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2002My Client, The Bait-and-Switch Sleazebags	...............................................................................
Brands Flying Blind	                   ......................................................................................
I Want My CA, and I Want My MTV	.............................................................................................
Striking it Rich, or At Least Striking It Profitable	.........................................................................
Capitalism: An Advertising Story	............................................................................................
Branding. Religion. Censorship. Office politics. Global politics. Sexual politics.Good ads. Bad ads. Ageism. Sexism. Racism...
3/21/2002My Client, The Bait-and-Switch SleazebagsWhy would honest agency people work for dishonest clients?All advertisin...
All the truly good work our industry does gets neutralized in the face of crap like bait-and-switchadvertising. Regrettabl...
5/2/2002Why Few People Respect Advertising in the Morning(Or any other time of day)As an industry that assaults the public...
The current ads point fingers at teenagers, a group of people who don’t have a registered voice totalk back, and it’s a cop...
5.21.2002Are You Targeting Me? Are You Targeting ME?As long as they don’t know too much about me, Im all for 1-to-1 market...
What would happen if a grocery store chain went out of business and sold its customer databaseto someone else? Sounds to m...
6/13/2002I Got Your Account Planning Right Here, PalDo we really wanna know what consumers think?Admit it: whenever you te...
For all the talk about understanding our audience and identifying with their lifestyles, why don’twe get some of them to j...
7/8/2002I’m Not Lying To You Right NowDid corporate America learn the art of lying from advertising?The last few weeks hav...
As a society, do we need to pull back on the relentless pursuit of more and better stuff? Canadvertising agencies and clie...
7/23/2002This Agencys For YouThe industry’s sucking wind--maybe advertising agencies should try advertisingAgencies are cu...
If you filled out a creative brief to sell your agency as a brand, what would it say? And what kindof creative work would r...
8/12/2002The Creative TeamstersWhat if advertising people had a union?As a baseball fan, I get really sickened at the pros...
The weird part is, the more I think about an advertising union, the more, uh, anti-American itsounds. I mean, unions seem ...
9/10/2002Hey, Luke, Squeeze ThisA plea for some useful adviceIf I see any of the following phrases again Im going to screa...
“Don’t let advertising mess up your life.”Well, it’s too late for that, I’m afraid. Sometimes I think the sole purpose of ...
9/24/2002The Enemies Down The HallCant the various disciplines all just get along?Even in the year 2002, many agencies kee...
Theres no law that says AEs cant write a headline or media people cant think about creativeexecutions. Theres no law that ...
10/15/2002“60 Minutes” and a Brilliant Marketing MinuteHow Donny Deutsch Made Advertising Relevant Again--For a MomentA fe...
If I know the ad is going in the sports section, I write an ad relevant to the people who read thesports section. If an ad...
11/5/2002Advertising For ColumbineThe message we send to consumers: Be afraid--be very afraidOkay, I wont make this a movi...
And advertising preys upon that fear. The solution, we say is to buy more--security systems,fences, child safety seats, ba...
11/26/2002On Killer Books and Hard-Hitting ExecutionsThe bizarre vernacular of the ad industryAs a writer, I’m perpetually...
“Edgy” Somebody (Dan Wieden I think, but I’m not sure) already addressed this term prettyeffectively. He said that when so...
12/18/2002Screw Unto Others…Religion and Advertising: Two very similar, and sinister, conceptsI was setting up my Beanie B...
This isn’t just an abstract concept, it affects our daily relationships and the people we work with.Someone who proudly pr...
1/7/2003This Column is Gold, BabyYour guide to entering awards showsGrab the spray mount! Fire up the interns! It’s awards...
It doesn’t matter what your ad’s target audience really is—ads that speak to older or less affluentor small-town audiences ...
1/30/2003Chapter 11 in The Book Of AdvertisingIs a clients business failure our fault?I read recently where a former clien...
If working on one particular client represents most of my average workload (essentially meaningone client pays my salary),...
2/18/2003GeezertisingWill we adjust advertising standards for an aging population?I read recently about a group of ad indu...
It’s no secret that for the most part, long careers in advertising are rare. Will the industry retainmore older workers be...
3/11/2003Leaping to The Dark SideWhy aren’t more ad accounts serviced in-house?I once worked on an account where, every we...
Given a little flexibility to be creative, and removing the strains common to so many agency/client conflicts, the results c...
4/1/2003Getting Embedded With the ClientWhat advertising can learn from a televised warI always take public opinion polls ...
For every client and every campaign, success is perceived differently. Does your agencyeffectively manage your clients’ ex...
4/24/2003In The Belly Of The BeastWhat I learned by spending a few days at Talent ZooThree weeks ago, I decided to hand-de...
Everyone thinks theyre perfect for every open job. People who are not qualified for aparticular position apply anyway, thin...
5/13/2003Jumping The SharkWhy are some shops hot, cold, or dead?Wells Rich Greene. N.W. Ayer. D’Arcy. And now maybe Bates....
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View From The Cheap Seats: Advertising’s Most Provocative Columns

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A broader look at advertising, marketing, branding, global politics, office politics, racial politics, and getting drunk during a job interview.

An abridged version is available in softcover and e-book formats at Amazon.com.

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View From The Cheap Seats: Advertising’s Most Provocative Columns

  1. 1. 2002My Client, The Bait-and-Switch Sleazebags .................................................................................................8Why Few People Respect Advertising in the Morning ...............................................................................10Are You Targeting Me? Are You Targeting ME? .........................................................................................12I Got Your Account Planning Right Here, Pal .............................................................................................14I’m Not Lying To You Right Now ................................................................................................................16This Agencys For You .................................................................................................................................18The Creative Teamsters ................................................................................................................................20Hey, Luke, Squeeze This .............................................................................................................................22The Enemies Down The Hall ......................................................................................................................24“60 Minutes” and a Brilliant Marketing Minute ..........................................................................................26Advertising For Columbine .........................................................................................................................28 ............................................................................................30On Killer Books and Hard-Hitting Executions Screw Unto Others… ...................................................................................................................................32This Column is Gold, Baby .........................................................................................................................34Chapter 11 in The Book Of Advertising ......................................................................................................36 2003Geezertising .................................................................................................................................................38Leaping to The Dark Side ............................................................................................................................40Getting Embedded With the Client ..............................................................................................................42In The Belly Of The Beast ...........................................................................................................................44Jumping The Shark ......................................................................................................................................46Can’t We Just Be Friends? ...........................................................................................................................48Majority to Minority ....................................................................................................................................50Telemuckraking ...........................................................................................................................................52Paging Richard Simmons .............................................................................................................................54Queer Eye for the Ad Guy ...........................................................................................................................56Just Sue It .....................................................................................................................................................58Consult This .................................................................................................................................................60Random Questions .......................................................................................................................................62Im the Best Columnist Ever ........................................................................................................................64This is Your Holding Company on Drugs ....................................................................................................66Slippery Jelly at the Helm of a Dubious Idea ..............................................................................................68The Soul of Soles .........................................................................................................................................70A Super Lesson ............................................................................................................................................72Trump and Chumps ......................................................................................................................................74
  2. 2. Brands Flying Blind .....................................................................................................................................76 2004From a No Show to the One Show ..............................................................................................................78FBI, CIA, AAAA, and CYA ........................................................................................................................80Subservient Agency .....................................................................................................................................82The Bastards Among Us ..............................................................................................................................84Word-of-a-Whole-Lot-of-Mouths-Advertising ...........................................................................................86I Cannes Tell You Exactly What Happened .................................................................................................88Clear Problem, Clear Solution .....................................................................................................................90Advertising Week (or maybe it’s Advertising Weak) ..................................................................................92Corvettroversy .............................................................................................................................................94In the Land of the Fee ..................................................................................................................................96Black, White, and Spot Color ......................................................................................................................98Living Under the Bus .................................................................................................................................100Addicted to Advertising .............................................................................................................................102New Words for the New Year ....................................................................................................................104It’s All About the Benjamins--or the Bernbachs ........................................................................................106Wardrobe Malfunctions and Advertising Dysfunctions .............................................................................108H-P and the Bigger Picture ........................................................................................................................110Boeing and Banging ..................................................................................................................................112Desperate Housewives and Desperate Senators .........................................................................................114 2005Maximizing Our Skill Sets to Enable Synergistic Crap ............................................................................116Installing an Upgrade to Ad Industry 2.0 ..................................................................................................118Madison Avenue, Main Street, and the Arab Street ...................................................................................120If You’ve Been Injured by an Ad Agency... ...............................................................................................122The Home for the Strategically Challenged ..............................................................................................124Taking Size 14 and 36DD Risks ................................................................................................................126When A.D.D. Adds Up to Crapola .............................................................................................................128Stuck on Stupid ..........................................................................................................................................130Directly Speaking, Can We Control Ourselves? ........................................................................................132The French Evolution ................................................................................................................................134Polluting the Mental Environment .............................................................................................................136The Bald Midget and the Furniture Store Owners Daughter ....................................................................138
  3. 3. I Want My CA, and I Want My MTV ........................................................................................................140The Super Critics ........................................................................................................................................142Scrubbing Bubbles and Flubbing CEOs ....................................................................................................144Living In the Echo Chamber ......................................................................................................................146Oh, the Humanity ......................................................................................................................................148**This Column is Not Valid in Indiana .....................................................................................................1507-Layer Ads ................................................................................................................................................152 2006Safe, Shit, and Everything Else That Happens ..........................................................................................154This Column Brought to You by People For Stuff .....................................................................................156This Land was Hand-Crafted for You and Me ...........................................................................................158The Interactive Ghetto ...............................................................................................................................160HeadOn--and Production Values Off .........................................................................................................162Hardback Books and Hard Truths ..............................................................................................................164The Consumer is Not a Moron. Or am I? ..................................................................................................166The Tale of Retail .......................................................................................................................................168Be Borat or Be Boring ...............................................................................................................................170Righting the Writing ..................................................................................................................................172Rescuing Lost Brands ................................................................................................................................174Of So-Called Rock Stars and Stage-Hogging Poseurs ..............................................................................176Dinosaurs, Cockroaches, And Guerrillas ...................................................................................................178The Law of the Advertising Landscape .....................................................................................................180The Agency Internal Combustion Engine ..................................................................................................182The Sanjaya Principle ................................................................................................................................184Surrounding Yourself With Breakthrough Nonsense .................................................................................186Harry Potter and the Obtuse Client ............................................................................................................188 2007A Diverse Set of Problems .........................................................................................................................190Turning Chinese .........................................................................................................................................192Shuffling the Deckhands ............................................................................................................................194Getting Back to Your Agency’s Roots ........................................................................................................196When Bad Ideas Happen To Good Agencies .............................................................................................198A Carbon-Neutral Pile of Manure ..............................................................................................................200The Importance of Filtering Actionable Jargon Into Buckets ....................................................................202
  4. 4. Striking it Rich, or At Least Striking It Profitable .....................................................................................204Outsourced Outside The Box .....................................................................................................................206Year-End Closeout Thoughts .....................................................................................................................208Primary Lessons, And Secondary Ones Too ..............................................................................................210Chasing a Moving Target ...........................................................................................................................212Obamarketing .............................................................................................................................................214Some Free Thinking ..................................................................................................................................216Where Adweek Meets Businessweek ........................................................................................................218When Weird Works ....................................................................................................................................220Digitally Divided We Stand .......................................................................................................................222Back to the Future of the Past ....................................................................................................................224Interactive Agencies and Passive Mentalities ............................................................................................226 2008The Defense of the Offensive ....................................................................................................................228The Loyal Treatment ..................................................................................................................................230Cutting Off a Campaign’s Legs .................................................................................................................232Read This or Else .......................................................................................................................................234From Wasilla to Madison Avenue ..............................................................................................................236The War On Talent .....................................................................................................................................238A Cheap High and New Lows ....................................................................................................................240The Fantasy of Reality-Based Advertising ................................................................................................242The Advertising Industry Stimulus Package ..............................................................................................244ROI: Advertising’s Dirty Four-Letter Word ..............................................................................................246Why Asking May Be the Answer ..............................................................................................................248Couples Counseling for the Agency-Client Relationship ..........................................................................250Read Globally, Be Pissed Locally .............................................................................................................252Nothing is Dead, So Let’s Bury that Idea ..................................................................................................254The Path To Empathy .................................................................................................................................256But Wait, There Really is More .................................................................................................................258Are You Smarter Than An Ad Student? .....................................................................................................260 2009Wherever You Go, There You Advertise ....................................................................................................262Brands and Stands ......................................................................................................................................264Life is Not a Two-Page Visual Solution Spread ........................................................................................266
  5. 5. Capitalism: An Advertising Story ..............................................................................................................268From Cliff to the Abyss ..............................................................................................................................270Giving the Usual Routine the Boot ............................................................................................................272In Ad We Trust ...........................................................................................................................................274Tiger, A Little Tail, and the Marketing Beast .............................................................................................276Houston, We Might Could Have a Problem ..............................................................................................278Thirsting for Originality .............................................................................................................................280The Bigness of Small, Powerful Targets ....................................................................................................282Your Attention, Please -- If You Can Spare Any ........................................................................................284Brand Building, Now 30 Percent Off ........................................................................................................286Spilling the Brand Promise ........................................................................................................................288Tracking the Rise of Tracking ....................................................................................................................290The Irregularity of Regulating the Ad Biz .................................................................................................292News You Might Not Want to Use .............................................................................................................294More Advertising Needs to Smell Like Fun ..............................................................................................296 2010Can One Agency Really Do It All for a Client? .........................................................................................298Happiness in Advertising? Now That’s an Idea Worth Counting ..............................................................300It’s Still the Economy, Stupid -- So We Need to be Smarter .....................................................................302Looking for Transparency in Marketing? Sorry, There’s Nothing There ..................................................304Want Less Government? Then You Might Get Less Advertising ..............................................................306Surely, Ads Can Still Influence Popular Culture ........................................................................................308Do You Have an “Off” Switch ...................................................................................................................310The Rope and the Tug of Advertising. Which Do You Prefer? ..................................................................312The Strange Reality of Working Virtually .................................................................................................314
  6. 6. Branding. Religion. Censorship. Office politics. Global politics. Sexual politics.Good ads. Bad ads. Ageism. Sexism. Racism. Art. Science. ROI. CRM. BS. CYA.Think of a topic related to advertising. Chances are you’ll find it in here.I started writing this column on TalentZoo.com in 2002. And since then, I’ve always been thefirst to tackle controversial, newsworthy and provocative issues that advertising professionalsconfront on a daily basis but rarely discuss.Why? Because I believe that advertising, and the ad industry in general, suffers because of thecumulative effect of thousands of dimwitted decisions made every day. I’ve witnessed quite a lotof good advertising business practices. But I’ve also witnessed quite a lot of dysfunction. Andit’s healthy to talk about both of those.Advertising is a business based on communication, yet so often ad agencies do a poor job withtheir own internal communication. Advertising agencies believe they are the “stewards” of theirclients’ brands, yet advertising agencies do a lousy job managing their own brands. These are justa couple of the numerous ironies and idiosyncrasies of the ad industry.Most editorials written by advertising’s so-called “creative superstars” generally lapse into "letsfight and push our clients to break the mold" pseudo-inspirational bullshit. If it was that easy tocreate and sell great work, the One Show annual would be 5000 pages long.So I decided there was a need to question everything about the way the ad industry conductsbusiness. In my columns, I ask tough questions. I dont claim to have all the answers, and I don’tthink anyone else does, either. But I’m happy to be the one who starts the conversation.I possess the ability to see and understand how even the smallest details comprise the big picture.That’s why I call my column “View From the Cheap Seats.” I’ve heard from hundreds of peoplewho appreciate what I write.I hope you enjoy reading these columns. And because I believe in the power of constructivecommunication and feedback, please let me know what you think. Send your comments todgoldg@mindspring.com.© 2002-2011 by Dan Goldgeier. All rights reserved. Articles contained herein originally appeared on TalentZoo.com and have been reproducedwith permission from Talent Zoo Inc. Please feel free to make photocopies of the contents of this publication and tack up favorite columns onyour cubicle wall. Just don’t sell this book to some dude in SoHo who’s peddling movie scripts and bootleg DVD’s from a card table. Wow,you’ve read this far? Amazing. Who says nobody reads body copy anymore?
  7. 7. 3/21/2002My Client, The Bait-and-Switch SleazebagsWhy would honest agency people work for dishonest clients?All advertising people eventually own up to a certain amount of self-loathing about the adbusiness. Hucksters, whores, sellouts--we question whether the world really needs thisadvertising shit. For the most part though, ad people perform a service that helps clients andgreases the wheels of capitalism and hey, capitalism is a good thing. But what happens when wework on something that makes us truly loathe the ad business?I started thinking about that question once when I worked on a particular project. Not to get intospecifics, but my clients were truly bait-and-switch con artists. They (with my copywriting help)wanted to advertise a service for a certain price. Then they admitted to me that 90% of the time,customers pay 4 times as much for the work if it’s done properly. In other words, I had topromote a $100 deal that that usually ended up costing $400. All this to a blue-collar targetaudience who needed to keep their hard-earned money. The whole assignment made me want topuke.Okay, fine, these people had a history of working with my agency, no big deal, I just did thework and kept my mouth shut. Then, poking around the Internet one day, I did a search on thiscompany and discovered they had been profiled on a weekly newsmagazine show andinvestigated by the Better Business Bureau in several states for deceptive practices.To make matters worse, my clients really were not nice people. The account represented only atiny sliver of our agencys billings but consumed huge amounts of time because they were sohigh-maintenance and demanding. The account was unprofitable, and the creative was awful,too.I wish I had the power to tell this client to take a flying leap, but I didnt. I was just a lowly CWand there’d be hell to pay if I actually spoke the truth. I couldnt understand why my boss evergave this client the time of day. Why he never told them that running deceptive ads was ahorrible idea that, while it might drive short-term traffic, would kill them in the long run. Why henever pointed out that brand loyalty erodes when they continually screw their customers. No, hejust went along with all of it--even though our agency would do just fine without them. Did thismean our agency was as scummy as our clients?Clients like these are all over the place. Agencies, too. As I found out, even legitimate, honest adagencies run by honest people are all too happy to service the business. But as professionals, weneed to draw a distinction between puffed-up language and dishonest claims. Too often, we knowwhen our clients want to cross the line yet we’re reluctant to call them on it or suggest a higherroad. Is this why so much advertising stinks? Is this why consumers have such a low regard foradvertising and the people who make it?
  8. 8. All the truly good work our industry does gets neutralized in the face of crap like bait-and-switchadvertising. Regrettably, faced with my own bait-and-switch client, I didn’t do shit. Maybe Iwon’t do shit next time either, or maybe I’ll take a stand. Maybe now is a good time to begintaking a stand against clients that promote their products and services with deceptive marketing.Who’s with me?©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 9
  9. 9. 5/2/2002Why Few People Respect Advertising in the Morning(Or any other time of day)As an industry that assaults the public with unwelcome messages, advertising has a responsibilityto do more than just make, or take, money. So, when I see a high-profile campaign that sucks, itreally pisses me off because everyone sees the greed and shallowness of the ad industry.The consequences are harmful when a high profile campaign misses the mark so widely. I’ll pickone example.You’ve all seen the latest anti-drug ads or at least you’ve heard about them. Teenagers sayingoverly dramatic soundbites like, “I helped kidnap a Columbian judge” or “I helped slaughter aVenezuelan family.”You’re supposed to believe these teens are somewhat responsible for the treacherous state oftoday’s world just because they smoked pot or popped Ecstasy.Give me a fuckin’ break.I’m not going to spew a long-winded political diatribe on the subject. This column isn’t“Hardball.” No matter what I think about the war on drugs or the war on terrorism, the factremains this ad campaign is an untruthful, irrelevant, giant steaming pile of crap.However, I’m willing to be a good, compliant American. If the Government’s new ad strategyinvolves using the threat of terrorism to fix our nation’s ills, I’m on board.In fact, I’ve even concepted the second round of the campaign. Here’s my thinking and theexecution:-What has funded our recent terrorism more than drug money? America’s dependence on oil.-Who in America uses the most oil? Folks who drive SUV’s and minivans.-Who drives SUV’s and minivans? Soccer moms.So I say the next batch of ads feature soccer moms behind the wheel of their Expeditions andLand Rovers, saying their gas-guzzling vehicles encourage terrorism and worldwide carnage.Now, why won’t you see those ads? Simple. Soccer moms vote. Teenagers don’t.
  10. 10. The current ads point fingers at teenagers, a group of people who don’t have a registered voice totalk back, and it’s a cop-out to lay the terrorist problem at their feet. Yes, the anti-drug campaignis controversial. It’s being talked about. Fine.Stopping terrorism and drug use by linking the two won’t put a dent in either. Good advertisinghas at least a nugget of truth, believability, or entertainment. The anti-drug spots fail on all threeaccounts.I picked this campaign because it isn’t a Macaroni & Cheese or feminine hygiene account. Weexpect those categories to be filled with bad work. I don’t intend to piss on this one campaignand the campaign’s creators.Simply put, I want to illustrate that bad thinking on a high-profile account in a public service-type category like this is truly harmful to the advertising industry.Admittedly, I feel slightly sorry for the ad folks who worked on the campaign. I know it sucks towork from a ridiculous creative brief, having done it many times myself. Plus, the client is theGovernment. Uncle Sam is well-stocked with guns and search warrants.What are you gonna do, look your powerful client in the eye and tell them they’re wrong? Wouldyour agency (or any agency, for that matter) turn down lucrative government cash on principlealone?I will venture a guess that most ad professionals see right through public service campaigns thatdo nothing to truly serve the public. Ad people have a knack for detecting bullshit even while weare slinging it. If we as ad professionals don’t believe it, why do we think millions of people willbelieve it?Recently, the outgoing Chairman of the Board of Directors of the 4A’s said that the generalpublic doesnt respect the ad industry "as much as they should." Well, duh. I think the anti-drugcampaign is a high-profile example of why.Advertising can be a powerful tool to advance businesses, organizations and certainly causes.Advancing those entities successfully means strategic thinking and execution that comes from anhonest place.It’s not too late to maintain some credibility of the craft of advertising. First, however, we needto stop whoring ourselves to anyone who waves a buck in our face, and then ask to be respected.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 11
  11. 11. 5.21.2002Are You Targeting Me? Are You Targeting ME?As long as they don’t know too much about me, Im all for 1-to-1 marketingSomeone in the ad business recently told me, "In a few years, all marketing will be directmarketing." I think thats a likely proposition, and a very scary one.Selling a client on things like CRM and one-on-one marketing is easy. Clients salivate when youmention services that “add value,” and those services tend not to involve breakthrough creativeideas. Clients are attracted to any rational way to justify their companies’ marketing expenses totheir boss. They hunt for quantifiable results wherever they can find them, and theyre quick tovalue data over mass marketing.Most of us are familiar with direct marketing in the classic sense. Publishers’ Clearing House.Ron Popeil’s Spray-on Hair. Telemarketing calls at dinner.However, the notion of creating a one-to-one relationship with every customer is slowly creepinginto every segment of marketing, and taking shape in new ugly ways.So far, Ive been resisting grocery stores so-called "loyalty cards." Its really not loyalty--more ofa Pavlovian method of jacking up prices and lowering them again the next week.The hope is consumers will be attracted to weekly sale prices they can only attain by using theirhandy loyalty card. This perceived “savings” supposedly increases store loyalty. But true brandloyalty lies in the trust a consumer places in a brand. I don’t trust these cards, so these stores sureas hell dont have loyalty from me.If I applied for a “loyalty card,” I’d need to supply my name, address, phone number and otherpersonal info. The card would have a unique ID strip to identify me when I buy something.Im not a conspiracy theorist, but I thought of a scenario that doesnt seem too far-fetched to me.If I go in and buy Twinkies, cigarettes, and beer every week, they know.What if my HMO found out about my slovenly purchases? Would I get a "lazy bastard"surcharge on my monthly premiums? Could an insurance company deny me health care coveragealtogether until I start buying rice cakes and bottled water? Yuck!Even drugstore chains are introducing loyalty cards. Can personal hygiene habits be tracked?Thats even scarier.Maybe technology lacks the sophistication to link people directly to the merchandise theybought. How do I know that? I dont. There’s no telling what information is being collected andhow it’s being used.
  12. 12. What would happen if a grocery store chain went out of business and sold its customer databaseto someone else? Sounds to me like that’s a more valuable asset than the shelving and freezers.Every week a news story appears about our increasingly tracked lives. A certain mega giganticsoftware company can track documents written on its software. TV recording devices make noteof what you watch. Websites record where you’ve surfed. Even courts can subpoena bookstorepurchases to find out what you read.Every day, databases around the world collect more and more information about us without ourdirect consent. Although much of our industry embraces these marketing techniques, I’mconfident it will come back to haunt us.The public may not revolt against marketers in protest, but as consumers ourselves, each one ofus will face a day when we realize someone out there knows too much about our habits.The ad industry always struggles with the battle of art vs. commerce. We know that the adbusiness will always be an inexact science, and there’s no precise method of predicting consumerbehavior. The pursuit of data enhances our capabilities, and yes, it often adds value to ourservices. But at what price?Have we entered an era where the only way the ad industry can increase its value to our clients isto resort to Big Brother tactics? As an industry, we have responsibilities to the public as well asour clients. Just because technology allows us to track this stuff, does that mean we should?We’ll never again see an area where a simple TV or print campaign is all a brand needs. Wouldour industry ever decide that certain one-to-one marketing techniques and research methodsshould be off-limits? I wonder if it’s too late to have that discussion. If it isn’t too late, well, I’mhere, and I like Cheez Doodles. Or did you already know that?©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 13
  13. 13. 6/13/2002I Got Your Account Planning Right Here, PalDo we really wanna know what consumers think?Admit it: whenever you tell someone you work in advertising, they turn into an instant critic. Ata family gathering last year, my uncle came up to me and started complaining aboutcommercials. In this case, he was bitching about a couple of Wieden and Kennedy’s Miller HighLife spots. We didn’t have a long conversation.Me: “Do you drink beer?”My Uncle (who’s about 60): “No.”Me: “Then what do you care?”Sure, I could have talked his ear off about target audiences, the advantage of entertaining ads, thelack of USPs in beer advertising, but I would have been wasting my time. My uncle wouldn’tcare, he only knows he doesn’t like/get/understand the ad, and “how can a commercial like thatpossibly sell beer?”Wait a minute. Didn’t the Miller High Life campaign win awards? That means it MUST bebrilliant, right? How come my uncle doesn’t recognize that brilliance?If I have to try and defend award-winning spots to people, I will definitely have troubledefending the real crappy ones.What bothers me is I know my uncle is not an anomaly. A lot of “breakthrough creative” goesover consumers’ heads. Not because they’re the wrong target for the ad, or because they’restupid. Consumers just don’t analyze advertising the same way ad professionals incessantly do.Ad people sweat the details most folks don’t notice. But often times, it falls on deaf ears: I hadsomeone tell me once, “I’ve never seen an ad that made me buy anything.” And then she droveoff, to Pottery Barn, in her Lexus, stopping at Starbucks along the way. You know people likethis, right?We ad pros have convinced ourselves that the kind of advertising consumers say they respond toin a survey or focus group does not always correlate to a purchase. It’s an ever-so-subtle way ofthinking we know what’s best for consumers.In order to bridge the gap between what people say and what people do, we’ve invented all sortsof methods to get “inside consumers’ heads.” My question is: Do we really want to know what’sin there?
  14. 14. For all the talk about understanding our audience and identifying with their lifestyles, why don’twe get some of them to judge award shows? Boy you’ll get a wake up call then.Let them get in a room with all the work spread out on long tables. Pump them with coffee andlet their eyes glaze over. Let’s see what they come up with.Who would take home Best of Show at a People’s Choice advertising award show—the AFLACduck? The 1800-COLLECT commercial with Carrot Top? The Dell ads with that punk kid?(Actually it might be those truly funny Bud Light “Real Men of Genius” radio spots—I’ve heardmany non-ad people rave about them. Is there anyone on the planet that dislikes those?)We’re living in a time where clients are trying to maximize the effectiveness of their advertisingdollars, and clients don’t correlate effectiveness with what ad people deem to be creativity.Advertising, therefore, has become more pervasive and more ubiquitous. We’ve turned up thevolume to 11, but it’s the same old song. Is that what consumers, like my uncle, want?I would’ve asked him, but by then I’d had a few too many Miller High Lifes. Hey, I’m trying mybest to consume the products of One Show winners. It’s the least I can do.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 15
  15. 15. 7/8/2002I’m Not Lying To You Right NowDid corporate America learn the art of lying from advertising?The last few weeks have been rough. See, I’m a WorldCom shareholder. Or, uh, I was. And I’mpissed. Some people need to go to jail. Hell, I want to make a citizens’ arrest.WorldCom is only the latest in a long line of corporate clusterfucks. Seems that many executivesthink it’s perfectly fine to lie straight-faced to the media, stockholders, customers, and mostimportantly, their employees. What MBA program teaches that lying is an acceptable practice?If profit and greed were the motives for all this illegal activity, then the executives who madethese decisions were simply in pursuit of serious wealth. More wealth than anyone really needs,which I wouldn’t ordinarily have a problem with. Except in this case, screwing over other peoplein pursuit of this wealth wasn’t an obstacle.Which led me to think: Did the advertising industry legitimize lying for the rest of the country?Any student of advertising knows that back in the early days, stinky breath, B. O., and lifelesshair were all touted as sure tickets to living a life without friends and no chance of ever gettinglaid. (Those facts haven’t changed, but it really is a little subtler now).Over the years, however, the ad industry upped the ante. Advertising promotes the good life.Nicer homes, nicer cars, nicer stereos, nicer wrinkle-free faces, etc. It didnt matter if a personcouldnt afford the lifestyle, thats what credit cards and second mortgages were for.But corporate executives had other methods of acquiring wealth: cooking the books, ludicrousstock option packages and golden parachutes. It’s possible the corporate thievery and greed werereading about these days have been perpetrated by people who were hell-bent on living thelifestyle that advertising told them was possible.I really hope advertising isn’t the root cause of the current malaise. I like to believe thatadvertising serves a good and valuable service in a capitalistic society. We send the messages,but we don’t coerce people to take action. If a person has a fundamental sense of right andwrong, and some self-control, no amount of advertising can make someone dishonest in thepursuit of wealth or nicer goods.Reading the headlines, however, makes me wonder if anyone has self-control these days. Ouractions have come back to haunt us. The ad industry is in a deep recession because we’re now onthe ass end of a boom our marketing imagery helped create.
  16. 16. As a society, do we need to pull back on the relentless pursuit of more and better stuff? Canadvertising agencies and clients survive a change like that? Or are we resigned to a culture ofrelentless consumption and greed?The problem is that the more drastic the economic situation is and the tighter competition gets,the more marketers will do to skirt the rules to sell as much as possible. As a result, the fine printgets longer and the little white lies get bigger. To promote the corporate image, companies willpass themselves off as healthier, more viable businesses than they really are.We can find a middle ground. I believe the advertising industry can promote its clients’ productsin an engaging, informative way without causing consumers to overextend themselves. I believecorporations can market themselves and pursue their profit motives without doing it at theexpense of the rest of the population.Of course, I also believed WorldCom stock was a good investment.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 17
  17. 17. 7/23/2002This Agencys For YouThe industry’s sucking wind--maybe advertising agencies should try advertisingAgencies are cutting costs. Cutting people. Freezing salaries. Hocking the foosball tables.Getting rid of the free bagels. All of which are symptoms of a bigger problem.Every week, a new article appears about how advertising is dying or becoming irrelevant. Ingeneral, the industry can’t seem to stop the slide. Most agencies do good work for clients, butthat message isn’t getting out.So why aren’t ad agencies promoting themselves by advertising?Besides the cutesy masturbatory ads you see in Creativity magazine or a local awards showannual, you never really see ads for ad agencies, do you?I actually saw an agency in Texas advertise itself. The shop took out full-page ads in a slickregional magazine. One had a photo of a bull in it with the line “Great ads without the bull.” Ithink another one had a donkey with the line “kick ass advertising.” I know, I know, but they getan A for effort in my book. At least someone’s out there doin’ it. This agency kept up the self-promotion for a long time, too—every month was a new ad. Then I read recently that they had tolay a few people off.You’ll never see advertising agencies advertise themselves often. Is there a secret fear thatadvertising doesn’t work, so agencies don’t ingest their own medicine? Can agencies simply notafford the media? I would say “no” to both those questions.Here’s the real reason why you won’t see ads for agencies: creating those ads would be the mostpolitically charged, fucked-up assignment anyone ever worked on. Donating a kidney would be amore pleasurable experience.Most agencies sound alike in their self-promotion materials. Want proof? Look at the missionstatements you see on agency web sites: “We’re passionate about the power of creative ideas toget business-building results for our marketing partners.” Or some shit like that.I’ve found that most people in agency management don’t have a vision for their business. (Andno, making a shitload of money and screwing employees in the process doesn’t count as a“vision.”) And the fish rots from the head down.Without a point of differentiation, agency self-promotion efforts devolve into the very kind ofadvertising we loathe-- full of non-offensive double-talk and empty platitudes.
  18. 18. If you filled out a creative brief to sell your agency as a brand, what would it say? And what kindof creative work would result?Until ad agencies get better at building their own brands--promoting their own services, definingwhat they stand for, and defending their point-of-view and their work, clients will find otherways to spend their marketing dollars.After all, brands either live up to their promises, or they die. Right?©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 19
  19. 19. 8/12/2002The Creative TeamstersWhat if advertising people had a union?As a baseball fan, I get really sickened at the prospect of yet another players’ strike. Then I getreally intrigued at the same time.If baseball players, actors, and screenwriters can form unions, why can’t advertisingprofessionals?Advertising doesn’t require heavy lifting, and unless your boss has an X-ACTO knife fetish orfull-time PMS the work isn’t dangerous, but our industry struggles with all the hot button issuesthat unions have traditionally tackled: job security, hours, benefit cutbacks, blatant age and sexdiscrimination, fill-in-yourgripe here.Me, I’ve written TV and radio campaigns that were so effective they were still being aired longafter I’d left the agencies I wrote them for, with not an extra penny or drop of credit to show forthe effort.If I had been a union VO talent on those spots instead of the copywriter, I might have been moreproperly compensated.Let’s also address the current state of staffing in the ad business today. Nothing is more patheticthan ad people who blurt out “I’m slammed” when you ask them how they’re doing. Seems thatnobody has the means to hire additional help, yet “slammed” is a sorry-ass way to live no matterwhat kind of work you’re doing for a living.So what if we all did something about the industry’s current sorry state of affairs, like unionizeand strike?A strike would test the notion of how much impact a “superstar” employee has on the endproduct, how interchangeable ad pros really might be, and how much of a vendor-likecommodity advertising is.Just imagine, if you will, an advertising creatives’ strike. While ad people are off picketing (orhanging out at the bar or Starbucks), agency owners and holding company executives could hirescabs.Maybe the scabs would bring back the puns that were so in vogue 20 years ago. (“Makes PastaFasta” lives again!!) Maybe every ad would feature dogs, babies and big-ass logos. I imagine thework at Wieden would suffer tremendously, but nothing coming out of Grey would be any worse.
  20. 20. The weird part is, the more I think about an advertising union, the more, uh, anti-American itsounds. I mean, unions seem like such an Industrial Revolution throwback kind of thing, a 20thcentury solution to a 21st century problem.However, as the ad industry becomes more centrally controlled, with more work being done byless people, and technology making it virtually impossible not to spend all of one’s waking hoursthinking about work, I wonder what the solution might be.Two high-profile books coming out soon are predicting “the fall” and “the end” of advertising.Well, maybe some radical thinking could save the business.Although Hollywood no longer employs the “studio system” that kept people bound for years,the screenwriters, actors, directors, and other groups still receive some form of protection fortheir labor.The ad industry loves to compare itself to Hollywood, with our politicized work environments,our “creative superstar” system, and constant art vs. commerce battles. So, why not followHollywood’s lead and unionize?Hey, at least we’d have picket signs with killer headlines and art direction.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 21
  21. 21. 9/10/2002Hey, Luke, Squeeze ThisA plea for some useful adviceIf I see any of the following phrases again Im going to scream:"Push the envelope.""Good enough is not good enough.""Tell the client what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.""Get your book together and quit your measly job if youre not getting into CA."I dont fault ad people for the volumes of books and op-ed columns they write to inspire us. I’djust like to see some advice for those of us who spend our days at agencies where greatness is inshort supply. At shops struggling to get to “the next level,” which are the majority of agencies,the hurdles to producing great ads are much more fundamental.Recently, I was thumbing through my well-worn copy of Luke Sullivan’s Hey Whipple SqueezeThis. It’s a great book. Lukes a genius. I personally just cant seem to use much of his advice.Here are a few of Luke’s tips:“Insist on a tight strategy.”Good one. I’m a big believer in strategic thinking, and on a few occasions, I’ve been allowed tocontribute to the process. So what happens when you don’t have a strategy at all, much less atight one? What should you do when you don’t get a creative brief, and you’re not in a positionto change that? Insisting on a tight strategy is futile when "increase sales and increase awareness"is all the insight you get.“Cast and cast and cast.”Luke’s talking about radio here. I love writing radio, and I know that casting is essential. So whatdo you do when a client wants to record new radio spots, but doesn’t want to pay for uniontalent. Or pay for non-union talent. He simply looks around the room at the two thin-voicedwriters and says “You guys have nice voices. Why don’t you do it?”“If the client says he has three important things to say, tell the account executive the clientneeds three ads.”In my experience, this tends to go over like a lead balloon. I could tell an AE that all daylong,and the AE might be sympathetic, but I’ll still end up with ad that has a snipe on the top, asnipe on the bottom, and a starburst in the corner.
  22. 22. “Don’t let advertising mess up your life.”Well, it’s too late for that, I’m afraid. Sometimes I think the sole purpose of advertising is tomess up people’s lives.In a perfect world, we could all throw out a choice Luke Sullivan, David Ogilvy, or BillBernbach bons mots and our fellow co-workers and clients would instantly see the light of day.But the world isn’t perfect. There’s a legion of ad professionals who aren’t doing two-pagespreads with near-invisible logos. Who only have $20,000 to do a TV commercial. Who haveclients that would rather art direct or rewrite an ad than approve one. Who work in agencies thatare understaffed or improperly staffed, which compromises strategic thinking, planning,concepting and execution.Where’s the advice for us?I’ve heard the statement that "90% of all advertising is crap." Lord knows, I’ve done my share.But it’s been my experience that producing “crap” is a group effort, requiring the collectiveefforts of clients, agency management and staff.I’m only one person, with no power over anything other than this column. How can I overcomethe poorly trained yes-men and yes-women who lurk in every facet of the ad making process?Help me, Luke. I need you. Together, we can bring that “crap” percentage down. We should beable to get it to 89% in no time.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 23
  23. 23. 9/24/2002The Enemies Down The HallCant the various disciplines all just get along?Even in the year 2002, many agencies keep people of different disciplines isolated from oneanother. While espousing "integrated communications," we have segregated agencies.Maybe you’ve worked in a shop like that. I have.Id only been at the agency a week or two when an assignment came in to write headlines for anew campaign consisting of 15 ads or so. So I wrote a bunch of headlines and taped each one tothe wall of my office. That way, Id take a look, get some reaction from my co-workers, and get asense of which headlines were the strongest. Perfectly normal, or so I thought.Not at this shop. Before me, no one had ever publicly displayed ideas in their gestation stage likeI did. I was treated like a sideshow freak. "You really need to decorate your office better," oneAE smirked.Id stumbled into a nether-nether world where no one collaborated and ideas were not shareduntil it was time to actually present something. Everyone, in every discipline, keeps their cardsclose to their chest.The distrust runs far and deep. Does your agency keep account service, media, and creativepeople separated in different parts of your office? Or on different floors? I suggest an agencystructured so dysfunctionally runs like a prison. You know, where the white-collar criminals stayseparated from child rapists.Physical barriers become mental barriers. Ive heard many creative directors say, "Well, if wedont do such-and-such, well look bad to account service." As if someone in the agency iskeeping score. We couldnt even pitch rough ideas internally without fear of having it killed.Bill Backer once said ideas need "care and feeding." Well, I suppose that means Ive worked atthe advertising equivalent of an abortion clinic.The "us vs. them" mentality of account service and creative people still exists in many agenciesacross the country. Hell, at many places, the media people stay even more isolated than the restof the agency. Terrible.Ive always believed that the many of the best creative executions have involved a unique mediaplacement. Knowing when and where an ad will appear, and using that info to custom tailor amessage, is a powerful tool.Unfortunately, media people arent involved in the creative process. And vice versa.
  24. 24. Theres no law that says AEs cant write a headline or media people cant think about creativeexecutions. Theres no law that says a copywriter cant help write an account plan or a creativebrief. Ideas can come from anywhere, and they can be improved by anyone.We all have our respective jobs to do, and areas of expertise. Advertising, however, is acollaborative business. A business where no two products made are alike. In order to besuccessful, an agency needs to welcome an open free-flow of ideas. Let the bad ideas die on theirmerits, not because of fear, ego or politics.Stop the infighting. Stop the isolation. Start working together on every project, from thebeginning. I believe an ad agency can operate this way and still make money.Besides, we all know who the real enemy is.Its the client. Right?©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 25
  25. 25. 10/15/2002“60 Minutes” and a Brilliant Marketing MinuteHow Donny Deutsch Made Advertising Relevant Again--For a MomentA few weeks ago, “60 Minutes” ran a segment that focused on network TV and advertising’sperpetual fixation with youthful target audiences. They interviewed Donny Deutsch and alsoshowed some clips from the Mitsubishi campaign.When the segment was over and they went to commercial, guess what the first spot in the breakwas? Yup —a Mitsubishi spot. Brilliant move, Donny.This media buy might have been a coincidence, but I’m willing to bet it was intentional.Seems to me the audience of “60 Minutes” doesn’t reflect Mitsubishi’s target demographics onan ordinary Sunday. In this case, however, the fit was perfect, and the subject matter of the storyput me in the right frame of mind to see the commercial moments later.I use this example because the impression I get is not that Deutsch has savvier media buyers(though they might be) or that Donny Deutsch is a whiz at his own PR (though we all know heis), but that his agency overall is a more creative and effective agency in terms of what they dofor their clients.So much talk focuses on why PR is more effective than advertising these days, but ad agenciesdon’t have to become irrelevant. Perhaps we can learn from Deutsch’s example—an example ofwhy he’s an effective brand steward for Mitsubishi.The fundamental premise of advertising is built on paid airtime or space—agencies and clientscontrol what the message is, who sees the message and when they see the message.Do ad agencies utilize the benefits implied in that premise? Hell no. We have so much controlover a brand’s communications, yet most advertising is still dull, irrelevant, and in ever higherquantities that numb the senses.Can one person, or one creative team, one AE, fix this problem one ad at a time? Sure.While we determine how brands should fit into a consumers’ lifestyle, we should also determinehow a brand’s advertising more closely matches the media environment.As a creative person, I have always made it a point to find out when and where an ad will appearbefore I begin concepting, because all information pertaining to an assignment, including mediaplacement, is powerful. I keep all the information in mind so I create a more creative andeffective ad.
  26. 26. If I know the ad is going in the sports section, I write an ad relevant to the people who read thesports section. If an ad’s going to air primarily late at night, I write with insomniacs in mind.I thought this logic could be easily applied at smaller agencies where it’s easy for everydepartment to work closely together, and small clients could appreciate the added value ofstrategic thinking that blends creative, media and PR. Unfortunately, in my experience, smallagencies, in particular, seem ill-equipped to implement such a process.Every assignment for a brand fits into The Big Picture. Every point of communication can furtherbuild a brand. Any client can benefit from integrated ideas (and in Mitsubishi’s case, sharpthinking and good timing) that make budgets go farther.But many agencies don’t encourage their employees to embrace interdisciplinary thinking. Nordo agencies strongly advocate to their clients the benefits of that approach. In the haste to simplyget work out the door, people fail to consider the big picture, big ideas go unrewarded, and ourclients’ money gets wasted.Maybe that’s why people are beginning to think advertising has decreasing relevance. Maybethat’s why small ad agencies stay small. Maybe that’s why Deutsch went from a small agency tonational prominence in only a few years.So here’s to you, Donny. Your PR stunt, backed with paid advertising, worked on me. Just don’tget a big head because I’m giving you props, okay?©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 27
  27. 27. 11/5/2002Advertising For ColumbineThe message we send to consumers: Be afraid--be very afraidOkay, I wont make this a movie review, but I recently saw Michael Moores new movie"Bowling for Columbine." The film is a study of violence in America, and a culture of fear thatseems, in part, to be fueled by media hype.Its a great movie, and whether you agree with Moore’s views or tactics, he makes you think. Atleast he made me think--because advertising, though not a central culprit in the movie, plays asupporting role.Has advertising created fear as the primary reason to buy something? Is preying upon that fearthe best method of marketing? As advertisers, can we sell our clients goods and services to anaudience thats too scared to buy?Where I live, the nightly local news is a litany of stories about murders, car accidents, robberies,school violence and health alerts. How can an advertiser transition to happy news of"STOREWIDE SAVINGS!" at a commercial break and expect their audience to be receptive?We preach about understanding consumers’ mindsets, but have you ever seen a creative brief thatdescribes a target audience as “scared shitless?”When people are afraid, advertising loses relevance by assuming everything’s OK. Take therecent D.C. sniper shootings. I dont live in the D.C. area, but I really would love to know howgas stations or convenience stores could advertise as if they were conducting business as usual--sending the message of "hey, come in for gas and soda" when people were afraid to get out oftheir cars.The release of “Bowling for Columbine” couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. In one scene,Moore flashes a montage of reports of the nightly news about everything that we should beconcerned about: contaminated food, poisonous snakes, polluted water, killer bees, etc. As if theworld was safer and healthier 200 years ago.All the bad news has a cumulative effect. If you believe what you read in the paper or see on TV,the world is a very scary place. Whether the threat is legitimate or imagined, the fear becomesreal. And as ad people know, perception is reality. The distorted view becomes the norm. Ifyou’re suddenly afraid to leave your house or pump gas because a random sniper’s on the loose,your abnormal behavior becomes normal.
  28. 28. And advertising preys upon that fear. The solution, we say is to buy more--security systems,fences, child safety seats, bacteria-killing handi wipes—to protect against any threat. This, on topof the daily fears of not appearing sexy enough, smart enough, rich enough, or confident enoughin the eyes of friends and neighbors.I think fear is a core tenet of the advertising business. Internally as well as externally.Look at your agency. Are you surrounded by fear? Fear of ideas being rejected, losing clients(who are also fearful), losing jobs, losing money. So the tendency is to fall in line and not makewaves. There’s safety in mediocrity. If you speak your mind, or go against the conventionalwisdom, you could easily be fired-especially in this economy. Consequently, much of the workpanders to the lowest common denominator— fear.If more advertising were life-affirming, and less fear-inducing, would the world around us feelsafer? Would the rest of the culture reflect our positive changes?“Bowling for Columbine” doesn’t have the answers, and neither do I. Unfortunately, I dontbelieve that ad agencies, ad people, the media or consumers are going to stop perpetuating thecycle of fear, because fear sells. Thats what scares me the most.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 29
  29. 29. 11/26/2002On Killer Books and Hard-Hitting ExecutionsThe bizarre vernacular of the ad industryAs a writer, I’m perpetually curious about the power of words. Like any profession, advertisinghas its own vernacular. However, since we’re in the business of communicating with the generalpublic, I find the language we use internally to be very bizarre. Let me show know you what Imean.“Shop” Ad agencies are commonly referred to as “shops.” This term has an old-world feel, as ifad people were artisans like cobblers or blacksmiths, crafting great ads in our “shop.” But in myexperience, clients tend to dictate what they want, and get it exactly how they want it, the wayMeg Ryan ordered food in “When Harry Met Sally.” Maybe we should refer to an ad agency notas a “shop,” but as a “diner.”“Killer” Describing any great ad as “killer” always perplexed me. If an ad is a killer, well, doesit mean the ad’s “target” would be rendered dead by watching or reading the ad? Are we talkingabout advertising or quail hunting? Killer diseases are bad. Killer bees are bad. Serial killers likethe Son of Sam are bad. Why are killer ads good?“Hard-hitting” I once had a client who continually requested that ads be more “hard-hitting.”This meant inserting more exclamation points, more use of warnings like “DON’T MISS OUT!”and of course, more starbursts and snipes. The result? My ads were hard-hitting, but they weren’tkiller. Many clients believe hard-hitting ads work and I think I know why. Ads deemed to be“hard-hitting” leave the audience staggered, but still physically able to buy something. However,an audience killed by “killer” ads is dead and can’t use their credit card.“Executions” In advertising agencies around the world, thousands of unsuspecting, innocent-looking ads are executed every day. An “execution” of an idea means a finished version of theidea. Just like variations of the death penalty, there are many ways to execute an idea, whichbrings me to a similar term:“Produced” An idea “produced” means that the ad actually appears on-air or in print. Producingan ad means you’ve brought it to life. What confuses me is in some cases, “execute” means “toput to death” while “produce” means “to bring into existence.” In advertising, though, it’sperfectly acceptable to use the two words together, which makes for some bizarre English--moreon that later.
  30. 30. “Edgy” Somebody (Dan Wieden I think, but I’m not sure) already addressed this term prettyeffectively. He said that when something has an edge, someone is bound to get cut. The moralhere is that if you go to present an “edgy” idea to a client, bring some tourniquets. Remember:edgy ideas are not always killer ideas. And if you fall on your sword for an edgy idea, you mightbe the one who gets killed. Or fired.“Book” This word has a strange dual meaning: It describes both a creative portfolio and, moreoddly, a magazine. The first time I heard a Creative Director refer to home improvementmagazines as “shelter books” I nearly pissed in my pants from laughing so hard. A term like thatsounds ridiculous, but it’s a common usage. If magazines are “books,” what do we call actualhard-bound books?Confused about the way people in your agency talk? Don’t be. Just remember these tips:--Any ad can be executed, but killers are usually executed well.--To “kill” also applies when an ad isn’t going to reach the public. You can have a killer ad killedby a client before you get a chance to execute it.--Killer ads tend to win more industry praise than hard-hitting ads. Especially in your book.--An ad that is produced may not be the best possible execution, and your executions may not bewell-produced.--At any moment, your executions may be killed at random by people you’ve never met forreasons that don’t make sense.--If an idea has legs, you may be able to produce many executions for a long time. And puttingall those produced killer executions into your book may land you a great gig doing edgy work ina hot shop.Got it? Good. Now let’s all go out and communicate with our audience.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 31
  31. 31. 12/18/2002Screw Unto Others…Religion and Advertising: Two very similar, and sinister, conceptsI was setting up my Beanie Baby Jesus nativity scene when it struck me that no one should gettoo worked up or too surprised about the increasing crass commercialism of the holiday season.In fact, I think Jesus, Moses, Allah and Buddha would all be ad people if they were alive today.What do advertising and religion have to do with one another? Plenty.Advertising and marketing are borrowing basic tenets of religion to increase customer loyaltyand sales. Nike created a belief system around its brand. So did Ben and Jerry’s, Harley-Davidson, Saturn-- all established a set of values their brands were based on. On Sundaymorning, you can go to church to feel a sense of enlightenment and community. You can also goto Starbucks and feel the same thing.A few years ago, an ad agency declared that “brands are the new religion.” Human beings aretribal beings —joiners at heart. Everyone wants to feel like they’re a part of something biggerthan themselves.If Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc, won’t do the trick, maybe driving a Saturn will. Is it aspiritually empty way to embrace a brand instead of a god? Maybe, maybe not. But advertisinghas legitimized thinking of brands as having value systems one can believe in. Consequently,many consumers have bought into this.What’s dangerous is that positive messages in both advertising and religion always come withnegative implications for disbelievers.You can easily intertwine similar ideas about religion and advertising. Ill do it in the samesentence: If you don’t believe in this deity or buy this product or live this type of lifestyle, thenyou are damned, you will go to hell, you are not a complete person, you are not sexy orsuccessful, you will never get laid.Simply put, "you are not one of us"—that’s the inherent premise of most fundamentally religiouspeople-or brand-conscious people.Too much belief in a certain religion, or brands that represent status, turn rational decent peopleinto intolerant and critical ones. Don’t believe me? Think back to the cliques you saw in highschool—if you didn’t look or dress a certain way, boy you’d get a lot of crap.
  32. 32. This isn’t just an abstract concept, it affects our daily relationships and the people we work with.Someone who proudly preaches "Im a Christian" and someone who says "I only date peoplewho wear Prada" share the same holier-than-thou attitude, and look down upon those who dont.Think back: Did you ever have a client tell you to do an ad based on the message, "our product isthe best"? You’re not really given a solid reason why that product is the best--it just is. Myopicclients believe in the basic superiority of their product--no matter what the truth is. Thats alsowhat each religion believes about itself.We, as a society, prefer believers. Take the flip side: In mainstream America, people who don’tbelieve in organized religion and people who encourage others not to buy stuff or conserveresources are treated like outcasts and pariahs.Both religion and advertising risk losing credibility. The perception is out there that they areresponsible for badness as well as goodness. While unwavering belief in a religion contributes tothe destruction of certain groups of people, mass consumption contributes to the destruction ofthe earths resources.I know, its a heavy topic. Its just what I think about when I get stuck in traffic on the way to themall.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 33
  33. 33. 1/7/2003This Column is Gold, BabyYour guide to entering awards showsGrab the spray mount! Fire up the interns! It’s awards show entry time again. You’ve got formsto fill out and ads to trim.What’s that you say? You didn’t produce any worthy ads last year? Don’t fret. I’m here to help.There’s always a decent percentage of authentic, truly good work that wins. But here are sometips for the rest of us who don’t work on stuff like that:Get your Creative Director to be a judge in the show. Your agency will be guaranteed to win afew awards just as a quid pro quo. If your CD can’t be a judge, then volunteer to do the inside-ad-joke “call for entries” piece. That always gets at least a merit award.If you went to a portfolio school, chances are you did a whacked out, visual solution, two-pagespread for a product that doesn’t need to advertise—like say, the “Connect Four” board game ormarshmallows. You can enter ads like that in the real world. Just credit your agency as beinglocated in Singapore, Malaysia, or South Africa.Don’t enter any ads with store locations, phone numbers or contact info to get more information.That’s all extraneous and never gets read. Besides, consumers don’t need that stuff--the logo isall they need to go find the brand and buy the product.No body copy should be longer than two sentence, unless it’s a 400 word treatise on thecenturies’ old tradition of hand-crafted Norwegian truffles.Stencil something on the sidewalk outside your agency and take a picture of it. That’s your"Guerrilla Marketing" entry.Don’t submit ads for cigar bars, hot sauce, or sex toy shops. They’re too easy. But organic dogfood stores, discount coffin warehouses, and lesbian bed-and-breakfasts are all fair game.In every awards show, there’s always one good carnivore-oriented steakhouse or BBQ restaurantcampaign. Give it a whirl.All newspaper ads must be four-color, full-page, and have minimal copy. Just like all newspaperads are, right?Judges respond to brand names. Wanna do a Nike ad? Wanna do a Miller Lite ad? No problem—instead of putting the brand logo in the corner, just stick in the name and phone number of a localstore where they sell those products—that’s your real client.
  34. 34. It doesn’t matter what your ad’s target audience really is—ads that speak to older or less affluentor small-town audiences never win awards. At awards show time, your audience is a group of 38year-old white guys (and a token woman) wearing lots of black and acting hipper-than-thou.Concept your ads accordingly. (There is a caveat, however: Be leery of anyone in your agencywho walks down the hall with a tissue comp saying, “This ad is a gold winner” or anyone whoevaluates ad concepts based on “What would show judges think of this?” That’s a sure sign of aloser—in more ways than one.)So there you have it. Good luck, and have a good time.By the way, if you take me up on the discount coffin warehouse idea, be sure to ask ‘em if theysell coffins big enough to fit you and all your awards. Remember, the only true measure of aperson in the ad business is how many awards they’ve won, and only gold pencil winners go toheaven.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 35
  35. 35. 1/30/2003Chapter 11 in The Book Of AdvertisingIs a clients business failure our fault?I read recently where a former client of mine filed for bankruptcy. Among the reasons cited wasthe failure of its recent "repositioning and advertising" efforts.This client I worked on was a household name, having been in business for 50 years. The clienthad just come to my agency looking for "fresh thinking," in spite of the fact that this clientsbusiness model was truly dated, and in danger of facing extinction. While the work I did for thisnow-bankrupt client won an award, it was a mere drop in the bucket of this companys marketingefforts.Still, I was surprised about the bankruptcy, and a little sad.Companies go out of business all the time, but this one was a new experience for me. During thedot-com boom of the late 90s, I was working on low-tech old-school clients, so my portfolio isnot littered with campaigns for bad business ideas like justgolftees.com.Still, if ad agencies aim to be "marketing partners" and not merely vendors, do we share theblame in our clients business failures?You cant attribute a cataclysmic clusterfuck like Enron to its advertising, but there are scores ofother clients who advertise and are dependent on that advertising to increase sales, awareness,and keep their businesses flush with cash.Increasingly, agency compensation is being tied to a clients sales goals. So exactly what is theagencys responsibility and/or fault if the figures dont come out well? Whats beyond ourcontrol? Agencies are naturally wary of performance-based compensation, because theres just noexact method of determining an ad campaigns influence on sales.Whether a campaign works or not, the fact remains ad agencies love to take the credit and hate totake the blame. Agencies love to produce case studies based on a clients increased sales andawareness. Agencies rarely talk about the clients that spiraled downward--or out of businessaltogether.Successful or not, the fortunes of a client always affect the agency. Certainly, agency principalsand account directors hear about it when their clients businesses arent doing well. But whatabout the "rank-and-file" employees of agencies?
  36. 36. If working on one particular client represents most of my average workload (essentially meaningone client pays my salary), do I have a responsibility to not only do great ads, but also care abouthow their business is doing overall, and help influence their marketing strategy?I have the fantasy that if I had still been working at the agency, knowing what I do aboutadvertising and marketing, I could have been a voice of reason that might have steered this now-bankrupt client back on the right path. (I have other fantasies about me and Catherine Zeta-Jones,but thats another story.)When a large client faces bankruptcy, it is often public knowledge--lately Ive been reading aboutmajor retailers and airlines that are fighting for survival. These companies need more than greatads to fix their problems. I dont think ad agencies should be blind to this.By incorporating business-building ideas into our brand-building ideas, we may well boost theimage of the ad business. There has to be a way to build this into an agencys ad making process.If we allow our clients to spiral into bankruptcy, well find ourselves losing clients, and becomingcreatively bankrupt as well.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 37
  37. 37. 2/18/2003GeezertisingWill we adjust advertising standards for an aging population?I read recently about a group of ad industry veterans who started a new agency to do the style ofcreative work they used to do—15 and 25 years ago. It was hard to read the profiles and quotesof these dudes without hearing Grandpa Simpson’s voice in my head—“And in those days, typewas hand kerned…”For a moment, I thought it was a silly idea—but then I realized these guys might be just the onesto fill a niche that’s becoming larger by the minute.Americans are living longer, and we’re at a point where senior citizens (and those about to be)are everywhere, and while they still count their change slowly and carefully at the checkoutcounter, they’ve got more change to spend then ever before.The reality will hit us all-just because the baby boom generation is getting older, their vanitywon’t make them healthier. They’ll need their Metamucil and their adult diapers and theirreading glasses and their sensible shoes.Will advertising adjust? How will our industry sell these products to an aging population stillobsessed with youth?For most people, tastes in pop culture are formed in, well, their formative years—teens and earlytwenties. It’s not that they won’t change and experiment with new brands— but there’s lessimpulsiveness. Brands don’t define older people in quite the same way brands define teenage life.However, the ad industry will still have to find ways to position brands to appeal to an ever-olderaudience.An even bigger dilemma looms. Stylistically, much of today’s “edgy” advertising may notresonate. These consumers will seek out what’s familiar. MTV style quick editing doesn’t workfor generations that weren’t weaned on it. 12-point body copy doesn’t work for aging eyes.Ironic humor? Probably not. It’s possible the disparity between breakthrough creative andmarketing effectiveness will get wider and wider.For young creatives (and ad people across all disciplines), bridging the learning gap will take alot of work-people of Generation X and Generation Y can tell when ads that purport to speak tothem dont ring true, and older generations are no different.
  38. 38. It’s no secret that for the most part, long careers in advertising are rare. Will the industry retainmore older workers because they understand the needs of this audience or will youth prevail likealways?I suppose if theres enough profit in a certain type of ad technique or market segment, the adindustry will chase it full force. That’s the one thing that never changes.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 39
  39. 39. 3/11/2003Leaping to The Dark SideWhy aren’t more ad accounts serviced in-house?I once worked on an account where, every week, a new rumor or thinly veiled threat floatedaround our agency, stating our client wanted to “pull the business” away.We never lost the business, but the fear was always there, affecting everybody. And it’s standardoperating procedure in many agencies. Read Adweek or Ad Age, and you’ll constantly see thenews: Another day, another agency fired or another account in review.I can’t imagine other professional services face this turnover as much—corporations don’t switchaccounting firms or lawyers every 2 years to get a bigger tax refund or lawsuit judgment.With a lack of trust in agency/client relationships, profitability margins of agencies getting everthinner, and clients reviewing their accounts more and more frequently, problems seem to staypervasive. It may just be that the traditional agency model doesn’t satisfy the needs of manyadvertisers.So why don’t more companies set up in-house ad departments?Many companies do have in-house ad departments—particularly retailers. But often times, thesedepartments are for mostly fast-turnaround, unglamorous work.Maybe these companies should consider a department not just for the newspaper inserts orsignage—but for the whole shebang.It strikes me as strange when I read about a client that has an in-house ad department, yet calls areview to parcel out the high-profile glory “branding” assignments. It sounds as if the companyhas no confidence in their own people, and I suppose if I were working in that kind ofdepartment I’d be pissed.Setting up an advertising department that is capable of doing high-level creative work would takesome effort. There seems to be a stigma for many ad people about the idea of working in-houseat a corporation, the implication being they’re not good enough to work at an agency. I believe itcan work, though.Would working in a corporate environment inhibit creativity? No more so than working in abureaucratic ad agency run by fear. Could an in-house agency attract the highest level of talent?If there were sufficient enough high profile assignments, talent would flock there.
  40. 40. Given a little flexibility to be creative, and removing the strains common to so many agency/client conflicts, the results could be wonderful. Going in-house would eliminate the notion thatagencies only look out for their own interests, not the client’s. As long as companies don’tperceive ad agencies as being valuable, they’ll continue to look for alternatives to improve theirmarketing—be it product placement, branded content, PR or consulting companies.The solution may be right in a client’s own office.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 41
  41. 41. 4/1/2003Getting Embedded With the ClientWhat advertising can learn from a televised warI always take public opinion polls with a grain of salt. But it startled me when, in the first weekof the current war, the percentage of people who agreed with the statement “the war is goingwell” fluctuated DAILY.According to the Pew Research Center, here are the percentages of Americans who agreed that“the war is going very well” during the first week of fighting:Friday 3/21 71%Saturday 3/22 69%Sunday 3/23 52%Monday 3/24 38%Two days of a less-than-rosy outlook sent public opinion spiraling down. The constant stream ofwar news (and the endless spin of cable news taking heads) and our short attention span led tofalse expectations of instant victory. I shudder to think how 24/7 news coverage would haveaffected World War II, when bad news lingered for months at a time.I believe the ad industry can learn a lot from the war coverage and its effects on the public.As advertisers, we are the ones who can shape public opinion for our clients. We have to be theones to ensure that a brand, at every turn, puts on its best face every day. That means beingproactive, especially in the face of forces beyond our control. Public perception is fickle, andadvertisers have to prepare for that reality.Every piece of information about a brand contributes to the cumulative effect of perception. Asale can be jeopardized by bad customer service or rude salespeople. A person talking about abad experience at a store will influence his/her acquaintances. A bad, misguided, insulting ad canturn consumers off for good.What ad agencies also need to accept is that we are ultimately responsible for the consequencesof our campaigns once we’ve executed them, and we must define for our clients what constitutesa “successful” campaign.
  42. 42. For every client and every campaign, success is perceived differently. Does your agencyeffectively manage your clients’ expectations or does your agency promise them the moon andstars? Do your clients get nervous if one ad or one month’s ads don’t work as well as hoped? Areyour clients ready to bail on you at the first sight of trouble?Reaching for the panic button is quite common when an ad campaign does not roll out as well ashoped. But look at the war situation--our military didn’t give up after one week, nor were theyever planning on giving up despite the polls I quoted. Adjustments were made because of theenemy’s shifting tactics, not the shifting mood of public back home.If our military leaders take intelligence data and then ultimately make decisions by trusting theirinstincts, shouldn’t advertising agencies be allowed to do the same thing?I actually heard a retired general on TV this weekend say that war is an art (I guess Sun Tzu wasright.) Well, if war can be considered an art, advertising certainly is. No test, simulation, or focusgroup can adequately predict the effectiveness of a campaign. We should not pretend otherwise.By the time you read this, the war might be close to ending. Or the war could be a long way fromover. No doubt, public opinion will continue to shift wildly. However, our leaders are confidentthat the mission will be a success and right now, that’s what counts.As advertisers, we can learn from our military’s example. As brand stewards, we’re in it for thelong haul, and must think long-term. We have to believe we’re doing the right thing for ourclients. We need to start with good raw data. We need to formulate a good plan.Most of all, we need to trust our instincts and stick with them. Otherwise, (bad cliché alert) wemay win the battle, but we’ll lose the war.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 43
  43. 43. 4/24/2003In The Belly Of The BeastWhat I learned by spending a few days at Talent ZooThree weeks ago, I decided to hand-deliver my column to the receiving desk on the 34th Floor ofthe Talent Zoo Tower. With a rare few days off, and being a little too old for spring break inSouth Padre Island, I asked if I could hang around a while. As an ad agency employee andsometime job seeker, I wanted to view life from the other side.After signing a confidentiality agreement, as well as enduring a 20 minute interrogation under abare light bulb (outsiders are treated with suspicion), I was given permission to observe the innerworkings of the Talent Zoo empire.I learned a lot. Id like to share my observations with you.There are a buttload of job seekers and not nearly enough jobs for all of them. Given the state ofthe economy, that really shouldnt come as a shock. But when youre actually confronted with aconstant influx of emails, resumes and books, you see how overwhelming it can get, and howtough the competition for every position truly is.The only resumes and books that really stand out are the great ones and thereally shitty ones.Being a naturally curious creative guy, I looked through a bunch of books. Most people fallsomewhere in the middle between genius and hack. After flipping through 5 books in a roweverything looks the same (and for all the non-creatives, all resumes look the same.) Any adsdone before 1995 look very dated now. Nearly everyone has a spec campaign or two thrown in,and some are quite obviously spec. Sticking a book in a metal case wont make a difference if theads suck. Dealing with PDFs, CD-ROMS and online portfolios is a royal pain in the ass. And bythe way, theres no 3/4" machine at Talent Zoo, so Im sure I missed a lot of good (and bad) TVspots.Everyone thinks theyre Gods gift to advertising. Every job seeker claims to be hard-working, passionate, and dedicated. Every creative is conceptual, thinks outside the box and isnever content with mediocrity. Job seekers love to pile on the positive attributes. Believing inyourself and your abilities is truly important, but listing those qualities on a resume doesnt makea lasting impression.
  44. 44. Everyone thinks theyre perfect for every open job. People who are not qualified for aparticular position apply anyway, thinking that a shot in the dark is better than no shot at all.These candidates are easy to spot because their name is constantly recycled, and theyre justwasting everybodys time. I noticed one guy had applied for copywriter, art director, creativedirector, and a traffic position--and was not qualfied for any of them.Agencies take their sweet time making hiring decisions, and no amount ofprodding from Talent Zoo speeds the process along. Calling every two hours wonthelp you get anywhere.Everyone sends emails with grammatical mistakes. Even the copywriters. But somecopywriters send books with grammatical mistakes and ads with greeked body copy, and nothingmakes this copywriter cringe more than sophomoric mistakes like those.Nice people dont always finish first, but they stay at the top of the list. Judging bythe correspondence I sampled, most candidates are pleasant and polite, even if they dont get ajob via Talent Zoo. However, some candidates are rude and full of attitude, and everyone atTalent Zoo knows who those candidates are. So play nicely, kids.Not a bad education for a few days of lingering. The staff at Talent Zoo are truly good peoplewho would love to help everyone find a great job, but the law of supply and demand says theycant. So keep that in mind. And dont send them any bribes--it still wont help you land a job anyfaster. Although a little chocolate never hurts.©2002-2011 Dan Goldgeier View From The Cheap Seats By Danny G. • Page 45
  45. 45. 5/13/2003Jumping The SharkWhy are some shops hot, cold, or dead?Wells Rich Greene. N.W. Ayer. D’Arcy. And now maybe Bates.All these agencies, at some point in the last 10 years, went from being billion dollar companiesto out of business.How does this free-fall happen? Why are some ad agencies able to stay in business for a longtime, while others have the half-life of Uranium?I’m certain the people who ran the agencies I just named did not sit down one day and say,“We’re gonna do shitty work, treat our employees like crap and run this place into the ground.”So what happened??Can we pinpoint any specific times when ad agencies “Jump The Shark?” (If you don’t knowwhat I’m referring to, go to www.jumptheshark.com and then continue reading this column)This phenomenon doesn’t only occur to big behemoth agencies.In my days as an ad school student, I distinctly remember there were some shops, mostlyboutiques, everyone talked about. If you were one of the lucky few to land a gig there, youwould be handed the keys to the kingdom.These days, some of those shops are long gone, and some are still around and doing good work.But they’re not hot anymore. They’ve been replaced a by a new crop of “It” shops, who possesswhatever the “It” factor might be that gets students to drool over them.Did the once-hot shops stop entering awards shows? Did they give up on press releases so younever read about them anymore? Did they take on accounts that lowered their creative standards?Did management changes affect the momentum of the agency?It is true that a shuffle in management personnel can result in a new philosophy, better (or worse)work, and affect the company profile or morale. After all, the fish rots from the head down.

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