Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Escape Pod in Adweek has been charitable enough to publish our ramblings on the upcoming Bowl (Super-sized edition). You can read it here. As usual i’m rooting for Bud to win the game. I hear they went heavy on the horsey ideas this year. Lots of Clydesdales spots. All shot by the inestimable Joseph P. Pytka & Sons.

Is this the best commercial ever made? Yup.

It involves both cream and…oh…what is it? Oh yeah, berries.

Grow up P.E.T.A.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has produced yet another embarrassingly stupid ad. This time they’ve decided that, in 2009, it’s OK to objectify women to produce a “controversial” ad that, shock horror, was refused placement on the Super Bowl. Wow. Like that idea hasn’t been tiresomely done year after year by and other clueless and unimaginative marketers.

Let me be clear. I love animals. I have a dog, a rabbit (and i’m allergic to rabbits), a guinea pig and a parakeet. I am PETA’s natural constituency. Who doesn’t love animals? Yet PETA continues to produce ads that are amateurish, tone-deaf, insensitive, and alienating. And now we can add puerile and sexist to that list. And what if NBC actually had allowed their stupid ad to run? Oh, that’s right, my young daughters and I would have been embarrassed while watching the game. Nice one guys.

Listen up PETA. Your attempts at self-promotion are just woeful. Please stop wasting money and embarrassing yourself and animal lovers everywhere. It’s having the opposite effect to what you think.

I can help you PETA. I am an experienced ad professional. I have done famous work that people liked. I could make America love you in a matter of months. Call me on my cell. (630) 606-0567.


It has become fashionable in some quarters ( I mean you digital hater who has no experience creating TV commercials) to diss, poo-poo and generally malign TV as an advertising medium.

But the inconvenient truth is that doomsday predictions about the end of TV advertising are resoundingly not coming to pass. For much the same reasons that TV did not kill radio I’m guessing. Yes, radio lost its pre-eminent place as a decisive cultural force but that didn’t mean that it just faded away either. It adapted to the changing times and found a new place in the culture. TV is in the throes of of a similar transitionary period. In some ways TV has actually gotten a lot better recently. TV dramas have gotten exponentially better IMHO. And the erosion of the primetime audience has led to the rise of “addictive TV” – American Idol, dancing with the stars etc. Clearly TV is not giving up without a fight.

Sunday’s Super Bowl will serve as a potent reminder of the power of TV to unite the culture in a way that the Internet never will. And that really is its point of difference from an advertising perspective. I remember having a very spirited discussion about this very topic a few years ago with….NAME DROP ALERT!…..Sir John Hegarty. And he was right and I was wrong. I was in the TV hater camp at that point. Never fight with a knight!

I have been fortunate enough to experience the power of the Super Bowl first hand quite a few times. And it’s amazing the impact it allows you to have on the culture.

How much does a Super Bowl ad cost these days? $100,000 a second? Worth every cent in my estimation. And I would be so bold as to posit that anyone who disagrees simply doesn’t know what they are talking about. They don’t know the value of attention.

A great ad for a great cause

amber alerts ad
I saw this poster recently. It’s advertising “amber alerts” a mobile phone based network of regular folks who are texted a message whenever a child disappears in their part of the country so they can form a digital posse, if you will, to help find the missing child. It’s a great use of technology for a great cause. And this ad does it justice.

I signed up for the amber alerts program based on seeing this ad alone. i can’t think of higher praise. whoever did this knows exactly what they’re doing. well done.

Advertising awards shows have officially become a pain in the bottom.

Let me get this straight. I love winning awards. I am very shallow. I am in advertising. This should be shocking to absolutely no one.

And i’m always suspicious of ad people who say they don’t care about awards. And i’m even more suspicious of people who win awards and then act like they don’t care about them. Claiming that they use their Oscar as a door stop etc. Oscars belong on mantle pieces and behind glass cabinets. Just so you know. I’ll come round and polish yours for you next time I’m in LA if you want. Respect! Please.

So anyway, we’re wading through the ever-more-complicated ad awards entry requirements. It’s that time of year again.

Here’s a typical request. “Please submit a film (no longer than five minutes) outlining the idea”. A FIVE MINUTE FILM! dude, just so you know, now you have me evaluating your request just to bloody ENTER your award show and weighing it against the worth of your award. and i have to say, i know from experience that most awards are simply not worth that type of time expenditure. and don’t even get me started on the entry fees. a separate issue entirely.

what most awards shows kind of fail to realize is that their roots lie in the pre-Internet days. when they served a valuable service: collating and presenting a very necessary once-a-year peek at the state of the world of creativity. that is no longer the case. i’ve already seen anything worth seeing online. except for the Asian scam ads that never ran anywhere anyway. yet the awards shows are still stuck in that era. Still producing dead tree “annuals”. and because they are so behind the times, their entry categories have become laughable. Online is no longer just INTERACTIVE, got that kids?

So here i am, an admitted ad awards groupie, actively considering whether or not it’s worth entering ad awards shows. that can’t be a good sign for the awards shows.

How to crack an alien culture. Part 1

How do you create advertising for a culture you know nothing about? easy. you devote your entire being to suddenly finding out everything you can about that culture. You immerse yourself in it. You think of nothing but it. You learn to love that culture. Regardless of your personal preferences and prejudices. That’s how.

I know this because to succeed in advertising in the USA i had to leave behind my European origins and start from scratch, culturally speaking. My pop culture references were useless over here. So i made a conscious decision to wholeheartedly dive into my adopted country’s culture. To love it. And never again complain about how difficult it is to find a decent cup of tea over here. To become culturally elastic. which most people, by virtue of never having changed cultures, never learn to do. why would you if you didn’t have to?

So when i was faced with proposition of doing NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr’s first ever Budweiser commercial i was slightly scared. NASCAR is a huge cultural force in the USA. Like F1 is in Europe. But even bigger. And if NASCAR was Rock n Roll, then Dale Jr. as he’s known, is the son of Elvis – the NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Basically i knew nothing about NASCAR beyond what everyone knew about NASCAR, ie that is hugely popular. So i dived in. I read books and watched races etc. And I realized that doing Dale Jr’s first ad was a big deal. So it had to be good. It couldn’t be the view of an outsider making the same superficial observations that every NASCAR advertiser makes…it’s fast! they go round in circles! etc.

So i read a ton of Dale Jr’s media interviews. And in a Rolling Stone interview he was asked if he could improve NASCAR, what would it be? And his answer was “I would put music in the cars”. And that gave me the idea for the spot. Because Dale Jr loves his music. Everybody knew that. He hung out with rock stars like Dave Grohl. He played in a band. Dale is cool. He even looks fast!

Interesting fact. Dale Jr. showed the script for this idea to his dad a month before Dale Sr. tragically hit the wall at Daytona and died. And it was actually his dad who came up with the idea for the ending. Which makes complete sense if you know anything about The Intimidator. So Dale Earnhardt Sr. actually helped me write this spot. It was voted best NASCAR TV ad of the year by more than 300,000 NASCAR fans at And i more proud of that award than almost any other I’ve won. It proved that i’d cracked it! I’d cracked Dale Earnhardt Jr. I’d cracked NASCAR. And it was a very conscious effort to do so.