New work I love.

And I didn't even make it.

This stuff is for Snapple. That tea with the facts under the caps.

And that's exactly what some very smart friends of mine (named Andrew Kong and Curtis Petraglia) made spots about.*

They're funny, unexpected, and could only belong to Snapple.

Pretty much everything good advertising should be. 

So watch them, enjoy them, and buy some Snapple so they can make more of them.

*Doesn't hurt that they were assisted by the wonderful minds of Bob Cianfrone and Guto Araki.

If you don't got links get out of my face. It's the somewhat-weekly linkly.

And so the day came when the US dollar had depreciated so much it was routinely used as hamster bedding. In that land, links were the only currency that matters. This post is my savings account.

Pocket Change

An excellent, savage piece of writing about one of music's blandest acts. And 24 other tracks that are indicators about where music is heading. If you read one thing this week make it this. (Warning: there songs autoplay for a few seconds. So if you're Puth-averse you should mute this ASAP.) 

A missive about advertising's talent crisis and the root causes of it. This is the second thing you should read this week. Which is why it's second.

Two pieces on great ad people. The first is lunch with Tim Delaney. The second is a look back at the career of of Hal Riney.

Funniest thing I've read in a while. "Looking back at the poop so toxic it grounded a plane."

How Gü became Gü.

Remember the Social Network's Trailer? Birdman's trailer? Anomalisa's trailer? All this guy. The most visionary movie trailer editor in Hollywood

W+K is trying to reduce their working hours. Hopefully this is an industrywide trend.

Why are so many doors hard to understand?

Photos from the trash museum which is decidedly less trashy than it ought to be.

The movie set that was a full working city and might not ever become a movie.

New York millionaires who want to be taxed more. They can afford it, they say. Who are we to not believe them? 

Advertising's best planner is back with another great post. Fuck art. Let's advertise.

Bonds, Government Bonds.

Trains in distress.

Cool music video that must have taken an inordinate amount of work to do.

Burying someone in the desert is hard work.

How to lose weight in 4 easy steps.

This place was around the corner from my apartment in Chicago. It's open 24 hours a day. Every day. Because it was cheaper in the early days to stay open than to close up and deal with thefts. It's so good and if you're in Chicago I implore you to go stuff your face with a polish or a pork chop sandwich or at least a hot dog (they don't do them as Chicago dogs, just onions and mustard.) Beware of the sport peppers.

How to win an election.

Another video that must have taken so much work to accomplish.

Does advertising suffer from narcissistic personality disorder?

When you spend all day in advertising it's easy to be blind to the ills facing our industry as a whole. Sometimes you have to step back and take a look at the type of industry we've built. Which is what happened the other day when I stumbled across a piece about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and was struck but how aptly it described us.

And since everyone in advertising likes to consider themselves a pop-psychologist I thought I'd try my hand at it. So here is my comprehensive diagnosis according the to the 9 criteria for NPD.

Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g. expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements, exaggerates achievements and talents)
Advertising bills itself as a lot of things. The most creative industry in the world. Cultural movement builders. Creators of the future. But given the billions of dollars that are spent annually on advertising and its lack to affect anything (including, shamefully, the sales of our clients) most of these statements are just the chest-beating of an industry that believes itself better than it is.

Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
As far as I'm concerned we invented this. This is what advertising sells people on. The people they can be. The people they should be. But it's also something that is present in every agency. At every all agency meeting. "Agency X is going to take over the world. Has the smartest people. The biggest reach. The widest skill set."

Believes he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
What agency doesn't have it's own special sauce that makes it unique? Patented processes, ideas, and cultures that are their secret to success. These are the way we get business. Even though they're all the same. And often more full of air than substance. Also throw into this mix that advertising loves celebrities. Celebrity celebrities. Celebrity directors. World leaders. It's a minor glamour industry that believes it is akin to Hollywood. 

Requires excessive admiration.
This is the most apparent one of the bunch. How many awards schemes are there now? Advertising agencies, people, and clients are obsessed with awards. For a lot of people it's the only way to prove you're worth your salt. And if you don't win an award you could always create internal awards. Or an award scheme of your own. 

Has a sense of entitlement.
Our messages are allowed everywhere. We believe we should exist because we have the divine right to. We villainize ad blocking software rather than figuring out creative solutions to work around it. Or make millions of people want to block our messages. We rip off artists with or without their permission. If The Black Keys says "no" to using their song in our ad we just go to a music house and ask them to give us a Black Keys rip. We believe that every bit of culture belongs to us.

Is inter-personally exploitive. (i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.)
Uh, duh. This applies to talent in agencies, clients, and consumers.

Lacks empathy (Is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others)
Have you heard the way most people in agencies talk about consumers? They denigrate them. Think they're idiots. An unfortunate roadblock in our quest for creative excellence.

Is often envious of other or believes that others are envious of him or her.
Loads of agencies seem to want to be anything other than an ad agency. They want to be storytellers. They want to create the next Uber. They're in the data game. But they're also waking up to the idea that we can't keep people because other industries are offering things we can't. So...maybe? Probably? (UPDATE: Sir Martin Sorrell just today claimed that the advertising business is no longer in the business of advertising. So I'm moving this to an extremely highly probable.)

Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Haven't we been through this already?

So, to me, it looks pretty cut and dry. Advertising totally has a case of NPD.

But here's a bit of a walking back from the case I've built. I think this diagnosis is what represents the worst of advertising. It is what people hate when they say they hate ads. It's not only driven by agencies but by their clients and their refusal to say no to those clients. It is a sickness that has so consumed the industry that we believe it to be the way things have to be.

There is still a kernel of goodness in advertising. People who are attempting to buck all the trends that aim to make advertising consume itself. That's the reason a lot of us still try to create something good in the face of all the evidence above. But that means we can't pander, we can't insult the people we're trying to advertise to, and we can't make these elements the thing we're most proud of. We need to do better because it might be impossible to do any worse.

Agree? Disagree? State your case below.

Everybody's waiting for the weekendly linkly.

Been a while since I did one of these. Here's the greatest hits since the year began.

A look at one of the most interesting restaurants and chefs in LA. I went here. It's a strange dining experience. The food is cheaper than it should be, the restaurant is extremely quiet, and it's only around for a limited time. Even if you can't eat there you should read about it.

Triage thinking and advertising.

What Orwell can teach us about war and language.

What it's like to date a horse.

Thoughts about agency bigness.

Rethinking the consumer

An article about comedian Kate Berlant, a very funny person whose work you should become familiar with.

A podcast dedicated to dissecting individual components of songs.

In the same vein, Paul Belford breaks down the thinking behind one of his great ads.

Charlie Kauffman chats about Anomalisa.

One DP's 10-year quest to digitally replicate the look and "feel" of celluloid.

BriTANick finally has a new sketch out. A a pilot order from

Google streetview in a miniature world.

Pretending to be a gay rapper.

Eat crap!

Some very funny people made a very funny movie.

My friend directed this video for a rapper you may have heard of. (You know, the one who owns Ciroc.)

New work for Avvo.

Avvo is a website that has lawyers on it. Sounds kind of boring until you hear that half of Americans will need a lawyer this year. Not for bad stuff like lawsuits and divorces, but also happy stuff like starting a business or adopting a kid.

So Avvo came to us and asked for a campaign that built off of last year's. Essentially something that showed a buttload of potential legal situations. It was one of the best briefs I've ever gotten in my entire life.

As we were coming up with stuff Andrew and I realized we really didn't need to shoot anything. Or really create anything. Because all the proof we needed is uploaded to the internet every day.

And so we got a campaign that inspired a nearly unlimited number of spots. We released the campaign with 15, with more slated to come out later in the year. We call it Law Happens.

Here's a few of my favorites:

And a link to the rest. You can leave your thoughts in the comments.

This campaign could not have been possible without a bunch of really great people. 

Tom Adams, Paul Keister and Jeff Bossin led us and always pushed to make it better. Laura Rothman kept things from falling off the rails internally. All the people over at Avvo for letting us to push this into a space no legal service would dare enter.

Damon Silvester was the poor editor who had to sit with us as we found just the right 8 seconds of every video. Bryan "Cutty" Cuthbert also had to sit in the room and try to wrangle us at all times. Luis De Léon provided those super sweet search bars and end transitons.

Jukin (who owns pretty much any video that goes viral these days) provided us with thousands of hours of videos to use. And had us over to their space so that we could abuse them to their faces. Lime in Santa Monica mixed it for optimal comedic effect.

And that annoyingly catchy song is "The Whistle Song" by The New Mastersounds.

There's some fun digital stuff coming out down the line. Keep an eye out for that. 

And remember, when you need a lawyer find the right one for you on Avvo.

House Hunters is the most important show on TV.

(Today marks 5 years of this blog's existence. Instead of reflecting on that, I wrote this.)

So I was watching House Hunters. That's a lie. I was mainlining House Hunters, taking it in 3, 4, 7 episodes at a time. International, Domestic, and Renovation editions. Compulsively watching couple after couple after couple find a home. 

Why? Because I the inherent sadness in every single episode of it. It's a show stitched together with schadenfreude.

Every episode has a couple of well meaning people with a list of stuff they want it in a house. But we all know that they're not gonna that. Not at all. And they're going to visit 3 homes that they'll probably talk shit about. While the dramatic irony in all of it is that we know they're going to end up in one of these homes. Delicious, delicious irony. 

House Hunters is all about people coming to terms with the fact that what we want isn't what we get. It is impossible to have everything on a wish list. The wish list is a fallacy that deceives us into thinking it's a reality. But, unless you want to be homeless, you need to buy a house. 

And what I've come to realize is that this show is the perfect metaphor for life. Because in life, just like the show you want things. Great things. So you make a little wish list of goals, hopes and dreams.

And although a portion of those things happen, very rarely do they all. You succeed in business but got a bit fatter than you wanted. You ate at that famed restaurant but it gave you the runs. You took that great vacation but missed out on a huge opportunity at work that vaulted other people to a untold riches and fame. You bought Microsoft stock when you should have invested in Apple. Insert your own here.

The point of this is that life comes with tradeoffs. And that's never made more clear than on House Hunters, watching people choose from a group of houses that are all wrong in certain ways.

Now you probably think this is deterministic. Or depressing. Or disheartening. But that's because you haven't watched enough House Hunters. 

You see at the end of every episode something magical happens. The show revisits the people in their home a couple of months later to see how they're doing. 

How are they doing?  Great, of course. After replacing the awful wallpaper, bringing in some art, and replacing the furniture they've made the house theirs. Which is a very nice takeaway. It's a lesson that despite things not going 100% their way they are still living. They have no choice. They bought their house. They live in it. They make it work.

Just like life. 

Advertising agencies are all the same.

Agencies all try to have a point of difference. A special sauce that make them different from the other guys. So processes are invented, systems designed, designs designed, buzzwords coined, tag lines generated, ethos written, and so on and so forth. Then these agencies, most agencies, walk into meeting touting their special sauce as the one true way. The answer, of course, couldn't be Drama Told Excellently it's all about Excellency Through Drama. And for all of the differences agencies purport to have, most of the output looks dramatically the same.

Why is that? These agency positioning aren't bullshit, they're pulled from somewhere. But they also don't mean all that much because agencies are willing to undercut their brand for their bottom line. As long as it looks good on a slide in the next pitch an agency positioning doesn't seem to have much impact on the agency's business.

So then what differentiates agencies? If finely-tuned positioning don't mean anything what makes one agency produce work that is better than the rest. I'd argue it's a matter of taste. 

And taste, put simply, is the barometer for quality of the work that makes it out the door.

It's taste in the creative work. Knowing that the audience is the customer, not the client. Knowing that people don't respond to a litany of bullet points. Knowing that the things that people respond to in popular culture are the same things they respond to in ads. (This does not mean stealing from or copying popular culture, it means striving to put things into the work that people can connect to the way they do popular culture.) 

It means having an opinion on what makes good creative work and what makes bad creative work. It means saying no a thousand times because it will hurt the work or the client. It means saying yes when new ideas are exposed. This is simple Advertising 101 shit. Stuff that should be baked into the creative process but agencies seem to forget or ignore.

But taste has to extend beyond creative work. Because creative doesn't work in a vacuum. Most agency creative departments could churn out at least better than average work given total control.

However, there's a big ecosystem in any agency that has to carry the burden of taste alongside the creative department. And that looks different for every department. But the overall goal is to keep the agency's product intact which means the core creative product needs to be spot on. It means having morals as an agency. Knowing when to say no to client requests. Knowing to not prioritize short term goals over longevity. 

That's different than flat out refusing business, but it's doing business in a way that respects people first, the client second, and pleasant relationships third. A great example of this is how Ally & Gargano outlined their approach to advertising cigarettes. 

Now taste is any easy thing to start with but not an easy thing to keep. It takes work every day to remind yourself what you're working for and working towards. It means always, always taking a introspective look at the things you're about to release on the world. The things you're about to sell to a client.

And the nicest part about taste is that it's not something that's concrete. Good taste means something different to everyone. So as long as everyone agrees on what taste, either individual or as an agency, means there's plenty of room for difference among agencies. 

But even with so many different definitions of taste it'd be hard to argue that advertising has much of it at all right now. 

RELATED: This the contract between DDB and Avis on how their advertising would be run. Can you imagine this working today?

Weekly Linkly: cowering in a corner edition

Do you ever find yourself frightened, tucked into some kind of corner? Just because you started thinking about the minuscule scale of yourself against the wide world and winder universe. You know, the infinitesimal meaningless of it all? What's that? Ha, yah, me neither. But if you need me I'll be over here in this corner, clicking these links.


What happens when you die alone? The New York Times Investigates.

Behind the excellent Channel 4 (UK) rebrand.

An LA mansion was turned into a street art gallery.

The role of the fool. It's a brave one.

What if we made guns uncool like cigarettes? (And would it then make suicide very fashionable?)

Old Chicago bank becomes badass cultural center.

Mental health and advertising. If you respect yours, read this.

The lost art of copywriting.


Appel. The story of a true friendship.

Girl knows how to sing.

Fab squad.

249 Days

Is a hell of a long time to go without writing here. The last time that happened was before this existed.

And I've missed it. There was no cause for the gap. No inciting incident that set off a downward spiral. It was much more insidious than that. I got busy, then lazy, then it didn't feel like it mean anything.

That isn't true. While this might not matter to anyone else, it does mean something to me. And I have felt myself mentally atrophy because there wasn't a constant filter running on ideas that could work here. Concepts I wanted to tackle. I let my world shrink because it was an easier way to live. 

That was dumb. And I'm sorry to you if you expected something from me. And sorry to myself for being so, so lazy. It won't happen again.

Oh. And sorry I called something dumb if that offended you. It will probably happen again. 

In this time of need we turn again to the Weekly Linkly for comfort.

Calm down, calm down. There's plenty of links to soothe everyone. Please see Madam Godfrey for intake.


The Problems with (ads as) Content

Why are we cool with people profiting off of online joke-theft?

A different side of Larry David.

Does creativity equal bravery? A smart person thinks so. (I agree but it's not like you asked.)

I hate listicles. I do not hate this listicle. Six things that make a great client.

Are agencies terrible places for introverts?

And, along those lines, is adland just one big fucking echo chamber that's perfectly content to follow the whoever? (Longer post about this next week.) 

What happens when Chinese art forgers are asked to paint themselves?


Reactions to virtual reality porn.

Quaking in my boots.

Light entertainment.

Pauly D on Eric Andre.

Fox ADHD is flawless