Thursday, April 30, 2009

Throwing out the work.

I was hunting for an old ad to illustrate a typography point to my creative team and as I dug, I started to throw.

I threw out things that started their life as physical mechanicals. Things that were set in hot type. Things that were set by Photo-Lettering and couriered back and forth. I tossed things that never were, and now never will be, digital files.

I threw work that was laminated because lamination was the archived pdf of its day. There were cheap laminations, and fancy ones with non-glare plastic, rounded edges and felt backing.

I didn’t throw away everything. Some of this stuff still elicits a “Huh...this really isn’t bad.” Some of it smiles back at me from an earlier, sweeter moment in time. But most of it was there because it used to ride around in a large black pleather bag (hence the felt backing) trying to get me a job.

These ads were trendy-looking at some point, and now look as bad as a ‘70s haircut. Or they were ads demonstrating I had experience in a category, something we mock clients for in RFPs but have no hesitation doing for our own careers.

Portfolios, physical or digital, are no longer useful in my life. The ads that were in them no longer need to sell me or impress others or tell much of a story of any kind. The ones that still make me proud go back in the drawer. The rest can go.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ethan Coen, kickass copywriter

Coen Brother Ethan, it turns out, is not just a stupidly great screenwriter, but a poet as well. And, being the ironic, self-aware dude he is, he refused to read his work aloud. So Bill Macy read for him. You can hear it in its entirety here. But here is the title and repeating lyric:

"The Drunken Driver has the right of way."

Tell me that isn't the best headline for any safety-themed car ad ever written.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here's to you, Mr. Bounce-it-by-Billingsley!

I’ve got a new campaign that’s flapping its wings furiously, trying to get off the ground, and if it succeeds, it will be because of a client.

We bitch about clients when they kill or maim good work. But we forget what a Herculean task they have if they actually embrace our vision. The layers. The “stakeholders.” The politics. The bean-counters. The lawyers. The processes. The sheer inertial mass of a huge organization that needs to be overcome.

And there, slogging through it with our precious idea in his hand, is our client, in his soul-crushing, Orwellian office park with little more to help him than his belief in our idea and his own sheer tenacity.

How often does it happen? Not very. Then again, how often do we do work that justifies his thankless journey?

"I think it needs kids or animals."

Monday, April 13, 2009


I’ve gone dark for a few weeks. Never a good blog-viewership move.

Why? I’m speechless.

Here are some things I’m speechless about:

Ad Age asking Julie Roehm to be on an expert panel.


The SpongeBob square bootie thing for Burger King.

Bank of America corporate advertising.

Republican “Tea Parties.”

The Celebrex :60 legal disclaimer spot.

When the bile rises high enough in the gorge, words can no longer escape.