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.

The other day I heard that the word “awesome” has been declared the official replacement for the word “cool.” I believe by the Wall Street Journal. In other words, “awesome” is the new “cool.”

Duh, or should I say, “no shit,” which I think replaced “duh” a long time ago. Awesome might be the single most overused word in the English language, and has been for some time. As such, “Awesome” has lost much of its awesomeness. Where once it stood for once-in-a-lifetime, amazing occurrences it now meekly replaces “how about that?” or plain old “good.”

Ever since an old friend and work partner, Mike Coffin pointed out the overuse of “awesome” in a blog several years ago I’ve noticed the word used everywhere by everyone detailing everything from a good hamburger to a client meeting that didn’t suck.

How the mighty have fallen. Awesome used to mean and should still mean extra innings in game 7 of the World Series. Awesome is a Force 5 tornado or devastating hurricane. Awesome was when Man walked on the moon for the first time and only the first time. Now “awesome” has been stepped on more times than Tijuana heroin.

I try not to be guilty of overusing and misusing this word. But I do. It’s become like a nervous tick, in much the same way words like “basically” and “like” are. We can’t help it. Everything not awful is awesome. At least we’ve removed the exclamation point, which used to be appropriate. We had to. “My salad is awesome!” just doesn’t work.

Though similar, this regrettable phenomenon is not quite the same as words or phrases turning into cliché’s. There are infinitely more of those polluting our conversations. Can you say “close the loop,” “touch base” or my current peeve, the ubiquitous “really?” Actually, “really” might be entering into awesome territory. We’re using it to mean everything from “wow” and “no kidding” to a sarcastic alternative to “shut the f–k up.”

By way of example:

“This blog post was awesome.”


You know words have jumped the shark when they start appearing in commercials. Listen for them. Copywriters default to these words, arguing it’s how people talk. I suppose but I still think it’s lazy.