If Silicon Valley is a Game of Thrones (if?) you could make a case for Cisco being its Westeros. After all, the tech giant has been an anchor player in the Valley long before Apple, Facebook and Google. You can also make a good case for Cisco being most responsible for the so-called Internet of Things. Which is exactly what GoT star, Peter Dinklage attempts to do in this latest manifesto from Cisco.

Dinklage was one of the first breakout stars in HBO’s masterpiece and helped GoT become the global phenomena that it is. His amazing portrayal of Tyrion Lannister, the once ‘Lord of Tits and Wine’ to Hand of the Queen of Dragons, has deservedly won him legions of fans as well as two Emmy Awards.

Alas, he cannot save this commercial from its longwinded self. Not by walking and talking. After a minute or so I was done. I knew where the film was going and did not want to tag along. Three minutes is an eternity. Maybe if people started throwing food at him like in the show. Or better yet, if he were joined by the Mountain at film’s end, having a couple pints at the pub.

They say great actors can make reading the phone book sound good. Well, guess what? Phone books were killed by the IoT and technology jargon ain’t Shakespeare. Confession. I’ve written manifestos like these and have worked the same clichés, turned the same phrases. It’s hard not to. There is no “King’s English” for much of this stuff.

Yet, there is one thing that would have improved this film. Simple fix. They should have made it, um, shorter.

For copy cut with Valarian steel and creative direction that will bend your knees: Steffanwork/wordpress

Special note: Looking for a Lit agent or similar to discuss unusual and dynamic project. Message me.

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Where to next?

September 2, 2015

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After almost 4 years, my agency and I are going through a conscious uncoupling. No tears. It happens all the time. Besides, four years in Adland is a good, long ride. Still, I loved that agency and I believe it loved me back. We were good. The admiration and fondness I have for my former colleagues cannot be understated. In particular, my creative team. You’re the best.

So, in the most sincere sense of the word: Good-bye!

I try (and even succeed) at being a glass half full type person. That means no looking back with squinty eyes. And why should I? My former agency got me to the Golden State and the gorgeous Bay Area. I have been smitten ever since.

That job also got me deeper into high tech than most people in Adland ever go. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that many of the clients we worked with are changing the world. And we presented to them! Of course bringing creative business ideas to highly technical companies is a daunting job. But when you click, man is it ever rewarding.

Let’s do it again.  Or something like it. Perhaps we can build the creative capability inside a technology company. That is the new normal. Media companies are looking to evolve the same way. Let me help. Sure, it would be a gas finding my new home in a traditional advertising agency. Like going home. But I’m open-minded.  As anyone in my field ought to be.

So, Hello!

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Firefly


Blackberry

I was sitting on my front porch this weekend, at twilight, smoking a cheap cigar and listening to the cicadas and crickets rev up for the evening. It’s a strange racket they make, when you sit back and think about it. Whirring, clicking and even beeping, they sound… almost digital. It was as if the sun went down and all our devices crawled outside and… Oh my God, it’s Night of the Living Blackberries!

It hit me how similar insects look and sound to the myriad devices we all harbor: hard, shiny skins, black or translucent or wild in color. The aforementioned noises some of them make. The way they move: click, click, click. Shining intermittently, fireflies (actually beetles) remind me of my Blackberry… Or is it the other way around?

Not many people know this about me but when I was a boy I had a thing for insects. I collected butterflies and moths, raising them from caterpillars to adults. Waking up to a giant Cecropia Moth crawling up my bookshelf is a sight not soon forgotten. I kept a box of crickets on the back porch, much to our cat’s delight. For a time I even had a pet Black Widow spider, much to my mom’s horror. I named her Killer Queen.


Cecropia Moth, surprisingly common in Chicago

The attraction was more than skin deep. I tore into books and movies about the insect kingdom. I must have read my Time Life book of Insects a million times. I learned about metamorphosis and exoskeletons and the differences between species and all their various idiosyncrasies. In college, I parlayed this knowledge into a minor in entomology. Needless to say, I probably know more about insects than any of you.

I know what you’re thinking: what a dork! Perhaps but I met my future wife showing her my collection of butterflies and moths.

And so I watch and listen to these amazing creatures, remembering a time before PC’s and smart phones, being a boy, an odd one at that, chasing fireflies and collecting moths by the porch light. And then my phone starts buzzing, like a June bug. Happy summer, everyone!


God damn the pusher man!

The good people from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America gave me an Ipad for hosting the Obie awards a few weeks ago. Thank you so much, OAAA. I got mine just as our agency was debating how to parse the two it had purchased for lending out. Many were eager to sign for those. I was tickled by not having to borrow one.

Perhaps not as heralded as the Iphone or Ipod before it, Apple’s Ipad is, without question the new, new thing. Clearly, Apple has done it again. Their track record would be unbelievable if not for their track record. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s Joker: “How do they make those wonderful toys?”

When I pull the device out from my briefcase my young daughters cease to see their father anymore. In his place is an Ipad being held by someone. Not for long, however. My girls abscond the Ipad and refuse to give it back, let alone share it with each other. I am only able to retrieve it when they succumb to sleep. My children’s reaction proves how mighty the Apple brand is. I have never seen my daughters more excited. Ever. And bare in mind I have seen them on Christmas and Easter mornings.

With its vivid, black screen and iconic silver casing, we are attracted to Ipad out of the box. The tension between coveting one and sharing one is like having good drugs. I want to share the high with those around me but I don’t want to give up my stash. Something like that, anyway. Let’s just say it’s powerful. I’ve seen the effect it has on my kids. I’ve seen it with my peers as well. Even the tech savvy people attending my Hyper Island Master Class in digital training were enamored of the device. From digital neophyte to social media guru, everyone seems to possess strong affinity for Ipad.

Except me! That’s right. I’m not addicted to my Ipad. For instance, I just took it on a business trip but only used it once and that was to show it off. I’m not a hater. Far from it. I’m just saying I’m not hooked. Which is weird, given my addictive personality and the passion I have for Apple products in general. Give it time, right?

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