Everybody's working for the weekly linkly.

MANAGER'S OFFICE

  • Sell! Sell!'s excellent Let's Talk Advertising. It's about defining what's good about work that's universally regarded as good and how no one can agree on that. 

FACTORY FLOOR

SMOKING BREAK


Making the It's Always Sunny pilot.


iPhone 6 and 6+ unboxing. Really tremendous technology here, folks.



A master soba maker makes soba in silence.


A rapper that's a little too transparent.

Regular people with fancy titles doing regular jobs.

Everyone's always going on about personal branding. Saying, "You can't just be you. You gotta be a brand, man!" And what that's done is produce a bunch of nonsense titles that are fun to make fun of. Like Guru or Ninja or Podiatrist. But everyone knows that under those titles is just a regular person doing a regular job that isn't nearly as fancy as their job title.

George Carlin was writing about this ages ago (ages being at least 10 years ago when his book When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops came out). Because comedians are always ahead of the curve when talking about life's absurdities.

So here it is, "EUPHEMISMS: What do you do for a living?" from When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?

American companies now put a great deal of effort into boosting their employee's self-esteem by handing out inflated job titles. Most likely, they think it also helps compensate for the longer hours, unpaid overtime and stagnant wages that have become standard. It doesn't.

However, such titles do allow an ordinary store clerk to tell some girl he's picking up at a bar that he's a product specialist. Or a retail consultant. If it turns out she's a store clerk, too, but he store uses different euphemisms, then she may be able to inform him that she's a sales counsellor. Or a customer service associate And, for a while there, they're under the impression that they actually have different jobs.

These are real job titles, currently in use to describe employees whose work essentially consists of telling customers, "We're all out of medium." Nothing wrong with that but it's called store clerk, not retail consultant, and not customer service associate. Apparently, stores feel they can charge more for merchandise sold by a customer service associate than they can for the same hunk sold by a clerk. By the way, if a clerk should be unhappy with his title, he can always more to a different store, where he may have a change if being called a product service representative, a sales representative or a sales associate.

And I hope you took note of that word associate. that's a hot word with companies now. I saw a fast-food employee mopping the floor at an In-N-Out Burger and---I swear this is true--his name tag said "associate." Okay? It's the truth. Apparently, instead of money they now give out these bogus titles.

At another fast-food place, Au Bon Pain, I noticed the cashier's name tag said hospitality representative. The cashier. The name tag was pinned to her uniform. The people who sell these uniforms now refer to them as career apparel. Or--even worse--team wear. I had to sit down when I heard that. Team wear.

Teams are also big in business; almost as big as associates. In Los Angeles's KooKooRoo restaurants the employee name tag say "team member." At a Whole Foods supermarket, I talked to the head of the meat department about ordering a special item; I figured he was the head butcher. But his name tag identified him as the meat team leader. Throw that on your resume. I guess the people under him would have been meat team associates. I didn't stick around to ask.

So it's all about employee morale. And in a lot of companies, as part of morale-building, the employees are called staff. But it's all right, because most customers are now called clients. With those designations, I guess the companies can pay the staff less and charge the clients more.

I'm Not sure when all this job-title inflation began, but it's been building for a while. At some point in the past thirty years secretaries became personal assistants or executive assistants. Many of them now consider those terms too common, so they call themselves *administrative aides.

Everyone wants to sound more important these days:

Teachers became educators
drummers became percussionists
movie directors became filmmakers,
company presidents became chief executive officers
family doctors became primary-care providers,
manicurists became nail technicians
magazine photographers became photojournalists
weightlifters became bodybuilders,
and bounty hunters now prefer to be called recovery agents.

And now everyone wants to be called a storyteller.

O links of fate, thank you for this blessed week.

PSALMS

GRACE


It's Payback Time (potentially my favorite cancer ad of all time. Done by 4 Creative)


Banner Ads


Crazy Madden Glitch


Labels. They're important. (via Sell! Sell!)

Weakling Linkling

SAND PIT

KICKBALL FIELD


Generic Greeting.


Bissel subway ad. Pretty gross. Pretty great.


This dude knows so much about soda.


If OKCupid did commercials.


FREAKS

The future of creative departments.

There's a lot of talk going on about the demise of ad agencies and "traditional" creative departments. And I'm sorry to say I fall on the side of those saying there will be a day when traditional agencies will have to fold up their MacBooks and turn off the lights.

But this isn't empty rhetoric as is the case with so many of those other pieces. I have the answers. I know the exact trumpet's call that will be the final thwack that brings advertising to its knees.

It starts with the sun, you see. Millions and millions of years from now.

One day the sun is going to get really, really big. People are going to freak out. They'll start hoarding everything and anything they can get their hands on. Bread. Pickles. Onions. Toilet paper.

Dear god don't forget the toilet paper.

But it's not during this time that agencies will go out of business. In fact these will be days full of plump marketing budgets and wild Big Sun Sales. CMOs will be so flush with cash it'll be like advertising is experiencing another 80s. (Can you imagine!)

It'll be an age of creative resurgence. The world's top budding whatevers will take a crack at advertising because the money's so good that no sane man or woman could turn that down. We're talking billions upon billions for the tiniest TV shoot (not adjusting for inflation, of course. You can't expect me to predict the economic fluctuations of the United States of America and the future of advertising thank you very much.)

Creative agencies of course will be constructed any way they want. Some all writers, some all wildcards, some all account people! Because even in a million years no one will quite know how to structure an agency. Pity. But these are questions to span the ages. Top philosophers (they'll also have an agency called Thought) will debate the proper structure of the agency up to the bitter end.

Ah, the end.  That was what I meant to talk about. That's the only time there are any concrete answers to what the perfect structure for an agency would be. 

And that answer is nothing.

That's right, nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. You lose Charlie + Bucket Creative. Because eventually that big sun is going to go all white dwarf and engulf not just the marketing people, not just the earth, but the entire solar system. 

And it is that very moment that the need for advertisers will exist. With no world there is simply no reason to keep paying expensive agency overheads. Some clients might feel the desire to take things in house but that won't matter on account of they're dead. 

The end of the world will probably solve a lot of problems for a lot of industries but I, for one, am happy that this question that has plagued agencies for so long is finally put to rest. 

Unless one of you creatives weasel your way onto a craft shooting out into space. God help the next civilization you encounter.

Computer, execute sequence Weekly Linkly One Oh Seven Dot Nine Slash.

ONES

The last true (American) hermit goes to jail.

The almost unknown art of Miles Davis

Herzog on creativity.

There are no easy answers.

ZEROS


I don't even know. But I love it.


Hush Money's Pull Ups


Crazy cool projection mapping in a Mexican graveyard.

Incomplete stories.

I'm thinking about stories. Even after the hubub over Stefan Sagmeister's missive "You are Not a Storyteller" has died down. Not because I think advertising people or even most people should consider themselves storytellers. God no. No God, no. I think people claiming to be storytellers are just searching to make themselves feel better about whatever they actually do.

It also seems that so called "storytellers" don't have a clue of what makes a good story. They haven't studied the shapes of stories, or the structure of stories, or even the essential aspects of story. Rather they throw out these lovely tales about how things just keep getting better because x, y, and z. (X, Y, and Z usually being some set of circumstances brought on by a product.) They are usually stories without conflict, devoid of lessons, and only completely self serving. Which means they're bad stories. So even if these people who claim they are storyteller are storytellers they're bad storytellers at best.

As for advertising it's closer to sketch than storytelling. Because sketch is all about heightening until you reach a point where you can't heighten any more. There doesn't have to be an arc. No one has to learn anything. Hell, as long as you haven't wasted people's time it's a good sketch. There are nuances, yes, and sketch is traditionally comedy but I think there's a bit of humor in any good ad, even if that humor comes from the relatability of some situation.

I learned that lesson while working on a Claussen Pickles commercial. We'd sold this spot that was all about a penguin going to the refrigerated section to find Claussens. Rather than try to make that the best spot I possibly could by realizing it was a nice little trek by a funny animal I tried really, really hard (way too hard to be honest) to fit it into a story. It didn't need to be a story as much as it needed to be funny and adorable. that would have been enough. But in my desire to make a piece of advertising something it wasn't the whole thing crumbled in my hands. (An expensive lesson to learn on someone else's dime.) 

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I learned that trying to make something good (whatever that means) far outpaces trying to be something because you're insecure about what you actually are.


Throw your butts three times to the right, it's time for the Weekly Linkly.

So Robin Williams died this week and there was an outpouring of amazing writing about him and depression. There's going to be a bunch of those in this post so skip it if you're averse to reading about those kinds of things.

BUTTS ON PARADE

BUTTS IN STORAGE


Pipe Guy can play house music with a shoe.


How to do a great magic card trick and make lots of friends.


Racist Chinese Food.


Amazing cake decorating machine.


Yelling in sleep.

Happy Belated Weekly Linkly, Jake Winthrop.

PRESENTS

  • The Process People from The Ad Contrarian. It's one of the best things about advertising I've read in months.

CAKES

  • Nershfest. It's a music festival but it's digital. It's also really well designed.
  • Edgar Wright's blog. Which I didn't know existed until last week. My shame about this is at unprecedented levels.

CANDLES



The best commuter bike. Maybe of all time. It's Denny.


Rick Fulcher cracks up Will Arnett


Hellman's Jar-BQ (for sad lonely people like myself)


David Lynch Nail polish ad


Shy Boys: IRL

Can't a point just be a point?

The other day I heard an interview with Edan Lepuck on NPR. She was talking about her new novel California.  I haven't read it. But it's about a world with dwindling resources and I've been working on some clients involved in those issues so I thought it would be interesting to listen to.

It's a good interview but one answer in particular made me really happy. The host asked a question about her book fit into the Cli-fi genre. (That's the one that all this apocalyptic weather fiction has come out of with the express purpose of making people wake up to the terrors of climate change.) Here's Edan's response:

"I didn't set out to make any kind of message when I was writing it. That seems to didactic. I really was thinking on the pure, emotional, thematic story level."

She went on to explain that while the book might make people think about scarcity or the potential for scarcity of resources that wasn't some pointed argument she was trying to make.

I found this really refreshing. Not because I think art with a point is a bad thing (pointless art is sometimes nothing more than a bird's nest full of shiny objects) but because I think that art doesn't have to be this grand things that's trying to change the world. It might be but it doesn't have to be.

So many people seem caught up on doing something with a secondary purpose. Having some grand mission that everything flows into a changes the world in some way some person deemed necessary. And with this extreme rise in cause-based stuff we just get a pile of garbage that we're supposed to support and love because it's for a cause.

And that's fine for some people. Some of that stuff is rather good. But I don't think there's enough people willing to admit the bullshit people assign to their work is bullshit. 

Or at least that things do not have to do anything beyond be an affecting piece of fiction that entertains the viewer (viewer being a very loose term for whoever is interacting with whatever was made). 

I understand the impulse to big yourself up. To latch onto a cause because you worry that you're not interesting enough, or likable enough, or palatable enough on your own. I've fallen into that trap myself. But all that leads to is being a person who co-opted a cause because you really haven't looked hard enough into your soul to express what's important to you.

These are broad generalizations but it's what I've seen in my own life and in the mountains of drivel that show up on the internet every day.

This problem has also infected marketing to a point where companies feel the need to hide their company-ness behind a cause.

I don't believe for a second that a corporation really cares about any of the causes they're co-opting. They wouldn't co-opt those causes unless they were really, really good for business. 

Capitalism is a flawed system and if there's not anything in it for the company then they're not going to invest in it. These cause efforts are often done to un-do some of the bad or make companies look better.

 It all go back to companies being ashamed that they are companies and the people in marketing departments and agencies fostering their own shame about shilling product. There may be a way to marry these two outlooks (like the way Toms and Patagonia have put them firmly at the center of their business). But it seems for most companies there's still an inauthenticity to anyone trying to co-opt a cause. 

If it develops organically or really changes things systemically within a company that is a very great thing. But if it's sending clean water to a village in Africa already flush with clean water because that's what media and the account people told you you could do then what a fucking waste. 

You might as well done something that isn't detrimental and does entertain people. Like Edan did. But what do I know?