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Some of the memories that stick with me from that era:

—Our top account executive was sleeping with a creative director, a copywriter (not me), an account supervisor, and, I believe, the married CEO of the firm, all at the same time. She later became president of the agency.

—After 5pm, said CEO would walk around the office rambling about “big ideas” while smoking a fat joint laced with cocaine and who knows what else. (He’s been dead for five years). Often accompanying him on the tours was his best friend, a boxer/mob hitman with hair plugs, who casually told us about his kills.

—Our New Business guy, not the sharpest X-Acto knife in the drawer, got us in a lot of doors. He then died of a cocaine overdose in the CEO’s pied-à-terre fuckpad.

{ Copyranter/Buzzfeed | Continue reading }

artwork { David Mann }

City of prose and fantasy


{ Barneys New York logo by Chermayeff & Geismar | “Barney’s” was a long-established New York institution known for medium-priced clothing for men and boys. When the ownership decided to upgrade to a high-fashion, high-priced emporium for women’s as well as men’s wear, an elegant new logo was developed. By eliminating the apostrophe, adding the words New York, and using a classic typestyle, the store’s graphic and verbal identity was transformed. | Chermayeff & Geismar | more }

‘I think someone has stolen our tent.’ –Sherlock Holmes


Facebook’s inventory of data and its revenue from advertising are small potatoes compared to some others. Google took in more than 10 times as much, with an estimated $36.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2011, by analyzing what people sent over Gmail and what they searched on the Web, and then using that data to sell ads. Hundreds of other companies have also staked claims on people’s online data by depositing software called cookies or other tracking mechanisms on people’s computers and in their browsers. If you’ve mentioned anxiety in an e-mail, done a Google search for “stress” or started using an online medical diary that lets you monitor your mood, expect ads for medications and services to treat your anxiety.

Ads that pop up on your screen might seem useful, or at worst, a nuisance. But they are much more than that. The bits and bytes about your life can easily be used against you. Whether you can obtain a job, credit or insurance can be based on your digital doppelgänger — and you may never know why you’ve been turned down.

Material mined online has been used against people battling for child custody or defending themselves in criminal cases. LexisNexis has a product called Accurint for Law Enforcement, which gives government agents information about what people do on social networks. The Internal Revenue Service searches Facebook and MySpace for evidence of tax evaders’ income and whereabouts, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has been known to scrutinize photos and posts to confirm family relationships or weed out sham marriages. Employers sometimes decide whether to hire people based on their online profiles, with one study indicating that 70 percent of recruiters and human resource professionals in the United States have rejected candidates based on data found online. A company called Spokeo gathers online data for employers, the public and anyone else who wants it. The company even posts ads urging “HR Recruiters — Click Here Now!” and asking women to submit their boyfriends’ e-mail addresses for an analysis of their online photos and activities to learn “Is He Cheating on You?”

Stereotyping is alive and well in data aggregation. Your application for credit could be declined not on the basis of your own finances or credit history, but on the basis of aggregate data — what other people whose likes and dislikes are similar to yours have done. If guitar players or divorcing couples are more likely to renege on their credit-card bills, then the fact that you’ve looked at guitar ads or sent an e-mail to a divorce lawyer might cause a data aggregator to classify you as less credit-worthy. When an Atlanta man returned from his honeymoon, he found that his credit limit had been lowered to $3,800 from $10,800. The switch was not based on anything he had done but on aggregate data. A letter from the company told him, “Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express.” (…)

In 2007 and 2008, the online advertising company NebuAd contracted with six Internet service providers to install hardware on their networks that monitored users’ Internet activities and transmitted that data to NebuAd’s servers for analysis and use in marketing. For an average of six months, NebuAd copied every e-mail, Web search or purchase that some 400,000 people sent over the Internet.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

He announced his presence by that gentle Rumboldian cough which so many have tried (unsuccessfully) to imitate


With the outlook moved to ‘developing’ from ‘watch negative’


{ via copyranter }

They were precisely the twelves of clocks, noon minutes, none seconds


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In the name of his Imperial Majesty, I hearby arrest Edward Abramovich, also known as Eisenheim The Illusionist, on charges of disturbing public order, charlatanism and threats against the empire.


Coker has come up with a recipe for success called the branded viral movie predictor algorithm. According to the algorithm, the four ingredients required for a video to go viral are congruency, emotive strength, network involvement, and something called “paired meme synergy.”

First, the themes of a video must be congruent with people’s pre-existing knowledge of the brand it is advertising. “For example, Harley Davidson for most people is associated with Freedom, Muscle, Tattoos, and Membership,” Coker explained on his website. Videos that strengthen that association meet with approval, “but as soon as we witness associations with the brand that are inconsistent with our brand knowledge, we feel tension.” In the latter case, few people will share the video, and it will quickly “go extinct.”

Second, only viral-produced videos with strong emotional appeal make the cut, and the more extreme the emotions, the better. Happy and funny videos don’t tend to fare as well as scary or disgusting ones, Coker said

Third, videos must be relevant to a large network of people — college students or office workers, for example.

And last, Coker came up with 16 concepts — known on the Internet as “memes” — that viral-produced videos tend to have, and discovered that videos only go viral if they have the right pairings of these concepts.

For example, the concept he calls Voyeur, which is when a video appears to be someone’s mobile phone footage, works well when combined with Eyes Surprise — unexpectedness. These also work well in combination with Simulation Trigger, which is when “the viewer imagines themselves being friends [with the people in the video] and sharing the same ideals,” he said.

{ LiveScience | Continue reading }

Relaxing in the Savannah


Cannibal Holocaust is a 1980 Italian horror film directed by Ruggero Deodato.

The film tells the story of a missing documentary film crew who had gone to the Amazon to film indigenous tribes. A rescue mission, led by the New York University anthropologist Harold Monroe, recovers their lost cans of film, which an American television station wishes to broadcast. Upon viewing the reels, Monroe is appalled by the team’s actions, and after learning their fate, he objects to the station’s intent to air the documentary. Much of Cannibal Holocaust is the portrayal of the recovered film’s content, which functions similarly to a flashback and grows increasingly disturbing as the film progresses.

Cannibal Holocaust achieved notoriety because its graphic violence aroused a great deal of controversy. After its premiere in Italy, it was seized by a local magistrate, and Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges. He was charged with making a snuff film due to rumors that claimed some actors were killed on camera. Although Deodato was later cleared, the film was banned in Italy, the UK, Australia, and several other countries due to its graphic depiction of violence, sexual assault, and the actual slaughter of seven animals.

After seeing the film, director Sergio Leone wrote a letter to Deodato, which stated, [translated] “Dear Ruggero, what a movie! The second part is a masterpiece of cinematographic realism, but everything seems so real that I think you will get in trouble with all the world.”

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Francesca Ciardi was one of four actors whom the Italian police believed had been murdered in the making of the 1980 horror film Cannibal Holocaust. So realistic was the film that shortly after it was released its director Ruggero Deodato was arrested for murder. The actors had signed contracts to stay out of the media for a year in order to fuel rumours that the film was a snuff movie. The court was only convinced that they were alive when the contracts were cancelled and the actors appeared on a television show as proof.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Keeping your ‘tabula’ extremely ‘rasa’ makes your thinking fresher


A sociological content analysis of advertising catalogues with the eye-tracking method

Is it possible to look at something without actually noticing it? Is it possible to see something in the picture that is not really there? The answers to these philosophical questions can be obtained by comparing the results of eye-tracking tests combined with interviews based on sociological theories. (…)

The respondents, in line with our expectations, turned out to be familiar with the catalogue investigated. All of them provided the correct name of the company. When asked to describe in their own words the situations presented, the respondents would stress the fact that they show “the ideal” world. (…)

While most attention should be given to watching the advertisements, we constitute our dreams of a perfect life, environment and the items that furnish it.

{ Qualitative Sociology Review | Continue reading | PDF }

‘There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.’ –Red Smith


As an employee in an agency creative department, you will spend most of your time with your feet up on a desk working on an ad. Across the desk, also with his feet up, will be your partner-in my case, an art director. And he will want to talk about movies.

In fact, if the truth be known, you will spend a large part of your career with your feet up talking about movies.

The ad is due in two days. The media space has been bought and paid for. The pressure’s building. And your muse is sleeping off a drunk behind a dumpster or twitching in a ditch somewhere. Your pen lies useless. So you talk movies.

That’s when the traffic person comes by. Traffic people stay on top of a job as it moves through the agency. Which means they also stay on top of you. They’ll come by to remind you of the horrid things that happen to snail-assed creative people who don’t come through with the goods on time.

So you try to get your pen moving. And you begin to work. And working, in this business, means staring at your partner’s shoes. That’s what I’ve been doing from nine to five for over 20 years. (…)

There comes a point when you can’t talk about movies anymore and you actually have to get some work done. You are faced with a blank sheet of paper, and you must, in a fixed amount of time, fill it with something interesting enough to be remembered by a customer who in the course of a day will see, somewhere, thousands of other ad messages.

You are not writing a novel somebody pays money for. You are not writing a sitcom somebody enjoys watching. You are writing something most people try to avoid. This is the sad, indisputable truth at the bottom of our business. Nobody wants to see what you are about to put down on paper. People not only dislike advertising, they’re becoming immune to most of it—like insects building up resistance to DDT. (…) When people aren’t indifferent to advertising, they’re angry at it. (…)

So you try to come up with some advertising concepts that can defeat these barriers of indifference and anger. The ideas you try to conjure, however, aren’t done in a vacuum. You’re working off a strategy—a sentence or two describing the key competitive message your ad must communicate.

In addition to a strategy, you are working with a brand. Unless it’s a new one, that brand brings with it all kinds of baggage, some good and some bad. Ad people call it a brand’s equity. (…)

People generally deny advertising has any effect on them. They’ll insist they’re immune to it. And perhaps, taken on a person-by- person basis, the effect of your ad is indeed modest. But over time, the results are undeniable. Try this on: 1980—Absolut Vodka is a little nothing brand. Selling 12,000 cases a year. That’s nothing. Ten years and one campaign later, this colorless, nearly tasteless, and odorless product is the preferred brand, selling nearly 3 million cases a year. All because of the advertising. (…)

Diet Coke didn’t just happen. Coca-Cola didn’t simply roll it out and hope that people would buy it. Done poorly, they could have cannibalized their flagship brand, Coke. Done poorly, it could have been just another one of the well-intentioned product start-ups that fail in six months. It took a lot of work by both Coca-Cola and its agency, SSCB, to decipher market conditions, position the product, name it, package it, and pull off the whole billion-dollar introduction.

{ Luke Sullivan, Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This | Thanks Tim }

The smaller the attendance the bigger the history. There were 12 people at the Last Supper. Half a dozen at Kitty Hawk. Archimedes was on his own in the bath.


What is the art of immersion? The focus of the book is on how the internet is changing storytelling; and the idea is really that every time a new medium comes along, it takes people 20 or 30 years to figure out what to do with it, to figure out the grammar of that medium. The motion picture camera was invented around 1890 and it was really about 1915 before the grammar of cinema–all the things we take for granted now, like cuts and point-of-view shots and fades and pans–were consolidated into first what we would recognize as feature films. Birth of a Nation being the real landmark. It wasn’t the first film that had these characteristics but it was the first film to use all of them and that people settled on that really made a difference. I think we are not quite there yet with the internet but we can see the outlines of what is happening, what is starting to emerge; and it’s very different from the mass media that we’ve been used to for the past 150 years. (…)–the campaign in advance of the Dark Knight. This was what’s known as an alternate reality game. This was a particularly large-scale example that took place over a period of about 18 months. Essentially the purpose of it was to create this experience that kind of started and largely played out online but also in the real world and elsewhere that would familiarize people with the story and the characters of the Dark Knight. In particular with Heath Ledger as the Joker. Build enthusiasm and interest in the movie in advance of its release. On one level it was a marketing campaign; on another level it was a story in itself–a whole series of stories. It was developed by a company called 42 Entertainment, based in Pasadena and headed by a woman named Susan Bonds who was interestingly enough educated and worked first as a Systems Engineer and spent quite a bit of time at Walt Disney Imagineering, before she took up this. It’s a particularly intriguing example of storytelling because it really makes it possible or encourages the audience to discover and tell the story themselves, online to each other. For example, there was one segment of the story where there were a whole series of clues online that led people to a series of bakeries in various cities around the United States. And when the got to the bakery, the first person to get there in each of these cities, they were presented with a cake. On the icing to the cake was written and phone number and the words “Call me.” When they called, the cake started ringing. People would obviously cut into the cake to see what was going on, and inside the cake they found a sealed plastic pouch with a cell phone and a series of instructions. And this led to a whole new series of events that unfolded and eventually led people to a series of screenings at cities around the country of the first 7 minutes of the film, where the Heath Ledger character is introduced. (…)

The thing about Lost was it was really a different kind of television show. What made it different was not the sort of gimmicks like the smoke monster and the polar bear–those were just kind of icing. What really made it different was that it wasn’t explained. In the entire history of television until quite recently, just the last few years, the whole idea of the show has been to make it really simple, to make it completely understandable so that no one ever gets confused. Dumb it down for a mass audience. Sitcoms are just supposed to be easy. Right. Lost took exactly the opposite tack, and the result was–it might not have worked 10 years ago, but now with everybody online, we live in an entirely different world. The result was people got increasingly intrigued by the essentially puzzle-like nature of the show. And they tended to go online to find out things about it. And the show developed a sort of fanatical following, in part precisely because it was so difficult to figure out.

There was a great example I came across of a guy in Anchorage, Alaska who watched the entire first season on DVD with his girlfriend in a couple of nights leading up to the opening episode of Season 2. And then he watched the opening episode of Season 2 and something completely unexpected happened. What is going on here? So he did what comes naturally at this point, which was to go online and find out some information about it. But there wasn’t really much information to be found, so he did the other thing that’s becoming increasingly natural, which was he started his own Wiki. This became Lostpedia–it was essentially a Wikipedia about Lost and it now has tens of thousands of entries; it’s in about 20 different languages around the world. And it’s become such a phenomenon that occasionally the people who were producing the show would themselves consult it–when their resident continuity guru was not available.

What had been published in very small-scale Fanzines suddenly became available online for anybody to see. (…)

The amount of time people devote to these beloved characters and stories–which are not real, which doesn’t matter really at all, which was one of the fascinating things about this whole phenomenon–it couldn’t have happened in 1500. Not because of the technology–of course they are related–but you’d starve to death. The fact that people can devote hundreds of hundreds of hours personally, and millions can do this says something about modern life that is deep and profound. Clay Shirky, who I believe you’ve interviewed in the past, has the theory that television arrived just in time to soak up the excess leisure time that was produced by the invention of vacuum cleaners and dishwashers and other labor-saving devices.

{ Frank Rose/EconTalk | Continue reading }

Prowl like a lion, leap like a salmon

{ via Copyranter }

‘i can’t wait to experience carb your enthusiasm.’ –Glenn Glasser


{ Thanks Glenn! }

The state of Maryland has no natural lakes


{ Ogilvy Malaysia hired some local Lego artists to create the posters that play off of the surrounding environment. | copyranter | more }

‘From the cradle to the coffin underwear comes first.’ –Bertolt Brecht


The ad industry is quickly evolving into a new industry - one that won’t offer only the limited menu of services that’s attributed to it today. I’m not sure if this new industry should even be called advertising anymore, as the term itself can be an albatross to innovation. But whatever the name is, it’ll be even more exciting and productive than in its current incarnation.

When I invented the 4th Amendment Wear brand for my consultancy, I didn’t realize at the time that it would teach me such an important lesson about where we’re headed. (…)

It’s one thing to create an ad. It’s a whole other beast to invent new technology, create products using that technology, tap into social media, and orchestrate a marketing campaign to reach millions. (…)

While much of 4th Amendment Wear’s success can be attributed to the brand being in the right place at the right time, the truth is, all brands need to be.

{ Tim Geoghegan | Continue reading | 4th Amendment Wear picked up the Gold lion for Promo & Activation at Cannes. }

Heineken Star Player… (…) Whether this piece of work gets recognized at Cannes this week or not is not relevant or even important. What’s important is that it wasn’t the regular copywriter + art director duo who came up with the Idea. It was a combination of a Storyteller and a Software Developer who conceived it.

{ Rei Inamoto | Continue reading }

He covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet, Clarice?


Despite the first ‘Cars’ movie’s somewhat unimpressive reviews and ticket sales, Pixar is rolling out a sequel. Why? Because the animated film sparked a long-lived licensing bonanza.

In the five years since its 2006 release, “Cars” has generated global retail sales approaching $10 billion, according to Disney. That ranks the Pixar film alongside such cinematic merchandising standouts as “Star Wars,” “Spider-Man” and “Harry Potter.”

No fewer than 300 toys — and countless other items, including bedding, backpacks and SpaghettiOs — are rolling out in stores, in anticipation of the “Cars 2″ opening.

“We anticipate the consumer products program to be the largest in industry history, eclipsing the high water mark set by ‘Toy Story 3,’” Disney Consumer Products Chairman Andy Mooney said in a webcast last week before the annual toy licensing show in Las Vegas. Last year, the third installment of “Toy Story” generated $2.8 billion in merchandise sales.

{ LA Times | Continue reading }

photo { Alex Tehrani }

Sawyer: Doesn’t sound like he said anything about anything. Hurley: That’s kind of true, dude. He’s worse than Yoda.

If you want to take your ring off… saliva works wonders.


Not acting with precipit precipitancy with equal candour the greatest earthly happiness


A new study from the U.K. confirms the conventional wisdom: friends and exercise make us happy. It also shows how unhappy people drag us down.

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

photo { Jim Britt }

‘You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.’ –Seth Godin


Today, any brand has a potential army of credible, unpaid spokespeople that are willing to work on its behalf. And this army is the exact same group of people who are willing to work against it.

This is the new world of what I call the “post-positioning era” of branding. In the post-positioning era of branding, what you say about your product or service matters almost nothing at all, and what I, the consumer, can do with it matters completely.

The new conditions of brand success:

1. Deliver a kick-ass product.

2. Be honest.

Our ability as advertisers to contrive and disseminate an emotional response through advertising is diminishing rapidly. And brand exposure is not the same as brand experience. A single one-star review on Yelp trumps 60 seconds of Super Bowl airtime.

{ Jamie Monberg/Fast Company | Continue reading | Related: poster }