Thursday, March 30, 2006

Don't think of it as calamity. Think of it as an opportunity!

In a rare--and somewhat appalling-- display of candor, a Citigroup/Smith Barney ad in yesterday's WSJ explored the possible financial upside of an avian flu pandemic.

Coming as a "strategic brief" from two of their senior research directors, the ad is chillingly nonchalant: "The investing implications of Avian Flu could be large, pandemic or not."

No doubt true: double-down on Cipro, respirator makers and pork (the other white meat), and you could maybe make a pile if Big Bird hits. How you'd get all that money out of the bank through the hysterical mobs and the National Guard tanks is another story. But that's where smart financial advisors can make all the difference!

That big red Citigroup umbrella sure covers a pretty broad spectrum. On one end you've got Citibank, whose message that life matters more than money is conveyed beautifully in its "Live Richly" campaign. On the other, you've got Smith Barney, whose perhaps inadvertent message is neatly captured in the title of their FREE report: "Avian Flu: Science, Scenarios & Stock Ideas."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Seeing Ghosts

Today on the Times Square Shuttle my subway car was given over to the latest round of Continental Airlines ads--the "Work Hard. Fly Right." campaign that's run since 1998.

I was the creative director on this campaign at Ayer. Not the writer--Jack Cardone wrote the line. Not the art director--Mike Grieco developed the blue field/gold globe/white type look.
And they run the business creatively to this day, now at Kaplan Thaler.

I did what creative directors on big brands do: picked the winner out of the line-up, got everyone saluting internally, sold it to the client, sold it to the client's resentful international agency roster and fought off the forces of re-think during the campaign's infancy.

Seeing the work in the subway--hell, getting on a Continental flight and looking at the cocktail napkin--is an odd experience. I see the whole back-story: the brief, the tissues up on the wall, Gordon Bethune, then-CEO of Continental, laughing and cussing. I feel an intimate connection to this work. But it's a ghostly connection. These ads live on, but in a different plane of existence than mine.

All creatives who have contributed to long-lasting campaigns have had this feeling--like they're Alec Baldwin and Gina Davis walking around their house in Beetlejuice. It's both gratifying and creepy when work lives on after you have moved on.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Talk about late to the party.

An advertising copywriter starting a blog.
Talk about late to the party.

I feel like the last creative to use morphing in the 80s.
Or the creative force behind the umpteenth "mockumentary" campaign in the 90s.

But hey.

Unless I write something interesting, the only one who will know that I'm dipping my virtual toe into the datastream is me.

And if I do write something worth reading, linking, responding to, well then:
I'm not too late.