Tag Archives: chicago

Mobile advertising = annoying people on their phone

Common sense tells us that annoying people with advertising on their phones is a bad idea.

Your mobile phone is a treasured private space.

Remember how despised telemarketers were and are?

They were despised because they were violating personal time and space.

They were uninvited. They were unwanted. They just didn’t belong.

Spam phone calls were the tool of bottom feeders and shady types.

Some tactics are just abhorrent and counter-productive.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Marketers would be well advised to remember this.

UPDATE: tangentially related topic. Big data. The latest tiresome topic of the bullshit/marketing axis of tedium. The legendary John Hegarty weighs in. Great read. Read it here.

Once again, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

UBER. The best to happen to the Internet. Ever.

We at The Escape Pod take a lot of cabs. Chicago weather can be a bit extreme so you naturally end up grabbing cabs to meetings, editorial houses, going to the airport etc.

And the cab you get into tends to be a hit and miss affair. It can be wonderful and smooth. Or, the cab can stink to high heaven and the driver can drone into his phone in some guttural sounding foreign language.

Once I literally prevented the cab I was in from being T-boned by an SUV approaching a junction at high speed. The SUV was trying to beat the light but sped up as his light turned red. My inattentive cabbie was on his phone and didn’t see this guy approaching. I grabbed him by the shoulder and screamed “STOP!”. The SUV ploughed into a similarly inattentive cab right next to us that stuck his nose out into traffic.

So there was at least a market of one for a better cab service. But how might that happen? It costs a lot of money to buy cars and train and recruit cabbies etc.

Then. recently, we discovered UBER. Uber is a phone app that uses the GPS in your phone to locate the cab nearest you and connects the two of you.

When you sign up you enter your credit card info and your phone number and email. And that’s it.

You no longer have to carry cash to pay cabs. That right there would be enough. The tip is included too. You just get in and get out.

And you get to watch on your phone as the cab approaches your destination. It’s counted down minute by minute and then a text is automatically sent to you when the cab is approaching you.

After every trip you are asked to rate your cab/limo/SUV ride. And a receipt is sent to your email address.

Uber is great because it takes advantage of inefficiencies in the system. Before Uber there were a lot of empty cabs wandering around Chicago looking for fares. Wasting gas and time. And there were a similar number of frustrated Chicagoans standing in the snow and rain waiting for cabs to happen along.

Uber gets rid of that.

But here is the best part. And it doesn’t leap out at you in the beginning.

The cab drivers that sign up for Uber are the keenest of the bunch. They tend to be polite and switched on and not talking into their phones. They are tech savvy and cooler than the rest. Just like their customers.

And one of my Uber drivers recently pointed out a reason that he and other drivers love Uber: they know exactly who’s getting into their cab. They have all their passengers crucial details. So they are that much safer.

The other side of that is of course that the passenger knows which cab he took. So, let’s say, the passenger left his wallet in the cab (ALWAYS take one last look at the back seat before you shut the door. Always), the passenger can just text the driver.

Uber. Just get it.

UPDATE: Escape Podder Jeff Kwiatek just told me that the driver also gets to rate YOU on his phone. This Uber thing gets better and better.


See all the wee cab icons swimming around like fish on my phone? The whole thing is like a very pleasant game. What a game changer that is!

What a big idea is. What a big idea does.

I read this online and it annoyed the crap out of me.

I’ve heard this notion promulgated a few times before and it’s always bandied about by the exact same person: a digital advertising exec who has never had a big idea in his/her life. But has nonetheless decided that big ideas are a bad thing (never met a marketing person who shares this opinion btw) and that instead “something digital” is clearly the way forward at all times. Oh and TV is old. And taglines too.

Aside from the fact that this was basically a poorly written press release for R/GA, it displays a singular and embarrassing ignorance of what a big idea is and what it does.

I think the author of this is the new biz guy there, so you have to expect a certain amount of hyperbole, but this guy clearly hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about. But that doesn’t stop him does it? Oh no.

I learned big thinking from a guy who thought very big indeed. And I have been fortunate enough to be involved with and around big advertising ideas.

Big ideas make everybody happy. That’s what they do.

Consumers are happy, clients are happy, agency folks are happy.

Big ideas have energy. They go everywhere. Everybody wants a piece of them.

Big ideas have real value. They are an actual asset.

Big ideas are the result of big thinking. Ambitious thinking. Occasionally big ideas are the product of luck, but usually not.

Big thinking is a pain in the arse. This is why you see so little of it.

It’s not so much that very few people can have big ideas, it’s just that the amount of effort and energy and focus it takes to conceive and execute them (and maintain them) is frankly wearying.

There’s a reason big thinkers tend to be very energetic people.

The Escape Pod conquers new space

The Escape Pod recently moved to the most modern space we could find in Chicago.

Chicago has truly great architecture but really only offers a few types of office space: your classic glass and steel skyscraper, older exposed- brick-and-wooden-beam lofts, and something in the middle of those two.

Unlike most buildings in Chicago this space was built just a few years ago.

And to warm up the place we’re throwing a party on December 6th.

You might recognize the guy narrating our little architectural film/party invite.

But in case you don’t.

Dear The One Club, why I’m “ungoing” to your “unconference”.

I simply could not believe this.

The One Club, based out of NYC, is coming to Chicago.

And what do they propose?

A conference perhaps?

You know, something that we could all attend and learn have fun with. Celeb speakers and whatnot. A Gladwell or a Godin. Maybe a drinks thing afterwards.

Something that might provide inspiration to the Greenland-like creative advertising community in that place that nobody from New York ever goes: Chicago.


A conference would be too obvious in 2012. Get with it man!

How bout an “unconference”?

What’s a conference? Structure and organization and logistical effort on behalf of an audience that you’re trying to impress enough so that they feel compelled to cough up say, $150, to attend your show.

Something like that, right?

And what’s an UNCONFERENCE?

Apparently it’s NONE of that effort or structure or organization. “F**k that shit! That’s old man!”

No. UNCONFERENCE is the new thing.

So presumably, there’s no stupid,lame traditional $150 admittance fee to this UNCONFERENCE either.



There is a $150 admittance fee to this nothing event.

It’s crowdsourced you see. And you’re it! You’re the crowd.

How dare The One Club insult our intelligence with this bullshit?

Mary Warlick, or whoever is in charge of the One Club these days, please get a grip. For the love of God. Stop embarrassing yourselves with this shoddiness.

I’d cancel my membership to this once cool and venerable club if i had one. I don’t. And i probably never will.

This is just disgracefully shabby and inexcusable and money-grubbing.

Money for nothing. Literally.

Jeff Goodby is finally coming to Chicago!

I have lived and worked in the Chicago creative community for over fifteen years now. And one thing has always annoyed me about it. The lack of community among the creatives here.

There is no place for the hardcore creative to meet his fellow hardcoreniks.

There are inter-agency bowling leagues in the winter. There are inter-agency softball leagues in the spring.

But there’s nothing for the ad creative who loves being an ad creative and might possibly view softball and bowling as mere distractions.

For example, in all my time here there has never been a speech given by a famous ad guy that everyone felt compelled to go see. Never! That’s just weird.

Well, that is about to change in a big way.

Jeff Goodby is coming to Chicago to share his experiences and wisdom with us.

Thank the lord! This was beginning to feel like Uzbekistan from an ad community point of view.

The hope of the organizers (of which I am one) is that his appearance here will serve as a honeypot for the keen creative crowd. You know, the ones who live for this shit! Yeah! You!

And to that end we are attaching a little social experiment to the evening.

The first 50 creatives who show up to see Mr. Goodby speak will be automatically inducted into the Chicago branch of The Pompous Society. An elite Chicago creative clique that doesn’t exist yet. But will soon.

So please come along and hear him speak.

I met Jeff Goodby once at an Anheuser-Busch convention. He seemed like a thoroughly nice and funny guy.

And let’s face it, he’s a legend.

Got Jeff?

(thanks to Tim Dadabo for doing the VO. And Dana Krzysztofiak for doing the animation)


I was at Bob Scarpelli’s retirement party last night.

Bob Scarpelli was chief creative officer at DDB Chicago and subsequently worldwide creative director of DDB.

Bob hired me twice. And both times my wife got pregnant, instantly.

So clearly, being hired by Bob Scarpelli will cure infertility.

Bob invited a bunch of former DDB colleagues including myself to his farewell party at a Steak house in Chicago last night.

It was a great night.

Bob has decided that now is a good time to bow out of the ad game.

I should point out that Bob drives an Aston Martin. It used to be a Maserati. Bob is Italian and, big surprise, likes nice cars.

It was a great night.

Lots of reminiscing about the days when DDB Chicago was the hottest agency in the world under his supervision.

But at his request, there were no slickly edited emotional videos. No big advertising hoopla. Just friends, food and booze.

There was a lot of booze.

The legendary but never-aired “UNCLE JULIUS” Budweiser spot was discussed.

And now my head hurts.

Thanks for everything Bob!


This one is called “CLIPPING IN” for reasons that will become obvious. I love this one. It just makes me laugh every time.

Muchas gracias a director Sam Cadman of STATION films here (he did TRIGGER HAPPY TV you know!).

This gag was his idea and I love it. It’s just silly. Sam knows what he’s doing. He has that uniquely English dry sense of the absurd and he’s not afraid of anything. And his beard is polar dude.

Thanks also are due to editor Graham Metzger of HOOTENANNY. And Sean Halvorsen. These were not easy to cut. You guys rock!

And of course we have to mention our compadres at BURN CRASH REPEAT who did the graphics and who are fast becoming our secret weapon.

And thanks to the shopper who was brave enough to get in the dogsled and risk taking the extremely hazardous northern approach to the Claussen Pickles summit. I love when he asks Sir Edwin if he’s steering the contraption.

Lewis Lazare’s review of our latest work

Premier Chicago ad columnist Lewis Lazare just reviewed our new work for client Philadelphia Cooking Creme. And we couldn’t be happier.

Hope you agree.



The Escape Pod wins best of show in Chicago Ad awards

last night we found out we won best of show in our local award show. We had a blast and are moving a bit slow today. we won for our penny pranks campaign for wonderful client OfficeMax. this is a big award. no seriously. it’s a monster. it’s the stanley cup of ad awards.


this is the third time this decade i have been lucky enough to win best of show in Chicago. my first win with The Escape Pod. It never gets old! congratulations to all at OfficeMax and everyone at The Escape Pod. and of course une grand merci! to director Henry Alex Rubin of Smuggler and thanks also to our flame-haired penny defender Matt McCarthy. It feels good to beat the big boys. Don’t mean that in a vindictive way, just in terms of the accomplishment.


And speaking of that, best of luck to my old comrades at DDB Chicago who are nominated (twice) for an Emmy for best ad this weekend. Both Budweiser and Bud Light got nods. If by horrid chance you don’t win guys, here’s my suggestion. Leave immediately. don’t waste your time fake congratulating the winner. Head to Chez Jays in Santa Monica and get royally plastered in the privacy of the back room. It did the trick for me.