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Gaga did good…

Outside of picture-perfect weather and a truly beautiful performance of our National Anthem by Lady Gaga, little about the Super Bowl was amazing.

Unless you’re a fan of crushing defense (which is something), everything about the game was… okay. It was a sloppy, penalty-ridden affair, periodically fun to watch and technically competitive. The score was close. Both defenses were good. Denver’s was outstanding. Peyton Manning “The Sheriff” got to ride off into the sunset with a Super Bowl win. He’d be insane to come back. But staying home and making hokey commercials could easily drive him back onto the field. I don’t care one way or the other. Do you? Sometimes nice guys don’t finish last.

So that was the football. What about the rest of it i.e. the commercials and the halftime show? Again, the word “okay.” Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars were slick, watchable and, frankly, forgettable. Folks in the Bay Area grumbled that it should have been local artists, Metallica that did the show. According to reviews, the band killed it “The Night Before” at AT&T park. This would have to suffice as the only controversy surrounding the halftime show. Given the NFL’s tumultuous year (concussions, deflated footballs, domestic violence), I’m sure they were delighted by an “okay” show.

The advertising had no outstanding entries, excellent or terrible. Lots of celebrities and talking animals. Again. The “Wiener Dog” commercial for Heinz was cute. An Audi spot had the added gravitas of featuring David Bowie in its soundtrack. Jeep gave us a nifty hashtag with #4x4ever delivered on the back of a rambling anthem for their vehicles. Doritos iconic triangles were sky-written across San Francisco’s azure skies. Clever. There was a dancing monkey-human baby. Whatever.


Not just dogs – wiener dogs!

Honestly, I was somewhat bummed there were no truly awful commercials, though the preponderance of bizarre medicine spots grated. I mean a stomach puppet? Honorable mention for sucky goes to the specious argument put forward by Scientology –something about it being the intersection of spirituality and technology. Scientology is neither. Still, the commercial came and went. Hating on it more would be like beating a dead horse.

All in all, the SuperBowl was damn okay.

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“It’s sacrelicious!”

When I first saw the headline in AdAge, I joked on Facebook that it read like something culled from The Onion or even The Simpson’s: “In major strategic shift, Coke replaces ‘Open Happiness’ with ‘Taste the Feeling.'”  Quite a few people got the joke, among them some fairly heavy breathers from Adland. All of them, like me, were incredulous.

Where to begin? How could a “major strategic shift” result in something as banal as “Taste the Feeling?” Not that “Open Happiness” was any great shakes but “Taste the Feeling.” That’s not a tagline. And certainly not one for the most famous brand in the world.

Many believe the Coca-Cola Company invented modern advertising. We grew up with this icon. As did our parents. And theirs. Coke advertising is so famous that it was featured in the last episode ever of Mad Men. “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” is an unforgettable part of advertising lore, as famous as Apple’s “1984.” Moreover, Coke symbolizes optimism and connectivity like no other brand on earth.

Don’t get me wrong. Coke has had dumbass slogans before. “Coke is it,” anyone? But at least they aimed high. Or for the heart: “Have a Coke and a Smile.” Even lame, Coke advertising always had swagger.

“Taste the Feeling.” Not so much.

Remember when we used to see fake advertising in TV shows – pictures of bottles and pretty girls? That’s where this parody belongs. “Tastes Great! You’ll love it!” I say “used to” because TV has improved over the years. Most quality shows would demand something more real than “Taste the Feeling.”

I’ve heard that taglines don’t matter anymore. It’s all about the content. So, let’s look at the anthem for “Taste the Feeling” (linked in the AdAge article). Perhaps it rises above those sad little words at the end? It does if you’re into 80’s vignettes of Mentos-like Millennials. In one, a hunky Latino falls into a trough of ice water? #WTF


Taste the feeling…of Mentos!

The article quotes the new Coke CMO, Marcos de Quinto as saying Coke had gotten too preachy. His Global VP-Marketing, Rodolfo Echeverria added that ‘Coke no longer wanted to be about “high level” ideas.’

Mission accomplished, fellas.

In my opinion, Coke has to be about big ideas. Sure, little moments in life may be where Coke lives but its marketing must portray them in a concept worthy of the brand. AdAge claims it took ten agencies almost a year to come up with this new campaign. That’s stunning and sad. Yet, I’m willing to bet each one of these agencies had countless better ideas that were rejected by Marcos and his lot. As cynical as I am I know we are better than this. I pray anyway.

To play my own devil’s advocate, I must add I loathed McDonald’s new tagline “I’m Lovin’ It” when it first came out. Still do. Yet, they’ve been riding that mule for over a decade. On that note, happy writing!

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The older I become the less I covet things. Obviously, I enjoy and require a home and car and the clothes on my back. I’m fortunate that I have these things and that they are nice. But I don’t obsess about them, or other material possessions, like I used to. God, I remember in my 20’s and 30’s how important it was to acquire stuff. Nice stuff. So much of it was for validation. See, I can buy a house. See, I can decorate a house. See, I can buy a cool car. See, I can afford a slick watch. And so on. It kind of makes me feel like a dipshit now.

But I’m guessing I’m not the only one who was or is acquisitive to a fault. Kind of the American way, right? A free market system works best when everyone is freely marketing! Speaking of marketing, I’m well aware that that’s what I do for a living. I’ve always had a tension there. You don’t have to look any further than my blog’s theme for that: “We make you want what you don’t need.”

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I don’t think a diminished craving for shit is that big of a deal. However, I do think it is a good thing in my continued development as a human being. The more you become aware that you can’t take anything with you the easier it is to leave it behind – if not stop gathering it in the first place. What a relief this is. I don’t miss the subtle, crummy feelings of envy and jealousy, of wanting what I don’t have. Those streets lead me into a maze, where gratitude and satisfaction got left outside. Now I don’t have to resent people with cooler shit than me, or more money, or whatever trappings I deemed worth coveting.

Look, I am hardly “cured” of obsession over certain peculiar things, like the organisms I put in my saltwater aquarium. Searching for exotic corals and fishes and transplanting them into my reef system is heroin to me.  A couple years ago I was into collecting vintage leather jackets. I justify these obsessions by calling them “passions” or “hobbies.” A key difference is that I don’t care if anyone else sees my fish tank or those jackets in my closet. It’s nerdism more than materialism.

This all being said, I will call bullshit on myself for the simple fact that I happen to already own a ton of really cool stuff. Therefore, all of the above is indeed “easy for me to say.” Fair enough.

In addition, I have a big young family and my girls love stuff. Part of being a kid in the USA. I’m not going to harsh their mellow. But I am glad that they see their dad uninterested in acquiring things for the sake of showing off.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I agree with Adweek. There’s a lot to like about this commercial for Bobble by agency, 72andSunny. The story applies a satiric blend of film clichés skewering millennials for being self absorbed hedonists. We see beautiful hipsters gyrating in nightclubs, a group racing down a coastal highway in daddy’s convertible, others floating innocently in swimming pools and oceans, all the while imbibing bottles and bottles and bottles of bottled water and then discarding the plastic empties everywhere but the garbage can.

Kids these days! Take, take, take…

While I commend the agency and client for using satire against this low hanging fruit something about the concept irritates me. The wrong thing. It’s not the vanity of these kids’ behavior that I find troubling (the commercial’s intent) but rather the way the film overplays the whole thing. It’s like this. Entitled millennials are guilty of a lot of things but littering isn’t one of them. yet, here the kids toss their empties with a thoughtlessness that’s beyond any truth. Therefore, the satire clanks.

Secondly, these same folks understand better than most the inherent vulgarity of drinking from plastic bottles. Especially in places like California, where recycling was born. Again, it doesn’t ring true. A young female jogger tosses her empty on the sidewalk and it’s as jarring as if she spat blood. People like her don’t do that. It’s a weird and dare I say unfair portrayal.

I do believe the creators intended to overplay each scene this way. Stylistically, there was too much done right for it to be a miscalculation. But that doesn’t mean it was the correct decision. We root for the commercial as we would a fake spot on SNL. But like some of those, it overshoots the message and somehow misses its mark.

At the spot’s conclusion the female narrator says, “At least we’re hydrated.” Instead of hating her smugness I’m irked by the copywriting.

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I am excited to find a new job. A permanent one as well as freelance. Here are my credentials. However, to prove my chops as as elegant persuader I’m going to sell you on the idea that God exists using purely rational arguments. No psychic mumbo-jumbo. No beatific platitudes. No doctrine. I won’t apply one single faith-based point in my brief argument. When I’m done you may still not believe in a higher power but you will be closer to Him, Her or It than you were before.

Ready?

First a proposition: If anyone can definitively prove God does or does not exist I will give them all the money in my bank account. Non-believers and agnostics crave proof of God’s existence and, of course, it never comes. But why is it we rarely flip the question and demand proof that God doesn’t exist? It’s just as impossible.

Therefore…

Let’s go totally left brain and talk numbers. Percentages to be exact. Bearing in mind the above proposition, one must concede there is a 50% chance that God does not exist. However, that means there is a 50% chance that God does exist. In other words, after all is said and done, it’s 50/50 whether a divine entity or Creator exists. Now if you had those odds on the lottery –or anything really- you’d take that bet. You’d be a fool not to.

Yet, so many of us are ambivalent about God or even the idea of God. Why is that? Because we can’t see him? Well, you can’t see gravity either. “That’s different,” the unbeliever claims. You can prove gravity. There are equations.

Okay, smart ass. Do you “believe” in love? For your children? For your wife? Of course you do. Prove to me that love definitively exists. Of course you can’t. You feel love or not depending on your circumstances but you’ll never see it. Therefore, if you can believe in love why not God? They are both faith-based concepts with no rational foundation. Why is one different from the other? It isn’t.

Do you covet money, prestige or status? Are you addicted to drugs or alcohol? Have you ever been? What about chocolate or coffee? Or your boyfriend? We often make higher powers out of people, places and things. The alcoholic knows this all to well. When she wakes it’s all she can think of. The addict’s drug of choice brings him to his knees every night. They will put spirits ahead of everything else, including jobs, loved ones and personal health. Even the sanctity of human life will not deter the devoted from blindly worshiping. That’s fanatical. That is what ISIS does.

Yet, God forbid we believe in God. No one is more cynical than me. But I believe –even know- that God is a 50/50 proposition. Have I moved you even five percent closer to believing in a higher power?

So, how about that freelance?

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