Wednesday, April 30, 2008

tell me this kid's not going to need therapy

Just minding my own business, going on my merry (sub)way when I'm confronted with ten-times-larger-than life image of desecrated baby. I know I'm in the busines of advertising and all, but--shouldn't some things be off limits? Is it really OK to do this to babies in the name of some local rock radio station? If kid was a rabbit, PETA would be all up in arms.

warning: red bull may cause mouth to exceed size of face

But, maybe only in Hungary where this ad ran.

via Photoshop Disasters

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

PLEASE! 6 things to avoid when doing ads for boomers

1. No more peace signals with the two fingers. When was the last time you saw anybody make this gesture, except at a bar signalling for another round.

2. No more visuals of 60s VW buses decorated with daisies. According to adverts today, you'd think that's what everyone drove in the 60s when, actually, they were so rare that when one passed you on the highway, you rolled (!) down the window gave it the peace sign.

3. No more shots of boomers playing golf. Surprise! Not every boomer flush enough to buy your product wants to be out on the green. This also goes for boomers climbing mountains. Why can't art directors think of anything else for us to do?

4. Enough with lines like The Generation That Refuses to Get Old. Aside from those of us spending way too much in cosmetic surgeon's offices trying to fend off Time (which, alas, fools no one as the same youthifying procedures don't exist for hands and legs, those telltale signs of actual age)--we're OK with getting older, which after all is better than the alternative.

5. Why do all models in print ads for boomers seem to be laughing hysterically, when the headlines are all so painfully earnest? Better idea: make the ads funny (we've got a sense of humor, remember); and let the models relax.

6. Speaking of models, when looking for a spokeshead, you can give us someone younger than we are without us thinking "Gee, that person is in his forties, so obviously the target for that product can't be me." As John Barker pointed out recently in a post on this subject in Ad Age, it's best to aim younger, not older with Boomers, just like it's smart to aim older when targeting kids.

And that's my contribution today to the world of advertising.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

why animals don't talk

because (except for Toby the Parrot) they really have nothing interesting to say.

thanks to MFO, who disagrees

more kindle love

from someone besides me. George Tannenbaum likens Amazon customer service rep to Mother Theresa.

My Kindle appeared to have died. I was panicked. It didn't turn on and didn't seem to be charging. Was it $400 down the tubes? Or two hours on hold down the tubes?

I went to "manage my kindle" and typed my phone number in a "field" that said something like "call me." Within 10 seconds--yes, 10 seconds of typing my number--I got a call back from an eastern Washington sales rep.

Full adulation here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

don't trash it, trade it

You stumble home after last round, too buzzed to sleep, pick up the remote and next morning realize you've drunk-ordered not only White Trash Cooking, but the compete Journeys of a Lifetime Travel 6-Disk Boxed Gift Set. No matter. Put 'em on Swaptree, virtual version of swap meets that once were the rural version of malls. (Before Rural America grew the Biggest Malls in the World.) Type the UPC code or ISBN number of the book, CD, DVD or video you want to unload and the site shows you items you can get in return--for which you only pay shipping. This is the most fun you can have recycling.

via Very Short List

Thursday, April 24, 2008

take our concept, make it not work day

I just have to blog about this. I was on the launch team for the first Take Our Daughters to Work Day in 1993. It was a marketing concept, actually, to promote the Ms. Foundation for Women, which many people were confusing with Ms. Magazine. Ms. Foundation had a very savvy director in those days who understood the power of visual, who admitted that "Thelma and Louise did more for the women's movement than all the research reports we've put out in the past 20 years."

TODTWD (as we called it in beta form) was meant to change the way women were viewed in this country by providing a powerful visual: females in places where they were rarely seen, in boardrooms, CEO offices, the front page of the New York Times (where, bogglingly, girls had never appeared), even the Oval Office. The day wasn't designed to "leave boys out." In fact, we designed school curriculums for K-12 boys which addressed the value of "homework": childcare, housekeeping, etc, work that is usually associated with women.

The next year boys (and parents of boys) claimed it was sexist to let girls get the fun jobs, while boys did the drek. So, now we have Take Our Children to work day. The purpose of which give teachers a day off?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

we can build you!

Dreading that client pitch or offsite today? Send in your robotic impersonator! Actual copy from promotional website for Hanson Robotics:

We can build you! That's right, no matter who you are or where you're from, we can build life-like representation of any character, past or present. Our state of the art 4-D laser scanning technology takes a precise topographical image of your face, covering every nook, cranny and contour, and then transfers the data into a solid mold. Apart from the physical attributes the robot, our team of A.I. developers, scientists and robotic designers will build a personality based on your knowledge, memory, thoughts, and speech patterns.

All of our robots have a cognitive understanding of the English language, can make eye contact with people, recognize faces and capture the attention of their conversation partner by using a full range of human-like facial expressions.

Sorry I can't embed video of a robot saying goodbye to the production team as he is about to be put into a box for shipment, but it's really worth clicking thru to this link. Best line: I love you deeply, as deeply as a synthetic intelligence can at this stage of technology.

Robots are thousands of dollars (bodies extra!) but you can rent one for commercials, live concerts and political campaigns. (Obama's in North Carolina. No! Florida. No! He's kissing babies in Washington. All of the above!)

Wasn't this an episode on the Twilight Zone?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

what fashions will be in 70 years

In the 1930s (no, I wasn't there) movies were preceded by shorts: newsreels, previews, propoganda, or whimsical pieces like this one in which designers made predictions about fashions in the year 2000. A few guesses, surprisingly prescient, must have seemed preposterous then: "people will move in an atmosphere that's scientifically kept at the right temperature" and "skirts will disappear" leaving women sporting pants, transparent net blouses and shoes with cantilevered heels. (hello east village on a Saturday nite) Surely Carole Lombard fans didn't believe their grandchildren would inherit a world where "men's bodies will be fitted with telephones."

via (I'll admit it) AARP magazine,contributor Barbara Lippert (yes, OUR Barbara Lippert)

Monday, April 21, 2008

shirt sale at sotheby's--$6 million a swatch

Casual office dress too casual for your taste? Sotheby's offers a 7 ½ foot square (get it) painting of what looks like a close-up of a Brooks Brothers shirt to display in your workplace and subliminally remind slackers of what constitutes proper workplace attire. Auction in London, July 1. On view in NYC, May 10-14. Estimated sale price: $4-6 million.

via DKR via today's New York Sun

Sunday, April 20, 2008

help yourself, dave

Top Ten Tags for Viagra, reviving classic ad lines:

10. Viagra, Whaazzzz up.

реп. Viagra, The quicker picker upper.

8. Viagra, Now you're playing with power.

7. Viagra, When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.

6. Viagra, Be all that you can be.

5. Viagra, Welcome to the next level.

4. Viagra, Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.

3. Viagra, Home of the whopper.

2. Viagra, We bring good things to Life.

1. Viagra. This is your wiener. This is your wiener on drugs.

Vigorous thanks to vigilant Garden Broad

Saturday, April 19, 2008

advertising isn't the only business that turns you into a groveling sycophant

As you may have intuited from last posts, I'm between gigs right now but that doesn't mean I can't blog about other people's jobs. For a change of pace, here's an inside look into another business entirely: the genteel world of development--code word for extracting maximum lucre from high rolling prospects.

My friend works in the development office of a private school which means her job is to rustle up big bucks from donors, mostly alums. Every year, the school throws a big fundraising benefit (auction, dance party, you know the drill) and hers was last night, at some fancy club. The event is billed as open to all parents, but what it's really designed for is to rake in the gorillas--which is how big donors are described in her business. The night of the party, one of the gorillas called to say she was bailing and sending her daughter instead (though the event was adults-only), along with three of her daughter's friends--all 16 years old. (Thanks, M, for this enlightening email.)
One cannot say no, apparently, to a board member to is teed up for a 7-figure gift. Later, even though the kiddos appeared to be having a good time, a cell phone was handed to me and it was the mom calling to register her "extreme disappointment" because her daughter was "seated in Siberia at a table with a bunch of losers. My daughter is heart broken, and you have taken advantage of me because I'm not there!"

I did not, of course, explain that the reason that the girls were moved to "Siberia" - a table right next to mine, actually, was because 2 of the young guests had been counseled out of our school--for doing drugs at a school sporting event. Their table was changed because yours truly thought the girls MIGHT feel a little awkward being seated at a table with "the booter."

Meanwhile, a blind eye was being cast in the ladies where, apparently, great mischief of the snowy kind was taking place.

To the mom's credit, her personal assistant rang yours truly at 8:03 a.m. on Monday morning to make good on her daughter's bidding and a whipping $25K+. One has to admire of course I said, Please this and that... thank you so much .... so helpful and again our apologies .... da, da, da.

About 20 minutes after this groveling, my phone rings again. It's the personal assistant, "Oh, by the way. I'm glad you're available. I have a statement that I'd like to read to you from [Gorilla.]

"I do not accept your apology. I think you are the rudest person I've ever met. I think you and the entire office there are the rudest people on the planet. I don't know how you can look at yourself in the mirror. Don't ever ask me for anything again."

Me: Thank you so much for calling! I understand her feelings, and again, our apologies."

I'm only sorry I didn't ask them to fax this thing.
Ugh. Give me a lame brief and a stupid, crazy client any day.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

is this your parrot?

Spotted in Riverside Park around 7 pm, gorgeous, abandoned talking parrot perched on fence of public garden at 97th Street (the one in last scene of You've Got Mail.) Calm, well-behaved, articulate and vegan, repeating Hello, Toby; I'm coming ; How's my boy and (off camera) Toby wants vegetables.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

incompetents work in other businesses too

Remember when your (actual) mailbox held (actual) mail instead of bills, solicitations, discounts for stuff you don't want, and--what's this? A letter from your insurance company requesting information on a $20,000 claim that your nineteen-year old daughter submitted last fall--from college? OMG! When did she need $20K worth of medical care? Was she in an accident she didn't tell you about? Did something happen to her, something so horrible, she doesn't want you to know?

You speed dial her cell and (for once) she answers. "Hospital?" she says. "What are you talking about?" You're relieved...until you remember that thing called teenage denial. You're on hold with the insurance company for what seems like hours. Two people can't help because you can't tell them the name of the hospital. (But you hope there was no hospital!) Finally, someone with the authority to investigate your records gets on the line...and starts laughing! Turns out that the proof they requested from you last fall to show that your daughter is a full-time student (and thus eligible for coverage) was mistaken by drones in the back office for a claim. They submitted her college tuition bill to the claims office for payment! Even more astounding, the claims office didn't deny the charge, but spent time and postage sending out a letter (in triplicate) requesting a diagnosis code. For college tuition. No wonder insurance is so expensive, a third of the nation can't afford it.

In related news... the call I put in to Belkin tech support yesterday, the call that went through Levels 1, 2, 3...the call that was relegated to a "high level expert" who was to get back to me later, though I was warned that "due to high call volumes, wait for a callback could exceed 20 minutes." No kidding. Just got the callback. Thirty two hours later.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

amazon delivers!

Turns out the new Kindle they promised me to replace the dying one arrived DAYS AGO. (Our doormen pride themselves on being not just doormen but musicians and other creative types who sometimes can't be bothered to attend to mind-numbing details of running a building.) It is BEAUTIFUL. Pristine. And so easy to refill, a boomer can do it. You just go to the amazon site, pull down a tab and press download for every purchased item you want to reload. Mit out vire. Magic, to see the new Jhumpa Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth-it's great, don't listen to snark talk) and Ha Jin's A Free Life and old faves like Cheever and Woolf appear, unabridged, in the palm of my hand. Yes, I had a question or two along the way (like how to I unsubscribe to Boing Boing which, in my initial kindlemania I thought was a good idea to pay for, when I can read it for free all I want on a Mac.) Each time I called, my call was answered promptly by a speaker of English who never had to take TOEFEL.

Why can't more mega-sellers be so customer friendly? Endured two hours of torture this morning trying to get someone at Belkin help me make their products to talk to each other. Naturally, extended holdtimes (average wait 20 minutes) included torturous recordings (if they value my call so much, why don't they answer it?) which ended in a voice with a dreaded Indian accent which cut me off twice, screwed up my machines until finally I was airlifted to Level 3 which sounded to be somewhere in Texas.

The morning's torture resulted in revelation of a valuable trade secret, though. You know how customer service often has several numbers? Always go with the 800 one. The 866 and 877s are more likely to land you far, far from home where tech "experts" are more familiar with ancient episodes of Friends (used in trainings) than they are with the inner workings of your recalcitrant product.

Monday, April 14, 2008

monkeys, the new babies

Baby as status symbol? So last millennium. More and more people are going for monkeys. Monkeys let you enjoy many of the good aspects about raising kids without the bad: monkeys never stop looking adorable, never whine, never require massive outlays of tuition. Even as teenagers, they wear whatever cute outfit you dress them in: superman capes, frilly dresses, holiday formalwear. (Designer of trendy monkey fashions now has a web site!)

Some people acquire monkeys when they can't adopt babies. For others, it's about filling an empty nest. "I was lonely and depressed after my youngest left home," says a Florida mom who dotes on "monkid" Jessica Marie: dresses her in flippy skirts, treats her to McDonald's, gives her her own leash to help walk the dog. (See disconcerting video here.)

According to the national Humane Society, 15,000 monkeys are being raised by human parents. But that number is low, they estimate, because so many people keep monkeys illegally. Monkeys are outlawed as pets in 20 states. (They're legal in New York, but illegal in New York City--darn!)

Of course, raising monkeys isn't for everyone. Warns a devoted monkey-dad, "Having a monkey means you will be making many sacrifices. It will be difficult to go on vacations. And it is very hard to find a person that will monkey sit."

Not to mention that potty training is probably out. Media monkey for Huggies? You might want to consider a new buy: Monkey Matters.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

street theater of the absurd

I grew up in suburbs where you had to be careful about how you dressed and behaved because there was always someone watching who knew your mother. (This was in days when kids were easily cowed by their mothers.) One of the things I like best about cities is the anonymity they confer, granting citizens the freedom to dress or act pretty much as they please. I retain too much of my upbringing to personally take advantage of this, but enjoy the entertainment the freedom ensures. Yesterday, buying train tickets in Grand Central Station, the guy at the next window was a clown in full dress, big wig and painted smile, ransacking the pockets of his polka dot suit for exact change. (Who knew clown suits had pockets?)

Acoustics in subway tunnels make ad hoc bands sound great, so that running for the #1, I often feel like I'm living large, on a screen, my crazy choreography accompanied by soundtrack and support cast. Stage right: MAN DRESSED IN BURLAP BAGS HAWKING POEMS FOR $2; stage left, ANOREXIC WOMAN PUSHING SHITZU DOG IN BABY STROLLER. Props for surreal scene as I come up to the street: TWO RANDOM SHOPPING CARTS, OVERFLOWING WITH GRAPEFRUIT.

one billable agency hour

It's not only the shitty meetings that eat up your time. It's making the shitty meetings, posts George Tannenbaum on Ad Aged:
3:36 __________ Status. (An email goes out. Two times are proposed for a weekly status meeting.)
3:42 __________ Status. The first person votes on the time she prefers.
3:43 __________ Status. A person agrees with the person above because they have a finance meeting.
3:43 __________ Status. A Senior Vice President agrees with the two people above.
3:51 __________ Status. A Creative Director prefers a different time.
3:53 __________ Status. The first person wonders if the finance meeting can really be completed in 1/2 an hour.
4:11 __________ Status. An ACD agrees with the Creative Director.
4:19 __________ Status. The account lead agrees with the CD and ACD and asks all to confirm.
4:32 __________ Status. The ACD says that it "sounds good!"
4:30 __________ Status. An account person says fine but the status must end early because she and an SVP have a meeting that starts promptly at 12:30.
4:31 __________ Status. The CD says "that's great."
4:31 __________ Status. The first person to respond, 49 minutes ago says, "Sounds good."
4:35 __________ Status. The ACD concurs. "That will force us to be done on time."
4:42 __________ Status. Invitation sent out. It "conflicts with other appointments on my calendar."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

hack your way out of writer's block

It's Saturday. The day you set aside to do what you'd do all day if you didn't have to fill it with shitty meetings. You're all coffeed up and settled at your desk or favorite corner at Starbucks (the one furthest from the open-policy bathroom), laptop ready to peck out that screenplay or pilot script or great American novel. But nothing happens. Every writer has been there. Merlin Mann of 43 Folders provides helpful antidotes. Plus, like Jane Sample, he provides a handsome line of inspiring wear.
* Talk to a monkey - Explain what you’re really trying to say to a stuffed animal or cardboard cutout.
* Do something important that’s very easy - Is there a small part of your project you could finish quickly that would move things forward?
* Try freewriting - Sit down and write anything for an arbitrary period of time—say, 10 minutes to start. Don’t stop, no matter what. Cover the monitor with a manila folder if you have to. Keep writing, even if you know what you’re typing is gibberish, full of misspellings, and grammatically psychopathic. Get your hand moving and your brain will think it’s writing. Which it is. See?
* Take a walk - Get out of your writing brain for 10 minutes. Think about bunnies. Breathe.
* Take a shower; change clothes - Give yourself a truly clean start.
* Write from a persona - Lend your voice to a writing personality who isn’t you. Doesn’t have to be a pirate or anything—just try seeing your topic from someone else’s perspective, style, and interest.
* Get away from the computer; Write someplace new - If you’ve been staring at the screen and nothing is happening, walk away. Shut down the computer. Take one pen and one notebook, and go somewhere new.
* Quit beating yourself up - You can’t create when you feel ass-whipped. Stop visualizing catastrophes, and focus on positive outcomes.
* Stretch - Maybe try vacuuming your lungs too.
* Add one ritual behavior - Get a glass of water exactly every 20 minutes. Do pushups. Eat a Tootsie Roll every paragraph. Add physical structure.
* Listen to new music - Try something instrumental and rhythmic that you’ve never heard before. Put it on repeat, then stop fiddling with iTunes until your draft is done.
* Write crap - Accept that your first draft will suck, and just go with it. Finish something.
* Unplug the router - Metafilter and Boing Boing aren’t helping you right now. Turn off the Interweb and close every application you don’t need. Consider creating a new user account on your computer with none of your familiar apps or configurations.
* Write the middle - Stop whining over a perfect lead, and write the next part or the part after that. Write your favorite part. Write the cover letter or email you’ll send when it’s done.
* Do one chore - Sweep the floor or take out the recycling. Try something lightly physical to remind you that you know how to do things.
* Make a pointless rule - You can’t end sentences with words that begin with a vowel. Or you can’t have more than one word over eight letters in any paragraph. Limits create focus and change your perspective.
* Work on the title - Quickly make up five distinctly different titles. Meditate on them. What bugs you about the one you like least?
* Write five words - Literally. Put five completley random words on a piece of paper. Write five more words. Try a sentence. Could be about anything. A block ends when you start making words on a page.

via Boing Boing (thanks for pointing me to it, DKR)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

what's that crap on your face?

From New York Magazine, April 7:

A high-end Japanese spa in midtown has just introduced a new "Geisha Facial" which promises to cleanse, brighten and exfoliate a patron's face--thanks to a secret ingredient: bird poop. For centuries in Japan, both Kabuki actors and geishas used "uguisu no fun" to clean off their thick white makeup and soothe their faces; apparently, guanine, found in nightingale droppings, helped their complexions।
ALARMING UPDATE: Contender for scat recycled for cash award, this just in from Ad Contrarian:
World's most expensive coffee at £50 a cup comes to British stores...and it's made from cats' droppings

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

kindle dwindles

Three weeks ago I was in love with my Kindle, all smug that I'd copped one before later adapters slid to the bottom of a loooooong waiting list. But this newest object of my obsession is, alas, proving fickle. At first its screen ghosted so that the page I'd just "turned" wouldn't make way for the next, and words I'd just read bled through words that I hadn't. Still, I could make them out. Until this morning. The top third of the "page" simply disappeared, disintigrating in a way reminiscent of dying Etch-a-Sketch screens. (Anybody remember?)

I logged onto Amazon to look up their CS number, meaning to call and give them a piece of my mind. The bloody thing's not a month old and cost $400! If it died on me now, I'd have spent $100 per book! To my further annoyance, Amazon's CS number wasn't listed. Instead, a bolded copy line urged me to key in my number and "a dedicated Kindle representative will call you. Right now. Really." Uh huh. Naturally as soon as I keyed in my last number, the phone rang so Kindle--if they did actually call-- wouldn't be able to get through. But the call was from Kindle! A pleasant (English-his-first-language speaking) man asked what was wrong and walked me through a reset and when that didn't fix things, promised to send me a new one. No questions asked. To my surprise, he told me I can keep the old one so I can download books from one to the other, then send it back in packaging they'll be providing. He apologized that the shipment might take up to 5 days. (I hope not appropriating the machine meant for a friend who's been awaiting a delivery from Amazon for weeks.)

I hung up, giddy with wonder and gratitude and good will towards a company for which moments before, I'd been seething with hatred. Good call, Amazon. Now, let's see if you can deliver.

Monday, April 7, 2008

postcards from yo momma

Somebody's mother (yours?) is particularly alarmed by that "blogging=death" article in the NY Times. Read all about it, and more in a hilarious compilation of actual emails from mother to offspring, compiled by New York writers Doree Shafrir and Jessica Grose who ask:

Does your mom still have an AOL account? Does she email you her random, yet charming, thoughts on life and love? Does she wish you called more often?*

Send us your postcards:

*Yes, they're real!

Via VSL .

Sunday, April 6, 2008

blogging: it's your funeral

Two weeks ago, a prolific blogger on technology subjects wrote an e-mail dispatch to his editor at ZDNet: “Have come down with something. Resting now posts to resume later today or tomorrow.” An hour later, he died of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger died of a massive coronary. In an article today, the New York Times posits that blogging is related to premature death.

another unassailable truth indexed by Jessica Hagy

greetings from playland

On a clear day, you can see Manhattan's skyline from Rye, New York where I spent the weekend visiting a friend with prime real estate. (Thanks, Cathy.) I was glad that clouds spared me the view of the city, however. Because even now when I glimpse the skyine from afar, I'm unhinged for a moment, thinking Where are the towers.

Friday, April 4, 2008

new museum needs old lesson in public relations

Went to the newly re-opened New Museum where chocolate is retitled "anti-stress food", unsightly salads come vac-paked and one of the exhibits is reminiscent of my husband's side of the closet. Philanthropist readers may be disappointed to know that though naming opportunities abound, the loo dedication is already taken. (The Sterns wish you to recall their magnanimousness as you make your own, er, more private donation.) But, rest assured for enough lucre, you can still affix your name to back of plastic folding chair in the theater.

Last night the place was mobbed with arty looking hipsters and oblong-glassed literati who came to hear poet luminary Jorie Graham. (Dress code tip: don't even think of showing up in anything but this year's approved color palette: Carafe, Green Moss or IRT Black.)

Entrance fees are dropped on Thursdays, starting at 7. And not a nonosecond before. The goth-looking (isn't that over?) ticket Nazi refused to admit us at 6:48 even though we'd bought tickets to the reading which ostensibly included museum entrance. Wise up, New Museum! Pissing off potential new donors (one of whom was a collector) (not me) ain't good public relations.

thanks to CW for sightings

that's why it's manAGING

Thanks to HighJive for pointing me to Steffan Postaer's column which is a must-read for anybody over twelve in this business. Because no matter how much you bench press, age will happen to you.
Aspire to management. In ad agencies the most advantageous place for an oldster is at the top. Take that elevator. Don’t stop at just being a good writer or art director. That’s merely the price of entry. You need to be exceptional at your craft. Always. But remember there are LOTS of guys with 5 or 6 years under their belt, making LOTS less money than you, who are damn near as good. Naturally, they want your job. You should want the job above yours. That would be MGMT.

So how does one grow successful as well as old in advertising? My advice in three not-so-easy steps:

1. Don’t shun meetings because, “they suck.” One day there will be a meeting and you’ll be the topic. ‘Nuff said.
2. Sell work. First your work. Then someone else’s. In that order. If you can do both you will be twice as valuable to your firm. MGMT does both.
3. Stay relevant. Nothing is sadder than the graying copywriter who waxes nostalgic about cutting film with a knife. Dead man walking. 3a) As with meetings, do not ignore popular culture because, “it sucks.” If you don’t keep up with people… you won’t.

another unassailable truth indexed by Jessica Hagy

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

what that dark, empty corner needs is a nice robot

A few weeks ago, Adfreak freaked me out with news that Japan is employing robots for childcare. Today's robot release (tip to VSL) is less alarming but equally notable. Gordon Bennett cobbles together objects found at construction sites, garage sales and spends weeks on a robotic creation, each suitably named and authenticated with a numbered metal plate. (Convenient for future offloading at Sotheby's.) My favorite, the lovely Mr. & Mrs Toast (pictured) can be yours for $3300. (Proving a savvy retailer, too, he'll take 10% off if you make the couple a threesome.) No chance of them taking care of your kids, though. To quote VSL: These robots are really no different from most of your actor friends: cool to look at but nonworking.

what's the worst thing that can happen to a copywriter?

A kind reader/fledgling creative emails: "What's the worst thing that can happen to a copywriter? What's your worst experience?" She confides that hers was the discovery that the client (therefore, the account exec) was unhappy with her copy. "It really pulls down my morale now that the client wants to write their own copy. It means that I suck in my job."

Writer, take heart. A client disliking your copy is no indication that you suck at your job. If that were true, every copywriter on the planet would be fired for cause. Each of us has confronted the frustration of a client rejecting words that have been researched, labored over and revised several times before they're submitted for client approval. There are many reasons for this—but it is rarely that the copywriter sucks. Could be, the Clueless Client doesn't know what he wants to say and is using (misusing) the copywriter to discover what he doesn't. Or, could be an Account Type keeping creatives out of the client loop and feeding the copywriter misguided direction. (Try to interface with the client in this case.) Or, could be a Bottom Feeder Client requesting inane revisions in a vain attempt to second-guess superiors who terrify him. (Always try to deal with as senior a client as possible.) Or the Client is a frustrated creative herself (see Jane's post on this species) and is trying to put "her stamp" on the copy.

Remember, your job isn't to deliver up just what the client orders. This isn't fast food. If you're simply fulfilling POs, you won't have much of a career in a business where success is predicated on finding opportunities for clients that clients don't see for themselves. Which might include quirky turns in copy. Or even no copy at all.

It's important not to give the jerks in this business (of which there are plenty) the power to define your worth as a writer. (Some characters to watch out for are profiled in a definitive post by Joker today.) If you get negative feedback which you think is unfounded, have the gumption to push back. Pretend you're a lawyer hired to defend your client (the copy). Hone the ability to make a case for your work. Ultimately, your career relies on coming up with not just creative but with convincing ways to sell it to nervous clients. Otherwise, the only name you'll make for yourself is at the Speckies.

The worst thing that happen to a copywriter, IMHO, is that the brilliant campaign you've been working on for months suddenly appears on-air for your client's competitor.