Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Meeting cute in the Obituary column

Died yesterday and reported in adjoining obituaries: Peg Bracken, author of the "I Hate to Cook" cookbook, and Vincent DeDomenico, creator of Rice-A-Roni.

Three years before Betty Friedan told '60s women it was OK to be bored by kitchen duties, Bracken showed them how to short-circuit them with convenience foods. And a grateful food industry, Mr. DeDomenico, included, was right there to help.

Bracken, by the way, was an advertising copywriter. There's a shocker. Her recipe for "Skid Row Stroganoff":

Start cooking these noodles, first dropping a bouillon cube into the noodle water. Brown the garlic, onion and crumbled beef in the oil. Add the flour, salt, paprika and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What do people see when they look at ads?

Not necessarily what they’re supposed to, as this very cool experiment seems to suggest. Thanks to The New Shelton Wet/Dry blog for finding this fascinating (appalling?) piece of research.

In a rigorous controlled study 52% of the people who were asked to look at this picture could not recall the woman falling to her death.

For every creative who ever fought tooth and nail to keep the composition of his ad just so—which is to say, all of us—this is sobering stuff.

Take these pretty nice lingerie ads, courtesy of AdGoodness, for example. Here's one, if you're too lazy to click:

It's all about controlling the viewer’s eye and directing it to a particular, uh, place.

But what if the headline has it all wrong? What if the viewer remembers only the Tyrannosaurus? Or only the zebra rug?

And we're arguing about the placement of the logo?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Brands come and go, but "Blade Runner" still rocks.

I saw the newly-released "Blade Runner" this week.

Gone is the stupid narrative VO and hilariously inappropriate happy ending.
What remains, remastered and gorgeous, is Ridley Scott's vision of the near future.

And a big honking Pan AM logo glowing through the murk in the evening LA sky.

"Blade Runner" has a lot to say about the fragility and impermanence of life. And, maybe, of brands.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Yesterday was the finale of a 3-month pitch, the full-on gantlet type: detailed RFP, “chemistry” meeting, interim working meeting, and the ultimate presentation to the CEO and her courtiers.

It was good. Real good. Smoke-a-cigarette-after good.

I quit cigarettes 23 years ago, so this post and its musings will have to do.

Honestly—is there anything better than a clean brief and no process except kick as much ass as you can in the time allotted? Pitches—especially those where agencies are asked to do spec creative—are fubar in many ways, and everyone whinges about it at 4As meetings and such. But looked at another way, it’s what we do in its purest form, and at no point in the agency-client relationship is it going to get better.

And being a principal in a small agency, and having a partner who knows what he’s doing, I know we can leave it all on the field and make some other agency beat us.

I worked at two large agencies where that wasn’t the case.

At both places, there would be this moment at the end of pitches that I dreaded: the CEO Takes Off His Reading Glasses and Stands Up Moment. Otherwise known as the If You Just Shut the Fuck Up We’ll Win This Moment. Where in 5 minutes of pointless bloviation, the guy would demonstrate that a) he hadn’t seen the work or thought about the prospect’s business until right before the presentation; and b) would in all likelihood continue at that level of involvement going forward. And months of work and 2 hours of great presentation would go down the drain.

I don’t know if we’re going to get this business. I think we should. But I’ll have no regrets if we don’t. I think I’m going to go walk the dog now. And smoke a cigar.