I love it when I crack the code on a piece of creative. You might not believe me but I love it even more when someone in my group cracks the code on a piece of creative. Either way, this was, is and always will be the best part of my job.
Which is as it should be. It doesn’t matter how big or small the job or what medium it’s in. That first peek at something that works, that will work, that will please the person paying for it, is bliss. You won’t believe me again but seeing a set of banners that totally nails the brief is as intoxicating as looking at a tight and right storyboard for a TV commercial. Knowing to one’s core that a piece of creative is capable of winning the day is, if I remember correctly and I do, like that first sip of that first martini: so freaking good!
Whether it comes right away or is the result of toiling, bearing witness to the birth of a healthy campaign is why I get up in the morning and go to work. Everything else -operations, meetings and conference calls- is work. It’s the job part of the job. The creative piece is the gift. And as with any good gift the giver feels as good or better than the receiver. Which is also as it should be.
Within the last two weeks I’ve gotten to see such a thing. Twice. Two different projects. With differing people involved, and me to a certain extent. How lucky am I? While it would not be professional of me to discuss specifics or showcase the work, I most certainly can write about the joy that it brought.
So much of what we do in Adland is fraught with anxiety and stress. We bicker over strategy and deliverables and what’s right and what’s wrong that we often forget that in the delivery room are babies (and I don’t mean the creatives). New campaigns, hours old, are things worth celebrating. Of course, we seldom do. They’re fragile here. And besides now we must prep them for clients, tightening the copy, tweaking the art direction, responding to the pokes and prods of our fellows, and otherwise getting them ready for that precarious run up the flagpole.
But sometimes even in this newbie state you know everything is going to be all right. You just know. Internally, with the client, and even the consumer you know you are holding the Ace of Spades.
February 6, 2015
Last year the Super Bowl! This year the scrap heap.
I grew up with Radio Shack. Like 7-11, they were everywhere. And like 7-11, they offered quick stop shopping, in their case for consumer electronics and myriad electrical supplies. I may have bought a Sony Walkman there. I don’t remember. What I mostly purchased at Radio Shack were blank cassettes, CD’s and floppy discs. And well, we all know what happened to those. For all intents and purposes they are extinct or, at best, just hanging on.
My Tweet: Let’s face it anything with the words “radio” and “shack” in its title had it coming…
For the last 10 or 15 years (maybe longer) Radio Shack clung to existence. As Best Buy and Circuit City floundered and died somehow the Shack persisted in subsisting. That in and of itself was a miracle.
I kind of rooted for them. Nostalgically, Radio Shack comprised a tiny bit of bandwidth in my aging, shrinking brain, representing Saturday morning excursions for a pack of batteries or ear buds. But then those things were available at Walgreens and, frankly, anywhere else that had a cash register. To say nothing of Amazon.
Even when Radio Shack was big it had painted itself into a corner. Quick electronics on the cheap always struck me as a shaky platform. When by comparison, Best Buy is considered “high end” you know you’re in trouble.
For a good chunk of its 94 years it didn’t matter. People defaulted to Radio Shack for camera batteries and the like long after they had to. Such was its appeal. But eventually my grandfather died. Mom got a Costco card. Radio Shack dimmed like an old TV tube never to be replaced.
Radio Shack did not go down without a fight. Various ad campaigns entered the ring but, alas, were completely clobbered. Even if some of it was vaguely clever and/or self-aware, marketing could not save them. The Super Bowl could not save them! Calling one’s self “The Shack” and trying to be a neighborhood pal isn’t sustainable in consumer electronics. Now when you’re opponents are Amazon and Wal-Mart.
The stark reality is no one under retirement age will miss Radio Shack. But they are at least worth saying good by to.
The details of RS’s demise on, of all things, Gawker.
January 8, 2015
Let’s start with a compliment. Despite all the Taco Bell and prodigious amount of booze he’s been illegally imbibing since he was 12, Justin Bieber is in shape. Dude is ripped. I’ve got to believe this is on account of good genes, this said despite his built in DNA for stupidity.
Bieber, Bieber, Bieber.
One is hard pressed to find another pop star capable of making so much cultural noise that has nothing to do with his crooning, which, being an adult, I have little awareness of. I am, however, very aware of his many scatological, misogynistic and even racist moments. Who isn’t? My favorite is when he, upon visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, wrote in the guest book: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” Tone deaf. Yet priceless. (Compliment #2: At least he actually went to the Anne frank museum. Name another teen-ager who did, not in a school group or being towed by his parents.)
Regardless of this and countless other boneheaded moves (or precisely because of them), Calvin Klein has made the Biebs their latest underwear model.
A bit of history is in order. In 1992, CK did the same thing with Marc Wahlberg (then Marky Mark), catapulting him and the briefs into damn near iconic status. At the time, Wahlberg was coming off a tour of duty with boy band, The Funky Bunch as well as a series of run-ins with the law. He was in every sense of the word, a hot mess.
One can only deduce that this is exactly what CK had in mind when they cast Bieber for the role. It worked once, right? The photos look eerily similar. Instead of famous fashion photographer Herb Ritts (who shot Wahlberg), CK has enlisted currently famous fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. They do a great Herb Ritts imitation.
The early returns for this work are not good. “Yes, they went there.” One cheeky headline gasps. Yet, the criticism is knee-jerk. Frankly, the same snide comments and negative uproar occurred when the Marky Mark photos came out. People forget that.
But not Calvin Klein. They are probably delighted with the criticism, especially if what comes after is also a repeat. Casting bad boys in tight underwear is a strategy not a mistake. The more people hate on this campaign the better.
Ironically, the only thing that has changed in 20 years is the idea that these images would be considered inappropriate. Back in the day, all kinds of people came out against Marky Mark’s member and the audacity to show off such a thing in mainstream magazines. Bieber’s balls will not capture such attention. For that CK can only depend on his controversial and douche-y disposition.
Controversy? Nah. The buzz grows. http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/justin-bieber-claims-untouched-calvin-klein-photo-fake-162295