Sunday, December 20, 2009

hey, hipster creatives, the world is uglier than you may think

One of the things I appreciate most about a beach vacation (hello, Puerto Rico) is the opportunity to catch up on hand-held reading. So many magazines, so much down time. Which brings me to NyQuil ads saturating the print waves. Tagline: "For a Better Looking Tomorrow". Wha? Took me a re-read to get this concept: colds make you look really, really ugly but now there's an overnight remedy that gets you back to your old (beautiful) self. Trouble is, what's shown to be "ugly" is how lots of people look every day if they're not in advertising or in Santa Monica. (Other shots in the series can be seen here.) Hey, 20-something urban creative hotties: look up from your email next time you're on the subway. Sheesh. No wonder ad agencies have a reputation for being insular.

And, speaking of standards set by undue emphasis on attractiveness--how come there's a hyphen between "better" and "looking"? Because the art director thought it looked prettier that way?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

is radio the new TV?

Thanks to wonders of The Worldwide Internet, radio listening is on the rise, and as TV audiences continue to dwindle, I wonder if at some point we'll hit ratios of listeners vs. viewers we haven't seen since 1959.

Part of what accounts for radio's comeback is podcasting, which allows you to tune into discussions that mine whatever esoteric subject you're interested in. If you're reading this blog (hey, thanks, btw) you're no doubt interested in advertising, and two podcasts devoted to this subject stand out.

You may already know about the excellent Beancast, a weekly roundtable discussion hosted by Bob Knorpp. Now, two friends of Beancast have launched Adverve, a less formal podcast devoted to deconstructing the industry. Bill Green (of Make the Logo Bigger) and Angela Natividad (of Adrants) launched the first episode in October exploring a subject rarely spoken of in polite company: Racism in Advertising. Guest speaker Hadji Williams (whom you may know from Racialicious) had so many interesting things to say on the matter, the show was promptly downloaded almost 2000 times. (You can grab it in its entirety here and here .) Bill and Angela have pledged to explore all the "isms" in the business, and I was glad to be tapped for their recent show on ageism. What's next? Possibilities abound: Sexism. Plagiarism. Narcissm. And (paging Don Draper) alcoholism. Angela suggests renaming the series "Adverve Intervention." Ear buds and a sidecar, please.

Monday, December 14, 2009

crowdsourcing santa

A downside of being out of town this weekend--or upside, depending on your tolerance for Christmas spirit(s)-- was missing out on the sight of thousands of Santas who came out for the annual Santacon. Despite it's being billed as NOT A PUB CRAWL, it's a pub crawl taking place annually in cities around the world from New York to Chicago to Pasadena to Beijing. (In China, Christmas is a romantic holiday.)

If you're in next year, read the ground rules before going, which include "Not just a hat", "No making kids cry" and "Pay with cash."

Photo by Marc Whalen. The rest of his SantaCon series here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

when you care enough to send the merry best

It's snowing like crazy outside my window (Dutchess county) which reminds me of UK Ogilvy's brilliant holiday greeting. It isn't a card, it's an iphone app that lets you seasonalize any photo with falling snow.

Jealous of Adrants who just received picture-perfect greetings from 1963. Production is Mad Men-meticulous, down to sunburst clock and wood paneling. Not to mention aluminum trees, a nice, shiny touch from Cultivator Advertising.

And from the folks who brought you last year's viral "An Advertising Parable for the Holidays" comes the jolly "It Came Upon a Movie Clip", a retelling of the classic carol using scenes from 41 TCM picks. Even more mesmerizing is "the making of" version which airs longer cuts. Oh, those talented elves at WorldWideWadio. Enjoy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

laid off? freelancing? the pretend office makes you feel at home

A downside of freelance if you're a people-person is how much of your work is done in solitary confinement. But now SBUX isn't the only place to find company. Dispatches from the Pretend Office make you feel more like a normal, socialized dweeb immersed in the world of Christmas Holiday parties, stolen fridge items, time sheet nazis and fire alarm tests.

It's the brainchild of Phil Gyford, a freelance (of course) web designer who set up the Pretend Office mailing list on a lark and circulated it to a few friends. Soon, they were adopting characters and sending officious announcements, booking meeting rooms, tracking the comings and goings of couriers and sending embarrassing emails to everyone in the company. Hey, they should make a TV show about this.

tipped by reading illuminating talk by Russell Davies at Playful

Monday, November 30, 2009

future of publishing: not books, bookisodes?

These days publishers crying poverty thrust myriad duties on writers aside from meeting manuscript deadlines: gathering blurbs, providing jacket photos, hosting book parties, arranging reading tours, (travel expenses unreimbursed), even negotiating shelf space. One intrepid author I know regularly tours NYC bookstores and reshelfs his book, facing out. Now writers are expected to create industrials?

More and more books sold on Amazon are accompanied not only by reviews and reader ratings, but by promotional videos. (Sorry, image isn't linked, click here and scroll down to video.) Chilling glimpse of a future of publishing that sidelines books altogether, publishing manuscripts direct to screen.

hat tip to Corporate Rock

Thursday, November 26, 2009

i'm grateful that literature is alive and well and thriving in many forms

One of the many things I'm thankful for today⎯books. Just finished The Help and A Gate at the Stairs, both novels I was sorry to finish as I so enjoyed being part of their worlds. I read them, however, without turning a page, downed them while biking around Central Park, hooked up to an ipod. At writer's conferences, I meet people who insist it's not reading unless you're holding dead trees in both hands. But I think that's like claiming that you can't hear Coltrane unless you listen to him on vinyl.

Of course, like most avid readers, I do love to turn pages. I just read The Humbling and The Anthologist in that delicious, tactile, old fashioned way. But reading the old fashioned way isn't always an option. Or, even the best one. David Griner, an advertising executive, is publishing a relative's diary in the form of tweets. Each day, an entry from a farm girl's 1937 "Line a Day" diary appears and, since the dates are coordinated, it is as if you're looking over her shoulder. The reading experience is enhanced by the fact it's published in a way that allows you to read the entries on the date that she wrote them. (Today's entry: To-day was Thanksgiving. Got off from school. -Nov. 25, 1937)

Next week, Rick Moody (The Ice Storm) is premiering a new story on Twitter. "Some Contemporary Characters" will be tweeted over the course of three days on Electric Literature, starting on Monday at 10 AM. A preview:

There are things in this taxable and careworn world that can only be said in a restrictive interface with a minimum of characters:

Saw him on
OKCupid. Agreed to meet. In his bio he said he had a “different conception of time.” And guess what? He didn’t show.

It's the first time a writer who's a name in the handheld publishing world is debuting a piece of fiction on twitter. I'll be tuning in, thankful that literature, despite doomsayers, is being given new opportunities to thrive. Happy holiday, everyone.

image via Black Clock

Thursday, November 19, 2009

secret of ancient manhood: how to carve a turkey

Before there was Martha Stewart, there was Martha Logan, a fictional expert a la Betty Crocker who "wrote" cookbooks for Swift & Company that were chock full of recipes encouraging meat consumption. She also starred in a few instructional videos, none so tantalizing as "Carving Magic" with Harvey Korman who challenges Bill Kerwin to a manly duel of knives. Of course, men in past generations didn't need to watch this, as they were born with the male carving gene, rare today as the sock garter. Happily, the film survives for our edification. Clueless knife-wielders of both sexes have a week to practice. (via Modern Retro Woman)

Friday, November 13, 2009

warning: banks late fees still apply, even if you're deceased

Young & Rubicam puts out a (handheld!) newsletter twice a year for its "alumnai/ae", some of whom remember Y&R from the Mad Men era. A contribution by Dick Lord in the most recent issue highlights the importance of cancelling credit cards before you, um, go.

"A woman died last January and her bank billed her annual credit card service charges for February and March. They also added late fees and interest on the charges. The balance had been $0 when she died, but now it was growing. A family member called the bank to complain.
Family Member: I am calling to tell you she died back in January.
Bank: The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.
FM: Maybe you should turn it over to collections.
Bank: It's two months past due, so it's already in collections.
FM: What will they do when they find out she's dead?
Bank: Report her to the frauds division or to the credit bureau, maybe both.
FM: Did you just get what I was telling you--the part about her being dead?
Bank: Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor
Supervisor gets on the phone.
FM: I'm calling to tell you she died back in January with a $0 balance.
Bank: The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.
FM: You mean you want to collect from her estate?
Bank (stammer): Are you her lawyer?
FM: No, her nephew. (Lawyer info is given.)
Bank: Could you fax us a certificate of her death?
FM: Sure. (Faxes certificate)
Bank: Sorry, our system isn't set up for death. I don't know what more I can do to help you.
FM: Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, just keep billing her. She won't care.
Bank: Well, late fees and charges will still apply. (What is wrong with these people?)
FM: Would you like her new billing address?
Bank: That might help.
FM: Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot 69.
Bank: But sir, that's a cemetery.
FM: And what do you do with dead people on your planet?"
tip of gray flannel fedora to GardenBroad

more geniuses per sq. ft on the Upper West Side

"The Apple store is the best ad we ever did for Apple" said the untiring (not retiring) Lee Clow on a panel entitled Truth in Advertising.

Apple is launching a new ad, er, a new store near Lincoln Center tomorrow.

Its glass arched ceiling and marble walls house will house the world's largest collection of Apple products in the world, and the most "geniuses" on-premise to service those products. It's meant to be not only a store but a hangout. The New York Philharmonic will perform there on Nov. 30 and weekly workshops in making music, action movies, photos and presenations will be available to kids. (Most of the first workshops are already full)

No wonder Apple stores are "the highest performing retail stores on the planet", selling almost as much as is taken in by the average Macy's. But can Apple do Santa and a Thanksgiving Parade?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

new award show praises unsung heroes of the internet

The first annual Hive Awards went live yesterday. So named because of the "hive mentality" inherent in building a web site or application. It's the first show created to honor "the unsung heroes of the internet." Conceived by Alan Wolk (of Toadstool fame) to reward excellence in categories that haven't been given the stage before: information architecture, content strategy, coding, APIs and a other jobs rudely referred to as "backend." Entries are divided by industry category, allowing separate judging for each. Admirably levelling the playing field for contenders from categories as diverse as beer vs. pharma. Wish established award shows would make this distinction. Perhaps CLIO is leading the way, with its inaugural CLIO Healthcare awards ceremony taking place in New York tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

check out the latest in designer barcodes

Given the years and millions companies spend on packaging, surprisingly little attention has been paid to this critical part of every pack design. Japanese companies get it. They've been buying custom barcodes since 2005 from Design Barcode that charges $1500 and up for design, $200 a year for licensing. A pittance compared to redesigning a logo. And with so many stores going self-cashier, more and more eyeballs are searching them out. Why not build in some amusement...and branding?

via Fast Company

Monday, November 2, 2009

now, a detergent for digital dirt

"Retracting something from the internet is like trying to remove pee from a pool," Ogilvy's Rohit Bhargava quipped recently.

Well, now there's an app for that. Wisk It helps you search Facebook for regrettable photos and remove them by sending a request to the person who posted them. Even more intriguing to me than the app itself is the fact that it's created by... a laundry detergent. What could be better advertising for Wisk than giving users a way to get rid of "tough stains like Spring Break photos." Kudos to TracyLocke Advertising. And to brand managers in Wilton, Ct. who've come a long, admirable way since Ring Around the Collar.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

@BettyDraper goes Hollywood

At the kind invitation of Writers Guild West, I spent the week in Santa Monica, at Digital Hollywood, a four day thinklab exploring all that's erupting on the frenzied frontier of digital entertainment. Which is to say, entertainment.

I sat on a panel about Transmedia Storytelling with a distinguished lineup of fellow panelists that included Flint Dille, Dungeons and Dragons, Adam Armus, Heroes, Chris Ord and Matt Corman, Covert Affairs, and Jay Bushman, Orson Wells Sells His Soul to the Devil.

It was fascinating to hear how Flint is turning toys into TV shows. How Adam is working with Heroes writers to extend the show impressively across multiple platforms. How Jay is turning Halloween into Tweetplays. And Matt and Chris are turning Betty Draper's best friend into a spy for Covert Affairs.

I spoke as a Mad (Wo)Man on Twitter, about how to free TV characters from ordinary contraints of the medium, and how doing so can result in benefits for a show. I hate dealing with reading glasses on stage, so I used slides as talking points. Which I'm sharing here for anyone interested.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

RIP Marty Forscher, Patron Saint of Photographers

Readers who remember F-stops and finders and diodes will mourn with me Marty Forscher's passing. For over 40 years, he ran Professional Camera Repair Service in Midtown, founded in 1946 just down the street from LIFE magazine. Any photographer I worked with in my early ad days used him. Used? No. More like, he was their confessor. Generally regarded as the most sought after camera doc in the country, he was beloved by Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Joel Meyerowitz, Annie Leibovitz and myriad others whose work he made possible. Even a strictly edited NY Times obit writer was allowed to wax eloquent:
To the supplicants who thronged his counter, and the others who placed frantic calls from obscure corners of the world at obscure hours of the night, Mr. Forscher was equal parts detective, diagnostician, conjurer and psychotherapist. Many photographers referred to him as the Savior. The more concision-minded simply called him God.
What I didn't know: Marty was also an inventor. He invented the Pro-Back, a Polaroid attachment for a 35-mm camera that gave photographers an instant proof print, allowing them finally (in 1982) to test a shot without having to develop the roll of film.

He also contributed to the 60s civil rights movement, begging cameras discarded by magazine staff, fixing them and sending them South where students used them to document images published around the world. When cameras were dashed to the ground or drenched by police fire hoses, Marty repaired them and sent them back.

because it's after midnight, i'm on deadline and in need of diversion

From (where else) The Onion comes a list of 26 real titles from old movies, shorts, and cartoons that wouldn’t fly today. "The Gay Shoe Clerk" is a short made in 1903. Its riveting plot summary (in case you don't have 1 minute 19 seconds to spare): A woman being fitted for shoes exposes her ankle to the shoe clerk, who is intrigued. He kisses her, but her chaperone hits him with her umbrella. 25 other un-PC titles listed below. To remind us we've come a long way, baby. Ahem.

1. The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)
2. “Billion Dollar Boner” (1960)
3. “Don’t Get Gay With Your Manicure!” (1903)
4. The Bank Dick (1940)
5. “Pussy Willie” (1929)
6. “The Boob Detective” (1914)
7. Three Nuts For Cinderella (1973)
8. “On The Knocker” (1963)
9. Dandy Dick (1935)
10. “Oh, What A Boob!” (1913)
11. “Burlesque Cock Fight” (1903)
12. “The Gay Shoe Clerk” (1903)
13. “Bush Doctor” (1954)
14. “Beaver Trouble” (1951)
15. “A Boob For Luck” (1915)
16. The Gay Divorcee (1934)
17. “The Boob’s Nemesis” (a.k.a. “Nuts Nuts”) (1914)
18. “The Hairy Ainus” (1913)
19. “Dick Wakes Up” (1954)
20. “Three Arabian Nuts” (1951)
21. “Boobs In The Woods” (1925)
22. “Jim Post, The Great Facial Comedian, And His Troubles” (1903)
23. “Two Nuts In A Rut” (1948)
24. “The Coming Of Sophie’s ‘Mama’” (1914)
25. “Pimple Gets The Hump” (1915)
26. Death Race 2000 (1975)

hat tip to Michael Czyzniejewski

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

software turns doodles into digital photos

First animators threatened by advancing photographers. According to the Huffington Post, students at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University (the MIT of China) have created web-based software that transforms basic doodles into composite photographs. As long as you label the doodles, so the search engine knows what to look for, PhotoSketch presents composites for you to review in just minutes. You can reject and revise until you are satisfied. No casting calls. No location fees. No artistic temperments to appease when requesting a reshoot.

You can download a free 30 day demo of PhotoSketch here. But only if you're running Windows. A Mac-based version was promised for September. But like artists it emulates, the software missed a deadline.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

beware f*cking awesome social media gurus

An ingenious PSA is making the rounds on networking sites, warning social-media-wannabes against falling for claims of self-proclaimed gurus. It was created not by an ad grunt, but by a freelance journalist in Dublin. Markham Nolan scripted, animated, directed and produced the whole thing using Xtranormal, a free site designed to "bring movie making to the people." Based on a sophisticated text-to-speech generator, the product actually lives up to its improbable tagline: "If you can type, you can make movies."

Nolan created "Social Media Guru" to pitch to Ireland's SFA (Small Firms Association) but decided "screw it – have it free via Youtube." Doubtless he guessed a business association would possibly take exception to NSFW language. But Nolan might not realize--the film he created belongs to Xtranormal, according to stringent TOS delivered on the site by a deceptively benign-looking cartoon character.

dear john to AMC from john deere

Imagine the tizzy in the John Deere boardroom the day after their tractor ran over a character on Mad Men, severing his foot. I think I heard screams from Moline that Monday. Was it AMC's revenge for a product placement deal gone sour? JD sent out a statement to AMC for publication, presumably to assure Maddicts that appendage removal isn't standard when operating John Deere machinery. (Though, honestly, how many of us are in the market for tractors?)

Perhaps the CPSC will make mandatory the handy warning label a fan developed, which I found on Mad Men Show, an excellent new fan site featuring episode guides, schedules, previews, quotes, script insights and random facts about all things sixties.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

honored to be a slideshare top preso today

Delighted that of all the great shows posted to Slideshare, they chose to put ours on their homepage today. Where it will stay for another, oh, 8 hours or so. Fame being fleeting as an unsaved doc. Interested viewers (hi, Mom) who happen to want soundtrack, it's here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

social media turns anti-social for Advertising Week

Last week while New York resounded with fervent proclamations from ad agencies saying they are "going digital" (Grey's president: We're bringing in kids with mohawks and tattoos!) more than 200 social media practitioners gathered on the opposite coast for Adweek’s Social Media Strategies Conference in San Francisco. Michael Bissell and I were honored to be among presenters from Razorfish, Mattel, Facebook, Gap, Ogilvy, DDB and others on the forefront of new media. Keynoter MC Hammer (who tweets to show he's "not just parachute pants") proved surprisingly articulate and insightful on the subject.

Give me anyone in this audience and $15 million and I promise you I can make 'em hot. That's easy. But social media is disrupting this model--creating brands + buzz with little investment...Social media is to Hollywood what Napster was to music.
Other retweets throughout the day:

Trying to retract something from the internet is like attempting to remove pee from a pool. (Rohit Bhargava, Ogilvy)

The first social media manual was written in the 30s. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. (Brian Morrissey, Adweek)

You can't optimize traffic until you optimize content! (Paul Beck, Ogilvy)

Dunkin Dave from Dunkin Donuts is an actual person. Who knew? (MC Hammer)

Barbie's Ken is going to be 50 in 2011! [say it ain't so!] Cynthia Neiman, Mattel

If Facebook was a country, it would be the fourth largest in the world: 1. China, 2. India, 3. US, 4. Facebook. (Ian Schafer, Deep Focus)

from Ian Schafer's keynote presentation. Which can be seen in its excellent entirety here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

first rule of marketing: know thy consumer

You'd think that China's BFF economic relations with Iran might entice Chinese marketers to better inform themselves about target audience.

The Guardian reports that a Chinese clothing manufacturer exported jeans to Tehran bearing the Islamic expression "In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful. The phrase (Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim in Arabic) was prominently displayed on back pockets, which is seen as egregiously disrespectful by devout Muslims. According to an outraged Tehran blogger:
Allah is a respected word that you need to have ablutions before saying. Now it is embroidered on the sitting place of these jeans.

Police seized the garments and arrested three businessmen said to have imported them. The jeans, tailored for women, had sold for around $10-$12. Oops.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

awards show recognizes campaign created by fans

Tonight, the first awards show for social media, the SAMMY awards, were hosted by Digiday at the W Hotel in New York. (Did you know there are five W Hotels in NY? I didn't. So naturally ended up at the wrong one.) Mad Men on Twitter was chosen as finalist for Best Twitter Branding Campaign and although we didn't take home the prize (congrats to Travelzoo) we are grateful to the judging panel (which included reps from Ogilvy and Razorfish) for their recognition. It's something of a milestone in marketing history. The first time an awards show has acknowledged the power of a campaign created completely by fans.

Friday, September 11, 2009

hijacked on 9/11: childhood

Peggy Noonan has an interesting piece in the WSJ today on how 9/11 has affected the lives of children.
A young man who was 14 the day of the attacks told me recently that there's an unspoken taboo among the young people of New York: They don't talk about it, ever. They don't want to say, "Oh boo hoo, it was awful." They don't want to dwell. They shrug it off when it comes up. They change the subject.
I've found this to be true among my daughter and her friends who that day were freshmen at Stuyvesant, in the shadow of the Towers. They never talk about it. Though no doubt it has affected them profoundly.

It was their third day of high school. That morning, my daughter emerged from the subway (only the second time I'd let her ride it alone) to see people jumping from flames in the tower. She had headphones on, though I'd warned her about wearing them in transit. She later told me she was glad she did because they drowned out the screams of people standing with her on the sidewalk. She watched for a few minutes. Then walked on to school. She didn't want to be late. Halfway through the first class, an announcement was made instructing teachers on the East facing windows to pull the blinds. An hour later, the school was closed. The city needed a triage center to treat the wounded. (Wounded were still expected at that point.) The kids were released to the streets, told to "Walk north. Don't look back." The subways weren't going. Buses lumbering uptown were so crowded they weren't stopping. I'd been worried about her riding the subway alone. It hadn't occurred to me to teach her to navigate the 130 blocks without transportation. When she finally got home (by then I was frantic) she told me what she had seen and asked, "There were trampolines underneath to catch them, weren't there?" I was tempted to say yes. But I knew the news would make me a liar. When I said no, she looked away. I could almost hear the breaking glass of her childhood.

She and her friends never talk about that day, though it was long a topic of constant obsessive conversation among us parents. We worried about how seeing national landmarks felled affected our kids, both psychologically (is it good they never talk about it? or bad?) and physically (what about air quality? is the school still filled with flying asbestos?) The school was closed for three weeks for cleaning while our kids were switched to a school in Brooklyn. When the school was reopened, many of us sent our kids with potassium iodide pills that are said to help survive a nuclear attack. There was much talk in those days about "the other shoe dropping".

One of the few times my daughter has referred to 9/11 was when we were driving around to see colleges. She was in the passenger seat and reached out to change a song playing on the CD. "I can't listen to that," she said. "It's what was playing that day on my headphones." She skipped the track ahead. Then turned up music so loud it made talking impossible.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

a few things to know before your trip to Australia

Why don't travel agents tell you this stuff? Coins are actually worth something here. And that worth is inversely proportional to size. The silver dollar-size coin is 50 cents. The coin that looks like a quarter is a dollar. And the one that looks like a penny? Two bucks. So don't go leaving it on a counter like I did.

For some reason, Aussie guide books are elusive on electricity, stating only the wattage and "angled pins." What they should say is that electrical sockets are like a cartoon of a sad eyed person yawning. Two slants and a vertical. Converters may be hard to find in the States, but fairly easy to get here. One tricky thing about plugging things in, however, is you have to actually turn on the socket. Each has a little switch at the top. Now you know. So you don't have to wonder as I did one morning how come all of your plugged-in-overnite electronics are dead.

Go grocery shopping. It's fun to see familiar products with slightly bastardized names. Why bother changing the names, I wonder? Product border patrols?

Such a simple idea, you wonder why we haven't instituted it in the States. Two options for flushing: half flush and whole. Saves oceans of water. But can be confusing the first time you go to the loo.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

australia debuts postmillennial Mad Men

Bill Green of Make the Logo Bigger fame has been talking up a new TV series about to launch in Australia: 30 seconds, an Aussie version of post-millennial ad agency life. It's created by actual ECD's at an ad agency, which sounded promising, until I remembered that Trust Me had the same credentials. I landed in Sydney just in time for the premiere, according to this poster I saw in a subway tunnel, and was all set to watch until discovering that the hotel I was staying in didn't get Foxtel. So, like you, I could sample only a few clips posted by media blogger
Mumbrella. Which were biting and spot on and made me long for more. I only hope FOX in the States will import it as is, without mucking it up by trying to Americanize it. Here's from Mumbrella's thumbs up:

Naturally there’s a bit of exposition in the first episode for non industry folk. But the backdrop is real enough – the underperforming Sydney outpost of global network BND Worldwide; the client who wants to keep an annoying brand icon; the client who wants to get rid of a much loved (and agency created) brand icon; the dead brand icon; the psychopathic new CEO; the awkward client-creative relationship...But, more to the point, there’s a proper storyline, laughs, and decent characters. Enough, I think, to be of wider appeal beyond the industry audience.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

my favorite t-shirt sighting in australia. or anywhere

Since uploading this pic to Facebook, I've received numerous requests for the shirt. Unfortunately, I've never seen it for sale.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

no falsetto notes at first twitter opera

The world's first Twitter Opera, "Twitterdammerung", premiered at London's Royal Opera House hours ago. The libretto was "written" by 900 tweeters who sent posts to @youropera. The 140 character lyrics were set to original music and mixed with familiar opera tunes. The opera can be read in full here.

As with all things twitter, it was produced under enormous time pressure. The production was allotted just three days for rehearsal and not much more for composition. Still, what unfolded on stage proved enough to impress even curmudgeonly opera critic Igor Toronyi-Lalic who gave it a grudging thumbs up:
What unfolded before me was actually not bad at all. The format lent itself to gags and...the gags were some of the best I'd ever heard on the opera floor, proving that it's not the art form that's unfunny, merely the minds of our ageing composers and librettists.

What does this mean for the future of entertainment? That Hollywood and Broadway will come to rely on productions that spring from creative crowdsourcing? Somehow I doubt it. As probably does anyone who's taken part in creative gangbangs. But I add my applause to that of the Royal Opera House audience. While the production may not have rivalled Candida, it ingeniously accomplished the Opera House's presumed goal of getting more people interested and involved in opera. "It's the perfect way for everyone to become involved with the inventiveness of opera as the ultimate form of storytelling," said Alison Duthie, head of ROH2 who was no doubt gratified to observe that the audience last night skewed decades younger than is typical for opera.

Random note: Coincidentally, I received news of this while touring Sydney's Opera House in Australia, site of other operatic twitter excitement. Remember? The tweeter for @RealHughJackman was outed as fake by a post that mistakenly referred to the Sydney Opera Center. Caused quite a tempest in the teapot called twitter.

Heard about this on twitter, of course. Thanks to @Single_Shot for the tip.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

how to get a book deal in 27 days

Sounds like advice from your spam filter, doesn't it?

Be a writer! Move back home with your folks! Write down stuff your dad says! Post it on twitter! Soon book agents will be hounding you and you'll be inundated with offers from publishers!

Yet, it's proved to be the real deal for Justin Halpern who publishes Shit My Dad Says, a "column" on twitter that has been exploded in popularity since his first post on August 3. Why? The content is great dialogue. It's like Justin is repackaging Archie Bunker (remember him?) updated and delivered to a post-millennial audience.

Here's the concept: I'm 28. I live with my 73-year-old dad. He is awesome. I just write down shit that he says. Like:
I didn't live to be 73 years old so I could eat kale. Don't fix me your breakfast and pretend you're fixing mine.

When I used to live in Los Angeles, I used to step in human feces a lot.

My flight lands at 9:30 on Sunday...You want to watch what? What the fuck is mad men? I'm a mad man if you don't pick me the hell up.

On twitter, a quick indication of the quality of your content is a glance at your follow/following ratio. You hope the number of people who follow you is greater than the number of people you follow. Over 225,000 people follow Justin. Justin follows only 1 person. (@LevarBurton) (?) Impressive metric that says yes, quality of creative content still matters.

Now the LA Times reports he's got a book agent and several publishing offers. But it's a family newspaper. In their report, the site is, um, Stuff My Dad Says.

Congratulations to Justin and, of course, to his dad. Who doesn't read the site. He's not on the internet. He does have a cell phone, however. But no voicemail.
Why would i want to check a voicemail on my cell phone? People want to talk to me, call again. If i want to talk to you, I'll answer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

tweeting from the pulpit

Turns out Broadway's Next to Normal isn't the only play that's been turned into twittertainment. Wall Street's historic Trinity Church broke digital ground using Twitter to perform the Passion Play. From 12 to 3 on Good Friday, a church worker posted tweets from @twspassionplay, telling the story via retweets from congregationers who had adopted names such as @_Peter_of_, @Pontius_Pilate, @Mary_Mother_Of and @_JesusChrist.
@ServingGirl is so tired. Caiaphas and the priests have been up all night questioning a man who claims to be the Messiah. And I wait on them.

@_Jesus Christ It is as the prophets have written: I tell my tale of misery while they look on and gloat.

@romanguard1 I've got dibs on his robe, but if you guys want to cast lots for the rest of his clothes I'm cool with that.
See the entire performance here. Before twittertainment began, the Passion Play had less than 100 followers. When it ended three hours later, it had over 1700. Brand evangelists.

Found this news in an epistle by Diane Mapes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

supermarket sighting

So that's what they mean by a campaign with legs ;)

Friday, August 28, 2009

child labor isn't the only way for global manufacturers to exploit the poor

In India, Levi's is offering jeans on the installment plan. There, the brand has achieved prom king status thanks in part to ads featuring Akshay Kumar (macho Bollywood film star). Its biggest aspirational base? Men from rural villages, who can't afford them. To "help", Levi's is encouraging customers to pay on installment. According to the front page of The Financial Times:
Under the scheme, customers will be able to pay for Levi's priced at Rs1,599 ($33) and above in three instalments. The move comes after a two-month experiment... where consumers offered the instalment option spent an average of 50 per cent more than normal.
Says Shumone Chatterjee, managing director of Levi Strauss India, "For guys in a village, a pair of Levi's is can immediately catapult you on a social level...It's about giving these guys stuff they couldn't otherwise own in one shot." Not to mention that handy 50% bump in cash outlay.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

@BettyDraper needs your vote

It's that time of year again. Voting for panels for next year's SXSWi, the annual digipalooza in Austin. This year's list of offerings is more impressive than ever. Still, I'm throwing my (pillbox) hat in the ring. For last year's SXSW 2009 (which was great), I organized a "Behind the Scenes with Mad Men on Twitter" panel that seemed to go over well.

This year, I'm proposing two panel ideas. One that shares lessons in twittertainment learned from tweeting as @BettyDraper. The other sharing learnings from real life Mad Men which have surprising relevance to digital marketing. Hopefully one (or both!) of these ideas will gain traction. Whether or not they happen depends on (shameless appeal) votes from people like you! You can vote even if you can't be at the conference. SXSW releases podcasts of all presentations so you won't have to miss out! Hope you'll take a minute to give these the thumbs up. Just click on the bubbles. Or hot air balloons ;)

Vote for my PanelPicker Idea!
10 Rules of Brand Fiction from Mad Men's @BettyDraper
Recipes for creating successful twittertainment and other participatory entertainments that drive brand engagement and ROI by providing consumers with an immersive experience.


Vote for my PanelPicker Idea!

What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Mad Men
The transformation taking place in advertising today has been compared to the creative revolution on Madison Avenue when radio gave way to television as the most popular platform for entertainment. What do creative revolutionaries of the Mad Men era have to teach digital marketers today? Presentation will include screening of vintage commercials. Fedora optional.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

sound of music, track 1

I know. I've posted about flashmobs before. But what makes this stunt in Central Station of Antwerp, Belgium so refreshing was that it wasn't orchestrated by a global brand to push product, but as a promotion for a local TV program looking for a lead in the musical "The Sound of Music." 200 dancers. 2 rehearsals. 4 minutes of delight for early morning commuters.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mad Men's Carla raises consciousness 140 characters at a time

Why do Mad Men fans write feeds for the characters? I know that for many of us, it's simply good fun. For others, it's fun and an interesting experiment in social media. For others of us, it's all that opportunity to touch on controversial social issues the show bravely explores.

Latoya Peterson writing for Racialicious observes there's a twitter feed for Carla, the Drapers' African American housekeeper, which puts forth perspective that is "all but absent on the show".

Some critics have taken Mad Men to task for not dealing with social injustice in a more frontal manner. But Weiner's characters exist in a universe where concepts of feminism and racism are just beginning to take hold. Where sexual harassment not only doesn't have consequences, it won't have a name for a good twenty years.

HighJive, a popular blogger who writes on race and "cultural cluelessness" concedes that "finding fault with Mad Men’s rendering of ethnic minorities in the advertising industry is somewhat impossible because, well, they barely exist. They’re invisible."

Indeed, when the twitter feed for Carla first appeared in December, there was no profile pic. There wasn't a profile pic for Carla for weeks. The writer explained why in an email:
I have no picture because I'm invisible.
Carla remained without a profile pic until Jan 19, the day before Obama was sworn in:
Finally found one of my own pictures. Makes me feel like today is a holiday.
From time to time, the writer behind Carla touches on racial inequity taken for granted in the world of Ossining, circa 1963. Here's her exchange with Betty during a twitter-based Tea Party:

Carla: This uniform makes me feel uncomfortable. But I can't show it; must maintain my "quiet dignity" for the party.

Betty: And be sure and put out Cointreau for White Ladies.

Carla: Oh, won't all of your guests be white ladies at the party?

Betty: You are such a character! Gin + Cointreau + Lemon + Powdered Sugar = White Lady. Don't forget to iron your apron!

Carla: We could offer Black Ladies as well. Brandy + Grand Marnier + Kahlua. Paul Kinsey told me he likes Black Ladies.

Carla: And at least, I get to keep my own clothes clean if Betty and her friends spit up the White Ladies on the black lady.

Betty: And change the record on the hifi to Bing Crosby, would you?

Clara: Putting on Bing Crosby record, wishing I'd brought my Louie Armstrong "Christmas Night in Harlem" record to play.
Some tweeters have taken issue with @Carla_Madmen's sangfroid, wishing her to be more politically conscious:
re: Fixation on the Drapers' lives...don't you need to be marching for your civil rights or something?
But Carla on twitter remains in character. She is no Rosa Parks. She is like thousands of women were then as now: ordinary women trying to make the best of the cards they'd been dealt:
March? I get plenty of exercise walking to and from the train.
I do not know who writes @Carla_Madmen. But we have developed an email relationship in which we exchange views on racism and other issues that Carla and Betty can't discuss. I sent her the Racialicious piece and asked for her views on how blacks are depicted in Mad Men. She wrote:

African-Americans are the only grown-ups on Mad Men. To the limited extent you see them, they lack any discernible faults. Whether that's due to their minor roles, I'm not sure. I think it will be interesting to watch Mad Men develop larger roles for minority characters as the 60's progress -- single dimensional with quiet dignity or a more full range of human emotions and foibles. It's obviously a potential land mine for the writers.
And a gold mine of material for the writer of Carla's twitter feed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

dispatch from the twittertainment frontier

Being a Mad Man on Twitter provides unique opportunities to explore the frontiers of twittertainment. So while AMC was whipping up impressive frenzy for the premiere of Mad Men's Season Three last week, some of us Mad Men on Twitter got together to prepare a "tweaser": a fan-produced event in a parallel universe: a twitter show in which Mad Worlds Collide.

Mad Worlds Collide was a first in twittertainment. A dramatic improv produced, created and aired completely on twitter, it bridged the divide between dimensions by offering tickets and real-world Mad Men-era prizes.

The concept was this: in the hour before the long-awaited Mad Men premiere, our new twitter character Radio City hosted a virtual premiere for 1963 film "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World", preceded by a variety show in which @Jimmy_Barrett appeared "on stage" with stars of the film, @_EthelMerman and @EdieAdams. It was a scenario that allowed for the participation of all Mad Men on Twitter as well any fans game to get in on the fun.

We issued tickets. Prepared the venue. Sent out the word via tweets and Betty's blog. Even lined up some snazzy door prizes.

As showtime got closer, we drew up a timeline so that we could synchronize our (winding) watches:
9:00- 9:10 People hurrying to Radio City, waiting for show to begin or schmoozing in the lobby or backstage. Theater always gets started late.

9:10 Curtain goes up and Rockettes open the show. Lots of opps for tweeted thoughts from the crowd.

9:19 Curtain goes down.

9:20 Curtain comes up. A variety show is "supposed" to feature a lot of actors from the film. But @Jimmy_Barrett (pissed that Stanley Kramer didn't cast him) takes over the show.

9:30 Curtain goes down.

9:30 - 9:45 Intermission. People mingle in lobby. Door prizes are announced.

9:45 People go back to their seats, anxious for the screening to start .

9:50 Lights go out, in preparation for screening. Everyone posts scrowler which turns viewer screen black.
We crafted posts from RadioCity to act as MC to provide narrative structure, carefully timed and pre-posted to a third-party application which would send out the tweets at just the right moments. What we'd overestimated was distance between 1963 and 2009 technology. Pre-posted tweets from @_RadioCity didn't post. Why isn't my speaker system working tonite? (If we were IRL actors, perhaps we'd have known better than to put all our faith in the production crew.)

Without an MC, the "stage" turned into a free-for-all, truly experimental "theater": not only marvelous improv from @Jimmy_Barrett (see it here) but also fun, fast-paced, unscripted, completely organic and sometimes hilarious entertainment from the crowd. Which you can see here. Appropriate, we decided, to a madcap heist film. And to ground-breaking television drama. The audience certainly seemed to enjoy it.

live from Broadway! it's twittertainment!

The New York Times reports the first Broadway show playing simultaneously in theater and in the twitterverse. From May 12 to June 7, "Next to Normal" issued tweets during showtimes which appeared in the N2NBroadway twitter stream during pauses in onstage dialogue. The entire twitter performances can be viewed here.

What's exciting about this isn't only that it blasts open a new creative frontier (the 3 1/2 Wall?) but that it demonstrates that twittertainment can play a role in building audience. Before the twitter production began, the show sold $226,000 in tickets and filled 72 percent of its seats. The week it ended, the show made $363,000 and reached 99 percent of capacity, according to Broadway League. Some attribute the bump to Tony nominations. But as of this posting, the N2NBroadway feed has 572, 180 followers. Surely Janet Aguhob wasn't the only one who "saw the show because of the tweets...It was like Twitter was the appetizer and then I got the main course."

The idea of adapting the show for twitter was the brainchild of Situation Interactive, an online marketing and ad firm. According to the firm's president, Damian Bazadona, it successfully promoted the show without "banging someone over the head to say, 'Here's how to buy tickets'...The content itself was doing the selling for us."

Character posts were written by the show's playwright Brian Yorkey who was "skeptical when approached about adapting his play for thumb-typers, it sounded like 'a bit of a chore'." He soon took up the creative challenge, however, and began putting out tweets. Like the one during a scene when a manic wife is making sandwiches on the floor, from her humoring husband, "Do all wives end up sprawled on the floor making sandwiches for no one?"

Calling @BettyDraper.

(Thanks to @_EthelMerman for scoop from the dressing room)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

even the post office is going all mad men

Mad Men returns to the screen tomorrow night and you can't go anywhere in New York without being cleverly reminded of this. But how did gonzo AMC marketers get the US Post Office to synchronize its launch of Mad Men era stamps? Now you can send off that bill in the company of Ed Sullivan, Alfred Hitchcock, the Lone Ranger, Perry Mason or other stars from a golden age when social media meant watching Bonanza with your siblings and popcorn. Art director Carl Herrman of North Las Vegas, NV, designed the stamps and worked with twenty2product, a San Francisco-based studio, to give them a suitably retro look.