Here’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. In advertising, you rarely ever get what you pay for. However, you always get what you buy. There’s a lot of responsibility on the client to pursue excellence because, let’s be honest here, we are unscrupulous enough to sell you what you want. I would never do such a thing. I’m way above that. That is, until they tell me my paycheck depends on it. Then I’ll do what you tell me to, even if it is to answer the question, “Which of these two options is the safer one?” I know I am part of the problem. And it is my dearest hope that someday I will be part of the solution, but until I’m in a role where I have a voice, I will keep churning out solid gold poo and trying to make something sparkly and good on my own time.

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We finally finished the film for our 73k bar tab. And, drum roll please, here it is! This is the English version, but there is a Portuguese one running around out there too, since, of course, it was done in Brazil. Hope you like it.

This past weekend we went to Bar Aurora and Boteco Ferraz and shook things up a bit.
In Brazil EVERYONE drinks and drives. How bad is the problem? 30 percent of the people on the roads on the weekend are drunk, even though there’s a new-ish law in Brazil that makes it totally illegal to drink ANYTHING and get in a car. (You can go to jail for eating three cherry cordial bomboms.) But no one really cares. So we tried to make people care.
We added the real costs of drunk driving to people’s bar tabs and taped their reactions. The bars that sponsored this action were really cool about letting us mess with their computers and customers. It was hil-ar-ious. People hugged the bar tenders, screamed drunkenly across the bar at their friends, and shook our hands as they left. We even got some drunken tirades for the camera.
Even though I’m aware that this weekend 30% of the drivers will be still be drunk, at least we touched some people and maybe eventually the conversation will pick up and things will start to change. I’d be killer proud if our little stunt had anything to do with getting things started.

Conundrum, that’s right.  Here’s something I face on a pretty regular basis.

So I want to do something cool, new, never been done before, I explain the idea to my various directing entities and their response… “Mmm, maybe there’s something there. Do you have any references?”  My initial response is, “Well, no, no I don’t.  Because, it is new, you see.  Never done before.  Innovation doesn’t have to have a reference.”  But it is much easier to sell it to a client if there is one.

Then there’s the other side of the paradigm.  There are the times when I see a film or a piece of art and think, wow, that could be an ad for my client.  Again, taken to the directing entities, and the response is, “So you want to do their idea?  Just like that?  Well it’s been done, now hasn’t it?”  Yes, obviously it has, or I wouldn’t be showing a reference.  And, let’s be honest, it wasn’t done for advertising yet.  Aren’t we supposed to be inspired by life?

So where’s the balance?  What’s the real role of a reference in advertising?  I would contest that it is best if references are used for shooting styles, music approach, lighting, and story telling style.  Ideas should still be original.  A grid, showing a bunch of people singing or dancing into their webcams, is theft, not an idea.  Shooting like the Sweded Films in Be Kind Rewind, is a reference.  It is a fine line, but we all must dance on it.

I have an interactive DJ thing in my book, but when you are outdone, you gotta give it up and bow out. This is really trippy and awesome and while I’m not totally sure what the message behind it is, the execution could love me long time. So, I’m going to celebrate out my jealousy and give honor where it’s due. Good stuff. Now go play.

Access ruins advertising I was having a talk with another copywriter, Laura, a few months ago and we were discussing our plight as mass-messengers for the lowest common denominator. We determined that the more ubiquitous a media the dumber the things it has to say. Here’s a graph I drew in word…

Time was, creatives could make some really edgy, groundbreaking, and smart stuff for TV. That time was before everyone had a TV. Today, however, clients are terrified to do something crazy smart on TV. The audience as a whole is too dumb and heaven forbid they aim for a target market smaller than everyone in their viewership. So they go balls out on mediocrity for TV and let the risk happen on the Internet, where they can damage control better and the audience is generally a little more educated and prepared to take a joke. (Note I’m fully aware of the troll world and the idiots who post questions on Yahoo. We’re speaking in a general sense here.) The problem is, people are getting computers and Internet access at an alarming rate. Before you know it, that C-class brief sitting on your desk will have web banners and social network apps galore, see myspace if you don’t think Internet is heading the way of TV. So here’s my advice to the industry, which is probably not open to hear it. Offend the people who are not intelligent enough to get it. You didn’t want to talk to them anyway. Reward the people who are smart enough, they will think more of you for thinking highly of them. TV is so bad that they honestly believe that with the simple addition of laugh tracks, they can dupe us into thinking the crap they are feeding us is entertaining.

Two and a half men, point and case. It is the same gag, the same story, you’ve seen it a million times before, but yet we reward it with the highest honors on TV. THAT is why I can’t sell a brilliant campaign to save my life. Why would a client put their tush on the line when they see mediocrity rewarded and even appreciated by the masses? Don’t settle for it. Let advertising lead the way and make TV follow. We are not looking for ratings, we are looking for relationships, and we all know it is hard to have good relationships with everyone.

http://www.oneclub.org/oc/press/?id=112
One Club finally stepped up and did the right thing. They are placing such strict rules on ads entered in their competition that it isn’t even worth entering if it smells like a ghost. Quality over Money. Good Job. Ghost+Kite+ad