Monthly Archives: January 2010

Kicking ass never goes out of style

found this on twitter. via @mkupperman, source of all things wondrous graphically speaking. i’m sure he intended it for amusement purproses only but as an ad person i found it fascinating. it’s basically a TV ad in print. and one that frantically sells the reader at all times.

this thing just doesn’t let up!

Best ad i’ve seen in ages

A short animated film done for Pringle sweaters from Scotland by the Scottish artist David Shrigley. It’s utterly charming and winning. And it sell the jumpers hard. Nicely done.

“we take out the wee beasties first”


Every night after work I take a commuter train home to a sleepy suburb outside Chicago. My journey lasts about half an hour. I usually watch documentaries on the way to and from work.

And it is my daily custom on the journey home each night to purchase a 25 ounce oil can of Fosters lager for the ride home. Lest I get dehydrated you understand. It’s a very dry cold here in Chicago.

And for the past nine years I entered the train station through the front door and walked up to the bar and asked the bartender for an unopened Fosters can to-go and got on the train. And I couldn’t imagine that would ever change. And I’m sure the bar owner felt the same. What could ever change? He owned the only bar that you passed right before you got on your half-hour-ish train ride home after a long day. And so every thirsty commuter stopped in right before they got on their trains. Every day. For decades. This is the way it has always been. What could ever change? Nothing.

AND THEN, LO, JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO… a drugstore chain, CVS, opened up in the bowels of the train station. AND IN AMERICA, DRUGSTORES CAN SELL BEER! And their beer is at least half the price of the beer in the train station bar. And you don’t have to tip. AND, they are even more convenient for many commuters than the bar is for architectural reasons you don’t need to know.

So, the bar is screwed. I can only imagine. I haven’t been back in ages. Why would I? The guys at the station bar are feeling the Arctic chill of something better and cheaper than they are.


Do you have a valuable brand? Or do you just have a widely distributed commodity?

A recent visit to discount gourmet grocery chain Trader Joes made me shudder. and it should be disconcerting to someone whose business depended upon being a famous baked bean or beer or something like that.

Because Trader Joes has none of the brands you know. It has a better and cheaper alternative. And it has its own shabby chic market aesthetic. and once you buy the idea of Trader Joes, a carefully curated blend of “better” quality products that you’ll dig, you don’t need to evaluate brands because there are no competing brands. well there a few i think. but it’s a very chilled out presentation. no hysterics. Trader Joes is not a cavernous store either. it feels local. they curate so you can turn off the “which brand?” switch in your head. which in turn makes the whole experience much better.

let’s face it, who wants to think about peas floating in a can?

G2, you just went viral!

I’ve come across this a bunch of times online. It’s a pitch video from G2, a division of GREY advertising. They were pitching Volkswagen at the time.

Now i’m guessing they never intended for this rather innocuous film to be leaked to the advertising community. And I’m sure they’re less than pleased that it’s getting attention from an audience that was never intended to see it.

Advertising pitches are crazy. Lots of money at stake. Lots of pressure to win at all costs. They are intense. You rack your brain till it hurts. But they are exciting too. Personally I love them. You feel like you’re in the A TEAM.

And as a general rule, having advertising people on camera talking about advertising is not a good idea. We invariably sound like hairdressers. Which in a sense is what we are! The hair and makeup department of business. That’s us.

So now G2 is being skewered by advertising people for being full of shit.

“Mr. Pot, there’s a Mr. Kettle waiting for you in reception!”

We’ve all seen stuff like this. It’s no big deal. I’ve seen far worse things in my life.

I will NEVER forget that COMPAQ computers pitch…(rubs chin, stares into the middle distance)

UPDATE: G2 and GREY advertising did the dumbest thing they could have done in this situation. they went all STALIN and legally forced youtube to yank the video. stupid over-reaction guys. the video simply wasn’t that bad.

SFX: FAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blog fixed!

Received a lot of complaints that this blog took ages to load. We fixed that. in the past you insanely had to load EVERY SINGLE post on this blog, now 300 plus posts, every time you visited the blog. An egregious error for which i beg your forgiveness. Stupid Vinny!

A very analytical and tenacious and helpful young man from London fixed it for me. We did it via skype. He would rather selflessly prefer to remain anonymous. And i’d like to honor that request. But i can’t.

His name is Vik. Thanks Vik!!!


It’s interesting to see the late-night TV kerfuffle going on here in the USA right now. I remember when I used to watch late night TV talk shows back before I had kids. It was a moderately amusing and pleasant way to end the day. But that’s about it. But here in the USA The Tonight Show is considered to be an “institution”. Which I always found odd. “It’s just a bloody talk show!” was always my opinion. But if the culture deems it so then who am I to argue? I am similarly puzzled by the insistence that Saturday Night Live is anything other than a dog-tired and chronically unfunny mess that should have died sometime in the early 80s. But again I am in the minority. SNL is an INSTITUTION!

Another example of this is the importance attached here to news anchors. In other cultures they’re just blandly attractive muppets who can read a teleprompter and speak nicely. In this country newsreaders have, or had, or someone thinks they have/had an importance I could never fathom. I think it dates back to the Murrow/Cronkite days. When people felt they had to trust the guy reading the news for some reason.

Either way, the net/net of it all is that TV has/had a cultural heft here it doesn’t have in other cultures. Possibly because America is a comparatively more rootless society. And TV shows functioned to some extent like friends and family. So killing cherished TV shows is taken a lot more seriously here. Like euthanizing a family member, as bizarre as that sounds.

Much has been written about the demise of TV. And it resoundingly is not happening. If anything the quality of TV shows has improved dramatically as the industry reacted to the threats of DVRs, the internet, netflix, video on demand etc.

A few years ago I read somewhere that we would end up with a google-like system where we could watch whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. From a consumer POV this makes the most sense. It’s what we all want. To be able to pull up any show or event up and watch it in our own time with no interruption. Whether or not the TV networks can figure a way to make money out of it is immaterial. It’s what I want. And if they (the content producers) don’t figure out how to do it someone else will. Actually someone else has. Several people already have in fact.

Yesterday on Twitter I was lamenting the fact that I couldn’t watch UK snooker over here in the US when someone shot me a link to a thing called where lo and behold I COULD watch BBC2’s live coverage of the UK Masters from the comfort of my own laptop. You see BBC doesn’t allow viewers from outside the UK to view their content online. Not sure why. But I would gladly have paid to watch it. Alas that option is not available. So I was forced to “pirate” their content via someone who was prepared to give me what I wanted.

This was what I wanted to watch btw. Great game. Thank you thank you twitter follower. And oh yeah, thank you BBC2 for filming this.

Who wants to learn about advertising?

I’m thinking of teaching a six week or so advertising class here in Chicago if anyone is interested. Ideally you will have just graduated college and are looking to learn about advertising. But i don’t really care who you are or what stage in life you’re at. Just so long as you’re dead keen to learn about advertising. Because trust me, i am dead keen!

I have taught advertising in the past at our local ad portfolio school. and kind of enjoyed it. but the one thing that annoyed me as that invariably there were some students just twirled their and acted like I was boring them. because they REALLY weren’t that into advertising. they were still in college in their heads. and i was just another boring lecturer. i wanted to strangle those people. but that’s against the law. apparently!

So i thought i’d launch an Escape Pod ad class.

criteria for admission: you must REALLY, REALLY, REALLY love advertising and want to learn more. and you have enough to pay for one 12 pack of Stella Artois. the class will last as long as the twelve pack of stella. so no more than six can attend.

non-drinkers are especially welcomed!

Any questions for the guy who created this?

Good news! My former colleague Bob Winter, creator of the wildly popular and insanely long-running Bud Light REAL AMERICAN HEROES radio campaign has agreed to be interviewed on this blog.

Everyone who worked on Bud and Bud Light had won awards and we all kept them on our shelves for all to see. Bob kept his awards on his office shelves too. Except Bob never took his out of the cardboard boxes. And Bob had won an unfeasible number of awards. Year after year after year, the Real American Heroes campaign destroyed the radio category in every major awards show all over the world. So Bob had an office full of little cardboard boxes. Had he taken them out of the boxes i fear we all might have gone instantly blind from the intense golden glare.

If you have any questions for Bob, leave them in the comments box.

Great ideas can go anywhere. Even Ireland!

A few years back I was part of a crack international DDB team set up to crack the advertising for UK and Ireland. I was THE IRISH GUY as far as Anheuser-Busch HQ in St. Louis were concerned. And I was! So I set about thinking how to crack a market I knew innately if not contemporaneously. I left Ireland in 1990. A long time ago.

Anyway. One idea I had was to simply export the brilliant Bud Light REAL AMERICAN HEROES radio campaign (later amended to REAL MEN OF GENIUS post 9/11) created by my good friend Bob Winter. Bob’s on wikipedia and everything!

I had the pleasure of seeing this campaign develop. And one thing that always struck me about it was that the campaign WAS Bob’s sense of humor. He’s a funny guy. That’s him I hear in all the spots. His partner Chris Roe was equally funny and sarcastic. They were a killer team with a killer idea. And one that printed ideas like money for a very long time. The campaign is still running 11 years later. And the awards haul has been truly sickening.

The reason I liked the idea of exporting the idea to Ireland was that Ireland is full of weird types unique to Ireland. So poking fun at them would be fun. I should point out though that this was not Bob’s original idea. His original idea was to celebrate unsung heroes like the poor schmo who collects the shopping carts in the supermarket parking lot. That takes a lot more thoughtfulness and skill and is a result a lot more likeable.

The lazy version of his idea is to just poke fun at stereotypes. Which is what I did. Sorry Bob!

I should point out that these ideas were generated by the folks at DDB Dublin at my suggestion. Sorry dudes, can’t remember names. You were awesome!

But I think they’re a great example of how great ideas effortlessly transcend culture and nationality. And I know it’s slack of me to just steal an idea and adapt it, but sometimes that’s the best thing to do. I think these radio spots prove that. Love to know what Irish peeps think.