Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spies like us.

With the ten Russian deep-cover spies safely in the hands of the KGB (and wishing they were back waiting in the checkout line at Costco), it got me thinking what good advertising creatives they’d be.

Great creatives are natural snoops and voyeurs. They are not Joe Sixpack, but they need to create beer ads for him. They are not Soccer Moms (well, most aren’t) but they need to sell them cookies, hand sanitizer, minivans and back-to-school supplies. They are not Seniors but they need to sympathize with their aches and pains and need for financial security. Most agency creatives are urban hipsters, frat boys, geeks, emos or some other strain of boho.

So what you have are these well-educated aesthetes living undercover...listening, observing, furtively turning on Fox, scooting in and out of Wal-Mart on the DL, trying to understand regular Americans and, via the ads they make, trying to become one with them.

Every Tide commercial you ever saw, every redneck ad about huntin’, fishin’ and racin’, was an act of subterfuge, carefully concocted by people who have spied on these worlds, but who are Other.

So when the Kremlin gets done “debriefing” you, you clever moles, you may want to think about putting together your books. Anyone who can put together that convincing a facade of American strip-mall consumerism is someone who can sell anything.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Alex Bogusky's gone. I'm not.

From what I gather, Alex Bogusky's been getting out of advertising for a while..first the diet books, then the Dilbert-worthy move to "Chief Disruption Officer" at holding company MDC, and now peacing out for good.

What causes one of the best-known and most successful creative directors of the last 10 years to hang it up at the age of 47?
Is it boredom? After you've collected your 20th Gold Pencil and enough Lions to devour Siegfried & Roy, does the job of creative director seem pointless? What happened to the "My best work is ahead of me" mindset?

Lots of creative directors go onto 2nd lives that are more lucrative and maybe more fulfilling than their first ones. Look at Jim Patterson or Andy Spade or (heaven forbid) Donny Deutsch. But these guys never kicked ass creatively to the degree that Bogusky did, so it's easy to imagine their needing to scratch the itch a different way.

Then there's the whole sub-category of advertising copywriters who made the switch to commercially successful writers--Peter Mayle, Augusten Burroughs, Robert Goolrick. I don't know about Mayle, but the last two worked for me at different times, and though very different people, have in common a healthy disdain for advertising, copywriting, and everything and everyone associated with the occupation.

They're all gone, out of the business. Part of me thinks I should at least be curious about joining them.

But I'm not.

I want to keep doing this while I still have my wits about me. I like making ads. I like learning new ways to make ads. I like working with artisans--photographers, directors, editors, musicians--to make ads real. I get a ridiculous child-like thrill seeing my work, or the work of people I manage, go out into the world.

You'll get my keyboard when you pry it from my stiff cold fingers.