A really interesting On Point Lexicon Valley episode about the ever-confusing response "yeah, no." It's a phrase that I love for its messiness, its depth, its complexity. Because it's unclear it's assuming that the person receiving the response of "yeah, no" has the intelligence to understand what you mean in context. You're trusting them to get it.

As a written response it's harder to get that message across clearly, but in dialogue it's something that could make a spot or movie or line or dialogue a little bit more powerful. 

Explosions in slow motion: the power of nothing

I've been working on a new commercial for the last couple of weeks. That means sitting in a room with an editor for days on end hopefully getting it right.

Our editor started talking about working with the guy who edited Spike Jonez's stuff. That jarred something loose and reminded me of this skate video. My friend Clark showed it to me way back when we were in high school.

Not only did it introduce me to M83 before I could actually appreciate M83, it also showed how 5 minutes of, really, nothing could be captivating. It's so simple but it works.

Some kind soul even remastered it in 720p so it's not the grainy mess I was subjected to years ago. Enjoy.

It should be easy

With so much bad work out there, it should be easy to make good creative work. But it isn't. For some reason it gets so complicated and convoluted that even the point behind the point you were trying to make gets lost.

It gets lost through other's input. It gets lost through one-little-thing after one-little-thing from the clients. It gets lost by being insecure about the idea that was bought.

And it's all from a place of good intentons. People trying to make it better. Make it more this. Make it more that. But with so many voices the work becomes muddy and unrecognizable and a shadow of what it could have been.

But it's not their fault.

This is no one's fault but your own. At least that's how it feels. You didn't do enough to avoid this outcome. You didn't script tight enough. You didn't dig enough early enough so someone makes the decision for you.

That's a tough lesson to learn because as the work is turing to shit it's turning to shit in your hands. It's not going to get better. You couldn't possibly start to fix it. And no matter how much you argue or rationalize or fight it's not going to end up as you want. As it should be.

Even when you want good work because people don't deserve to be subjected to bland, uninteresting work. 

Especially then. 


Saw these at a Dieter Roth exhibit in MoMA.  He cobbled together traditional sausage recipes and substituted books and magazines in for meat. And then sent the sausages away to friends and told them do do anything they wanted with it.

It was one of the coolest thing I saw all day, and the lack of preciousness about the sausages really impressed me. The art was only half over by the time he had finished it. That's probably part of the reason why he has a massive exhibit at MoMA.

'When I was young I wanted to become a real artist. Then I started doing something I felt wasn't real art, and it was through this that I became a well-known artist.' - Dieter Roth 

Mental New Adidas Video

A couple of weeks late to this. But once I saw it I watched it over and over.

It feels really fresh. And feels like a shot of nitrous to the brain*. 

Done by TBWA's United State of Fans.

One question: how do you pitch something like this? (via)

*So I've heard.

To what end?

There is a great temptation, in life and in advertising, to do something because it seems like the thing to do. Box ticking. Gap filling. Things that sound good. 

In reality these things are popcorn. 

And, as a result, we an inundated with a deluge of crap. Because no one is asking two simple questions:

"Why?" and "To what end?"

They are important questions. They are hard to ask. But they are necessary. 

Because the alternative is creating absolutely nothing for nobody. And nobody wants that.

Science says brainstorming is bunk.

Yesterday I was listening to a rather excellent episode of On Being about the cognitive roots of creativity. Now I'm not saying I understand science 100%, but the guest, Rex Young, spelled things out in a way that was easy enough to understand. It was interesting hearing from someone who studied creativity outside of "creative" industries.  Plus, he was backed by science rather than the usual pop-psychological conjecture that surrounds creativity.

Here's a few quick things I took away from the episode. (Though you should listen to the whole interview.)

Science says that brainstorming is bunk.

While it can lead to decent results, it hardly leads to results that are the most creative. Because what happens in a brainstorm is that everyone is trying to impress everyone else. To have their ideas liked. As a result, people hold back the new, challenging ideas and present the ones that are easier to digest. People get shamed into submission.

Brainstorming, it turns out, is a really terrible process. At best brainstorming can add something to a conversation where there is nothing. At worst it makes people feel good that other people agreed with their less-than-creative idea.

I wish more agencies would listen to this kind of advice. Or maybe it's better that they don't and the smart ones do.

Which leads to the second thing I took away: comfort matters. In order to spark great creativity you have to be comfortable being wrong, around the people you work with, over and over and over.

If not, you run into the same problems you have with brainstorming. Comfort allows for a give and take that doesn't come naturally. It allows someone to eviscerate their partner's idea one moment, while championing a different one the next.

Comfort is the reason why writers' rooms work differently from the average brainstorm. The components look the same. But the process is dramatically different.

The episode went in depth about a certain building at MIT that was known for creative results. All sorts of great brains floated through this place and bumped into each other, knocking around some of the most creative ideas in history. It was this unplanned magic that gave the place its brilliance. And gave the world so many good ideas.

But, again, it was because all of these people were comfortable with each other, and accepting of each others' input, that this worked. Any other set of circumstances would have been absolutely toxic.

There's more, way more to take away from the episode. But you'll have to listen to get all that goodness.

Gross. Horrible. Powerful.

Being in a business that's largely image driven, advertisers often forget that an ad can be more than "cool" to be effective. There's a litany of emotions that are rarely touched on by ads for fear of alienating the audience. Any time an ad is too different, too trying, not cool enough, it can be squashed.

But this BBC report from The Why Factor shows how powerful other emotions can be. Namely, disgust. Disgust is visceral, immediate, universal (though what disgusts people varies greatly). People pay attention to disgust in a special way. That's why we can go on and on about what we hate but sometimes struggle to define what we like.

This isn't to say that disgust should be the only goal. For instance, you might not want to show a life-sized grasshopper enjoying a Dreamsicle on a hot summers day. However, it might be a powerful, unexpected place to tap in to for the right brand.

If disgust if the desired effect there's a fine line between disgust and shock. Shocking people can be good, it also gets attention, but it doesn't always make them feel. Shock is the effect, disgust can be the emotion. I think it's a pretty important distinction because it makes disgust weightier  Something beyond marketing trickery.

I've embedded the episode for easy for listening. Thanks to @Copybeard for tweeting it.

Weeeeekly Linkly: Picture Edition

This week it's all about pictures in different states. That's a lie. But I was searching for a theme and this is the one I landed on. So here's the weekly goodness.

READABLE PICTURES (not actually pictures)

"Somewhere in midstream, with a hard-working husband, our marvelous young son, and a fabulous job at NPR, I learned that women can have it all — but not all at once." - NPR's Susan Stamberg's advice to her younger self.

More envy-inducing Fentimans work from Sell! Sell!

The Ad Contrarian's new contrarian venture: Type A Group.

Scorsese talks about the "Language of Cinema" at the JFK Performing Arts Center. Really interesting.

Escaping the tyranny of "advertising" on Canalside View.


Really neat cover. (via)

"Oh grow some boobs."

Couldn't be more excited to see DEATH get recognized.


From Gapingvoid