Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another reason to love Mad Men

Yesterday, I met with someone for networking purposes and he asked me to explain what services we provide, exactly. I went into this long, drawn out case study of our latest project, which you can check out here, and I'm all, "We whittle the client's advertising objective down to one palatable line, we prop our feet up and open our notebooks to a blank page, we dream up some ideas for a campaign that makes sense (hopefully), we write some scripts, we present them to the client in a very enthusiastic way with flailing arms and fancy words, we hope they buy it, when they do, we go talk to some directors, we present the scripts to those directors with high hopes that they envision them the same way that we did, we gather bids about how much the production will cost, we then choose one of those directors to bring the scripts to life, we work with that director to cast the most talented actors or at least the ones with the best hair, we go to the shoot and make sure the director gets it right while we stand around eating too much and gaining 5 pounds, we sit in an editing suite for a week making sure the editor gets it right while we eat breakfast tacos every day and gain another 5 pounds, we traffic the spots to their proper channels and then we high five and say Yay! a bunch."

And I paraphrase, but still.

Then I get a little self-conscious that maybe I'm talking too much and not making sense, so I try to lighten the mood by saying, "Do you happen to watch Mad Men?"

His eyes light up and his head nods. Phew!

"We're Peggy and Don," I say.

And he says, "Ah. That helps a lot. Now, I get it."

Now, who represents Peggy and who represents Don on any given day changes around here, and also depends on who you ask.

But you get the gist.


Thursday, April 22, 2010


So, I just finished reading a great book on the nitty-gritties of starting and running a small business. It's not a How-To, by any means. It's more of a Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. It makes a lot of sense and it put many things in perspective for me. Mainly, it made my heart quit racing for half a second and now I feel like everything might actually be okay.

It's called Rework. Here is an excerpt from the conclusion that especially hit home for me:

Inspiration is perishable

We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal. They last forever.

What doesn't last forever is inspiration. Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk: It has an expiration date.

If you want to do something, you've got to do it now. You can't put it on a shelf and wait two months to get around to it. You can't just say you'll do it later. Later, you won't be pumped up about it anymore.

If you're inspired on a Friday, swear off the weekend and dive into the project. When you're high on inspiration, you can get two weeks of work done in twenty-four hours. Inspiration is a time machine in that way.

Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won't wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.

Amen y'all.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Amen, brother

Good article here:

I got into this business because I didn't want to take calculus in college.

I stayed because it's fun.

But Marc Brownstein is right. If you're not careful, this business can squeeze the life out of the best and brightest.

And you'll find yourself wishing you had taken calculus. Ouch.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ballet Austin

We have been sitting on our hands, trying not to talk too much about our latest client project. Now that the news is out, we can blab. It's been an honor to work on this business for Ballet Austin. And humbling. Oh, so humbling. Stand in a room full of dancers (and mirrors!) for a two-day shoot and you too will be on a salmon and veggie diet. Read the news story here.

Monday, February 15, 2010


As this is our first year in business, it was also our first year to enter the Austin Addys and we are very pleased to announce that we won 3 awards this year: two bronze and a silver, for our website, our logo and our LifeSize Communication DM piece.

YAY! Go team.

It wasn't without it's disappointments however. Not to be greedy or anything, but we were saddened to learn the work we were most proud of -- our Velocity Credit Union work -- didn't get any love. Very very disappointing indeed.

BUT, we are happy with what we got, and we'll just have to work harder for our Velocity client as well as others in 2010.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Season Three, Finale

It's in my nature to say something one week, and then say the exact opposite thing a few weeks later. So here I go again.

Last time I was the Betty cheerleader, and this time, I'm the Betty whah whah whah. Really? You can't leave your marriage without jumping into another one immediately? Even for the early 60s, that's kind of pathetic. That guy might be tall and handsome, but he's so vapid I can't stand to hear him talk. And when he does, I don't listen to a word he says. Henry Francis? The fact that his name sounds like a Cabbage Patch doll's should have been your first clue honey.

As for Don, I'm going to do another 180 turn. While I hated him last we spoke, now I want to join his renegade agency. (Just please don't call it SCD&P) Because while there's nothing that turns me off more than arrogance, there's nothing more appealing to me than a man who can feel that comfortable while eating so many large helpings of humble pie.

He walked into room upon room in last night's episode and basically said, "You're right. I'm an ass. Everyone knows it. I'm the last to find out. But now I get it. I'm sorry. Let's move on."

That took a lot of courage. You have to respect that.

Speaking of courage, let's talk about Peggy. In 2009, after being a female copywriter in the minority for 16 years, I would still find it difficult to tell a male superior that he was taking me for granted. I might have said the same thing that she did, and I would have been just as nervous, but to say it in 1963 was almost unheard of. She is so far ahead of her time it's bordering on brilliance. No, she is brilliant. And then when Roger asks her to get him some coffee, and she doesn't hesitate for a second to say No, it was the best line to me by far. One word. Two letters. But packed with the power of a song.

But aside from the great character development, dialogue and art direction that plops us so perfectly into the past, there was a spirit to last night's episode that is universally appealing, for it captured the feeling of starting over, and what a liberating feeling that is.

Who doesn't want to chuck it all and start over sometimes? Who isn't longing for the opportunity to admit that things are not right for us, have not been right for us for some time, that we've been living a lie and trying to fit into a mold that doesn't jibe with our true selves? How great does it feel to realize we don't have to conform to another's ideals anymore?

Yes, divorce is hard. The scene with the children was difficult for me to watch. And leaving a comfortable job with benefits takes an equally terrifying leap of faith. So it was a show about risk. It was about not knowing what lies ahead but diving into it anyway.

Last night's show had that entrepreneurial spirit that was so perfect for our time, even while it was set in the early 60s.

I think that's why we're all enamored of this show. It's visually retro but at heart, so timeless. It never fails to find that universal chord, and strike it.

Which is something that all good advertising should aspire to do, as well.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Season Three, Episode Where Am I?

I have no idea what episode last night's was, I've been so remiss at my reviews that I've lost count.

Based on scenes from next week that show Betty packing her suitcase, I can’t help but wonder if she’s going to leave him?

God, I hope so.

I mean, what’s up with the hard-core philandering? You have a newborn baby! I don’t care how hot you are, you’re an asshole to your wife. And quite frankly, she’s hotter than you are. Have you seen her on the cover of GQ this month? Hello, new Queen of Lesbo Shag Island, take your seat next to Angelina and Jennifer. Actually, between them would be best.

Anyway, let’s get back to the discussion of advertising: a more noble pursuit than cheating on your wife, though just barely.

I have to say, I think the campaigns they discuss on the show are quite good. They may seem a tad familiar to those of us in advertising, because they’re indicative of ideas that have “been done.” Or do they just sound like ideas we’ve tried to sell and haven’t had the luck of an appreciative client? I can't put my finger on it, but wherever the sensation of familiarity is coming from, I have to thank the writers of the show for showing the smart side of advertising to the general public. Maybe there are ad writers on the staff? Does anyone know if that’s true?

Last week’s Hilton campaign was nice. How do you say comfort in Chinese? Hilton. How do you say breakfast in French? Hilton. I’m not sure those were the exact headlines, but that was the idea. And the tagline: Hilton. It’s the same in every language. It’s a clever way to say “get the predictable comforts of home no matter where you are.” Although the strategy is showing, it’s showing in a conversational way that nobody but an ad geek like myself could see.

Then last night’s idea session showed us what a good creative director does. A good creative director, in my humble opinion, can tell you that your idea isn’t a great one, while turning it into one that is. Which is exactly what Don did when Peggy and Paul presented their Western Union idea. On paper, it was crap. But the discussion went after the thought process that Peggy had used to get there, and Don expounded on it to arrive at a profound thought. “You can’t frame a phone call.”

It’s actually such a great line, it passes my “would you wear that on a t-shirt?" test of what makes a great tagline or not because, yes, I would.

Come to think of it, Don Draper is really hot. Because he’s really good at what he does. And Peggy is probably more smitten sitting in that chair across his desk than she would ever let on.

Which kinda reminds me of a certain creative director I used to work for, who will go unnamed.