“Creative” is Not An Adjective (A Public Service Announcement for CDs)

by / September 1, 2016 /

Creative Directors, please, for the love of God, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, tell your copywriters to pen something more “creative.” It doesn’t help you – or me. And it does absolutely nothing for the client.

When I hear the word “creative” I envision an out-of-touch, in-house middle manager who would never admit that he himself doesn’t really understand the word and uses it as a way to say, “just make some shit up.”

Vagueness, by definition, is unfocused and i[Read More]

Why Working In Advertising Sucks And What We Can Do About It

by / June 29, 2016 /

Human Centipedes And Other Nastiness

Right now, more than any other point I can recall in my 25-year (yikes) career, the Advertising industry is quite simply the worst it’s ever been. The. Goddamned. Worst. Apologies to all the kids, puppies and my mom out there for my ‘blue’, NSFW language, but I’m more angry than sad about it . . . which says a lot considering I’m Crying Jordan-/Nick Nolte mugshot-level sad.

I’m not talking about the work or the [Read More]

Success Isn’t Just Salary & Titles

by / March 16, 2016 /

Recently, my father asked me if I had something measurable to show for the past four years of my career. Something – a number, a title, an award – to prove that I’d found success.

It was an interesting question. Success by definition is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Most people measure their success by their title or their salary. ]Granted, I don’t have a clearly defined title at Atomicdust or millions of dollars in the bank, but I have a deep understanding of my va[Read More]

Why a Small Agency Lost Some Big Pitches

by / March 3, 2016 /

It was a pitch, a room full of MBAs, acronyms and awkwardness. We were the small agency competing with two very big agencies. The other agencies had pre-existing relationships with this very large CPG company. The nice woman running the pitch was very clear that they were "open to working with a smaller agency."

There is that moment of time in a pitch we all know well, when you grasp that you are a likely choice to be awarded the business. The CMO will ask a question that makes it sou[Read More]

What, Me Worry?

by / February 4, 2016 /

I thought we’d build more schools than this. My advertising agency, aptly called School, has a mission to fund projects for impoverished kids across the world and has partnered with Pencils of Promise to build schools in Guatemala, Laos and Ghana.

When we started the agency a little over two years ago, we set out to build 50 schools before we celebrated our tenth anniversary. So far, we’ve built two schools and I’m worried.

I’m worried because I perhaps misguidedly equ[Read More]

Advertising Has a Part To Play In America’s Gun Violence

by / October 9, 2015 /

A big part actually.

I already hear people bitching, whining, cocking shotguns in my general direction, and that’s to be expected when you start pointing the finger; especially when the finger is pointed our way.

But hold on. This thought may not be as ridiculous as it first appears. In fact, the more I talk to people about it (and I mean people who are actually open to debate, not the uber-right wing, NRA extremists who refuse to acknowledge the fault of guns in any mass sh[Read More]

Farewell to Mad Men

by / May 15, 2015 /

“Advertising is built on puffery, and, at heart, deception, and I don't think anybody can go proudly into the next world with a career built on deception, no matter how well they do it.”

–Julian Koenig, (writer on Volkswagen’s 1959 “Think Small,” campaign) in an interview by his daughter Sarah on This American Life, 2009

People outside of the business often ask if Mad Men truly depicts what advertising was like in the 60s.

Not exactly.

[Read More]

The Creative Team Taboo: Who’s the Better Half?

by / May 1, 2015 /

For all their ubiquity in agencies, creative teams are their own secret universe where very few outsiders are invited.

The rest of the agency sees the ideas, the outside world sees the finished work, but who inside the team was responsible for what? Who cracked the idea, the line, the execution? Only the team itself knows. Or do they?

Ask them independently and each half would claim the lion's share of the credit, adding up to a combined contribution of around 160%. Nonsense o[Read More]