out of my vacation!”

I haven’t seen an advertisement in five whole days. Not a one. It’s not like there aren’t any TVs or magazines or Internet at the Ganesvoort Hotel in Turks & Caicos. I just haven’t been paying attention to them.

The New York Times is handed to me each morning at breakfast, a faxed version, free from ads of any kind. A nice touch, I kind of like it that way. The kids watch TV in the morning and at bedtime but I don’t. Yes, I put on ESPN or CNN during my morning visit to the gym but I only glimpse at it during moments of weakness. Or when they flash a score. (I like knowing athletes are doing their thing when I’m doing mine.) Even the NCAA basketball tournament barely holds my attention. I think the Badgers lost but I don’t know. Maybe I’ll check ESPN’s website. Maybe. I hear they passed healthcare.

On one of my now infrequent tweets, I noted that my head feels like a conch shell left out on the beach. It’s true. The noise of civilization is being replaced by the sounds of waves lapping up on the beach, people chattering from the tiki bar, that odd sort of music you hear beside the pool –Sade is it? Under these conditions the first thing to go is my advertising radar. It’s like the conch shell has a built in Tivo. Ads go bye bye.

You’re thinking: it’s your vacation, asshole! Of course you’re not thinking about ads. You’d be crazy to think about ads on your vacation.

Not so fast. I’m writing this aren’t I? I’m not abandoning my blog. That I cannot do. It is as crucial to my vacation sanity as a good book to read. I’m thinking it’s not the same thing as work. Not for me anyway.

My brother, Jeremy, who has just joined us with his family, is not so quick to let it all go. From bits I’ve overheard, he’s been on the phone with people in New York and Seattle discussing the latest spots they’re doing for Microsoft. Did you know, that in addition to creating campaigns for the tech giant, he also serves as the voiceover for Bing? Nice work if you can get it. I kidded him about doing a phone patch from the pool. Seriously, I’m proud as hell of the man. He does a great job.

I hope and trust that he will be able to stop doing a great job, for at least a few days. I’m thinking he will. Tropical air and the smell of conch fritters does things to a man. Come tomorrow he’ll be just as stupid as me. Let’s hope.

Follow me on Twitter

My novel on Amazon

The music matters…

When I was coming up at Leo Burnett one of the creative leaders there was a man by the name of Jack Smith. At the time I didn’t much care for his idea of what comprised great creative. Primarily, because he was so fixated on music. Be it jingle or sound design, Jack was focused on delivering the magic via audio. For some of us this approach seemed hackneyed or, at best, a secondary concern. Those that knew… knew jingles were loathsome. Music was something you did in post.

Jack used to say good music could deliver bad film, or something similar. I thought he was crazy. To me, relying on music to “make” a commercial meant you didn’t have much of a commercial to make. Shooting and cutting film (so-called vignettes) to accommodate a music track was advertising at its worst. Ironically, my employer was known for doing just that. With clients like Kellogg’s, McDonalds and other big name packaged goods, music driven vignettes were the preferred form at Leo Burnett. And nobody did ‘em better. To be sure, a lot of agencies tried: DDB, JWT, TLK to name a few… My point? It felt like I was a minority, turning my nose up and ears off.

That said, you can’t work at Burnett as long as I did and not learn the form. Before my tenure was over I’d written several jingles as well as scored popular music for a Heinz TV commercial. Remember John Astley’s minor hit, Jane’s getting Serious? Listen for it in the spot below. Yes, that’s Joey from Friends. Laugh all you want. That spot won me a Gold Lion at Cannes. Only recently have I come to realize how important the music was in “making” the commercial. I’ve also come to realize Jack was really on to something.

Music matters.

While I still find most jingles distasteful, it’s clear music & sound design is profoundly important to the integrity (and popularity) of a commercial piece of film. Let’s look again at Heinz Catsup. Years before my spot, they’d ran a campaign using songstress, Carly Simon’s breathless hit, Anticipation.

Undoubtedly, you remember the campaign. The song perfectly seized upon a great truth about the brand: it took damn long to pour but was worth the wait. Most of us can place the song with the brand. The marriage was almost iconic. But can any of you recall the commercial itself? Not for the life of me. Only the music endures.

Fact is music has more staying power than film. Think about it. Most people watch even the greatest movies only once…maybe twice. Meanwhile, we may own thousands of songs, listening to many of them daily. Jack knew this, which is why he was so passionate about using music in commercials. Whether it’s a screw in the brain or an awesome classic: music got hooks!

Follow me on Twitter

The Happy Soul Industry website

Sound design: Cliff Colnot

“Honey, this spot rocks!”

Here’s a Halloween treat from the Gods of Advertising: A double feature!

First up, from The Daily Beast, the 11 scariest movies of all time as chosen by famed director, Martin Scorsese. Few of his picks would be on my list (Where are the zombies, Martin?) but it’s a cerebral and global selection. On it you’ll find everyone’s favorite shocker, The Shining.

Martin\'s top 11 horror movies!

Which brings us to the next part of our double feature. My brother, Jeremy Postaer just completed two new Bing spots, where he serves as Creative Director and, of all things, voiceover! Both spots are surprisingly fun and a wee bit scary. Barely back from client approvals, here is the first, Vampire just in time for Halloween.

Client: Bing, Microsoft
Agency: JWT
Creative Director: Jeremy Postaer
Writers: Dave Ekholm, Brock Kirby
Art Directors: John Cornette, Andrea Schnieder
Producer: JD Williams
Dirtector: Craig Gillespie

Steffan\'s Twitter address

The Happy Soul Industry on Amazon

No logos, no limits…The Rogue’s Gallery

Many years ago I wanted to create an anthology of poetry and prose for copywriters by copywriters. I was going to call it the “Copywriter’s Book.” I knew my peers were working on projects other than advertising. I also knew how hard it was getting work published. I figured a “copywriter’s anthology” would give us all a place to go.

As originally conceived, I needed a publisher in order to move forward, someone to produce the book in which our poems and stories would appear. Although there was an interested party it never happened. Understandably, few wanted to underwrite such a risky venture.

Much has changed in ten years. The Internet presents new opportunity for an anthology or gallery. The blog format is seemingly a perfect host.

What hasn’t changed is my belief that creative people would get a kick out of seeing stuff from their peers as well as contributing, be it prose, poetry, painting, photography or mixed media. I know I would.

Which is why I’m launching The Rogue\'s Gallery.. I have a template I like. Now all it needs is…you! The Rogue’s Gallery needs your paintings, poetry, fiction or a scene from your screenplay. If it means something to you it, it’ll mean something to us. Don’t be shy!

Who knows? Maybe a publisher will fall in love with your prose or your oils will smite a patron of the arts. Life is full of surprises. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen: a few peers see your work? I think that’s pretty cool.

The Rogue’s Gallery is not meant to be a beauty contest. Nor is it a commercial gallery. The Rogue’s Gallery is a place where creative advertising people can show their work and appreciate the work of their peers.

Like art, The Rogue’s Gallery is a labor of love. But it’s nothing without you. Visit The Rogue’s Gallery. Read its few rules and guideline. See what your colleague’s have contributed. Then send in your work.

This week’s gallery features an essay and early artwork by none other than the Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of David & Goliath: the inimitable David Angelo. A major talent and a character to boot, David is truly a mad man and a rogue. Enjoy.

The Rogue\'s Gallery

Follow the \"curator\" on Twitter

Jeremy and son, Jasper

I don’t often talk about my advertising family for the same reason many of you won’t post photos of your kids on Facebook. The Internet is sticky. Just because I expose myself to scrutiny doesn’t give me the license to expose them.

I need to make an exception with regard to my brother, Jeremy. Because what he’s up to now is too effen cool to pass up. Some of you may know Jeremy. Thus far, he’s had a pretty illustrious career in Ad Land. He began up at Goodby during that agency’s golden age, doing some pretty special work (Finlandia Vodka, Bell Helmets) with some pretty special people, including the men whose names grace the door. Later he became a group creative director at GSD&M in Austin, where he made a multi-award winning campaign for Land Rover, among others. Most recently Jer plied his craft beside Ty Montague at JWT in New York. All told, I’d say my brother has the best all-around creative portfolio I’ve ever seen. Every campaign has won every award.

A year or so ago my brother parted ways with JWT. I won’t get into that here other than to say, as is the case with certain powerful creative forces, storm systems develop. In an ironic twist of fate JWT brought my brother back in to work on a pitch for a major piece of business on Microsoft: the launch of the Bing search engine. Long story short my brother’s work carried the day.

“Bing. And decide” is the campaign and it begins with a classic 60-second anthem commercial. According to my brother, the rest and best of the work will begin airing during the NBA finals.

But the reason, really, why I’m blogging: My brother is the voice-over! Yup, my annoying brother is now the voice of Microsoft Search. Gulp.

Jeremy has always been a one-man gang when it comes to creativity. He came into the business as an art director and evolved into one hell of a copywriter. With an uncanny eye, mastery of new technology and a passion for storytelling my brother is the proverbial triple threat. He’s also a perfectionist, to the point where it borders on character defect.

Of course he used his own voice on the rough cuts. And of course the client loved it. Knowing my brother he willed them to love it! Even though this is the same voice I’ve often wanted to strangle (look up sibling rivalry; that’s us), he sounds pretty damn good. And given his tumultuous history with JWT, I’ve got to believe it feels pretty good for him. Much like the residuals he’ll be getting.

Good going, bro. You never cease to amaze me -to say nothing of your colleagues and clients.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,482 other followers