Monthly Archives: July 2009

Seventh funniest commercial of all time?

Just found out FORBES magazine (my go-to resource for all things comedic) assembled a panel of ad experts and hooked them up to truth machines. or something. anyhoo, the upshot was that an ad with my name on it was voted seventh funniest ad of all time. which i must admit has added a certain frisson of tingle to anotherwise ho-hum Friday afternoon.

the ad was inspired by my art director partner Justin Reardon’s voracious appetite for sushi. the guy could put away some raw fish. he was and remains a big guy. a former linebacker for the University of Miami in Ohio football team. Sushi chefs all over Los Angeles live for the day when Justin finally walks through their door. Can they be the one to at last satisfy his appetite and claim the crown?

what happened in the commercial was pretty much based on Justin’s real life. i think he actually did what happened in the commercial: shout Wasabi! as a toast at Japanese sushi chefs and get them toasting back. he was funny. the ad was funny. it was a nice play on the whole Wassup! thing and added needed dimension to the campaign at a time when it was white hot. i recall not being entirely convinced that the idea would work when we shot it. but having faith that it would somehow. we had made comedy out of editing in the first Wassup! spots. we did so again here.

boy did that raw fish stink under the lights! the waiter was a real sushi waiter, from the NY restaurant that we shot in. not an actor. the kick under the table by Dookie’s girlfriend at the end was my idea. we got one take of that. but thank god we got it. it was a quick ending. and we needed it.

this ad was hugely popular and just what the campaign needed at the time. it was a crazy and fun time.

i loved this campaign

from about a decade ago. via BBH London. for BIFI, a beef jerky snack. it was set in a generic fictitious factory (ZOMTEC) and featured an ensemble cast of random folks. it never got the attention, i felt, it deserved. and this was the only spot i could find online. it felt more like a TV show than an ad campaign.

Is outdoor advertising the future of advertising?

Over dinner in new york recently i got into a fascinating discussion with my old colleague and all around good and wise egg Arun Nemali about the future (and present) of advertising. In a rapidfire discussion about the universe and everything we concluded that the future of advertising might well lie in out-of-home advertising. Not just billboards but everything that can be encountered in the real world. because, at some point, even the most wired of the wired have to go out and get some toilet paper and cheetos. and occasionally occasionally avert their gaze from their mobile device.

penny pranks 2009

we shot this for the 8,000 plus subscribers to our youtube pennypranks channel. coming soon.

Upon being set upon by the Brooklyn Mafia

this is another horsey tale. sorry, but it’s a good one.

one night as i and my fellow night carriage drivers headed in cabs towards Queens (where we all lived) from Manhattan, at dawn, we noticed a fellow carriage driver involved in an apparent altercation with a limousine driver.

there was a lot of bad blood between limo drivers and carriage drivers. we were frequently competing for the same tourism/fun in the city budget. and limo drivers would take great pleasure in telling their tourist clients to watch out for being ripped off by us.

So when we saw our compatriot in distress we were keen to help out. we were also a bit drunk. so we stopped our cabs and ran over to assist our pal. numerical superiority is a great aid to courage. suffice to say that the limo’s headlights suffered damage. antennae may have been bent. a mirror or two were perhaps wantonly removed. all in good sport! the limo driver was vanquished. we won. we got a cab home and forgot all about it. the limo driver didn’t though. and the limo driver was a member of the teamsters union. the teamsters union is a transportation workers union with close ties to the new york mafia. we didn’t know this.

Cut to say five days later. we are all standing around on Central park south chatting and drinking coffee. when out of the corner of my eye i see an italian looking guy giving me a very fixed stare. i look around and there’s another italian guy covering the other side. he had a baseball bat. standing next to him was the limo driver from earlier in the week. in an instant i sort of instinctively knew what kind of trouble i was in. these guys were muscle sent to extract revenge in its purest form.

the mobsters pointed to each of us individually and asked the limo driver if any of us were “the guys who fucked with you”. i remember feeling slightly faint. i was sure he would recognize me. thank god he didn’t. just then, as luck would have it, the carriage driver who he actually had been fighting with drove past. the limo driver immediately recognized him and the mobsters all set off in hot pursuit of him. a carriage driver was dispatched to warn our colleague that the brooklyn mob was after him. luckily our guy got there first. just in time.

the carriage driver home advantage. he ran into the Plaza hotel. the one made famous by the Eloise children’s books. we all were very familiar with the somewhat labyrinthine geography of the Plaza hotel because we frequently used its bathrooms. the brooklyn mobsters gave chase but got quickly lost the scent of their intended victim in the unfamiliar maze of the hotel.

be nice to new york limo drivers. or else!

We’re in a book!

A couple of years ago i went to the Miami Ad School to give a little talk to the students. while there i met a woman named Margo Berman. Margo asked if she could interview me for a book she was writing. I received a copy of the book recently.

It’s an educational textbook designed to give an overview of advertising and the creative process. It’s a great read for anyone interested in advertising and marketing.

of course the pages where i’m quoted will have extra appeal!


The Harry Potter Generation

My kids (girl:13, girl:9, boy :8) all have one thing thing they all have in common: a complete and thorough knowledge of the works of JK Rowling. I remember back in 1997 first being asked to buy a Harry Potter book. i thought nothing of it.

This afternoon we all went to see THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE (part one) movie at the local luxuryplex. Even the most minor deviations from the sacred text were lambasted by my highly literate and knowledgable crew. “The Weasleys house never burned down in the book!” etc.

i have often wondered what the long-term impact of the Harry Potter books on this generation will be. I’m guessing it will be like Star Wars was on mine. an impact like a comet that will reverberate for a very long time.

firstly there is the very act of actually completing all seven or eight books. one more detailed than the other — my eight year old son recently read all eight in a few months. it encourages and demands voracious reading. and like the old saying says, once your mind is stretched it never goes back to its original shape. very true.

consequently my kids are world champion readers thanks to JK Rowling. they read and write incessantly. which runs counter to the millenial stereotype of short attention spans and texting as language. these kids are a throwback to the 1930s. they make my generation look like the tubers that we were.

they have a real good grasp of what they’re interested in. and it’s a very balanced mix. they are not wowed or enamored of any particular medium. unlike their internet crazed elders. i largely have my splendid wife to thank for all this goodness and I also realize that my kids aren’t representative of anything but my kids. but the success of the HP books has been about as big anything since the beatles.

books. who ever would have thought that? reading! kids today etc…

How to cope when one’s horse mounts a Honda Civic

one last NYC-based horsey tale.

one night i was dropping a couple to an italian restaurant on third avenue on the lower east side of Manhattan. after dropping the couple off I took an westbound one-way street bordering Gramercy Park back to the nearest northerly pointing avenue that would take me back to Central Park.

i noticed when we (the horse and I) were about halfway up the street that the street lights were out and there was a mechanical backhoe digger (JCB) next to them. it was only then that i noticed my horse was acting skittish and seemed nervous about passing the backhoe, which in all honesty did look like a bit like a dragon in the poor light.

when horses are nervous about something their instinct is to run away from it. so my horse stopped and started backing up. unfortunately it was tethered to my carriage and it was a one way street down which we had already progressed around two thirds of the way. there was no going back.

i started to appreciate the extent of my horses fear of mechanical diggers only when its legs made contact with a New Jersey registered red Honda Civic. to my great surprise my horse mounted the front (hood here, bonnet in UK) of the car with its front hooves. at that point i kind of lost it. and jumped onto the front of the car and grabbed my horse’s bridle and started shouting at it in a voice that clearly communicated that i was pissed off, to any species. I pulled the horse off the car and steadied her nerves. I realized she was scared shitless of the digger in the dark.
but also knew she had to be driven past it too.

i looked back down the street. it was completely empty. not a single new yorker had witnessed my horse jumping on a car. phew! then i saw that in the process one of the rubber rims on the rear carriage wheels had come loose in the altercation. problem! big problem.

just then what can only be described as yer classic 1940s movie drunk come wobbling and staggering down the street. he sees me and the horse and without missing a beat slurs: “Hey mister, i think your horse needs some water!”. i desperately handed him a tire iron and asked if he could put the rubber rim back on the wheel. to my eternal surprise he did it like it was second nature. perhaps BECAUSE he was so drunk. in seconds it was back on.

i thanked the movie drunk profusely and stood up in the front of the carriage and drew the long flailing whip which was mostly for decoration but in occasions like these could prove invaluable. and waited for a green light. I then cracked the whip in the air like i’d never cracked it before. i’d like to point out to you PETA types that i didn’t actually whip the horse. just the air around the horse. it’s the CRACK! sound that gets them going. not the contact of the whip on their flesh.

my horse took off like a rocket shying away from the mechanical digger as it went past it.

i have often wondered about the bewildered reaction of the New Jersey Honda driver who returned back to his parked car to find actual hoof-prints on his hood.

sorry dude! it was my horse, not the reincarnation of the dark lord.

Editing film

we’re editing our latest penny pranks stuff. just started actually. i have shot a lot ( a real lot) of film on behalf of clients. well i don’t actually direct them myself but i write and supervise the production of them. there’s a saying in film that is true. you write film three times. once when you write it, once when you shoot it and again when you edit it. it’s very true. editing is writing. it’s revealing the best story.

and writing something three times in a row can take a lot of energy and concentration. but it’s all worth it in the end.

Add a little creativity, get a lot more money

love this video via George Patterson/Y&R Australia. it demonstrates on a micro-level what we do on a macro level. have a good weekend y’all. (via @dionhughes)