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The call of duty beckons…

In Adland, people come and people go. Turnover happens, now more than ever. Without long term incentives employees are not bound. Upheaval in our industry exasperates an already virulent tendency: to keep moving.

Agencies feel the urge as much as individuals. Like a submarine, new crew is necessary to keep the ship going, to keep up with the other subs, to stay fit. While we may feel distraught to see a beloved crewmember leave, it is part of an agency’s lifecycle, inevitable as the tides.

For a long time I was the anomaly. I spent my first 15 years at the venerable Leo Burnett Company in Chicago. I seriously thought I’d never leave. All my vocational dreams were coming true. I had great partners and bosses. I created lots of work, some of it good, some of it even very good. I felt a part of something bigger than myself. Alas, that strong tie didn’t fray. It was severed. A wave of corporate jive crashed over my head and I swam for the doors. For me wanderlust came late and not without a strong kick in the ass.

For a time I looked back in anger -a pointless endeavor and one I don’t recommend. But then I signed on to another ship. And then another. Like you, I was no longer a “company man.” My updated goal was to be of maximum use. Last year, I took the helm at gyro in San Francisco. She is a relatively small ship but with great ambitions and a stellar crew. Our mission is to create humanly relevant ideas, often for clients unaccustomed to them. Of course it’s hard. But I am loyal to this brief and despite the many challenges feel its potential on a daily basis.

Join me.

I’m looking for good crew: Specifically, an art director with web production capabilities and knowledge of B2B marketing, someone who knows their way around technology-based clients. In addition to, or instead of, we will also consider men and women who create and design content, be it websites or online advertising. Doers in new media are welcome to enlist. Speaking of media, a position also exists for a top strategist. Lead generation. Emerging platforms. You know the drill, call us.

Turnover happens. And we’ve seen our bit. Yet, now it’s time to reload. 2013 started with a new President. Maybe you’re next?

Yes, we will use age-old methods to fill these positions. But I’m trying a newer one. Hell, if I find one great recruit this blog will have been worth it. In the oddly timeless words of Van Halen’s David Lee Roth, “Change, nothin’ stays the same/ Unchained, ya hit the ground running.”

Interested? Hit me up on Linkedin.


Adweek: Under New Management.

They still post an occasional story about ads, under the category of “Agency.” They still have that little rascal, Ad Freak, God bless him.

But mostly Adweek is no longer about advertising. According to the new man in charge, Michael Wolff, it’s all about media. In his words, the media industry is “undergoing one of the greatest examples of modern industrial transformation… This is the opportunity we have (with Adweek) to not only be great for the media business, (but also) put ourselves in the sweet spot of what we’re covering.”

And so the edgy alternative to Advertising Age has now become an online magazine primarily serving the media. That means stories about “up-fronts” and “cable contracts;” companies like Viacom and Comcast; people like Glenn Beck and Rupert Murdoch.

It also means I will no longer be reading it. And I suspect most of you won’t be either. The fact of the matter is I just don’t care about that stuff. And neither do you.

Wolff’s no idiot, however. He’s not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. He’s just putting Advertising in its place, which is somewhere in the corner, ironically where media used to be. Wolff’s as aware of the all the “death of advertising” talk as we are. And he’s acting on it. Of course I hope he’s wrong. It’s certainly possible. After all the name of the show is Mad Men not Media Men. Yet, we already know his rebuttal: Mad Men is about then. This is about now.

It’s not like Adweek never covered the media. Back when the magazine was made of paper they ran a story or two about new TV shows and rating points. But we never read them. We looked for news about agencies and ad campaigns. We wondered what Barbara Lippert had in store. My favorite items were those dealing with agency pitches, often detailed like a sporting page, with favorites and dark horses. I loved that. Many of us rifled through the pages looking (hopefully and fearfully) for coverage about our agency and our work. If something we did was written about that meant something for the scrapbooks, something to send to Mom. It also meant our stars were rising or, God forbid, falling. Either way, Adweek was a must-read, one of the first things we did upon entering our offices on Monday morning.

But like the ‘agency memo’ or TV reels and BETA, it’s now history. For advertising news, we scroll through our favorite blogs, check Tweetdeck or Facebook. Maybe some of us don’t even bother at all.

There is still the venerable Advertising Age. One assumes Wolff’s vision of Adweek brings tears of joy to the editors of AdAge. But also apprehension. Any good editor will tell you a competitive publication is good for both parties. But then that’s J-school talk and last I checked newspapers were getting thinner and thinner, with even online versions struggling in the face of social media. Most schools don’t even call it Journalism anymore, favoring terms like “Integrated Media Training.” A fitting way to end this story, eh?

My stuff.


Their stuff.

Everything is illuminated!

Though I’ve never read the critically acclaimed book by Jonathan Safran Foer, nor seen the motion picture based on it, I’m copping to the title. Everything is indeed illuminated.

I follow about 500 people on Twitter. Most of them occupy the world of advertising, new media and popular culture. A distinct minority represents the literary world, readers and writers like me. There are a few sports writers in there. Some fishermen. And lastly, there are the horror fanatics, providing me with links to the most obscure titles in the genre. Nasty!

That’s me.

In turn I am followed by numbers of people who also share my various affinities.

Whether you are on Twitter or not all of you are part of a microcosm as well. You follow your passions and the others that follow them. You belong to an ecosystem comprised of others like you, some very much so some not so much. But somehow you fit.

And that’s a modern miracle. Not too long ago many of us felt, at times, like outsiders. Maybe we were passionate about obscure poetry or intricate Scandinavian woodwork. Perhaps we suffered from a rare and misunderstood disease. We may have wondered why women’s shoes turned us on so much. Whatever the passion, hobby or fetish we often felt alone with it. If not for the occasional story in a magazine or newspaper, or a convention in some remote suburb, we seldom crossed paths with anyone like us. At times this made us feel unique. Mostly it sucked.

But then along came the Internet. I defy you to search a topic and come up empty. It’s not possible. If you’re into it you can find it. Frankly, you can get lost in it. I know I do.

Still, when I consider the alternative, I shudder. I am that boy in grade school who collected butterflies but had no one to share my hobby with. I knew I was different. I also wondered if I was weird. The other kids liked sports and G. I Joes. Yet, I wanted to raise Monarchs. No connection. As you might imagine, I dreaded recess. Had I had the Internet I could have shared my special interest with all kinds of people just…like…me.

Now I do. We all do.

With three little girls of my own, I understand some online communities are undesirable, even quite dangerous. Still, living in one’s head is no picnic either. Frankly, some of the worst neighborhoods I’ve ever visited were between my ears.

Being able to find others just like me is a Godsend. Even the most unusual among us can find community. We belong. Like I said: a modern miracle.

M.J. Rose is the international bestselling author of 11 novels, including Lip Service, The Memorist and The Hypnotist. The 2010 FoxTV series Past Life was based on her novel – The Reincarnationist.

She also co-authored Buzz Your Book. In addition, she is a founding member and board member of the International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: Authorbuzz.com. On top of all that, she runs the popular blog; Buzz, Balls & Hype.

Adding to these significant credentials, I’m delighted to report M.J. has agreed to help me choose a cover design for my new novel slash social media experiment, Sweet by Design.

As many of you know I’m publishing my third novel, Sweet by Design online, one or two chapters a week. In addition, I’m hosting a competition to find a cover for the inevitable paperback, the winner of which wins my Ipad. Fifty pretty terrific designs have already been submitted. Those designs, plus the novel and simple guidelines for entering the contest can all be found on the website.

Who better to help the crowd and me “source” a cover than Rose? In 1998, her Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Since then, M.J. has become a successful author and a beacon to many other writers, particular those of us navigating the frontiers of new media. Furthermore, and adding to Rose’s unique qualifications for this brief, she was once the creative director at the renowned advertising agency Rosenfeld, Sirowitz and Lawson.

As of this post, the cover contest is about half way through. That means there’s still plenty of time for you to catch up on the novel and/or design a cover of your own. In the parlance of the publishing world, M.J. Rose is a stunning get. She and I look forward to seeing your handiwork. My Ipad awaits. Have at it!

So far fifty of you have submitted cover designs for my new novel slash social media project, Sweet by Design. Above are six recent ones in no particular order. All fifty are remarkable. I could not have imagined so many enchanting options for the cover of my novel. My appreciation for your creative efforts is only matched by my gratitude. Thank you.

Currently we are on Chapter Seventeen of the story. I believe about thirty chapters remain. When they have all been posted the contest will enter its final phase. A winner will be chosen and that designer will receive an Ipad. Second place gets an Ipod Shuffle. While only one design will become the cover for Sweet by Design, I’ll likely publish all of them as part of the book. For they have become part of the story –a really good part.

My only challenge –if that’s the right word- is that I’ve yet to find a “celebrity” judge to help me choose the cover. Right now the criteria for picking a winning design remains up to you and me. Your comments to the blog and via email will be weighted accordingly and, in turn, I will choose a few of my own personal favorites. From this shortlist a winner will be determined. How fun, though, at this point to have a renowned member of the literary or design community serving as judge.

To that end I’ve asked the literary editor of the Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller to participate. Among other honors, in 2005, Mrs. Keller won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. Her participation would truly be an honor.

Julia Keller

Alas, my query to this local luminary went unheeded. Perhaps my request landed atop her slush pile along with assorted press releases, manuscripts and promotional materials. That or my email got lost in her spam folder. More likely, I do not possess the necessary gravitas to merit a reply.

But it’s not too late, Julia! If by chance you come across this blog please do consider (or reconsider) my humble request. If it’s any incentive, I receive the Chicago Tribune every morning -the actual paper version! And I look forward to your reviews and stories. Shouldn’t that count for something? If not you, perhaps one of your editors would welcome the gig. I’d be grateful if you forwarded them this link.

Frankly, I’m not worried about finding a cool judge. It wouldn’t surprise me if this very blog post helps me procure one or two. If anyone reading has ideas or wants to help round out the jury, please contact me. Meantime, keep reading the novel and keep submitting your designs. At 50 to 1, the odds are ridiculously low for winning an Ipad.


Take me, I’m yours!

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